Best Restaurants in San Diego

Two women enjoy Taco Tuesday at one of San Diego CA's Mexican restaurants, smiling at a table full of food and drinks.

Southern California, and in particular San Diego, is full of some amazing restaurants, and likely is one of the coolest places to travel to. Next time you’re in the San Diego area, satisfy your inner foodie with these incredible restaurants offering everything from classic cuisines to daring new delicacies.



The Grass Skirt (Best Vibes / Atmosphere)

Top Dish: Grass Skirt Poke Bowl, Thai Crispy Rice Salad
Top Drink: Boozin’ Susan’s World Famous Chi Chi

The Grass Skirt has some of the best vibes in all of San Diego, serving up Southeast Asian cuisine and tiki-style cocktails.

Just walking into this place takes the edge off. While you may struggle to find the entrance, the folks at Good Time Poke next door will gladly help you out.


El Paisa (Best Mexican Food)

Image result for el paisa san diego

Top Dish: Street tacos
Top Drink: Horchata

El Paisa serves some fairly authentic Mexican dishes, including street-style tacos with lengua and cabeza. Si no comprende, look it up!

They also have fuller tacos, burritos, tostadas, tortas, and much more. Furthermore, they honor Taco Tuesday featuring discounted tacos, which scores massive points.

El Paisa is highly recommended if you want casual Mexican food in San Diego, and there are even more great restaurants within walking distance—just in case you don’t get your fill.


Crack Shack (Best Chicken)

Logo for The Crack Shack restaurant in San Diego with illustration of a chicken breaking out of an eggshell.

Top Dish: Fried chicken meals (various sizes); deviled eggs
Top Drink: Figueroa Mountain Lager, Jack Rosen Crack Shack Whiskey Sour

As soon as the dishes at Crack Shack hit your table, you won’t care if the chicken or egg came first—this SoCal fare is too good to resist diving right in. What’s more, family-sized flock meals and gluten-free options ensure everyone in your group gets to chow down.

Craft beers and a laid-back atmosphere—complete with lawn games—make Crack Shack one of the top restaurants in San Diego for group dining.

Fried chicken lovers can snack on nuggets, bone-in jidori fried platters, or sandwiches, while those looking to fuel up with something healthier will love the bowl options.


Pizza Port (Best Pizza Joint)

Black and white logo for Pizza Port Brewing Company featuring draft beer illustration, restaurant locations, and tagline "Tasty Grub & Grog."

Top Dish: Beer Buddies, Pizza San Francisco
Top Drink: Pizza Port Solana Beach Riggity Wrecked IPA

When cravings for classics hit, nothing beats pizza—but Pizza Port offers plenty for those in a more daring mood, from their signature wholegrain beer crust to unique and traditional topping combos. While pizza port may be for the more adventurous pizza lovers, those willing to travel to New York may find a more traditional style pie.

Bar food rounds out the menu with choices like mac & cheese bites or baked chicken wings. Additionally, you can order their popular beer crust all on its own, brushed with a generous coating of garlic or cajun spices.


Slater’s 50/50 (Best Burger)

Black and white logo for Slaters 50 50 in San Diego with tagline Bacon, Burgers, Beer.

Top Dish: Sriracha Burger, Best Damn Bacon Cheeseburger
Top Drink: Rotating Beer Selection

While plenty of restaurants in San Diego sling great burgers, you won’t find any better than Slater’s 50/50.  Every burger comes with fries and Slater’s very own Bacon Ketchup, and those steering clear of meat can now sub out traditional patties for an Impossible Burger.

The Best Damn Bacon Cheeseburger earns its title and then some in Slater’s upgraded classic. Alternatively, you can go rogue with the Peanut Butter and Jellousy, a savory-sweet combo of bacon, natural PB, and strawberry jelly.

Slater’s drink menu is just as creative, serving up everything from housemade lemonade or draft root beer to fully-loaded milkshakes.  On draft, you’ll find over 1,000 beers in rotation throughout any given year. That selection rivals some of the best out there like Portland!




Comparison of the Best Camping and Backpacking Packs

A camper backpacking long a beautiful mountain lake on an overcast day.

It would be quite challenging to go backpacking or camping without reliable and sturdy packs to carry and protect your supplies.

After all, it doesn’t help to be prepared for anything and everything if a sudden storm soaks your gear, or your straps break in the middle of a trail.

One of the most important features of the pack is reliability. And – if you can’t rely on the pack to protect and haul your favorite tent, water filters, and cooking supplies and food then you likely won’t enjoy your experience.

Below, you’ll find the five best camping and backpacking packs on the market, which excel in terms of weight, performance, and overall durability.


Best Overall Backpacking Backpack

Granite Gear Blaze 60

Price: $269.95

A design marvel, the Granite Gear Blaze 60 scores high on durability, weight, and comfort.

What’s more, it’s highly functional: there isn’t much the Granite Gear Blaze 60 can’t do. Despite weighing just slightly over three pounds, this pack can haul over fifty pounds of gear without sacrificing the wearer’s comfort.

Additionally, the Granite Gear can withstand more than several trips’ worth of snags and drops.

When it comes to flaws, the pack’s small buckles might be annoying during cold excursions, when gloves are involved.

Other than that, though, the Granite Gear Blaze 60 is a phenomenal option almost any hiker or backpacker should have in their arsenal.



Best Value Backpack


REI Co-op Flash 55

Price: $199.00

At the end of the day, no matter how great a pack is, it needs to be affordable. While budget-friendly options abound, far too many cut costs at the expense of function.

The REI Co-op Flash 55, however, sacrifices neither. With a price tag under $200, it’s the ideal blend of value and performance.

Several external pockets and straps support a variety of gear, including two side pockets sized for water bottles.

The Flash 55 maintains a footprint of less than three pounds, and offers decent durability. Quite likely, it won’t hold up to extreme terrain or weather conditions, but it can handle more standard outings with ease.

Simply put, if you look after the Flash 55, it will continue to look after you.



Most Comfortable Backpack


Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50

Price: $240.00

Comfort is a huge factor when comparing packs for camping and backpacking. For many outdoor enthusiasts, in fact, it’s the most important determinant.

Ultimately, how long you can stand to wear your pack might dictate the length of a hike, and how much ground you cover per day.

In terms of comfort, no pack performs better than the Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50.

At a capacity of 50 ounces, the Gear Gorilla is able to carry upwards of 30 pounds of gear while maintaining its promise of superior comfortability on the wearer.

With a combination of custom Robic ripstop nylon, air mesh fabric, power mesh fabric, and several pockets, the Gear Gorilla is well-designed for cushioning and breathability.

What’s more, the Gear Gorilla is offered in several colors, so every member of your party can travel in comfort and style.



Best Backpack for Long Distance


Ultralight Adventure Equipment Catalyst

Price: $280.00

Are you on the trail every weekend for miles and miles at a time? If so, then you need a pack specifically geared towards an enthusiast with your activity level.

The Ultralight Adventure Equipment Catalyst is designed to live on the trail. It’s super light, comfortable, and ready for just about anything Mother Nature can dish out.

Ultralight Adventure (ULA) is not as well-known or mainstream as brands like The North Face, Patagonia, or even Osprey. Among hiking enthusiasts, however, ULA camping packs are revered for their performance, and the Catalyst is a prime example of why.



Best Ultralight Backpack

HMG 2400 Southwest ultralight pack. Black mesh over light grey backpack


HMG 2400 Southwest

Price: $310.00

Hyperlite Mountain Gear created the 2400 Southwest to offer an ultralight backpack that can be used on even the narrowest of trails.

Composed of three external Dyneema pockets, a Dyneema high density hip belt, and a foam back panel pad, the 2400’s total weight is under two pounds.

It’s also equipped with an ice axe loop, a hydro port, and optional accessory straps.

The obvious flaw to the 2400 Southwest? Its price tag. At over three hundred dollars, it’s one of the most expensive camping packs on the market.

However, if you can afford the pack and are looking for an ultralight product, your money can’t be better spent.


A Hiker’s Best Friend

As any outdoor enthusiast knows, a poorly performing pack can ruin an otherwise perfect excursion.  Likewise, quality packs can make even the roughest camping or hiking trip incredible.

A reliable backpack soon becomes more than a piece of equipment: it becomes a best friend. Choose wisely, and don’t let price dictate your decision alone.

Instead, choose a pack that suits your activity level, weather conditions, capacity requirements, and comfort needs.


Best Places to Shower on a Road Trip

Brunette woman in bathing suit takes a shower at an outdoor fixture during a road or camping trip.

Once you go on your first long road trip, you quickly realize that showering is a problem. If you travel in long stints, go on hikes, or just tend to sweat a bit, you might get stinky and crave a shower. Without a game plan, your idea to travel cheaply goes out the window as you splurge on last minute hotels to get some comfy sleep and a shower.

But we’ve got you covered. We’ve been on a road trip or two and found the best ways to get a good shower on the road without breaking the bank.




Tips For Showering on the Road

  • Travel with light, rubber sandals that don’t absorb water. Make sure they dry quickly, as well, and have enough tread to prevent slipping.
  • Carry your own shampoo. Chemical-free is best, since you can use it in lakes and other natural water sources without disturbing wildlife.
  • If your water is limited, do a quick rinse, turn off the water, lather up, then turn it back on to rinse quickly. Skip washing your hair and only focus on the important body parts, or opt for an all-natural dry shampoo.
  • “Don’t forget to bring a towel.” -Towelie



Best Places to Shower During Road Trips


Travel Gas Stations

A young blonde woman in a bathing suit showers in a stall with blue tiles.

There are several gas stations that offer more than gas and snacks. They actually offer showers too! The places you can find these showers include:

  • Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers
  • Love’s Travel Centers
  • Travel America

Of course you have to pay a little bit, but this is a much cheaper option than hotels.



A row of showers in a gym or camping facility with white tiles.

Many, but not all, campgrounds offer showers. Many of these will ask for a small fee when you stay overnight, but this is usually less than $15 if you are not in a highly popular area. And to use the shower, you must pay the fee to stay, so you may as well get some time at the campground or nearby hikes if you plan to use the shower facilities.



A dark wall of showers in a gym or campground with heavy shadows.

Gyms are a great place to get in a good workout our sauna session. But most also offer showers, which make them a great option for travelers.

If you have a membership to 24 Hour Fitness or Anytime Fitness, you can get the benefit of visiting facilities across the U.S. and showering there. Otherwise, most gyms offer day-passes for a small fee or trial memberships if you plan to be in the area a while 😉

Don’t forget that you’ll need your own shampoo, soap, and towel. You’ll also want to bring some rubber sandals because people can be kinda nasty.


Motels or Hotels

The outside of a two-story motel with light orange paint and white stair railings.

It’s the last resort for travelers on a budget. But when you’re tired, achey, and smelly, sometimes it’s worth the dough. We suggest driving to an off-the-map region if you’re really road-tripping on a budget and plan to do this. Don’t go miles out of the way, but map the route accordingly, and check your favorite hotel apps to see where you can get the best deal.


Solar-Heated Travel Shower

An outdoor shower head amongst green branches.

When you go camping, you may be sure to bring your favorite tent or backpack, but can you pack a shower? Yes! These shower bags usually hold up to 5 gallons of water and can heat up with solar energy. These tend not to heat up very quickly, but are a good option nonetheless. You can also purchase these on Amazon very cheaply, such as the Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower or the Sportneer 5-Gallon Solar Shower Bag.




