Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mexico City; From Street Food to Fine Dining

I was in CDMX for a full week in April 2015 and I never had a bad meal (or drink), the place is seriously delicious! And I found the prices to be very inexpensive, whether eating finger-licking street food or dining at award-winning meccas. If you love food (and drink) get yourself down there.

The first night, after almost 15 hours of travel, it was all I could do to walk next door to our hotel for my first al pastor of the week at Taqueria El Caifan. This is street food in a casual eatery and it was good!



The next morning Forest and I had some fantastic food during our incredible walking tour of the markets which I wrote about here. That night we were doing our first of a few bar crawls and needed some food after our second round of cocktails at Felina Bar. We walked (it was safe, bar manager Jane even confirmed!) to El Califa for tacos. And chicharron de queso, a specialty of the house and damn excellent! Basically, it is a huge sheet of baked and melted cheese, rolled up into a cylinder which you break off and eat. Sounds simple, tastes amazing! I also revisited this place a few days later with my brother for more of the same!




Another highly touted taco place is El Faraon. We went there after a full day of Tales on Tour parties. Forest said I liked it, but all the rum, tequila, and mezcal had caught up with me and I really couldn't tell you. I'd take her word on it though.

Probably my favorite taco place was El Tizoncita where the specialty is al pastor. Al pastor looks like shwarma or gyros only the meat is pork and usually at the very top where the meat is skewered into the grill there is a large piece of pineapple and an onion. As the waiters sliced the meat from the large rotating cones, they swiped up with their knives freeing a slice of pineapple; meat and pineapple landing in the small delicate tortillas and then topped with diced onion, cilantro, fresh salsa, and lime juice. Sooooo good. And cheap! My brother and I sat at an outside table with my friend Tracy and ordered plate after plate, all washed down with a chelada; beer, lime juice, and salt.



El Cardenal has a few locations around town and is a locals favorite. We had one of them inside the Hilton so Forest, my brother, and I met for breakfast one morning. Fresh baked Mexican breads, amazing hot chocolate, huge plates of grilled steaks, scrambled eggs with housemade chili sauces... there's a reason why everyone loves this place!

Right off the massive Zocalo, my brother and I found the terraced restaurant Balcon del Zocalo one day for lunch. The tableside guacamole service could have been kitschy but with add-in choices like chapulines or chicharrones  (which we got both) it was just delicious. And the gorgeous views of the Zocalo, the cathedral, and the palace made it a perfect afternoon stop on more than one occasion.



Mexico City is more than just tacos, much much more. The city is full of award-winning chefs using traditional flavors and modern techniques to create amazing fine dining experiences.

Azul Restaurants have four locations around the city and one just happened to be in the same building as my hotel, Downtown Mexico. The open air courtyard of this former palace was a magical place to dine. And our dinner, modern takes on cochinita pibil and mole negro, was fantastic.





I also had an amazing meal at one of the most talked about restaurants in this huge city, Pujol. Pujol is currently #16 on the World's 50 Best restaurant list and offers some of the most unique food in town. Chef Enrique Olvera has a mole that when I was there was 637 days old. It's like nothing I have ever had, nor will I again as now it is over 800 days old. They serve it simply with tortillas and alongside a fresh mole. You can hear him talk about the ongoing mole dish in a recent interview he did on Splendid Table.




The service at Pujol was impeccable from start to finish. We were assisted in choosing wines from Mexico, including a rosé to start our meal with. Each dish was stunning, both visually and flavor-wise. And I got to try unusual (for me) ingredients like tongue, ants, and ant eggs (another thing they are very well known for).



So no matter if you are a linen napkin type of diner, or a torta in the park washed down with a Jamaica aqua fresca, Mexico City has it. And you'll still have change for a taco.


All photos here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

CDMX Markets Tour

Can we just talk about travel for a minute? Not the romantic views (pushed upon us by people who clearly never travel) of perfect timing, pleasant customer service, everything going according to plan. Let's talk about the reality of cramped flights, surly airline people, and all day travel which feels like work instead of vacation. Travel is work folks, it is hard, it is frustrating, but it is rewarding more than any paycheck out there. I've had my share of ups and downs on the road, and I know there will be more, but let me just tell you this one little story.

