Tag Archives: Travel

Cleveland: Jack Flaps Luncheonette

Jack Flaps Luncheonette
530 Euclid Ave., Suite 10 (Inside the 5th St. Arcades)
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 303-9175
www.jackflaps.co
(Other location on Lorain Ave.)

 

Jack Flaps

Last month, my father and I took a short trip to Cleveland, Ohio. Despite the non-stop, freezing rain, getting lost looking for the rail line, a cancelled Indians ballgame and transportation issues (i.e. delayed flights and trains with engine problems), we still managed to have a good time.

 

One of the things that contributed to our good time was the deliciousness served up at Jack Flaps Luncheonette. It was 100% worth the trek through the cold downpour.

 

The cleverly-named Jack Flaps is nestled inside Cleveland’s 5th Street Arcades. Before I make your taste buds go as crazy as 2007 Britney Spears, I must address the scenery.

All the buildings in Cleveland are full of old-school architecture. The building that houses Jack Flaps is no exception. It was adorned with marble walls, intricate tiling and vaulted skylight ceilings in the atrium.

5th Street Arcades

 

The vibe inside of Jack Flaps is cozy and quaint. It’s a fairly small dining establishment. (Thank God we got there early!)

Jack Flaps Inside

There are several tables and a little diner-style bar seating area right next to the kitchen and grills. It was cool to watch all the magic happen from our bar seats.

 

I wish I would have snapped more pictures but I was too busy chatting with our bubbly waitress, Karmen, and savoring the restaurant’s infamous (Pardon my French) Real F’ing Breakfast Burrito. Yes, that is the actual name it and it was the realest.

Real F'ing Breakfast Burrito

First off, the presentation was on point. Just look at it!

 

It’s so pretty you don’t want to ruin it but trust me, you do. All the flavors in and on top of this burrito go so well together; like peanut butter and jelly, Bonnie and Clyde, etc. You get it – simpatico.

The Adobo-braised meat was cooked and seasoned to perfection. It also added the right amount of spice to the dish. The eggs and potatoes were perfect companions to the meat in this tortilla. The crema cooled down the heat nicely and the smoked tomato salsa was a refreshing touch on top. This breakfast burrito deserves an A+.

 

Although I did not order any flap jacks, all the ones that passed my line of view looked stunning. They offer flavors like Lemon Curd, Tiramisu and Lavender Vanilla Crème Brûlée.

Jack Flaps Menu

I was, however, able to snag a bite of my Dad’s original Buttermilk Pancake and house made sausage. They were both scrumptious.

 

I’d like to give Jack Flaps a standing ovation. Thank you for the delicious breakfast and wonderful Midwest hospitality. (I’m so glad I sucked up a walk in the cold and rain for it!)

This Florida girl was very impressed. I’m looking forward to another Real F’ing Breakfast Burrito in my future.

 

Cleveland, you rock!

– JK

 

 

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Las Vegas: Mount Charleston – Mary Jane Falls Trail

Mount Charleston – Mary Jane Falls Trail
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
2525 Kyle Canyon Road
Las Vegas, NV 89124
(705) 827-5486
www.gomtcharleston.com/mary-jane-falls/

 

Mount Charleston

One of my favorite things to do while on vacation is go out and explore the great outdoors. Whether it be taking a long walk on the beach, strolling through a local park or hitting the trails at a nearby natural area – I’m down.

Last month, I took a trip to visit my best friend, Austin, in Las Vegas. It was the perfect mix of city (the Las Vegas Strip), history (Springs Preserve) and nature (Mount Charleston).

 

This post features my adventures up Mount Charleston’s Mary Jane Falls Trail.

Mary Jane Falls Trail

 

Let me start by saying this hike isn’t for beginners. According the internet reviews of the trail, the Mary Jane Falls Trail is described as “moderate”. I can definitely vouch that this nearly 3-mile trail certainly isn’t a cake walk.

Austin and I work out regularly and it didn’t take very long into the hike for us to get winded. I blame it on the elevation. What do a Floridian like me and former Floridian like him know about high elevations!?

