A Conversation with Kelsey Montague about #WhatLiftsYou

Taylor Swift in front of Kelsey Montague Wings – @taylorswift

Kelsey Montague toiled in the artistic trenches for years before this moment. In an interview for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Kelsey spoke about rejections from art gallery after art gallery and how she finally decided to create her own artistic path. Like many of us, she avidly followed the dark political work of artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey but Kelsey wanted to make her own statement, something positive and uplifting.

Kelsey painted her first set of wings on a New York City corner in Nolita and added the hashtag #WhatLiftsYou. Taylor Swift took the above picture and posted it to her Instagram account. A day later people stood in lines down the block to take their own winged pictures. Just like that, Kelsey Montague was on the map. And while obviously Taylor Swift has massive influence and social media frenzies create viral sensations, I like to think it’s also an instance of artists reaching out and helping each other up.

Because now Kelsey and her wings are a worldwide phenomenon.

Art by Kelsey Montague – Nashville, TN

I caught up with Kelsey a few weeks ago to ask her some questions.

Gypsy Queen: You’ve spoken before about your public street murals and how your wings were inspired in part by your grandfather’s artwork and his connection to birds. But how did you come up with the hashtag #WhatLiftsYou?

Kelsey Montague: I wanted to give people the opportunity to reflect on what is most important to them and that is how the hashtag #WhatLiftsYou was born. I also wanted to encourage people to post something positive on social media. There is an epidemic of cyber bullying online and I wanted my work to counter that.

GQ: Knowing that your public street art could disappear over time, does it matter to you that what you create won’t survive?

KM: I want it to survive long enough that it makes an impact in the community but I also kind of like the transient nature of street art. I think the fact it will eventually disappear gives it a kind of specialness.

Art by Kelsey Montague – San Diego, CA

 

GQ: Your #WhatLiftsYou interactive wings are very inspirational in a time that feels very emotionally charged, politically and socially. Do you feel that street art has the power to make positive changes right now, even in the face of all this turmoil?

KM: Absolutely. Again I think that street art should get us to ask important questions of ourselves and our world. What Lifts You really is about constantly reflecting on what is truly important in your life and escaping, for a moment, the negativity that surrounds us.

GQ: You’ve created a new hashtag, #WhatUnitesUs. What kind of subject matter do you plan to use for these murals?

KM: I want to focus on love as a superpower. My first #WhatUnitesUs mural features hearts coming from a person’s hands. I want people to reflect on our similarities instead of our differences and our power to spread love.

GQ: Did Trump’s election have an effect on your art? Or your artistic choices?

KM: I launched the #WhatUnitesUs campaign to give people a chance to reflect on our similarities instead of our differences, in response to such a divisive election.

Art by Kelsey Montague – San Diego, CA

GQ: Have you noticed a change in the art community since the election?

KM: I think the street art movement has continued to grow and gain steam in the wake of the election. I think that communities are even more open to street art because the need for beauty and comfort in our communities is so strong right now!

GQ: If you could send a message to the nation right now, what would it be?

KM: Let’s unite around our similarities, instead of fighting about our differences.

GQ: What’s next for you?

KM: I’m working on continuing to spread the #WhatUnitesUs and the #WhatLiftsYou message around the world this year! I’m also working on some cool projects and interesting products.

Thank you so much for your time, Kelsey!

If you’re want to track down Kelsey’s murals you can see a list here on her website. You can also follow her on Instagram.

If you’re in India, South Africa, Los Angeles, Miami or San Francisco, Kelsey will be coming to town to paint murals somewhere near you. Just look for the wings!

Art by Kelsey Montague – Nashville, TN

Tigers, Trump and the Internet – A Conversation with Dustin Spagnola

Art by Dustin Spagnola and Ishmael – Detroit, MI

I first saw Dustin Spagnola’s work in the Grand River Creative Corridor of Detroit. Ever since Trump was elected in November, I’ve been increasingly interested in the reactions of the artistic community to our newly charged political and social atmosphere. I reached out to Dustin Spagnola to get his thoughts on the current climate and he took some time out to talk to me.

The conversation below has been edited for length.

