Living for Weekends

The work week is often so busy that I don’t plan any evening activities after I get off work. Living Monday-Friday inside of an office, I often forget that I’m living in the big apple, the “”place where dreams come true”” yadda yadda. It’s the weekends when I have time to explore and unwind after a long day that I realize how lucky I am to be living in this intense, wonderful NYC. These two past weekend I have done some really fun things. Below is a brief overview:

Friday, September 30th

Black Eyed Peas concert in Central Park. My friend Luke got free tickets to the concert. It was originally scheduled during the summer, but it was rescheduled due to a thunderstorm. I’m not a huge Black Eyed Peas fan, but it was a lot funner than I had expected. I had heard that Fergie doesn’t vocally perform well live, but I was pleasantly surprised by her voice as well.

Saturday, October 1st

I started the day sleeping in and being lazy in bed until afternoonBikram yoga class. Then I had a delicious vegetarian dinner at Curly’s. The nachos were particularly amazing. It’s definitely one of my new fav vegetarian spots. After dinner my boyfriend and I saw Moneyball. I went mainly because it was a movie my boyfriend really wanted to see, but I ended up enjoying it too.

Sunday, October 2nd

My boyfriend and I had a double date brunch in Brooklyn at Five Leaves. I ordered the Moroccan Scramble which I highly recommend although I was sickly full after eating it all. While we were in Brooklyn, I stopped in my favorite jewelry boutique, Norbu, which sells gorgeous druzzy pieces. Last but not least, my boyfriend and I went to the Tigers v. Yankees playoff game at the Yankees stadium. Even though we were two of few Tigers fans in a stadium full of Yankees, I still had a lot of fun supporting my home team. Yes, we did have our whole section shouting asshole at us, but it was worth it because we won 🙂 (See picture below as a prime example of how popular Kevin and I were in our section.)

Friday, October 7th

After another long week at work, I was looking forward to Friday evening to unwind. I met my boyfriend after work in the Meatpacking District at a place called Sea for a thai dinner. I will definitely be going back for their vegetarian basil duck. So good!

Saturday, October 8th

After breakfast at a trendy brunch spot in my neighborhood, Eatery, my boyfriend and I went to Queens to see the Detroit Disassembled exhibit by Andrew Moore at the Queens Museum. It was a trek, but it was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun. Being from Michigan, the exhibit felt close to home. I enjoyed the narrative Moore’s photographs told, and I like the idea of nature taking over the city as a part of the process of regrowth. Read more about about Detroit Disassembled here or watch a slideshow with narrative by Moore here.

Not only was it my first time at the Queens Museum but it was also my first time at Flushing Meadows Park to see the unisphere*. We got mister softee ice cream and ate it by the fountain while watching all the families enjoying the day.

In the evening, I met up with a college buddy to watched the Michigan vs. Northwestern football game at one of the Michigan bars in the city, Professor Thoms. At halftime we walked across the street for dinner at an Italian restaurant called John’s and to my surprise they had a whole vegan menu. It was a fun evening, and it didn’t hurt that we won too 🙂

Sunday, October 9th

After early morning Bikram yoga I had brunch at Dim Sum which is a banquet hall-like place that serves a la cart Chinese. It was definitely an interesting experience. I can’t say I’d go again, as the vegetarian options were very limited, but I enjoyed the preview into Chinese culture. After brunch we walked around and browsed through stores before seeing a French film at the Paris Theater–The Women on the 6th Floor. One of my new favorite things to do is to see French films at the Paris Theater, andbecause most people don’t enjoy films with subtitles the theater is never too crowded. The Women on the 6th Floor was really good and I feel lucky to live in a city that has a number of movie theaters that don’t just play mainstream films. Since it was such a nice evening, we were able to walk home. Then we made delicious vegetarian steak fajitas for dinner.

The past two weekends were the perfect combination of adventure

and relaxation. I love living in a city where there is so much going on at any given time. I can honestly say that I’m never bored. We’ll see what these next two weekends in October have in store for me :).