I woke up at 5am for my American Airlines flight to Mexico City via Dallas/Fort Worth from Seattle. I am not a morning person, let's leave it at that. My phone showed an alert via TripIt that my flight was delayed from 8am until 11am. I called AA and an agent told me they had me rebooked on the 11am, I would make a connection in DFW but maybe not the one I had planned, which sucked as I was meeting my friend Forest there. But at least I had a flight and I was happy as I went back to sleep for another hour.

Upon re-waking at 8am I received a text that the flight would board at 8:30am. WTF??? Let me just say that there was major stress as I quickly called a cab, then tried to get someone on the line from American, while rushing to the airport for a delayed flight that I was now sure to miss. At the airport there were other passengers trying madly to check in under the same circumstances and desk agents refusing to check them in or tell us the status of the flight. FinallyI was able to get an agent to check me in, I ran to the gate, only to find that the crew hadn't shown up for the new time yet so we finally left at 10:30am. I was pissed. To top it off the flight only had vodka on board- no wine, beer, gin, etc.- just vodka. The definition of 1st world problems.



As we were landing in DFW I realized that my plane was pulling up to the same gate as the connection to Mexico City was set to leave from. Fantastic I thought, I have made my original connection and Forest was there to meet me. I checked in with the gate agent and she informed me that since I had already been rebooked my luggage had to take the later flight, it could not stay on the plane that I just got off and continue to Mexico City with me. If I chose to fly with Forest my luggage would not, and they wouldn't deliver it the hotel I'd have to wait for it there. WTF again???

I chose to fly with my friend, we made martinis on the plane, my bag wasn't there when we landed but the nice guys working in baggage had it delivered to the hotel during the night. Jesus, how hard is good customer service. I know that is a long story, it was even longer to live it! Enough, let's talk about Mexico City!



I'm obsessed with huge cities and Mexico City had been on my list for years. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Mexico City went by DF (Federal District) for years but recently that has changed and now it is CDMX. The first part of my stay was for Tales on Tour and we stayed at the Hilton Downtown Reforma. Although a business hotel, the Hilton had great spaces, and our room had great views. Most importantly it was a great location for sightseeing.



Forest and I booked a Market Tour with Urban Adventures on our first full day in town. We met our local guide Cesar at 8:45am near the Zocala (a massive main square) and were thrilled that we had him all to ourselves. The city of almost 9 million people (21 million in the greater area!) was surprisingly quiet at this time of day.



The first stop we made was to the Abelardo Rodriguez market. This neighborhood market has some incredible murals, if you know where to look, done by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and students studying under them. They have pretty much been forgotten and even a lot of the locals don't realize they are there! We stopped for a mamey fruit shake and then queued up for tamales at an unmarked stand. Delicious and not some place we would have spotted have without Cesar.

From here we walked to the Sonora market which is also known as the witchcraft market. Although chilangos (the term residents of CDMX go by) are primarily Catholic, witchcraft is an old and still normal practice by the majority. The market had everything from various candles and soap, all with a specific wish-granting purposes, to dried herbs, plants, and even animals for creating potions. The market also had a lot of non-witchcraft stuff like shoes, toys, and even pets!



We got on our broomsticks, I mean we grabbed the subway and then hopped on a locals' bus, and continued on to the Jamaica market. This is more of a traditional food-centric market. We sat down at the very busy Carnitas Paty counter and ordered some delicious tacos. I chose to have the mixte version, where one of the guys chops up an unique assortment of pig parts; think head-to-tail literally.

We made friends with a local woman who was having lunch with her dad when he noticed me adding the super hot sauce to my taco. He told Cesar to warn me, which he did, and although the sauce was spicy it wasn't uncomfortable to me. Dad shook his head and told Cesar I must have chilango blood in me, a great compliment I thought! We also tried the most delicious drink called tepache, which is fermented pineapple juice with tamarind in it. Seriously amazing, if anyone in Seattle is making this, I need to know about it.

After a stroll thru the market, checking out the huge wheels of queso, pig heads, yellow chicken, hominy, etc. we headed to the flower market. Huge warehouses full of the most gorgeous floral displays, as well as stalls selling all varieties of flowers in bulk; super pretty to see and amazing to smell.

