Puesto: San Diego Perfects Mexican Cuisine

Even with two floors, and a wide array of outdoor seating, there was still a 30 minute wait to get inside this amazing restaurant. My friend Mandy and I didn’t mind waiting in the overly comfortable patio seating that was provided by the restaurant. And trust me when I tell you, you won’t be sorry you waited.

Nestled along the harbor in South West San Diego, Puesto allows for a quieter experience of the beautiful city. Just blocks away from the busier Gaslamp District, Puesto holds it’s own as a staple Mexican eatery and bar in San Diego.

Starting off with some great tapas styled appetizers, we ordered the Esquite (grilled corn, chile, lime queso, and cream) which is both vegetarian and gluten free, and we ordered the Potato Taquitos (chipotle tortilla, queso fresco, classic guacamole, salsa fresca, black garlic chile oil) which is also vegetarian. Both appetizers were beyond phenomenal, and I was even inspired to attempt to make my own Esquite when I returned home from my trip. It wasn’t nearly as good, unfortunately.

The dinner menu is full of choices, whether you want to just do tapas, or you want to order tacos ( they have over 10 choices of tacos) or you want to order regular entrees, Puesto has it. It’s the perfect place to stop for a drink after work with coworkers, and an even greater place to have a fun date night by one of the outdoor fire pits. With over 15 signature cocktails, and a bar full of the best liquor known to man, you simply can’t have a bad experience here.

Even with as busy as it was the service was great, and it appeared management had full control of the full house. I guarantee there will be no slow nights at this amazing restaurant as long as it keeps up it’s great reputation as one of San Diego’s best Mexican restaurants.

To take a peek at their full menu, check out their WEBSITE

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(Mandy & I, happily waiting to get seated)

Traveling Alone: Meeting Renee

As a whole, I think there is a negative connotation with being alone. Perhaps, many confuse being alone with being lonely, the latter being something not very positive. But as I’ve continued to travel alone, I’ve met some pretty interesting people, with stories that never seem to be less than entertaining. Here’s my story about meeting Renee.

I was in West Hollywood, California when I walked up to the restaurant that sat on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard. The big gold sign read, “PUMP.” From the outside, it looked over the top, and full of glitz and glam. Just what I needed.

I walked into the outdoor section of the restaurant and unexpectedly felt like I was walking into a enchanted tea party. Chandeliers and lanterns hung from the branches of dense century-old olive trees there were probably imported from some island in Greece. Walking through the garden dining area, had me feeling like I had just walked into a fairytale. The shimmering light, from the strings of crystals would catch your eye as you walked through the serene patio. I immediately spotted the ritzy bar that was nestled in the middle of all the enchantment.

As I went to sit down, I couldn’t help but notice how good looking everyone was inside the restaurant. It felt like everyone who worked here had just walked off the set of a photoshoot. Perfect hair, perfect tans, all wearing outfits that were meticulously matching and ironed. Thank god there was practically no humidity in California, otherwise the girls would be walking around with martinis in one hand and hair straighteners in the other.

I walked around the corner of the bar and sat down at one of the cast-iron stools along the bar. While there were probably a dozen people around the bar, it was just me and one other lady on our side. I looked up at the glistening diamonds that swung from hanging light fixtures in the center of the bar. But not even those flashy lights could catch my attention as much as the two male models, that somehow found themselves in PUMP Lounge work uniforms.

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“My god, who are you,” a lady catcalled me in a thick southern accent. Assuming she was talking to one of the bartenders I had just been staring at, I didn’t reply, but she continued, “As soon as you sat down next to me, I just felt like you were someone special,”

I turned and looked at woman who was speaking, “Who me?”

I couldn’t help but think to myself that in the land of Barbie and Ken’s, that I couldn’t possibly look “special.” If anything, I looked more like a cabbage patch kid.

“Hell yeah, you look like you’re somebody,” she said, totally inflating my ego, “My Name is Renee, it’s nice to meet you.

I couldn’t get over her southern accent. It reminded me of all the people I met from when I attended college at Belmont University in Nashville. It wasn’t a drawl, or even an accent, it was practically another language.

I had to ask, “please tell me you’re not from Tennessee?”

“Hell no, I’m from Kentucky. Let me guess, you hear a southern lady and you pick the first redneck place you can think of? I’m surprised you didn’t say Alabama or West Virginia. They are much trashier than Tennessee.”

I laughed, I could tell this night was going to be interesting, even if it was going to be just me and Ms. Renee from Kentucky.

She ordered another bottle of rosé for herself and I ordered a red sangria. Our drinks were quite the juxtaposition sitting next to each other. She had the entire bottle, and here I was, slugging back my champagne flute of sangria that was only filled to the top because of the 3 blackberries that pushed the sangria up to the rim.

