- Snackboxe Bistro welcome dinner. Ah, I’m so lucky this restaurant came into my life when they did. I couldn’t have asked for a better venue to welcome all of our out of town guests and loved ones. Getting to spend time with them in a place where I have artwork hanging and I love the food – it was so so special. The food was amazing, every single item was delectable and ALL the guests kept telling me how impressed they were with how delicious it was. It was well worth the money to have this extra time with everyone before the wedding.
- The Wandering Tea bridal tea. My goal in life is to support my friends and the Atlanta creatives I admire whenever and wherever possible. The minute I saw that my friend Charise was offering bridal suite tea parties, it was a no-brainer. I knew it was going to be a delight, but while it was happening I fully realized how necessary it was. Any bride who is getting their hair and makeup done needs some sustenance and relaxation and Charise brings it all to your room. I never wanted it to end! Sipping on tea and mimosas was really the perfect way to wind down before winding back up again. One of the best decisions I made by far.
- Laudae bridal gown from The Sentimentalist. My family and I did bridal appointments with four different shops and while every shop had beautiful gowns, it was at this shop that I felt most at home. My style is sort of all over the place and I like to take risks, but in the end I needed a gown that made me feel like myself. Other dresses felt very WOW but this one felt RIGHT. Like I didn’t feel like I was dressing up, I was just dressing like myself. And this is me.
- Sarah Dodge’s baked goods. If you didn’t know already, food is pretty important to me. Also I had been exercising some good restraint before the wedding so obviously I deserved treats. My favorite Atlanta baker, Sarah Dodge, was there for me. On my wedding day, she delivered straight to my hotel room – galettes, sandwiches, biscuits, scones, chocolate chip cookies, and a LOAF OF BREAD. Everyone was astounded by how delicious it all was and not only that but we had a bunch of treats leftover which we got to enjoy after the wedding for days. It was glorioussssss.
- Jade Jamrozy, a stylist I could trust. I think brides underestimate how important it is to like your stylist. Not just to like their style, but to also enjoy their spirit and company. Jade is one of the sweetest stylists I’ve ever had work on my hair and face and her kindness made me feel a whole lot less bridezilla-y when I had a bunch of thoughts and second guessing going on in my head. She really made me felt like I was taken care of and that I wasn’t crazy insane thinking about little things after the trial. That sort of trust is hard to come by. Naturally, like a few days after my wedding, I went back to her to chop my hair into a short bob. And now I finally have my forever hairstylist. <3
- Support without having bridesmaids. This is a short ode to my friends. I didn’t have a bridal party, but these girls acted exactly as if and made sure I never felt like I was being bossy or demanding. I am so so blessed to have friends who are as kind and caring as they are. They were with me at every step and I couldn’t have done it without them by my side. They don’t need to be wearing matching dresses for me to know that they are my forever friends.
- Being married by my BFF. And to segue from the last point, we knew very early on that we couldn’t be married by a stranger. It only made sense to pick either a family member or a BFF. My friend Liz was the only one I trusted to be able to do this for us – to give our ceremony the gravity it needed while still maintaining the closeness of having a friend by our side. She’s known me for half my life and it was reassuring to have her standing there next to me while I was trying to keep it together during the ceremony.
- Ben & Colleen, low pressure and always there. Have you sensed a theme yet? All these favorite things are about people giving me reassurance and being by my side. Ben and Colleen were no different and thank goodness I picked them as our photographers. They were always there when I was looking for them, they were in control but also very open to any requests. They were present without being too present. They were capturing all the little moments but also doing some of the traditional shots. I had considered so many other photographers, it felt sort of like fate that I ended up with them.
- Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, a venue that perfectly suited our vision. If you get married, make sure you love the venue. And boy, did I love this venue. No pictures can compare to how lovely it actually was in person, but you can imagine it:
- Our vows. Obviously the actual best thing about the whole day was that I got to marry him. His vows wrecked me and so I was trying to keep it together when I said mine. Sigh. Nothing could ever compare to that moment.
I’ve been feeling a little bit of the imposter syndrome. You know, when you start getting closer to the life you always wanted – the doubt still lingers. The questions are echoing in your mind, asking yourself if this is real or.. you just feel like somewhat of a fraud. Blog posts have been so few and far between lately because I think it’s getting harder to reveal my true self and my true voice. I’m putting myself out there much more than ever, but it’s the edited version. And my blog posts have always been real. Or at least I’ve tried to make them so. It’s also been hard with all that’s going on in the real world, to feel like any of what I say is important. But here I am, and I’m just gonna do this.
