Labor Day Eeeeeats| NYC 2017

(Previously, on NYC 2017, we enjoyed some Manhattan fan favorites, a cultural festival that shut down several city blocks, and a great Broadway musical.)

Labor Day rolled around and, after sleeping in a bit (necessary after our strange ritual of watching lat night movies during our stay…), we headed out for lunch at Momosan Ramen (review). I didn’t realize this until we sat down, but this is one of Chef Morimoto’s restaurants. (I don’t follow celebrity chefs at all, so I am often very oblivious about their restaurants and never recognize them in my friends’ excited photos.) They were offering a sake flight and the waitress looked intimidatingly too-cool-for-school so we decided to go for it because the restaurant is technically Momosan Ramen & Sake, despite the fact that I don’t really drink and I definitely don’t really drink sake. I only lament that they weren’t serving the Peking duck baos during lunch, as I could see a roast duck literally dangling in front of my face as I ate, but when I asked what deliciousness I could order to acquire it, I was told that duck was only on the dinner menu.

Momosan interior
Our seat at the bar gave us a great view of the front of the house and these roast ducks
Chashu don
Ben’s chashu don (pork rice bowl)
Kakuni bao
Kakuni bao (pork belly bun)
Zuke don
My zuke don (raw marinated tuna rice bowl)
Sake flight
Our sake flight
Tonkotsu ramen
Yum tonkotsu ramen!
The spread
The complete spread for lunch

From there, we decided to walk the High Line from beginning to end, since it is one of our favorite spots in New York (and one of my favorite spots of all time) but we’ve always started walking from somewhere in the middle. We quickly realized that walking the High Line on a weekday evening is very different from walking on a weekend during daylight hours, as the park was crazy crowded. It was also still very warm out, so the many ice cream, paleta, and gelato vendors were doing really well up there. I swiped a yellow watermelon + mint paleta and it was oh-so-refreshing.

Enjoying a yellow watermelon and mint paleta on the High Line
Mmm that paleta really hit the spot

I held back from getting any ice cream or gelato because I actually wanted us to get ice cream in Chelsea when we finished walking the High Line. We first walked past Dominique Ansel Bakery, which I learned was selling their Japan-exclusive Crème de la Corn only during Labor Day weekend. Our timing was pretty perfect, because it was the last day they were serving this treat in New York and they were about to open the ice cream window. (By the time we walked away with our ice cream, the line was very long.)

Creme de la Corn
Caramel sweet corn soft serve on a soy sauce and butter-glazed cob of sweet corn. Messy, and a bit weird, but tasty!

Caramel and corn soft serve was a novel and interesting flavor experience that I liked! It was a different kind of summery taste that wasn’t too sweet, and the actual corn was very delicious. (It is grilled and then glazed with soy sauce and butter! So yum!) That was a fun and unexpected detour, since I honestly did not think I would be able to make it before it ran out. But on to the ice cream I planned for! I wanted to try some of the other ice cream flavors, but we had more ice cream plans ahead of us! From Dominique Ansel, we walked a few blocks to Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. There was a line wrapping around the corner shop but we didn’t mind waiting because it was kind of a perfect golden afternoon moment. That part of the city is quiet and residential, we were approaching golden hour with warm, golden rays of sunshine filtering through the brownstones and the trees, and we were about to eat ice cream after having just eaten ice cream. The ice cream itself wasn’t as sweet as the idyllic moment we enjoyed walking to the shop but it was still very yummy.

Van Leeuwen ice cream
Sesame and pistachio at golden hour at Van Leeuwen’s

There was no way in heck we were going to not visit Joe’s Pizza (review) while we were in their neck of the woods. Joe’s is one of my favorite places to get a New York slice and is one of the few establishments I revisit nearly every time I come back to the city, if for no other reason than to see if the wall of celebrity faces has been updated while biting into that perfect crust + sauce.

Pizza at Joe's
A plain and a pep’. These slices bring me to happy tears every time.

Bellies full of pizza and ice cream (honestly, why do we front so much as though children’s birthday party menus are beneath us), we strolled over to Washington Square Park for our annual sit and chill there. It was cooling down, golden hour was in full swing, there was music and laughter and doggos. And this time, I didn’t even run into any rats, it was pretty blissful.