Dustin Spagnola – http://www.dustinspagnola.com

3/11/17

Gypsy Queen: It seems that the piece that you’re best known for is the mural of Bush holding the mask of Obama. And then I saw different one you made of Hitler holding a mask of Trump. A reviewer said these two pieces look like “old boss same as the new boss.” Is that fair?

Dustin Spagnola: Yep.

GQ: And in that case, what’s the point if all we’re doing is repeating ourselves?

Spagnola: That’s a really good question. I mean, I don’t know. I can tell you about those images, which might be an easier way to understand what I think about that kind of stuff.

GQ: Yes, please.

Spagnola: So those images are based off a piece of poster art created in 1968 in Paris, France during the student uprising at the Sorbonne. The students took over their art department and printing room and they made a bunch of political art and someone made a print that was an image of Hitler holding a mask of de Gaulle, the French president.

When Obama got elected, I decided to make an image of Bush holding an Obama mask, which was really signifying “same shit, different day” but also, I felt it was a much softer critique of the system than comparing the president to Hitler, whom we universally view not as a person but as a monster.

I was really surprised at the kick-back that got because a lot of people were really upset about it. And I voted for Obama twice. Obama was a president who did a lot of good things and a lot of bad things and he was a leftist and a talking head, a visionary. And there’s also a cult of personality attached to him. So a lot of people got really upset about me comparing Obama to Bush, which I found very interesting personally. I feel that as a free thinker and someone who tries to have an open mind about things, comparing one president to the next is not exactly a big jump, to say the least. It’s kind of a logical linear progression.

Art by Dustin Spagnola – http://www.dustinspagnola.com

So when Trump got elected, a bunch of people around me were obviously very upset and I thought “Well, it’s a great time to make some political art”, which is one of the things that I really love to do. So I decided to just recreate the poster that I based the Bush Obama image on. I replaced de Gaulle’s face with Trump’s face and I literally used the exact original image of Hitler to pay homage to that original image.

Art by Atelier Populaire (left) and Dustin Spagnola (right)

And maybe to answer your bigger question about what the artists think, I have to say that most artists are leftists, and a lot of them are leftists who actually fall very far on the left end of the spectrum, like me and a lot of people that I know who are really more like radicals or anarchists. And we look at the two party system and it looks like business as usual and we think “Well this shit doesn’t work for anyone, except for the people in charge.” I think most of the population doesn’t really have as extreme or radical of views as we do but I think that’s the root of our problem. I think there’s a hierarchy in place that is very very unfair, to say the least.

GQ: So when you paint something that’s very pointedly political, especially when you’re recreating something or paying homage to it, are you looking for a particular reaction? Or just a reaction? In your ideal world, what do people do when they see your artwork?

Spagnola: I can’t really speak for anyone else but for me it’s about contributing to a dialogue and making images that resonate with people. We live in the United States and I’m allowed to think whatever way I want to and I’m allowed to say whatever I want and I’m allowed to paint pictures of whatever I want. For me the conversation that I’m interested in having is just throwing that shit out there and letting other people talk about it.

Sometimes I make things that aren’t political and I hope that those things affect people also. I hope they make people feel a certain way, that it makes someone’s day better or gives them an opportunity to stop for a moment and take a picture. Or maybe it inspires someone to paint something of their own.

I would hope that on some level the images spur conversation and dialogue between people that I don’t know. That I’ll never even meet.

Art by Dustin Spagnola – http://www.dustinspagnola.com

GQ: You paint street art, which I use as a very broad umbrella term for painted public art outside, but then you also show in galleries and museums and you have fine art canvases for sale. Do you prefer one mode of expression to another?

Spagnola: It’s a good thing to have art, whether it’s on a canvas or on a wall. And for me, I enjoy traveling and I like painting pictures and murals, I like seeing murals, I enjoy street art and graffiti. But I also really enjoy canvases and galleries and museums. I like showing in them and I feel like they’re kinda two sides of the same coin. Galleries and museums are certainly not the be-all-end-all of the art world. I think in a lot of ways street art and the internet surpass them.