*TheUnisphere, built as the theme symbol for the 1964/1965 World’s Fair, is the main sculptural feature of the [Flushing Meadows] park. (Wikipedia)

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The Importance of Networking Events and the Integration of Social Media

Networking seems like a no-brainer when you’re looking to meet new people either in a similar industry or with similar interests. Since moving to NYC a little overa year ago, I’ve become a member of PRSA-NY andAWNY (and two book clubs…don’t judge). With the encouragement of my current employer, I try to go to at least one networking event or conference per week. Especially as one just starting my career, I think it’s important to go to events to make new connections and to have my face be seen so that I will become a recognizable player the in the field. Additionally, the more events I go to in NYC, the city starts to feel less like a big, hectic place full of strangers, and more like a place of opportunity to meet the right people.

An event I attended this week that made me realize how beneficial networking can be to not only make new connections but to also serve as a way to help adjust to city life was a Young Professionals “”TweetUp”” event (#YPNYC). It was a lot of fun. I met several wonderful people in the same industry with similar interests whom I hope to stay in contact with. I found the event on Twitter and I thought it was an interesting concept: using Twitter as the medium to reach out to a certain audience about the event, bringing those people together to meet face-to-face, and then continuing those conversations afterward via Twitter or LinkedIn. Despite the modest size of the event, it was one of the more successful networking event I have gone to. What I’ve also realized (in my long, illustrious career and networking experience 😉 ) is that the size of the turnout of an event does not matter as long as the people in attendance have interesting backgrounds and provide enriching, inviting conversation.

For those who feel too shy to attend an event solo, I recommend trying it not once, not twice, but at least

three times. There’s a good chance that by the third event you attend alone you’ll feel more confident and comfortable entering a room full of strangers. My second piece of advice for those trying to get out there more is toNOT bring a friend along as a crutch. Everyone is there for the same reason, so it’s important to look approachable; people might be more intimidated to join a conversation if it seems like you and your pal are attached at the hip. If you do attend an event with a friend or co-worker, at least split up. I actually prefer going to networking events alone now because I can work a room at my own pace and talk to the people I want to without feeling obligated to stand and talk to the same group as my friend/co-worker.

Being able to develop a relationship with someone by either making an introduction through social media like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook or using social media as a way to stay in contact is a powerful networking tool. When I attended the PR News Digital PR Summit, everyone was tweeting about the event using the event hashtag, and from there it was easy to connect with the people attending. The Digital PR Summit was a large event, so social media served as a vehicle to connect people even if they weren’t able to have any face time.

Networking can be a little scary, but all the pros are worth swallowing your fears and overcoming your nervousness. I also keep

telling myself that getting in the habit of frequently introducingmyself and making conversation at networking events will be helpful in my career as I interact with more and more clients. I strongly believe in the 3-touch rule in not only making an impression on potential business partners but also when making new friends to meet up with outside of events, and think social networks have become very useful mediums to continue the extension of that reach.

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Monday Night in the City

“”It [Monday] is a great way to wrap up the end of what most consider to be the worst day of the week.””

One of the many reasons I love NYC is the opportunity to go to a new restaurant or bar every night should you wish. On Monday evening I was going to meet a friend at the Ace Hotel bar for a drink but decided on John Dory‰غھs Oyster Bar on the corner of 39th and Broadway instead. Since we only wanted a drink, we sat at the bar. John Dory has a pretty good cocktail menu and I picked an interesting but good concoction to try. What I also like about John Dory's are the two round fish tanks hanging from each side of the bar. It was cool seeing all of the pretty fish while chatting with my friend‰غسthere were many little nemos swimming around in the tanks.

After a drink my friend and I were hungry for dinner, but since I don‰غھt eat seafood, we went to the

Crooked Knife nearby on 30th and Madison. It was a vastly different change of scenery. The

John Dory in the Ace Hotel is a fairly trendy spot and the place is brightly lit. Crooked Knife on the other hand is more laid back and provides a dimly lit dinner setting. They also have festive holiday decorations up.

For dinner at the Crooked Knife I had the Glazed Potato Gnocchi with wild mushroom, white truffle oil, asparagus and Parmesan. I am a huge fan of gnocchi but I‰غھm very picky, and I think that the gnocchi at the Crooked Knife is the best I have ever had. The portion size is also large so I was able to have leftovers for the next day.