Best Home Workouts for When You’re Feeling Lazy


You want to stay healthy and fit, but who wants to do all those strenuous exercises? Sometimes just getting out of bed or off the sofa is a monumental chore. Luckily, there are plenty of home workouts for lazy people (hey, no judgment). The best part: you don’t even have to leave your cozy little blanket nest to do them.



Working Out in Bed

A woman wearing a gray top sitting on her bed reaching her arms above her head to stretch

On days when you can’t bear to peel back those covers, try these in-bed home workouts to get the blood flowing and limber up.  Who knows?  You might get energized enough to leave the cocoon, after all.

And if not, at least you’ll feel better about lounging around all day.


Leg Stretches

Even when you are working out in bed, you have to stretch first. While laying on your back, pull your legs up, one at a time, to your chest. Grab the back of your thigh and pull upward, holding for a count of three. Do this 10 times for each leg.


Arm Stretches

Staying on your back, stretch both arms over your head as far as you can and hold it for 30 seconds. Do this 10 times. Be sure to stretch your legs out, as well.


Shoulder Stretches

Sitting up, slowly turn your head to the left, reaching out with your right arm. Use your left arm to grab your right shoulder and stretch, holding for 10 seconds. Do this on each side 10 times.


Quad Stretches

Lay on your side with your legs together. Bend your leg and use your hand to pull your heel toward your back as far as you can. Hold for five seconds. Do this 10 times on each side.


Back Stretches

Lastly, sit up and put your legs out straight in front of you. Bend at the waist as far as you can. Try to grab your feet and stretch your back. If you cannot reach your feet, it’s okay to just grab the back of your legs to pull yourself forward. Hold for a count of three. Do this 10 times.


Exercise On Your Couch

A man sitting on a brown leather couch with his legs outstretched on the cushion next to him

Yes, even devoted couch potatoes can exercise!  These are great home workouts for those in need of low-impact maneuvers, since the cushions of your sofa will ease pressure on your spine that normal yoga mats can’t diffuse.


Leg and Back Stretches

Sit on the edge of the couch and put your feet on the floor. Hang your arms and head down. Keep your back rounded; hold the stretch for a count of five. Do this 10 times.


Knee Bends

Lying on the couch, bend both knees and pull them up until your feet are flat on the couch. Use your hands to pull your knees up and into your chest. Hold for a count of five and do this 10 times.


Back Arches

Lying down, bend your legs and use your feet to push your hips up. Keep your arms at your sides to help push your hips upward. Hold it for five breaths, and repeat for a total of 10.


Leg Lifts

Lay on your side and lift your leg to form a 90-degree angle. Hold it for five seconds and then switch to the other side. Do this five times on each side.


Sit-Ups and Crunches

Comfy sit-ups or crunches can also be done on the couch (or in bed). You won’t feel much of a burn in your abs—but your spine and neck won’t be burning or aching, either.



Sitting Home Workouts

A modern style chair in front of a window next to a side table with a plant in a vase

Exercises done from a sitting position translate well to desk jobs  Take a break midway through your workday to try these seated home workouts.


Butt Builders

Want a better butt? Sit on the edge of your chair and keep your feet spread to about hip width. Your knees should be over your ankles, with your arms bent in front of you. Lean forward, letting your weight shift onto your feet as you lift your hips about five inches from the chair. Take one deep breath, and then slowly lower back down. Do this five times.


Chest Toners

Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. With a three- to five-pound weight in each hand, loosely hang your arms straight at your sides. Pull them straight up toward your chest while rotating your arms. Repeat five times.


Biceps and Triceps

To work your arms and chest, sit on the edge of your chair with your shoulders resting on the back of the chair. Hold your weights, overhanded, up by your shoulders, with your elbows out and palms away from you. Straighten your arms out, pushing the weights up and forward at the same time. Repeat five times.


Easy Chair Planks

Planking is not as easy as it looks—but it is not as difficult as some people make it sound, either. Placing your forearms on the seat of your chair, walk your feet backwards until your body is in a straight line, and hold for 10 seconds. You can do these three to five times.


Get Up (But No Need to Roam Too Far)

Pink yoga block with a pink towel and red lightweight dumbbells atop a pink yoga mat

To make home workouts as effective as possible, you might have to leave that comfy chair or bed and get moving.  Not to worry, though: these are just as low-impact and simple as previous exercises.

In fact, just getting up might be the hardest part.



Standing straight with your feet together, put your arms over your head as far as you can. Take a deep breath in as you reach upward, and then breathe out as you stretch toward the left. Hold for five breaths and return to the center. Repeat on the right side.


Easy Lunges

Kneeling on the floor with your knees bent, lunge forward with your left leg, keeping your knee at a 90-degree angle in front of you. Keep your foot flat and your right leg bent underneath you. Put both your hands on top of your left knee and push your hip forward, stretching. Hold for 10 seconds, and do it again with the right leg.


Superman Pose

Lying face-down on the floor (on a mat or blanket), hold your arms out to your sides at shoulder height. Point your thumbs up to the air and lift your legs, arms, and chest off the floor at the same time, like you are trying to fly. Hold for five seconds. Repeat five times.


Butt Crunches

Get those weights back out and work on your butt some more! Stand up straight, with the weights on the floor by your feet. Bend your knees and lean down to get the weights.

Keep your back straight and face forward. Stand up slowly with the weights in your hands, then slowly return the weights to the floor. Do this 10 times.




These are some easy home workouts that anyone can do, which makes them perfect for people in recovery from illness or injury, or those brand-new to working out. Additionally, there are plenty of benefits when it comes to exercise such as better sleep and stress management. But, don’t forget to pair this lifestyle change with a healthy diet such as your favorite breakfast smoothies.

Remember to push yourself, but don’t go too crazy. Nothing kills a newfound fitness ambition like overwhelming soreness on Day 2. Build up that strength over time and then maybe you’ll be able to tackle that bike tour you’ve been planning.


Best Instant Ramen Brands


While nothing beats proper ramen from a shop, there is something strangely satisfying about the DIY route: those inexplicably cheap, dry noodles and their dehydrated broth packs. They taste like childhood, or—if you went to college—like survival. For what they are, it’s amazing how delicious they can be. But they can also be pretty easy to dress up and make it a little more like proper ramen from your favorite ramen shop.

At least, that’s true for some instant ramen. Some of it tastes like watery nothing…or worse.

You don’t have enough meals in your life to waste them on bad ramen. Check out the best instant ramen brands, pitted head-to-head in categories of flavor, noodles, and authenticity.



MAMA brand instant ramen noodles cup
We’re starting out on a high point with this beloved brand. From the variety of creative flavors MAMA offers, to the surprisingly fresh ingredients hiding in each dehydrated soup packet, it’s no wonder that this brand is so treasured in its home country of Thailand.

While ramen is a Japanese invention, the concept has become a worldwide phenomenon, especially in its instant form. MAMA has adopted the dish and breathed new life into it, by infusing traditional Thai flavors bursting with spice.

This instant ramen has personality, to say the least.

MAMA Ramen’s Best and Worst Flavors

The flavor that MAMA is perhaps best known for is the Shrimp Tom Yum flavor, and for good reason. It’s spicy, but underneath that lie the surprisingly delicate flavors of fresh spring onions and seafood.

The addition of fish sauce—a common secret ingredient in Thai dishes—makes the shrimp feel less artificial and strange, compared to the seafood ramens that other brands have on offer.

The worst flavor, however, is the Tom Yum Creamy Shrimp flavor. It’s almost the same idea as MAMA’s best offering, the Shrimp Tom Yum, but with the addition of coconut cream.

In theory, this should work; it’s reminiscent of Tom Ka Ga or Sai Nom Khom, the practice of adding coconut milk to Tom Yum. However, despite MAMA’s best efforts, the powdered coconut cream and tapioca powder do not do this concept justice. Instead, it waters down the otherwise bold flavors.


mama ramen noodles brand flavor, noodle, and authenticity score

Final Score: 92/100



This is the brand that’s perhaps the most recognizable to American audiences, possibly because it’s made here rather than imported from Japan. It’s sold everywhere from gas stations to Walmart.

But, no matter where it’s sold, it manages to be incredibly consistent in how mediocre it is. It’s very American, which effectively robs this convenience meal of its individuality.

Very little makes this brand stand out, apart from how easy it is to find. Most of the flavors have no nuance at all. It’s really just plain noodles in an inoffensive, forgettable broth.

There are, of course, some exceptions.


Maruchan Ramen’s Best and Worst Flavors

In a sea of blandness, the Chili Lime Shrimp flavor stands out as a beacon of redeemability. The addition of real habanero peppers gives the flavor packet some punch and personality.

With the addition of lime and seafood, the taste is very reminiscent of classic Vietnamese dishes, such as Tom Ka Ga.

Unfortunately, this ramen brand crashes back down to earth with its Creamy Chicken flavor.

The concept is meant to imitate fettuccine alfredo, but it’s the cursed Japanese-Italian fusion dish no one asked for. Something about the instant alfredo sauce swimming in a sea of ramen noodles and chicken broth creates an eating experience similar to chewing on wet Tuscan leftovers.

You leave the table feeling the need to apologize to every culture that was dragged into the creation of this hate-child.

maruchen instant ramen noodle brand flavor, noodle, and authenticity score

Final Score: 58/100


Top Ramen

Package of Top Ramen brand instant noodle brand
Another brand that’s ubiquitous in the States, Top Ramen is extremely similar to Maruchan, to the point you might wonder if they’re made by the same company.

They aren’t, but they’re clearly made for the same audience. They’re almost the same foods, even down to the flavors both brands offer.

However, in a side-by-side comparison, Top Ramen does taste different. It’s somehow blander, while still tasting more like its source material.

A quick look at the ingredients confirms why: while Top Ramen contains no added MSG, Maruchan lists it as its third ingredient, right behind sugar.

Once you strip away the flavor enhancers that Maruchan puts front and center, all that Top Ramen has going for it is nostalgia and its “less than 2% powdered chicken.”

As for the noodles, they somehow go from waxy and undercooked to absolute mush in seconds, depriving hungry consumers of the satisfying, chewy texture all the best ramen brands offer.


Top Ramen’s Best and Worst Flavors

Top Ramen’s Hot and Spicy Beef flavor excels over the brand’s other offerings, because it has the strongest flavor. Beef and chili are difficult flavors to overlook, so this is the only variety that is not instantly forgettable.

The Shrimp flavor, however, has all the charm of the unidentifiable liquid at the bottom of an empty buffet pan. It tastes vaguely of nothing, and vaguely of shrimp. Overall, it’s underwhelming and slightly unpleasant.

Top Ramen instant ramen brand flavor, noodles, and authenticity score

Final Score: 55/100


Sapporo Ichiban

A variety of Sapporo Brand instant ramen noodles

This brand comes straight from Gunma, Japan, but it’s sold all over the country in American grocery stores. Chances are you’ve seen it in the import section.

Overall, it’s not a bad representation of the traditional Japanese style. The items on offer, like miso and tonkatsu, imitate the style of classic ramen shops as faithfully as any instant ramen brands can.

The broth in a Sapporo Ichiban soup packet is thicker than the watered-down version accomplished by much of its competition. Its flavor tends to be mild and comforting, which is typical of Japanese ramen.

Overall, the subdued flavors in Sapporo Ichiban products seem to call out for ingredients that the manufacturers had no way to include in the package.

This brand of ramen is best eaten with a poached egg or fresh bean sprouts from your own fridge.


Sapporo Ichiban’s Best and Worst Flavors

With such a traditional style, it’s best to lean into this brand’s strengths.

