Dine – Jalapeños – Gloucester, MA

IMG_7003Moving from California to Massachusetts is hard, mainly because of the lack of good Mexican food. It took the boyfriend and I many less than amazing Mexican meals to not only discover this but then also to eventually find a couple good Mexican restaurants near us. A perk of living in a town supported heavily by tourism in the summer months, is that it forces the majority of restaurants to have good food and decent service, which it unfortunately not always the norm these days.

IMG_4153The restaurant can easily be found driving down main street Gloucester, as it takes up nearly half a block of store front. Once inside you realize how large it actually is, with an entire bar area and two different dining rooms. On occasion they will have a live band playing lively mariachi music in the bar, which easily travels throughout the restaurant.

Usually when we visit, we start off with margaritas, because why not? The husband likes their house marg on the rocks, while I mix it up with either a strawberry or IMG_7018mango marg. They do have entire list of specialty margaritas and drinks (in addition to a full bar), but we never get too fancy. My sister in law did try one that had banana liquor, and said it was good, although you’d have to really like banana liquor (I wasn’t sure anyone on earth did?).  They always bring delicious chips and salsa, which is more like pico de gallo, while you are deciding what to order.

Because we have been here so many times, we have tried a good majority of their menu, in addition to their ever changing specials. Some of our favorites include the tortilla soup, the fish tacos, and the enchiladas (chicken or cheese). To be honest the majority of the time we get enchiladas because we are creatures of habit and both happen to be obsessed with enchiladas. Whenever we go out we never order dessert, half because we’re stuffed and half because my husband hates sweets, so I have no idea what they are like. So, if your looking for some decently good Mexican on the North Shore make your way to Jalapeños!

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Dine – Sugar Magnolia’s – Gloucester, MA

IMG_4146When we first moved to Gloucester, everyone told my husband that he MUST try Sugar Magnolias. Since he is not as much of a breakfast person as I am, he forgot about it, until I requested an adventure to breakfast one morning. The restaurant is only open for daily breakfast, and brunch on the weekends, so if you sleep in too late you will miss it! You can find the restaurant on main street in Gloucester, and can usually find a crowd milling about outside. During the week you can IMG_4336walk right in, but on weekends if you come any time after 8 expect to wait at least 20 minutes depending on how many in your group.

One of y favorite parts about the restaurant is that while you are waiting for your table they have an entire coffee bar set up, so you can get your caffeine fix before you sit down. It should also be noted that they have very good coffee, unlike many breakfast places who just order the cheapest bulk coffee, this place actually found and partnered with a local company who actually cares about their product!IMG_3369

Once seated, service is always fast and friendly, but mainly fast because they know how many people are waiting for every table in the place. Even if they had double the space I know they could fill it with how popular they are!

The menu has all of your breakfast favorites from eggs and bacon, to a dozen differentomelets, to strawberry pancakes. Their menu also has a few more special items like pineapple fritters, carrot cake pancakes, almond joy pancakes, and honey granola
coated french toast made with sweet bread! Another favorite part of their menu is their daily IMG_7066specials that always seem to match the season! In the fall you can find cranberry pumpkin french toast, and in the summer lemon ricotta pancakes. Lets not forget that they also have an espresso machine for any specialty coffee drink you may like, as well as a number bloody mary and mimosa options for those of you who are more fun than the rest of us!Because I love breakfast, and they have such a wonderful menu and coffee and drink selection Sugar Magnolias has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants in Gloucester! This place also holds a special place in my heart because my husband and I came here for a celebratory breakfast the morning after we got engaged, so it is a place I will never forget!

Dine – Georgetown Cupcake’s on Newbury Street

IMG_7037IMG_7038You might have noticed by now, that I have a sweet tooth. If there is a pastry shop or bakery that is raved about I the person that MUST visit if I’m nearby.

When my sister in law was in town, she mentioned wanting to see Newbury street, and my first reaction was “OMG, I have to take you to Georgetown Cupcakes”… not that I’m obsessed. Although it is a good thing that driving downtown takes forever, that parking is insane and expensive, otherwise I swear I’d weigh twice what I do now.

This little cupcake shop fits perfectly among the boutiques on Newbury street, and is just as skinny and long as all the other shops around. Walking in the door you are greeted by a huge display of cupcakes on one side and a menu board on the other listing all the the days flavors.

We decided to each get our own cupcakes, Classic Yellow Birthday Cake for her, and Chocolate Coconut for me, and to split the Earl Grey Lavender cupcake, because have you ever heard of such an interesting fun flavor?

All of the cupcakes were fluffy, light, moist, and delicious. We each picked our own choices as our favorites, and rated the Earl Grey cupcake as good but not the best, we wanted more lavender flavor in the frosting because the buttercream was overpowering.

We were lucky that it wasn’t busy when we visited as we were able to sit at one of their tables inside, but on a busy day there would be little to no chance of this, and we would have had to take our cupcakes to go. I will be back any chance I get, because I have yet to find a cupcake anywhere else that can compete on quality with these!

