Steamboat Springs: The Best Happy Hour Eats

Robert. A. Heinlein once said “to enjoy the flavor of life, take BIG bites.” I say go all in. Try things. And do it for less!

It’s no secret that I love craft cocktails and killer food. For me, exploring that aspect of traveling is one of the best parts! I love checking out the local flavors on all of my trips. Word of mouth, a spontaneous Yelp pick.. many of my favorite experiences begin unplanned and with an open mind.

Yes, eating out can be tough on the wallet, but it doesn’t have to be. In recent years, I’ve become increasingly skilled at scouting out happy hours for FOOD. If you’re willing to eat a bit early or a lot late (reverse), you can score a great meal at an even better price. Honestly, you don’t even have to travel far to find them!

I practiced this trick many times while on a recent vacation to Steamboat Springs.

It started with Tapas. FOR ONE DOLLAR.
$1 Tapas at Mahogany Ridge  Mahogany Ridge Happy Hour
Let’s be real… I ate a lot more than that! With $1 tapas, you can afford to splurge at Mahogany Ridge’s happy hour. The ghost chile wings and curry samosa (above) were some of my favorites. Plus, they make you feel like you’re actually Mahogany Ridge, Steamboatgetting something of substance. Each order comes with at least a couple pieces. Mahogany is also a fully operational brewery, so it’s worth noting that drinks are half price. I went for the Honey Blonde beer, but a lot of people like the Alpenglow ale.

Mahogany Ridge 
435 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Springs
(970) 879-3773
Happy hour: 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.

Just steps away from Mahogany, I found this southern gem – LOW, as in low happy hour prices.
LOW Country Kitchen LOW Country Kitchen LOW Country Kitchen
Mosey on down to this gourmet – meets soul food – scratch kitchen on Lincoln Ave. in downtown for a happy hour that extends 30 minutes later than Mahogany. Actually, don’t mosey – RUN. LOW Country Kitchen is so freakin’ good. Order the $2 chicken biscuit. It’s sandwiched with creole aioli and pepper jelly. Follow that with a $3 order of hush puppies. Yum.
LOW Country Kitchen
By this point, you’ll be thirsty. Order up a specialty cocktail and sip it down slowly. I can vouch for The Charleston – peach brandy, pineapple and blueberries are just a few of the ingredients. Basically, it tastes like summer on a Georgia porch. Oh yeah.. and it’s only $7 before 6 p.m.
The Charleston at LOW  LOW cocktails
Restaurants tend to come and go quickly… they lose their flavor in the ever revolving door what’s “hot now.” LOW opened in spring 2014. I have a feeling it’s going to stick around.

LOW Country Kitchen
435 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Springs
970.761.2693
Happy hour: 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Still hungry? No problem. Head to E3 Chophouse and order the $14 steak burger… for $7!
E3 Steak Burger  E3 Chophouse
I loved this place and so did the guys on our trip. E3’s is only about 2 years old. The vibe is cool and the wrap around patio is pretty sweet at sunset.E3 Chophouse, Steamboat
Also, if you’re looking for a full meal, this happy hour is unbeatable. All food is half off. Lobster mac for $7? Yes please! E3 Chophouse, SteamboatSteak burger with fries for $7? Heck yeah… $6 sliders, plus fries? C’mon… it doesn’t get much better than that! The craft cocktails are also delish… just don’t do what I did and assume they’re on special (they’re not). But – there are plenty of drinks deals to be had, like $4 craft beers and $3 domestics.

E3 Chophouse
Steamboat Springs
Happy hour: 3 – 5:45 p.m. & 10 p.m.+ Fri/Sat (hours may vary by season)

Sephora’s 2015 Sun Safety Kit is Out NOW!

Calling all product junkies… Sephora’s new Sun Safety Kit is out and it’s as good as ever.
I’ve been a loyal customer of this bag of goodies for the last several years because..

A) Sunburns love me like a fat kid loves cake (I’m practically a vampire).

B) It’s always stocked with a dozen+ deluxe samples, perfect for travel.

C) $155 worth of product for $32! And…

D) $20 from every kit is donated to The Skin Cancer Foundation!

2015 Sephora Sun Safety Kit ~ $32 ($155 product value)

2015 Sephora Sun Safety Kit ~ $32 ($155 product value)

So what’s in this beast?