Art by Dustin Spagnola – http://www.dustinspagnola.com

Street art fits in a different context and reaches more people and people engage with it differently. I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to lead a life style where I can choose to get in my vehicle and go to another state and paint a wall and meet people there who paint or organize events around painting. I’ve personally really been welcomed into a lot of communities that I don’t think I would have met otherwise and I’ve made great friends. And there’s something really awesome about that.

GQ: I feel that the internet has had a lot to do with the rise of what I call the street art revolution, which is the current outpouring of public painted art everywhere all over the world, because the internet has extended the reach of the average person. For instance, I can see things in Moscow without ever going there.

Spagnola: Right. The internet makes everything more accessible to the common viewer. But remember that graffiti and murals and street art all existed prior to the internet. And people have been fans of it for a long time, even pre-internet. But with the rise of the internet and cell phones that are computers with cameras in your pocket, now people can engage in and regurgitate “the spectacle”, as Guy Debord would say.

We see it and we want to understand it, and we want to be a part of it and interact with it but then really we just take a picture of it and put it on Instagram.

It makes us feel like we’re doing something because we get positive feed back from our peers. And that’s cool. But it’s like I was saying before, I hope that one of the other things that happens is that people talk. That they consider the images and then decide to make their own.

Art by Dustin Spagnola and Ishmael – http://www.dustinspagnola.com

GQ: When you’ve been invited to paint, have you ever had people put parameters on your subject matter?

Spagnola: All the time. People love to say “no sex, no violence, no politics.” All the time.

GQ: Do you abide by that?

Spagnola: Yeah, usually. That’s why a lot of my public work isn’t political. I painted a lot of tigers because I was trying to find a subject that was interesting to me. And tigers are beautiful and interesting but I probably would have been painting pictures of cops shooting black people or something. Because that’s the reality.

Art by Dustin Spagnola – http://www.dustinspagnola.com

GQ: When did you get started painting publicly?

Spagnola: Maybe around 2009 or 2011? I went down to Miami to do a gallery show, and I saw a lot of murals and that got me excited about painting murals. Just seeing the scale that people were working on. You can paint things that are 30’ high and 60’ wide and immerse the viewer and it really changes the experience of the viewer. Because if it were a 2’ x 4’ painting, it might be a really nice painting but it’s just not going to do the same thing.

GQ: Like the difference between seeing a painting in a museum and seeing a replica in a book. Even if the replica is perfect, the scale makes all the difference.

Spagnola: yeah, scale is really important.

GQ: You use your real name, Dustin Spagnola, to tag your street art murals. Have you ever felt you needed anonymity or wanted to choose a name that wasn’t your name?

Spagnola: No. I thought about it but it just seemed kind of fake to me. I’m not a graffiti kid and that’s what graffiti kids do. I’m not out breaking the law. I don’t like cops so I give them no reasons to talk to me. In general, I paint in spots where I have permission. And I know it’s not romantic or cool in the eyes of a lot of people who enjoy graffiti but that’s pretty ok. I’m just a normal person who is realistic about shit.

Art by Dustin Spagnola – http://www.dustinspagnola.com

GQ: You live in Asheville NC. Is there a good-sized artistic community there?

Spagnola: Oh yes. Most people here are artists, of different stripes, and this town is rapidly gentrifying. There are a lot of people moving here who aren’t artists and property values changing drastically. But this community has largely been shaped by the people who are artists. It’s a good place to paint. You can get a wall here pretty easily if you want.

GQ: What’s next for you?

Spagnola: I’m in the middle of learning to make films right now. I’m actually working on a short film at the moment and I’m going out to do some filming next week. Not that I’m giving anything else up but I’m learning a new medium. Because I want to.

Thanks so much for talking to me, Dustin. It was a pleasure and you gave me some interesting things to think about.

If you would like to know more about Dustin Spagnola and his work, you can find him on his website and follow him on Instagram.

Follow Your Heart – Dustin Spagnola, http://www.dustinspagnola.com

Unless otherwise noted, all the pictures used in this piece were borrowed from Dustin Spagnola’s website with his permission.

