Cocola | Santana Row – San Jose, CA [Best Coffee Spot in San Jose]

IMG_4649

Cocola is my favorite coffee shop and bakery to go to in the South Bay! On the weekdays, I love coming here because it is quiet enough to study from. In the evenings and weekends, I love coming here to people watch and for the lively vibe. I am currently typing this review as I sit inside Cocola at their beautiful marble tables.

There are so many drinks that I recommend from Cocola. On a hot day, my go to is the iced Chai. It is not overly spiced but not underdone. They do a wonderful job with the chai. On a cold day, I recommend anything from a chai latte to a hot tea. Since the coffee shop is open so late, I recommend drinking their decaf teas in the evening so you are not up all night.

My favorite thing to eat from Cocola is Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil sandwich. The sandwich is served on a crispy but soft little baguette and is drizzled with vinegar. The side salad along with the sandwich is enough to fill you up for lunch.

For dessert, you can honestly eat anything here and be happy. The macarons are delicious, the tarts are mind numbing, and the cakes are fluffy. Your sweet tooth will be satisfied when you get dessert here.

Cocola can get extremely busy at times which can irritate a person like me. Finding the right time to go is key to your experience. There have been so many stressful school nights that I have gotten a decaf tea and walked around a deserted Santana Row to clear my mind. This place has been my savior during my 1L year at law school. So many of my friends and classmates rave about Cocola. I have never heard a bad thing about the coffee shop and bakery other than “I wish I was capable of eating all of these desserts and not getting fat”.

Cocola is bae.

Tacolicious | Santana Row – San Jose, CA

IMG_5118

This taco place is a rather new addition to Santana Row. So many of my friends have raved about the tacos here so I decided to give it a shot. While I was disappointed at first, I definitely ended the dinner on a good note.

As a lover of Mexican food, I was sad to see that the vegetarian options for tacos included asparagus and mushroom. Is this normal for a taco? Not in my experience. The tacos at Tacolicious suddenly became a hard no for me. Since I only eat halal meat, my limited food pallet was thrown off with the confusingly off vegetarian options.

Instead of tacos, I opted for the empanadas from the appetizer menu. First, I was irritated that I was not eating tacos at a restaurant that had ‘taco’ in the name and second, I was lucky I had just finished Ramadan and did not have a normal appetite.

The empanadas were delicious. They were stuffed with chard, sweet peppers, goat cheese, and covered in tomatillo salsa. My friends each had a meat filled taco that they were clearly satisfied with. Though I was salty that I didn’t eat the tacos, I’m glad that they at least would. Service was normal and nothing above the norm for a restaurant that was not busy.

I would not go again only because their vegetarian menu was depressing and odd to see. For those who are not vegetarian, I would recommend coming since all my meat-eating friends rave about the tacos. I cannot speak per se what they love exactly but my friends are at Tacolicious at least twice a month to eat.

Smitten | Santana Row – San Jose, CA [Cute Ice Cream Spot in San Jose]

IMG_5260

This cute ice cream shop is tucked behind the main row of shops at Santana Row and in its own little courtyard. The reason why I love this ice cream spot so much comes down to location, uniqueness, and flavor.

The location is perfect since its located in Santana Row. Not only is there ample parking, but the vibe is perfect for girls night, family outings, and dates. The ice cream shop is located outside so it forces you to enjoy the summer weather after you have been cooped up al day.

Smitten isn’t a normal ice cream shop. It is unique because the cold treats are made with liquid nitrogen. A technique that is not traditional and quite new. The glass panes around the shop give a chance for people to watch as the ice cream is made using this new technique. Not only does it look like a science experiment but you can taste the quality in the ice cream.

The flavors at Smitten are wonderful, my favorite being Earl Grey. Unlike many traditional ice cream shops, Smitten offers 3-4 ice cream flavors and a limited amount of toppings. For some this can be restrictive however, for someone who has trouble deciding what they want, this is perfect. My most recent trip to Smitten involved Early Grey ice-cream in a waffle cone with caramel sauce drizzled on top (pictured).

I would recommend Smitten to anyone who is craving a sweet treat but doesn’t want to go the normal route of choosing between 24923 flavors of ice cream and toppings from a shop in a run down strip mall. As a person who loves ice cream, I would recommend Smitten on a summer day and on a cold winter evening (yes, I love ice cream that much).

Swing Alert: Kirby Cove with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, CA) 

IMG_0697.jpg

I don’t know about you, but I’m completely obsessed with swings! They take you back to our worry free days. So many people have been asking me about the swing at Kirby Cove so here is a guide of how to get there and general tips & tricks. *Make sure to follow me on Instagram to see more! @kaval.sultana*

Step 1: Battery Spencer

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 7.53.23 PM.png

Getting to Battery Spencer is as easy as typing it into your GPS. The route takes you across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. The directions will take you straight to a road where you can (attempt) to find parking in the limited spaces. We got lucky and found a spot a short distance from the path to Kirby Cove and another look out point.

**UPDATE 2/20/17** I went to this area on Feb 20th and the parking was barricaded. I don’t know why so I didn’t attempt to visit Kirby Cove. There is a parking lot at the bottom of the road (right before you can get on the road to go back over the bridge). Apparently you can access Kirby Cove from this lot – through the white gates and down to the Kirby Cove Campground.

The path we took to Kirby Cove Camp Ground was on the right of a shabby looking building. If you follow the people going to the shabby building, you will get to an awesome look out point of the bridge.

IMG_0620.jpg

Step 2: Kirby Cove Camp Ground

The walk to the camp ground was a 1.1 miles downhill through many beautiful trees. I didn’t plan accordingly so I wore heeled booties… Don’t be like me – wear comfortable shoes. Change into cute shoes for the picture if it’s really that important! After walking for about 20 minutes, you get to a campground that leads to the beach. Once you are on the beach, you’ll see a beautiful tree on the left with a swing hanging from it.

**Disclaimer*** The swing isn’t always there. Sometimes it is taken down and sometimes its available for use. I would recommend checking if anyone has posted on Yelp about the status of the swing or on IG (via the places search option). You don’t want to go all the way over there not to have the swing. The views are beautiful but a swing is a swing!

IMG_0608.jpg

Step 3: Getting on the Swing

When I went, the swing was a little too high for me to reach. Thats saying a lot since I’m pretty tall. My friend had to boost me up to the swing and give me a little push to get me swinging. Luckily, I was with one of my amazing photographer friends. While we were waiting in the line to use the swing, he was finding the perfect angle to take a good shot (visit his Instagram @prezbigdeli). Its worth taking someone who knows how to take pictures! Remember people come from far to visit San Francisco so don’t hog the swing. Use it for a little bit and if you really don’t like your shots, get back in line. The line wasn’t more than ten minutes for us.

After you’re done with the swing, spend some time on the beach. Its beautiful!

 

I hope you have as much fun visiting the swing as I did! If you know about more swings in California, I would love to hear from you!

Enjoy!

 

*Make sure to follow me on Instagram to see more! @kaval.sultana*