Their original Miso flavor is, in a word, delightful. It’s mellow, but also satisfying and familiar.

If you’re looking for something more from this one, it also makes an incredible base for a dizzying array of vegetables and proteins, like eggs, spring onions, and snow peas.

Meanwhile, Sapporo Ichiban’s Shrimp flavor is easily its worst. Ramen brands just keep trying to make seafood flavors that don’t taste like the air in a fish market on a hot summer’s day, and they keep failing.

In this case, the shrimp flavor is too subtle to be impressive, yet it still stands out from the rest of the sauce packet like a sore thumb.

Sapporo Ichiban instant ramen brand flavor, noodles, and authenticity score

Final Score: 87/100



Package of Nongshim instant ramen noodles brand

This Korean brand is much larger and more diversified than the others on the list, and they actually have a few separate lines of ramen products targeted at different palates.

The two varieties Americans are most likely to be familiar with are the “Shin Noodle” products, and the “NeoGuri” line.

While the flavors in these noodle packets aren’t particularly inventive, they are the hot cousins to brands such as Maruchan and Top Ramen. They all follow the same formula of combining flavor enhancers with uninspiring protein flakes, only Nongshim does it better. Much better.


Nongshim’s Best and Worst Flavors

The Shin Ramyun Black flavor is by far the best reviewed product from Nongshim, and for good reason. It improves on the classic Shin Ramyun, a previously released product with flavors of beef, chili, and vegetables, thanks to an extra flavor packet.

The noodles are also thick and bouncy, like udon, and the dehydrated mushrooms and beef are actual slices, instead of powdered versions.

However, once again, the worst item on the list is a seafood ramen.

The questionably-named Savory Lobster Bowl sounds like something Gordon Ramsey would regurgitate behind a crab shack in Kansas—and the ingredients match. It somehow contains every sea creature besides a lobster, and yet it tastes like none of them.

Nongshim instant ramen noodles brand flavor, noodles, and authenticity score

Final Score: 78/100



A package of Indomie instant ramen noodles

This Indonesian brand has one huge advantage: flavor.

Some varieties of Indomie ramen come with five entire flavor packets, including sauces and garnishes, and it shows from the first bite. It tastes like the best street food you’ve ever made at home.

It has everything that South Asian food is known for, from the spice that punches you in the teeth to the sweet and pungent aftertaste. The noodles are also perfectly chewy and plump.

While Indomie doesn’t offer anything that resembles Japanese ramen, they do base their flavors on the dishes of their home country of Indonesia. Their Rendang flavor mimics the intense curried meat of the same name, which is one of Indonesia’s national dishes. They’ve also created instant versions of dishes from Singapore, Malaysia, and Nigeria.

In fact, the cult following Indomie has gotten in Nigeria is spectacular. It dominates the market there, and it’s infiltrated the culture to the point that it’s inspired music videos.


Indomie’s Best and Worst Flavors

Originally, Indomie infiltrated the ramen market with their Chicken flavor. It’s simple, but unlike the chicken flavor offered by brands like Maruchan, it actually tastes like chicken. This savory dream is ideal for meat lovers everywhere, yet it’s mild enough to suit any palate.

It’s hard to pick a “bad” flavor on Indomie’s line, but there is a weak link: the Vegetable Lime flavor.

Kudos to Indomie for trying to draw in vegetarian consumers, but this one really doesn’t taste like anything. There’s a citrus flavor, some unidentifiable orange slivers, and a distinct lack of joy.

indomie instant ramen noodle brand flavor, noodle, and authenticity score

Final Score: 98/100



A package of Myojo instant ramen noodles

Myojo Chukazanmai—and its American extension, Myojo USA—have a reputation for creating the most delicious ramen you can buy in a Walmart Supercenter.
The flavors from this Japanese company are exciting without straying too far from tradition, and the noodles are thick and substantial.

Overall, the praise for this brand is well-deserved. However, there’s a difference between the original Myojo brand and Myojo USA, and it’s a pretty obvious one; Myojo USA specializes in udon.

Now, the idea of vacuum-sealed, pre-cooked udon is a good one. How else would you recreate the distinct, succulent texture that udon is known for? Unfortunately, the good idea is ruined by the bitter flavor of the udon itself.

The perfectly cooked, chewy texture fools you into thinking you’re about to eat a delicious bowl of ramen, only to have bitterness sneak onto the back of your tongue at the last second.


Myojo’s Best and Worst Flavors

The Myojo Chukazanmai Garlic Miso variety has an umami flavor that is completely unmatched by other, similar flavors of instant ramen. Frankly, it doesn’t seem possible that so much flavor came from a powder.

The bitter udon noodles still rear their ugly heads, though. The worst offender is the Artificial Chicken, which is so bland that the only distinctive flavor is the udon and some salt.

Imagine eating an entire bowl of unflavored wheat flour, while the sodium slowly dries out your gums from within.

It’s almost bad enough to discount the flawless noodles and the mouthwatering flavors of the rest of Myojo’s line…almost.

Myojo instant ramen noodle brand flavor, noodles, and authenticity score

Final Score: 95/100



A package of Maggi Malaysia Instant Ramen Noodles

This brand is manufactured in India, for Indian palates. While the original manufacturer was based in Switzerland, of all places, it’s a beloved snack and street food staple all across this spice-hungry nation.

While the varieties of ramen that Maggi offers are certainly flavorful, there’s a distinct emphasis on convenience. The selling point is that the ramen can be ready quickly and cheaply, not on how good it tastes.

Which is a shame, because the earthy, curry flavors lurking in the flavor packets are a delight.

That being said, despite the variety of flavors Maggi has on offer, in reality, they all pretty much taste like one thing: masala. And while the masala in question is delicious, it is a shame that no other classic Indian flavors are represented. There’s no chutneys or kormas in sight, and it feels like a wasted opportunity.


Maggi’s Best and Worst Flavors

Because masala is the underlying flavor of most of these ramen packs, it’s best to go with the original Masala. It’s spicy, but still lets the flavor shine.

The worst is the 2-Minute Noodles Without Onion and Garlic, which is really just an inferior version of the Masala flavor. It’s rare that a savory dish isn’t improved by onions and garlic—so without these elements, the whole flavor falls flat.

Maggi instant ramen noodles flavor, noodles, and authenticity score

Final Score: 83/100


Ching’s Secret

A package of Ching's Secrete Hot Garlic flavor of Instant Ramen noodles

This brand is pretty hard to find in America. It’s an Indian creation, and hasn’t gained enough popularity in the States to be imported very often.

Fortunately, it’s popular enough in India that you can find it in import stores, at least in neighborhoods with a high enough South Asian presence.

Most Chinese food in America has been altered from its original form so that it aligns with Western tastebuds. This happens in India as well, creating Indian and Chinese fusion dishes.

Ching’s Secret is a whole brand of ramen with this concept. (And if the name sounds like a misguided imitation of Chinese culture…it is.)

That being said, Chinese and Indian flavors actually go together beautifully. The earthy flavors of India complement the spicy flavors of Szechuan, or the sour aromatics of the northeast provinces, perfectly.


Ching’s Secret Best and Worst Flavors

A quick disclaimer: if you don’t like garlic, you won’t like this pick.

The Hot and Spicy Garlic flavor from Ching’s Secret is an absolute bomb of garlic. Honestly, the seasoning packet might be 90% garlic, and 10% Szechuan chilies. It’s ridiculously spicy, but the broth bursts with so much flavor it feels like it’s straight out of a hot pot restaurant.

The Singapore Curry, however, just doesn’t know what it’s trying to be. Theoretically, they’re meant to be like the popular street food in Singapore in which dry noodles are fried in curry and garlic. However, the flavor is more like a yellow dahl, but with a few chilies added. It’s not quite curry, nor is it a Singapore noodle.

Ching's Secret Instant Ramen Noodles flavor, noodles, and authenticity score

Final Score: 86/100


Final Brackets:

Final bracket of scores comparing all brands' flavors, noodles, and authenticity

Nothing beats real ramen, but the best instant ramen brands offer a convenient fix when time (and money) are scarce. When ramen by itself or even dressing it up just won’t cut it, you can always mix it up with these budget friendly dinners. Or if you just aren’t in the mood to cook or just aren’t super hungry, you could always whip up a quick, easy, healthy smoothie.

The History of Elon Musk: A Timeline

Elon Musk portrayed in blue and orange, smoking pot with a serious expression.

Since he was a child, Elon Musk has been doing some really impressive stuff. To describe Musk as a visionary would simply be an understatement. Many people (especially the Redditors on r/wallstreetbets) are huge fans of Elon, but it can be difficult to map his life, let alone his success. As with both magnates and tech visionaries, the easiest way to get the full picture is to start at the beginning.


Elon Musk: the 70s through 90s

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June 18, 1971:

Elon Musk’s legacy begins when he’s born in Pretoria, South Africa.



At just 10 years old, Musk begins teaching himself computer programming.



Two years after his quest to master programming, Musk creates a video game written in BASIC called “Blastar”. He sells it to a company for $500.


1988 – 1989:

At the start of his adulthood, he dodges the mandatory South African Military Service by moving to Canada where he studies at Queen’s University.



Wanting to pursue the American Dream, Musk transfers to the University of Pennsylvania and studies both Physics and Economics.



After receiving his two Bachelor’s degrees, Musk co-founds and codes a software called Zip2 with his brother Kumbal.


Musk sells Zip2 to Compaq for $307 million and gets a 7% cut leaving him with $22 million.

Later in 1999:

Looking to start the next big thing, Elon creates an online bank named


The New Millenium

Elon Musk portrayed in color blocks of various shades of blue with abstract lines and dots in background.
Image Credit: foxtierdesigns on Deviant Art.

March 2000: proves to be successful when it merges with competitor Confinity. The two ultimately form PayPal, and Musk is designated as CEO of the company.


Sep 2000:

Elon marries his first wife, Justine Wilson; however, due to a disagreement on how to code the online bank, his honeymoon goes sour when he gets removed from his CEO position at PayPal.



Looking for his next endeavor, Musk discovers his interest in rockets. He conceptualizes the grandiose Mars Oasis, a project that involves putting a greenhouse on our sister planet. His first step was to look into missiles, so he travels to Moscow, Russia to explore intercontinental ballistic missiles.


February 2002:

Following through with his rocket ship fascination, Musk makes plans to buy the ICBMs but ultimately thinks they’re too expensive.


March 2002:

After his excursion to Russia, Elon forms Space Exploration Technologies (aka SpaceX) with the hopes of developing affordable rockets that will be used to advance rocket technologies and explore space. Musk assumes the CEO and CTO positions.


October 2002:

PayPal gets purchased by eBay for a whopping $1.5 billion in stock. As a result, Musk receives $165 million.


February 2004:

Musk joins Tesla Inc. as the Chairman on the Board of Directors after he leads the Series A investments.


Later in 2004:

Musk and his wife Wilson give birth to twin boys through IVF.

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2006 is a busy, but successful, year for Musk. SpaceX finds success after earning several contracts with NASA to deliver cargo to the International Space Station – this was the start of the Falcon-9 project. Later, he begins SolarCity with two of his cousins. Towards the end of the year, his wife gives birth to triplet boys via IVF.


March 2006:

SpaceX attempts their first rocket launch but fails.


March 2007:

SpaceX attempts their second rocket launch and fails again.


Early 2008:

Musk and Wilson separate and share custody of their five children. SpaceX attempts their third launch, but they fail and destroy several satellites in its demise.