Best Breakfast in Downtown LA

Eggslut

I know that “best breakfast” in downtown LA is a tough call with the eternal competition of the Original Pantry, which has been serving breakfast around the clock since 1924. However… if you want a non-diner breakfast at a sensible hour between 8am and 4PM, go to the Eggslut in the Grand Central Market.

I recommend that you first walk down the counter and take a look at everyone’s food and also eye the people that might be finishing so you can grab their seat as soon as your food comes up. Then stand in line to order. There’s always a line but it moves fast and it gives you just enough time to peruse the 7 item menu. You’ll stand there just long enough to change your mind because while you want a breakfast sandwich, you’re definitely tempted by the Slut. And let’s be honest, who isn’t? I went with the Fairfax above and I have no regrets. Those eggs were softly scrambled with chives and topped with caramelized onions. The brioche had a smear of siracha mayo and I got everything everywhere but it was seriously one of the best breakfast sandwiches of my life. Of course you should also order the Cold Brew because a good breakfast always involves a coffee beverage.

Grab a seat at the bar if you’re lucky and then take your documenting pictures quickly so you can watch everyone else style their food for their Instagram feed. If you’re a real rebel, just dig into that deliciousness and forgo the pictures. I’ll salute your priorities.

The whole experience will take you about 30 minutes at noon on a Monday and you have $2 parking next door for 90 minutes. Walk around the rest of the market and check out the rest of the food stalls. Maybe you need a taco? Go for it.

Greenville and the Biltmore Estate

I had such a great time in Greenville. It’s a charming city with good food and a scenic river. And while there’s plenty to do inside the city, if you’re only in town for a few days, you must take the hour and a half drive to Asheville and see the Biltmore Estate.

Start with breakfast at the Tupelo Honey Cafe

Tupelo Honey

Tupelo is an institution in the Carolinas with cafes in Greenville, Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh. They’ve even branched into Tennessee. Their food is fresh and delicious, their biscuits are made from scratch so they do the South proud and if you love it, you can buy a cookbook to take home with you. This local restaurant chain started in Asheville and their produce still comes from Sunshot Farms nearby but the location in downtown Greenville is delightful as well.

Alternatively, try Homegrown in Asheville

Homegrown

That’s a breakfast pot pie with scrambled eggs, sausage and country gravy topped with a biscuit. Awesome and amazing. There’s no getting away from biscuits in the South so just embrace it! As their name suggests, Homegrown makes locally sourced slow food and does it “right quick.” They support local farmers while also making fresh food affordable and delicious. Their quirky little restaurant is a treasure so pay them a visit.

If you’re driving up from Greenville to see the Biltmore Estate, be prepared to make a day of it.

Biltmore Estate

Built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800’s, the estate has 250 rooms on 3 floors, 65 fireplaces, an indoor bowling alley and pool. The surrounding 8,000 acres of land back up into the Pisgah National Forest and include a village, a winery and an inn, so there’s plenty to see. You can choose from several guided tours as well as audio tours that last around 90 minutes. The $60 tickets are not cheap but include a tour of the winery and unlimited tastings at the bar

Vanderbilt wine

What with the priceless Singer Sargent paintings, the gorgeous landscaped gardens and the general Gilded Age excess, I found the Biltmore to be intensely glamorous. It feels like a house built by happy people who loved living there and a house with a happy history has a very different feel from some of the tragic mansions I’ve visited in the past. I would put this estate in my top 10 tourist experiences for the year.

We stopped at Cedric’s Tavern in the estate’s Antler Hill Village and I recommend you do the same

Cedric's Tavern

The tavern is named for a beloved family dog and serves rich Southern food (try the pub cheese). There’s likely to be live music while you’re there so get one of the Bilmore beers brewed specifically for this pub and hang out for awhile.

There are many scenic driving routes around Asheville that will take you through parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains so you want to take a leisurely route either coming or going, check out this website for recommendations.

Back in Greenville, take a walk by Reedy River to stretch your legs.

Greenville river

The Swamp Rabbit Trail runs for 18.7 miles long this river and is a multi-use greenway good for bikes, runners and strollers. This waterfall is right in the middle of town and can be easily seen from several vantage points. It’s lovely place to spend the early evening and parts of the trail are well lit even after sunset.

