Where & Why
On our recent fall California road trip we had the opportunity to witness some of the most scenic vistas in the US along the Pacific Coast Highway in Monterey County. We had done plenty of homework planning (check out more of our planning process here) our route and we found that the Monterey section of the PCH was known to be one of the prettiest, so we didn't want to miss out!
We have been staying local for a few weeks which has given us some time to really appreciate and remember why we love our hometown so much. In the rapidly growing, diverse, and unique city of Raleigh, NC there is certainly no shortage of offerings .... especially when it comes to food! Just the other day Jo and I were sitting downtown, sipping on some local brew when we decided to verbalize our list of "favorite" restaurants. There are so many top notch choices but we were able to narrow it down to just a couple of true favorites. If you haven't had the chance to visit these we highly recommend checking them out sometime!
*** This list excludes coffee and breakfast locations. Check out our Raleigh Breakfast Guide to get a glimpse of where you should dine for the best Omelets and Pancakes.
They say that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and we couldn't agree more! So, we compiled a list of a few of our favorite, hometown breakfast spots in Raleigh, NC.
- Nashville Cont'd:
Our adventure had not ended in Nashville within just a day. Oh no! There is ALWAYS more to do in this vibrant town and we were finished yet, but our time was limited. Going into our second day of our 4000 mile road trip, I had already made up my mind on one specific thing that we would do while in Nashville. I am a huge, if not the BIGGEST advocate for Pancakes. Since I was young, pancakes were always my thing. So, when I found out Nashville had something called "The Pancake Pantry" I had my mind made up.
Goal 1: Make it to the "Pancake Pantry"
Josh and I checked out of our hotel in Brentwood. Since we had checked in after dark the day before, we were pleasantly surprised when we began driving the country roads that surrounded the area. Beautiful fenced in homes on amazing acres of land, surrounded by matured trees. We enjoyed the scenery so much that we actually stopped through a few neighborhoods just to continue viewing. After checking out the beautiful homes and few quaint streets we headed towards town, taking a slight detour to participate in something a little touristy.
Pancake Pantry Detour:
"I believe in Nashville" Mural - 2700 12th Ave. S.
We had to get a picture with the infamous "I believe in Nashville" mural. Just to add to the moment, I must add that although it's not noticeable from the picture we were surrounded by construction crew workers who stopped and cheered us on as we posed for this picture op. I would highly recommend going when they aren't building something next door :)
Destination: Pancake Pantry:
After our brief detour we were back en route to find our "breakfast of champs." We were very lucky because when we arrived their was a parking spot on the side street located behind the restaurant. There is a parking lot located directly behind "The Pancake Pantry" however, you do have to pay to park there. Of course we had to wait in line, which by the time we were seated had wrapped around the building. Don't let that scare you, it goes very quickly, and is well worth the wait. We ate, drank coffee and left pleased. I had pancakes which were sweet and buttery. My day was made.
The Pancake Pantry is conveniently located right in the heart of Vanderbilt University which was a stop that we had on our list. It is certainly a different perspective to Nashville than just staying in the downtown scene and/or the Grand Ol' Opry. Vanderbilt is beautiful and we had a blast exploring it. And, if time allows, there's plenty of local shops around to check out.
~ Peabody School of Education: Being an educator you can't help but be in awe of the program over at Vanderbilt. Their credibility of having one of the best educational programs in the country is quite incredible. Of course I had to go and snap some photos of this moment. Education excites me!
After exploring Vanderbilt and the surrounding areas we decided to drive around and see what other mischief we could get in to. A few stops that were on our list that I highly recommend to others:
~ Music Row - Midtown - Not as touristy as I was expecting. Just businesslike - Fun to drive through. We did it a couple of times just to make sure we were soaking it all in - RCA B is also in this section. You can take tours, however we did not. We just snapped a few photos instead.
~ Grimey's used music store - Some great finds in this little place if you're into the whole music world. They also had a coffee shop attached, some books and even great helpers willing to show you were to find the greatest vinyls.
~ White's mercantile - A down to earth store with neat eclectic finds. Owned by an amazing musician, Holly Williams, who obviously has neat taste and wants to share it with others. Fun find of the day.
