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Holiday Survival Guide: Best New Bars of 2013

December 15th, 2013 No Comments

Mary Rambin Drinking a Beer

When I go home over the holidays, I like to try the new hot spots all of my friends have been raving about. Thrillist just posted this list that includes bars from all over the country.  They rarely lead me astray, so if you see your city, give their rec a shot!

Click here to read the full article with descriptions of each place.



    What you’re getting: A Jester King seasonal
    What you’re getting: The Dealer’s Choice

Cambridge, MA

    What you’re getting: A VFW Old Fashioned

Charleston, NC

What you’re getting: Moscow Mule with homemade Sweatman’s ginger beer


    What you’re getting: Fernet & Cola
    What you’re getting: Poipu Beach Boogie Board; a Treasure Chest (if you’re a baller and/or shot-caller)
    What you’re getting: Dusek Punch



Las Vegas

    What you’re getting: The Crucifix in a Deathhand; the Burning Bush

Los Angeles

    What you’re getting: A delicious gin cocktail
    What you’re getting: Any drink on their extensive list; the Toucan Sam if they’ve got it


    What you’re getting: Whatever sweet tiki drink Susie Hoyt wants to make you


    What you’re getting: The Pain Killer




    What you’re getting: The Honesty of Constant Human Error

New Orleans

New York

    What you’re getting: A beer you’ve never heard of before that’s probably been barrel-aged
    What you’re getting: Morning Reviver
    What you’re getting: Remember the Maine



San Diego

San Francisco

    What you’re getting: Eye of the Tiger
    What you’re getting: A crazy sour beer you’ve never heard of


Washington DC

    What you’re getting: The Daily Punch
    What you’re getting: James & the Giant; the Stroppy pale ale


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“Where should we go for dinner tonight?”

September 13th, 2013 No Comments

Thrillist iPhone App


When the questions arises, I can NEVER think of the places on my wish list or Eater’s hit list.  No more guessing or driving around in circles with the new Thrillist iPhone app.  

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When you don’t have time to do it yourself

February 29th, 2012 No Comments

Hire a TaskRabbit!

It’s like Angie’s list for the digital savvy shopper.  Love it!

Ok, well, I can’t say I love it because I haven’t tried it, but it sounds amazing.  I miss the days of having a part-time assistant…I suppose I could hire a rabbit for a day or two… I wonder if they do data input….

Of course, there’s a catch.  At this point, TaskRabbits are only hopping around these cities:

BostonSF Bay AreaNew York City
ChicagoLA & OCAustin
PortlandSeattleSan Antonio

(coming soon to Dallas)

But it seems like you could hire someone remotely for many tasks other than dirty laundry.  If you’re in one of those cities and need some extra cash, you can sign up to be helper too!

Thanks to @Baldwin for the intro.  I asked him if he hires someone to stand in line for him @FranklinBBQ in Austin (apparently the best BBQ on the planet) that boasts a huge line and is sold out by 10am.  He replied “of course, that’s what @TaskRabbit is for.”

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October 16th, 2009 No Comments

The Hotel Zaza – Houston and Dallas

Last week I attended two events for Catwalk for the Cure, both held at the Hotel Zaza in Houston. It was so refreshing to be back there again!  Then, while enjoying a plate of their famous grilled quail, it dawned on me that while I had referenced my experiences there this summer, I had never told you why I enjoyed it so much.

Let’s put aside the fact I now know the staff personally at both locations of the Zaza, but instead focus on how and why that came to be. 

What seems like forever ago, my friend Jen took me to the hard hat event when the Houston location was under construction, but I wouldn’t set foot into the finished product until years after it’s opening. 

After hearing the rave reviews, I referred a friend visiting Houston to the hotel and went to meet him for a drink one night.  When I pulled up to the valet I felt like they were rolling out the welcome mat just for me.  Entering the lobby I was instantly in love with the modern, eclectic decor, and when I found my friend had not yet arrived at Monarch, the manager bought me a drink and chatted with me until he arrived.  I’m pleased to call Alex (the manager) a friend now as well.

Sure you could say he was just making small talk with a pretty girl, but I’ve since heard the same account from several other people.  Alex wouldn’t be the only friendly member of their staff.  With a simple hello, I befriended many others and now keep up with them on Facebook!