Greenville has a number of great restaurants for dinner. For great burgers in a casual setting, go to Grill Marks

Grill Marks

That’s pimento cheese all over that burger, in case you were curious. Mark and Larkin Hammond own several restaurants in the Greenville area and this upscale burger joint is really tasty. The burgers are perfectly cooked and come piled high with luscious high end cheeses, bacon, mushrooms, barbq sauce or whatever suits you. They also offer adult milkshakes with booze in them and a kind of indoor/outdoor seating with a large covered patio.

For something less casual, go to the The Lazy Goat

Their location on the edge of the Reedy River makes for perfect dinner time views and their food is Mediterranean and inspired. Make a reservations and definitely try the roasted mussels and chorizo.

If you have more time, stick around Greenville and have brunch at the Green Room (try the  Crab Benedict) and definitely go eat Thai food at Lemongrass Thai. I spent two weeks in Greenville and could happily have stayed for two more. I hope you enjoyed your day in the Carolinas!

A Day in Oklahoma City

Is Oklahoma a Southern state or a Western state? It might take you all day to decide and when you do, let me know. But while you’re thinking about that, how about breakfast at the best restaurant in downtown OKC?

Kitchen 324

That’s green eggs and ham with prosciutto and arugula over an english muffin topped with poached eggs and pesto and it was just the right combination of fresh and salty with no greasiness. The chefs at Kitchen No. 324 make everything from scratch using fresh local produce and as far as I can tell, this is the only farm to table restaurant in downtown OKC. They also have killer pastries, cold pressed juices and great coffee and they’re open for dinner 5 days out of the week. I ate here three different times and everything I had was stellar.

After breakfast, gear yourself up for a sobering experience and visit the Memorial Museum of the OKC bombing in 1995.

OKC Memorial

I know this sounds like a grim adventure, but the museum is a gorgeous memorial space to those who died in the blast and the bravery of all the responders who worked for weeks to uncover bodies and sort out what happened. They deserve to be remembered and it’s heart wrenching to walk through the Gallery of Honor where photos of the people who died are accompanied by little mementos their families created to represent them. I appreciate that the museum designers focused more on the memorial aspect of the museum and less on the whys and wherefores of the bombing since it’s difficult to absorb the senselessness of  this kind of anti-government protest.

Memorial Fence

This bombing helped shape Oklahoma City and anyone who visits here will see the city differently after visiting this memorial. The Memorial museum is open every day and adult tickets are $12.

If you want something less emotionally rigorous, the OKC Museum of Art has an incredible Chilhuly glass exhibit

Chilhuly

They’re also featuring a “Gods and Heroes” exhibit of Renaissance pantings from the Parisian Ecole de Beaux Arts. This museum is open Tues-Sun with a $12 admission fee but it only costs $5 on Thursdays after 5pm.

The Memorial Museum and the Museum of Art can each be seen in an hour and they’re easy walking distance from each other.

After your morning museum, take a walk over to Bricktown, the entertainment district of OKC.

Bricktown OKC

There’s quite a bit to do in this neighborhood including the ballpark where you can watch the RedHawks play and the banjo museum. There’s also a one mile long canal with water taxis and several restaurant options for lunch. I’d recommend Tapwerks with an extravagant beer list including over 200 beers on tap.

Tapwerks

Get a taste of some of Oklahoma’s finest beers in the sampler above (I was partial to the Dead Armadillo) and order a burger made with pure Oklahoma beef. This is a pleasant pub in which to spend an afternoon drinking way too much beer but I’d recommend getting out before that happens and walking down to the Bricktown river landing along the canal where you can see some incredible full sized sculpture commemorating the pioneers crossing the plains.

Bricktown exchange

And catch a river boat up the Oklahoma River.

Riverboat Cruise

This cruise is about 3 hours long in it’s entirety and traverses several miles of the Oklahoma river through a couple of locks where you can watch the mechanisms control the river depth. The boat cabin is air-conditioned and beautifully appointed with little tables and a bar and it’s very soothing just to watch the water drift past. You could take the cruise in a big loop or get off at any of the 4 landings and pick the boat up again on the way back. Each landing costs $6 for adults and $3 for kids.