Out of every five or six new places we try, we mayyybe only are going to return to one. That’s why we’ve found ourselves in an eating out rut especially when it comes to BuHi. Can’t help that we know what we like! But the other night we tried a new (new to us) spot that Ben has had his eyes on ever since we went to Hello Chicken. It’s right next door to Hello Chicken, also serves chicken, and we were willing to take the risk for the possibility of a new treasure. As it turned out, we struck gold. El Autentico Sinaloense Pollos Asados:
Sinaloan grilled chicken, pollos asados. Very similar to the Mexican food we’re all familiar with, but with a focus on the chicken. It ended up being one of the best finds we’ve discovered in quite a long time. It was all the things that we love and cherish about Buford Highway – chock full of flavor, affordable, friendly, and off the beaten path. We didn’t know what to get but they were having a special (as you can see by the sign in the window) – buy a full chicken and get half free. So we did. Perhaps they were trying to offload some chicken? We didn’t care.
When you get the chicken, you also get tortillas, delicious (and very spicy) salsas, hot dog pinto beans, and rice. In addition to the chips and green dip that were dropped on the table when we sat down. I was able to resist the tortillas, but I did have to shovel some rice into my mouth. The chicken was DUH-licious. Slightly on the dry side but I can definitely forgive them for grilling up loads of chicken like this. It was just really tasty, tasted like I was in my family’s backyard grill party. If my family were Sinaloan. Every flavor pronounced and bright.
I will warn you, there was no AC. So we were sweating it out, with spicy salsa and sweat coming down our foreheads for this chicken. The server was really gracious and welcoming. He recommended we try these lamb tacos and goddamn, they were good. Like real good. I’m not even a fan of lamb, but I ate this all up.
SO. This is now officially on our list of BuHi must-try spots. ALL this food cost like $25 and we had enough chicken left over to eat for another meal. It’s not the perfect experience, but for the value it’s insanely good. There was soccer on the TV and Ben got to have his favorite Jarrito soda. What more could we have asked for? It may be too hot to come here too often in the summer, but we’ll definitely be back very soon. I forgive them for no AC, and there are not many restaurants I’d say the same for.
If you ever have a chance to go to Proof Bakeshop, please do. Please do. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying their baked goods at off-site locations (like Brash Coffee or Bread & Butterfly), but taking a slow morning at their bakeshop was a true delight. For that reason, space can be scarce, but on a weekday you’re bound to find a seat. I ordered a coffee and their ham and gruyere croissant. It was as big as my face and I didn’t give AF that I ate it all. #worthit
They’ve also got bread and cakes and other baked goods that basically make you want to move in and stay forever. At least that’s how I felt. It was a quiet setting, nothing pretentious and everything I ate – including cookies to go – were perfectly indulgent. My figure can’t handle going there any more than every now and then. Push this one to the top of your must-try list, especially if you do any sort of studying or freelancing. Oh, and let me know so I can join you!
Hello Chicken has been on our list for a little while – it’s on Buford Highway right across the street from some of our BuHi staples. We’ve been waiting for the right night to venture out of our comfort zone in hopes that we find a new gem. The windows are oddly completely covered so we were never able to tell if it was crowded or not, but you know, pictures of chicken wings are sometimes enough.
Note, Korean food is not something I’m an expert in. I’ve only recently become exposed to what it’s all about so I don’t think my palate is the best gauge. That being said, I just know what I like. The dish that made my night at Hello Chicken was ironically, not the chicken. It was this build-your-own hot plate bibimbap I ordered! It came out sizzling and I guess I just happened to pick all the right stuff… also, the ability to choose brown rice instead white was a revelation. It browned and crisped at the bottom just the way I like.
So the unfortunate news is that the chicken wings were not great and also kind of expensive. What up with that? We ordered two flavors, I honestly can’t even remember which ones. They came out with potato fingers too, doused in the respective chicken wing sauces. Also, the wings were not just wings – there were random pieces of chicken as well. Neither flavor we had was that good or crispy. With me trying to be at least somewhat disciplined in my calorie intake, these wings were just… not worth it.
Such a shame! The atmosphere was also sort of weird. They had two tracks of music going on at once – one was K-pop music videos and the other could be aptly described as the worst top 40 songs from the last 5 years. Too much. I would take the K-pop any day. Overall, I would say that it’s great that I know where to get a custom bimbimbap… but bad that I don’t know where to get good Korean chicken wings! Do you know a place?
