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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Court - A St Giles Hotel Review ~ New York, NY

Gabrian and had to go to NYC last week to get his Chilean Passport. Since we had the expense of getting to the city, I decided to turn it into a couple night getaway (which actually turned into four nights). We booked a great deal with Hotwire for our stay. Hotwire, gives you fantastic prices. They tell you the star rating, the amenities offered, and a general idea of the location of the hotel. Once you have paid for the stay, they reveal the name of the hotel. We were lucky enough to get The Court - A St Giles Hotel.

The staff was incredible from the moment we walked into the hotel until we left. They were welcomed us every time we went into or out of the hotel. They were happy to help with suggestions. And the most important to me was that they were so kind to Gabrian and made it feel like it was his home in NYC (I honestly think he was ready to move in by the end of our trip).
We were given room 708 and for me it was the ideal location. I liked being on the 7th floor. It was high enough that we felt like we had privacy but not so high that we couldn't spy on the street below us. Our other favorite part was that we were right next to the elevator. It was so nice when we were loaded down with bags to step off the elevator and have our room be right there.

The room was huge. I have never stayed in a room in NYC with a room this big. I honestly think Gabrian could have done summersaults across the room without bumping into anything. The closest was so big, you could fit a large child in there to sleep. It had a full size dresser inside of it!

The room included a mini fridge but did not have a microwave (I am not sure if they had one available if you asked for it). One of the few annoyances we had was the fridge was filled with a mini bar of super expensive items. We had to pull all of their stuff out of it so that we could put our stuff in it. Not a huge deal but thought I should mention it.

The bathroom was also huge. Gabrian really enjoyed their bathtub (we stopped at Lush and picked up a couple of bath bombs to really make bath time fun). I appreciated the large window sill in the bathroom because it gave me a place to place our toiletries and clothes when we were bathing. I wish the window would open a little in the bathroom to let the steam out.

We also made great use of the table/desk workspace provided. We used it for dining and storage while we stayed. It was incredible how big that space really was. If you were here on business, you could easily do some work in your room.

My favorite part of the room was the chair by the window. I spent countless hours in that chair. I just loved watching the city go by while relaxing in the room. I liked to pretend we lived there and that was my neighborhood.

We couldn't have picked a better location if we had tried. We ended up being only a 3 minute walk from the Chilean Consulate. We were also very centrally located. We could walk to most of the highlights that we wanted to visit (including Grand Central, Times Square, Macy's, and Broadway). It wasn't quite as touristy as Times Square but gave us the benefit of having everything near us.

We were only supposed to be there for two nights but a snowstorm happened back at home while we were there. We had to reschedule our flight and ended up with two extra nights in the City. We called the in-house reservation and she gave us an incredible rate for a Friday and Saturday night ($127/night).

I think the only negative I could say is that the hotel is looking slightly worn. Not anything that is a big deal but I need to be honest. The room was impeccably clean and the bed was one of the most comfortable I have slept in (and don't even get me started on those wonderful pillows). Just little things here and there that looked worn.

Overall, we are completely in love with The Court (and hope to move into it some day). We can't get back to stay there again. If you would like to try them out for yourself, they are located at 130 E 39th Street, New York, NY.

El Portón Review ~ Mexico City ~ Condesa

When you ask Gabrian what one of his favorite things about Mexico City, he is quick to let you know El Portón is one of his favorites. It was within walking distance of our Airbnb, so perfect for our first night when we were exhausted.

The staff seemed to be a bunch of friendly guys. We ended up going back several times to pick up desserts to go by the end of the week and it felt like we were friends at the end. They were always quick to be helpful and had a smile on their face.
They brought out tortilla chips with salsa and refried beans. Clearly we were starving because I forgot to take a picture until most of the chips were gone. They were tasty and we really enjoyed the beans.
The restaurant definitely had the feel of a chain restaurant. Normally when we are traveling, we have a strict no chain restaurant rule when eating out. However, since we had never heard of the restaurant we felt like it was ok to break that rule. Considering it was Gabrian's favorite place to eat, I am glad that we did.
Riley ordered the Enchiladas Verdes. He loved this dish. We saw him looking longingly at his plate when it was finished.  He would order this again in a heartbeat!

My mom and I picked the same dish. We picked the Comal al Pastor. Not pictured was a basket full or tortillas to make our own tacos with this dish. My favorite was the little fried tortilla filled with cheese. This plate was so good. It was the perfect late night dinner. Greasy and cheesy all together.
Gabrian picked the Tacos al Pastor. We ordered him two and I think he probably could have polished off one more taco. I shared the rest of my dinner with him to fill him up. He would get this again but just three of them next time.

