Saturday, September 17, 2016

Scottsdale - Your Next Foodie Destination

You love food. We get it, so do we. You also love traveling to new destinations. Us too! But we've been to all the main stream foodie towns, you know, like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Vegas, and of course, we love L.A. Next on the list is Scottsdale! 

Scottsdale is undergoing a culinary renaissance. With nearly 800 restaurants, ranging in a variety of cuisines, the downtown district is booming with innovative food-focused businesses, most of which use ingredients from local farms and serve local beer and wine. Yes there is farming and winemaking in the desert, and it's very good! Arizona boasts over 30 breweries, and the arts district in Scottsdale has 5 wine tasting rooms with more on the way. It's truly a culinary oasis in the desert.

With only a 50 minute plane ride away from LA,  Scottsdale is your quick getaway to food, fun, and relaxation. And when you go, we have some suggestions on where to stay, eat, and play. 


Hotel Valley Ho

If you're visiting a new place, you're the type of person that wants to be in the middle of all the activity. You like action and things to do and places to walk/Uber to. When in Scottsdale, your best bet is staying Downtown at the Hotel Valley Ho. 

Imagine that you're transported to your favorite show, Mad Men -  that's the era, look and feel that this hotel has. It's a place where Don Draper himself would be found with an Old Fashioned in hand. Hotel Valley Ho is the perfect mix of historic charm and modern luxury. 

The rooms are well-appointed and larger than today's "cookie-cutter" rooms found in newer hotels. The suites are equipped with full kitchens, think full-sized fridge, stove/oven, microwave, and dish ware. A full sized living area and large bathroom make this your home away from home. Just down the street is Scottsdale's renowned dining, shopping and art galleries. This is the perfect and stylish home base for exploring the area. 

Hotel Valley Ho
6850 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 376-2600

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale

If you're more into getting away from it all for some peace and relaxation, then the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch is your place. Escape to one of the best resorts in Scottsdale with an award-winning spa, tennis courts, golf course, and 10 swimming pools. Oh, and you have 5 amazing restaurants to choose from, including Southwest Bistro, an open kitchen restaurant that offers an intimate chef's table dining experience. Finish that off with a romantic gondola ride while being serenaded in Italian, and you have the recipe for the perfect getaway.  

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa
7500 E Doubletree Ranch Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258
(480) 444-1234


"Wine Me, Dine Me" at SWB

You're here for the food and if you're staying at the Hyatt regency, you'll very much appreciate the "Wine Me, Dine Me" experience at Southwest Bistro. Sit at the chef's open kitchen and experience a four-course tasting menu that will be the best Resort/Hotel dining experience you have had to-date. Chef Juan Solorio will create beautiful offerings like the fresh ceviche paired with a rare tequila anejo, and a steak cooked to perfection paired with the perfect, velvety, luscious red wine - it's a must-have experience in Scottsdale. 

7500 E Doubletree Ranch Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258
(480) 444-1234

FnB Restaurant

James Beard nominated, Chef Charleen Badman creates an elevated vegetable driven menu that features local Arizona wines and produce. The trendy restaurant is located in the middle of downtown Scottsdale and offers a very seasonal menu that is always changing. Fresh local ingredients are at the forefront in this bistro-like restaurant. Make sure you reserve a table in advance as they only keep one table free for walk-ins, and it goes fast. 

Clockwise from top left: pasta with lobster, mushrooms romano beans, fresh ricotta; cold udon noodles with kimchi vinaigrette; humus with spiced lamb and urfa pita chips; lulu's eggplant ratatouille.

FnB Restaurant
7125 E 5th Ave #31, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Second Story Liquor Bar

Second Story Liqour Bar is probably one of the coolest places to have dinner in Scottsdale. An unassuming bar located above a pizza joint, this restaurant is putting out some of the best food in the area. The hamachi crudo dish is something you would expect in a fancy white-table cloth establishment. It's delicate, flavorful, and a work of art on the plate. If you're more inclined to the regular gastro-pub fare, the burger is one of the best in the city. 

