Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dining Out: The Beachcomber

When I was very little my grandparents used to rent a house every summer in Dennis on Cape Cod. We'd all pile in there - grandparents, aunts, uncles, toddlers and babies - for a week of sun, beach and lobster dinners.

In addition to our family, my grandfather's best friend, his wife and their son would also vacation with us. Their son, 18 years my senior, would always duck out after dinner to head to a place called the Beachcomber. For the majority of my childhood, the Beachcomber was this mysterious place where our "big brother" disappeared to at night.

In my mind I had built up the Beachcomber to be this wild, crazy, frat boy destination in the middle of an otherwise peaceful Cape Cod. Well, last week I finally made my first trip.

In the middle of our vacation week, my sister, brother-in-law and I decided to grab drinks and dinner, just the kids. We drove from Truro to the next town, Wellfleet, and were thrilled to discover the Beachcomber is actually right on the sand of Cahoon Hollow Beach.

There is a huge indoor dining room, but the most coveted seats are at the picnic tables on the outdoor patio and at the bar.

We put our name in for a table and the hostess let us know it would be about a half hour. Undeterred, we snagged seats at the bar. All the bartenders were total Boston bros, rocking the classic Red Sox hat with the flat brim.

In addition to the huge bar, the outdoor patio also boasts a raw bar. I love that the guys prep lobsters, oysters, shrimp and clams in front of a giant American flag.

To kick off the night our first round included a Bloody Mary for me, a margarita for my brother-in-law and a glass of the Truro Vineyards rose for my sister. My Bloody had a nice dollop of horseradish right on top. Yum!

My sister and her husband were super tempted by the raw bar and wound up ordering a combo plate called the little devil.

It had three oysters:

Three clams:

And three shrimp:

Thank goodness I forced them to let me take pictures before they dug in because that whole plate vanished!

Soon after they'd cleaned their raw bar plate, our buzzer went off for our table. We got a killer spot, right along the edge of the patio overlooking the dunes.

The Beachcomber menu is what you'd expect from a Cape Cod seafood place. Two full pages of fried food.

While we were sitting at the bar we saw another table receive a plate of nachos. We knew immediately we had to have them. The tower of chips was piled high with goodies.

Typically the nachos come with beef chili, but the newlyweds were nice enough to let me order it on the side. The both dunked chips in the chili and raved about it.

To be honest, we should have stopped after the nachos, but, when in Rome, right?

There weren't a ton of vegetarian options on the menu, so I went with the simplest choice, the veggie burger. It was a black bean based patty topped with cheddar cheese. I only ate half the burger and instead focused my attention on the French fries.

My sister went with the tuna tacos. She said, "The tuna was very fresh, but the plate as a whole was nothing to write home about, especially those salsas. I wish the tacos had come on a soft corn tortilla and that the presentation had actually shown the fish, instead of burying it under all the toppings."

Both of our entrees were kind of a bust, but my brother-in-law hit the jackpot. He made a classic move and ordered the fish and chips. The piece of fish that came on this plate was enormous.

The piece of fish was so big they served it with the utensils sticking straight up out of it! The fish comes over a tortilla bowl stuffed with French fries and garnished with a mini dish of cole slaw. In between blissful bites he commented, "The fish is extremely fresh and the batter is perfect. The fish is just so tender. The fries are solid, as is the coleslaw. Not sure why it came in a tortilla bowl, but I don't care."

There was no question, the fish and chips was the best dish we ordered. My sister kept trying to sneak bites.

We left the Beachcomber around 9:30pm, so we didn't really stick around long enough for the vibe to switch from dinner and drinks to drinks on drinks on drinks. The scene was much more tame than I imagined, but again, that could be because we were there early.

After nearly 20+ years of wondering about the magic of the Beachcomber, I finally experienced it for myself.

Have you ever been to the Beachcomber?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Explore: Truro, Cape Cod

For the past 20 years (!!!) my family has vacationed in Truro, MA on Cape Cod. For those who haven't been, Truro is the sleepy town right before Provincetown, which is the last town all the way out at the end of the Cape Cod elbow.