I rarely go out on Monday nights unless it‰غھs for a networking event. I was worried it was going to be packed wherever we went on Monday because it was Halloween night, but it wasn‰غھt too crowded at John Dory‰غھs or Crooked Knife and we were seated immediately. I might have to make it a point to meet up with friends on Mondays more often. It is a great way to wrap up the end of what most consider to be the worst day of the week. Cheers, NYC.

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Phantom of the Opera and Other Weekend Fun

Another great weekend in the city: fall is here, the air is crisp, the red Starbucks holiday cups are out and Christmas decorations are starting to go up all over the city. I am thrilled and I feel the joy in the air. I had a jam-packed weekend full of fun. Here are the highlights of my weekend:

Friday

I met Kevin downtown at Sea for Thai dinner Kept true to my promise about going back.). It’s the best vegetarian spicy basil duck in Meatpacking District NYC. After dinner we saw Puss in Boots in 3D. After seeing the trailer and ads plastered all over the city, Kevin and I were secretly really excited to see it. Even though we were pretty much the only people over the age of 21 without kids watching the movie, we still really enjoyed it. Having grown up with two cats, I got a kick out of all the “”cat mannerisms”” that were incorporated throughout the film (like chasing and pouncing on shiny objects, the “”litter box dance”” in which a cat kicks up its feet to cover it’s excrement in the litter box, the way it laps up its milk and the way it licks its paws to clean the fur on its head). Embarrassing as this is to admit, I would probably even see it again when it comes out on DVD. The movie also made me want a cat even more than I did before I saw it.

On Saturday Kevin and I met up with our friends for brunch downtown at Cupping Room Cafe. I ordered the Middle Eastern Platter Salad (came with babaganoush, hummus, chopped marinated vegetables and pita), and it was amazing. Cupping Room Cafe seems like a popular brunch spot and I would definitely like to go

back for the Middle Eastern Platter Salad.

After brunch I hopped from one social engagement to the next. I met a friend at a vegan chocolate shop in Chelsea, Cocoa V for a cup of tea. Had I not just had brunch before going I would have ordered one of the vegan cupcakes too, but I decided not to be a glutton.

Walking back from tea time on 21st Street between 8th & 9th Avenue I looked up and saw this amazing piece of art on the side of a building. It made me smile. These are the kind of things that make NYC even more of a special place.

by HK Restaurant dozens of times either on my way to work or on my way to Kevin’s apartment. I had been wanting to try it out because it seemed like a trendy little spot, so when I saw it listed on Restaurant.com, I bought a deal to try it out. The vegetarian lasagna was quite tasty and they have decent happy hour specials. HK Restaurant is appealing to me because 1) it seems like a little gem of a place in an area of Hell’s Kitchen that isn’t the nicest 2) the location is convenient for me 3) glass garage doors serve as a wall on one whole side of the restaurant, giving it character and an easily open-able area to dine outside during the summer.

After dinner Kevin surprised me with tickets to see Phantom of the Opera. I saw Phantom of the Opera in Toronto when I was in my early teens, but I was excited to see it again and share the experience with Kevin. Plus, it was fun just having an occasion to get all dressed up for. I enjoyed the show and the Phantom of the Opera theme song stuck in my head long after the show was over. (Full disclosure: Although Phantom of the Opera is wonderful, is the longest running show on Broadway and won 7 Tony awards,

Sunday

On Sunday I was able to sleep in and lay in bed watching the NYC Marathon on TV before getting ready to meet up with a friend for brunch. Watching the marathon runners on TV was very inspiring and I hope to get back into running and perhaps even run in a marathon myself someday.

For brunch I met my friend downtown at South’s Bar. Luckily it wasn’t crowded at all and the brunch was delicious. Some of the seats in the restaurant were old leather theater seats which added a bit of charm to the experience.