Atlanta is – b l o w i n g – up with new spots and I haven’t even been able to keep up. Time is precious and also I just love supporting the businesses I’ve already fell in love with (i.e. here, here, and here… I can’t believe I’ve been writing blogposts for that long..). Every now and then though I’ll slip in a new spot for a lady date. By the time I got to Muchacho, it had already gotten all over the media so I knew very well that it had social media friendly things like coffee, avocado toast, and tacos. So I knew I had to make it there at some point and experience it for myself.
First impression was that it was wayyy smaller than I thought it was going to be? Even though I knew and had previously been in that building, I just imagined it being… more! There are really not that many seats to sit and enjoy your coffee. I was meeting with my friend Kelly who I knew was going to have a stroller and it was cold outside but I could not find any seating for us inside. Thankfully there were heaters on the patio, but still. Something to know before you try to go in on a weekend. Our visit was on a late Sunday afternoon so I can’t imagine what the morning is like.
The best things about Muchacho were this golden latte (I think it’s like cinnamon honey syrup or something else delicious?) and the friendliness of the staff. However what I did not really love was the food. Which was truthfully pretty disappointing given that instagram food pics more or less drove me here. This is where 8arm excels heads above Muchacho. I first fell in love with 8arm for the relaxed vibe and the warm baristas and then, at the time, Sarah Dodge’s pastries did me in completely.
I very much prefer the toasts at Spiller Park; Spiller Park does toast right. The tacos feel very out of place to me here. Perhaps I need to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe Sunday was an off day. But there’s just no reason to get tacos at Muchacho when it’s more or less billed as a breakfast and coffee shop. The tacos were edible, but I honestly can’t even remember what they tasted like. Back to that golden latte…
Conclusion? You can go for the photo, go for the design, enjoy the atmosphere – the patio area is huge but it was cold on the day I went – and get a latte. I didn’t try any of the grain bowls so maybe you should try one of those. Don’t think I’ll be back though, now that I can say I’ve been there. Atlanta keeps growing so I’ll just keep moving on.
Houston for Lunar New Year, two very short days, lots of delicious meals and quality time with my family. When can Atlanta get some of this amazing Vietnamese food? Below acts as a pretty good visual checklist of all – well, most – of the things I can only find in Houston. I’m sorry, I probably should have taken note of WHERE all these dishes are, but I’ll do the best I can…
- These crazy sausage spring rolls (I think it’s nem nuong cuon). These are like your normal Vietnamese spring rolls EXCEPT there’s also grilled sausage inside along with a crunchy fried stick thing. It’s a very difficult thing to describe, but so unbelievably scrumptious. And I have no idea what is in that yellow dipping sauce. Egg? Someone who is more Vietnamese than me, please help me out.
2. Banh Xeo (in various forms). I actually do think you can find this in Georgia but I don’t think it’s as good? I’m not sure.
3. Vietnamese Chinese Food. There are like LOTS of restaurants that are like a hybrid? Vietnamese food with Chinese accents. Either way I like it all.
4. Che. Specially RED BEANS. Again, another thing you actually can find in Atlanta on BuHi BUT it pales so much in comparison to Houston that I cannot even bring myself to get it. Every time I try, I end up throwing it out. And in Houston, I get one like every single day. Happy hour is che hour.
5. Banh mi. SO. This is the one thing I’m proud to say we actually have a really great option for (Quoc Huong) on BuHi. The banh mi we get in Houston is a little different – more butter. Lots more butter. Which is awesome in its own way.
6. Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky. I have a feeling this is in Atlanta but I just haven’t found it yet. Anyone know something I don’t? This, like most of these other dishes is just about ingredients. I don’t know if anyone does this jerky, I don’t know if anyone does the sauce.
Long story short is that I love Houston for family and food; two of the most important things in life! Sorry this blog writing is not more finessed. I’m just dying to get these pics out there.
Not sure when I first discovered who Sarah Dodge was. I’m assuming it was when she was creating the insanely delicious cinnamon buns and biscuits at 8arm, but I’ve been enjoying her pastries before that too (when she was at Little Tart). It’s so exciting to see someone with culinary talent change and grow. Once I saw Sarah making bread on her instagram, I was on HIGH alert for any announcement that would mean I’d be able to eat her pastries again.
Well, she answered my dreams. Sarah is doing a breakfast pop-up at Queen of Cream every weekend with a rotating menu. It immediately shot up to the top of my to-do list and I went for a rainy Sunday with Ben even though I already had brunch plans. I went before brunch.
The whole experience was a delight. Believe it or not, I had never been inside Queen of Cream! I’ve eaten the ice cream from the carts, but never gone inside the shop. Now I’m so glad I did – the whole thing made me feel like I was back in Montreal, eating a casual breakfast sitting in the window of a simple shop eating delicious food. There’s nothing better than these little moments of life.
I had to resist getting the predictable thing, cinnamon bun and a biscuit. I know these are amazing because duh she made the ones we know and love so well at 8arm. Instead I took a risk and got the spaghetti squash hash with a fried egg on top… and I was not disappointed. Spaghetti squash needs to go on every brunch menu from now on. It’s such a great carrier for savory flavors! Ben got the waffle with a scoop of ice cream on top, which is funny because I thought he was only ever going to be able to have ice cream for breakfast at home. It was a good morning for both of us.
SO. What you need to do is put this on your calendar ASAP. She does run out of supplies so don’t dawdle – make it a priority! Also I’m so happy to see so many others in the Atlanta community coming out to eat her food. She deserves the spotlight she’s getting and I hope this means I’m going to be eating her food for a very long time…
I think at some point after I got into a serious relationship (like maybe two-ish years in), brunch somehow slipped off the table. Brunch in your early 20s was fun, carefree, and probably what you were looking forward to all week long. Then you start to realize you need to be practical. You gotta save money, you gotta run errands. Time becomes precious and you let go of the possibility of brunch, due to the sheer logistics of it all.
Last weekend, three girlfriends and I decided we were going to brunch. Not only that, but we committed to going to brunch at Bar Mercado, a new hot spot in Krog St Market. I looked forward to it all week long.
The vibe was HOPPIN. I was like oh dang, this is a spot to see and be seen. I didn’t know brunch was gonna be such a party. I almost wondered if I didn’t look good enough to be at brunch but then I remembered that IDGAF now that I’m older. But I imagine it’s a really great date spot, a really great bar spot at night. I got there earlier than my friends so I ordered a cadiz punch brunch cocktail (anything that sounds vaguely tropical is up my alley). The rainy weather had my lady dates trickling in one by one; we each ordered a cocktail. They were bright and fun, appropriate for the setting.
We started off with this seared banana bread that comes with whipped goat cheese butter. It was slightly burnt, but very rich (can you see how oily it is?) and definitely needed to be shared if you don’t want it going straight to your ass. I would probably skip it in the future; too indulgent without enough payoff.
Our main brunch dishes were overall really good though! The grain bowl and my eggs benedict were pretty delicious. The grain bowl had beautiful textures and was hearty without making you feel heavy. My benedict was a surefire hangover cure – really salty and buttery, best things in life. The avocado toast came with this sort of marinated egg on top which was a surprising delight, but there wasn’t as much avocado as we thought there should be. But we were pretty happy with our choices and even happier to just be allowing ourselves to enjoy a slow morning over a nice meal together.
Final thoughts: Bar Mercado is a fun place to enjoy with a group of girlfriends. The music was lively and the atmosphere had us wanting to keep going… (and we did! We moved to Ticonderoga Club right after for another drink) The service was a little on the slower side, but I think that’s okay for a lingering brunch. I’d definitely come back here, but I’d probably try completely different items than this first time. Their patio looks quite inviting so once the weather is warm again, that will take it up a notch! Have you been here yet? Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
In a Buford Highway plaza named “Asian Square”, you’ll find the “Asian Supermarket”. Yes, that’s what it’s named (in English anyways). This is where I’ve found one of my favorite wonton noodle soups! And it’s also where Ben can find some seriously numbing Sichuan fried chicken.
This is the roasted duck that also goes into my wonton soup. Because wonton soup is not wonton soup without some roast duck! Ugh, I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it. This night in particular we went with our friends Molly and Andy and they went the custom route – choosing random ingredients for a Sichuan stir fry. I’m so glad they did it because I never would have tried it and now I know, this is a delicious option. Thank god for Buford Highway.
I’ve made it my mission to expand my horizons on Buford Highway. Obviously I love Asian food and I love exploring new restaurants, but I can easily get into a rut where I visit the SAME places every time. I can’t help that I have specific cravings! Once I find something I like, it’s really hard to switch to something new.
Vivi Bubble Tea has all the makings of a good instagram, so I was skeptical about the quality of their bubble tea. Thankfully my new friend Helen (@atlanta_noms) got me to try it for our first IRL meeting and now I’m so happy we did! I’ve only been there twice now, but I was surprised by how much I liked their tea. I thought it was going to be too sweet for me, but it was on par with Kung Fu Tea.
I ordered this tiramisu bubble tea so I could get this cotton candy topping. Yes, for instagram. But again – to my delight – the bubble tea was delicious. I enjoyed the boba and also drank that little mason jar of extra tea. Probably not the healthiest thing for me to do, but you only live once right? I think my favorite bubble tea is still Tea House Formosa, but cheers to trying new things and making new friends!