The floral market also has some fruit and vegetable stalls, we stopped at one to taste raw jicama sprinkled with chili powder and lime juice. Delicious.

Just outside of the flower market we sat down at a small open-air restaurant called Huaraches Ramoncita, located in a cute courtyard to taste their specialty, huaraches. The fried masa dough is oval in shape, resembling the huaraches sandals, with an indention on the top, ours was filled with refried beans, nopales (sautéd cactus), avocado, and fresh salsa. I'm sure I don't have to tell you have scrumptious this was!

We had told Cesar that we were both pretty curious and fearless eaters and really were also interested in trying the pre-Colombian fermented alcohol called pulque. Since we had proved ourselves on the tour, and had offered to buy him a few rounds, he took us to the very popular local haunt Pulqueria Duelistas. The drink is very tasty, but the texture is a tad strange. We had a great time and loved this bonus experience.
I wrote more about drinking around CDMX, including Pulqueria Duelistas, here.

By the time our tour ended after 1pm we had covered a lot of ground, seen some really interesting markets, had insight we wouldn't have had on our own, and tasted some amazing food, mysterious fruits, and historic booze! And my travel luck had reset itself thanks to Cesar.

Also, as we made our way back to the hotel we noticed that now all 9 million people seemed to be out and about!

All CDMX photos here.






Friday, April 8, 2016

Mexico City; More Than Tequila

Last April I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico City to cover the highly spirited cocktail convention Tales of the Cocktail On Tour. I love these mini-Tales as I call them, since the location changes every two years.

I wrote all about the seminars I attended at TOTC for World's Best Bars, Forest wrote a great piece for them too, but I never got around (surprise!) to singing the praises of the sites of the city, its food, and its cocktail bars. With TOTC starting up this weekend I thought now would be the perfect time to remedy that!

Most people don't think of Mexico City being a craft cocktail destination, but I found so many great places over the course of the week that I have to say it is indeed exactly that. One evening Forest and I headed to the posh neighborhood of Condesa for a cocktail crawl. We started at Felina and immediately felt that we could have been in any number of metropolitan cities known for their cocktail bars, around the world. The decor was midcentury modern with splashes of blue and gold throughout. Large windows were open letting in fresh air, light, and the sounds of the neighborhood. The menu was filled with interesting variations on classic cocktails as well as house creations. And they try to keep the prices fair to attract the local writers and musicians. I liked this little bar and the people working there so much that I came back five days later with my brother and had another wonderful experience.





Next up on the crawl in Condesa was Baltra Bar. There's an interesting botanical theme going on in this quirky bar, from the decor to the menu. It's odd, in a good way, with tiny stools and little booths, funny curio cabinets, and very unique ingredient combinations in the drinks.



TOTC highlights different bars on each night so we purposely chose these two since they were being highlighted on a different night in order to dodge the crowds. But now we dove into the madness and made our next stop the very popular Limantour in Roma Norte (there is another location in Polanco). Limantour arguably put the city's cocktail scene on the map and has had some amazing bartender talent. But no matter how strong your game is, if you pack people into a craft cocktail joint, to standing room only numbers, the magic is lost and you're left with just a sticky mess. Too bad, as they were featuring guest bartender Shingo Gakan, an incredibly young and talented bartender who left Tokyo for NYC not speaking a lick of English.





I was intrigued by Limantour though, so after TOTC ended I revisited the RN location. My brother and I started upstairs and had solid but not outstanding drinks. We moved downstairs and here the drinks were great, and our server was very nice and the experience much better.

Forest and I also stopped into Jules Basement, which was participating in a TOTC takeover. The premise of this "speakeasy" is fun; hidden in the basement of a neighborhood taco shop called La Surtidora. You have to find the restaurant and then figure out that the meat-locker door is really the entrance. Once you get past the doorman, you descend into the dimly lit basement bar. It was so busy with industry people though, and the DJ was so loud (get off my lawn!) that we only stayed for one drink before leaving. I would go back and check out this place on a weekday (as I don't like DJs) because the cocktail menu looked quite good.