– 0.2 oz AmorePacific Natural Protector SPF 30
– 0.3 oz Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution Broad Spectrum SPF 50
– 0.5 oz Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 in Light Medium
– 0.25 oz Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare™ Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen
– 0.17 oz Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45
– 0.08 oz Fresh® Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15
– 0.5 oz Josie Maran Cosmetics Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47
– 0.34 oz Korres Yoghurt Nourishing Fluid Veil Broad Spectrum SPF 30
– 0.17 oz Murad® Invisiblur™ Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30
– 0.1 oz Ole Henriksen total truth™ eye crème SPF 15
– 0.5 oz Origins VitaZing™ Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Energy-Boosting Moisturizer with Mangosteen
– Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense® Lotion SPF 30
– 0.6 oz Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 50+ Water Resistant (80 Minutes)
– 1.69 oz St. Tropez One Night Only in Light-Medium
– 0.34 oz Supergoop!® City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30
– 0.34 oz Vita Liberata Passion Flower & Argan Dry Oil Broad Spectrum SPF 50
– Travel bag

I can personally vouch for the Sugar lip balm – so good! The full size (.15 oz) retails for $22.50. This mini is just over half the size ($12 worth). Through last year’s kit, I because a Supergoop! fan, so no doubt I’ll like this tube. I own the full size Dr. Jart+ BB, which is killer for all of my Caribbean travels. Hello SPF “all-in-one” makeup! Josie Maran’s moisturizer is also a staple in my medicine cabinet. Seriously, great line-up of products here!

Get it while it’s HOT! Literally, you’ll need it for that all that fun in the sun!

What Type of Margarita Are YOU?

Happy Friday travel friends! It’s been a long week… am I right? Well I’m off to Colorado for a little road trip this weekend – heading to Steamboat for the first time!
*If you have suggestions, I’ll take ’em!

I’ll be hitting the slopes for a few days, maybe checking out some breweries as well. I’ll be sure to post pics along the way – so follow my adventures on Twitter @TravelItGirl or on Facebook!

In the meantime, let’s kick off the weekend with some margaritas! You can find all of these fabulous recipes HERE!

Margaritas!!!

Check them out and let me know which ones you like best!

{KC} How Jack Stack Stacks up Against Joe’s BBQ

When it comes to Kansas City barbecue, everyone has an opinion on which place reigns supreme. For some, it’s Arthur Bryant’s on Brooklyn Avenue.  Others swear Joe’s is the best. Or wait, is it Fiorella’s Jack Stack in The Plaza?  It depends on what you’re after. I’ve tried all three.

First up ~ Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que ~ AKA “Oklahoma Joe’s”

Oklahoma Joe's

I visited the original location during a snowy football adventure a little more than a year ago. Since then, the famous gas station “go-to” spot for BBQ, has undergone a name change. In fact, all three Kansas City-area locations are now Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. The move was part of a long overdue “break-up” with the co-founder of Oklahoma Joe’s in that namesake state. I’ll spare you the business details… just know that as of a few months ago, Joe’s changed names. Everything else stayed the same.

I ordered the Carolina pork sandwich back then… and I ordered the same thing a few weeks ago here, at the Olathe, KS location…

Olathe Location  Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que

You can tell Joe’s is popular by the line out the door, but it moves quickly.

Pro tip: Figure out what you want to eat before you get to the front, so you don’t hold up the line! You’ll see a big blackboard menu – if in doubt, order a pulled pork sandwich. Sides are extra. Go for the BBQ beans!

Carolina Pork, Joe's Kansas City

Carolina pork sandwich + BBQ beans

You can’t really go wrong with Joe’s. It’s a KC staple and the prices are pretty reasonable ($)!

Menu example:
Carolina pork sandwich ~ $6.79
Pulled pork served on a toasted bun, topped with spicy cole slaw and Bubba’s sauce.

Sides:
BBQ beans, potato salad, creamy cole slaw, dirty rice, spicy slaw, read beans and rice ~ $2.65 each

Review: I enjoyed my meal both times. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d probably give it a 9. The sandwich was really tasty, but it didn’t blow my mind.. enough.

If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, check out Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue.

Best BBQ in Country Club Plaza Jack Stack, Kansas City

There are four locations in the KC Metro, but I’ve only been to the one at Country Club Plaza.. twice. If the dim lighting doesn’t tip you off to the slightly fancier vibe when you walk in, the prices will. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not crazy expensive… and there isn’t a dress code, but Jack Stack is a notch or two above Joe’s and Arthur Bryant’s on the wallet scale ($$).

Pictured above: Poor Russ sandwich – chopped burnt ends – $10.99
*despite what the menu says, you can sub another side for fries. I recommend the hickory pit beans or cheesy corn bake (the most popular, also seen above).