I was lucky enough to spend all of last week in Truro with my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law and a few friends and cousins who popped in as guest stars.

The house we have always stayed in is a 10 minute walk from Great Hollow Beach. Truro is known for beaches with beautiful dunes.

We spent two days mid-week soaking up the sun at Head of the Meadow Beach. It has the most incredible sand bar at low tide.

Another Truro signature is the breathtaking sunsets. Countless paintings have been inspired by these sunsets and they're regularly for sale in art galleries in Wellfleet and Provincetown. I'll never tire of these neon hues.

I took a ton more sunset pictures and shared them on Instagram. Check those out here.

Though there are certain things we look forward to every year in Truro, this year there were a few new kids on the block. On Highland Road there's a small grocery store called Salty Market.

The Salty Market offers a wide variety of grocery items, wine, beer, a deli counter and of course, Cape Cod souvenirs.

They even had a cute little seating area outside where you can enjoy your nibbles.

Two doors down a chocolate shop has opened called Chequessett Chocolate. They've got a big flag waving out front and an adorable outdoor seating area.

Inside they have beautifully packaged chocolates, but they also serve coffee and tea drinks and desserts from a big glass case of temptations. We did try their take on a Heath bar and holy cow was it delicious!

The most exciting new addition to the Truro scene is definitely South Hollow Spirits at the Truro Vineyard.

I've written about Truro Vineyard before (here and here). It's one of my favorite places in America. When we visited two summers ago and they were building the distillery, we were so excited for it to open. Well, this summer it finally did!

The distillery is producing a spiced rum called Twenty Boat. It's $29.99 for a small bottle (pricey!).  You can tour the distillery every day at 2:00pm.

In addition to the distillery tour, this summer they've also added an outdoor bar.

The whole time we were on the property there was a huge line at this new bar.

This year the vineyard is also sporting their own custom game of corn hole which seemed to be a big hit.

Since Truro is a primarily residential town, it's always fun to explore the newest arrivals.

On this trip I finally got to try a legendary Cape restaurant I've been hearing about since I was a kid. More to come on that!

Where are your favorite spots on the Cape?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ride In Style With Uber

I will never forget the first time I rode in an Uber SUV. I was having lunch with a friend at his office in Manhattan and as we were finishing up he said, "I have a meeting uptown so I'm just going to call an Uber. You want to hop in and we'll stop at your office first?" I looked at him quizzically and said, "You're calling a what?"

About two minutes later he got a text and we rushed down the stairs. When he threw open the door and we were back on the bustling streets of the Flatiron district there was a sleek black SUV waiting for us. Our impeccably dressed driver met us on the sidewalk, opened the door and before I knew it, we were zipping up towards Herald Square in total luxury and style. I felt like Beyonce.

After that celebrity-like experience, I downloaded the app myself and began to use it pretty much everywhere. Early flight at the airport? Call Uber. In a new city with no idea which direction to go? Call Uber. Over served at the company holiday party? Call Uber.

Since downloading the app, I've called cars in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Paris. In fact, while on my way to Logan with Uber for the trip to France, the driver filled is us in on the great news that we could use Uber once we got to Paris too. We called a car to get to and from our friend's wedding. Tres magnifique!

There are so many things I love about Uber - the ability to call a car anytime, the way I can track my driver as he makes his way to the location, the feature that shows you the driver's picture and license plate number so you know exactly who to look for, the text updates you receive and of course, that you never have to exchange any money (it's all linked to your credit card, tip included). But more than all of those utilitarian benefits, I love that I always feel like I'm riding in style. Your own private driver is truly the best accessory.

To elevate the idea of riding in style, the generous people of Uber are offering a fantastic deal for first time riders. If you sign up for Uber between now and Tuesday 7/29, you will be entered for the chance to win the following:

A Stylish Night Out with Uber

1. Credit on the fabulous shopping site Ideeli  (more details on that here)
2. A lavish dinner at Stella in the South End
3. Your own private Uber SUV driver for the evening

New clothes, an A+ dinner and your own dedicated driver? Now that's a good look.

