Tag Archives: drinks

Not Drinking At A Bar (or A Birthday Party At Neat)

After doing my 5K race (and getting almost no sleep that night), I was ready to be at my house the rest of the day and being pretty lazy. When I got home around 11am after the race, that’s pretty much exactly what I did. I showered and got into comfortable clothes and then pretty much didn’t move from my couch for several hours. But I did have to move eventually because one of my workout friends was having a birthday party that night!

I don’t get to see many of my Orangetheory friends outside of workouts. Even though I really enjoy hanging out with them at the workouts, we don’t always get to socialize outside of class. So when I get a chance to see someone in normal clothes, I totally take advantage of that! And since they don’t usually see me in something other than workout clothes with my hair in a top knot, I decided to make a bit more effort than normal in picking my outfit.

I don’t usually wear red, but the theme of the party was to wear something red and I found that belt on Amazon. The way I dressed was pretty different from what I’m used to, but I was feeling pretty confident and now I’m looking at ways to dress more like that more often!

I was a little nervous going to the party since the only person I would know there was the birthday girl. I’m a bit shy in situations like that and always feel so awkward going up to people I don’t know to join in on a conversation. But thankfully, my friend was awesome and was introducing me to a bunch of people that night. She knew that I didn’t know anyone else there and I appreciate the effort she made to make sure everyone was having fun and not feeling left out!

The party was held at a new bar called Neat. In full disclosure, the manager is the brother of a friend of mine (who I hadn’t met until that night), but I have to say that this is such an amazing bar! I don’t have a ton of bars that I love because so many bars in LA are either super fancy or are just too showy. I like being able to go somewhere and not stress too much about how I’m dressed or if I’m making a good impression on others. That’s one reason why I also love Bodega Wine Bar. But to find a bar like that is tough to find and it seems like when I find one they end up closing down.

But Neat was pretty awesome. There was a semi-private space in the back that was reserved for the birthday party that still was a part of the action. And in the main room most of the tables are on the edges of the room so there is a lot of space in the room that makes it not feel too crowded. There were a ton of people there, but since I didn’t have to keep going around chairs or tables it didn’t feel that bad.

And they do have a pretty epic drink menu too! I would have loved to have tried a drink or two, but I can’t really drink right now. But that didn’t matter since the staff at Neat was so cool. I talked to my friend’s brother and he asked me what sort of flavors I liked. I told him I liked citrus and then he got to work. I don’t know everything that he used in my drink, but there was some lime in it and before I knew it I had a custom non-alcoholic drink just for me!

It was so nice to have a festive drink at the party since it can feel a bit weird only ordering water at a bar. But I felt like I was included in the fun because I had a drink that I really liked! It was pretty tasty and reminded me a bit of a margarita. Even when I can drink again, I would totally consider getting this again because it was so nice and refreshing.

I really had a great time at the party, but I was getting pretty exhausted right after the birthday cake was brought out. I had been up so long that day and my legs were starting to feel a bit like cement. It’s not easy to wear heels a few hours after doing a 5K race! So I decided that it was time for me to go home and get some needed rest.

I’m so glad that I went to the party. Not only is it fun to get to see someone outside of Orangetheory and get to meet new friends, I got to check out a bar that I have a feeling I’ll be going to from now on. It’s always great to find new places in LA that I love because I do get stuck in ruts from time to time. But I busted out of that rut at this party and now I’m excited to get to go back to Neat again in the future!

Nighthawk Breakfast Bar (or A Late Night Breakfast/Dinner)

I’m always looking for fun things to check out around LA. It fits in nicely with one of my 2016 goals to go do more fun stuff with my friends. So when I saw an article from the LA Times about a new restaurant that is only open late at night and serves breakfast style foods, I knew I had to check it out! I posted about it online and asked my friends who wanted to check it out. We managed to get a group of 5 of us and were able to go this past week!

The Nighthawk Breakfast Bar is only open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 8pm-2am. I’m not usually a late night person and we heard that it can get really crowded, so my group went on Thursday night and we made an 8pm reservation. The Nighthawk is out in Hollywood, so my Disneyland buddy June and I carpooled together. My friend Rayshell met us there at 8, and my friend Amanda and her friend had to work until 8 so they met us there at 9.

