The third day of our vacation was more of a transition day than anything else. The day started early, very early. We woke up at around 6am and then left the hotel at around 7:30 am and caught the subway to the airport. The nearly 1.5 hour subway ride, really cut into our 9:35 am board time, especially since the trains had to be rerouted. In fact, after all the customs work, we just made it to our terminal with a few minutes to spare before the gate was closed. Whww, disaster averted!
The one hour flight was faster than it would take for us to catch the shuttle from JFK International Airport to our hotel in the Theater District. The shuttle ride was nearly 3 hours long, and at times, it felt like we were going in circles. When we reached Hotel Mela, I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were situated right in the heart of Times Square on 44th street. Times Square is literally a few steps away from our boutique hotel. Awesome!
Having missed breakfast, both me and Michelle were starved. On the recommendation of a few of my Twitter followers, we stopped at the Shake Shack on 44th street (how convenient!). The place was packed to the max. They say that this is the closest thing the East Coast has to In-N-Out. I had the ShakeShack Burger and Michelle had the ‘Shroom Burger. Both were out of this world good. They were both really, really, really good burgers. But at the end of the day, I still have to say that Hodad’s in San Diego is still my favorite burger destination on Earth. Still, a very good burger.
After that we ventured around Times Square for a little bit and did some shopping. Michelle found a Sanrio Luxe store and she was engaged for a good 30 minutes. Sanrio, she loves to buy that stuff for her friends.
Bryant Park was filled to the brim with New Yorkers and tourists alike. Every nook and cranny of the park was being utilized for something, from the ping pong table to the carrousel to the petangue area. If I lived in New York, I could absolutely see myself copping a chair, coffee in hand Â and reading a book for hours at a time.
Once we had our fill of Bryant Park, we walked to both the Chrysler Building and then the Empire State Building. There’s something about the art deco design of The Empire State Building that draws me to it. I love the architecture of that building – it’s stunning, much like NYC.
Before we headed back to Hotel Mela, we stopped by the flagship Macy’s store on 34th Street in Herald’s Square. This is the world’s largest department store, and with 10 extensive floors, I believe it. In fact, the first floor was so large that it alone was overwhelming for the two of us. In fact, overwhelming might be an understatement.
NYC Neighborhoods Visited: Upper West Side, Central Park, Midtown West, Midtown East, Upper East Side, Theater District
We kicked off our morning by stopping at the famed Barney Greengrass for breakfast. This spot came highly recommend by Anthony Bourdain so it was a must visit. Located on the Lower West Side, Barney Greengrass is famous for their sturgeon and salmon, so you know what I had to get for breakfast – sturgeon and salmon! The dish that I ordered featured nice portions of both sturgeon and Nova Scotia salmon as well as big serving of scrambled eggs and a perfectly toasted bagel on the side. Both the sturgeon and the salmon are served cold. I’ve never eaten salmon with eggs for breakfast before, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Coupled with the bagel covered in cream cheese, this unique New York breakfast made for a pleasant surprise. After eating my meal I proclaimed that I could eat this dish every day for breakfast for the rest of my life and be happy.
After the amazing breakfast at Barney Greengrass, we ventured off to explore Central Park. Explore might be an overstatement because Central Park is so large that it is almost impossible to explore its entirety in one visit. So we staked out 5 areas of Central Park that we had to see, including Belvedere Castle, Shakespeare Garden, Graywacke Arch, Bethesda Fountain, and Strawberry Fields. We spent about 3 hours inside of Central Park, but, we were able to see everything we wanted to see, and then some. My favorite area of the park by far was Bethesda Fountain – the size of this Central Park attraction is incredible.
While walking along the Lower West Side we spotted this awesome bus of kindness.
That’s me at the top of Belvedere Castle and overlooking Central Park and the Lower East Side.
While exploring Central Park, we went from West to East, and by the end of the park we had reached the busiest area of 5th Avenue. Apple’s flagship glass cube store had an outrageous line outside. For what you ask? The iPhone 4. Yep, nearly a month after its release, people are still standing in crazy lines to get their hands on one. Nuts.
The big piano in FAO Schwartz was another must visit destination, but alas, there were just too many kids clamoring to jump on those giant piano keys. It’s okay though, I had a chance to play chopsticks ala Tom Hanks from Big, the last time I was there.
Leaving 5ht avenue, we made a stop at Dylan’s Candy Box. I’ve never been here before so when I stepped inside this over-the-top candy store, I was blown away. They seriously have every candy you could ever want. And that was just the first floor. I was dumbfounded when I found out that they had two more floors of candy loving goodness. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Dylan’s Candy Box is a must visit destination in New York City.
Just a block from Dylan’s Candy Box was a restaurant that I had been wanting to visit for quite some time, Serendipity 3. Now, I’ve experienced the Serendipity magic once before in Las Vegas, but, there’s nothing like visiting the original. All I wanted was the Frozen Hot Chocolate but we ended up ordering some lunch as well. The Frozen Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate (I changed my mind and went with Peanut Butter instead of straight up chocolate) was amazing. The only thing about Serendipity 3 is the ridiculous wait time. If you do decide to make a stop at Serendipity 3 I recommend that you check in and then venture off to Dylan’s Candy Box to burn some time. But whatever you do, order the Frozen Hot Chocolate.