 

We sucked it up with numerous rest breaks, Instagram photo ops, lots of water, protein bars and beef jerky.

Best Friends in Mount Charleston

 

It was a beautiful and challenging adventure. The trees were plentiful and nice to look at; there were luscious Ponderosa Pines, White Fir, Aspen and Mountain Mahogany.

Trees

 

From the mountain, the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining enough to keep us warm despite patches of ice along the trail.

IMG_1192

 

The views became exponentially more amazing the higher we hiked. The mountains became clearer and bigger while the trail below become smaller and narrower from up high. I totally sound all nostalgic and spiritual right now but it really is life-changing to see the world from this point of view.

The most fulfilling part was obviously making it to the top of the trail. Woohoo!

According to Austin’s Snapchat filter, the elevation at the top was 9875 feet. Hot damn, we hiked that!

 

At the top, was a waterfall. Unfortunately, it was frozen but still pretty cool to look at. You could hear the ice dripping as it melted from the sun’s heat and you could see little pieces of ice start to fall off the giant icicles.

IMG_1183

It was truly an accomplishment reaching the peak of Mary Jane Falls Trail.

 

The journey down the trail was so much easier than the trek up. I think it made up about 45 minutes of our nearly 3-hour hike. But hey, we conquered the Mount Charleston’s Mary Jane Falls Trail.

Down Mary Jane Falls Trail

If you’re looking for a lovely change of scenery in Sin City, I challenge you to test yourself and see the beautiful mountains of Nevada on the Mary Jane Falls Trail.

 

Happy Trails!

– JK

 

 

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Chicago: Giordano’s

Giordano’s
130 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 616-1200
www.giordanos.com
(Multiple Locations)

 

In Front of Giordano's

Have you ever flown to Chicago for the day just to get Deep-Dish Pizza? Well, I have and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

 

I’m obsessed with pizza and will go to great lengths to eat the world’s best pies.

Last year, my friend Carlos told me about some cheap flights to Chicago and how he was going for the day just to get Chicago-style pizza. He encouraged me to do the same.

 

So one cold October day, my sister, her girlfriend, Anna, and I hopped on an American Airlines flight to O’Hare to spend the day in Chi-Town.

We rode the L, saw The Bean at Millennium Park, enjoyed a few brews at Goose Island Beer Company, had an ice cream cone at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (see my previous posts about Jeni’s and Goose Island), walked through Wrigleyville, viewed the city from the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building and most importantly, got to experience Chicago deep-dish pizza!

 

Now, I know everyone has an opinion about where the best pizza in Chicago is but I asked several trusty natives and they told me to go to Giordano’s. It was amazing!

 

The wait was about 30 minutes but totally worth it. We snapped some photos of the famous pizza joint and enjoyed a Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale while we waited. It only seemed appropriate to have a Chicago brew with our Chicago-style pizza.

Beers at Giordano's

 

Once seated, we ordered some of the Fried Mozzarella Triangles. They were lightly breaded and served with house-made marinara. It was the perfect way to curb our hunger while we anxiously dreamed about the arrival of our Giordano’s deep-dish cheese pizza.

Fried Mozzarella

 

The good news is the wait wasn’t that long! Giordano’s takes your deep-dish order when you reserve your table to ensure you don’t wait too long for a fresh pie. Genius!

Although the Fried Mozzarella was good, the magic really happened when the pizza hit the table.

 

It was a glorious pie with crunchy crust, ample sauce and some of the most beautiful cheese pulls I’ve ever seen. Giordano’s did not disappoint.

Giordano's

The pizza was so good we seriously considered buying a few of their refrigerated take-home pizzas to bring back to Florida in our carry-ons. (We didn’t end up doing it.)

But in case you’re wondering, it is completely okay to bring pizza through the TSA checkpoint. I may or may not have Googled it. 😉

 

You might think we’re crazy (and we are) for flying to Chicago for the day just to get pizza but I’d do it again 50 times over.

Chicago, we love you and your pizza! We’ll be back soon!