When June, Rayshell, and I got there the very first thing we did was check out the menu and the amazing drinks that they have available!

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In all the reviews we had read online, people were raving about the Spiked Cereal Milk. While they sounded awesome, I decided to get one of the Julius drinks (I got the OG).

(by the way, sorry that so many photos are the best quality. I took them in a dark space without a flash so others weren’t bothered)

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It was pretty amazing! It tasted so much like an orange creamsicle and there wasn’t too much alcohol in it so I didn’t feel that buzzed. Rayshell got one of their boozy floats (and I got to try it and thought it was awesome) and June was the one who got the Cereal Milk!

Cereal Milk

It was a lot of milk, but we all got to taste it and it was really delicious! I just wished that they had some sort of Cereal Milk sampler (maybe shots of each type?) so you could try them all and not have as much milk because it’s a pretty filling drink.

We also got some food to start with (and Rayshell couldn’t stay too late either). The first thing that caught our attention when we were checking out the menu online before we were there were the Benedict Fries. They sounded amazing and we all knew that we would have to get them.

Benedict Fries

And we totally made the right choice on those! The egg on top was perfect and runny and the hollandaise sauce on the fries was really good! I think we all loved them and the only regret we had was that with only 3 of us splitting them they were so filling so we didn’t get too much more food!

When we had the Benedict Fries, Rayshell also ordered the Purple Haze Potato Hash.

Duck Hash

She let June and I try some of it (since I knew I would be writing this post I felt like I needed to try as much as possible). It was a little bit spicy for me, but not so bad that I didn’t enjoy it. The duck was really delicious and it was a great match for the Benedict Fries we also had.

Sadly, after we ate those Rayshell had to leave (she had an early work day). But June and I hung around for Amanda and her friend to get there and we tried to prepare ourselves to order more food (we really wanted more, but we were so full!).

Amanda and her friend got the Benedict Fries too (June and I didn’t have any of theirs) and the Chicken and Biscuits.

Chicken and Biscuits

I got to try the Chicken and Biscuits and I think that the next time I go to Nighthawk I will have to get those! I’m not usually a fried chicken person (or gravy person), but this was really good and not greasy like I thought it might be.

And since June and I wanted to try one more thing, we went for more of a dessert option and got the Drunken French Toast.

French Toast

The french toast was the perfect end to the meal. It was really sweet and light and everyone at the table enjoyed eating it!

What shocked me the most about going to the Nighthawk Breakfast Bar was that everything was really delicious and that I had really no complaints about the food at all. I was telling June in the car on the way home that if something wasn’t as good as the rest then maybe we could have ordered more things to try (we really wanted to get the Tower of Bacon but had no room in our stomachs). But since everything was really top-notch, we basically cleaned the plates of everything that we got. But we also know that a return trip to the Nighthawk Breakfast Bar is in order so we can try out more things (and maybe by then they will have some sort of Cereal Milk sampler too!).

If you are going to go to Nighthawk, I do recommend making reservations. It wasn’t super crowded when we got there at 8pm, but it filled up quickly and if you go really late I can imagine that there would be a wait for a table. Also, nice it is a late night restaurant, you can probably find free meter parking nearby! We found a free meter (it was free after 8pm) right across from the restaurant so we were pretty happy about that! I really do recommend everything that we ate and I would guess that everything else on the menu is just as good as what we tried. This is a really fun place to check out with a pretty chill atmosphere (especially chill since it is in Hollywood and many places there are a bit touristy).

If you get to go to Nighthawk, I’d love to know what you had and what you loved! I think my friends and I will be able to make it back there in a month or so, and I know we want to know what things are must-haves for next time!

Feeling Like Something’s Missing (or Getting Sad In The Greeting Card Aisle)

Today would have been my grandpa’s 93rd birthday. It’s the first holiday/event that would have celebrated him since he passed away (Mother’s Day doesn’t count).

I’ve been lucky that I’ve only lost a few people in my life, but the first time that I have to skip over buying them a card for something I would have celebrated in the past has always been the toughest for me. I have even forgotten that people have passed away and have bought them cards and didn’t realize the mistake until after I got home.