Later in 2008:

As SpaceX and Tesla are running out of money, Musk steps up to become CEO of Tesla, Inc. In a last-ditch effort, SpaceX launches a rocket for the fourth time and finally succeeds. Just barely escaping bankruptcy, SpaceX is awarded a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. Tesla also receives funding just moments before it goes broke.


2010 to Present

Elon Musk portrayed as a cyborg, black and white with a red robotic eye.
Image Credit: mx-x-dream on Deviant Art.

June 2010:

Tesla launches its IPO at $17 per share and closes the day at $23.89 – a 40.53% increase.


Later in 2010:

Musk marries actress Talulah Riley after two years of dating.



Elon Musk announces his biggest plan thus far: to send humans to Mars. He intends on accomplishing this goal by 2031. Additionally, SpaceX unveils a revolutionary concept: reusing rockets to make space travel cheaper.


March 2012:

Musk and Riley divorce.


May 2012:

SpaceX makes great progress as Dragon docks with the ISS.


June 2012:

Tesla begins shipping out their Model S vehicles at $75,000.


Later in 2012:

SolarCity and Tesla come together in an attempt to stop global warming by using electric car batteries instead of energy-consuming rooftop solar panels.


July 2013:

Musk and Riley remarry.


August 2013:

Once again, Musk has a new groundbreaking project. He reveals his plans and designs for Hyperloop, a high-speed underground transportation system.


April 2014:

Elon Musk and the SpaceX team attempt to land (from orbit) a rocket onto a ship.


Embed from Getty Images

December 2015:

The SpaceX team reaches a milestone for reusing rockets when they successfully land a rocket from orbit. Musk starts a new project, with others, termed OpenAI that aims to advance artificial intelligence for the world’s benefit.



Tesla, Inc. acquires SolarCity and becomes a subsidiary. Musk co-founds yet another brilliant company called Neuralink, whose goal is to connect the human brain and artificial intelligence. Elon’s goal of colonizing Mars progresses as he releases details of the architecture.


May 2017:

Elon Musk starts another company that would support his Hyperloop project: The Boring Company. Its main purpose is to dig tunnels.


July 2017:

After forming PayPal, was essentially dissolved; however, Musk purchases the domain from PayPal for an undisclosed amount citing that it has sentimental value.


August 2017:

Musk and Riley divorce for the second time.


February 2018:

Musk decides to leave the board of OpenAI due to potential conflicts that may arise while he operates Tesla, Inc. Elon also launches a Tesla Roadster into space via a SpaceX rocket.


March 2018:

The Boring Company sells 20,000 flamethrowers cleverly named “Not a Flamethrower.”


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May 2018:

Elon Musk begins dating Grimes, a Canadian singer/songwriter.


July 2018:

Shortly after the Thai soccer team gets trapped in the Tham Luang cave system, Musk attempts to save the day by designing a mini-submarine that ultimately went unused.


September 2018:

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges Musk after he posts a tweet falsely claiming that Tesla will go private at $420. As a result, Elon has to step down from his chair position and pay a fine of $20 million. Additionally, the visionary was seen on the “Joe Rogan Experience” smoking a blunt.


October 2018:

Elon and his foundation donate $480,000 to install new water filtration systems in Flint, Michigan schools.



November 2019:

The Tesla Cybertruck is revealed, leaving many Elon fans in awe and many more in confusion, especially when the unbreakable windows break during a demonstration.


December 2019:

Musk tweets out “Woah … the stock is so high lol” as TSLA trades above $420 for the first time.


May 2020:

Musk makes waves in social media when he and Grimes’ son, X Æ A-XII, was born. Later in the month, Tesla and NASA pair up for a historic launch of astronauts to the ISS.


November 2020:

With a net worth just shy of $130 billion, Elon Musk dethrones Bill Gates for the title of the second richest person in the world. A dethronement that will likely only go back and forth like an east vs. west coast rap battle.




Best Restaurants in Portland

Portland Oregon sign in neon with outline of the state and a deer leaping, reading "Old Town" at bottom.

The best restaurants in Portland, Oregon, are some of the best in America, period. Why? Chefs and restaurant owners come to Portland to take chances and innovate. Its eclecticism is owed to the city’s eager embracing of broad, diverse cuisines.

Whether you’re hunting for one of the 500 food carts open at any single moment in the city, or a more formal brick-and-mortar dining experience, these restaurants in Portland will give your tastebuds as thrilling an experience as the rest of the city.



Best Clucking Good Portland Chicken Eatery: Bae’s

Fried spicy chicken wings from Bae's in Portland, Oregon, served with waffle fries and ketchup.
Image Credit: BP N. on Yelp.

Folks are downright serious about their chicken. Original, baked, crispy, smoked, grilled…and, of course, classic nuggets.

What’s the secret to a great-tasting, lip-smacking chicken dinner? Some opinions state the marinade or brine makes it perfect, while others argue white or dark meat seals the deal. There are also theories that salt and sugar rubs make a palatable difference.

As one of the very best restaurants in Portland, Bae’s combines all these opinions to craft, hands down, the best fried chicken you’ll ever find in this city.

The menu has chicken selections for every appetite. Traditional sides include mac-and-cheese, collard greens, Texas toast, waffle fries, skillet corn, and coleslaw.

Bae’s also makes a fantastic chicken sandwich that warrants an article all its own. Remember when people got in fights at the Popeye’s Drive-thru…for a chicken sandwich? Shoulda gone to Bae’s.


One-Hit Wonders: Best Restaurants in Portland with Limited Menus


Whole Bowl

Person holding paper Whole Bowl cup that reads "Like Eating a Hug," filled with avocado, black beans, and other vegetarian ingredients.
Image Credit: Melanie T. on Yelp.

With two decades under its belt as a Portland food lover’s staple, Whole Bowl has expanded its locations to include Brooklyn, New York, and Cincinnati, and Ohio.

The original site, a small pushcart on Glisan Street in the Pearl district, has grown into over a dozen stores.

The menu consists of one item: a bowl. It includes brown rice, black beans, cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, fresh cilantro, avocado, and any combination thereof.

But what really makes this dish is its generous layer of Tali sauce, named after the owner and inventor.

The temptation to know more about Tali sauce will envelop your curiosity, but gentle warning, fair foodie: all you’ll get out of your Bowlista when you ask what the sauce is, is “it’s a lemon-garlic sauce.” There are actual websites dedicated to mastering Tali sauce, but alas, the secrets will remain elusive.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter what it is. It’s simple, it’s delicious and healthy—and it’s remark-a-bowl.


Nong’s Kao Man Gai

Similar to Whole Bowl’s approach of the one-item menu, Nong’s keeps things simple, but adds a protein into the mix.

Kao Man Gai gets its name from a Thai dish consisting of chicken and rice. Nong’s prepare their version by poaching organic chicken breast in their bombastic homemade stock until the meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Served with fresh cooked white rice, Kao Man Gai is wrapped in butcher paper and tied with a string. A small side of their fantastic chicken broth with tender jewels of steamed zucchini accompanies the order. And of course, a sauce made with ginger, garlic, and chiles that makes it Nong’s.

Support one of Portland’s most famous eateries by checking out all things Nong’s here: the menu, the kickin’ apparel, and their off-the-chain Bloody Mary and Lychee Margarita mixes. Best of all: they ship.


Boke Bowl

Ramen Bowl Buffet

How would some designer ramen sound?

You design your own bowl of ramen at Boke Bowl. This affordable pop-up-turned-restaurant is affordable, environmentally friendly, and heavy on flavor and texture. And everything edible that goes in your customized bowl is locally farm-to-table fresh.

You start by choosing from slow-smoked pulled pork, aromatic duck dashi, caramelized fennel, and nuggets of Asian-inspired fried chicken.

The tantalizing deep broth is earthy and robust. Choose a rice bowl or noodles and add avocado, poached egg, pork belly, fried pears, pickled cucumbers, and a host of other housemade delights.

Discover Boke’s entire selection of steamed buns—including PB&J—and you’re hooked! Curry bowls are available to order too.

On Thursday nights from 4-8 pm, it’s Boke Bird: you can add Korean fried chicken or tofu to your designer ramen.


Steam Bun Runner Up:

KIM JONG SMOKEHOUSE @ Pine Street Market

This eatery features Korean-style street food inspired by Southern-style BBQ smoking techniques.

The bun is pillowy and cradles your choice of Galbi Short Rib, Cured Smoked Salmon, King Oyster Mushroom, Tofu, Pulled Pork, or Honey Gochujang Chicken.

Then they stuff the borders of your protein with cucumber bon chan, sesame seeds, and a choice of one of four homemade Kim Jong sauces.



Best “I Feel So Worldly” Restaurants in Portland


Hat Yai

Pad thai from Hat Yai in Portland.
Image Credit: Munyi P. on Yelp.

With 2 locations in the Northeast and Southeast quadrants of Portland, Hat Yai is the Portland restaurant to visit when you’re craving Thai street food.

You can’t go wrong with an order of the signature Hat Yai fried chicken with a side of sticky rice. Definitely add extra pickles, garlic sauce, and a side (or two) of Roti, their superior warm flatbread.

The chicken is notably crunchy and a bit caramelly. Fried shallot curls are incorporated into the batter for maximum flavor. As for texture, the chicken’s garlicky-sweet coating will deliver pure joy to your mouth.

The Brisket Curry is Nobel Prize-worthy, and the Muu Hong—braised pork belly and shoulder with a fried egg—will have you shouting, “How was I unaware of this pairing of texture and flavor? Where have you been all my life?”


Thai Peacock

When it comes to Thai restaurants in Portland, the legendary Thai Peacock is the Holy Grail.

Serving dishes like their praise-worthy Larb, Pad Thai, and Marinated Beef Salad, the endless selections are tantalizing to the last bite. Save room for crispy banana rolls with coconut ice cream.

Thai Peacock hand-mixes each signature cocktail using fresh, exotic juices and premium spirits. The Tamarind Whiskey Sour includes Even William White whiskey, Chinese 5 Spice, and fresh lime.

And the Bangkok Mule (yes, served in a copper mug) blends Thai rum, coconut sake, ginger beer, and fresh lime.

For the non-spirited, ask for a refreshing Peacock Thai Iced Tea. It’s the best version of this iconic drink on the planet.


Luc Lac

Combo vermicelli from Luc Lac, Oregon.
Image Credit: Tilde T. on Yelp.

Without a doubt, Luc Lac is the spot to grab a late lunch—or an even later dinner—after some weekend clubbing.

Under normal operational hours, doors remain open until 4:00 am on dancehall nights. Needless to say, Luc Lac is packed until the bouncers wrangle its patrons to the front door come closing time.

Yes, Luc Lac’s Vietnamese street food is that good.

So good, in fact, that when Luc Lac underwent a full renovation in 2014 and covered its windows, it sent people into a panic. Only later would the hangry PDX “Luc Lackers” find out their beloved Portland eatery wasn’t closing for good, but simply making the place roomier to seat more of the masses.

Luc Lac has remained one of the best restaurants in Portland since its doors swung open in 2011. One bit of Luc Lac’s generous and ingredient-centric selection of Banh Mi sandwiches, Pho, Rice Plates, and Vermicelli Bowls will explain the restaurant’s mantra: “Often imitated, never duplicated.”

By the way, it’s always good to order the Blood of Tiger cocktail with tiger prawn tequila, Can Chua mix (tamarind soup), lime, High Life, and a dried shrimp rim.

Or you can get busy slurping on the jumbo Sunday Service Slushee, a frozen mimosa with sparkling rose cognac and watermelon-mandarin juices. Take Monday off.


Danwei Canting

If you get a taste for Beijing food, swing by Danwei Canting at the intersection of SE Stark & SE Division near SE 8th Avenue.

This Portland eatery’s name translates to “Work Unit Restaurant,” a tribute to where Chinese workers ate their meals up until around the mid-1990s.

The owner’s impetus for Danwei Canting was to introduce PDX food lovers to a snapshot of Beijing’s food and energy, and they do not disappoint.

Get your heat on with an order of The General’s Chicken. Wok-fried chicken with garlic, scallions, ginger, and chili sauce, served with sticky rice, is a standout starter.

You’ll have to remember what your parents told you about fairness and sharing if you order the Pork Roll starter with scallion pancake, braised pork, sweet chili sauce, radish, and cucumber. Actually, you’d better order two.

Pair Danwei’s Cumin-crusted Lamb Burger with an order of Street Fries (crispy potatoes tossed with Sichuan peppercorn, chilies, cilantro, and scallions) piping hot from the fryer.

Wash it all down with a frosty glass of Yanjing, Master Gao, or Tsingtao beer on tap. Then ask your friends to leave you be until it’s time for a Honey-Lavender Ice Cream Sandwich with Lemon Cookies.

Danwei Canting also has a baijiu library. Not quite a vodka, not quite tequila, this fruity and somewhat nutty “clear liquor” is a Chinese distilled spirit. Danwei Canting offers a wide selection, including popular baijiu from Vinn, Ming River, Moutai, Red Star Erguotou, and Mianzhu Daqu distilleries.

Also, flight tastings are available for those who need to be in the know.


Portland Skyline


The open kitchen at Grassa, a Portland eatery for all things Italian, is always bustling with pasta makers and chefs working in tandem to create tasty and authentic dishes.

First and foremost, sink your teeth into Grassa’s Carbonara. It’s got the perfect culinary chemistry: bucatini pasta (tubular spaghetti), pancetta, fried egg, and pecorino cheese.

For a heartier balance of flavor, attempt the Texas Stroganoff with burnt brisket ends, crimini mushrooms, buttered noodles, and mustard crema.

And if you’re in a going-all-the-way mood, the Pizza Pocket Ravioli blends whipped ricotta and mozzarella tucked into miniature pasta pillows, garlic knot breadcrumbs, and spicy tomato sauce.

All the pasta is homemade and hand-cut. Hand-picked wines fully complement the cuisine, and the cocktails are sublime.

Get in line early; Grassa attracts a crowd. Be prepared to make new friends, since the open picnic-style seating forces you to strike up a conversation with strangers. Saluti!



Best Portland Americana Eateries

Breaking Fast, Instead of Bad: Breakfast Joints

Pine State Biscuits

Item menu The Reggie from Pine State Biscuits, a fresh biscuit covered in gravy with a cup of coffee in the background.
Image Credit: G.T.L. on Yelp.

Picture it: a hot, steaming biscuit, fresh from the oven. Are you the butter-and-eat-it type? Apple butter or marmalade? Or perhaps you’d prefer a mountain of piping hot white sausage gravy, generously ladled overtop.

Now, what about adding a piece of fried chicken, pickles, and some melty cheddar cheese to that biscuit?
Meet Pine State’s signature breakfast sandwich, the Reggie—pictured above.

But it’s the homey feel of this Pint State Biscuits that will really mesmerize your senses. The irresistible scents of fresh biscuits and coffee have made it a favorite Portland eatery since 2006.

Grilled marinated steak and onions biscuit? Yes! Pulled pork and Carolina slaw? Mm-hmm. Over-easy egg with braised greens and hot sauce? That’s Reggie’s friend, Regina.

Ever had a wedge salad on a biscuit? You can eat one at this innovative breakfast joint.

And vegans, rejoice: the meatless sausage patty, tofu bacon, and plant-based cheese biscuit topped with shitake mushroom gravy will blow your mind.

Pine State Biscuits also offers biscuit meal kits so you can have the perfect football brunch kick-off party or cozy holiday breakfast with the family.


Genie’s Cafe

If the line at Pine State Biscuits is too long and you’re on the verge of slapping somebody from hunger, walk across the street to Genie’s!

Voted numerous times as the must-stop for breakfast, Genie’s is a quaint slice of yesteryear.

Omelets, classic tw0- and three-egg breakfasts with the meats, huevos rancheros, benedicts, a kick-ass breakfast sandwich with a phat checklist of options, and griddle goodies to satisfy all the pancake lovers…if it’s Genie’s, it’s breakfast.

And brunch! Bottomless coffee and the full bar features house-infused vodkas galore. Doors open at 8:00 am, close at 3:00 pm, seven days a week.


Fuller’s Coffee Shop

German pancake sausage roll covered with powdered sugar next to syrup pitcher at Fuller's Coffee Shop in Portland, Oregon.
Image Credit: Emily L. on Yelp.

Long before the food revolution began in Portland, Fuller’s was on the scene starting in 1947.

It has moved location once, but nothing else about this beloved restaurant has changed. It serves a standard breakfast and lunch in the style of classic bygone American diners.

Fuller’s is a place to sit a spell, read the newspaper, and have a coffee. Pony up to the counter—by the way, the whole restaurant is one big counter—and relive the classics.

The chicken fried steak, club sandwich, Monte Cristo, Pigs in a Blanket, blueberry pancakes, and Georgia’s Potatoes Deluxe are continually rotating from the kitchen to the customers.

Order breakfast all day, starting at 7:00 am. The loaves of bread are homemade, but make sure to be in a seat by closing at 3:00 pm. Avoid visiting on a Monday; Fuller’s closes up shop for the entire day.


Best Midday “Take My Hunger Away” Restaurants in Portland


Little Big Burger

The burger market, saturated with the fast-food giants, is a hard nut to crack. But every once in a while, a concept arrives on the scene that smashes the glass ceiling, ratchets up the flavor profiles, and gives the “big box” burger competitors a run for their money.

Such is the case with Little Big Burger. The play on words is intentional. Imagine your perfect burger, stacked high with ingredients but reduced to four bites.

Would you like a hamburger or cheeseburger? Choose the former, and LBB will make it using 1/4 lb of fresh Cascade farms natural beef, lettuce, pickle, red onion, and Camden’s Catsup on a freshly baked brioche bun.

Choose the latter, and you’re guaranteed a flavor explosion. Chévre, crumbled bleu, Tillamook sharp cheddar, Tillamook Swiss, or Tillamook pepper jack: you choose which cheese you want dripping down the sides of your LBB.

As far as taste, every LBB burger is scratch-made. So when they scream your name and hand you the greasy brown paper bag, expect a hot, mouthwatering burger.

Always leave extra room in your paper bag for LBB’s signature Truffle Fries. LBB crams as many shoestring skin-on potatoes, tossed in white truffle oil and kosher salt, into the paper carton as possible.

Each order also comes with LBB’s homemade Fry Sauce. Ask for extra: it’s the perfect companion for every crunchy Truffle Fry bite you’ll experience.

Can you handle a Root Beer Float with Tillamook vanilla bean ice cream and Barq’s root beer? LBB makes those too!

Ask the staff about The Firebird, The Chicken Burger, and The Beyond (plant-based) Burger if you’re in the mood for an upgraded LLB experience.

Since opening in 2010, Little Big Burger has been an exemplary part of Portland’s eatery culture. Move over, Mickey D’s.


Smokehouse Tavern

Person in black shirt holding tray with a rack of barbeque ribs.
Image Credit: Smokehouse Tavern.

Meet Smokehouse Tavern. It’s like going to church…but everything’s about barbecue.

A Google reviewer stated the following: “You know when food is so good, you just can’t talk for a moment?” Enough said.

First bites include their wedge salad, deviled eggs, and fries with gravy. For entrees, good luck choosing between their pulled pork, brisket, smoked salmon, chicken, hotlinks, brisket burnt ends, or spare ribs.

Meals are served with pickles and onions, white bread, and your choice of two sides. And don’t think the hard decisions stopped with the meats. Side options include macaroni salad, braised collard greens, potato salad, mac and cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, and cornbread with honey butter.

Don’t take too long to decide: Smokehouse Tavern is only open from 3 to 9 pm, and is closed on Mondays.



Remember “profane and curmudgeonly” detective William “Bunk” Moreland on the critically acclaimed television show The Wire? Bunk restaurants in Portland honor his name.

As to the why, it isn’t all that clear. But that doesn’t matter. All hail, Bunk!

Bunk is famous for their Pork Belly Cubano. Their selfie-worthy sandwiches have garnered national media attention from The Food Network, Food & Wine Magazine Travel + Leisure.

Rainier beer tallboys can be seen dotting every table, and Bunk’s signature ICEBERG, a pint of Rainer with a float of a homemade frozen margarita, is a showstopper sipper.

Bunk also offers a kid menu, making it fun for all ages.


An Amazing Indian Joint: Swagat

The best thing about Indian food is its remarkable ability to provide the mind and body with a sensation of comfort that other international foods can’t quite attain. Swagat raises the bar, and does so in three locations.

The Tandoori mixed grill arrives sizzling hot to the table, combining lamb, chicken, shrimp, and halibut marinated in yogurt and herbs. The piping hot naan comes non-stop.

Swagat’s dosa (lentil flour crepes) are stuffed with curries or vegetables and served with chutney and sambar, a tamarind-based stew. Vegan versions are also available.

Save room for the house dessert, gulab jamun, a fried pastry ball smothered in honey and rosewater.


Off-the-Chain Mexican Restaurants in Portland

When it comes to some of the best Mexican food, you might think of cities in SoCal like Los Angeles or San Diego, but you can definitely find it in Portland too. You’re going to have to go day-tripping, however, down to a town called Woodburn for Mexican food. Woodburn is home to Oregon’s infamous outlet mall, about 45 minutes south.

Choose from Luis’s Taqueria for soft tacos, Trapala for seven seafood stew (a.k.a. Siete de Mares), or Santana’s for Huarache.

There’s also Lupita’s, Los Cabos, and Los Machetes…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the authentic Mexican cuisine Woodburn offers.

And, after you’ve gotten your taco on, rest easy: there’s a Day’s Inn at the heart of the town.


Best Pizza Parlors in Portland

Pizza cutter slicing through fresh pizza topped with cheese, tomatoes, and basil.

When you think of pizza, you may think of New York, Chicago, maybe even Italy, but, to be honest, the list for best pizza eateries in Portland would stretch the length of the 187-mile Willamette River.

That said, there are five standouts for fantastic pies and slices. Each restaurant has a specific claim to fame that gives them a leg up on other pizzerias.


The Star

Nestled in the heart of Portland’s warehouse-turned-urban-chic Pearl District, The Star offers award-winning deep-dish pizza.

Not just any deep-dish pizza, though: transformative, old-style, Chicago deep-dish pizza.

The Star also serves up a thin crust pizza that will have you questioning how every bite is more delicious than the next.

Design your deep-dish pizza, or choose the Little Star with fresh spinach blended with ricotta and feta cheeses, mushrooms, onions, and roasted garlic.

If you’re more of a “thin cracker crust” pizza lover, holler for a Hoyt Street pie. It has a walnut-pesto base with zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and balsamic glaze.

The bar is mad stocked, so you’ll have no issues finding a cocktail, local craft beer, or wine with your name on it.

Happy Hour with banging bites and drink selections, lunch specials, loyalty rewards program, and delivery available puts The Star at superstar status.