Before I had my Frozen Hot Chocolate, I had a Ftatateetaâ€™s Toast. It was pretty awesome.
By the time we finished up at Serendipity 3, it was about 4 pm. We decided to catch a taxi to Rockefeller Center to purchase tickets to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, especially since it was raining and we had done a lot of walking already during the day. We chose the Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building because both me and Michelle checked out the Empire the last time we were each here. After we grabbed our tickets, we headed back to our hotel to rest for a bit and freshen up for the evening.
At this point of the day, my feet were killing me! I can’t tell you how good it feels to kick off my shoes after a long day of walking and trekking. Needless to say, the two hour rest was much needed. Much needed! But there was still a few hours left in the day so we decided to make the best of it. Unfortunately, it started to rain so out came the umbrellas. The first stop was the Top of the Rock. For $20 you get a nice, 360 degree view of New York City, from three different levels. The brightly lit city is definitely something to gawk at. Ironically, the most obvious structure noticeable at the Top of the Rock is the Empire State Building.
Carmine’s was our dinner destination. It’s a family style Italian restaurant with very large portions. Michelle and I ordered the chicken marsala. For dessert, we headed back to the Shake Shack on 44th for the chocolate custard and chocolate shake. Decadence is our middle name.
After dinner we again explored Times Square. At night, Times Square is such a busy beast. Navigating the waves of people and yellow taxis is all part of the experience. And what an experience it has been so far!
This is the first of a couple day-by-day updates that Iâ€™ll be doing during my trip to Toronto and New York. I thought it would be cool to keep you guys up to date on what Iâ€™m up to and what tees Iâ€™m wearing! If you want to check out the tee that I wore, just click on the orange links.
Michelle and I began our trip by leaving sunny Honolulu, Hawaii for the first part of our two-destination trip to Toronto, Canada. The total time to get from Honolulu to Toronto was 15 hours, which included a 4 hour stop in Detroit, Michigan. By the time we reached Toronto, we were pooped out from spending nearly a day in the air and at multiple airports.
We reached Toronto’s Pearson International Airport at around 2pm and then caught the subway to our hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott Toronto Downtown. It took us about 45 minutes to get from the airport to the Marriott. We didn’t have much down time once we reached the hotel. We unpacked and then got ready for our first experience of Toronto – Jersey Boys, which was playing at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
No photos were allowed in the theater, but here’s an excellent shot from Broadway World.
Jersey Boys is the story of pop sensation Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Not sure who The Four Seasons are? Think of the songs Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You. We made it just in time to eat dinner at Milestones Bar and Grill and catch this limited engagement in Toronto. It costs at least 33% more to see it on Broadway – so we were able to save some bucks! The show was awesome and by the end the cast had a standing ovation.
The show finished at around 10 pm so we decided to check out Yonge-Dundas Square, also known as the Little Times Square of Toronto. This public open space is very much like a miniature Times Square, with its eye-catching billboards, shops and people traffic.
By the time we reached our hotel, we were both completely exhausted. Sleep was definitely needed to rejuvenate ourselves for tomorrow’s big adventure.
Today was all about Niagara Falls, but I am getting ahead of myself. First up was breakfast at Mystic Muffin. This Middle Eastern Sandwhich Shop and Bakery is known for their Falafels and Apple Cake. It was a bit too early for me to get Falafels, but I knew that I had to have a taste of the famous Mystic Muffin Apple Cake (take a look at their Yelp page, nearly every reviewer mentions the Apple Cake with high regard). Michelle decided on the Banana Bread. We thought the baked goods were yummy, but were not as blown away as the other Yelp reviewers.
After Mystic Muffin, we made our way to Yonge-Dundas Square to get a taste of it during the daytime. After a few pictures in front of the fountains that emerge from the surface of the southwest corner of the square. After a second visit to the Square, we headed towards CN Tower.
At 553.3 metres (1,815 ft) tall, CN Tower is the world’s 3rd tallest free-standing structure. This signature icon of Toronto’s skyline is known for the view from its observation deck and its glass floor. According to Wikipedia, the glass floor has an area of 24 square metres (258 sq ft) and can withstand a pressure of 4,100 kilopascals (595 psi). I didn’t hesitate to get on the glass, but once I was on it, I became very nervous. I think I might have even experienced a slight bout of acrophobia (fear of heights). I found myself freezing in place and I could feel my palms get very sweaty. Michelle had no problem on the glass floors. I observed one kid have a nervous breakdown after crawling his way off of the floor. Unfortunately, it was bait cloudy, so we decided not to pay extra to go up to the Sky Pod portion of the tower. They say that on a clear day, you can see Niagara Falls and even New York.
I couldn’t get a good photo of CN Tower because it was rather cloudy, but here’s a nice one by Flickr user SanGatiche.