My calendar alerts me to all birthdays/anniversaries/holidays 2 weeks in advance so I have time to get a card and mail it out. I can’t seem to delete events of people who have passed away. I still get a reminder for Keri’s birthday (I also could never forget it since it’s the day between my cousin’s birthday and my birthday). It breaks my heart a little bit having that reminder come up, but I can’t seem to get rid of it. I don’t get rid of phone numbers or emails either. Somehow that doesn’t seem right to do.

It feels so weird to not be on the lookout for the perfect birthday card for my grandpa. Getting cards for him were always a bit of a challenge. My grandma is easy (anything with butterflies), but my grandpa wasn’t a fan of sappy cards. I’d try to find one with a dirty joke because that was more his style.

And with my grandpa’s birthday so close to Father’s Day, I usually make one trip to the store to get his birthday card and Father’s Day cards for him and my dad. This time, instead of getting 3 cards I’m only getting 1.

I’ve wondered why my grandpa’s death hasn’t felt real for me. It’s weird. Even after my mom called to tell me and other family members started to call or post things on Facebook, I wondered if it was a big mistake (I felt the same way when my mom told me she had cancer). Seeing my grandma in the apartment alone or now in her new apartment didn’t make it seem real either. It almost feels like he was out doing an errand or at the hospital or something. I do sometimes do a double take when I see things that belonged to my grandparents in my house. It feels weird having those items here when they have always belonged to them (and I can picture exactly where they were in both their old house and recent apartment).

But not getting the cards that I have gotten for forever really make me realize that he’s gone and that I don’t have to buy his cards anymore. I’m not necessarily sad. I am sad for the loss my family has had, you can only admire how full of a life he lived. I hope that I can get to 92. I think grief and loss for me is not as much being sad as it is trying to think about all of the positives and trying to do things that I know would make that person happy.

So tonight after my workout, I plan on having a martini with a blue cheese olive (using the martini swords) and doing a toast to my grandpa and to the other people who I have loved and lost.

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Cheers to you Grandpa.

San Diego Beach Lunch (or Having Some Of My Grandparents’ Things In My House)

I hadn’t seen my grandma in a few weeks, so I knew it was time to get back down to San Diego to see her. Also, my grandma is downsizing to a smaller apartment in the community that she and my grandpa moved to about 3 years ago so I’m inheriting some things that won’t fit in the new apartment. I already have my mattress and my parents brought me a few things, but there was a box that didn’t fit into my parents’ car as well as some other things that my parents wanted me to look at.

So I decided to head down to San Diego on Sunday to visit with my grandma as well as get the things that were waiting for me there.

I was pretty lucky and made it down to San Diego in just under 2 hours, so I was at my grandma’s place a bit earlier than I planned. The plan for the day was for my grandma, my Aunt Nancy, and I to go to lunch and then my aunt and I would go to the old apartment on our own. Shortly after I arrived, my aunt got there and we headed in the car to go to lunch.

We went to Poseidon in Del Mar which was right on the beach. There was a bit of a wait for a table, so we sat outside and enjoyed the beach from the sidewalk (I didn’t want to get sandy).

With Grandma

After about 15 minutes, a table on the patio was ready for us. It wasn’t right at the edge overlooking the beach, but we could still see the beach and water from our table.

San Diego Lunch

Lunch was pretty good. We had a long wait for our meal. It took them over an hour to bring our food to us and tables who were seated 15 or 20 minutes after us got their food first, but they were very apologetic about it and comped one of the entrees. I had gotten so hungry that when they brought my sandwich I started eating it right away without taking a photo (sorry). But I had a very nice turkey sandwich.

When we got back to my grandma’s apartment, I said goodbye to my grandma and my aunt and I headed back to the old apartment. My Aunt Cindy had warned me that I might be upset because the apartment looked empty and weird, but shockingly it didn’t bother me. I think I had prepared myself for it to look worse, so it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.

The box that my parents had left for me was there and my aunt asked me to go around the apartment to see if there was anything else that I wanted to keep. All the stuff that was left in the apartment was going to be donated to charity, so I could take whatever I wanted.