The drinks are also a highlight, it is called Second Story "Bar" after all. Whiskey is king here and you'll find just about any spirit that's brown and barreled here - the whiskey list is one of , if not the longest in all of Scottsdale. Order the Old Fashioned, it won't disappoint. 

Second Story Liquor Bar
4166 N Scottsdale Rd #102, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 945-5555

Craft 64

The guys at Craft 64 are passionate about their craft (pun intended). The pizza, is one of the best we've had anywhere. Just the basics, like the crust is perfectly charred from the wood burning oven and the ingredients are all local and fresh. All those components make for a great pie, but add to that a unique combination of ingredients and you have taken the pizza game up to another level. 

The Spain - fresh mozzarella, chorizo, Spanish almonds for texture, cured olives, and mild Harissa sauce, make this a must order. It's spicy, savory, and makes you want more after each bite. The green Aji pizza with sautéed onions and fennel sausage is worth the trip from LA to AZ alone. This pizza is perfection, plain and simple. Pair it with over 30 local brews and you're in pizza nirvana. Also, worth ordering is the BLT, fresh mozzarella, arugula, tomatoes, and bacon on fresh baked bread - it's the ideal Italian take on a BLT. 

Craft 64
6922 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 946-0542

Super Chunk Sweets & Treats

Of course you're going to stop at one of Scottsdale's best sweets spot. Super Chunk Sweets & Treats is the brainchild of husband/wife team, Sergio and Country Velador. Everything is made in-house, from scratch. We dare you to find a better chocolate chip cookie in all of Arizona! Also, the blondies are to die for. 

Super Chunk Sweets & Treats
7120 E 6th Ave #19, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(602) 736-2383


Hot Air Expeditions

If there is one item to put on your bucket list, it should be a Hot Air Balloon Ride and Hot Air Expeditions in Arizona delivers the perfect experience. One note of caution, you're going to have to wake up extra early for this since they take off right after sunset. So expect your driver to pick you up at your hotel by 5:15AM. Groggy, tired, and with a Venti-sized coffee in hand, you jump in the van and you're taken to the Sonoran Desert. Greeted by a charismatic pilot named Mikey D, he tells you that you're in for an experience of  life time - and he's right.

When you jump inside the basket, you don't even have time to snap that selfie for snapchat, suddenly you're already floating above ground. At 5,300 feet high (a mile), you're soaring over the desert. In the background is the most colorful sunrise you have seen in some time, maybe ever. Let's be honest, when was the last time you woke up at the crack of dawn to see the sun come up?

The ride is peaceful and quiet. Very quiet. You can't even feel that you're a mile high. It's as if everything is paused and stilled just for you. You grab your phone, take that selfie, and touch ground.  A champagne brunch awaits for you upon landing and you have just checked off another item from your bucket list.  

Hot Air Expeditions

LDV Winery

Wines form Arizona? Yes! Since the 1970's, several of these locally made wines have won numerous awards, and gained international acclaim. Some have even been served in the White House. Arizona, the new Napa Valley? 

When visiting Scottsdale, stop in to LDV Wine Gallery and experience award-winning Rhone varietal wines. Peggy Fiandaca will walk you through the history of every bottle and make you feel right at home. It's one of the best wine tasting experiences. 

6951 E 1st St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Spa Avania

You keep hearing about these amazing spas in Scottsdale? Yes, they are here and Spa Aviana is your top pick. Located in the Hyatt (how convenient), it was named one of the best spas in the world by Conde Nast Traveller. You're immediately whisked away to a serene and peaceful environment. Relax in the outdoor mineral pool right before your massage. Sitting by the fireplace and ordering off the spa's food and beverage menu is also a great way to relax. 

7500 E Doubletree Ranch Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Arizona Food Tours

Okay, you love to eat, we know! You're pressed for time and want to try Scottsdale's best eats, so what do you do? You reserve your spot on the Arizona Food Tour. You'll walk through downtown (about a mile and half total) and try five to six places while learning all about the history of the city with other fellow foodies. 