We stopped at the Exchange landing and went to see Stockyards City, the Western district inside OKC. In nice weather, walk the 2 mile trail along the river from the landing into the city.

Stockyards City

Stockyards City is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the place to buy western wear, saddles, dreamcatchers and turquoise jewelry. It’s also home to the world’s largest cattle market with livestock auctions every Monday and Tuesday morning at 8am. If you want to hang out here and eat dinner, go to Cattleman’s Steakhouse and try a true Oklahoma Steak.

But I’d recommend getting back on the boat and getting off at the Bricktown landing and walking up to Ludivine at Hudson and 7th (or seriously, catch a cab because it’s already been a long day!)

Ludivine menu

It’s a close call as to whether Kitchen 324 or Ludivine is my favorite OKC restaurant. Both are farm to table restaurants that support local farmers and ranchers and serve seasonal food prepared in unpretentious atmospheres.

Ludivine

That’s the roasted striped bass dinner for 2 with seasonal veggies, roasted jalapeños and homemade tortillas.

I think I might come down in favor of Ludivine where the chefs change their menu up daily depending on the market and their bar serves a blue plate special every Monday night for $10 and donates some of the cash to charity. I really enjoyed my meals at this place and I would recommend ordering the bone marrow and then asking the bartender to give you a “bone marrow shot.” Don’t worry about it, just try it! And make sure someone gets video…

If you still feeling like getting out on the town after dinner, go a few streets north to 16th where the Plaza District is revitalizing an old neighborhood.

Plaza District

During the day the vintage stores and one-of-a-kind boutiques in this neighborhood are worth a look and at night Pie Junkie is open until 9pm on Fridays and the recently renovated Lyric Theatre has a year round season including works by new playwrights. If you feel like a nightcap, The Mule is open late and has a great cocktail list.

Fall is the perfect time to visit Oklahoma City. Try some great local food and get a taste of this Southern/Western city!

Night and Day in Dallas

If you’re going deep into the heart of steamy sunshiny Dallas in August, you should get your exercise out of the way at the crack of dawn. Where better place than Crossfit Heat? It’s the only box in walking distance of downtown Dallas.

Crossfit Heat

They aren’t kidding about the Heat, but at least there’s no sun during your 6am WOD.  Drop in classes are $20, their outside gym was rated one of the best in the country by The Box Magazine and Garry, Mel and all the rest of the coaches will make sure you’re sore and sweaty by the end of the hour. If you can squeeze in a weight lifting session with Jose, do it. He’ll make sure your squats and cleans are perfect.

Take a shower, drink lots of water and then head over to Deep Ellum for breakfast at the All Good Cafe.

All Good Cafe

The All Good’s got a Mexican truck stop thing going on with migas, tacos and chicken fried steak all on the menu. There’s a stage inside and local bands play on weekends but the best time to visit the All Good is on a mid-week morning when there’s no line and no wait. Order the breakfast tacos #1 – scrambled eggs, pepperjack cheese and avocado – and then take a glance at the pastry case just in case you need breakfast dessert.

Deep Ellum

Since you’re in Deep Ellum, do yourself a favor and check out the neighborhood. It’s one of the few neighborhoods where graffiti is encouraged so there’s a lot to look at; and there was an arts festival with live music in April, so, look for it to show up again in 2015 around the same time. This neighborhood really comes alive at night with jazz and blues clubs on every corner and there are a number of tattoo parlors if you want a permanent reminder of your Dallas stay. I’d recommend Taboo or Elm Street.

Lunch time? How about a giant chicken sandwich?