Burnt end lunch $11.99, beef & pork

Burnt end lunch $11.99 ~ beef/pork/beans/corn bake

Lunch prices are in effect from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. That’s a great time to go if you want to dine more affordably! The menu says the dinner portions are larger and are offered all day.. don’t be upcharged. The lunch portions are big enough (possibly even the same size).. they’re just a lot cheaper.

Menu examples:
Burnt end lunch ~ $11.99
Choice of two meats + side.
Seared bite-sized chunks of beef, ham, pork, or sausage.
*You can actually pick two small sides in place of one large for the same price.

Burnt end dinner ~ $16.50
Choice of two meats + creamy coleslaw + a side.
Seared bite-sized chunks of beef, ham, pork, or sausage.

The BBQ combo lunch with choice of two meats is $13.99 compared to $19.50 at dinner time (same thing + coleslaw)

Review: After lunch, the waiter talked us into some carrot cake. I was stuffed, but as any good southern girl would, I ate some anyway! Everything was delicious. The meat was really good. But to be honest, on my original visit, I thought the cheesy corn bake was to die for. I’m pretty sure I remembered it tasting better than it did. While still good, I just wasn’t as into it as I was the first time around. It kind of seems like canned corn swimming in cheese sauce. Maybe a bit much. Go for the beans! Altogether, I’d give it a 9 out of 10.

Where’s the best barbecue you’ve eaten? Do you have a favorite joint in Kansas City that I left off this list? I’d love to hear about it in comments!

While you’re hanging around in KC, also check out:

{Arthur Bryant’s BBQ} on Brooklyn Ave.

{Beer Kitchen} in Westport

{Succotash} for brunch

{Liberty Memorial} for a spectacular view of the skyline

{Beer Kitchen} in Kansas City’s Westport Area

After years of dodging a bizarre, yet intriguing menu option at trendy bars across the midwest, I finally caved.  I ordered the chicken & waffle dinner at Beer Kitchen – and it was awesome.

Beer Kitchen, Kansas City Chicken & Waffle, Beer Kitchen
435 Westport Rd. / Kansas City, MO / 816.389.4180 

If you’re new to Kansas City (the Missouri side).. you need to get yourself down to Westport asap. The historic neighborhood – turned entertainment district – comes to life at night. Westport Road (between Main Street and Mill) is an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants, and boutiques.. dressed in red brick. Beer Kitchen is a rustic, yet modern fusion of comfort food and craft beer. You can literally taste this in the Boulevard Tank 7 Cheddar soup. I popped in for dinner with my mom on a weekend visit. Two generations… and both thought this place was cool! It’s a great spot to kick back and grab a beer (the list is extensive).

Beer Kitchen Beer Kitchen

The food is great and the prices, not too bad either. Snacks, apps, soups, and salads are all $10 and under. Everything ranges from $5 to $18. The high end gets you lobster risotto or short ribs.

Chicken & Waffle, Beer Kitchen

Chicken & Waffle Dinner, Beer Kitchen

Chicken & Waffle Dinner ~ $14
Cornflake-crusted, oven-fried chicken breast.
Maple-mustard marinade.
Cheddar-bacon-chive waffle with gravy and maple syrup.

Drooling yet???

I’ve put quite a few of Kanas City’s best restaurants to the test… check them out…

Arthur Bryant’s BBQ

Succotash {Brunch}

Blood Orange Margarita

Happy Valentine’s day everyone ~ here’s to love and my love of blood oranges (they’re in season). Check out this perfect, fresh recipe for today (or any day, really). Whether you’re with your love, swearing off men with girlfriends you love, or just plain loving life and travel, cheers to the adventures ahead!

Blood Orange Margarita  Bourbon VanillaBlood Orange Cocktails

Ingredients

Margarita

  • 2 oz of silver tequila (I use Sauza Silver)
  • 2 oz fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz brown sugar simple syrup
  • Drop of vanilla extract

Directions
Prepare fresh juice. Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for 30 seconds or so. Once glass is rimmed (see below).. fill with ice and pour margarita! Single on Valentine’s Day? – repeat!

Blood Orange  Blood Orange Margarita

Simple Syrup
Heat 1 part water and 1 part brown sugar over medium heat until dissolved. For a small batch, use 1/4 cup of each. Refrigerate extra.

Salt-Sugar Rim
Mix 1 part sea salt with 1 part brown sugar on a plate. Run a lime wedge around margarita glass edge to moisten. Dip/roll rim in mixture to coat.

Adapted from Cookie + Kate.

Barbados: Cuz’s Fish Stand, Worth the Wait?