Dine – Kanela Breakfast Club – Chicago, IL

10153759_10153975463785319_967816038_nIt is no secret that I love breakfast more than most things on earth. During our trip to Chicago, the boyfriend let me pick our adventure for our last morning in town before we had to head home, so naturally I turned to Trip Advisor and found a raved about breakfast spot! What I found was Kanela Breakfast Club, which with our luck was walking distance from our hotel!1013992_10153975463880319_1240447717_n

The restaurant is small, maybe 25 tables, so it was no surprise
that there was a wait, even on a Monday morning (don’t you people have work to get to?). The hostess texted us within 20 minutes telling us our table was ready, and we were seated and given coffee, while perusing the menu and checking out all of the delicious looking food and drinks of the near by tables.

The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, and has a full bar if your looking for a bloody marry or mimosa to accompany your breakfast. We started with coffee which trying to decide what to order… this was no easy task since everything looked and smelled SO good!

Eventually I decided on the french toast sampler and the boyfriend on a vegetable, sausage, egg skillet. Service was fast especially considering how packed the place was! The boyfriend said his breakfast choice was delicious and probably one of the best he’s had in his life… yes I made him rate his top breakfast experiences.

The french toast was unlike anything I’d ever had and was nothing short of heavenly! Each type in the sampler was a different kind of bread made into french toast and topped with its own kind of toppings. Included was banana bread, lemon poppyseed with blueberry, orange lemon, and red velvet with cream cheese and strawberry… have you ever hear of such amazingly fun flavors of french toast? They were all so amazingly delicious and decadent, although if I had to pick a favorite I would choose the orange lemon. It was so different and light, while most of the others were so sweet they were almost like dessert. But who doesn’t love dessert for breakfast?

I will without a doubt be back when I visit Chicago again!

Dine – Maria’s Pastry Shop

img_6905Boston’s North End is notoriously Italian, to the point where walking down the street you hear conversations in Italian and the smells coming from every other restaurant and ally are very Italian as well (read: garlic).
A traditionally Italian dessert is a cannoli, which is essentially a tube of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet cream filling that most often has a ricotta base. In Boston there are two notorious cannoli places, Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry Shop. Any day of the week you can spot these two establishments because of the INSANE lines winding down the block!

Before our recent adventure to the North End, I did some Yelp and Trip Advisor research to see if a cannoli from each was really worth the wait and brain damage. After a bit of digging I found Maria’s Pastry Shop, who happen to have slyly won the award for Best Cannoli in Boston in 2014 (beating out Mike’s and Modern). Since it was a chilly day we decided that waiting in the line wasn’t worth it for Mike’s or Modern and tried Maria’s instead.

So since I have not had a cannoli from the other two places I can not compare, but I can tell you how AMAZING the cannoli from Maria’s was! The shells were crispy and flaky, no soggy pre filled shells here! And the filling was deliciously creamy and rich without being too sweet!

If your in the area and looking to avoid lines I defiantly recommend Maria’s. Maybe next time I will test my patience and try Mike’s or Modern’s for comparison?

 

Dine – Italian in Boston’s North End – La Famiglia Giorgio’s

Because I’m alway working from home, my husband knows how much I like to get out of the house for even the smallest of adventures. This past Saturday he suggested an adventurefront to Boston’s North End for some Italian food. We have been talking about such an adventure for a long time, so I was excited that it was finally happening.
I did a bit of Yelp-ing and Trip Advisor-ing (I’m going to pretend that these are real words) and found “La Famiglia Giorgio’s” to be open for lunch, which not all are, and something more than just a pizza stand, which many are. We showed up around 12:30 and were greeted by a hostess in a breeze way / stair case landing who told us the wait was 20 minutes and took our number so we could walk around until our table was ready. A little odd I thought for lunch, but it didn’t turn me off because the North End is adorably cute and great for people watching!

Once we got out table I understood why there was a wait… the place in TINY! There is a grand total of maybe 10 tables… and that is if all of them are separated into 4 tops or 2 tops… which many were not as it is defiantly a family style restaurant.

As soon as we were seated our waiter came by with menus, water and fresh bread to dip in their delicious cheese garlic spice mix that they combined with olive oil. After combing through the menu and peeking around at everyone else’s food, we decided to each get our own dish and leave with lots of leftovers, as their portions looked huge!

I decided to order the Chicken Romano, which was essentially baked chicken with broccoli on top of pasta with some sort of garlic sauce. The hubby was more adventurous and chose the Littleneck Clam Pasta with the same garlic sauce.

The pasta on both dishes was amazing, so fresh and cooked perfectly. And the sauce while very simple was equally amazing! I can only speak for my broccoli and chicken when I say they were perfectly cooked and delicious. The hubby said the clams were delicious as well, but I’m too much of a chicken to try anything too slimy, so I’ll take his word for it. The portions were huge as you can see, and we had left overs for two more meals each! Such a deal when you get 3 full meals out of each dish!

Needless to say, with the great food, cozy atmosphere, and good service we would not hesitate to come back here for more amazing Italian food!

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