Atlanta: World of Coca-Cola

World of Coca-Cola
121 Baker Street
Atlanta, GA 30313
(404) 676-5151
www.worldofcoca-cola.com

 

World of Coca-Cola

When I plan trips, I usually visit the same kinds of places; trendy restaurants and bars, breweries, state parks, zoos and aquariums. Those are generally my vacation go-tos. So when I planned a trip to Atlanta, Georgia, World of Coca-Cola was the last thing on my mind. (Besides, I’m not even a big soda drinker but if I had to choose, Team Coke all the way!)

When my sister and I were unsure of what to do on the last day of our 2016 Atlanta trip, we stepped out of our vacation comfort zone and visited the World of Coca-Cola. A local we met at Sweetwater Brewery assured us that it was a neat place to go.

 

To our surprise, we really enjoyed it. It was definitely a little touristy but we learned a lot about soda and pop culture. It was also a great place to take pictures. I mean, who doesn’t love taking Instagram-worthy vacation pics!?

Coca-Cola Statue

 

It’s super interactive and full of refreshments.

You get a can of cola upon arrival, then you enter a room full of Coca-Cola memorabilia. Expect a little Coca-Cola history lesson.

Coca-Cola Signs

After the trip down memory lane, you are escorted to a theatre to watch a short film called “Moments of Happiness.” It will give you all the feels.

Then, you’re pretty much on your own.

 

You can meet the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, go into the secret vault holding the Coca-Cola formula (unfortunately, they don’t actually give up the secret), watch the bottling process, learn a thing or two about the History of Coke in the Milestone section, peruse art in the pop culture gallery, etc. There’s so much to experience.

Vault RoomCoca-Cola VaultGiant Coke BottlesCoca-Cola Parlor

 

My favorite part of the World of Coca-Cola was the Tasting Room. There are over 100 international and domestic drinks to try. It’s pretty cool because the drink dispensers are set up by regions of the country. If you’re in the mood for something exotic, you may like something from Asia or Latin America. If you want to add flavor to a traditional American drink, you can play with one of the World of Coca-Cola’s many Freestyle machines.

Pro Tip: Bring a bottle of water with you, it’s a sugar overload.

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The Tasting Room is the last stop in the attraction. When you’re done, you are given a souvenir Coca-Cola in a glass bottle and directed to wander the gift shop.

It’s a pretty neat gift shop. I told myself I wasn’t going to buy anything but how can you not there!? Anything you can imagine, they have there adorn in the Coca-Cola emblem. I walked out with some polar bear Post-Its and a cute tank top.

 

For someone who isn’t big on soda or “touristy spots,” it was worth the $17 admission. It’s a sweet and cheery way to spend your morning or afternoon in Atlanta.

– JK

 

 

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Chicago: Goose Island Beer Company

Goose Island Beer Company
1800 W. Fulton Street
Chicago, IL 60612
(800) 466-7363
www.gooseisland.com
(Multiple Brewpub Locations)

 

Goose Island

I’ve been to many breweries but Goose Island Beer Company now takes the reigns as my favorite.

Goose Island Beer Company makes some delicious brews. I’ve always been a fan of the 312 Urban Wheat Ale and the Goose IPA. They’re the best beers to drink while watching a ballgame at Marlins Park!

 

The deliciousness I’ve always known grew exponentially when I visited the brewery.

Goose Island Taproom

BeersThe Le Gardein, Juicy Double and Old Man Grumpy danced gleefully atop my taste buds in the tasting room. Check out what they’re all about below:

 

Old Man Grumpy – Dry Hopped American Pale Ale, light bodied pale ale with a tropical flavor, made with Huell Melon and Mosaic hops (5.8% ABV)

Juicy Double – West Coast Double IPA, fermented with with orange juice (8.3% ABV)

Le Gardein – Bière de Garde, French style farmhouse ale brewed with pears (5.9% ABV)

 

My sister, Kerri, her girlfriend, Anna, and I drank these fantastic libations in Goose Island’s Fulton Street Brewery & Taproom. It’s a hip urban watering hole.

The décor is very fascinating. There are maps and cityscapes featuring iconic areas in Chicago. I’m a sucker for cool bar art and Goose Island certainly delivers. Their duck logo on everything is so cute too.

The handcrafted wood art and dim lighting make you feel like you’re drinking in really cool Midwest-cabin. If I lived in Chicago, I’d probably happy hour there all the time.