Ok, if somebody told you.. you’d be waiting in an hour-long line for a fish sandwich.. you’d say that’s crazy, right? Well I did it. And I’d probably do it again. FOR. THIS. CUTTER.

Cuz's Fish Shack, Barbados

If you’ve never been to Barbados, you’ve probably never heard of Cuz. But once there, word of mouth spreads quickly. I found out about his little beach shack from some locals while on a catamaran trip. They said it was rated one of the top 100 restaurants in the world. That’s right, a fish shack, apparently with cheap food. I made it my mission to find it!

Fact: In 2012, Newsweek rated it among “101 Best Places to Eat.”

Cuz's Fish Stand, Barbados

Bingo! It’s just yards from Carlisle Bay – the only problem – it was closed. NOOOOOO! Now I wanted it more than ever. We showed up midday on a Friday, but it was the day after Christmas/Boxing Day. After a quick chat with some lifeguards, I found out it it would be open the next day. They assured me, though Cuz was on vacation in Canada, his sister would be cooking up fish bright and early. So, even though it was our last day on the island, we took the bus back that way and stood in line FOREVER to get those elusive sandwiches.

When we arrived, the line was maybe 15 people deep. But.. each of those people ordered a few cutters (fish sandwiches). They’re made to order (on island time).. so you get the idea, long wait. I looked down at my watch repeatedly as we stood Cuz's Fish Stand, Carlisle Baybeneath a tree, trying to avoid the birds above. With only about an hour to spare before we had to race back to the hotel to get our bags.. I was starting to get nervous. Was I going to wait.. and then have to give up my spot in order to catch my flight? I’m a risk taker, so I played roulette for this lunch! We were forced to listen to the Chatty Cathies in front of us for about 45 minutes, even watch one of them get pooped on (see birds above). That was hilarious. Finally, my turn! I had plenty of time to weigh my options… fish sandwich plain, with egg, with cheese, or both. The fiancé and I each ordered two. One with egg and cheese and one with just cheese. Go for the egg, it’s definitely better!

I shouted my order – plus two Banks beers – then prepared to wait some more. The beers were a genius move. Cuz’s sister grabbed them out of an ice chest.. they were surprisingly the coldest ones we’d been given in Barbados. We drank them down just in time to collect our food. I’m not even sure on the price… four cutters, two beers… I think the sandwiches broke down to about $4 each U.S. I’m guessing the plain fish ones are in the $2 range, but the egg and cheese is extra. Do it! As soon as we got our order, we walked to the bus stop, took a seat at the bench and chowed down. Long wait, but we made our flight. This was a great last meal before heading back to the states!

Cuz’s Fish Stand is in the Bridgetown area, on Carlisle Bay. It’s between the Radisson and the Hilton, closest to the Radisson. The blue shack is tucked away in a parking lot, within eyeshot of the water. A yellow lifeguard stand also serves as a landmark.

It’s rated #2 of 73 “restaurants” in Bridgetown, according to TripAdvisor. Just goes to show, some of the best things really do come in small packages – or in this case, a tiny blue stand – as long as you’re willing to wait for them.

Cuz’s Fish Stand
Carlisle Bay
Bridgetown, Barbados

Flying Into Barbados

You know that part of a trip when you’re descending on your destination? The one you worked hard for, sacrificed for, planned months ahead for?

Yeah- seeing the beauty of your idea pay off is priceless!

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

Flight Into Barbados

This was the view as I flew into Barbados, a Caribbean island I was able to visit for the first time this past December. I planned the trip as a surprise for my boyfriend. Turns out he surprised me with a ring on Christmas. I flew out with a fiancé!

You never know what the future will hold… you just have to make things happen and take flight!

Currently in: Barbados

**UPDATE**
On Tuesday, I swam with sea turtles off the west coast of Barbados. It was glorious.

Sea Turtle, Barbados

We took a 5-hour snorkel trip on a Jammin catamaran. After a 30-minute or so stop with the turtles, we moved up the coast to snorkel over a ship wreck. The third and final stop was beautiful spot for swimming – a few hundred meters or so from Sandy Lane.

Wednesday, checked out Harrison’s Cave via the $30 (U.S.) tram tour, totally worth it. We bussed there, no need for an overpriced tour package that picks up from the hotel.

Thursday, we hit up the east side of Barbados to swim at Crane Beach. The Atlantic side has more waves, but it wasn’t too rough. Crane is one of the most gorgeous stretches of beach I’ve seen. Six days into this trip and the weather is still perfect!

On the agenda for today? More beaches, followed by the legendary Oistins Fish Fry tonight!