Washington Square on Labor Day
Chillin’ with some doggos in the square

From there, it was time to meet up with my old friend Elvin, so we headed back uptown to meet at Socarrat for tapas and paella. I got to finally meet his girlfriend Emily (after years of us missing each other during my visits) and we had a lot of laughs together over food.

Seafood paella at Soccarat
A giant seafood paella at Soccarat

Half-jokingly, I asked “Where to for dessert?”, fully aware that I had just eaten ice cream at two different establishments. But dessert is no joking matter, and we found ourselves walking to Serendipity 3. Despite having heard about this famous restaurant for so long, this was my first ever visit! We were way too stuffed for the famous frozen hot chocolate, so we tried to get the least unhealthy dessert we could manage and wound up with a very fruity sundae. (They let the 4 of us split one dessert because the restaurant wasn’t too crowded, but ordinarily they have a minimum spend amount per person.) It was very yummy, despite the fact that I was eating mostly whipped cream most of the time because the lemon ice cream I was looking forward to was hidden on the other side of the bowl. I don’t know if I get the hype about the Tiffany lamps, which just made the entire restaurant look really kitschy, but I watched Serendipity for the first time fairly recently and it was pretty magical to be there with good friends and a super duper full belly.

Seasonal icebox sundae
We justified getting this amazing icebox cake + lemon ice cream sundae because… it had the most fruit in it of all the desserts?
Friends at Serendipity
So happy to be making responsible choices like eating a third serving of ice cream that day

We parted ways from Elvin and Emily and slowly ambled our way back to the hotel. It was a beautiful night, and we weren’t quite ready to leave New York, even though we had another adventure waiting on the other side.

Do you have go-to ramen / pizza / ice cream places in the city? We always stop by Joe’s, and our fondest ramen memory is of Ippudo because that was our first-ever ramen experience! I don’t know if I have a go-to for ice cream yet.

Do you like Serendipity 3? I knew it for a long time because of the Babysitters Club (it was Stacy’s favorite!) and then came to know of its rom-com fame (Kate Beckinsale is a beautiful goddess walking among mortals). I have been trying to plan out a NYC rom-com guide blog so let me know if you’d be interested in that!

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Reunion Night Out | NYC 2017

Hello, it’s been a while! I am recovering from my short hiatus, a bunch of travel, and the news cycle, so let’s just jump right into it:

Ben and I spent Labor Day Weekend in my home city of New York for what has become an annual visit. The trip began as they always do: in Union Station in Washington, DC where we finally bit the bullet for some pre-lunch meu Bojangles. (Previously, we always hesitated to get Bo’ because our bus always leaves before the breakfast menu ends, so we weren’t able to order the dinners. I recently tried to boneless Chicken Supremes and discovered they are super tasty and easier to eat on the go! So we were able to enjoy delicious fried chicken after all.)

During the bus ride up, we discovered that the dinner plans Ben’s college friends made were earlier in the evening (the original reservation was before we even arrived), so we immediately caught a cab to our hotel, spent forever checking in, and took another cab to dinner, where our reservation was pushed back because half the group was also running late. (Review: One UN New York hotel)

The view from our room included the nearby Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building
The view from our room included the nearby Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building

We had a great time at dinner at Natsumi Tapas (review), catching up with old friends we hadn’t seen since last Labor Day or since graduation, and celebrating a recent engagement in the group. (It’s a group of Ben’s friends from college, and they are trying to make it a tradition for us to hang out every Labor Day weekend in a different city. We were invited to visit New York to celebrate the engagement, and Ben and I had already planned to be there for that weekend so it all worked out!)

From dinner, we split up to get ready for a night at the club before reconvening to pregame. The pregame was not what I was expecting at all, from how I remember pregaming with this crew back in college. Upon walking in, a terrible instant-film photo was taken of me and we were sat down to play Avalon: The Resistance, which is a super fun game that is kind of like Mafia but set in Arthurian legend and with no dying, aka  everyone can keep playing to the end. Before we knew it, it was time to head out to Hotel Chantelle, where our friend once drunkenly tried to chill with Jeremy Lin. He got thrown out of the club for harassing him, but he clearly had a good enough time to come back! (I hated the DJ though, as I mention at length in my review.)