After the Tower, we made a quick stop at Nathan Phillips Square and Toronto City Hall and then we both jetted back to the hotel – we had a 12:35 pm tour bus to Niagara Falls to catch! This comprehensive 12 hour tour including stops at Pillitteri Estate Winery for some wine tasting. I didn’t know this, but the Niagara area is also well known for their wineries. I had a taste of their award winning ice wine and I have to say that it was probably the sweetest wine that I’ve ever tasted. It was very good. A glass of the ice wine normally goes for 30-40 bucks, so we were lucky to taste a glass for just $2 – so worth it!
Following Pillitteri Winery, we drove through Niagara on the Lake, a quaint little town known for giving many black Americans their first taste of freedom. The town is also known for its Victorian style homes, gardens, art galleries, and antique shops. We also stopped by the Niagara Floral Clock, very large outdoor clock that features an extraordinary floral showpiece.
Niagara Falls was the main destination of the day, and we had finally made it to the falls. From a distance, Niagara Falls is very impressive. Up close, it is unbelievable and awe-inspiring. We took the Maid of the Mist bout tour and was able to get very close to both the American side of the falls and the Canadian side of the falls. The Canadian side of the falls trumps the American side in both size and sheer power. The boat to the Canadian side of the falls was like entering a rain storm, the mist was that powerful. It’s a good thing that they provided us with ponchos! Niagara Falls is definitely a must visit if you are even in the Toronto area. It will blow your mind!
After the boat tour of the falls, we had a group dinner at the Fallsview Restaurant at the top of the Sheraton. After the buffet dinner, we explored Fallsview. The mix of bright lights, restaurants, hotels and casinos make this side of the Niagara look like a miniature version of Las Vegas.
Since it was a Friday, we decided to wait for the fireworks show at 10 pm. To burn the time, we checked out the Niagara Whirlpool. Where the Niagara River makes a 90 degree turn, a level 6 rapids whirlpool is formed. Pretty insane.
And finally, the fireworks show made for an excellent end to our Niagara Falls experience. The trip back took about 1.5 hours and by the time we reached our hotel it was already 12 am! And with that, our short visit to Toronto came to an end. Our flight to New York leaves early tomorrow morning and I am excited for the Big Apple adventures ahead, but I am also sleep deprived. Maybe I’ll be able to get some sleep on the plane, I hope.
During my recent trip to San Francisco, I had the chance to stop over at Gama-Go’s flagship San Francisco boutique located at 335 8th Street in the SOMA neighborhood. GAMA-GO, which was started in 2000 by an art school dropout, traveling curmudgeon, and an amateur taxidermist, opened their first retail store just about a year ago.Â I had been invited by Adam Nace, one of the PR gurus at Gama-Go, to stop by the store and take a look around. I’m really glad that Adam had contacted because if he had not I probably would have missed visiting their awesome shop. Unfortunately, because of scheduling (I stopped by on a Saturday) I didn’t have a chance to meet with Adam or the founders.
The shop was surprisingly very spacious, and this gives you lots of room to explore the various GAMA-GO goodies. I had a fun time rummaging through the different designs while my girlfriend thumbed through the fun non-tee GAMA-GOODS. All of the shirts that I had lusted for on GAMA-GO’s online store was available at their boutique. I left GAMA-Go with two yeti-centric T-Shirts, Sequoia Solo and Yeti King, both of which I had been wanting to get for some time. I kind of wish that I had gotten the rest of their Yeti themed tees! Here are a few of the photos that I took:
Our last full day in San Francisco was unintentionally the day that we did the most of our shopping. We decided to check out a few parts of the City by the Bay that we hadn’t seen before. This meant a trip to Japantown, South of Market (SOMA) and the Mission District. We started the day off with a visit to Japantown, which ended up being a great time. This area of San Francisco, which is located about 15 minutes from Union Square, is home to scores of Japanese shops and restaurants.
Instead of a big breakfast, we decided to pick up some pastries from Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop, a Japanese family-run bakery in the heart of Japantown. Everything in this very small bakery looked so good, but we both decided on the Chocolate and Strawberry Roll. And let me tell you, this was probably the most delicious piece of pastry that I’ve had in a very long time. The roll itself was very soft but the strawberry filling tasted like strawberry ice cream. I wish I could have tried more pastries from Yasukochi’s, but alas, there’s always next time. Make Yasukochi’s a must stop if you ever find yourself in San Francisco.
Japantown had so many little shops to offer. Michelle spent a considerable amount of time in the largest Sanrio store that I’ve ever seen. Talk about Hello Kitty overload. I’ve never been in a room with more pink in my entire life. Wow.
While Michelle indulged in her shopping, I decided to stop by a little food stand called May’s Coffee Shop. They specialize in these little fish-shaped pastries that are filled with sweet red beans. I picked up one of those as well as a spam musubi. It almost felt like I was back in Hawaii (spam musubis are huge in Hawaii). And for the uninitiated, spam musubis is a rectangular block of rice topped with a slice of spam and wrapped in nori (seaweed). The red bean pastry was good, the musubi was ok, but more interesting than that, I was sitting next to the owner of May’s Coffee Shop. I struck up a conversation with this 75ish looking Japanese lady and she mentioned to me that she had just returned from vacationing in Hawaii. How neat!