She held up the bottle to her shirt and asked, “Can you tell I like rosé?”

Suddenly I realized her drink was the same color as her pink blouse. I didn’t realize she was so obsessed until she showed me pictures of her “Rosé All Day Partay.”

Yes, read that again, slowly this time.

I was positive that this had to have been the bougiest event that had ever taken place. She literally went out and bought hundreds of rosé colored flowers, napkins, plates, and glasses. I’m surprised she didn’t dye her perfectly straight, blonde hair, rosé for the evening.

But what else was a 40-something year old woman to do when she had nothing else to worry about?

She looked at me perplexed, “You look funny. Are you funny?” I chuckled, and before I could answer she continued to babble, “I’m fucking hilarious, but no one ever gets my humor. Tell me the funniest thing that has happened to you and I’ll let you know if I think you’re funny.”

I dug deep into my brain to think of something funny to tell her. I felt like the whole world was watching me and I could feel the sweat coming down my forehead. I really wanted to impress this strangely friendly, southern, and seriously rosé-addicted lady.

Immediately I thought about a story from when I lived in Tennessee. The one about my first date with a guy, who turned out to be a drag queen, who brought me to a club in a stolen car and almost got me shot 2 times, once by a cocaine dealer and another time by a 7-foot-tall cross-dresser in the back of said stolen vehicle.

“Holy shit dude, that’s not even funny, that’s sad as hell. No wonder you wanted to make sure I wasn’t from Tennessee,” she laughed as she tossed back her glass of rosé.

“Okay, are you ready to laugh your cute, firm-lookin’ ass off,” she said giving me a wink.

I nodded my head, ready to be entertained in the least.

“Okay, so, don’t freak out, I’m in my 40s, I know I look 25 but yes, I am a middle age woman.” She flipped her hair, smiled and continued. “So, I’ve been married for the last 15 years, to a very prominent business owner back in Kentucky. He has a lot of social influence, and a pretty important image within the city. No kids, but we enjoyed life together. About 5 years ago, I came across some Polaroid pictures in his night stand,” She gulped the last bit of her glass and refilled it with her bottle. She winked at me again, as she took another sip.

“Well aren’tcha gunna ask what was in the pictures,” She asked.

I played along, and responded, “Yes, oh my god, what was in them!”

She nodded at me, thanking me for allowing her to continue telling me, “Well, I opened the night stand, and I was in shock. They were pictures of my husband and another man.”

My jaw dropped. I’m not sure I was expecting that.

“In the pictures, they were doing sexual things with, of all things, cucumbers. Huuuge freakin’ cucumbers, from my own freakin’ garden,” she took another sip, “So here I am, in West Hollywood, staying at The London Hotel, blackmailing my husband and loving life.”

She signaled the bartender, “Hey mister, can we get two cucumber martinis,” she looked at me to reassure me, “and don’t worry, these are on my husband’s guilt money.”

 

Want to Save Money on Traveling?

“Hopper was recently named one of Apple’s Best Apps —the only travel app to make the list.” -CONDĒ NAST

If you fly when traveling, this app is a must-have! Hopper analyzes billions of flights to help you find the best deals and the best times to fly and buy. When flights are the cheapest Hopper will send you a notification that it is the time to buy your flight. 

A great tool within the app is your ability to keep watch on several destinations. For someone who plans future vacations, and knows where he or she is going next this is a great feature. You can set all your future destinations & departure dates and then you’ll get reminders about when to buy each ticket.

Traveling isn’t always the cheapest hobby, but Hopper can help make it cheaper without a doubt.

This is a free app, and is available on both Apple and Android products.

Balboa Park: Japanese Friendship Garden

Looking to create a moment, get tan, and possibly burn some calories at the same time? Check out Balboa Park in the heart of San Diego, California.

Their website describes the park perfectly:

Ever changing. Always amazing.  Where culture, science, and nature collide, Balboa Park is home to more than 16 museums, multiple performing arts venues, lovely gardens, trails, and many other creative and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. With a variety of cultural institutions among its 1,200 beautiful and lushly planted acres, there is something for everyone.

My friend Mandy and I were desperately craving some outdoor activity while we were in San Diego this past April. It was currently snowing back on the East Coast, so we needed to take advantage of the warm weather. We decided to come to Balboa Park. After doing some research, it was clear there was plenty to do. Whether you want to stick with the tourists and follow guided tours, or you want to explore yourself, there is nothing holding you back.

We decided to walk through the Japanese Friendship Garden. For only a 10$ admission fee (for adults. Kids, students and Seniors is $8) you were able to explore the man made oasis. With flowers everywhere, and rivers running down the beautiful California hills, this garden was the perfect spot to experience some peace.

