London for Hipsters

Day two in London was much more comfortable and fun after a good night’s rest.  We kept commenting on how cool it was to feel so foreign in a country that still speaks our language!  Crossing streets, as expected, was dangerous.  We kept looking the wrong direction and almost getting run over.  Thankfully, we figured out the train system a little better and spent the day jetting all around, seeing some of the most famous sights first.  We also got super lucky with beautiful weather in this usually rainy metropolis.

London (1 of 1)
London Eye
London (2 of 1)
Big Ben
London (3 of 1)
Westminster Abbey
London (4 of 1)
Buckingham Palace
London (5 of 1)
He’s not allowed to move!

Our hosts suggested we check out Camden, a more trendy, hipster-ish neighborhood in north London.  It was great!  We got to see an old lock on the little river pushing boats through, check out an awesome crafts and food market, and found craft beer!

Lock 17
Lock 17
It's a tea party!
It’s a tea party!
Street DJing in a mask
Street DJing in a mask
Brew Dog has awesome beers!
Brew Dog has awesome beers and does tasting flights!

After only stuffing our faces a little bit on the best falafel I’ve ever had, we were off to Brixton, all the way in south London.  It’s a more ethnic neighborhood with a little bit of seediness and a cool up-and-coming food scene.  We checked out some pubs and then headed to Brixton Village Market.  This awesome little warehouse holds over 100 different tiny restaurants, each with around 12 seats each, serving different cuisines from around the world.  Apparently you only have to sign up for a six-month lease to open up here, which makes it a great avenue for those without a ton of cash to get started.  What a cool idea!  I wanted to eat everything!  But we settled on sharing a Pakistani “thali”, or sampling plate, from Elephant, which was wonderful!  You can also BYOB to these restaurants, so we grabbed a couple cervezas from the Colombian shop next door.

Space Invader tag in London
Space Invader tag in Brixton

Sufficiently stuffed, we headed back home to rest before our onward journey.  We both agreed that London was much cooler than we expected.  We were not at all excited about British food, but you can get any kind of food from anywhere in the world in London!  It’s such a multi-cultural city, which we really loved.  We’ll be back someday!

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Diablo Rosso in Panamá City, Panamá

Diablo Rosso, located in the historic Casco Viejo neighborhood of Panamá City, seems like it would be more at home in the hipster-lands of L.A. or New York City.  This funky little gallery/store/café is doing it’s part “to fill the void that existed for emerging art spaces in the region,” according to the gallery’s website.  Since its opening in 2006, Diablo Rosso has become a hub for young artists, challenging political and social commentary, bold fashion and artwork, engaging events, and great dining.

When you walk into the inconspicuous storefront, you are immediately confronted with a barrage of colorful clothing, neon lights, and a huge wall made of bright red Coca Cola crates, the whole interior popping like one big Andy Warhol piece.  The gallery space showcases modern art exhibits which change monthly, while the shop and restaurant feature huge paintings which are for sale, as well as a variety of antique/eclectic furnishings, all of which function as art pieces themselves.  Diablo Rosso also hosts periodic events, including weekly “Dinner and a Movie” nights every Tuesday.

Gallery

The fashion in the shop seems like a mix of cleverly thrifted items and crazily designed masterpieces, such as a dress made entirely of fuzzy pompoms.

Crazy clothing on sale

As if the shopping and the gallery were not stimulation enough, the food is also fantastic.  A menu of international cuisine features delicious appetizers, creative salads, and tasty sandwiches, most of which have clever names referencing pop culture (such as the Kevin Bacon sandwich).  On our visit, we started with the Salmon Dice (“Salmon Says”) appetizer, a great combination of toasted foccacia, goat cheese, smoked salmon, tomato, and pesto.

Salmon Dice appetizer

We followed this with two excellent sandwiches: I had the Catalina Grill and Zach had the Tuna de Lobos.  The highlight of the Catalina Grill was the amazing homemade chewy bread, although the portobello/pepper/goat cheese filling was also to die for.  Zach’s sandwich contained fresh grilled tuna, cucumbers, and an awesome wasabi mayonnaise, served in an overstuffed pita.  The wasabi mayonnaise provided the perfect amount of kick!  Both sandwiches were huge and came with a serving of zesty, mustard-ey potato salad with green onions.  Delectable!

Catalina Grill sandwich
Tuna de Lobos sandwich

By the end of the meal, we were stuffed and only wished we had more time in Panamá City to try more of the awesome-sounding creations on the menu!  Other highlights of Diablo Rosso include the indie-music soundtrack and the professional, English-speaking staff (our server was the BEST server we have had on our whole trip!).  This eclectic, progressive gallery/cafe is definitely not to be missed by anyone craving some good culture and good food in Panamá City!

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-8:30pm, Closed Sunday, Monday

Address:Avenue A and Calle 7, Casco Antiguo, Panamá City

Phone: 228-4833 / 37

Website:www.diablorosso.com

E-mail: info@diablorosso.com

This post was sponsored by Diablo Rosso.