Nippon-Ya is a great place to pick up Japanese candies and mochi. I picked up a box of strawberry and chocolate mochi as well as a box of banana and chocolate mochi. I can’t wait to try them!
The most exciting part of our journey to Japantown was the experience known as PikaPika. PikaPika is a shop filled with tons of Japanese photo booths. And we are talking authentic Japanese photo booths that speak to you in Japanese! Luckily, they provide English directions on these large cardboard slabs. What makes the PikaPika fun is that it’s timed so you have to move quickly when figuring out your different poses. Some booths also have monkey bars for those who want to try out some outrageous poses! Once you’ve taken all of your photos, you can then design them with borders and different designs. Apparently, these photo booths are all the rage in Japan. It was a super fun experience!
After Japantown, we headed toward the area of San Francisco known as SOMA, which is short for South of Market Street. Our main mission in SOMA was to stop by the Gama-Go store. T-Shirt fans will probably be familiar with Gama-Go. They are an independent T-Shirt brand based out of San Francisco. I’ll give Gama-Go their own post here on the blog with photos taken at the shop, so, be on the lookout for that.
Things got interesting when we left SOMA for the Mission District of San Francisco. The Mission District has a very large Latino population, so much so, that it caught us a little bit by surprise. We had planned to stop by a restaurant known as The Sandwich Place for lunch, but unfortunately they had just closed for the day. So, we decided to go straight to our next stop on the dayâ€™s itinerary which was Goldilocks Bakery, a bakery deep in the Mission District. Michelle ended up buying an insane amount of Filipino pastries to take home for her mom.
We wrapped up the afternoon by eating lunch in a Chinese hole in the wall across the street from the Goldilocks Bakery. It was called Chop Sticks Fast Food Restaurant. Chinese Fast Food Restaurant. We ended up there after we saw that it had a very high ranking on Yelp. It was a one man run pit stop for very cheap Chinese food. In this case, cheap also meant very good Chinese food. We each got large plates for $4 a piece. How insane is that?
After heading back to the hotel to freshen up, we decided to catch a movie at the Westfield Mall, which was conveniently located across our hotel on Market Street. We saw the new Ben Stiller flick, Greenberg. It was an odd little indie type flick. I enjoyed it; Michelle, not so much.
For dinner we stopped by Cafe Bellini on Powell Street for some pasta. I had the spaghetti with meatballs and Michelle had the penne pesto pasta. The food was ok and we were just happy to find something open for dinner that late in the night.
And so the journey back home begins. But not just yet. We still had a few hours left in lovely San Francisco so we decided to make the most of it. We had breakfast at one of our favorite breakfast spots in the city, Sear’s Fine Foods. If you watch either the Travel Channel or the Food Channel then chances are that you’re familiar with Sear’s. The thing to get at Sear’s is their World Famous 18 Swedish Pancakes. We of course ordered that as well as the usual breakfast fare of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast.
After breakfast we crossed the street to Union Square–home to the famous San Francisco Hearts. These large heart structures can be found throughout the city, but the ones in Union Square are definitely the most famous. “Hearts in San Francisco began in 2004 as a fundraiser for the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. Like the famous painted cows, the painted hearts, created from uniform molds and painted by individual artists, decorate the city in areas like Union Square, until they are auctioned off at a benefit for the charity. New hearts are unveiled each year.”
And with that final sightseeing session, our vacation was officially over. As we prepared for the daunting 8 hour trip back home, we reflected a bit about the last 9 days. We both realized that we genuinely loved the city of San Francisco. We also both realized that we absolutely hated flights that involve stop-overs. Philadelphia undoubtedly has some of the best eating spots on the planet. San Franciscoâ€™s eclectic and diverse culture never gets old.
We both began brainstorming ideas for our next trip, and the one after that. One thing is for sure, we both love traveling and food. And the best way to experience one or the other is to do them both at the same time. I could have a cheesesteak anywhere in the world, but it would never be as good as a cheesesteak eaten in the heart of south Philadelphia. I look forward to my next trip, wherever that may be. I just hope that it is as good as this one has been, filled with just as many memories, and involves lots and lots of great food.
And here’s a little video slideshow for you to enjoy!
Wednesday coast-to-coast travel. From the east coast to the west coast, we made our way from the City of Brotherly Love to the City by the Bay. But before spending 6 hours in the sky and about 3 in airports, we were sure to get a good and hearty breakfast. We decided on the Morning Glory Diner, suggested by fellow tee blogger and traveler extraordinaire, Andy Bowness of Hide Your Arms. Michelle went with the Glory Cakes: three pancakes served with real maple syrupÂ and I had the Foccacia Breakfast Sandwich with a fried egg and cheese served with potatoes. I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast, but Michelle was a bit more reserved when it came to her pancakes – she thought Sabrina’s was a better breakfast spot!