This time around, I’ve been documenting my adventures through pictures and video… so stay tuned, much more to come!

—————————————————————–

Monday my boyfriend tried to boogie board and lost his nice polarized sunglasses in a giant wave. Shortly after, I locked us out of our room, on our third floor balcony. It’s day two. At least we had rum punch on the patio table! Seriously though, Barbados is awesome. Out of the half dozen Caribbean islands I’ve been too, I’m already ranking it in my top two (Sint Maarten being the favorite). It’s early though, so we’ll see how this shakes out!

WHAT I KNOW SO FAR…

The exchange rate – $2 Barbadian = $1 U.S.

It’s not worth exchanging money in the airport or your hotel, they give you about $1.95 on the dollar. You get that 2 to 1 ratio on the street and can get the same deal there no matter the currency you use. Also, you can get change back in Barbadian money to use at your hotel if needed.

This island has wonderful public transportation. I’ve been to other islands where I ditched booking a rental car, thinking I could take the bus. That usually ends in me overpaying for a rental once there. Not the case in Barbados. There are bus stops all over and there are three types of buses that come: public blue buses, private white vans with a maroon stripe and yellow buses (deemed the fast/crazy ones). All are great.. and all cost $1 U.S./$2 Barbadian.

The west coast of the island borders the Caribbean Sea and has the calmer, swim-friendly beaches. The east coast is on the Atlantic and is typically rougher, ideal for surfing.

I’m staying at Bougainvillea Beach Resort on the southwest side in the parish, Christ Church. To the left, you can see the stunning Caribbean. I’m in love with this place.

View from my room at Bougainvillea Beach Resort, Barbados

View from my room at Bougainvillea Beach Resort, Barbados

I’ve already made it the capital city, Bridgetown. We took one of those white/maroon buses and went exploring. We easily stood out among the locals, but I didn’t care. Everyone seemed friendly and we walked like we knew where we were Mahi Mahi & Blue Marlinheaded. Truth is we had no idea. On a mission for new sunglasses, we got sidetracked by a lady on a side street selling bags of Caribbean spices. They smelled great, so I bought some. I asked her where we could buy fresh fish and she pointed us in the direction of the local fish market. Jackpot! That place was full of different vendors selling their catch of the day (or last two days). We bought 3 lbs of Mahi Mahi, 2 lbs of tuna and 1 lb of blue marlin for about $27 U.S. We watched them clean the Mahi and cut everything up. When we got back to the hotel, we rubbed some in spice and threw it on the grill. Delicious. Best way to eat fresh and save a few bucks. I highly recommend it!

Next on the agenda: a sea turtle snorkeling adventure, Harrison’s Cave and a visit to Mount Gay Rum. Stay tuned!

NYC: Sample Sale Roundup Dec. 8 – 14

Heads up to anyone in the Big Apple… if you still have some holiday shopping left to do, there are some major sample sales going on this week. What’s that you ask?

{Sample Sale}: Great bargains in the fashion industry. A way for vendors to get rid of excess merchandise or “samples” used to sell products. From jewelry to clothing to leather goods, you can save BIG bucks!

Not all sample sales are equal. Some offer clothing in various sizes, while others are straight off the runway. If you’re savvy, you can score high-end pieces at a tiny fraction of the price – like these cool Dara Ettinger rings I found for $25, marked down from $120. Be sure to bring cash, as some don’t accept credit.

Inside {RTR} Rent The Runway’s Sample Sale

So here’s the rundown for this week…

Stylism Sample Sale

STYLISM

Jewelry, bags, hair accessories, home goods.

Up to 80% off
Everything $5 – $30
Cash only

Dec. 8th & 9th (Mon/Tues)
11 AM – 5 PM
Free wine 5 – 8 PM on Tues.

611 Broadway Suite #508, NYC

 

Alice + Olivia Sample Sale

ALICE + OLIVIA 

Dec. 9th  – 14th (Tues. – Sun.)

Tuesday: 9 AM – 8 PM
Wednesday: 9 AM – 7 PM
Thursday: 10 AM – 8 PM
Friday: 9 AM – 7 PM
Saturday: 10 AM – 7 PM
Sunday: 10 AM – 4 PM

260 Fifth Avenue, NYC
Between 28th & 29th Streets

ALEXANDER WANG

Fall 2013 / Resort 2014 / Spring 2014
Women’s & Men’s apparel, accessories – up to 75% off
Credit cards accepted

Dec. 9th – 13th (Tues. – Sat.)
9 AM – 8 PM
151 Wooster Street, NYC

You can get more up-to-date sample info HERE from Racked NY.