Something I love about my job is that I get to explore cities in the US — and when it comes to personal travel, I’m typically focused on getting out of the country. A couple of weeks ago, we opened our first (and then second) restaurants in Austin, TX… so I got to spend a few days exploring the city, working from coffee shops, and hanging out with coworkers and friends.

Luckily, one of my favorite travel buddies lives in Dallas — so Nickerson drove out to Austin to hang out and splurge on a bougie weekend with me. Nothing beats alternating coffee with rosé and constantly hunting for air conditioning on a hot, summer Texas day. Here are some of my favorite bites (and sips) from my week in Austin!

1. Dragonfruit (Pink!) Margaritas at Grizzeldas

Grizzelda’s was the perfect dinner date for Nickerson and me — the decor was glam and bright, the food was healthy and oh-so flavorful, and the margaritas were PINK. You know you’re friends with the right people when you convince literally everyone around you to order the pink margaritas. I had three.

Oh, and the tortillas come to you in cute little tortilla purses. Go here.

 

2. The Croque Madame at June’s All Day

Who eats a whole croque madame before getting into a bikini and going swimming? Who does that?

I do. I did. And I regret nothing.

June’s was yet another little glam cafe, and was launching a summer rosé series the day we went (are you picking up on the pink theme of my life yet?) — It was the perfect little spot on South Congress to unwind our caffeine high before heading to Barton Springs for some floating with a magazine. Still salivating over that croque madame.

 

3. The Soppressata Pizza at Italic

I stumbled upon this minimalist Italian restaurant between coffee shop working sessions one day, and quickly fell in love with the mid-century modern feel and scandi branding. Grabbing a seat at the bar and chatting with the bartender was the perfect relief between non-emergency emergencies at work, and this pizza was a slice of heaven… both at lunch, and back in my hotel room after a couple of drinks that evening.

 

4. The Breakfast Sandwich at Alfred, in The Line

There are few things I love more than pizza, and a damn good breakfast sandwich might be one of them. Not to mention, the decor at The Line is on point, and I was a much bigger fan of the Austin location than I am of the DC location. If I had more time in Austin, I would have come back to have another go at this sandwich — which, I understand, is sacrilege in a taco town. Come at me.

 

5. Mezcal Tastings (and Pleasantly Buzzed Wontons) at Whisler’s

The instant I walked into the Mezcalera Tobalá upstairs at Whisler’s, I felt like I was transported into season 4 of True Blood. It’s lit by candlelight, cooled by a squeaky window unit, and filled with creepy taxidermy. But you give the bartender a budget, and he pours you a little terra cotta saucer of mezcal.

It was great. 10/10 would do it again. After a few drinks on the patio, grab some wontons from the food truck, and make your way to the next bar.

The summer solstice is behind us, so we’re gonna have to savor every moment of steamy, sweaty summer we have left.

Comin’ back around with some of my favorite not-turnt but not-too-chill beats. Happy fourth!

Having grown up in Los Angeles, and being one of those people whose parents rarely understood the need to leave California, I could count on one hand the number of times I had witnessed snow falling. That is, until I moved to DC, where I heard it “rarely snowed,” and in my first winter, we got about 48 inches of snow.

There’s no better introduction to snow than one of those rare, city-shut-down, break out your skis blizzards. And since I haven’t seen snow quite like that first East Coast winter, getting to Montreal just before a blizzard gave me that magical winter wonderland that I had been craving for the last nine years.

My travel partner, hailing from Montana by way of Spokane, was less entertained – but nevertheless, entertained me by trekking through Vieux Montreal amidst a white out.

From DC, Montreal is the perfect weekend getaway: a two-hour flight, and you’re in an actual city with a European feel and a great bar scene. There wasn’t enough time for us to eat all the food I wanted to eat — and the next time I go, I’ll probably want to spend a few extra days, if only to squeeze in a few more restaurants and coffee shops!

In the meantime, here are my top 6 weekend essentials from good old Montreal:

1. Vieux Montreal on Foot

Whenever I’m in a place with an “old city,” the historic center is the first thing I want to see, and preferably, on foot! The Lonely Planet guide for Montreal has a great overview of all the sites to see in Vieux Montreal, and you can hit them all pretty quickly — with a few stops for coffee, maple crunch ice cream, and local shopping along the way.

2. Ice Skating in Parc Mont Royal

It took me a minute to get over my fear of falling, but few things are more enchanting to me than ice skating on a sunny winter day. Not super into the thought of ice skating? Walk the many, many trails and find your way to the overlook of the city!

3. Eat Poutine.

La Banquise is the place to go for poutine — and I’ve been told the experience is heightened after several cocktails. There’s usually a line out the door at all hours, but it’s worth it. Order a classique, and a variation of your choice. Our favorite was La Sud-Ouest, which added bacon, red onions, guacamole, onion rings & Chipotle sauce to the classic French fries, cheese curds, and gravy.

4. Marche Jean-Talon

This year-round market near Little Italy is a pocket of incredibly beautiful and tasty produce, which felt like a bit of an anachronism on the blizzardy, February weekend we visited. Wander the produce stalls and pick up a fresh crepe or pastry from one of the many local snack stalls!

5. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Coming from Washington, DC, I’m always a little skeptical of visiting museums elsewhere — but the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts boasted an incredible, diverse collection and great views of the city.

6. Bota Bota Spa

This spa was actually one of my favorite experiences on our trip — the Nordic spa circuits have you heat up in a sauna or steam room, then dunk quickly in a pool of cold water, and finally, relax in a warm room or hot jacuzzi. The cold pools vary in levels of frigidity, with the coldest option being the St. Lawrence River. We jumped in twice, and I would do that a million times over again. The silent rooms with bean bags and hanging chairs are the perfect place to soak up the sun and experience the euphoric effects of going between extreme temperatures.

Bringing the monthly playlists back — March is almost half way through, but better late than never, right?

Those of you who know me have an inkling for how desperately passionate I am about curating playlists. I might not know the name of every artist I hear, but if that song incites an emotion that I want to carry around with me, you can bet I’ve subtly Shazammed it added it to one of my many, many mood, season, and trip-themed music mementos.

So here we are: March. I’ve traveled a bit already, and I’m ready for my next escape (Tulúm, again, next week). Enjoy these chill beats and let March take off. And if you want more… follow along on Spotify.

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