It felt a little weird and almost like stealing from my grandparents, but I knew that if I didn’t take stuff, nobody in my family would have it. So I found a couple of things that I wanted like a purse, some quartz bookends, a lucite vanity chair, napkin rings, and a vase. And my aunt had found my grandparents’ copy of my parents’ wedding album along with their wedding invitation so I got that as well.

I also had brought my gardening shears and a plastic bag for a specific project. My grandparents had some amazing succulent plants on their balcony and because the planters they were in were so heavy, they were just going to be thrown out. But if you cut a succulent and let it dry a little, you can plant it and it will grow. So I cut a bunch of pieces and will be planting half for me and half for my parents.

Succulent Clippings

By then, it was after 3pm and I wanted to head home. So we got a luggage cart from the concierge at the building and I brought down the things I was bringing home.

New Things

My drive home was a bit longer than my drive down, but it was still uneventful. And as soon as I got home I unpacked the box that my parents had packed and sealed for me. There were a couple of things that I knew they were giving me (like new sheets and some of my grandparents’ serving platters), but there was one thing that was so special to me.

I’ve mentioned my grandpa’s love of martinis and how he got me to love martinis as well. And a few years ago I got him hooked on blue cheese olives. My grandpa always used these really cool swords to keep his olives in his martinis and I always thought that that was the most amazing thing. So when my parents had asked me if there was anything from my grandparents’ apartment that I wanted that my grandma wasn’t taking to her new apartment, the only thing I could think of was those swords. Those were in the sealed box along with the last jar of olives from the case that I brought my grandpa last year.

Martini Swords and Olives

Those swords are so special to me. I have them on display in my dining room now and they make me smile when I walk past them. While I’ve gotten lots of cool stuff from my grandparents’ old apartment, those swords are the most sentimental to me.

I’m still finding places for some of the other things that I brought back with me, but I’m so grateful that I have things that remind me of my grandparents in my house now. I don’t get to see my grandma as often as I’d like (the 4 hour round trip makes it tough to do too many day trips), but having some of their things in  my house makes me feel closer to my grandma and helps me not miss her as much.

Celebration Time! (or Ending My Dirty 30 Year)

I had decided to have my birthday party on the day before my birthday.

This was for a couple of reasons. First of all, at Bodega, they require a minimum tab for parties on Saturdays. I didn’t want to have to deal with that (everyone has to pay on 1 credit card so that’s annoying). Also, there were a few friends who didn’t know if they could make it at all, but if they could it would only be on Friday. Also, I wasn’t quite sure what I really wanted to do on my birthday day, so I wanted to leave that evening open.

My day started with my workout at Orangetheory. After doing that, I knew that I had burned off enough calories to enjoy a few drinks while I was out.

I had a little bit of time at home to get showered and dressed before I headed out to DryBar. I went to the same one I went to last year for my birthday, and it was a better experience than the year before. But I have to say that the DryBar in NYC was still way better!

I decided that I wanted to have curls in my hair for the evening. That seems festive to me and it’s something that I can’t really do on my own. While it was getting done, it looked pretty great and I was happy while I walked out the door.

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Sadly, the curls didn’t last even though the hair stylist used 2 rounds of hairspray (which I later hated because it made my hair impossible to brush). But my hair still looked better than anything that I could do on my own.

Next it was time to head over to Bodega. I was a little worried that not a lot of people would show up, but I went with the mindset that I would have a great time with whoever was there.

And I’m glad I went in with that mindset because only 3 people could make it. Lots of other people wanted to come but had work/traffic/lack of money/lack of time issues.

But the 3 who were there (Rayshell, Rayshell’s boyfriend Paul, and Sarah) were awesome and I had the best time with all of them!

We ordered food and drinks and just chatted about whatever. It was so low key and chill and it was exactly what I wanted. I don’t know if it could have been the same vibe if more people attended.

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Rayshell and Paul had to leave around 10 but Sarah and I stuck around until about 11. It was the perfect hangout with friends.

Before I knew it, it was time for me to drive home. And yes, I did stay up until midnight so I could enjoy the first minutes of my actual birthday.