 

Tips-y:

6 Tips on How To Have a Successful Bar-Crawl …Without Ending Up On The Floor

It’s not a secret that people like to drink, party and have a good time on vacation. But with great partying, comes great responsibilities. With many travelers focused more on authentic experiences rather than seeing sights, ‘bar crawling,’ has become a popular activity. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s when you go from bar to bar, trying and tasting a few drinks, and then heading to the next. To many that sounds like a recipe for disaster, but when done right, it gives you the opportunity to try as many of the restaurants and bars the city has to offer. Here are 6 tips on how to do a successful bar-crawl:

1. Pre-Plan Your Route: Don’t let this affect your pre-game, but planning is everything. Find at least 3 bars you want to go to. Map out your route, so you can go to each place easily, either on foot, or by taxi. If you know where you’re going, you can at least ask for directions if your phone dies.                                                                                              

2. Dress Wisely:  Ladies, it gets colder at night, and walking in 6-inch heels will eventually become an Olympic sport after a few drinks. Bring a light jacket, and charge your phone. Gentleman, wear something with pockets…You’ll need to put your phone, wallet, and all your friend’s things somewhere. Plus if you have pockets, you’ll be less likely to set your belongings down and forget them.

3. Don’t Drive:  Seriously, don’t drive. Download LYFT, or UBER, or better yet, write down the number to a taxi before you begin your bar-crawl. Parking garages are expensive and DWI tickets and court fees are even pricier. If you are looking to save money, use UBER Pool or the split feature on LYFT to split the fares and keep you on budget for your night.     

4. Get to Know Your Bartender: Some people have heroes in life, but on a bar-crawl night, your bartender will be your hero. He will charge your phone when it’s dying, and he will help you if that guy next to you won’t leave you alone. He can recommend the best drinks, and give you water when you need it, and not when it’s too late.  As someone who has worked in the service industry for a little under a decade, I cant attest to this tip. And speaking of tips: 18% and higher depending on service. For many bartenders and servers, this job is how they pay their bills.

5. Limit Your Drinks:  It sounds crazy, and a little counter-productive for a bar-crawl, I know. But you want to enjoy as many new places as possible. Ask the bartender about the establishment’s best signature drinks and try one. After you’re done, pay, and head to the next place hopefully feeling good, and not too drunk, to optimize your evening.

6. Drink Water:  Stay hydrated, with the best mixed drink known to man: H20 and some ice which is also water, just frozen. Start off your night with a nice glass of water, and try to drink it in between cocktails. It’s good for your skin, your liver and probably your soul. You’ll thank yourself the next morning.

Cheers, and Drink Responsibly

 

Hotels V.S Share-Economy Style Hospitality

Before I start, let me begin by saying that I have stayed at both hotels and share economy style housing, like AirBnb. Both provided shelter, a place to lay my head at night, and most importantly a bathroom. But the difference is more of an emotional one and many people are beginning to realize that.

According to a 2016 survey done by MMGY about the global portrait of American travelers, featured in Joe Pike’s article, Millennial Agents Talk Airbnb, 56% of millennials are interested in a share-economy style of hospitality.

At the moment, the most popular Share Economy Style Housing service is AirBnb.

According to the AirBnb website:

AirBnb is an American company which operates an online marketplace and hospitality service for people to lease or rent short-term lodging including holiday cottages, apartments, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms. Like most hospitality services, AirBnb is an example of collaborative consumption and sharing. The company has over 4 million lodging listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries and has facilitated over 260 million check-ins.

So, what makes that any different than a hotel? The answer is the environment. You are living in someone’s space. It has character, and instead of feeling like one is staying in a carbon-copy room, many feel like they are staying in a home. Whether you have the place to yourself, or get to experience your time with roommates, or the host themselves, it provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in a new environment with new people that live in the location you’re traveling to. Meeting these people allows the person staying there to get first hand recommendations from locals about where to eat and what to do. While there is nothing wrong with going to a hotel and picking up a marketing brochure about the top ten most popular tourist attractions, that experience is simply not the kind of experience I had ever enjoyed as much.

The difference between a hotel and an AirBnb is like hiring 2 employees; one of which has a great resume and the other whom has incredible character. Hotels look great on paper. They’re clean, organized, and often engineered by architects, interior designers, and landscapers to look like paradise. But is any of that authentic? You may hire that employee with a great resume, but he or she may lack a certain spirit, or soul that is so important to the core of what you want to find.

Don’t get me wrong, renting an AirBnb is not a guarantee that you will have a life changing, soul-shaping experience that will alter your life’s manifesto from that very moment on. But will you be able to say you experienced something more authentically?

Unequivocally, Yes.

So what do you think? Have you experienced both types of hospitality? Which do you prefer, and why? Leave your comments above: