Merry Christmas everyone!! I cannot believe Christmas is already over. My last post was the day after Thanksgiving and I'm truly wondering where the time has gone...I have blinked and a new year is upon us!
These last two weeks have been absolutely crazy. I was in Charleston, then New York, then Boston. It was go, go, go but I loved every second of it!
Boston holds such a special place in my heart. Not only did I grow up outside of it I moved back there for five years before moving to Los Angeles. It is such a beautiful city, especially during the holidays when Back Bay is lit up like a Hallmark Christmas movie. Now, stay with me for a second. Shortly before moving to Los Angeles my parents relocated full time to their vacation home in South Carolina, so once moving to LA whenever I had time off to go 'home' and visit, it didn't leave much time to go to Boston. Now that I have more time to travel I knew I had to go to Boston to see my friends, especially around Christmas time. Home is such a funny thing...I have come to learn you never realize somewhere is home until you no longer live there. I remember when I first moved to DC I was homesick for California, when I first moved to Boston I was homesick for DC, and when I moved to LA I was homesick for Boston. It's like home goes from so much more to just a place, it becomes the people and to this day, even after 4 years in LA and having few family ties there anymore, Boston still feels like home. I began a career in Boston, made some of the best friends a girl could ever hope for, lost my sister, healed a broken heart, fell apart and watched those same friends pick me right back up. Boston gets a bad rap...the accent, the weather, the driving. And it's true, the people are tough...they have to be. But like the mob, once you're in, you're in for life...they'll show up for you no matter what...and they came out in droves while I was there.
Day 1 in Boston
I arrived in Boston Friday afternoon and checked into my hotel. I stayed at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge and had a gorgeous river view. My friends are spread out all over the city so although I wouldn't have thought of Cambridge as convenient to any of this it actually was perfect! I had plans to immediately meet my friend Nick for drinks. I originally wanted to put a big thing together but 1. time got away from me and 2. it can be tough to balance a few different groups. Much to my surprise Nick had told a dozen of our mutual friends and it was more wonderful than I could ever have imagined. Bless him for fielding the 7,946 text messages all day. To have people show up for you like that, especially in the freezing cold, was the most heartwarming thing I could have ever imagined. We went to Oak + Rowan where one of the best bartenders in Boston (and a childhood friend) works. I just love a French 75. I also had the crudo which was delicious. Afterwards we then went across the street to Blue Dragon because I love the dan dan noodles which they never gave me and don't even get me started because I didn't drop it all weekend and I'll get all riled up again!
Quick Stats on Royal Sonesta Boston
Vibe: Business-chic with an updated edge. I could see this being a great place to stay if you're in town for meetings in Cambridge particularly because there's lots of open area to work, the restaurant and cafe, the rooms feel new, and having a balcony is always nice. Plus, if you're a runner this is right on the Charles River and a gorgeous/very popular area to run.
Rooms & suites: 400--this is a big hotel with an East and West tower
View: River view and Cambridge view. I had a river view and it was beautiful.
Amenities: There's a super cute coffee shop perfect for grabbing anything to go in the morning or the middle of the day between meetings, Dante is the main restaurant which has a killer Appy Hour (there's no 'Happy Hour' in Boston) and the bar was always packed (they also make a great cheese plate--thank you!--which they kindly had waiting in my room the next day), a great gym and pool. The hotel is also across the street from a major mall so all the shopping and restaurants you need!
Day 2 in Boston
I spent the entire day with a very close friends, which was such a delight. Over the last few years since leaving Boston (and probably much longer) he really battled with some things which is his story, not mine, to tell. We planned to go ice skating in Boston Common but it was way too cold! He's an incredible chef so he always knows where to go in Boston for restaurants. If he's into it, I'm into it. I don't even want to order, it's whatever he picks, otherwise I end up with food envy! We shopped along Newbury Street, went to Eataly in the Pru (after not getting my noodles the night prior all I wanted was a cheese plate once I got back to my hotel), got sushi at Douzo (an oldie but a goodie), went to this new spot Saltie Girl (omg, go!) where we had the snow crab toast (pictured) and charred octopus, and had the spicy hot chocolate (not on the menu but ask for it--my tip to you from Chef S) at L.A. Burdick's. It was the kind of day six months ago I wasn't sure I'd ever get to experience with him again...a true gift which I'm so thankful for.
Day 3 in Boston
I met my dear friend and birthday twin, Debbie, for brunch at Abe & Louie's in Back Bay...this place is kind of a landmark in Boston. Coincidentally enough, this is actually where Debbie and I met years ago. It's a funny story...I had been dating this guy and he and I went there for brunch once. For being a major city, Boston is actually a very small town, and it always felt like he knew everyone anywhere we went so it wasn't uncommon to run into people he knew. In came this huge group of girls (I'm talking, like, 12 of them), and he knew them all. Now, meeting all the girlfriends of the guy you're dating isn't always the easiest experience...unless you're referring to this day in my life. They were the best!!! One immediately made plans to grab drinks with me later that week and the rest, as they say, is history. To this day she still says to him, 'Jess was the best thing that ever happened to you!!'
From there we progressed to Stephi's in Southie, one of my old haunts. I just love it there. A few more friends joined including another girl from the infamous Abe & Louie's group of girlfriends (gotta say, that guy really knew how to pick amazing girls!). This is the perfect place to watch the Patriots beat the Steelers. Plus, next door is Moonshine which is where to go in Boston for the best late night dirty rice. Also try the jalapeño crab rangoon. By then a few more friends had joined us (so now like 10 of us). But back to the dirty rice...don't even bother trying to share it with anyone else, be selfish, get your own! It is mouth-watering delicious and I can't stop thinking about! (so good that I didn't even take a picture...just dig in!)
Unfortunately, it was time for me to leave. But I must go back soon because even though I went to three times as many restaurants as days I was there there are so many more places I want to share with you! Plus, I say there's nothing like Winter in Boston but Spring and Summer means Red Sox games at Fenway Park and not much tops that!
I'm off to Miami in a couple weeks and I haven't been in ten years so PLEASE send me any recommendations! And trust, I will be trying ALL the spots.
Also, I did a few days in Charleston, but it was sooo rainy I didn't take any pictures. #worstbloggerever Do you still want me to do a Where to Go: Charleston? We tried some great restaurants so I think I will.
I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2018. New Year's is actually my favorite holiday--I love the idea of a fresh start--what are your resolutions?