Brighton + Brinley

Exploring San Francisco's Mission District

travelGrace SorianoComment

I'm back from two crazy weekends of traveling! The first weekend of traveling was during Labor Day weekend when I ventured out to San Francisco to visit my best friend from college. 

Since this was my second time in San Francisco, we pretty much skipped the major San Francisco tourist sites and just hung out in the Mission District which is where she lives. The Mission is a colorful (in every way possible hah) and unique area of San Francisco filled with delicious eateries, gorgeous street art, and one of the best views of the city.

Here are some of the great places I got to visit during my 3 days there:

Craftsman and Wolves

746 Valencia St.

When I first arrived, after a long flight delay, I was actually on my own since my friend was working. So once I dropped my stuff off at her apartment, I went to wander the neighborhood in search of lunch. I previously found Craftsman and Wolves through the Blonde Abroad's post and desperately wanted to try their "The Rebel Within" muffin - a savory breakfast muffin with a soft boiled egg in the center. Unfortunately, since my flight was delayed, they only had lunch options available. So, I ended up getting their BLT which featured candied bacon, little gem lettuce, early girl tomatoes, and tomato jam on a flaky croissant. YUM! It was a little pricey for just the sandwich and drink ($13), but I'm typically okay with splurging a bit when I'm on vacation.

My delicious sandwich

My delicious sandwich

Taquerias El Farolito

2779 Mission St.

Mexican food in San Francisco is in its own ballpark compared to anywhere else in the United States and the Mission District is quite famous for its high concentration of taquerias. I swear, the best burrito's I've ever had were in San Francisco and this trip continued to prove that.

We went to get burritos at Taquerias El Farolito - which looks like a very modest eatery when you first enter. Don't let that fool you though, their burritos are huge and flavorful. I got a "Super Burrito" with steak and I'm still dreaming about it! Don't forget to grab salsa's from the salsa bar too. 


KenKen Ramen

3378 18th St

We stopped at KenKen Ramen for a late dinner after exploring Lands End and before enjoying the Mission District nightlife. What made this place great was the atmosphere - dark and divey and yet upbeat. The bar is covered in groups and groups of beautiful lanterns - combined with the low lights, they really created a cozy and intimate mood. Oh yeah, and their ramen was pretty delicious (edamame was too salty though!). 

So pretty!

So pretty!


Project Juice

790 Valencia St,

There are a few Project Juice locations in California, but I was so happy that my friend had one basically right next to her house. You can probably tell from the name, but Project Juice serves up delicious and healthy smoothies, juices, and smoothie bowls. This place was seriously a lifesaver after a hangover. 

If you want to download their Thanx app, you get $5 off your first order. Definitely worth it since most of the items are $10+. Use this link to download the app:


Bi-Rite Market

3639 18th St

Bi-Rite Market is a small, local grocery store that features organic and locally produced goods. Since it's so popular among locals, it may seem a little overwhelming to traverse the small aisles and long lines. But its so worth it! We picked up sandwiches and pasta salad here to bring to the park and they were PERFECT. I got the Fried Chicken sandwich which had buttermilk Fried Chicken with Green, Red & Savoy Cabbage Slaw, Pickled Carrots, Cilantro & Sweet Chili Sauce on Dutch Crunch Roll. Plus, there was a small stand next to the store where I picked up mochi for dessert. 

The perfect picnic

The perfect picnic


Mission Dolores Park

19th Street & Dolores Street

So after picking up yum yums from Bi-Rite, we headed to Mission Dolores Park which is basically how I would sum San Francisco up in a nutshell if someone ever asked. Seemingly always packed - Dolores Park is an amazing green space (I'm a sucker for parks in cities) in the middle of the city where locals and tourists alike can hang out, enjoy a picnic, and gaze at a beautiful view of San Francisco. Oh, and serious people watching. Really, there are SO many interesting people (and puppies!) here from the hippies making floral headbands to the pineapple bartender to the various people selling every type of substance out there. You could easily spend hours in this park.

I could people watch here forever.

I could people watch here forever.

Lenient rules on alcohol and substances allowed me to enjoy this delicious California beer

Lenient rules on alcohol and substances allowed me to enjoy this delicious California beer


Clarion Alley

Between 17th and 18th Street

One of the last places we stopped during the weekend was Clarion Alley which is where the majority of the Mission District's street art is located. I'll just let the photos speak for themselves:



Other places of note:

Elbo Room - 647 Valencia St, - Great late-night place for cheap drinks and dancing to live music. Note that there's a cover charge to get upstairs.

Lolo - 974 Valencia St, - If you're looking for something fancier than your typical taquerias, check out Lolo which is a tapas restaurant with delicious small plates. The quesadillas were filled with roasted corn and carmelized onions - one of the most delicious plates I've ever had.

Uptown - 200 Capp St, Stopped here for just one beer, but if you love divey places - this is where you should go. A unique atmosphere with a great selection of craft beers.

Southpaw - 2170 Mission St,  - I'm a bit partial because my friend worked here, but this BBQ joint is seriously great. Sunday they have $1 ribs which paired with a variety of amazing sides (bacon and cheddar grit cake, mac & cheese, sweet potato tots, etc) makes a perfect and cheap dinner. They also have delicious cocktails with names worth a chuckle (i.e. the "Safeword").


Check out the Map of all of the places Discussed in this post:

Life Lately

life happeningsGrace SorianoComment

Oh my. So I have obviously not mastered the skill of keeping my blog updated while I'm busy with work. I just wrapped up our Board of Director's meeting which has kept me super busy the past month. The great thing though, now that it's done - I'll have a pretty stress-free workload until Convention comes next year!

So other than that, here's what's been happening lately:

Watching The Night Of. Just watched the season finale and I was so impressed by this show overall because of how real it felt and, to be honest, how disappointed you're left by the end of it. Is that a weird thing to say? I mean, I was happy with what happened with Naz and the trial, but the truth was that the entire trial changed his life negatively and he will probably end up in the system later in life. I thought it was a pretty accurate account of the American justice system.

Reading Well, the last book that I finished was Jojo Moyer's Me Before You. I wanted to continue my cry-fest and read the sequel, After You, but unfortunately it's checked out at my local library so I'll probably be waiting weeks until I get a hold of it. So instead, I'm reading The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. I decided to switch it up and read something a little bit less sappy and more suspenseful (think "Gone Girl"). I've only read two chapters but I'm enjoying it so far!

Designing You probably haven't noticed, but I made some small design tweaks to my blog - mainly changing the Squarespace template to Montuak in order to take advantage of it's excerpt feature at some point. Unfortunately, I'm running into a few glitches such not being able to preview my draft posts. So, hopefully I'll be be able to re-design around those issues.

Enjoying the weather cooling down. Okay, not that I don't love summer and getting my tan on at the pool - but I feel like I've been constantly hot and sweaty! DC weather has finally gone below 90 degrees so I'm really cherishing it (before I start complaining about the cold).

Annoyed About the recent iPhone software update. Not sure what happened, but typically I update my iPhone overnight if it needs to be updated. So, I did the same exact thing this time around and my iPhone reset to factory settings! Because my last back-up on my phone was a month ago, I lost a month's worth of photos (including my trip to Atlanta) and data. So. Annoying.

Excited About all of my upcoming trips! I'm be heading out to San Fran tomorrow, Blacksburg VA the weekend after that, Austin (hopefully) at the end of the month, Palm Springs in October, and finally (as if you haven't heard me talk about it enough) Asia in November.

Wanting a bunch of new travel gear. I got my new Deuter backpack which is perfect and now I'm ready to go through the rest of my wishlist.

Laughing at John Oliver. I was fortunate to score an awesome seat (Yes, singular, I sat by myself!) to his show at the Kennedy Center. Sometimes when I watch his show on HBO, Last Week Tonight, I feel too bogged down with facts and politics - but his stand-up was amazingly balanced - hilarious and poignant at the same time.

Thinking About starting a YouTube Channel. Okay, maybe this is a bad idea since I don't update my blog enough for my liking. But, while researching for our Asia trip, I've been watching so many travel vlogs which have inspired me SO much. Would love to try my hand at it and put to use everything I learned in my high school media production class. Heh.

Well, I've got two busy travel weeks ahead of me so hopefully I'll have more updates soon. Hope everyone is having a great hump day!