After breakfast, we walked about two blocks down to Isgro’s Patries. Yes, we were there a few days earlier, but, we were both amazed by the baked goodies that we took home prior that we needed to go and grab some more delicious delectables for the long flight to San Francisco. We bought a bag full of assorted cookies – so soft and delicious and perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Once we found our way back to the Loews Hotel, we quickly grabbed our things and caught a taxi to Philadelphia International Airport. Security was quick and in no time we were waiting to board our plane to Las Vegas en route to San Francisco. We had about a 2 hour stop at Las Vegas’ McCarren Airport and then we boarded our flight to San Francisco – yes, finally!
Overall, I enjoyed Masa’s. It is fine dining, so expect to spend around $250 for a party of two (if both get the 5 course menu) or up to $500+ of you decide on the 9 course menu. The ambiance was classy, the waiters were very nice, friendly and not high-browed at all. Masa’s is definitely an “event” type restaurant. Go there for an anniversary or birthday with that special someone and it will definitely be an experience to remember.
[Sorry for the lack of Day 5 photos.]
Day 6 T-Shirt of Choice:Phenom Polo by Electric Zombie (not a T-Shirt, I know, but it is made by a popular indie designer who we’ve featured on this site many times before).
This being our second visit to San Francisco (see 2008 recaps), we searched for breakfast spots that we had missed out on the first time around. This search led us to Mama’s on Washington Square. When we got to the popular breakfast spot at 10:30 am, the line had already wrapped around the building. We didn’t get inside until about 11:30 am. That’s a one hour wait in line! But let me tell you, it was well worth it. I ordered the Mama’s French Toast Sampler plate and I was not disappointed. It was a nice, refreshing change from my usual eggs, meat and potato choice. The sampler plate consisted of Swedish Cinnamon, Banana Nut, andÂ Kugelhopf (House Baked Brioche Bread with Golden Raisins, Cinnamon, Dates, and Sliced Almonds). Mama’s french toast was a fruity mouthgasm – so good!
After breakfast we caught the MUNI to Coit Tower, which was was built in Pioneer Park atop Telegraph Hill in 1933 at the bequest of Lillie Hitchcock Coit to beautify the City of San Francisco. It cost 5 bucks to get to the top, but once you do get to the top of the tower, you get a nice view of the city. You can even see the famed “crookedest street in the world” Lombard Street from afar.
We then caught the MUNI yet again to The Haight, which includes the famous intersection, Haight and Ashbury. The area features a bohemian ambiance and has a thriving center of independent local businesses. Being a T-Shirt fan, I had to stop by Kid Robot and Ashbury T-Shirts. I did more window shopping then I did actual shopping, though, we did stop by a little crepe shop and picked up two nutella and banana crepes.
Once we finished checking out the eclectic scene at The Haight, we walked down towards Alamo Square. If you grew up in the 80′s, then you’re familiar with Alamo Square and probably don’t even know it. Alamo Square is the park that is heavily featured in the opening sequence of the hit ABC show, Full House. It also faces the Full House “House,” which is actually part of a well known row of homes known as the Painted Ladies.
After a long day of walking and jumping on and off the MUNI, we headed back to our hotel to freshen up before dinner. I should note that if you do visit San Francisco, it is totally worth it to purchase a MUNI Passport. We bought the 3-day pass for $20 and got our money’s worth within our first day of using the pass. Pick up your MUNI pass in the MUNI kiosk in Union Square.
Since we were entirely pooped after a long day of journeying the streets of San Francisco, we opted for an easy dinner. Easy meaning that we walked just a few blocks up Powell Street to Lori’s Diner for some burgers and fries (me) and steak (Michelle). The last time we visited San Francisco, we had a late night meal at a Lori’s Diner that is located on the opposite end of Powell near our old hotel, The Orchard. The burger wasn’t as good as I had remembered it being, though. I think my memory of the previous burger might have been clouded due to the hunger I had been experiencing at the time of consumption.
Unlike yesterday, Day 4 started off with a nice chunk of sunshine. That was a relief. We were able to do a few of the things that we missed out on yesterday when it was pouring cats and dogs. The day started by walking to City Hall, which is located just a few blocks from the Loews Hotel. We signed up for the tower tour and went to the top of the City Hall clock tower, just below the large William Penn statue that overlooks the City of Philadelphia.
After taking a few pics from the top of City Hall, we walked over to Love Park, where Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture stands. We took a gazillion photos and then moved on to the Comcast Center. The Comcast Center has a neat (and very huge) HD video wall, with short videos playing throughout the day. Below the lobby you’ll find a small market. We made a pit stop there, where I picked up a drink and a small croissant. The croissant served as a warmup to our Pat’s and Geno’s pilgrimage.
(Top: Genos is all glitz and glamour but lacking in the taste department. Bottom: Pat’s, good but not as good as Jim’s Steaks)
My frist experience with a Philly Cheesesteak came to me at Jim’s Steaks. After that first cheesesteak, my mind was blown and I was ready to experience the much hyped Pat’s and Geno’s variety. We caught a taxi from the Loews Hotel to the Cheesesteak mecca of the world. For the uninitiated, Pat’s and Geno’s are located right across of each other and are considered rival cheesesteak stands. So of course, we had to experience both Pat’s and Geno’s. Pat’s was alright, and Geno’s felt a bit too generic (though, their fries were good). My conclusion, Jim’s Steaks dominates both Pat’s and Geno’s. If you want a Philly Cheesesteak, then know this: Jim’s Steaks is the center of the universe.