Goose Island Decor

 

As hitting up breweries is kind of our thing, we had to reserve a spot for Goose Island’s brewery tour. It’s $12 and well worth it.

You get a cool souvenir pint glass, a pair of nerdy-cool goggles to wear on the tour, tasty samples along the way and a lesson in the beer-making process exclusive to Goose Island.

Beer Tour

 

If you’ve been on a beer tour before, you know the drill; you go learn about the ingredients, the production process, how they bottle their product and you try samples of the brewery’s staple and limited edition beers.

Sure, Goose Island did all of this but in my opinion, their tour went above and beyond.

Our tour guide, Nick, was so knowledgeable in all things Goose Island. He gave us background stories on some of the beers, went as far as to explain about the farm where the hops come from, showed us the barrel-aged vault and described the lengths people go through to get their hands on the special releases. (Think Black Friday-esque lines at the liquor store.)

Beer Vault

It’s always nice to go on a brew tour where the guides are passionate and, pardon my French, know their shit.

 

In case you were wondering, on the tour we sampled:

Sofie – Barrel Aged Saison, a Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale aged in wine barrels with orange peels (6.5% ABV) *Also great for Beer-mosas!

Green Line Pale Ale – American Pale Ale, has a bright hop aroma and citrus flavor, notes of biscuit and toasted malt (5.4% ABV)

Matilda – Belgian Style Pale Ale, fermented with wild yeast Brettanomyces giving it a spicy flavor, with fruit and clove aromatics (7.0% ABV)

 

After my experience at Goose Island, it’s going to take a lot of impressing to change my mind about my favorite American brewery.

Goose Island Sign

 

So if you know of something that tops beers like the Juicy Double and Matilda, city-themed woodwork decor, a sweet duck logo and bubbly staff – I’m all ears.

– JK

 

 

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Austin: Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
79 Rainey St.
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 386-1656
www.bangersaustin.com

 

Banger's

I’ve been back from my Texas trip for almost a month now and I still cannot stop talking about how awesome Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden is. I literally want to go back this very second.

 

It’s so cool for multiple reasons…

First off, the ambiance is chill. Banger’s reminds you of a backyard BBQ, only way bigger. There are picnic tables, strings of white lights galore, a stage for local musicians to entertain on and of course, good cooking and great beer.

Banger's Welcome Sign

 

The atmosphere even extends to fur-friends. As a dog lover, it’s pretty cool that you can bring your 4-legged best friend with you for grub.

They offer a Woof-Wurst with pork, beef and veggies for the pups. I know my chihuahua nephew, Tucker, would be excited about that!

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Secondly, the food is so memorable.

My sister, Kerri, and I started our dining experience with a bang (pun intended) by ordering the Poutine.

As a self-proclaimed poutine connoisseur, Banger’s take on this fry dish was superb; the fries were crispy, well-drenched in gravy and amply covered in cheese curds.

Poutine

 

Banger’s sausages are made in-house and they are long links of perfection. They have fun flavors like Buffalo Chicken, Rabbit & Mushroom, Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst and a vegetarian Shiitake Manchego. (My vegetarian sister loved it!)

Although the decision was difficult, I went kind of traditional with the plain Bratwurst served with sauerkraut and grain mustard.

To accompany my brat, I chose the ying to the bratwurst’s yang; the Hot German Potato Salad. It was warm and full of bacon-y flavor. It was like a gift from the food Gods to my mouth.

Bratwurst & Potato Salad

 

The third reason Banger’s is amazing is the beer.

Banger’s boasts the largest tap wall in Austin. And it really is big and banging.

My sister and I had trouble deciding on a brew but our server was so helpful in steering us in the right direction with their sour selections. Odell’s Pyrus and Prunus and Independent Brewing Company’s The Illustrated Man Dark Sour (both pictured below), were the perfect libations to go with our meal.

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Lastly, the staff was top-notch. As mentioned above, our server, Clinton, was kickass at helping us pick out beers. He also answered all our questions about the menu and helped Kerri find vegetarian options. So much Southern Hospitality in this place.

 

I cannot say enough good things about Banger’s. My only regrets were that we didn’t get to try the Fried Cheese Curds (they were sold out  *insert tears*) and that we didn’t get to experience brunch and Manmosas. (Banger’s, if you’re reading this, maybe you could FedEx some cheese curds to Florida!?) Okay, that’s totally unrealistic.

 

I guess, I’ll just have to start planning another trip to Austin…

– JK

 

 

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Philadelphia: Chubby’s Cheesesteaks

Chubby’s Cheesesteaks
5826 Henry Ave.
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 487-2575
www.chubbyssteaks.com

 

Chubby's Cheesesteaks

I recently took a 24-hour trip to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. With that said, in my limited time there, going for a cheesesteak was non-negotiable.

But choosing the right place to experience my first real cheesesteak was the tough part. So I consulted with my best friend, Vanessa, whom I was visiting and asked her where her go-to cheesesteak spot was. She told me we were going to Chubby’s Cheesesteaks.

Chubby’s is little diner in suburban Philly and they make a damn good cheesesteak!

Normally, I’m a chicken on a wheat sub with provolone kinda girl but since I wanted the authentic cheesesteak experience I did it the “right way.”

 

I got myself a huge, mouth-watering Cheesesteak with peppers, onions and Cheez Whiz. It was everything I hoped it would be. I even wrapped up half of it and put it in my backpack to bring back to Florida. (In case you were wondering, cheesesteaks are TSA-approved!)

 

People may tell you to go to Geno’s or Pat’s but you don’t have to brace the crowds to get a good cheesesteak, Chubby’s knows how to do it right!

 

PS – Do not call them “Phillys,” they are Cheesesteaks. I learned this the hard way after Vanessa corrected me about 20 times.

Also, putting Cheez Whiz on your hoagie is not the “right way.” Word on the street is that this is a common debate amongst Philly-natives.

– JK

 

 

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Washington, D.C.: Founding Farmers

Founding Farmers
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
(202) 822-8783
www.wearefoundingfarmers.com
(Multiple Locations)

 

Founding Farmers

If you have never been to Washington D.C., you’re missing out because it is one of the coolest cities. There’s so much history, iconic monuments, great restaurants, clean public transit and the Smithsonian museums.

Last February, my mom and I went on a little getaway to D.C. As always, I did some thorough investigating for our trip itinerary. In my search, I came across a cute restaurant called Founding Farmers.

We waited until the last day of our trip to check it out because we were a little directionally challenged. We underestimated how close to Founding Farmers we actually were. It was located on Pennsylvania Avenue, about a 10 minute walk from where we were staying.

 

We went there on a Monday during lunchtime and the place was popping. My Mom and I ended up snagging seats at the bar.

The bar itself was pretty cool, fully stocked with unique spirits and the bartenders were ready to make craft cocktails. There was hip vibe all around.

 

Speaking of drinks, I enjoyed a refreshing Farmers Fizz. It was an exquisite mix of Beefeaters Gin, St. Germain, Orange Bitters and Sparkling Cava. It made for a nice afternoon buzz.

Farmers Fizz

 

For lunch, I had one of the house favorites – Fried Chicken and Waffles served with Green Beans and Mac & Cheese. Pretty much all my favorite things. I must say, Founding Farmers’ Southern cuisine was on point.

Fried Chicken
I’d like to think that we saved the best for last, ending our D.C. trip at Founding Farmers. It was truly the perfect send off!

– JK

 

 

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Austin: Fixe Southern House

Fixe Southern House
500 W. 5th St.
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 888-9133
www.fixesouthernhouse.com

 

FixeIf I had to describe Fixe Southern House in one word, it would be EXTRAORDINARY! From the food and drinks, to the atmosphere and impeccable service – it was everything you’d hope for in a dining experience. In fact, I’m not exaggerating when I say it was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.

 

When you walk in, it feels like you’ve entered either your best friend’s backyard gazebo or an upscale, antique shop. It’s rustic and homey, in the most perfect way. The restaurant is full of soft, white strings of light, beautiful woodwork, vintage parlor chairs and eclectic décor.

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My sister and I decided to get a complete Fixe experience, from drinks to dessert.

As Fixe was the first stop on our trip to Austin, it only seemed appropriate to toast to our 5-day vacation. We choose to clink glasses of the Fixe 75. It was the perfect mix of fizz and tang; made with gin, lemon, housemade simple syrup and sparkling Rosé.

Fixe 75

 

Just as we were about to skip the starters and head right to the main course, our server convinced us that we HAD TO try the biscuits. After all, it’s what Fixe is known for.

We were soooo glad we did. They were hands down, the BEST biscuits I have ever eaten. (And my sister makes some damn good biscuits.)