Virtuous Pie

One of the unique features of Virtuous Pie is their respect for plant life. Navigate the menu based on your diet. The expansive allergen, vegetarian, and vegan filters allow you to customize a diet-centric pie, or order a Virtuous Pie specialty pizza worry-free.

The Super Funghi pie introduces the mouth to cashew mozzarella, herbed-potato cream, and a day of foraging for wild mushrooms.

Alternately, the Stranger Wings offers up a unique combination of Bianca, spicy buffalo cauliflower, crisp fried shallots, blue cheese drizzle, and scallion.

Or try the Ultraviolet: walnut and arugula pesto, cashew mozzarella, oven-dried tomatoes, kale, caramelized onion, and pine nuts.


East Glisan Pizza Lounge

About six minutes just outside of Portland’s city limits, on the corner of NE 81st Avenue and NE Glisan, sits an old-time pizza parlor you’ll regret missing.

From their specialty pies to the Detroit-style Sicilian pizza, to the most delicious handmade cocktails from some of Portland’s finest mixologists, there is a slice for all the carnivores and herbivores alike.

Funnily enough, what makes East Glisan Pizza Lounge such a top-tier pizza place isn’t even pizza: it’s their homemade lasagna.



For the Dessertarians in Your Group

Dessert buffet featuring a rainbow assortment of macarons, strawberry shortcake, and chocolate covered strawberries.

Papa Haydyn

Serious sweet tooths will have to award this Portland eatery the title of best sugar rush.

While Papa Haydyn is also a full restaurant, it’s the dessert case that creates a stir when you arrive.

The vast array of treats and sweets quickly distracts you, and will have you thinking about dessert before dinner. And after.

Do not pass on The Cherry Forest, Bourbon Ball, Carrot Cake, and Georgian Peanut Butter Mousse Torte. And then order every other dessert, just because.


Fifty Licks

This frozen treat palace deserves a spot in your itinerary of the best restaurants in Portland for two reasons.

First, they offer an ice cream named Chocolate AF. As you can imagine, it is loaded. With. Chocolate. Ganache, chocolate swirls, dark chocolate add-ins…if there was such a thing as too much chocolate, this dessert would be it.

The second thing that makes Fifty Licks one of the best restaurants in Portland is the owner, Chad Draizin.

A self-proclaimed nerd on a mission to combine his love of food science with ice cream, he’s dominating the gourmet ice cream market in Portland.

Mango Sticky Rice and Golden Milk not only taste like their names, but are also 100% vegan. French Toast, Horchata, Hood Strawberry, and (for the purists) Vanilla AF: it doesn’t matter what Chad scoops. Fifty Licks is terrific AF.


Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai

This mom & pop Portland eatery spins a super fresh take on the modern donut.

They’re small and bite-sized, but still feature a center hole. You can get them rolled in or stuffed with cinnamon sugar, raw honey and sea salt, Nutella and sea salt, or even candied maple bacon.

Beyond the doughnuts, their selection of Chai is something to behold. Smokey Robinson Campfire Chai elicits a smoke flavor, along with cinnamon, clove, and vanilla. Warm up with Heart of Gold; toasted coconut, turmeric, ginger, clove, and green tea.

Can’t decide? Try 6 ounces of each with a flight of Pip’s Chai for $12.95. Dip and pop those Pips.


Experience the Best Restaurants in Portland

Portland Skyline during sunrise with blue clouds.

There is an old German proverb which defines the Portland eatery scene to a T: “Eating and drinking holds body and soul together.”

For decades, Portland restaurateurs and entrepreneurs have found unique, interesting, and delicious formulas with which to strengthen the bond of body and soul, and bring the community together to feast.

The best restaurants in Portland offer a vast and eclectic selection of foods from around the world, from small pop-ups, to food carts, to comfy full-service brick-and-mortars.

Head out and enjoy all the rich complexities that dining in the west coast’s weirdest city has to offer.




Healthy Takeout Options When You’re Sick of Cooking

A healthy salad with greens, grains, and cherry tomatoes in a while ceramic bowl on dark tabletop.

Cooking at home is the healthiest and cheapest way to enjoy meals, but it’s not easy. Between running out of recipe ideas to spice up your ramen, enduring the madness of grocery stores during peak hours, or endless kitchen clean-up after cooking your favorite budget meal, or maybe you’re feeling just plain lazy, it’s often just easier to order out.

Thanks to meal delivery services like UberEats, DoorDash, and GrubHub, there’s no shortage of restaurants to choose from. But what should you order when you want easy and nutritious?

To shake that laziness, be sure to get in some of these best exercises while you’re waiting for your delivery to arrive at your door.

Here are some healthy takeout options to consider the next time you want delivery without the guilt.



Panera Bread

Panera bread logo, figure holding bread on green background.

Panera Bread has been around since 1987. Although they are a chain, they offer seasonal local options when possible. They serve some of the following:

  • soups
  • salads
  • sandwiches
  • wraps
  • fresh bread

There is an option for most people with all the variety, including vegetarian dishes.



Chipotle Mexican Grill logo, stylized chili pepper on dark red background.

Established in 1993, Chipotle is known for using fresh, healthy ingredients.

From crisp veggies and quality meat to perfectly steamed rice, Chipotle’s Mexican cuisine covers a wide range of dishes that are both tasty and filling.

Choose from burritos, bowls (a burrito sans tortilla), or salad, and start your order with the star: grilled chicken, steak, carnitas, or grilled veggies. Extras include house-made guac, pico, corn salsa, and more. The best part of Chipotle is everything is up to you. You can even “hack” the menu to make something unique.



Subway logo, yellow and green text on dark green background.

With the slogan “Eat Fresh,” Subway’s stood apart from competitors since its beginnings in 1965 with quality sandwiches, mouth-watering flavors, and baked bread sure to lure you into any food court in a heartbeat.

Nothing at Subway is fried, and many of the menu items are healthier than typical fast food fare. New options include flatbread and breakfast sandwiches, and more are added regularly.

That said, Subway knows when to keep customer favorites; some have a permanent place on the menu, while others are strictly seasonal.


Costa Vida

Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill logo, orange and white.

Much like Chipotle, Costa Vida is a Mexican-style restaurant offering a vast menu of salads, power bowls, burritos, enchiladas, and more.

Their selection includes meats, beans, house-made tortillas, pico, queso and chips, and guac. As the self-proclaimed “fresh Mexican grill,” Costa Vida may just become your next lunchtime go-to.



Exterior shot of a Pluto's takeout and dine-in location in California.

This restaurant has a few locations throughout California and was founded in 1995. It is basically a massive “make your own insanely delicious salad” restaurant, though sandwiches are also available.


Noodles & Company

Noodles and Company logo in black, white, red, and yellow.

You can definitely guess this restaurant’s specialty!

Founded in 1995, this Colorado-based company offers classic pasta dishes, twists on old favorites, and even veggie noodles made of zucchini (zoodles) or cauliflower (caulifloodles).

Served in the build-your-own style of Subway and Chipotle, the dishes at Noodles & Company are made exactly how you want. The hard part is deciding whether to stick with an old favorite, or try something new.

They also offer a wide variety of soups and salads, in the unlikely event you’re sick of pasta.


Jamba Juice

Jamba Juice classic logo, white background with multi-colored swirl.

Smoothie lovers, rejoice: you can drink your meal, or add it on the side of a granola or oatmeal bowl loaded with fresh fruit. Try the Vanilla Blue Sky (blue spirulina with vanilla coconut milk, blueberries, strawberries, and more), or some classic oatmeal alongside the “Whirl’d Famous” Mango-a-Go-Go smoothie.

Everything is made fresh and in-house, and smoothies can be upgraded with energy boosts, vitamins, protein powders, wheatgrass, and more.


Just Salad

Exterior of a Just Salad takeout and dine-in location with customers milling in and out.

With a slogan like “Healthy for Everyone,” Just Salad offers what you’d expect: a wide variety of options everyone in your house will love, with nutrition you’ll feel good about.

That’s where the expectations end, though, because Just Salad serves way more than salads. With wraps, bowls, avocado toast, soups, smoothies, and more on the menu, this chain covers the health food spectrum in every way imaginable.



ToGo's logo, orange and white, reading "Since 1971" and "True to the Sandwich."

Founded in 1971, nationwide sandwich Togo’s uses the freshest veggies, meats, and cheeses, and bake all bread on site. Customize your sandwich, or select a menu classic for a masterpiece with premium ingredients and taste you won’t find elsewhere.


More Healthy Takeout Options: Shop Local

A small restaurant painted aquamarine with picnic tables out front.

Finally, you can’t beat local selections when it comes to healthy and delicious takeout. Delis, small restaurants, and cafes often thrive because customers appreciate the attention to quality some large-scale chain restaurants lack.

Bonus: you’re supporting local businesses and your community, which makes eating well feel even better.



Coolest Places to Travel in 2021

Passport on a dark gray tabletop.

Ah, 2020: the year the world was grounded and told to sit in a corner. The pandemic kept millions from the joys of discovering, connecting, and exploring the coolest places to travel.

Now the urge to march into your closet, bust out the suitcase, and get out there is stronger than the Force.

Make 2021 your year! Dust the digital dust off your Travel boards on Pinterest; grab that scribbled list of destinations like Bali, the Australian outback, Knott’s Berry Farm…or even your own driveway. It’s time to stop dreaming, and start going. Here are the coolest places to travel in 2021.



Unique AirBnb Getaways


Architectural Wonder in the Woods

Architectural wonder in the woods, an AirBnB destination for travelers.

Where to Find It: Hudson Valley, New York

Why You Should Go: One-of-a-kind eco-friendly retreat

This geometric masterpiece of a home sits on 30 acres in the middle of nowhere.

It has no bedrooms: just open spaces, curved walls, and angled ceilings that take their cue straight from Mother Nature.

This is definitely a must-stop for any NYC travel guide.

Get the details here.


Modern Solar Home

Modern Solar Home, a modest and simple structure in a desert landscape under pink and blue sky.

Where to Find It: Marfa, Texas

Why You Should Go: Remote, picture-perfect, not a soul in sight

For unbeatable star gazing, 360° views, and a property that boasts random Mule Deer, Elk, Javelina, and rare Bighorn Sheep—start packing!

At the top of a long gravel driveway, you’ll discover a glass-walled home nestled under a large industrial open-air hangar, perched 3,000 feed over the Texan desert.
Barbecues, sunsets, incredible hiking adventures, and stunning views of the Rio Grande await. All-terrain vehicle not included, but recommended.

Get the details here.


1920’s Sheep Wagon

Heward's Fully Restored Sheep Wagon, a green old-fashioned wagon with tan canvas roof and sides with woodstove pipe on a prairie.

Where to Find It: Shirley Basin, Wyoming
Why You Should Go: Pioneer life meets lake-fishing, a petrified forest, and ATV trails

Get ready for some excitement in this abandoned mining town! (No, really: the last resident left in 1992.)
For big sky country and true prairie living, look no farther than this unique Air BnB. 65,000 acres sit far from the view of any freeway, airplane, or Google Maps, upon which you can rent your own little house to live like a real pioneer.

Except by “house,” they really mean “sheep wagon.”

The classic wagon sleeps four, and includes a generator, cold boxes for your food, and a water basin that doubles as a bathroom and kitchen sink.

Word to the wise: bring plenty of lanterns, and a herding dog if you’ve got one. Sheep like to wander through while grazing, so that furry guard will come in handy.