Despite the disappointing Pat’s and Geno’s experience, dinner more than made up for it! In our attempt to hit up the restaurants of all of the Iron Chefs, we just had to experience the newest Iron Chef Jose Garcia’s restaurant, Amada. Garcia’s Amada specializes in authentic Spanish Tapas. We settled on three different dishes, theÂ LECHÃ“N CON QUESO (Braised Pork Shoulder, La Peral, Pine Nut, Apple & Fennel),Â ENTRECÃ”TE A LA CATALAN (Prime Sirloin with CatalÃ¡n Spinach, Membrillo & Goat Cheese), and the ARROZ DE LANGOSTA (Lobster Bomba Rice with Clams, Lemon Zest & Golden Pea Shoots). The dishes were nicely proportioned, and, more importantly, tasted oh so good.
We decided to pass on dessert at Amada and opted instead to get some ice cream at the famed Franklin Fountain. This old school ice cream fountain is like a time warp, as evidenced by the decor and the staff who were dressed as if it was the 1920′s. You might recall that Adam Richman of Man Vs. Food had the Mt. Visuvious here. I decided on the Franklin Mint and Michelle had the Banana Split For My Baby. Both were very indulgent choices. We honestly should have shared one, but, I was intent on mint ice cream. Needless to say, we tried as hard as we could, but in the end, neither of us ate more than half of our ice cream dishes.
And as I’ve been doing, here’s a video slideshow of some of the photos that we took during this lovely day in Philly!
With the Philly skies becoming increasingly angry, we hopped on a taxi to the Mutter Museum on 22nd Street. The Mutter Museum is something that I’ve been looking forward to since a friend of mine told me about it. The Mutter Museum is a medical museum located in the Center City area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It contains a collection of medical oddities, anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment. Some might say that it’s a museum of medical freaks. I was so there. Some of the oddities featured included Chang and Eng, the world-famous Siamese twins; the skeleton of a 7-foot, 6-inch giant from Kentucky; a collection of Civil War photographs showing injury and recovery, the effects of diseases not yet conquered in the 19th century,and oodles of pathological anomalies.
Once we got the Mutter Museum out of our system, we decided to do a little shopping at Trader Joe’s as well as some of the shops that lined Walnut Street. And since our breakfast was a hearty one, we decided to skip on lunch. The lunch skipping led to a first, but I’ll get to that a little later.
Our night time plans included catching a 76ers game at the Wachovia Center. We jumped on the subway and got on the Broad Street Line to the Wachovia Center, the home of both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Flyers. The 76ers dominated for maybe a quarter and then the Magic took it from there, as expected. Dwight Howard had some nasty dunks, which was also expected. Still, it was a fun game and I got to see some big name players play, including Vince Carter, Elton Brand, and Andre Igoudala. The one thing that sucks about Hawaii is the lack of professional sport teams. I love watching sports live in the arena, with all of the noise, cheering and jeering.
Monday night was dollar hot dog night at the Sixers game. I had two and Michelle had one. The original plan was to head to Geno’s and Pat’s for some late night cheesesteaks after the game, but the weather sucked, so we decided against that.We thought that the hot dogs would hold us off till the next day. We were both wrong. Remember when I said that skipped lunch led to a first? Well, that first was having room service at 1 am in our hotel room. Room service was an experience., an expensive experience, but an experience no less – Quarter pound burgers with bacon and fries at 1 am delivered to our door. What could be better?
And finally, here’s a video of a few of the photos we took on Day 3.
This is the first of a couple day-by-day updates that Iâ€™ll be doing during my trip to Philadelphia and San Francisco. I thought it would be cool to keep you guys up to date Â on what Iâ€™m up to and what tees I’m wearing! If you want to check out the tee that I wore, just click on the orange links.
The thing about flying from Hawaii to the east coast of the United States is that it takes a very, very Â long time. It took us 5 hours to fly to from Honolulu to San Francisco and then 5 more hours to fly from San Francisco to Philadelphia. We left Honolulu at 6:45 am Saturday morning and arrived at our final destination at 1:00 am the next day. After an eventful “taxi ride” from the airport to the Loews Philadelphia Hotel and despite our hunger, we quickly … fell … asleep.
Despite an uneventful first day spent flying the friendly skies, our first full day in Philadelphia was action packed. We started the day at 9:00 am by walking from the Loews hotel to the Independence Visitor Center to pick up our tickets to tour Independence Hall. With a 10:20 am tour time, we had some time to spare, so we headed to Mrs. K’s Koffee Shop for a classic diner breakfast. I had one of their specials, which consisted of pancakes, sausage and two eggs. Michelle had the same, minus the eggs. The pancakes were so good, fluffy and oh so tasty.