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Restaurante Vegetariano Los Girasoles in Cartagena, Colombia

Vegetarian lunch

Restaurante Vegetariano Los Girasoles in beautiful Cartagena, Colombia, serves healthy and inexpensive set lunches that should not be missed during any visit to this wonderful city!  Set inside an inconspicuous corner shop near the historic city center, the lower level is a natural foods and products store, while the upstairs contains a lovely air-conditioned dining area and kitchen serving up wonderfully nutritious, all-natural, and tasty meals!

Busy dining room

Founded 27 years ago as Cartagena’s very first vegetarian restaurant, with the goal of promoting healthy eating to Cartagena’s citizens, today the restaurant is still increasing in popularity.  The packed dining room is filled with mostly locals, a testament to the flat-out deliciousness of this place in a predominantly carnivorous culture.  The staff are friendly and always smiling as they provide quick and efficient service.  The complete lunch costs only 7000 COP and contains different selections each day.

Cream of onion soup

On our visit, we started with a mild cream of onion soup.  The main course (see top), consisted of aromatic rice, Asian vegetables, salad with a creamy dressing, lentil fritters, and a casserole of soy crumbles and veggies.

Lentil fritters

My favorite part was the sweet yet tangy Asian-inspired sauce covering the roasted vegetable side.  Everything in the huge lunch was fresh and amazing though, thus we had no trouble getting through the large portions!  All of this was also served with sugar-free, fresh-squeezed passion fruit juice, and followed by a sweet sampler of freshly-baked cake.

Strawberry and raisin cake.

After filling up on all your vitamins and nutrients at lunch, you can shop downstairs for all-natural condiments, herbs, and beauty products.

Selection of natural products in the shop

A great value and a truly great meal, Restaurante Vegetariano Los Girasoles will satisfy hardcore vegetarians and carnivores alike!

Location: Calle de Los Puntales #37-01, in the San Diego barrio of Cartagena, Colombia.

Restaurant from the street

This post was sponsored by Restaurante Vegetariano Los Girasoles.

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Danny’s Fruits & Cocktails in Taganga, Colombia

Danny’s Fruits & Cocktails in Taganga, Colombia, has the best value of any restaurant along the beach.  With a daily “Sandwich and Jugo” special for 4,000 COP ($2), this spot became our daily dinner.  The sandwiches are toasted and contain ham, tomato, onion, and melted mozzarella cheese, and included in the price is a delicious slushy limeade.

The juice bar is colorful and hip, with friendly servers and a convenient beachfront location that’s perfect if you love people-watching while you eat.

They also make a variety of delectable-looking fruit salads and ice cream sundaes that are sure to satisfy the cravings of any sweet tooth!

Location: Calle 1, the road along the beach.  It’s near the middle of the strip.  (Not many places have real addresses in Taganga.)

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Salinerito Pizzeria in Otavalo, Ecuador

We discovered Salinerito Pizzeria on our first visit toOtavalo, and when we crossed through the town again recently we just had to go back!  The place is amazing!  It’s a full Italian restaurant plus an awesome little grocery store too!

Service can be a bit slow, but it’s totally worth it for the amazing pizzas!  The “personal” pizzas are huge and range in price from $2-4.  Very reasonable!  They also have huge sub sandwiches, salads, breakfast, and desserts.

The pizzas have a deliciously thick crust, a smothering of mozzerella, and a sprinkling of oregano!  Zach got a mushroom, tomato, and onion pie, while I opted for the Chilé: tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and super-spicy orange chilés!  So good!

Location: Just off the intersection of Salinas and Simon Bolivar, Otavalo, Ecuador.

 

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Café Cultural Restaurant Expreso Virgen de Guadalupe in Barranco, Lima, Perú

We very happily stumbled upon this excellent vegetarian buffet inside an old train car while wandering Barranco looking for a lunch spot.  For only 16 Soles, it is a steal!  The selection is also excellent, the food delicious, and the location could not be more unique!

The train car is from 1909, and the furniture and decor is all from that time period and beautifully maintained.  The buffet includes chicha to drink, a myriad of fresh veggies and salads, a soup, several delicious entrees and sides, and a couple desserts to choose from.

As salads and food this healthy is hard to come by in Perú (on our budget), we absolutely LOVED indulging in plate after plate of vitamin-rich veggie goodness!

This place was so good that we had to go back for a second lunch two days later.  Who knows, it’s quite likely we’ll end up back again for our third time today!

Location: Av. Prolongación San Martín 15, Barranco, Lima.  (Just off the main plaza.)

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Fayslin Chifa in Barranco, Lima, Perú

Soup for starters.

Right across the street from our bed and breakfast in Barranco we found this amazing chifa/traditional Peruvian place.  They serve good soup and daily lunch set-lunch specials for a good price.

Ají de gallina

We tried a few of their main courses and all were tasty and filling.  Carrie especially like the “aji de gallina”, sliced potatoes, shredded chicken, and onions in the deliciously-cheesy “huacaina” sauce (I found a recipe here and will definitely be trying to replicate it back the US).  They have an enormous menu, offering both typical Peruvian almuerzo combinations and a huge selection of Chinese options, all of which come with wonton soup.

Macarrones=basically pasta bolognese

Here’s their menu!

A classic Peruvian chifa.

Location:  Corner of Grau and Pierola, Barranco, Lima, Peru

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