After some more exploring we worked up an appetite. We stopped in at Elliston's soda shop. If you are in Nashville you HAVE to go here! It was simply amazing and what was even more appealing was how they had kept the place in the same conditions as I expect it was years ago. The atmosphere made you feel like you had stepped into a locals wonder. Don't even get me started on their milkshakes!
After exploring some of the neighborhoods in the Belle Meade area we hit the road to Dickson, Tennessee where we would be camping for the night. Yes! We camped in the back of our SUV. Yes! We had planned this. In fact, both Josh and I were extremely excited about this particular night. Everyone we told thought we were somewhat crazy for attempting this but in fact, it was probably the best nights sleep we had on our entire two week, 4000 mile trip.
We had packed an air mattress and some blankets, so we rented a camping spot right outside of Dickson, bought some chicken and veggies and set up camp. Some of the fellow campers who were staying at the site came and asked us if we needed assistance setting up our tent. I guess they were getting worried when it began to get dark and we had not set anything up. But, in fact, we were all set! We put down the back seat, blew up the air mattress and stuck it in the back. Josh had made some screens for the windows that were magnetic to keep the bugs out, but would allow fresh air in. It was by far one of my favorite evenings of our entire trip. Josh made a campfire and cooked while I read. Then, we finished out our evening by eating a fantastic meal, playing checkers, and snoozing to the sound of rain hitting the hood of our car.
It was an eventful Saturday evening on the quaint streets of Nantucket, MA. These phrases, eventful and Nantucket don't usually occupy the same sentence. However, during the time of our stay on this lovely island, it happened to not only be our honeymoon (exciting and eventful in itself), but also the Figawi race weekend. This annual boat race is the kick off celebration to the summer season for Nantucket island. The streets were lined with college students eager and loud, awaiting whatever activities were to occupy their last night on the island before returning back to the school, as well as boaters full of exhaustion after a long day of racing, and of the course the ever so lucky families who also were in attendance for this fun-filled event.
Josh and I actually did not know that we would be traveling to Nantucket the same weekend as hundreds of others for this Figawi extravaganzaa. We merely chose this location due to my dreamy imagination which had portrayed this island as perfection filled with old nautical houses, quaint streets lined with store front windows and coffee shops where my "new" husband and I could cross legs under the table while smiling dreamingly into each others eyes while sipping our New England brew. I had been through my phase of reading all of the Nantucket books, many which were written by one of my personal favorites, Elin Hilderbrand and thought that perhaps it was time to fulfill my desire of visiting this hidden jewel.
While our weekend on Nantucket didn't neccessarily portray the quaintness that I envisioned, Figawi only made it that much more appealing. The liveliness and excitement just added to the joy. It truthfully made us want to explore more because we felt like we were missing something if we stepped away from it all for even a smidgen of a second.
Anyways, on to the purpose of this entry. I had to begin with that exact introduction you see. Not as a means to display my enthusiasm for Figawi race weekend on the Island, but more so to set the precedent for what was really going on around us as we stepped into this rusted, tiny house turned restaurant on a sunny, chill-nipped evening in May.
If I had to do it all over again I would bring my fanciest heels, rock the pearls (the REAL ones, not the fakes), curl my hair just on the ends as to add a little flow, and perhaps even wear tights just because it's the proper thing to do. When I describe Oran Mor as being fancy I'm not referring to your downtown fancy family outting. I'm not even referring to some of the other, pricier places a tad more known, Ruth Chris's, Angus Barn, etc.. The 12 year old sitting at the table next to me (Yes, the one discussing his plans of attending Harvard) looked as if he had more experience in a setting like this than the two of us, newly married "adults" did. It was a tad intimidating at first, I won't lie. We both felt a little out of place, which is funny because the two of us love a fancy date night as much as the next person. I don't think it was even that this restaurant was "better" so to speak than others. It just had a feeling, from the moment you stepped through the door, that it had experienced class, wealth, and success throughout it's years. It seeped from the way the waiters offered their most prestigious house wine, or recommended their top seafood appetizer. It was the way they knew before I did that I was about to need a refill (Wow), or the way the food sat perfectly on the plate as if you were messing up a true work of art as you dug your fork into it. Oran Mo really was just a place that we were pleased to pay for our pricey meal while leaving a very generous tip. It was well earned and truly deserved.