Tips for Attending Diner en Blanc

events and entertainingGrace SorianoComment

First of all, for those who don't know what Diner en Blanc is - it is an all-white pop-up dinner party that originated in France about 27 years ago and now occurs in major cities around the world. Diners get dressed in all-white, bring their own dining gear (tables, chairs, glassware, etc) and food to set up in a public location unknown to them until the day of the event.

So what's the purpose of the event? The Diner en Blanc website explains it best:

Over the course of the evening, guests experience the beauty and value of their city's public spaces by participating in the unexpected. Beyond the spectacle and elegance of the dinner itself, guests are brought together from diverse backgrounds by good taste and a love of beauty. Le Dîner en Blanc recalls the elegance and glamor of high French society, and guests engage one another, knowing that they are taking part in a truly magical event. 

This amazing event is coming back to Washington, DC this month. I was fortunate enough to attend the first annual Diner en Blanc DC two years ago (even got to create some graphics for them) and had an absolute blast. Unfortunately, last year I missed it because was recovering from open heart surgery (darn you imperfect heart!) and this year I'll miss it again because of work (darn you event planner life!). So, in order to feel like I'm still somewhat kinda a part of it, I'm offering up some tips from my first time at Diner en Blanc!

Tag team with friends on gear - It's usually much cheaper to buy items in sets, so talk with your friends or utilize the Diner en Blanc forum to see if anyone wants to divide up costs for purchasing or renting items. For example, when I was looking for white napkins - It was way cheaper to buy a set of 4. Of course I only needed two, so we split the costs with another couple. 

Rent, don't buy - Another way to save a few bucks on gear is to rent instead of buying. A group of us ended up renting our white chairs from AAA Party Rentals in Alexandria. There were six of us so we just had one person pick them up for all of us on the day of the event and return them the day after. 

Having friends who are going too really helps split costs!

Having friends who are going too really helps split costs!

Bring rolling carts/coolers - Many people think they can easily carry two chairs, a folding table, and your picnic basket filled with dishes, glassware, and food to the dinner site, but I'm telling you now: you can't. Well, even if you can, you're going to be tired and sweaty by the time you get there and it's going to ruin the mood a bit. So save yourself the grief, and get something you can roll whether it's a rolling cart, cooler, or suitcase or at the very least, bring items that you can carry on your back. Trust me.

Don't over pack your meal - If you plan on bringing your own picnic, be cognizant of how much food you're bringing. The towers of cheese, crackers, and charcuterie sure look nice but are you really going to eat that much? Again, try tag teaming with a few friends or other attendees in your group if you really want  a variety of items.

Three different types of salad for an appetizer, PLUS bread and cheese!? Totally not neccessary.

Three different types of salad for an appetizer, PLUS bread and cheese!? Totally not neccessary.

Time management - This tip was more relevant the first year because the dinner occurred on a Thursday instead of Saturday. But I very clearly remember getting home from work and being so rushed that I was beyond stressed. Between putting the finishing touches on my meal to doing my hair, I was exhausted by the time I got to the dinner site. So, make sure your entire picnic is made the night before, do a test run of your table and centerpieces, lay your outfit out with all of your accessories, and don't plan on doing anything else the morning prior.

Make friends with your group - Even though we went with a group of our friends that we already knew, one of the best parts of the night was meeting new people. Diner en Blanc not only brings together people from around the DMV area, but there are a few out of town guests too. Enjoying a sense of community with the fellow diners is an important part of enjoying the overall experience.

Me and the best date ever 

Me and the best date ever 

Wear comfortable shoes - Self explanatory? At least bring comfortable walking shoes and then change into your fun shoes when you get to the dinner site.

Have questions? Utilize your Team Leader - Your team leader is someone who not only has done the event before, but has gone to pre-event meetings to discuss logistics and frequently asked questions. So, if you have any question at all - make sure you ask them!

Embrace it - My final tip is to embrace Diner en Blanc completely - from the preparation to the actual evening. I don't mean that you should have over-the-top picnics or centerpieces, but rather be as CRAZY and CREATIVE as you're comfortable with. On the day of the event, let loose and enjoy yourself (get out on that dance floor!). Diner en Blanc is truly a unique event and it will be one that you will always remember.

The sparkler send-off was an amazing experience

The sparkler send-off was an amazing experience

So those are my tips for you. I'm really hoping I'll be able to make the 2017 event! Have any other questions about what to expect? Ask me in the comments!