So obviously I was instantly enamored, so I wanted to know more about the space, the people, and everything they had to offer.  Here’s what I found:


Both hotels have a more intimate feeling than your average Ritz or Four Seasons.  Honestly, I have no idea if there are less rooms, but it feels like a smaller, more personable space than the aforementioned chains.  So not only is the price point better, but so is the ambiance. 

In terms of the hotel itself, Zaza Houston (built on the skeleton of the historic Warwick hotel) is a bigger location but maintains the boutique feel of the original in Dallas.  The rooms boast a modern but comfortable decor with cozy beds and Molton Brown toiletries .  From my experience, it seems the rooms in Dallas a little bigger and more plush.  My favorite feature are the “Seven Wonders of the World” suites that are decorated in different themes like Rock Star, China, Space age, etc. And don’t even get me started on the rooftop “Black Label” suite with the amazing views you can enjoy from the gigantic bathtub on the balcony (God only knows what has gone on in there). 

If you’re into the celeb scene, the Zaza is a good spot for sightings.  Many times I stopped by stars like Kid Rock and Young Jeezy were residing in the suites.


Downstairs in the restaurants – Monarch in Houston and Dragonfly in Dallas – you’ll find a menu with a little taste of every cuisine.  Both the Houston chef Aaron Neeley and Grant Morgan in Dallas update their menu seasonally.  In fact, the dinner I attended last Thursday was a sampling of their new fall menu.  People loved the steak, but we all agreed the scallops were some of the best we’ve ever tasted.  Consistent favorites of mine are the grilled quail, deconstructed ahi roll, and their fish specials. 

As with most restaurants right now, they usually offer a special promotion.  Right now if you mention “Fall 09” you will get 15% off your meal.  Mondays they have half off all bottles of wine, and Wednesdays the whole menu is discounted fifty percent.  So you can see it was an easy sell to get me to come on multiple occasions.  Rumor has it they are also starting “reverse happy hour.”  Another winner in my book!

As for the dessert (I mention this because my request has fallen on deaf ears), don’t be deceived by the sound of the red velvet cupcakes.  Even if you’re an amateur when it comes to sweets, you’ll be highly disappointed by the bite-sized blandness.  I’m pretty sure the cupcakes are my only real complaint about the hotel actually…..


But I’ll tell you something you can indulge in without guilt – the spa!  I didn’t get a chance to go to the one in Dallas during my stay,  but if the Houston one is any indication, I can recommend them both without hesitation.  First of all, they have these pedicure chairs that tilt you backwards so you’re laying comfortably while the esthetician is meticulously primping your feet.  Then if you decide to get actual treatments, they have a fully equipped locker room and a delightfully dark lounge with beds for you to await your service.  The facial was acceptable and left my skin glowing, but the massage from Emin (who is often referred to as “AMEN”) is ridiculous.  After an hour rub down I asked him how he was able to control the hot rocks over the contours of my back.  His response, “what rocks?”  What felt like warm stones were actually his strong, oh-so-smooth hands.  Holy moly y’all.  Holy moly.


I actually started spending time at the hotel because of the pool.  Due to their summertime Urban Oasis, I enjoyed the peaceful patio during the week, and then throwing back a few Coronas with a fun crowd on the weekends.  Ok, so the weekends would get a little rough in Houston, but Dallas was the trendy place to be seen.  I wasn’t really into the whole wearing heels in my bikini, but my gladiators worked as well.  Either way, at both hot spots, the people watching was unprecedented. (Because of the recession, most hotels were opening up their pool area to locals to drive business, Zaza was no different.)


After college, Andy and I frequented the Beverly Hills Hotel so it became like our “home away from home.” Unfortunately I was never able to find a place I wanted to hang my hat in NYC.  The Zaza welcomed me with open arms and it’s always nice to return for a visit.  And I know they will do the same for you.

(**In total, Hotel Zaza generously comped a 4 night stay in Dallas as well as 3 spa treatments.)