So how exactly do you enter? Two ways:

1. Download the Uber app. The app is available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Use the promo code "PopBopShop" when you sign up to receive $30 off your first ride and be entered for the chance to win the Stylish Night Out.
2. Use this link, exclusive to Pop.Bop.Shop. readers, to sign up for Uber. Again, this link will also offer you $30 off your first Uber ride and enter you for the chance to win the prize.

Who's ready to turn heads?

*This post is sponsored by Uber. All opinions are 100 percent my own. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Coming Soon: Wahlburgers On Wheels

If you read this blog regularly, then you already know I think Wahlburgers makes the best onion rings in the world. I've been in love with their burgers, tater tots, onion rings and shakes since my very first visit in December 2011.

In fact, I love their boozy s'mores milkshake so much that I recreated it at home for my Oscar Party this year.

Though Wahlburgers is incredible, sometimes the 45 minute drive down to Hingham can be a deterrent. Well, good news. To celebrate the premiere of Season 2 of the Emmy-nominated A&E series "Wahlburgers," this Saturday, July 26th, from 11:00am - 7:00pm, Wahlburgers on Wheels will be rolling into Faneuil Hall.

While the truck is in town for the day, fans can enjoy a free burger and tater tots as well as a game of cornhole.

After you've devoured your free combo, be sure to set your DVR for the premiere which is Wednesday, August 13th at 10:00pm ET on A&E.

Who's ready for some free Wahlburgers deliciousness?

*Final image courtesy of Wahlburgers on Wheels. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#RockportChallenge: Giveaway Winners

Happy hump day! Your Wednesday is about to get a whole lot brighter.

First, thank you to everyone who entered the #RockportChallenge giveaway. I had such a blast talking summer style with you, courtesy of Rockport.

Now, whether you are taking home one of the five pairs of shoes or not, the generous people of Rockport are offering a discount code exclusive to Pop.Bop.Shop. readers. Use the promo code POPBOPSHOP20 to receive 20% off any full priced item on Rockport.com (clearance and end of season sale items are not eligible for the discount). The code will be accepted through July 31, 2014.

With that great news revealed, let's move on to the moment you've all been waiting for, the winners.

Drum roll please . . . . as selected by Random.org . . . the lucky ducks taking home a pair of the Seven to 7 Laser Peep Toe Wedges are:

1. Lorianne
2. Melissa
3. Semirah
4. Jessica
5. Celeste

Congratulations!

To claim your prize, please email your name, mailing address and shoe size to popbopshopblog@gmail.com. As a reminder, Rockport will do their best to fulfill the same style and color shown here, however, due to size availability, winners may receive a different Seven to 7 style or color.

Thank you again to all those who entered and congrats to the five lucky ladies!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Birthday Wish List: Origami Owl Locket

B is for birthday, but more importantly, B is for bling! What's a birthday celebration without that extra touch of sparkle?

Today in the weekly Birthday Wish List series, I'd like to introduce you to a company called Origami Owl. This jewelry business' founder just graduated from high school and celebrated her 18th birthday! Very impressive.

Origami Owl allows you to create custom lockets for family and friends, first by choosing the chain, then the locket frame and finally the charms to fill the locket.

I discovered this idea on one of my favorite fashion blogs, Electric Blogarella, written by Miami mama Ginger Harris. She was able to attend an event with the Origami Owl founder and create a locket for herself and one for her daughter. Here is one of her photos:

You can also check out some styling suggestions on the Origami Owl Facebook page.

Though their branding is a bit juvenile, I love the idea of creating a personalized, wearable keepsake. Not all of us have the budget to buy our friends a pile of Alex + Ani bangles, so this is a way to customize a gift that is truly unique for the birthday girl.

Personally, I'm loving the Rose Gold Living Locket with crystals, the piñata charm, the boat drink charm, the double scoop ice cream cone charm, the vintage bus charm (with surfboard!), the palm tree charm and the bon voyage suitcase charm.