And there were fun things ahead for me on my birthday and I’ll share that with you all tomorrow!

Margaritas and Mexican Food (or Girls Night Out!)

My Girls Night Out group hasn’t had a get together for a long time (pretty much since the Magic Castle). Life kind of took over and we just couldn’t seem to organize another gathering.

About a month ago, we agreed that we would meet up for dinner on Cinco De Mayo. I wasn’t in charge of planning this gathering, but I was super excited to see that El Cholo was the restaurant that was chosen! I usually go to the one in Santa Monica, but this one was in Koreatown. It was still pretty easy to get to, and I lucked out finding some free street parking a block away (valet is not in my budget right now).

I had seen many of the girls from the group more recently than the Magic Castle outing, but we all hadn’t been together for almost 2 years! So of course, as soon as we sat down, we had to get a group picture!

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Of course, we all had to get drinks as well. I got the Borderline, which is a half regular blended and half strawberry blended margarita.

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And for my meal I got a combo plate that had an enchilada and a pork tamal on it.

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The food and drink were great, but the best part of the evening was the company. I’m so lucky to be in such a great Girls Night Out group. Even though it had been a while since we were all together, once we were sitting down, it was like no time had passed.

We updated each other on our lives, shared crazy stories (I’m such the loud laughing from our table annoyed the tables around us), and just had fun being together as a group.

I’ve agreed that I would help to plan our next outing, which will be going to the Hollywood Bowl. Some of the girls in the group have never been to the Bowl, so I think that it will be a perfect Girls Night Out event. We just have to figure out what show and when.

Even though the specifics of our next gathering aren’t figured out yet, we did promise that we would make Girls Night Out happen way more often. And I’m super excited for that!

Bar Chloe (or How Being A Blogger Got Me A Free Drink)

Since Monday was my one real day off this week, after I recovered from spinning class, I went out for happy hour.

A friend of mine had suggested Bar Chloe. She had been there before and liked it, although she had mentioned that it wasn’t the cheapest happy hour in town. We decided to carpool since the parking structures in Santa Monica are only free for 90 minutes now.

As I got to my friend’s house to pick her up at 5:30, I looked at the website for the bar and realized that it didn’t open until 6pm. We took our time getting to the bar (and the fact that many lights were out at intersections helped kill some time), and ended up getting to the bar just a few minutes after 6pm.

When we got there, the place was totally empty. But it allowed us to chat with the bartender a lot (I never got his name). The bartender mentioned that he had dreamed up a drink the night before. He wanted to make a Hot Toddy with cherries and brandy and asked us if we’d like to try one. We both agreed.

While we were waiting for the drinks to be mixed up, I took a look around and got a couple of pictures of the place (sorry I only had my iPhone with me).

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The bartender was looking at me strangely as I took the pictures, so I explained that I was a blogger and wanted to write a post about my happy hour adventure there. He asked me about the blog a bit, and then my friend and I decided to check out the food options with happy hour prices.

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$5 bites! Not too bad. I had a grilled cheese (I earned it from burning so many calories at Soul Cycle), and my friend had calamari. And just before we ordered, the bartender brought over our specialty drinks.

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It was pretty yummy and reminded me of a cherry Lifesaver. I had never had brandy before, and it turns out I don’t totally love it, so I only had about 1/5 of that glass (but it was sure nice to have something to warm me up!).

When the bartender handed us our drinks, he looked at me and said that mine was on the house since I was going to blog about them (I feel like I need to disclose that fact).

That was totally unexpected but appreciated.

Overall, I have to say that Bar Chloe was a pretty fun night out. I think the next time I go I’ll order a drink that I know I’ll like (like a Dirty Shirley), and maybe try some food off of the regular menu.

But I will totally be back, but not before 6pm for happy hour!

Brick + Mortar (or Another Happy Hour Adventure!)

With Mondays now being my early days, my happy hour adventures with my friend have been moved to Mondays as well.

I let her know the switch of date over the weekend, and she sent me a list of happy hours near Santa Monica that she wanted to check out. I think we should try them all, but yesterday we decided to check out Brick + Mortar. When we got to the location, we realized that it was where Salute used to be. We went to Salute a few years back with a few other people before my friend moved to the LA area. But I guess that place shut down (I liked the wine machines so I’m sad about that).

Brick + Mortar was pretty fun! They had the BSC game on in the background so we kind of paid attention to it (I had a ton of people rooting for Alabama, so I wanted them to win). The happy hour menu had a bunch of cheap but yummy options.

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We decided to split the truffle fries and the short rib pizza. I also ordered my traditional Dirty Shirley.

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I will say that the bartender at Brick + Mortar pours strong drinks! I took a sip of my drink when they set it down, and it tasted like straight vodka. I waited for some of the ice to melt to make the drink a little weaker.

Our food was delicious.

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And once we were done eating, we both ended up opening our My Fitness Pal apps on our iPhones to track our food for the day. I get a kick out of that. I also finally friended my friend on the app (if you use My Fitness Pal and want to be friends, leave a comment with your user name and I’ll add you!).

I’m still adjusting my internal clock to my new schedule, but a fun and delicious happy hour is totally making the transition a bit easier!

 

Dirty Shirley (or My Signature Drink)

I’m not a big drinker. I used to be, but the first time I went on the RFO diet I wasn’t able to drink anything with calories, and my tolerance for alcohol went down. Now, I never have more than 2 drinks, but more often, I only will have 1 when I go out.

I’ve never been a beer drinker. The only time I tolerated beer was when my family was in Africa and the beer was safer to drink than water (I’m sure I spent a lot of that trip dehydrated). I’m not a wine lover. If I drink wine, it tends to be a sweeter one like a Riesling.

My go to drink is any type of sparkling wine. Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, I love them all. And at most bars or restaurants, that’s what I’ll order.

But there are plenty of bars or restaurants where they don’t have a sparkling wine (or you don’t want to drink a weird cheap one), so I’ve been working on finding a signature mixed drink. I really like martinis, but I only like them with blue cheese filled olives so I won’t get them most places. I do enjoy a vodka cranberry, but that seemed to cliché and typically girly for me.

I was googling signature drinks a while back and found a recipe for a Dirty Shirley. It’s pretty much a Shirley Temple with vodka. I loved Shirley Temples as a kid (and now) so I figured that this would be the perfect drink for me.

When I order it most of the time, they have no idea what a Dirty Shirley is, so I have to order a Shirley Temple with vodka. But it is yummy, and it looks pretty.

 

And if you need the recipe, here it is:

  • 4-6 ounces carbonated lemon-lime soda (I like Diet 7-Up)
  • 2 ounces of vodka
  • 1 ounce grenadine
  • 1-2 maraschino cherry (for the garnish)

 

My New Favorite Happy Hour Place (or Free Hot Dogs)

Wednesdays are nice at my job because I work “normal” work hours. I’m only there from 9-5:30. And I have a friend who has Wednesdays off, so we normally hang out after I’m done with work.

There are a bunch of good happy hour places near my job (the advantage of working in Santa Monica), but yesterday, my friend wanted to go to Bar Food because it’s down the block from her house.

She had told me about Bar Food before, but I just hadn’t checked it out yet. And I was very happy once I was there. Happy Hour prices were great, and you get a free hot dog as long as you order a drink. I wasn’t drinking, but my friend ordered a drink so I got her hot dog. And then we split an order of fries (which were $3.50).

So since I only had water, my bill for the evening was only $2! Not bad. I did check out the drink menu and there were a lot of yummy looking drinks. I just was exhausted (and haven’t gotten paid for this pay period yet), so water was just fine with me.

Another nice thing about Bar Food is the free parking that’s all around. There are so many places where free parking is impossible to find. The only downside to the free parking in the neighborhood behind the bar was it was a permit only parking area from 8am-6pm. So since I got there at 5:45, I just sat in my car until 6 when I knew it was safe for me to park there.

I’m totally going to be going back there more often! And yes, the free hot dog was pretty good!

 

*I know it might sound like I might have been paid to write this post, but I swear that this is my honest opinion of Bar Food. But if they want to pay me in free drinks for such a positive review, I wouldn’t turn it down. 😉