No dog? Rattling a feed bucket will move the herd along just fine, too.

Get the details here.


Big Idaho Potato Hotel

Boise Potato Hotel, a potato-shaped lodging in a flat green landscape with farmland underneath overcast sky.

Where to Find It: Boise, Idaho

Why You Should Go: Build the perfect vacation getaway for potato lovers!

What do you call a fake potato? An imi-tater! Enjoy a quiet, spa-like vacation in this faux spud, the perfect getaway for two.

Located in Boise—voted the best place to retire, be a doctor, and raise a family—this 6-ton potato became famous after touring the United States on the back of a semi during the Idaho Potato Commission’s Big Idaho Potato Tour.

Quaint and colorful inside, realistically Russet on the outside, it comes with a detached silo spa, where you’ll find an open-air soak tub perfect for stargazing.

You’ll also make a new friend: your very own fuzzy Jersey cow!

Get the details here.


Pirates of the Caribbean Getaway

Pirates of the Caribbean Getaway, structure surrounded by lush green plants and trees, with green and magenta uplights.

Where to Find It: Topanga Canyon, California

Why You Should Go: Theme park meets tranquil, private hideaway

Calling all cosplayers! Avast Ye and All Hand Hoy!

The most exciting thing about this cottage is the incredible attention to detail. The lighting, decor, and landscaping instantly transport you to a time when pirates ruled the seven seas.

You’ll feel just as daring and brutish as your favorite swashbucklers. Pirates typically hide their vast collection of treasures, but this house has the full amenities on display, including a sauna and hot tub, DVD library, waterfalls, crystal fireplace, and hammocks for napping.

And, with Santa Monica just twenty minutes away, there’s no better outing than a surf session (or a few lessons, if you’re new).

Get the details here.


The Man Cave

Man Cave, a retro-inspired and colorful AirBnB to stay while traveling featuring vintage car parts and corrugated metal accents.

Where to Find It: Geneva, Florida

Why You Should Go: A cave with all the things for dudes.

First of all, this place is, like, totally rad. The man cave is inside an airplane hangar next to a classic car shop, which serves an extensive selection of locally crafted beer.

And if that isn’t enough to bring out your inner dude, check this out: the cave is stuffed with leather sofas, a dartboard, vintage car photos, and parts from cars, airplanes, and motorcycles.

It also boasts wicker chair swings, hanging traffic lights, and a 6-foot DVD rack, which you can enjoy in conjunction with the satellite TV.

A surfboard bar, grill, pinball and slot machines, and sleeping loft complete the lineup. Duuude.

Located between Lake Harney and Lake Jesup off Route 45, the cave also allows for a pit stop at scenic Little Big Econ State Forest.

Get the details here.



If you refuse to get your nails dirty and require a real bathroom, this glamping (glamour plus camping) list will make you feel like you never left home…-ish.


Cozy Glamping Getaway

Cozy Glamping Getaway, an AirBnB location featuring outdoor room under wooden structure with white fabric covering.

Where to Find It: Banks, Oregon

Why You Should Go: A pond, a tent, and the woodsy hot tub thang

Experience the ultimate chill spot in this 4-walled, all-weather tent, located just over 22 miles from Portland (the perfect day trip to stay weird).

Breathe in clean, fresh air and embrace tranquility as you camp pond-side, play some volleyball or horseshoes, fit in some yoga in the refurbished barn, retreat to the hot tub, or shower in the open garden.

Last but not least, you can lose yourself in the labyrinth, and possibly find your purpose in the process…or, if nothing else, a fun time with friends.

Get the details here.


Sequoia High Sierra Camp


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Where to Find It: Sequoia King Canyon National Park, California
Why You Should Go: Couture camping with 600 thread count and maids

Once in a lifetime, you should experience Sequoia National Forest. Standing at the Redwood tree base and looking up puts you in an indescribable state of awe. Afterall ,it is one of the best national parks.

To reach the High Sierra Glampsite, you have to hike into the park one mile. It’s worth every step. Upon arrival, you’re greeted and then ushered towards your deluxe tent. These aren’t your ordinary favorite tents, either. These are borderline cabins.

Sleep on a plush-top mattress, lounge atop artisan furniture, dine on five-course meals, and stroll through the forest on a day hike to Mitchell Peak.

Daily maid service is included, with fresh towels and toiletries! Outdoor activity packages include horseback riding and fly fishing, with craft beer and local wine service.

Don’t forget, there is a 3,300-year-old forest to ogle over. Meet 5 of the world’s ten tallest trees, and catch the stunning view at 9,200-foot-high Pear Lake.

PS: watch for Ewoks—you’re glamping in the forest of Endor.

Get the details here.


Borealis Base Camp

Aurora Borealis in Alaska, brilliant purple and teal lights against the starry sky with snow on the ground.

Where to Find It: Fairbanks, Alaska

Why You Should Go: Sleep in a glass-roofed igloo under the Aurora Borealis

Alaska: where the four seasons are known as Winter, June, July, and August.

This bucket-list spot isn’t a destination: it’s an experience. Imagine bundling up in a cozy down sleeping bag in your very own igloo, taking in the shape-shifting beauty of the Aurora Borealis through the glass roof.

Day expeditions and basecamp experiences are also available, including riding snow mobiles, learning to dogsled, and feeding reindeer. Portrait sessions are available, so you don’t have to worry about your phone: the magic is captured for you.

In the evening, retreat to the wood-fired sauna for a recharge.

Get the details here.


Across the Pond

If you’ve always daydreamed of boarding the sexy Concorde, sipping champagne, and throwing your head back to converse wittily in French—all while being flung across the Atlantic Ocean at 1,350MPH—stay-cations and local trips just won’t cut it.

Here are the most unique, coolest places to travel internationally if you’re ready to put in the miles.


Nolla Cabin

Nolla A-frame cabin, a modern and sleep AirBnB travel destination.

Where to Find It: Helsinki, Finland

Why You Should Go: an experiment to explore and live on less (or: kokeilla, miten voimme elää vähemmän)

Located in the birthplace of the sauna and home to the 1952 Summer Olympic Games, your destination consists of a single-room wooden A-frame cabin on a flat outcropping, overlooking an archipelago.

Pick a view, any view: no matter which way you look, nothing but nature stares back from the surrounding islands.

There’s a small grouping of restaurants, as well as kayaks for rent. The Nolla cabin comes with a fuel supply and little cooking area.

Get the details here.


The Cave House


Where to Find It: Cotignac, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France

Why You Should Go: Gives new meaning to the word “romantic”

At first glance, the Cave House’ in Tuff Cliff looks impossible to access. But look closer, and you’ll catch a single-window cut right into the rock wall.

Find the primitive staircase leading up and disappearing into this remarkable space overlooking the quaint village of Cotignac. When you open the door to this unique dwelling, you’re instantly transported to a 16th-century Italian villa, inserted into the side of a cliff!

The space is open and bright. Bedrooms boast a warm and inviting atmosphere. The space also has an open indoor shower, a rock fireplace in the kitchen, and an upright piano for a night of festive singing and good wine.

Get the details here.


Dome Room in the Sacred Valley

Dome House in Sacred Valley, dried earth huts with decorative yellow and pink moldings and lush green landscape.

Where to Find It: Pisca, Cusco, Peru

Why You Should Go: A beautiful, peaceful place to shut down and recharge

At the going rate of less than $30 per night, you cannot beat experiencing the mystical and transformative energies surrounding the Peruvian landscape.

Nestled in a seemingly uncharted valley, each individual clay hut offers a one-of-a-kind experience, wholly stripped of modern conveniences and amenities.

(Well, there is a hot shower and WiFi, so it’s not that primitive.)

Located at the base of the Apu Pachatusan Mountains in a conscious little community called “La Pacha,” the Dome Room translates to utter stillness and tranquility, yet still pampering you with amenities and stunning views.

You’re immersed in nature while having first-hand access to a comprehensive understanding of the Andean culture from your host. Visitors have compared this Sacred Valley to the Land of Oz.

Get the details here.


Dromen Aan Zee

Drome aan zee Lighthouse and Harbor Crane, both available to rent for overnight stays.

Where to Find It: Friesland, Harlingen, Netherlands

Why You Should Go: Explore the Netherlands while staying in a lighthouse, lifeboat, or harbor crane

You read that right: during your trip to the magical city of Friesland, you’ll have the choice to stay in a lighthouse with breathtaking panoramic views, a lifeboat with a continental breakfast (and your private captain to tour the harbor and surrounding sea), or a harbor crane, “the beacon for seafarers” who enter Harlingen harbor.

Six-course dinners and New Year’s Eve packages are also available. Book early: no stone was unturned to restore these iconic Harlingen harbor landmarks.

Get the details here.


Santos Express

Santos Express, a defunct train parked by a beautiful blue ocean where you can spend the night.

Where to Find It: Mossel Bay, South Africa

Why You Should Go: The romance of authentic train travel meets a crystal blue ocean

Discover nine decommissioned, beautifully restored train coach cars from historical South African Railways, all sitting parallel to a gorgeous beach. You’re a one-minute walk from your accommodations to the sparkling sea.

Choose from several configurations: dorm, single, twin, double, honeymoon, mountain, or ocean view. Delight in the hot breakfast and extra-special pampering.

This little slice of heaven “has the second most moderate climate globally and has the only north-facing beach in South Africa.”

Get the details here.


Destinations for Food Lovers

For the food lovers, here are three unique stays you can brag about at your next dinner party.

Chocolate Hills

First, there are the Chocolate Hills in Loboc, Bohol, Philippines. The vast jungle is dotted with cone-shaped hills that will remind you of classic Hershey’s Kisses.

Staying at Nuts & Huts will cost a whopping $8 per night. With breaktaking views and friendly locals, jungle living never looked better!


Palacio de Sal

Find some balance with nature on the vast open salt flats of Bolivia, in a hotel made entirely out of—you guessed it—salt! Even the furniture and decorative sculptures in Palacio de Sal are made of the stuff.

Beyond the novelty, you’ll find show-stopping sunsets and four-star service.


Ice Hotel

If salt isn’t your thing, how about ice?

When looking for the coolest places to travel, you won’t find anything cooler than this one…literally. Every year, the Ice Hotel, in Jukkasjärvi, Iceland, is reconstructed with 100% ice. Sleep on deerskin blankets and thick down sleeping bags.

The combination of frozen architecture and ambient lighting introduces you to Tundra silence, the northern lights, shimmering snow-covered forests, and more.

Warm rooms are available for travelers who prefer to be toasty. No judgment: you get all the same amenities, hot or cold!


Tips for the Trip

Suitcase flatlay featuring hat, jeans, camera, pen and paper, shoes, and other travel necessities.

Travel may never look or feel the same again. In the meantime, there are some essential tips to pack in your brain for a more seamless adventure from departure to arrival.

  • Take alcohol wipes. From the moment you get out of the Uber until you pass through the TSA, and for the duration of your flight, carry portable alcohol wipes. Every traveler that came before you has touched the same surfaces, and there’s no telling where those hands have been.


  • Due diligence. Visit the airline’s website before booking to understand the cleaning protocols currently in place. Check a few days before you fly, and at the time you check-in for updates. You can also set notifications on your phone so you’re informed of every single change.


  • Cancellation. Don’t assume you’re getting a refund if you cancel. Airlines have different policies, so read the fine print before clicking that “Book” button! Also, consider calling the 1-800 number. It might be easier to read the airline website FAQ, but speaking to a representative directly will alleviate any undue stress when you arrive at the airport.