The Only Places I Know In Dallas

July 17th, 2009 No Comments

The Only Places I Know In Dallas

I have to say, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Dallas.  The city itself is beautiful! It boasts neighborhoods in close proximity to each other, streets lined with trees, restaurants filled with friendly (and beautiful) people, rich dining experiences, fun spots to hang out, a unique fashion sense, cultural offerings, and a means to relax .  Truly, it was pretty close to a perfect urban existence. 

My first week in Dallas I feel like I explored a lot of what the city had to offer in Highland Park and Uptown.  Below, you’ll find a list of the places I went (or considered going to).

Coal Vines – a wine and pizza bar with a fresh, delicious menu.  Transitions from low-key casual dinner to trendy hot spot around 8.

Dream Cafe– a favorite casual brunch spot for locals

Goff’s – locals’ favorite hamburger joint

Hibiscus – rustic but formal setting for a fabulous meal  

Javier’s – classic tex mex for cool kids

Local – a sophisticated, clean, American offering that would make any foodie smile in a “quiet” contemporary setting

Nick and Sam’s – convenient location with a good crowd, but the food is terrible

Paradise Bakery & Cafe – think Panera but BETTER. 

R+D Cafe – from the creators of Houston’s, this cafe is more casual with great sushi and interesting salads

Sprinkles – designer cupcakes from Beverly Hills that are worth every penny

Steel –  ”I can never say no to Steele” – “It’s so Dallas” quotes from two local fans of the modern, pan-asian eateryVictor Tango’s– diner goes trendy for the pre-clubbing crowd.  Chicken and waffles and hamburger tacos make for a fun, but fair dining experience.  Stick to the sea bass skewers.

Joule Hotel– Starwood hotel that houses one of Dallas’ hottest clubs (PM) and a hip pool scene, just like the W actually

Ritz Carlton–  walk into the stunning entry way and prepare for the “meat market” bar, or enjoy a cocktail on their large, well- lit terrace where you can show off your kicks and relax with friends

ZaZa Hotel– boutique hotel with a creative luxury concept and fun, young scene.  A favorite for visiting celebs and locals.

Higland Park Village – beautiful outdoor mall that houses all of the major labels with a few boutiques and affordable chains

NorthPark Mall – Indoor mall with the “better” Neimans and Barney’s

Deno’s – locals swear this is the best shoe and leather repair place in the state

FortyFive Ten– creme de la creme boutique in Highland Park with a fantastic selection of designer pieces for men and women, plus a lovely home section.  Don’t both to visit if you’re not looking to drop a few bills.

Scoop – the NYC boutique with a selection of trendy and semi-affordable casual-wear in Highland Park Village

Stanley Korshak – think Neimans meets Barneys on a smaller scale

Tootsies – one of my favorite stores in Texas.  Upscale and always a pleasure to browse


Barcadia – Dive bar with over-sized, adult Jenga and vintage video games

Coal Vines  – Like I said, it gets packed in there

The Meridian Room – although it looks a little shady, I had a blast chugging free beers and listening to a southern rock band perform outside.  I hear the food is good too. 

PM – exclusive club inside Joule Hotel with pretty people who think they are pretty and djs spinning an eclectic mix that will make you want to dance

Other Stuff To Do

The Arboretum – I didn’t go, but even the locals visit when looking for a fun activity

Equinox– obviously I went and loved it.  The group fitness and yoga classes were actually pretty good.  I twittered that if you’re single in Dallas, you should forget the drinks after work and hit the gym for a selection of good-looking, physically fit, healthy men.

The Old Katy Trail – a running, biking trail that runs through Highland Park

Weekend Pool Hopping – the pool scene at the hotels is where you’ll find the daytime party equipped with djs spinning remixes you’d expect to hear in St. Tropez.  Think Tao Beach Vegas but a lot more mellow.  Check out the Zaza, Joule (where the pool extends over the edge of the building), the Ritz, the Crescent, and if you don’t mind the drive, The Four Seasons.(Photo via Jeff Clow’s Flickr)

July 9th, 2009 No Comments

I came specifically to Stanley Korshak to pick up Kai perfume (it’s been on my mind for weeks now), but I love their other lines as well. The soap and lotion in the front by La Compagnie de Provence smells divine.

July 8th, 2009 No Comments

This morning I ran the Katy trail to get a little mental clarity. I’m juggling a lot right now, and it’s much harder than you would expect to maintain it all.