After breakfast, we rushed off to Independence Hall to make our 10:20 am tour time. We just made it. Actually, we were a minute late and the tour had already started. One of the park rangers (yes, it’s a National History Park), had to usher us in to meet up with our tour. The tour was an interesting one with a lot of historical facts intertwined. The State House is where the dream of a free country of independent citizens materialized. Here, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were scribed. I was totally channeling the inner Benjamin Franklin in me.
From the Liberty Bell, we headed to the final resting spot of Benjamin Franklin at the Christ Church Burial Ground. We both tossed a penny onto his grave, as it was akin to tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain. After we tossed our pennies, a worker came to collect the coins and we overheard him mention that they annually receive $4000 worth of pennies. Neat! When someone asked him why people tossed pennies versus other coins, another visitor recounted one of Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts: A penny saved is a penny earned.
By this time, our hunger had been growing, so we set out for Jim’s Steaks which is considered to be better than the famed Geno’s and Pat’s by many locals that I’ve spoken with. So to South Philly we went, in search for my first taste of a real Philly Cheesteak. I was excited. The line at Jim’s was, as expected, very long. It took us about 20 minutes before we were able to place our order. Michelle and I shared a Philly Cheesesteak with Wiz and Mushrooms. I’m not the greatest onion fan, so we left that out. The restaurant was packed so we ended up standing and eating at one of the counters upstairs. The cheesesteak was amazingly good. The bread was soft and the cheese wiz was the perfect complement to the very tasty steak. I now know why Philly Cheesesteaks are world renown. They’re so good!
And as if we needed more food, we then headed to Isgro’s Pastries where they’ve been making cannolis for over 100 years. The bakery was filled with so many baked goodies that I almost went into a sugar shock before taking a bite into my cannoli! We ordered some cookies (Cherry Garcia, Rocky Road and Chocolate Chip Ricotta) and of course, two chocolate chip cannolis!
With no place to sit and enjoy our cannolis we decided that we’d make Reading Terminal our unofficial Isgro eating spot, as we had also gone to Chinatown. We’ll be visiting Reading Terminal on another day for a more thorough visit. Today, we just needed a place to eat our cannolis! Once we devoured the cannolis we went straight to our hotel for some rest before dinner at Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant. On a side note, while we were totally enjoying our delicious cannolis, an inquisitive wanderer stopped by, wondering where in Reading Terminal she could purchase the same cannoli. Unfortunately we had to tell her that we picked them up at Isgro’s. She left sad. And without a cannoli.
Alright, you might think that with all the food we had up to this point, we would be quite stuffed. Rubbish! We were both so excited to dine at Morimoto, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s sleek namesake restaurant on 7th and Chesnut. The food did not disappoint. Michelle decided on the Morimoto tempura to start and the seafood toban yaki. I decided on the 7 course Morimoto omakase, the chef’s choice multi-course tasting menu designed to allow you to experience the essence of Morimoto’s menu. It was worth the 80 bucks because at the end of the day, I’m not a raw fish fan but somehow, Morimoto made me fall in love with raw fish. I left full and satisfied.
And finally, Michelle and I put together a little photo slideshow of our first full day in sunny Philadelphia! Enjoy. You can also check out these photos on my Flickr.
This marked the start of our road trip to neighboring state, Oregon. We began the morning by having breakfast at a little cafe en route to Tacoma, were would switch off with our friends cousin whose car we were borrowing for the trip to Portland. The Shipwreck Cafe is this small stop off of Martin Way in Olympia, Washington. I got the breakfast special, which consisted of chickenfried steak, eggs, hashbrowns and toast. It was better than I expected! Tons of gravy lathered over the chicken steak. Don’t pay attention to the calories because the gravy really makes this dish special.
After breakfast we headed straight for our first stop in Portland, the Full Sail Brewery, which is right next to Hood River. Full Sail Brewery is known for their award winning Session brew. The brewery tour lasted about 30 minutes and was quite interesting and informative. They walk you through the entire beer making process and even let you taste the ingrediants that go into brewing beer. At the end of the tour you score a free Full Sail glass!
The food at Full Sail Brewery was OK but the beer was exceptional. I especially loved the Full Sail Session Lager, that is definitely my type of beer and well worth the 2.5 hour drive from Tacoma. We ended up buying a case to bring back to the hotel.
After Full Sail we headed to Portland to check into our hotel, the third Marriot stop of our Seattle/Portland journey. We got lost. But that was a good thing because we ended up at a Traders Joe’s and bought tons of snacks! I wish Hawaii had a Trader Joe’s.
Lo and behold our hotel was only 5 minutes away from Trader Joes. We made it to our hotel, quickly unpacked and headed out to yet another beer destination – Rogue Distillery & Public House, to meet up with Travis Greenwood of Found Item Clothing and Patrick Treadway of Tilteed! We had a great time chatting about tees, Portland life, tees, and tees! It was great meeting up with those two excellent dudes. And my friends were happy because they scored some free tees from Patrick and one of you lucky readers will score a free tee(s) from Travis (I need to first figure out how to give them away)!