Check out Origami Owl's website and starting building a locket for your mom, sister, roomie or BFF.

*Image 1 courtesy of Electric Blogarella, images 2-3 courtesy of the Origami Owl Facebook page.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dining Out: Lone Star Taco Bar

Every Thursday night since I graduated (all the way back in 2006) I have dinner with one of my best friends from college. Each week we try to come up with something new and exciting to do together and last night we decided to try a restaurant that had been on both of our "must-try" lists, Lone Star Taco Bar.

Lone Star opened in January 2012 on Cambridge Street in Allston. It is directly adjacent to Deep Ellum, which is owned by the same duo, Aaron Sanders and Max Toste. Lone Star is basically Deep Ellum's taco-obssessed younger sib.

If you're unfamiliar with this Allston neighborhood, it would be easy to miss Lone Star as it doesn't really have a sign, but instead one silver star above the door. It looks like the spur of a cowboy boot.

Inside, the restaurant space is quite narrow with a bar on the right and the dining tables on the left. We arrived at 7:30pm and every single seat was taken.

While waiting for a table, I couldn't help but notice the funky light fixtures hanging over the bar.

I also had time to look up and become smitten with the exposed beams on the ceiling.

To help the wait fly by, we each ordered a cocktail. The Paloma for me (blanco tequila, grapefruit, lime and salt) and the Lone Star margarita for my BFF (blanco tequila, lime, lemon, sugar, orange liqueur).

I highly recommend the Paloma. It was light and sweet and you could not taste the alcohol at all (the best kind of drink).

After about a 15 minute wait a table became available and we slid into our seats. The menus were already on the table. Lone Star has a limited selection, but absolutely everything is enticing.

We were debating between starting with the chips and guacamole or the victory club nachos and we caved and went with the nachos. It was a generous spread of chips topped with two kinds of cheese, Napa cabbage, jalapeños and guacamole.

The nachos were great, but unfortunately the goodies weren't evenly distributed, so some bites were packed with flavor and other bites were just plain naked chip.

For her main meal, my friend ordered the chicken ranchero tostada. The dish is built on a crispy tortilla (like a flat taco shell) then topped with ranchero braised, shredded chicken and garnished with Napa cabbage, cotija cheese, crema and pickled onions.

After a few bites she said, "This is very good. The chicken is a bit spicy for me, but I love the tortilla and the taste of the chicken with the cabbage. I would definitely order this again." She also mentioned that after the nachos, this was the perfect portion size.

Speaking of sizes, I ordered the grilled avocado taco which I assumed would be an order of two or three tacos, but turned out to be one small plate. In addition to the avocado, the tortilla was topped with grilled queso, salsa verde and corn relish.

I was psyched to find a vegetarian dish on the menu that sounded so killer. I have to say though, I was pretty disappointed in this taco. The serving size was teeny and the flavor was just too bland. Maybe I should have shaken some hot sauce on it.

To share, we placed an order for the grilled street corn which was dressed with chili lime aioli, cotija cheese and cilantro. This was hands down the best thing we ate all night.

Now ladies, please be advised, this corn is not first date food. The only date you'll be going on is with a pile of napkins and your dental floss.

I seriously got the aioli all over my face and I was bummed because I wanted to eat every last bit of it! It was incredible. The char on the corn really elevated the dish and gave it a summer time feel. I would go back just to eat the corn again.

Overall, our experience at Lone Star Taco Bar was a good one. The bouncer (in a Superman t-shirt) was friendly and helped us get a table as soon as he could. Our waitress at the bar and at our table was nice, attentive and offered solid recommendations. My only qualm, and I am going to sound like such an old lady (mock if you must) was that the music was ridiculously loud. We were shouting across the table to have a conversation. I'm all for great music in a restaurant, just not at a deafening volume.

For those who love Lone Star, but don't live in Allston or Brighton, fear not! The owners are opening a second location across the river in Cambridge. You can read those details here.

Have you been to Lone Star Taco Bar? Which taco is your favorite?
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