 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 293-4096

For more amazing things to see and do, visit Scottsdale CVB

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Special thanks to Scottsdale CVB for collaborating with Hungry in LA. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Food, Luxury, and Southern Charm: Exploring Charleston

Maybe it's the Southern charm, or the historic buildings. Perhaps it's the rich history and culture, or the aqua blue beaches with warm waters of the Atlantic. Maybe it's the fact that things slow down here and like the similar effect of "island time" in Hawaii, you're on "Southern time" a relaxed pace now. Those are all great reasons to visit South Carolina, but my top reason has to be the incredibly good food that can only come from the South and more specifically - Charleston. 

We can all name great food cities in the US; New York, Chicago, San Francisco, LA, but Charleston? Yes! Charleston has become one of the premier cities for great food. Reason enough for foodies from all over the world to have the desire to visit. And with so many restaurants and places to explore, you're probably asking your self, Where are the best restaurants in Charleston? or What are the best hotels in Charleston? Below are some must-try recommendations for hotels and restaurants that I personally tried on my most recent trip last month. 


Zero George 

If you want to stay in the most unique, luxurious, boutique hotel, Zero George is your perfect place. It's located just few blocks away from the busyness of Downtown, all while maintaining enough distance to feel like you can escape and relax in a quiet and remarkably beautiful setting. 

The eighteen studios and suites are located in a beautifully landscaped locale surrounded by three Charleston residences and two brick carriage houses that date near 1804. Original elements such as pine floors, high ceilings, and classic piazzas are still present throughout the property. Southern charm, sophistication, and elegance are all a great understatement when describing this place.

The hotel's decor brings together this Southern sophistication with contemporary touches. Rooms are elegantly appointed with fine linens and new furniture that is reminiscent of that time period. A convenient Nespresso machine is readily available in your suite but you'll want to explore the complimentary European-style breakfast located in the bar/restaurant each morning that consists of smoked trout, deviled eggs, fresh made biscuits and house-made jams.  

The beautiful courtyard and large porch invite you to stay and relax while sipping a refreshing rosé during the evening wine hour. If you want to explore Charleston, the hotel offers complimentary bicycles equipped with baskets that are perfect for riding to all the restaurants and boutique shops along King Street. Also make sure to take a ride to the famous Rainbow Row - a picturesque block of historic pastel colored houses right by the waterfront. 

The staff and owners are available to meet all your needs. There is not one single detail that is left out in your experience. Everything from welcoming you at check-in with a glass of champagne, to being very knowledgeable about restaurants and recommendations. There is a high standard of professionalism yet it also feels like your among family and friends. There really is a sense of genuine attentiveness and you can tell everyone you meet is vested in giving you the best experience possible. 

I can absolutely see why Zero George was named one of the top 5 foodie hotels in the world by Condé Nast. The property offers intimate cooking classes, hosts a wonderful evening wine hour, has one of the better cocktail programs in the area, and the very talented chef that helms the kitchen has received much acclaim for his market-driven dinners. Zero George is a foodie traveler's dream come true. 

0 George St, Charleston, SC 29401

The Spectator Hotel

You're a socialite and you love to be in the middle of all the action. If you were visiting LA, you would stay on the Sunset Strip. If it's Chicago, then you want to be right on Miracle Mile. I get it, and that's why if you're in Charleston and wanted a chic hotel with all the shops, restaurants, and lounges of the French Quarter right outside your door, The Spectator Hotel has got you covered. 

From the moment you arrive and have the door opened to you by Mr. Paul, a gentleman donning a three-piece suit and a bowler hat, you are immediately transported to the golden age of the roaring twenties. The hotel looks immaculate and makes you feel as though you're in a scene from the Great Gatsby. Think of a newer hotel with all of today's comforts and modern amenities like bath towel warmers and Nespresso machines, but has a Southern charm and 1920's vintage ambience. Even your room key looks like an old key but the leather strap is quipped with an electronic FOB to grant you access to the elevator and your suite. 

The hotel has high standards to meet all the expectations of their guests. The personalized butler service is unlike anything you can experience in Charleston. And every morning there is a complimentary light breakfast brought up to your room so you can ease into your day with fresh brewed coffee and ham biscuits all while listening to speakeasy/prohibition era jazz from the hotel's playlist. There is no restaurant on the property, but you have the entire French Quarter at your disposal and countless of options within walking distance. The hotel bar that resembles a study with books residing on dark mahogany wooden shelves, serves well crafted cocktails to a sophisticated and vibrant crowd. 