In my bad-DJ-induced late night crankiness, I decided that if I had to endure such bad DJing and have had to pay for it, I deserved a dollar slice of one of my favorite foods of all time:  New York-style pizza. So, in the rain, after going back and forth about whether or not I actually should go out for pizza at 2am, Ben graciously accompanied me to get dollar slices of pizza a few blocks from the hotel. We trudged back to the hotel, in the rain, holding cold slices of pizza, which I ate real happily while watching The Help on TV.

I didn’t take that many photos on day 1, but I started playing with the 1 Second Everyday app, so here’s a few seconds from this day!

Where would you recommend for clubbing nights in Manhattan? I’ve never really gone clubbing before Labor Day weekend, but I hope if I go back I get a better DJ!

Do you like the 1 Second Everyday app? I had a lot of fun with taking tiny clips and letting an app string them all together for me. If you like this format, please let me know! It’s a really different way for me to document versus taking photos.

 

July 2017 Recap

Happy first day of August! Can you believe we’re in the home stretch of summer already?

I realized I haven’t really checked in about what I’ve been up to since AwesomeCon. (Vlogs are coming… I think…) So let’s get going with just a bit before July started!

Ai Wei Wei instameet

I had the opportunity to go to the Hirshhorn for their new exhibit, Ai Wei Wei: Trace at Hirshhorn, on the opening day just a bit before the museum opened to the public thanks for the lovely HM. (Fun fact: She also was responsible for my first ever Instameet, which means that she is responsible for me getting involved with the Instagram community at large!)

The exhibit consists of two main pieces:

  1. Trace, which was originally housed at Alcatraz, and features portraits of political prisoners made of Lego. The children’s toy adds to the pixelated feel of the portraits, as several of the original source photos are only available as blurred, pixelated surveillance footage stills. Some of the featured figures are still in prison today.
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  2. The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca, which is a wiiiiiiiiide wallpaper composed of arrangements of the Twitter bird, surveillance cameras, handcuffs, and “alpacas”. These are actually grass mud horses (草泥马), a subversive Chinese meme that sounds like an expletive directed at your mom that is a penultimate Chinese symbol of fighting censorship and Ai Wei Wei has a history of incorporating the furry creature in his art.
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It’s a great exhibit and I highly recommend stopping by to see it when you visit the Hirshhorn!

Gretchen’s Baby Shower

This was my first-ever baby shower (outside of one for our account lead at work) and it was a lot of fun! Gretchen is the Yelp NoVa Community Manager and it’s been so great being on the NoVa team since I moved to this area. Her sister and sister-in-law, Jen and Taylor, did such a great job with the decorations! My only regrets were having her registry gifts sent directly to her house (I showed up with just some little trinkets for her to enjoy because in my head, I didn’t want her to have more stuff to bring home? This was kind of a silly thought) and then dropping the clothespins for the game down my front and not realizing I should have won. Oops! It was still a great time and a great day to celebrate Gretchen and her incoming little one!

Diaper cake
Look at this adorable diaper cake!!!
Taylor, Jen, Gretchen, and her mom!
Taylor, Jen, Gretchen, and her mom!

Daybreaker DC @ The Hive

The National Building Museum has their summer installment up and it is Studio Gang’s Hive. I got to attend a fun Daybreaker where I was able to do yoga AND dance in the cool PVC pipe hive. It was an extra treat because Ben accompanied me, since my usual Daybreaker crew was unable to make it to this one and I really really wanted to see The Hive.

 

Girl’s Night

The evening after Daybreaker, I had a great girl’s night with my friends. We haven’t had one like this since… December? We had Annie’s pro photobooth setup, delicious snacks, a BUMPIN’ 2000s summer dance jams playlist playing, face masks, and Monopoly Deal, a surprisingly addicting game.

sweetlife block party

sweetgreen is a popular salad chain that started out in DC and for the past few years, they’ve had a big concert/festival up in Columbia, Maryland. This year, they kicked it back to their roots, with the original sweetlife festival being a block party in DC. The weather was pretty great, if a bit hot and balmy, so I ate a lot of gelato. (Thank you Dolcezza!) There was great music, there was a fun photobooth with vegetable props, and lots of yummy food. It was really great spending an evening with my friends at maybe the hippest event I have ever stumbled into. (I kept looking around thinking someone would realize I was not cool enough to be there…) It was a night to remember for sure.

Devika’s Birthday Brunch

I got to see my friend Devika’s beautiful house and meet her super kind mom and meet her super nice friends. It was just a low-key, really nice party at her house, I’m so grateful for my friends and for her (and her nice mom).

Sunflowers at McKee-Beshers

I’ve been seeing photos online for years of people frolicking in fields of sunflowers and I finally got to see them in person myself! The McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Center plants fields of sunflowers every year to attract wildlife, and I was able to visit twice in one weekend. On the Saturday, the clouds overhead looked extremely ominous, so we tried to take our photos fast. Suddenly, the wind picked up and, despite it being a really hot and humid day, the air temperature very quickly dropped and got comfortable. I didn’t have much time for relief because it then started pouring, and we stayed in the rain for just a while longer, soaking in the sight of the blooms in the storm before running to the car.

Dancing in the rain
Sun and wind and rain in my face, and sunflowers all around. Paradise.

We went back the next day with Ben’s parents and got some nice photos in the sun. I did miss that cool summer storm breeze, though, and the crowds were significantly bigger.

Twirling in the sunflowers
Leave your guesses as to how many shots it took to get this in the comments

Visiting Delaware

My brother is interning in Delaware this summer, so my dad and I visited him this past weekend. It was actually my first time going to Delaware as the destination and not as a state I pass through on my way to/from New Jersey. It was a lot of fun to see my brother and to watch Girl’s Trip, despite it not being a good, er… family movie?

Yacht Ride

My dad had a friend who invited us out on his yacht, so I got to enjoy a truuuuuly beautiful day on the water. The weather was PERFECTION and I really enjoyed being on the water, it remains one of my favorite things in the world.


With that, I am looking forward to August! There is more summer fun coming up and I am trying to stay in the summer mindset in September, since it’s always hot for most of September anyway and the autumnal equinox isn’t until the last week of September anyway!

What do you have planned for the rest of summer?
What are you going to miss about summer?

Another Busy Week

Hello and happy Friday! I have been a little bit low mood this past week, maybe from just being so busy and maybe from the transition from hot and humid to gloomy and rainy. (I haven’t seen the sun in almost a week, now…) But I’ve been doing a lot of fun stuff so I thought I’d share a bit of that here today!

2017 DCFemTech Awards

This year, several of my friends and colleagues were recipients at the DCFemTech Awards, celebrating women in technology in the DC area and their work. It’s really inspiring to see so many women getting recognized and encouraged, and I am proud to work alongside them.

Great turnout from my coworkers to support Hareem!

I was also able to see some friends from college that I hadn’t seen in a while, as well as get an ~exclusive~ after-hours look at the Washington Post headquarters and newsroom!

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Congrats again to Angela and thanks (again) for the tour!

Daybreaker: Music on the Brain

My first time attending a Daybreaker event was on my birthday back in December. I really loved the concept when I first read about it: early morning dance parties fueled by coffee, juice, and a love of dance rather than by sex, drugs, and alcohol, which aren’t my motivations for dancing.

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This month, Daybreaker partnered with the Kennedy Center, one of my favorite institutions in DC and of all time, to put on a great dance party on the terrace. It was crazy hot and humid but I had an awesome time dancing with my friend Megan at her first Daybreaker. Both of us saw friends we knew and had an amazing time sweating and dancing before a Friday work day.

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Megan and artist Yoko Shen, who performed a haunting piece to end the pre-work evening

InnoMAYtion Hackathon

On Saturday, I mentored a hackathon for the first time! I worked with Think of UsThink of Us to help think of ways to make their website for parenting teens in the foster system easier and more appealing for people to use. It was strange being one of the more experienced developers on a team, considering I’m still not very confident in my skills yet, but it was fun to work with that team and I learned a lot about the resources that are available to parenting teens and their caregivers.

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Cat Yoga

My friend Jen’s birthday was yesterday and I wanted to do something with her before she went out of town for her birthday weekend. We had talked about DC’s cat cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers, before but I hadn’t gone. I figured that even if Jen had gone a bunch of times, as an avid cat lover, it would still be a treat for me to take her to enjoy cats and pastries.

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Little did I know that Crumbs & Whiskers has recently been offering Sunday yoga sessions. WITH THE CATS. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, even though I was frequently startled by how often I would find a cat where I was going to put my hand or foot. Those precious kitties were worth all the allergic sniffles I experienced, and I got a great yoga session out of it, too!

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I also enjoyed a delicious brunch with Jen afterwards, and just remain so grateful to still be friends with this great girl I met at college orientation.

EdibleDC Eat/Drink Local

I recently won tickets (thanks BrightestYoungThings!) to EdibleDC magazine’s Eat/Drink Local, where I was able to sample so many delicious foods from local vendors all over DC. From local oysters to truffled gnocchi to blue (!!) cashew milk and an entire pizza, my belly was delighted to sample so many delicious foods and drinks from the area. I have been known to give the DC food scene a really hard time, but it’s because I know there’s so much potential and I want it to be better! It’s gotten so much better over the past 2 years and I can’t wait to see how much more it grows.

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You know I’m a sucker for a photobooth, especially if one of my favorite companies – UrbanStems – is helping run it!

Foodelicious Night

Did you know that the DC mayor’s office has a special division dedicated to Asian Pacific-Island affairs? It’s true! MOAPIA (Mayor’s Office for Asian Pacific-Island Affairs) has been putting on events all month for AAPI Heritage Month and I was able to attend Foodelicious Night, where 3 of DC’s most famous Asian and Asian-American chefs performed cooking demonstrations for us and let us taste it after! We had:

  • Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, the phenom chef who runs Maketto, one of the trendiest and most critically-accalimed restaurants in all of DC, period, and cooked for us a delicious Cambodian curry
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  • Chef Nobu Yamazaki, of the best sushi restaurant in DC, Sushi Taro, which recently won a Michelin star in DC’s first Michelin guide, and prepared for us 2 different sushi rolls
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  • Chef Xiaolong Hu, from Panda Gourmet, the best Chinese restaurant in DC that is famous for being the go-to authentic spot for Chinese embassy employees who are craving real Northwestern Chinese food, prepared for us pork belly buns

This was a really fun event because the chefs all had a lot of personality and prepared really amazing foods for all of us. It was such an incredible way to celebrate Asian cuisine in DC and how easily you can recreate it at home!

Megan’s Birthday Dinner

Last night, I met up with Don, Megan, and several of their friends for a birthday dinner to celebrate Megan! (Fun fact: She actually has the same birthday as Jen!) It was a lot of fun seeing some of Megan’s friends that I haven’t seen in years, or since her wedding last year, or just since the last time we all hung out. (Please tell me it’s normal to have trouble hanging out with friends at a higher frequency as an adult, it is very frustrating to me…)

It was a lot of fun to see everyone and to see Megan twice in one 7-day period!


It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States, and I’ll be spending it resting, cleaning, and maybe checking out some online sales!

How will you be spending the (long) weekend?
How was your week??

The Last Day | SF 2017

Last time on SF 2017, I visited Yelp HQ and saw one of my oldest friends in her new home city before being reminded that I am not immune to jet lag and I cannot party as hard as I used to. But here’s to the weekend!


A few weeks before our trip, I booked a brunch reservation for Saturday and kept it late so that Ben and I could sleep in a bit, knowing that we were going to be suffering from jet lag and late nights especially since Ben had been working so hard on his presentation just a few days prior.

After really enjoying those thick black-out curtains and abundant pillows that make hotel sleep so satisfying, we got up, got washed, and got ready to head out for brunch. I wanted us to leave a bit early so we could see the famous Painted Ladies and then walk over, so I called us a Lyft and waited.