After running errands the rest of the day, Kevin and I met one of his friends for drinks at Death & Co. on the Lower East Side. Death & Co. is bar with a speakeasy feel. There are no windows and two large heavy wooden doors make the entrance. Most importantly, they make delicious quality cocktails. The cocktails I ordered had an aftertaste that presented a whole other ingredient I didn’t taste on the initial sip. It made me want to savor the drink. In addition to the drinks, we ordered a few tapas that were also delicious–the Truffle Mac n Cheese and Wild Mushroom Tart bites. What is also notable about Death & Co. other than the quality ingredients used in each cocktail is the presentation of not only the drinks with their individual decor but also the presentation of the tapas. The Truffle Mac n Cheese was presented on little individual silver spoons to make for the perfect bite-full. I will definitely be going back.
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Los Angeles Weekend Work/Fun Trip

My work sent me to Los Angeles this past weekend for a project one of my clients was participating in. I’ve flown into LA a few times, but haven’t spent actual time sightseeing. Although I didn’t have time to do much sightseeing this trip either, I was looking forward to being on-site for the work project as well as meeting up with a few friends while I was in town.

Saturday

I took a flight out on Saturday morning and one of my good friends from college at The University of Michigan, Katie, picked me up from the airport. We had lunch and delicious macaroons at Lepicerie. It was great to see my friend and to catch up.
Later that evening I was supposed to meet up with another friend for a drink, but since I had been traveling for most of the day and was still on Eastern time, I bailed last minute because I was too tired. I stayed at Sheraton Universal in Universal City which is a pretty nice hotel. It was weird having a large room all by myself especially since the hotel room was larger than my own room in my apartment in New York.

Sunday

So, I kind of have a phobia of eating by myself. I was starving by Sunday morning because I skipped dinner, so at 7am I ventured to the downstairs lobby and picked up a coffee and a few things to snack on. I contemplated eating it at an open nearby table but quickly decided that since I was by myself, I’d feel much more comfortable eating it in my room with the TV on…I realize this is something I need to work on if I continue to travel alone in the future.

At 10am I headed over to HD Vision Broadcast Studios for our co-op Satellite Media Tour rehearsal. After rehearsal my best friend Ashley who lives in San Diego drove up to hang out with me for the rest of the day. We had lunch at Hugo’s in North

Hollywood and then stumbled upon a delicious dessert spot called Xtreme Desserts. They have cookie sandwiches filled with frosting–delicious! The Red Velvet Cookie was ridiculously good. I’m kind of bummed that they don’t have a NYC location because I’d be a loyal customer.

With our bellies full we headed to Santa Monica to take a stroll through the promenade. We browsed through shops for a while until we settled down at an outside table to enjoy a cocktail. What I found charming were the dozen or so people salsa dancing close by. It was entertaining to watch them dance while having a drink and catching up. It made me want to enroll in dancing classes because it looked like the dancers were having a great time and many people who were walking by stopped to watch for a few minutes and you could see them swaying or taping their foot along to the music as well. It was a wonderful evening.

Monday

Monday morning was the day of

the tour, so I was at the studio by 3am. I felt like I hadn’t slept the night before and was tired all day, but the day surprisingly went by pretty fast and the tour went pretty smoothly. (A picture from the set is below!) In addition, I was able to get onto a slightly earlier flight so I landed in NYC at 10pm opposed to 12am.

It was a jam-packed weekend with very little sleep, but I had a great time in Los Angeles. I’m so glad I got to see a few friends and I hope to visit again. (Although, NYC is still my favorite city ;-))

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Food Review: Dirt Candy

Dirt Candy

After traveling 4,800+ miles in less than 72 hours for, the next day, Tuesday night, my boyfriend and I made plans to have a nice dinner. We‰غھre both vegetarians and I had heard good things from a friend and read good reviews on Yelp about Dirt Candy, so we made reservations. I was surprised we were able to get in the same day I made the reservations because I had heard that you often have to book two weeks in advance since it‰غھs a very small restaurant with only eight tables or so, but maybe it was because it was a Tuesday night or we just lucked out.

Having read several reviews beforehand, I walked into Dirt Candy with high expectations. Most of the reviews exclaim that the Jalapeno Hush Puppies snack is a must try, so we ordered those and for the main course I got the Chard (chard gnocchi, grilled chard, garlic granola & drunken fig jam) and Kevin ordered the Cucumber (coconut poached tofu, shiso, galangal sauce, salsify & hearts of palm. Overall, I was not impressed.