Hey, it’s Patrick from Tilteed.com! He markets, prints, and ships out all Tilteed orders by himself! Talk about dedication and being passionate about what you do! Follow Tilteed on Twitter @Tilteed. Use the code â€œTiltCotyâ€ for an additional $2 off your Tilteed order!
After Rogue, Patrick was kind enough to drive us to VooDoo Doughnuts to get a taste of the weirdness that is Portland! VooDoo Doughnoughts was great experiece filled with an eclectic set of people! I’ve never quite experienced anything like VooDoo Doughnuts. It was a trip to say the least. And Patrick was right, VooDoo Doughnuts is best experienced at night because when we stopped by the following morning, the crowd was a bore compared to the night munchers.
Yes, that’s bacon on top of maple syrup drenched doughnut. Only at VooDoo Doughnuts!
Portland here we come! The morning was spent exploring the Pearl District of Portland. Our first stop was the famous Powell’s Books on Burnside. To say that this bookstore is huge is a big understatement. It’s ginormous. It’s probably larger than most public libraries you’ve been to. The store is split up into 8 different sections based on genre and occupies three full floors. You could spend countless hours exploring Powell’s, unfortunately our time was limited so our visit was brief (I still left with two new books).
As I was walking through Portland someone walked right pass me and said “I Love Your Shirt”. You can get it from I Am Wellness. Use the code “SUMMER09″ for 15% off (hopefully the code still works).
By the time we were through with Powell’s we headed out to lunch at Old Town Pizza which is an iconic Portland eatery with a haunted reputation. “Donâ€™t be surprised if an unexpected guest joins you for a slice today. A constant presence at Old Town Pizza is Nina (pronounced â€œNigh-naâ€), our resident ghost. If you feel a presence behind you, or smell a faint waft of perfume, you may have just received a visit. Nina is often seen in a black dress observing diners and wandering the basement below.” We settled on the House Pizza topped with salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushroom, black olives and bell peppers. The pizza was good but unfortunately there was no sighting of Nina, the resident ghost. I will say, though, that the restroom was freaky as hell. It is very dimly lit in there and I had a weird feeling (while I was peeing no less) that someone was watching me. Freaky!
Ground Kontrol is a neat little vintage arcade that Travis of Found Item Clothing suggested we hit up and I’m glad that we did! We spent about an hour in there playing some very old school arcade games like Centipede, Punch-Out, Simpsons and Space Invaders. This is not your typical arcade because at Ground Kontrol there is a fully functional bar. Awesome.
I’m a huge fan of Punch-Out so I was stoked to find this classic arcade game at Ground Kontrol!
After Ground Kontrol my buddies decided to grab a box of VooDoo doughnuts for the drive back home. While they stood in line (in the hot sun no less and yet another reason to go during the night time) I ventured down the street and stumbled across a neat little coffee/art shop called Stumptown Coffee Roasters. It had a a nice open space as opposed to the typical cramped coffee shop. I had the Queens Iced Tea and it was the cool refreshment that I needed! While the guys stood in that line for VooDoo doughnuts I sipped on my iced tea in air conditioning!
Good bye Portland, I knew you for just a day but I had a great time! Now en route to Tacoma (to return the car), we decided to stop by the Outlet Mall near Chehalis and in Centralia, Washington. The outlet stores of importance included Quicksilver, Billabong, and Nike. We hit those three shops up pretty hard.
From there we caught a shuttle to the 4th and final hotel of our stay – the Marriott Seattle Waterfront, which is just a few steps from Pike’s Place. We didn’t stay in the hotel for long as we decided grab some Clam Chowder from the original Ivar’s Seafood, right on the Seattle Waterfront. When you go to Ivar’s there just one thing you need to get – The Clam Chowder! We ordered one of each of the three different varieties: white, red and salmon. I urge you to do the same.
They encourage you to feed the Seagulls.
Small cup of Salmon Clam Chowder from Iver’s before heading to Del Rays for even more food and drinks!
Next we hit up Del-Rey’s for appetizers and drinks (or should I say beers and margaritas) and then finished the night off by closing down the bar at, appropriately, Ohana’s in Belltown, a Hawaiian themed bar. This was the third night that we stayed at a bar till closing (2am in Seattle).
But the night did not end there. We ventured off into the alley ways of the Seattle Waterfront and eventually ending up at Pier 67. The streets were empty and all that was left were four guys from Hawaii, laughing, talking and enjoying the camaraderie that you get from being with your closest friends.
Strangely enough, we ended our last together at Ohana’s in Belltown.
Welcome to this special edition of Co-Tee TV in Seattle!
In this video I review Jeff Sheldon’s very popular And Then I Woke Up. This is the Royal Blue variation. Some of you may recall that the original colorway is printed on an American Apparel Tri-Blend tee and that one became a hit in InternetLAND. In fact, you can find the Tri-Blend variation of And Then I Woke Up in Urban Outfitter’s throughout the United States. In fact, I spotted it in both Las Vegas and Seattle. The Royal Blue colorway, on the other hand, is only available in the Ugmonk online store (as far as I know). Price: $21 but you can save 10% by using the coupon code “COTY09″ at checkout.