… and waited and waited. The car never showed up, so I cancelled it and called a new one, because now we were unable to take a small walk to brunch and make our reservation. But then that car didn’t show up either, and it got stuck at the same place as the last car. Ben and I walked out of the hotel and discovered that Market Street was blocked off for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. GO FIGURE. There was hella traffic (some Cali lingo for you West Coasters!) and we had no choice but to start walking in the direction of brunch (over 3 miles away) and try to catch a Lyft after we got away from traffic so that our table wouldn’t be given away. I called the restaurant and then began to power-walk/casually run westwards, gawking at how many cars were stuck downtown trying to get past this parade. After a fair bit of drama trying to figure out how to optimize getting into a Lyft and onwards to the right direction, and with the great driving instincts of our driver, we finally made it to nopa, a little sweaty and very hungry.

DSC03388DSC03389The restaurant was actually not that full when we arrived after 1pm, but it filled up pretty soon after we ordered our food. We weren’t sure what to get and weren’t really vibin’ the menu (still too sweaty), but I went for some yummy sounding items and hoped for the best.

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Custard French toast
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Butter-basted eggs

We didn’t really love the food, so we opted not to order more and just munch more later somewhere else. But off to see the Painted Ladies from Alamo Park!

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… so the park was closed and we were only able to see these Victorian houses from real up close it was pretty disappointing, because I really wanted to lay out on the grass and relax a bit while humming the theme from Full House. (🎶Whatever happened to predictability…🎶)

Walking up this ridiculous hill took quite a bit out of us, so we got a ride over to the Palace of Fine Arts so that I could take Ben for the walk that Christine showed me last time I was here.

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They were actually setting up for a wedding here that day!

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Of course, I brought Ben to Crissy Field as well, and it was strange and different but not bad to share my personal, peaceful place with him. I was really glad to have been able to share this special place.

We started walking towards Pier 39 to check out the sea lions, since it was a really beautiful day and we didn’t mind walking pasts the piers. Since that is a 3-mile journey, we walked about halfway and then got a little ride so we wouldn’t be exhausted and late by the time we arrived.

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I started to feel really hungry, since we never managed to find food after an only-okay brunch, but I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for dinner. Then I saw a place that advertised beignets and I had to eat SOMETHING. (But I didn’t let myself have beignets, in an attempt to exercise some semblance of willpower.) So I shared some fried seafood and oysters with Ben so as not to be drooling when I showed up for dinner.

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After a super quick Daiso run (why don’t we have these on the East Coast, can someone please tell me), it was off to fulfill 3 big goals of this SF trip:

  1. Be reunited with Christine
  2. Evaluate Meet her new boyfriend
  3. Eat cioppino!

The last one was another goal that was something I regretted not doing my last trip, similar to my trip to the Walt Disney Family Museum. I didn’t have specific ideas about what I wanted to eat in San Francisco last fall, and when I saw a sign for “Cioppino’s” at Fisherman’s Wharf, I remembered this delicious seafood stew that I first tasted in Alaska, strangely enough, and was invented here in the City by the Bay! I kicked myself for not seeking it out then and made sure to get some this time around. After some searching, many people mentioned Sotto Mare as the place to go; even when they found a new go-to, it was compared to Sotto Mare. Since Christine had been meaning to try their famous cioppino as well, it was an easy decision where we should eat and what we should get.

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As you can see, I really had a hankering for oysters…

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This was so tasty and we probably only needed one to share between the 4 of us but man, I still think about this yummy stew with pasta and seafood and that crab meat!! “Best Damn Crab Cioppino” indeed.

It was a lot of fun hanging with Christine and Phil, and I was so happy to meet Phil because he was really cool and seems to make Christine happy. Plus he was so easy to like!

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With that, Ben and I walked back to our hotel to get packed and get going, as our flight was at 7AM the next morning. Which happened to be Daylight Saving Time, so really… we did not get very much sleep before our flight. (I actually, bizarrely, woke up about 2 hours after I fell asleep and just stayed awake until I got on the plane, so… that was a thing.)

We had a really lovely time in San Francisco, and I still can’t believe that I got to visit again so soon after my last visit, especially given how long it had been since the visit before that one!

I’ll be back again someday soon.

Where should I visit the next time I’m in San Francisco?
And where do you think I can pass on?

What city should I visit next? There are still a lot of American cities I haven’t seen, even on the East Coast!