Although the presentation of the entrees is good, I do not think the food lives up to the reputation of its reviews. I like that the Chard has a different spin to a gnocchi dish combining different textures like with the granola and adding some sweetness to a usual savory dish, but despite all of the different textures and ingredients used, it still tastes somewhat bland. I also had a bite of the Cucumber dish. Again, as with the dish’s grand presentation, I was expecting it to have just as big flavor. The Cucumber was even more bland than the Chard, and while I liked that the Cucumber dish was light and fresh tasting, the Chard dish at least was able to somewhat appease my palate by introducing it to a few different textures at once.

Additionally, although I was warned in the reviews that the restaurant is very small and the tables are practically on top of one another, I wasn’t expecting that my boyfriend and I would have to practically yell across the table from one another to be heard.

Am I happy I finally got to try out Dirt Candy? Absolutely, I‰غھd love to try all of

the vegetarian/vegan restaurants in NYC. Would I go back though? Probably not.

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NYC Crafted Cocktails

After reading Time Out New York’s last issue featuring dozens of recommended spots for a quality cocktail in NYC, I’ve been looking forward to trying some of the places.

Last Wednesday my girlfriend Fernanda and I went to The Tippler. “”Tucked beneath New York’s celebrated Chelsea Market, the Tippler inhabits a historic space that has not been revealed to the public in over 100 years.”” I was not expecting the venue to be as large as it is and it’s interesting that their seating is free for all, but we were able to snag a seat relatively quickly. I had two drinks while I was there, the Booty Collins and the Top Cat. The Top Cat was average, but the Booty Collins was amazing. The ingredients in the Booty Collins are: gunpowder tea-infused Belvedere vodka, passionfruit, lemon, yohimbe, cayenne. The cayenne kick at the end made the drink. I plan on going back to The Tippler simply for the Booty Collins. My only semi-complaint is that in addition to seating being a little difficult to find if it’s busy (which I was surprised that it was as busy as it was on a Wednesday night), it was also loud and difficult to hear my friend talking across the table.

Coincidentally,

the week before I had drinks at another bar that had made the list, Death & Company. You can read about it. To sum it up though, while the cocktails were delicious, part of what made the experience so great was the ambiance–large wooden doors, no windows, and dim lighting.

Last week I also visited Lantern’s Keep “”…nestled deep inside the Iroquois Hotel walls. Not a bar, not a lounge or a lobby, this hidden gem is an entity all to itself. A salon devoted to the art and enjoyment of great cocktails.

This secretive salon is already luring cocktail aficionados in and transporting them back to a turn of the century Parisian salon.”” I tried the Late Night Reviver with gin, lime juice, ginger syrup, fernet branca and club soda. The space is quaint and they do prepare quality cocktails, but it wasn’t my favorite. While I was able to sit down and have a conversation with my friend without having to shout across the table, I wasn’t feeling the spot as much as Death & Co. or The Tippler.

Besides The Tippler, Lantern’s Keep and Death & Co., other bars that I’ve been to over the past year that I’m also a big fan of are:

Milk and Honey – a speakeasy feel kind of bar in the LES with trendy and tasty cocktails. It’s a good place to have a well-made drink while catching up with friends.

PDT–It’s called Please Don’t Tell for a reason 😉

Raines Law Room – What makes this an exceptional speakeasy in NYC is the unmarked building with old school wallpaper, plush velvet seating and actual buzzers to pull on the wall to summon the waitress, not to mention the good cocktails.

I love when a bar can make the evening feel sexy and seductive. Some of the speakeasy-esque bars with the dim lightening and old school, classic ambiance make it feel more fun and fitting to be drinking such carefully crafted cocktails. Discovering exciting bars such as these are part of why I enjoy living in NYC so much.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2011!!

So much has changed from my blog post last Thanksgiving in NYC.I have even more to be thankful for this year, and I'm very happy living in NYC. Check out my Thanksgiving video here:

Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

Brief recap of what I'm thankful for this year:

1. My supportive, loving family and friends

2. My amazing boyfriend who also doubles as my best friend and “”activity partner”” who I have a ton of fun exploring the city

with

3. Being able to live and work in NYC. I LOVE living here. Over the past year I have also felt more integrated in city life by joining different clubs and organizations including book club, New York

Cares volunteering, Public Relations Society of American (PRSA), and Advertising Women of New York (AWNY)

4. Learning valuable things at my job at D S Simon Productions and taking it along with me as I begin the next chapter in my career in digital advertising at CBS.