Start Packing

Whatever destination has been calling you, unblock that number. It’s 2021: time to put things back in motion…especially yourself. So, get yourself moving with that bike tour and try to see if you can hit some of these amazing destinations. With so many beautiful destinations in the world like the parks that litter the United States to amazing countries like Italy and Portugal, the world is yours to explore.

The coolest places to travel are flung far and wide. From isolated cabins to palaces made of salt, there’s no telling where the new year will take you. Pack your bags.


Tips for Managing Stress in a Fast-Paced World

Man in stress hunched over on wooden park bench.

Managing stress is a lot like getting more sleep, or exercising daily: everyone knows they should be doing it, but the “how” feels so vague and unattainable, they give up before they begin.

True, everyone feels stress. Sometimes, it can even be helpful, increasing focus and putting just the right amount of pressure on you to accomplish a task. But too much can be harmful, which is why managing stress effectively—before you hit a breaking point—is so important.

Society doesn’t help matters. People are urged to stay busy, and there’s a negative connotation to the idea of “downtime.”

Ironically, though, effectively managing stress allows you to increase productivity, generate more energy, and live a better, healthier life.


Tan woman with dark hair lying on a bed with hands over face.

Cut the Excess From Your Life

All the stress management strategies in the world won’t help if you’re bombarding yourself with unnecessary stressors.

Think of it like bailing out a boat. Sure, bailing out the water is important—but so is stopping the original leak! Eliminating extra stress-inducing elements from your life is the first and most crucial step to managing stress effectively.

If any of these hit close to home, consider cutting them out. The changes don’t have to be permanent, either; try a week or so at a time, then reevaluate whether or not your mood and overall quality of life have improved without those things.


Watching the News

News media camera crew filming a story.

When a crisis is happening, the human body reacts by releasing stress hormones. Watching the news can trigger these stress responses for events that may have nothing to do with your actual life, or have a very small chance of happening to you.

Now, that’s not to say the stress response is bad: humans need it to escape or mitigate life-threatening situations. The news, however, doses the brain with too many worst-case scenarios at once, things you’d likely never ruminate on without being prompted.

If skipping the news isn’t an option, consider a news source that focuses on positive stories more than negative, or limit your doom-scrolling to a few minutes per day.


Constantly Connected to Social Media

Social media icons glowing neon colors on a black background.

Productivity has definitely decreased with the rise of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media apps—but science has found happiness and wellbeing directly correlate, as well.

Simply put: the more time you’re “connected” online, the less connected you’ll feel with your real life, and the less happier you’ll be.

Social media has similar effects to watching the news too often, but it’s almost worse. This is because social platforms are designed to deliver dopamine. Despite the politics, comparing yourself to others, sad stories, and comment section wars, you’ll keep coming back for more and more.

The solution? It’s simple, but incredibly difficult: stop using these platforms.

Or, at least, cut down your usage by significant amounts. This can be accomplished by setting app timers, or choosing to keep only one or two platforms and uninstalling the rest.

Don’t despair, Facebook fanatics: some research has shown that quitting social media doesn’t, in fact, affect happiness or stress levels. Interestingly, it seems to be how you use a platform that really matters.

Mindless scrolling and clickbait rabbit holes are an issue, as is replacing real-life communication with digital versions altogether. But interacting meaningfully with friends and family can actually improve wellbeing.

An important factor in that study was the characteristics of the person using the media. In other words, just because one person is happier off social media, doesn’t necessarily mean another will be, too. It comes down to your reasons for using it, how you engage, and if it interferes with other aspects of your life.

The moral? Analyze your social media use as objectively as possible. And don’t force yourself to give it up if you really don’t want to; cutting back can be effective, too.


Unhealthy Relationships

Tense woman bathed in red light against dark blue urban landscape.

If you have a toxic or abusive relationship in your life, you already know they need to go. Some relationships may be less obvious.

Do you have a friend that you love to commiserate with? The one that complains about their day then you complain about yours? Helpful as it feels in the moment, this habit can actually be feeding more stress into your life.

Try redirecting negative conversations with those friends and focusing on neutral or positive topics. If they seem addicted to the gloom and doom, you might consider cutting down contact, or—in extreme cases—cutting them out of your life altogether.

They say you’re heavily influenced by the five people you interact with the most, so make sure your top five are as focused on keeping stress levels down as you are.


Too Much Coffee

Coffee in small white ceramic cup on saucer with background blurred.

Caffeine gets a negative reputation it only partially deserves. While coffee is great for heart health and mental acuity, it also elevates cortisol levels (the stress hormone).

What’s worse, it does it almost undetectably; you don’t notice the effect until you eliminate caffeine altogether.

Before you ditch the Keurig, remember that coffee, like pretty much anything else, is fine in moderation. Decrease your intake to one mild to reasonably strong cup per day, before noon, with no top-offs, tea, or soda the rest of the day.

You’ll get the wake-up call you love, without an unchecked caffeine addiction brewing in the background.



Unseen person balancing several shots of alcohol in their hand.

Like coffee, alcohol is another “usually fine in moderation” substance. While it brings short-term stress relief, it’s been linked to increased anxiety in the long-term.

When you do imbibe, formulate a game plan. Stick to drinks with lower alcohol content, alternate with water, and get plenty of rest after a night on the town.


Young man under stress wearing a blue hoodie with hands over eyes.


Long-Term Strategies for Stress Relief

After you’ve fixed the leak in your boat—eliminating any additional stressors in your daily life—it’s time to bail out the water that’s there (managing stress triggers that you can’t avoid) and work on steering that boat away from the rocks (improving your body’s natural response to stress, so you bounce back faster).

These suggestions aren’t quick fixes. In fact, they require cumulative efforts to work. The more you implement, and the more often you do them, the more profound the effects will be.


Healthy Meals

Healthy meal consisting of fruit, granola, and yogurt in a large white bowl on wooden cutting board.

Filling yourself up with the good stuff helps your body counter-attack stress. It’s way easier to handle negativity when you aren’t battling a sugar crash or caffeine headache.

Scientifically, it makes sense even down to the cellular level: healthy, balanced diets lower inflammation and blood pressure, two things that skyrocket because of stress.

Whole ingredients and nutritious meals also improve the gut-brain axis, helping your body produce the right brain chemicals at the right times, including dopamine and serotonin.


Getting Enough Sleep

Couple sleeping peacefully in bed.

Whether you’re a full-fledged night owl or the ubiquitous “I’ll just catch up on the weekends” short-changer, you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage by not hitting the hay earlier.

A lack of quality sleep puts strain on the body, which needs adequate rest to heal and prepare for the day ahead. It also lowers mental proficiency, affecting memory, coordination, mood…and just about everything else.

If this is a consistent problem, check out this guide on how to get better sleep.



A pink gratitude journal stacked on another journal, flatlay with office supplies and greenery.

Being grateful for what you do have makes you less stressed about what you do not have.

A study showed participants who exercised gratitude for 10 weeks (journaling about the positive things that happened to them) were more optimistic and happier than the groups that only tracked negative experiences, or who logged events without assigning emotions.

Of course, it’s not ironclad science, but plenty of similar studies exist to support the notion that being thankful and optimistic strengthens your sense of contentment.

This doesn’t mean removing all ambition, or that striving to improve your life is bad. It simply means you should slow down and enjoy the journey, while you’re at it.


Making Time for Nothing

Unseen person with legs stretched out on dock looking at peaceful water with a lantern beside them.

Leave white space on your calendar: beautiful, empty, blank space to do absolutely nothing at all.

It’s daunting, actually planning to do…well, nothing, but studies show taking breaks makes you more productive overall.

Like any impressive machine, your body and brain need time to idle and recalibrate; constantly moving and doing will lead to burnout. Schedule that empty space for yourself and, if you must justify it, label it “self-care.” (After all, that’s exactly what it is!)


Stressed blonde woman looking disheveled and tired at kitchen table.


Short-Term Strategies for Managing Stress

Stress happens. Even the most carefree individual, armed to the teeth with long-term stress reduction strategies, is going to encounter a stressful situation or two every single day.

Fights with spouses, tight deadlines, health challenges: these things are inevitable, and learning to cope with them in the moment is just as important as big-picture stress management.

The best part? When done regularly, these short-term strategies contribute to long-term stress relief, too.

Your neural pathways will be primed to respond properly to stress, and these habits will become second nature after only a few repetitions.


Breathing Exercises

Woman with pixie cut leaning on a tree and breathing peacefully.

This one is very much an in-the-moment tool. Take a moment to think about your breathing. Inhale through your nose for three seconds, then exhale out slowly for four.

This method sends the message to your brain: Hey, slow down. Relax. It pulls the body out of its “fight or flight” mode, that panicky, jittery feeling that accompanies stress.

Breathing exercises also encourage a full oxygen exchange: oxygen goes in, carbon dioxide goes out, and the heartbeat and blood pressure stabilize.


Take a Walk/Get Outside

Person walking outdoors on narrow road amidst rolling brown hills.

Spending time outside not only calms you down, but also improves vitamin D production, which directly affects numerous functions within the body: calcium regulation, immune response, mood regulation, and much more.

Nature’s also grounding because it encourages connectedness to the environment, and forces you to be more “in the moment.”

After a heated argument, try cooling off with a walk. Stuck on a big project at work? Step away from the screen and do some laps around the office building. You’ll return with a fresher perspective and clearer mindset.

Incorporating habitual walks into your routine is beneficial, as well. Schedule one for the times each day when you’re most stressed: after work, during lunch…or even after dinner, when the kids have you at your wits’ end.



Three women jogging in late evening, silhouettes against blue sky.

Cardiovascular exercise boosts endorphins, which make you happy and reduce stress hormones. Running, swimming, riding a bike, and even walking. There are plenty of ways to get your heart pumping. Some workouts you can even do from the comfort of your bed, couch, or in your home!

What’s more, it helps you sleep more soundly, feel more energetic, and focus better—all critical components to effective stress management.


Create Artwork

Happy blonde woman drawing or doing calligraphy hand-lettering in sketchbook on coffee table.

Having an artistic outlet requires you to slow down. Painting, drawing, photography, woodwork, or sculpting are some ways that you can relieve stress through the process of creating.

And good news for anyone who hasn’t crafted since grade school: the positive effects of creating have nothing to do with talent! It’s the process that’s beneficial, not the final product.


Talking to Someone

Two women chatting on a couch against a sunny window lined with plants.

A support system can bring you a lot of relief.

While trained psychologists or counselors are invaluable for chronic stress or mental health issues, milder stress can be “talked out” with a good, trusted friend.

Bonus: helping other people with their problems benefits you, too. Talking through others’ issues and giving advice instills a sense of value, and promotes objectivity when observing your own troubles.



Peaceful and calm woman in white tee and black pants meditating while sitting cross-legged.

Like gratitude, meditation is difficult to grasp until you give it a try. It’s also not a “one and done” strategy, by any means.

Consistent meditation, however, will yield incredible results. It takes practice; being mindful, quiet, and still is not easy feat in this modern, fast-paced world.

Start small, and build up slowly. Two minutes a day is still enough to see some benefit, and can easily be built upon until you’re at five, ten, twenty minutes…or even more, if you wish.



Stick With It

Granted, none of these strategies are particularly groundbreaking or novel, but that’s also why they work so well: they encourage simplicity, listening to your body, and connecting with your inner self.

The hardest part is getting started. The second hardest part: sticking with it.

A little self-discipline and consistency are key to managing stress, and you’ll find these strategies become easier the longer you do them.