Josh had made these reservations MONTHS in advance (something I highly recommend if you want to attempt). It was a dreamy, fairy tale like dinner outting that any new bride would daydream about prior to the evening. The whole dinner, we sat, hand in hand, laughing, discussing our new future together, joking the 12 year old who knew more than us, and "ooo'ing" and "ahhhh'in" over ever deliciousness that we tasted with each bite. All of this, while soaking in the beautiful, quaint atmosphere that seemed to surface every inch of this island (even the upscale Oran Mor).
Looking back at our pictures of Nantucket, I realized that we did not make one at or of the restaurant. We must have been too mesmerized by all of it's wonderfulness. However, below is a picture of us from that evening standing just down the street, that we had captured as we were en route to the Restaurant that night.
There are a few things that each person needs in the town they live. Aside from a good beautician, mechanic and Mexican restaurant a good sit-down Chinese restaurant is a must!
While I have lived in Raleigh officially for two years now, unofficially four, one thing lacking was "THAT" Chinese restaurant. Josh and I had tried multiple places, getting take-out from here and there. Never necessarily having that ONE place to call our Chinese home! That is, until a good friend informed us of this place in downtown Raleigh. It goes by the name of Five Star! Located on West Hargett street, this "fresh and modern" Chinese restaurant was named after the owners Grandfather who was a Chinese General (hence the Five Star). They wanted to create a modern flair to Chinese food that would represent the individuality as well as tradition of growing up with a Chinese parent and grandparents.
This truly is a one of a kind restaurant. One in which we have frequented within the past few months, as well as guided relatives and friends to explore. All which gave consistently positive feedback. How could you not? The portions are always enough to split and still take home leftovers with, the food is consistently unique and delicious, and the manner of service and staffing is timely, friendly and very willing to serve and take care of their guests. What's not to love!?
If you are in Raleigh, you want to avoid the typical crowds within the heart of downtown but still want to stay within the area. Or, you just happen to crave Chinese food and want a dip into something unique and special, my recommendation extends to Five Star Restaurant.
You will have to pay for your forks but you won't have to pay extra for extraordinary, five start quality!
Check our their website and menu as well as story.
Five Star receives a significant Five Star from Mo Adventures!
I have been excited about writing this post since I visited this place over the weekend! It climbed it's way to the top of my favorite places lists in just ONE night!
We met a friend for dinner at this John's Island gem this weekend and I have wanted to have dinner there ever since! Our waitress greeted us by explaining that EVERYTHING is made IN HOUSE! I mean EVERYTHING! The waitress also treated us like we had all been best friends for years. I questioned throughout the whole dinner whether or not our friend knew our waitress prior. It really was just that kind of place! You entered wondering what you were going to get and you left feeling like family having so much Italian satisfaction you might just burst!
The pasta was homemade, every single strand. The meat was fresh, the vegetables were fresh, and the sauce was made in house. It was very apparent! From the first bite until the last I kept wanting to go back for more. I felt the EXACT same way when I tried a bite of everyone else's food on the table. DE..LIC..IOUS does NOT even begin to describe it! Aside from the amazing food, the menu also listed an extensive selection of Italian wines and the dessert menu was impossible to choose from. Everything looked exquisite! The dessert menu was also complete with a list of lovely dessert wines and/or coffee. Delightfulness just took over that food list!
Aside from the beyond amazing food (if we can really go beyond that), the restaurant decor was spectacular. Every little aspect was personalized. Everything from the wine rack that filled one wall, the shelves complete with homemade specialties, the wooden beamed ceiling that was complete with lights strung throughout, and the chandelier hanging from the tree outside. It was extremely unique. The type of restaurant that you come into feeling welcome and desiring to stay for hours.
Wild Olive is the PERFECT place for that special occasion, family reunion, girls night out, family dinner, etc. If you are EVER in Charleston it is completely worth the drive to trek across those bridges into John's Island to make yourself into this little masterpiece.
We are the Best's! Jo and Mo. Founders of BestCapturedTravel!
We have been immensely blessed with many opportunities to see various parts of the world. We live an average, working life in Raleigh, NC but through our many opportunities have developed a passion to see the world. Our goal is to share with other desiring travelers different tips and experiences from around the world as we begin to check them off our bucket list. If anything, we hope to provide a little sense of motivation and adventure to those wishing to embark on their own journey!
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