Another night, another bar takeover was going on at Puebla 109, this time with Jim Meehan. The drinks were great and Jim is a consummate professional, taking time to say hi and briefly chat with people, but the space is just too small for the large group of TOTC attendees.





My brother and I found a really funny old place while walking around one evening called La Opera Bar. Although I wouldn't rush here for the creative craft cocktails (there aren't any), I would pop in for the atmosphere, and the people watching. It seems to be a popular place for the downtown business people to go. And the decor and staff were both very entertaining!





One of the most interesting drinking experiences I had was when Forest and I talked our local tour guide into taking us to a traditional pulqueria. He was swayed when we mentioned we'd buy his drinks! He led us to Pulqueria Duelistas in the middle of the afternoon, which was packed with a mainly younger clientele. We shared a table with some Chilangos who didn't speak English but our guide helped to translate our questions to them about which flavors they liked best. This thick, viscous byproduct of Agave isn't for everyone, but with flavors like oatmeal, mango, and Oreo they are pretty easy to try. You can order by the small glass, big glass, or pitcher, but beware, this drink is incredibly filling! I took my brother a few days later and we had a ball drinking with the locals again!




One night Forest and I went to check out The Monkey Bar in Roma Norte, but after sitting down and looking at the menu and seeing all the mass market product placement we decided to head across the street to El Palenquito. We had a great time trying different mezcals in this wooden-shack looking bar. Unlike mezcal in the States with their nice labels and wine-like bottles, all the mezcals here were in glass jugs and had hand-written labels on them. Our waiter helped us through some selections and we sat outside at a sidewalk table sipping them. Great experience!

Another great place for drinking mezcal is at La Clandestina. As the name suggests, it is very understated, dark, and intriguing. Here the mezcal bottles are in big glass carboys, again unlabeled. Luckily the servers here are great and making suggestions and my brother, friend Tracy who was still in town from TOTC, and I had a great time and better yet had some amazing mezcals. My brother sent me some photos, after I had flown home, of his second visit to the bar. Seemed he really liked it!





My final mezcal place that I really liked is a restaurant and bar that my brother was told about, Limonsneros. We had an excellent time, more delicious mezcal, and some really good snacks to go with. It's traditional to eat orange slices dipped in salt containing ground-up worms. I don't know why, but it is, and we did, and it was good. Let's call that a protein snack.




I absolutely loved the huge, clear, vessels, filled with mezcal hanging over the bar. And the service was fantastic here as well!

But of course sometimes Forest and I just had our standard gin martini(s) at the TOTC home base Hilton hotel lobby bar, and my brother and I had aperos at our rooftop bar and nightcaps at our courtyard bar at the Downtown Hotel. Being within walking distance is sometimes more important than a perfectly made cocktail!

Mexico City photos here.









Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hurray For Hollywood!

I am known by my friends to have a mini cocktail kit with me when I fly. My 30k-foot repertoire includes an Old Fashioned and a gin martini. On a flight to LA last fall for a long weekend getaway with my friend Lauren, I added a new morning friendly cocktail. I packed a mini of coffee liquor to my TSA approved ziplock bag; then ordered a cognac (Lauren got a whiskey), a creamer, a seltzer water, and a cup of ice from the flight attendant. Pour 1/2 a mini of coffee liquor, 1 bottle cognac, and 1 creamer over ice. Stir. Top with seltzer (although recently I have been forgoing the seltzer). It reminds me of a brandy milk punch!

Our friend Mary picked us up from Burbank airport and we headed straight to Petit Trois for lunch. We had a short wait, which we passed with some delicious cocktails, and then were seated at the pass for a front row view of all the deliciousness (Chef Ludo was working). And the food looked great too. I absolutely loved this tiny little bistrot hidden in plain sight in a sketchy looking strip mall!
Lauren and I chose an adorable Airbnb in Echo Park as our home base. Our 2-bedroom, 1-bath home had great views and an absolutely fantastic patio. It was crazy hot that weekend, so having a shaded patio to have morning coffee and afternoon rosé on was wonderful. 