Chicken Scratch

Looks amazing, doesn’t it? That’s the garden original from Chicken Scratch where they’re serious about chicken. Tim Byres, Chris Jeffers and Chris Zielke are the three Dallas chefs who collaborated on this restaurant and beer garden. They created an easy chalkboard menu of rotisserie chicken, chicken and biscuit sandwiches and a couple salads for the health conscious. The beer selection leans heavily towards local Texas brews and the green chili and hominy mac-n-cheese is pretty bad ass. Be aware that the side of fries is enough for an entire table

Bishop Arts

Since you’re in the Bishop Arts district, take a look around this neighborhood too. Lots of vintage stores, specialty shops, wine bars, art galleries and coffee places. Enough to spend a leisurely afternoon ducking from one air conditioned space to another with a couple of stops for iced coffee and possibly a truffle at Dude, Sweet Chocolate.

No visit to Dallas would be complete without a trip to the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the grassy knoll.

Grassy knoll 2

Far from being simply a monument to JFK’s assassination, the 6th floor museum provides a fascinating context for the time period by way of a year by year accounting of JFK’s presidency, the Cuban Missile Crisis and all of the chaos surrounding 1960’s America. Take the audio tour so you know what you’re looking at and then walk out to the grassy knoll and get some handouts from the conspiracy theorists who hang out there so you can hear their side of the story.

I’d recommend at nap at this point in your day because that Dallas heat is a lot. Maybe a dip in your hotel pool? That sounds good too.

When you’re ready for dinner, head to San Salvaje, the newest restaurant by chef Stephan Pyles.

IMG_8289

When last I was in Dallas, I ate at Chef Stephan Pyle’s restaurant Samar and wrote a long breathless post about that amazing experience here. Since then, Chef Pyles decided to close Samar and open San Salvaje in the same location.

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San Salvaje means Wild Saint and Chef Pyles pays tribute to all of Latin America by merging traditional dishes with contemporary treatments and decorating his space with a corresponding blend of indigenous, Catholic and modern art. Above from the left going clockwise is the yellow fin tuna ceviche served in a young coconut, foie gras tacu tacu with banana chutney, lucuma suspiro with maracuya meringue and three cheese arepas in a salsa verde. Chef Pyles cares so deeply about food that his meals are love on a plate. I adore this place and cannot recommend it highly enough. If you’re watching your pennies, go right now during restaurant month and get a prix fixe meal for a pittance of the normal cost.

Now, you’ve survived all that and you still want to get out and see some of Dallas? First off, I salute your stamina. Secondly, Dallas Observer saw you coming and they compiled this list of the 7 best rooftops in Dallas for a drink and a view.

Pick one, order something chilly and toast to the Big D!

Portland Bites

Portland is renowned for great eating so this list isn’t even a sliver of some of the fantastic restaurants waiting for you in PDX. However, try these and then try more.

Breakfast:

Tin Shed Cafe

Tin Shed Garden Cafe is probably nowhere near wherever you might be but that matters not. Get a car or a cab and go over there because the biscuits are so good they’ll make you wanna slap yo mama. They make a stellar bloody mary, they have covered patio seating, they’re dog friendly and you serve yourself coffee while you wait. This place rocks. Go check it out.

Lunch:

Byways Cafe

Byways is the cutest little truck stop cafe that’s nowhere near a truck stop. The interior is all travel related with suitcases and license plates, collectible plates and red vinyl booths. The coffee comes in mismatched mugs from all over the US, the sandwich bread is thick cut and perfectly grilled and it’s the kind of place that makes you think you might pack a bag and head out on an epic American road trip. But you won’t do that today because there’s more eating to do. So instead, have another cup of coffee and plan your next vacation over a great sandwich.

Mid afternoon munchies:

Clyde Commons

Clyde Commons is a European style tavern with shi shi food and big common tables. They serve food most hours of the day but I love their happy hour specials with a seat at the window so I can people watch. $3 small plates and $5 cocktails. Win and Win.

Dinner:

Veritable Quandry

That’s pate, ya’ll. And it’s delicious. Veritable Quandary is a lovely space with fantastic food and attentive bartenders. We spent a week in Portland and I think I spent 4 evenings here after work. Don’t miss the spicy fried cashews. They’re spectacular.

Departure Lounge

Maybe you need one more drink or maybe you just need a view? Then go to Departure Lounge for the best view of downtown Portland. There are several bar and restaurant spaces in this one building and the outside patio has reclined seating and heat lamps for chilly nights.

I imagine it’s always busy but the view is worth it.