Although I would love to be back home in MI spending Thanksgiving with the family, I'm still looking forward to [Kevin cooking] a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner and spending it with with another special person in my life. HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!

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Great Drinking Spots: Apothokey and Diablo Royale

I'm not one to go crazy over celebrities. I have seen a few celebrities in the city including Mario Cantone (Sex in the City) at a coffee shop, Robert Sean Leonard (House) on the subway, and Christian Siriano (Project Runway winner) walking down the street,and while it's cool seeing them doing normal things, I'm not so starstruck that I need to tweet that I saw them or creepily try to take a picture. BUT, when work provided a ticket to see a screening of The Woman in Black with a visit from Daniel Radcliffe yesterday, I wastruly excited. Alright, I admit I was mostly excited because I am a huge scary movie fan and when I saw the movie trailer weeks ago I made a mental note that I wanted to see it when it was finally playing in theaters, but the fact thatI was going to see Daniel Radcliffe in the flesh was pretty exciting too.

Yesterday was my first film screening event in the city. It was pretty fun too. All of the guests were given a special black veil to wear in theme with The Woman in Blackand theyalso doubled asthe ticket

to enter. There wasa fortune teller, someone painting nails, and women walking around in

costume for photo opps at the screening. Once everyone was sitting in the theater and an intro was made, Daniel then came out to say hi and tell us to enjoy the show. Even though he was only in the theater with us for maybe three minutes, it was still cool to see him show up and represent his film.

The Woman in Black was actually really good. After getting overbeinguncomfortable seeingRadcliffe play a father, I was absorbed in the movie. It made me jump several times, which means it's a good scary movie in my opinion. So, if you're looking to watch a scary movie, I recommend seeing The Woman in Black in theaters this Friday.

I feel lucky that I was able to attend the event, and it was a very fun, unexpected thing to do on a Monday night. Occassionally I forget how amazing New York City is. The odds of me seeing a celebrity on the streets or at an event inNYC are about 1,000,000 times higher than I would see one anywhere in the entire state of Michigan. The opportunity to see and do things that I would neverbe able to doin Michigan is something I'm very appreciative of. So, while I love and miss my mother state dearly, I'm really enjoying the opportunities in NYC.

To get you ready for The Woman in Black, check out the picture below and see if you can find what makes it so scary.

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Donut Pub

Doughnut Plant has been my favorite doughnut shop in NYC for the past several months. Ever since they opened up another location in Chelsea it has also made it much easier to get my hands on some doughnuts weekend mornings. BUT, living in New York City where there are thousands of different restaurants, it's hard for me to be completely loyal to any business without knowing for sure that there isn't better out there. So, to mix things up a bit, this morning I went to Donut Pub in Union Square instead of Doughnut Plant.

Everyone should use this product. If the gut isn’t working right than all the other products you take will not be able to do there job! . We fill thousands of online prescriptions everyday because our customers know that we offer unmatched value and the highest level of customer service delivered 24-7.

Donut Pub is a small rectangular shaped space, and when my boyfriend and I walked in we found two seats at the counter. We ordered two

coffees, an egg sandwich, and a vanilla cream, red velvet, chocolate, and chocolate dipped donut. Nothing was great. I read several Yelp reviews, and many recommended the red velvet donut, so my expectations were pretty high and

I ended up being disappointed.

Overall, everything was just average. I would compare the quality to a Dunkin Donuts or Tim Horton's, the only difference being that Donut Pub isn't a franchise.Doughnut Plant is a specialty doughnut shop. Doughnuts are the only food they sell. Mochas and chai tea lattes are the beverages they serve. Donut Pub on the other hand serves egg sandwiches in addition to cupcakes and cookies. What's interesting to me is that with their wide variety of different sweets, they only offer diner-like coffee.

While I do feel a little guilty for cheating on Doughnut Plant with Donut Pub, I don't regret having tried a new spot because now I know for certain that Doughnut Plant is indeed the best.

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