That night we headed out for a cocktail crawl in Hollywood. Lauren and I met her brother at our first stop, Good Times at Davey Wayne's. If you grew up in the 70's as I did, you will feel right at home as you walk through the refrigerator door opening and into the shag-carpeted, groovy living room-esque bar. You'll also feel right at home here if you are a hipster. It was a fun spot with good "fern bar" style drinks, a great patio, and some decent grub. This is owned by the same people who have La Descarga, they really like a theme!

From here I made a solo trip over to Power House, which is just off of Hollywood Boulevard and was quite a famous dive bar for about 70 years. It's been reimagined and is now super chill, elegant, and dimly lit, with gorgeous white tiles and antiques throughout the interior. I had a really well-made drink at the bar while waiting for Mary to come pick me up. We then proceeded to meet our growing group at The Walker Inn.

The Walker Inn is a "secret" bar inside of the Normandie Club. You must make reservations in advance, and you must buzz and wait to be let it. Once inside you'll find a seductively beautiful den-like bar along with incredibly creative and delicious drinks. It's dark and comfortable and I wanted to stay forever. Three rounds would have to suffice on this trip. 

Lauren and I started our next day by sleeping in! That was quite a crawl the night before! Then we headed to lunch at Philippe's Original for French Dipped sandwiches. The sandwich was underwhelming to me but the atmosphere was fun; complete with old-school deli counter, sawdust on the floors, low wood stools at communal tables, and employees dressed in uniforms. These folks were taking their lunch break while we were there.

With it being such a gorgeous day out, we decided on a little walk around downtown. After we passed the historic Victor Clothing Co. building we came upon the Bradbury Building, which I knew nothing about but you might know from the movie Blade Runner. We were able to go inside and check out the intricate iron work in the foyer before continuing on to the Grand Central Market. LA's market has some fantastic food stalls along with some very interesting regional product stands. Not sure who is the "it" spot of the moment? Just look at the length of the lines! 

For me, no trip to LA is complete without a stop in at Bar Keeper, our friend Wes was working so we were able to pick his brain and buy some boozy new toys to bring home. Then it was back to the Airbnb to relax with some rosé and the sunset on our patio.

While originally planning our trip, Lauren and I discussed the fact that neither of us had ever been to the famous (infamous?) Bar Marmont. We remedied that by going for pre-dinner drinks. When a friend from Seattle happened to see we were in LA, he let us know that he was too and joined us. Love those types of randomness! 

The bar is quite beautiful with three separate areas; there's a small front bar, a large main bar with lots of seating at it, and an area with table and chair combos. Our drinks and service were both excellent, which we were happily surprised by. I'd go back! And I still need to get next door to the Chateau. 
We said goodbye to our friend Charlie and headed to Craft where we were meeting Mary, Chuck, Wes, and Aaron for dinner. The space is absolutely huge and has a real clean modern vibe to it. Chuck and Wes are friends with Chef Ray England who was in the house and cooking that night. Besides getting spoiled rotten by him and his team, the food itself was absolutely incredible! 
At this point you may be thinking that Lauren and I didn't do much besides eat and drink our way around LA. You'd be wrong, we ate and drank our way around LA in the company of very fun friends! We started the next day with brunch at the gorgeously decorated Faith and Flower, joined by Chuck and Dave. Their brunch is pretty well known as they serve an amazing large batch milk punch served to your table out of an antique fountain. I mean you can order just a glass but why not have the entire fountain? 
Our 3-hour brunch was filled with delicious food, lots of laughs, and of course flowing punch. The manager and the bartender got such a kick out of how much fun we were having that they each sent out something for us all; the bartender sent out a really good mini coffee cocktail and the manager sent out a fantastic assortment of cookies. They were having their own competition on which we would like more. The cocktail won but not by much!

After brunch I did feel the need to go for a walk so Lauren and I pulled up Atlas Obscura and decided to go in search of the old Warner Brothers Theater. We walked past some really interesting buildings on the way before finally reaching our destination in the Diamond District. A diamond exchange had moved into the theater but they hadn't changed anything. In fact as we entered we realized we were on the old stage complete with red curtain. I was stopped very quickly from taking more photos by the security, seems they get a little paranoid about pictures when there are cases and cases of diamonds around. 
We headed back to Echo Park using Uber Hop, which is a carpool type of ride share. We used this all weekend and never had anyone else share our ride and still got the crazy low rates. Between that and Lyft we easily got around all over town. 

We explored the cute little stretch of shops, including a really nice specialty food shop, on Echo Park Ave before returning to our house and patio for rosé in the shade.

Dinner that night was at the very popular and well reviewed Redbird. We started with cocktails in the bar and were joined by Chuck, Wes, Dave, and Lauren's cousin Gary. Well into round two, and past our reservation time, the hostess continued to tell us we'd be seated soon. This would be foreshadowing of how service would go the entire night. 

Our drinks were ok, not great. The vibe and the restaurant is very cool and unique; the building is an old rectory of a cathedral. When we were (finally) seated our table was in a beautiful open air courtyard.

The food was good, not earth shattering, but the service continued to be down right bad. And slow. Like really, really slow. Especially compared to our other meals that weekend, when the manager should have sent out a gratis dessert or something trivial to make up for it, they just shrugged off our complaints and sent us on our way, hours later.

Luckily our weekend of drinking and dining would not end on a sour note. In fact everything about our send-off brunch the next day at Terrine was over the top FUN! Awesome company? Chuck, Wes, Aaron, and Mary- check! Gorgeous space? Pretty outdoor courtyard and French bistrot style interior- check! Thirsty? Lovely brunch friendly cocktails- check! Hungry? OMG delicious American comfort food gets in bed with French comfort food and has a baby of French toast with caramel frosting, maple syrup and then a slice of foie gras! Add to that the fact that the kitchen sent this out to us as a gift because of our enthusiasm for brunch! CHECK!

Also adding to the fun factor was being able to watch a very posh private baby shower party being set up in the courtyard. It was quite mysterious as no one would/could tell us who it was for. This being LA we were on star alert. We finally saw some signage that it was Tori Spelling's kid's clothes line hosting, and then finally saw Natalie Zea make her very preganant entrance. 
We stopped into Heath Ceramics, which was not too far from the restaurant, and found some absolutely lovely items. One of the salespeople turned me on to the "imperfect" shelves where there are some serious discounts on pieces that have almost microscopic flaws. 

Then it was to the airport, LAX this time, and back to Seattle. A little fuller...

All photos are here. LA fun map is here

Sunday, March 13, 2016

In Like a Lyon

Are you familiar with the word turophile?  A connoisseur of cheese; a cheese fancier. That is a badge I wear proudly and there is no place like France to really practice the art of being a cheese fancier! And no better place in France than Lyon to dive into many new (to me) cheeses!

Before hanging out on the Left and Right banks of Paris, I started my trip in Sept of 2014 in Lyon. Because of a pilot strike on Air France my flight, which was suppose to take me from Seattle to Paris to Lyon, terminated in Paris. I hopped on a train at CDG and took it to an agreed upon station in the south of Paris where Forest picked me up and we drove to Lyon. Well she drove! I was super sleep deprived and jet lagged so after we stopped in the charming town of Auxxere in Burgundy for a bite to eat and a glass of rosé, I slept the rest of the way to Lyon.

We arrived late in the afternoon and found our Airbnb situated at the top of the hill in the 1st arrondissement (Croix Rousse). We had a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with a patio overlooking Lyon. It was perfect!

The first night we walked down the hill to l'Antiquaire for a couple of drinks before dinner. It's a very good bar with a great cocktail list. I'd recommend it when in town for sure.

My first dinner in Lyon was at Leon de Lyon, a restaurant I was very excited about. Upon being seated I noticed their nice napkins embroidered with the restaurant name. Who knew this was a thing in Lyon; we'd see it in practically every restaurant we ate in over the next few days.

Our meal was good but not great, I'd go if you have time but I think there are other places doing traditional Lyonnaise cuisine better. We headed home for nightcaps on our terrace.

The next day we had lunch at Daniel & Denise outside on their patio. Now this was what I expected from a traditional brassiere. Everything we had was absolutely delicious. And our service was fantastic. And there were embroidered napkins again! And cheese for dessert!

We strolled around the Bocuse des Halles after lunch; it is an absolutely beautiful market which has both stalls selling delicious assortments of meats, cheeses, sweets, etc. as well as a good number of dining selections. This is a great place to pick up high end picnic items or just come for lunch. And cheese!

We passed a cute wine shop on our way to the car so dutifully stopped in for a glass before heading back to the apartment.

Besides incredible cuisine, Lyon is also known for their traboules, or passageways, which connect the city via a maze of semi-secret alleys and stairwells. We used one of the more public ones that night to get down the hill. Within minutes we had descended a series of stairwells instead of having to make our way down the turny, twisty, cobblestone streets.
We took possibly the world's shortest metro (just two stops) and made our way to Juliette Café for cocktails. The space here is absolutely adorable and our light snacks were good but sadly the drinks were just ok. Go if you're in the hood.

Moving on, our next stop was Black Forest Society. New at the time, this cocktail den mixes its German theme with hip modern art. Although we felt our drinks were a bit on the sweet side I would recommend a stop in for the cool interior and very unique cocktail presentations.
Last on our bar crawl was Redwood. If you like rum this is definitely your place! We had so much fun here, our bartender was super enthusiastic and our drinks were excellent. He even made us a DTO mini slushie!
It was beautiful crossing the river that night, the bridges and the city all lit up. We walked to the base of the hill and took an Uber Pop up to our apartment.

Our last day in Lyon was jam packed. We started the day by looking for some of the non-public traboules. We had stopped at the tourist office on our first day and asked for a map of the old passages, the women who helped us was nice enough to point out a few ways to spot the one's still in use by the locals. We headed to one we could see on the map but once we got to the row of apartments we could not figure out which door it was, or what buzzer to possibly use to unlock it. While sussing this out we did come across the Fresco Vegetale which is a cool living wall and mural (Lyon is also know for their murals).

Back to the business of finding the taboule, a woman saw us looking at our map and asked if she could help. When we told her what we were looking for she just shook her head at us and told us the private passages had all been closed. Lier. Another person also looked at us suspiciously when we inquired but didn't help. Finally we approached two men and upon asking again, one immediately said no. Not local. The other asked why we were looking. Bingo. He then explained that the locals really don't like others using their passages as they are usually part of the building's courtyard. He was born and raised in Lyon. And then he took us into the door we had been standing in front of for about 20 minutes- hidden in plain sight, a not so obvious button under the listing of the residents unlocked the door!
Hi friend had never even heard of these passage, it really is a local thing. In minutes we exited all the way down by the river and right by our next stop, La Fresque des Lyonnais. The entire facade of this building is painted depicting 30 of the city's best know celebrities posed in faux window balconies.


We continued on across the river to the more public and documented traboules and spent a few hours going through them. Most of these are more like courtyards leading to different apartments, not as interesting as our peek into a real one but great none-the-less!
Time for lunch! We made our way to Le Sud, one of four of the Bocuse cafes. It was a gorgeous day to sit outside on the terrace and enjoy a 3-course lunch, a cold bottle of wine, and cheese for dessert after all our walking! And they had the napkins! I wish I could comment more positively on the service. Let's just say it was off.

We walked back into the old town and took the funicular up to the cathedral where we could check out the gold gilding, stained glass, and views of the city below.

We sat for a quick rosé break before we headed back up to our apartment to get ready for our last evening in Lyon, we'd covered a lot of ground!!!

Pre dinner cocktails were had at the very well known Monkey Club bar. It's another cool place mixing antique decor with creative and well-made cocktails. Forest's friends met us and then we made our way to the Restaurant l'Institute Bocuse. This is a fine dining experience in the Bocuse culinary school. We had an absolutely lovely meal with exceptional service housed in a great space, with de-rigour embroidered napkins, and cheese for dessert! A great last meal.
Forest and I stopped into le Passage for a nightcap, it is a very cool looking place that has been around for a long time. Unfortunately the drinks and the service were quite bad. Pass if you have other places on your list.

We packed a lot into 3 days, I'd happily go back and explore more of this gorgeous city. I found it to be much more than just a gastronomic destination. I loved the cool modern parts of the city mixed in with the older, historic areas. And of course the hidden passages, gorgeous views,  and series of bridges added to all that eye candy.

As much as I was loving Lyon, we'd be on our way to the Burgundy region the next day! Forest and I were ready!


All photos of Lyon are here and my map is here.