The Spectator Hotel
67 State St, Charleston, SC 29401


Zero Restaurant + Bar

You can't stay at Zero George and not dine at the restaurant. Even if you were staying outside of Downtown Charleston, you would need to drive in and visit Zero Restaurant + Bar. The ambience is like no other. You can dine inside the beautifully refurbished Charleston-style home, but you'll want to sit outside and enjoy the warm Summer night dining al fresco. 

Intimate tables are spread out through the open courtyard where soft candlelight glow illuminates the dining area. The staff is attentive, friendly, and professional. You feel as though you have been invited to a supper club in an intimate space. The cocktail program must be one of Charleston's best kept secrets. Make sure your first round is a "Smoke On The Water" - bourbon, coach di torino, Lairds Applejack brandy, black walnut bitter, and a smoked iccube - an excellent well balanced cocktail. 

Chef Vinson Petrillo and his team create beautiful and flavorful dishes that are prepared with locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. The menu changes frequently but whatever you order, it will pair well with one of the many boutique wines or craft cocktails available. The upscale experience in a charming location make this one of the top picks for dining in Charleston.

 0 George St, Charleston, SC 29401

Cannon Green

One of you loves modern and contemporary restaurants, the other loves classic, rustic, and charming suppers. Cannon Green gives you the perfect classic-meets-cosmopolitan ambience in Downtown Charleston. The modern take on classic Mediterranean cuisine is the star here and only the freshest available local ingredients are used by Chef Amalia Scatena. The emphasis of farm/ocean-to-table cooking shines through in the flavorful dishes. A must try is Chef's raviolo - picture a large ravioli with duck egg, spinach, ricotta cheese, brown butter, and garlic chips. 

Head on Prawns with pepper confit, salsa verde, and crispy garlic.

103 Spring St, Charleston, SC 29403


Husk is everything you picture when you hear someone say Charleston. The space is a refurbished home with a wrap-around porch and black shutters. Right in front on Queen street you can see a horse-drawn carriage taking visitors around downtown. Oh, and the food? Some of the best in town. 

Expect Southern style comfort food with an elevated essence here. That means the fried chicken plate, is quite possibly the best fried chicken you'll ever have. The burger, made with a bacon/beef blend, has been on several "best of" lists. Also, staying true to its Southern roots is an extensive whiskey/bourbon list that includes a lot of rare bottles. 

76 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401

Hominy Grill

If you're going to have breakfast/brunch in Charleston, make it Hominy Grill. The quaint little space located in a residential neighborhood has expanded, but even with the extra seats, there's still a long wait on weekends for this Charleston staple. Your go-to's will be the housemade banana bread, shrimp & grits, and a sandwich called the Charleston Nasty that consists of two buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken, cheddar, and lots of sausage gravy. A food coma is inevitable. 

207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

Wise-Buck Smoked Meats

Wise-Buck Smoked Meats is a new joint serving...well, smoked meats of course. The place is super casual with picnic tables on the patio and several canned and bottled brews. The menu is simple and straightforward, pick from your choice of meats a la cart and add some side dishes like charred zucchini, smoked corn on the cob, or the light yet flavorful potato salad. If you're craving a sandwich, you can't go wrong with the Carolina-style pulled pork with broccoli rabe. 

Pulled pork sandwich, potato salad, and smoked corn on the cob. 

Wise-Buck Smoked Meats
23 Ann St, Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 306-0101

Tattooed Moose

An extensive craft beer list and a sandwich that has its own fan club? We're in! Tattooed Moose has two locations and visiting the original dive bar in Downtown is a must. Mike's Famous Duck Club is a legend and deserves to be in a league of its own. The famous and addicting triple decker is a combination of duck confit, applewood smoked bacon, hickory smoked cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and delicious globs of garlic aioli, all on grilled sweet Hawaiian bread. While you're at it, grab a side of duck fat fries, they are perfectly crisp and seasoned and the only fitting side to an outstanding sandwich like this. 

Tattooed Moose
1137 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 277-2990

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