Overall, we really liked our meal at El Portón. The next time we are in Mexico City, we would give them another try. If you would like to try them out for yourself, they are located at Gobernador Ignacio Esteva #10, Miguel Hidalgo, San Miguel Chapultepec I Secc, 11850 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Huaraches Y Costillas Asadas La Güera Review ~ Mercado Jamaico (Mexico City)

Our first day in Mexico City we decided to go to Mercado Jamaica so we could stock up on flowers for the week. Before we entered the market we needed to get lunch. We noticed a food court and decided to try someone there. We were in for a new experience!

We had heard about Huaraches before we came to Mexico City. We saw a show on the travel channel about how they were invented. There was a single mother of 5 who opened up a small food stall selling gorditas. One day one of the butchers asked her to prepare some ribs and she realized that the gorditas would not be big enough to handle the ribs. She made a new shape that was similar looking to a sandal. In Spanish the sandal is called Huaraches and that is how they were born!
When we entered the food court we discovered that all the vendors sold the same dish. They were super aggressive as soon as we even glanced over to the food court. They all started yelling pasale (come in) to their booth. I don't do well under pressure and I panicked and went into the first stall which ended up being Huaraches Y Pancita La Güera. Thankfully they were delicious and we made a good choice.  It was amusing to watch other customers walk in and get yelled at once we were in the safety of our own seats.

When we went into their booth, it didn't really look like there was enough seating for us. They actually had us walk through their kitchen and out to the other side where they had additional tables. They were nice enough to let me take a picture of their kitchen.

Once seated, we relaxed with our sodas and had fun watching the hustle and bustle of the market place. We were also serenaded by a really great singer for part of our meal (we had to scramble and find some smaller bills so we could tip the singer).

Before our meal came out we had the condiments come to the table. We had two types of salsa, cheese, diced onions, and our first experience with the adorable little limes that are served everywhere.

We all ordered the same meal (lesson learned, Gabrian and I should have shared one because they were huge). We all had a huarache (it was kind of like a corn meal cake filled with refried beans). We went with the traditional ribs (costillas) and it was served with nopales (cactus).

These were amazing! Every bite had fantastic flavor. We had fun trying the different salsas along with the other toppings. The beans were flavorful and filling!

Overall, we had a great meal at Huaraches Y Pancita La Güera. We will definitely be back there for another lunch in the future. If you would like to try them for yourself, they are located at Calzada Guillermo Prieto, 15800 Venustiano Carranza, Mexico (I think, this is the closest I could find online - so go across the street from Mercado Jamaica and you will find it).

Restaurante Hotel Escandón Review ~ Mexico City, Mexico

On our first morning in Mexico City, we kept it easy and had breakfast at our hotel. We went to the Restaurante Hotel Escandón. While it was the easy choice, it was a delicious choice!
They are open on Monday through Saturday from 7:00 am - 11:00 pm and on Sunday they close at 5:00 pm (Riley learned that the hard way when he tried to eat there the night before and found them closed). We were the first ones through the door at 7:00 am because we were starving after our flight.

Tons of great choices on the breakfast menu. We were getting our first taste of the awesome prices in Mexico. At the time of our trip the exchange rate was $20 Mexican pesos for $1 US. We placed our order with our super patient waiter that didn't make me feel like an idiot when I stumbled though with my Spanish. He talked us into upgrading our breakfast to paquetes for an additional $45 Mexican pesos. This included a fresh juice and our coffee.

The dining room was beautiful. It was light and airy with the big windows around the room. While we were the first ones in the room, it wasn't long before other diners joined us.
Hot Chocolate


Carrot Juice

Verde (Green) Juice

Apple Juice
We had fun sampling the juices. It was our first time drinking carrot juice and green juice. The carrot juice had mixed reviews at the table. I wasn't a huge fan of drinking the juice to a carrot. Other people were ok with it. The green juice was a bigger success. It mostly tasted like banana. I am not sure what greens they used in the juice.

Riley and I ordered the same breakfast. We both order the Chilaquiles with eggs. The only difference is I had fried eggs and Riley went with scrambled. Chilaquiles are tortilla chips that have been soaked in salsa. You can order verde (which tends to be milder) or roja.  It was delicious but boy was it spicy! I think I made it half way through my chilaquiles before having to give up. I wanted to keep going because it tasted so good but I couldn't handle the spiciness anymore.
My mom picked the Omellette de Claras. She picked flor de Calabaza (squash flowers) and Chorizo. She also paid a little extra and added cheese to the omellette. She really enjoyed her dish. She was especially excited to try the flor de Calabaza. She said she would definitely try this again.

Last up was Gabrian's breakfast. He ordered the French Toast with bananas. In addition to the French Toast, I thought I was ordering him a side of eggs but apparently ordered him an additional breakfast. It came with beans and potatoes. He was pleased with his selection.
Overall, we were very pleased with our first breakfast at the Restaurante Hotel Escandón. If we had additional nights at the Hotel, we would have definitely had a second visit to the restaurant. If you would like to try them out for yourself, they are located at Av. Jose Marti 178, Escandón, Escandón II Secc, 11800 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico.