On a recent trip to Big Sur for the infamous Big Sur International Marathon, our appetites and Yelp! App led us to one of the highest-rated restaurants, yet best-kept secrets in Monterey, California. The unassuming Taqueria del Mar, a Mexican eatery, is a beautiful hidden gem found on Lighthouse Avenue.
Its calm, warm ambience with simple decor offers the freshest, made-to-order fare you may find in the area. (Trust me, I ate my way through the region!) Worthy of its cult following, the carnivore, vegetarian and gluten-free menu items range from the expected, such as burritos, tacos, and enchiladas to the quite unexpected, like guaraches, chimichangas and carne al pastor!
The food at Taqueria del Mar is nourishing, delicious and prepared with care; the airy, open space with its bar of window-seating facing Lighthouse Ave and Mexican tile floor reinforces the simplicity and authenticity of the cuisine. Within walking distance of Cannery Row, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Fishermans’ Wharf, it’s a convenient “must-try” for your next adventure along the Monterey Bay!
Taqueria del Mar 530 Lighthouse Ave Monterey, CA 93940 (831) 372-7887
I have been traveling a bit more lately, particularly taking road trips, and what I have come to love about North Carolina in these recent travels are the many healthy options available in seemingly small towns that offer both experience delicious cuisine and gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free options.
The most recent of these road trips took me to Highlands, NC, an absolutely darling town amidst waterfalls and gorgeous mountain views, and, as it turns out, the location of a quaint bistro tucked inside a local historic boutique inn, The Inn on Main Street.
After walking through the charming streets (and one of us checked Yelp), we landed on Bistro on Main (which had great Yelp ratings, in case you were wondering 🙂 ). The patio offered a wonderful view of a sunset to complement the yummy noms we enjoyed al fresco.
Something unique about Bistro on Main is that it has quite the array of appetizers, salads and entrees that would appeal to almost anyone, regardless of dietary style or preference, which is quite impressive considering the menu is simply one page!
Every item that we ordered, from the craft cocktails to the fare itself, we raved about. If you’re in Franklin, Cashiers or even in Atlanta, just looking for a fun day trip, definitely make the trip to Highlands!
We ventured out the other night to celebrate a recent promotion (woot, woot!), diverting from our usual “celebratory” faves in favor of trying a new place. As you have probably learned, finding a foodie-worthy restaurant that also offers gluten-, nut- and dairy-free options can be akin to finding a needle in a haystack!
Thankfully, Atlanta’s restaurant scene is evolving (and quite quickly, too!), and Cooks + Soldiers is among the trendsetters.
Unique for serving traditional cuisine from the Basque region of Spain, C+S is located on the Westside of Midtown. Its menu is comprised of pintxos, similar to tapas, and asado, meaning “grilled” or “barbecue”, and its name is inspired by the annual Tamborrada festival of San Sebastian in January, during which, for 24 hours, the entire city is awash with the sound of drums. The adults, dressed as cooks and soldiers, march in different companies across various parts of the city. The passion and tradition of the event from which the restaurant takes its name is evident in every detail.
The dining room is reminiscent of a gentleman’s establishment from a different era: warm, rich and inviting, yet subtle and minimalist. Not trying too hard. Just genuine and authentic. The patio is simply decorated for al fresco dining.
Even though the fertile lands of the Spanish Basque region yield many grains, the cuisine itself is not very grain-based, nor is the C+S menu, which made it easy for us to try a variety of traditional dishes. The servers and staff also delivered allergy-free recommendations with flair and whimsy, enhancing the entire experience to a new level. (Never did they offer up a super pricey alternative, either. So refreshing!)
If you’re a wine enthusiast, you must take a look at their wine list! It goes beyond what I’ve seen in many Atlanta restaurants, particularly those wines offered by the glass. We tried a sparkling pinot noir wine, a cava made from the pinot noir grapes, that was unlike any other, as well as a Riesling blend that was simply decadent!
From the ambience, to the greeting, seating, and serving staff, to the chef, to the meal, itself, each interaction was a consistently delicious and jovial experience. I would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a fine, fun place to celebrate a special occasion, entertain clients, or simply enjoy a glass of wine. After such a five-star experience, I’m certainly planning to join them again!
Cooks + Soldiers
691 14th Street NW at Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30318 Tel.404-996-2623
I took a little road trip recently to the Holy City of Charleston, SC. One my absolutefavorite places in the absolute world (ok, at least among the many places I’ve visited), Charleston hosts, among other things, some pretty fine eateries. From farmers markets’ fresh fruits and veggies to the soulful fare and Southern cuisine on E. Bay St. to local taquerias on King St. (not to mention Shem Creek, IOP and Mt. P, oh my!), there are endless epicurean adventures to be had, particularly on the weekends. Hello, brunch! With my dear soul sister, Ms. Disco Teepee herself, Meggie, leading the way, we took to a cafe in her new neighborhood for Sunday brunch with our close-knit framily in tow.
The Park Cafe, a gem in the Hampton Park neighborhood of Charleston, is just… well…wonderfully… honest. That is the best and only phrase I can use that even comes close to conveying the look, feel and flavors of this place. A come-as-you-are, welcoming hideaway that reminds me of what it felt like when I was growing up and ate lunch at a next-door neighbor’s house on a Sunday afternoon; her mom genuinely concerned that the food we ate was healthy, yet tasty and satisfying, having prepared our meal with care. Not overly casual, nor pushy, superficial or pretentious, just attentive, genuine and familiar, and…honest. As they say, themselves: “At The Park Cafe, we believe that great food isn’t complicated.” #True. Every dish we ordered was made of simple ingredients, locally sourced, and was just superb, as you’ll see! (ALERT: your mouth may water when you see the French Toast.)
One last thing: As we all know, the dining experience is more than just the food quality, isn’t it? Lousy service or rowdier-than-necessary (especially before the first round of coffee) can quickly tarnish the entire experience. No worries on either of those fronts at Park Cafe. From the servers, to the manager, to the clientele themselves (some even four-legged and furry!), the entire experience could not have been more lovely.
If you are in the Charleston area and looking for a refreshing, honest-to-goodness spot to savor your Sunday (or any day, really!), Park Cafe should be your g0-to. I am absolutely mandating it be on the agenda for my next weekend in CHS.
Weeknight Girls Nights are always a blast, but they’re even better when they take you to a new restaurant! A last-minute change in plan brought us a new epicurean adventure: True Food Kitchen.
Many restaurants connect food with bringing people together, soothing our souls through comfort foods, or providing the backdrop for celebrations, but very few eateries put two and two together when it comes to serving foods that also empower our bodies to be strong and healthy, which is exactly True Food Kitchen’s value proposition to its patrons. All dishes are intended to support a healthy body and soul with combinations of anti-inflammatory ingredients “that can help people achieve and maintain optimum health over their lifetime.” (In truth, I am not 100% on board with dairy being included on a menu with this rationale since dairy can cause inflammatory responses, but it’s a slight digression that doesn’t detract from True Food’s unique offerings.)
In fact, True Food Kitchen identifies so deeply with healthy, balanced living that its staff is comprised solely of active lifestyle enthusiasts. It’s a job requirement! How cool is that? And being an enthusiast myself, it was encouraging to see that the restaurant’s values resonate so strongly with us Atlantans, indicated by a full patio and bar area. Whether for young couples, retirees, rowdy gals after work, happy hour partakers, or post-workout diners, the casual allure and affordable, guilt-free fare had a wide-appeal.
Overall, the ambiance, wait staff and cuisine were delightful, and we will certainly be returning to try more of these dishes, cocktails and natural refreshers! If you’re looking for fun, laid-back dining for your next night out, definitely give True Food a try!