– JK

 

 

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Philadelphia: Manayunk Brewing Company

Manayunk Brewing Company
4120 Main St.
Philadelphia, PA 19127
(215) 482-8220
www.manayunkbrewery.com

 

Manayunk Beers

Another city, another brewery. That’s how I choose to live my life.

While in Philadelphia, I made my friend, Vanessa, embrace this lifestyle with me. (Well, at least for the evening.)

 

We took a little trip into the “hip” area of Philly called Manayunk. There they have a huge brewery/restaurant appropriately named Manayunk Brewing Company.

 

The building is multi-level with a dining area, sushi bar, private event room and multiple bars throughout the establishment. On the Saturday night we went, the place was filled with patrons in the mood to eat and drink.

We opted for the outside bar, which was a little more secluded and quiet. It had a riverfront view, although it was hard to see amidst the falling snow.

 

I perused their brew menu for a tasty new beer to try. This was a difficult task, as I’m not a big fan of decision-making.

Fortunately, the solution to my indecision was listed on the top of the menu – a beer flight featuring the nine brews Manayunk was currently offering.

Manayunk Beer Flight

 

This visit’s beer sampling included:

Light Bohemian Blonde – Light Blonde Ale made with German hops (3.4% ABV)

The Pilgrimage – Belgian-Style Coffee Stout made with cold-brewed coffee beans (6.5% ABV)

American Sardine Ale – Belgian-Style Blonde with notes of lemon zest and black pepper (4.5% ABV)

Brett Monk – Belgian-Style Trippel aged in wine barrels with Brettanomyces and made with pilsner malt and noble hops (9.0% ABV)

Simcoalition – Hazy Northeast IPA made with Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic hops (7.1% ABV)

Dr. Drei – Brett IPA made with the Drei strain of yeast, has notes of mango and pineapple (5.8% ABV)

Cuvée De Yunk – Belgian Style Sour made with apricots, has a hint of vanilla flavor (5.0% ABV)

Crunch – Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter with chocolate and coffee notes (6.0% ABV)

Brotherly Love – Pomegranate-Cranberry Cider (5.2% ABV)

 

My favorites were the Light Bohemian Blonde Ale and Cuvée De Yunk. (I’m a sucker for sours.) The beers paired well with Manayunk’s complementary house-made seasoned popcorn. So good.

 

As if the beer flight wasn’t enough, I also tried one of their canned brews – SRP #3. It was a Dry-Hopped Sour Ale (7.4% ABV).

Manayunk Sour AleIt was so delicious, I wanted to export some back to Florida. But then I realized it wasn’t allowed in my carry-on home.

 

Maybe next time.

– JK

 

 

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New Orleans: Café Du Monde

Café Du Monde
800 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 525-4544
www.cafedumonde.com
(Multiple Locations)

 

Beignets

If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans and ask for recommendations on where to go, I’m 99.9% sure you’ll be told to check out Café Du Monde. It’s basically a French Quarter staple.

From my experience, it truly is a NOLA trip must!

I am not big on pastry-type sweets (I’d rather save my calories for a big bowl of ice cream) but hot, fresh beignets are AMAZING!!! These little chunks of fried dough covered in powdered sugar are life-changing.

 

Although the process to obtain these treats is pretty straightforward; walk up and order or sit down and be served, I’d like to share a few pro-tips for doing Café Du Monde right.

  1. Bring cash. If you choose to sit down to enjoy your beignet, table service is cash only.
  2. As Café Du Monde is a New Orleans hot-spot, table-sharking is crucial. Be sure to keep an eye out for parties that are about to leave their cozy little table.
  3. Don’t make the rookie mistake of wearing black to the restaurant. These bad boys are generously sprinkled with powdered sugar and it gets EVERYWHERE!!!
  4. Ask for a to-go bag, beignets are TSA-approved! My sister successfully transported a bag of them back to Florida.
  5. Last but not least, enjoy! (See my sister, Kerri, enjoying below.)

 

Cafe Du Monde

 

If you make the trip to NOLA heed the advice of me (and everyone else) and treat yourself to some beignets. People will totally judge you if you go to New Orleans and skip this iconic stop!

– JK

 

 

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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.

IMG_0840

 

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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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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