I’ll tell you about them but I guarantee my description won’t do them enough justice.

The made-to-order biscuits were toasty on the outside and warm and buttery on the inside. They were fluffy and crispy and accompanied by an array of spreads. There was whipped Steen’s butter, homemade apple butter, local raw honey and a savory pork sausage spread. I truly could have died happy after eating these biscuits.

Biscuits

 

For the main event, we shared the Lobster & Crawfish Pot Pie and the Smoked Oyster Fried Rice. They were both rich in flavor and delicious in their own ways.

The Pot Pie was filled with juicy Maine Lobster, Louisiana crawfish, mushrooms and a sweet corn béchamel. The filling was made just right – flavorful without being overpowering, as seafood entrees can sometimes be. The crust was perfectly flaky.

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The Oyster Fried Rice was a decadent blend of Carolina Gold rice, kimchi and lardo. It certainly wasn’t your typical Chinese take-out fried rice, it was full of crunch and unique flavor. In my opinion, the kimchi gave the dish a nice “pop”.

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For the finale, we had just enough room left for Fixe’s Carrot Cake ‘Tres Leches.’

What a way to end the dining experience! The cake, made with a carrot jam, was appropriately moist. (Sorry, I hate that word too.) Alongside it was a candied pineapple and a scoop of creamy goat milk ice cream. It gave my taste buds all the feels.

IMG_0665Fixe Southern House really holds the bar high for Austin cuisine. About three hours in to being in Austin, I was already beyond impressed.

 

Now will you all please do me a favor and go eat some biscuits from Fixe!?

JK

 

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New Orleans: District: Donuts.Sliders.Brew

District: Donuts.Sliders.Brew
2209 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 570-6945
www.districtdonuts.com
(Multiple Locations)

 

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Have you ever walked in the rain just for donuts?

Well, I kinda did. It was more like part walk in the rain, part Uber. But regardless, I did it and it was well worth it.

 

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District: Donuts.Sliders.Brew in New Orleans is worth every calorie.

 

Although I wanted to eat all the donuts there, I gave a piece of my soul away to the Cookie Butter Brudder donut.

Oh. My. God. It was a piece of Heaven, if Heaven is smothered in cookie butter and topped with chucks of chocolate chip and straight-up chocolate cookies.

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Donuts may be the signature item at District: Donut but the other menu items did not disappoint.

To accompany my donut (and add to my waistline), I tried one of their tasty Chicken Sliders.

I ordered mine with the fried chicken, sweet and spicy slaw and candied jalapeño nestled between two waffle fries. It was pure bliss!

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I might have been soaked when I got to District: Donut but I certainly left there dry and with a stomach full of happiness.

– JK

 

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Chicago: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
3404 N. Southpoint Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 348-7139
www.jenis.com
(Multiple Locations)

 

I can’t exactly pinpoint where my love affair with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams started.

I think I stumbled upon an Instagram photo of an ice cream cone from one her scoop shops.

From there, I went to her website and looked it over as a puddle of drool painted my chin. The flavors Jeni’s offers are the stuff dreams are made of. Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam, Brown Butter Almond Brittle and Goat Cheese with Red Cherries – oh my!

 

Their social media guru got me. I needed to try this ice cream, like yesterday.

 

So I found the closest retailer to me, The Fresh Market, about 25 minutes from me. I scooped up my ice cream (pun intended) and it was love at first bite of Brambleberry Crisp.

 

Over the last year or so, my sister, Kerri, and I would fill up shopping baskets with Jeni’s, send pints to our home and hit up scoop shops if we were visiting a city that had one. We’re kind of obsessed.

Jeni, if you’re reading this, South Florida really needs some of your ice creamy goodness. *Hint Hint*

 

A few months ago, my sister, her girlfriend, Anna, and I took a trip to Chicago. Three days before the trip, the magical social media team for Jeni’s posted a picture on their Instagram of one of their Chicago scoop shops. I totally forgot they had scoop shops there. OH. EM. GEE. We’re going to Jeni’s!

 

We took the L to the South Port Scoop Shop.

 

It didn’t even matter that we were from Florida and it was like 34 degrees out. We had to get our cones!

I had a waffle cone with three scoops – Sweet Corn, Gooey Butter Cake (my all-time favorite) and Sweet Potato Eclair.

Although you can never have enough ice cream, the visit was enough to satisfy me until my next tryst with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

– JK

 

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