Best of 2022 – Bargains and Splurges List!

After months of exploring locally and across the pond I’ve compiled my absolute favorite finds from 2022! Be sure to bookmark these spots for 2023!

$ Bargain

Thrift (Cats Protection – Newcastle upon Tyne Charity Shop): I’ve been to my fair share of thrift shops and among the many shops I visited in the UK, Cats Protection had the best selection of ready to wear apparel at very reasonable prices. I bought my new favorite black wool coat (£10), 2 dresses (1 for £4 and the other £8), a necklace (I think £4), and a Pusheen bag (£2.5). All proceeds benefit cat rescue, education, and protection. Read more here.

Thrift (Veteran’s Thrift): I was looking for a few basic items for an upcoming costume and found several very fair priced items at the Veteran’s Thrift Shop in Chula Vista, CA (San Diego). You’ll need to dig, but there were gems to be found! Read more here.  

Dragonfruit lemonade (Healthy Juice): I’ve walked past this fruit cart several times when I visited LA Chinatown and thought to try them out. They allow guests to sample their beverages and mix them up! I decided on a dragon fruit and lemonade/chia seed concoction and it was so refreshing! I think regular was $4 and large was $5 – which is a steal considering they use all fresh fruit! You can check out their IG here.

Mochi (Shuei-Do Manju Shop): Authentic Japanese confectionary treats are always a fav of mine and the Butter Mochi at Shuei-Do Manju Shop in San Jose, CA was a star treat! A piece is $2 and most people will get a tray of at least 4, 6, 8 (or more). Check out my full review here.

$$ Moderate

Thrift (Save The Children Charity Shop): One of the nicest looking thrift shops I’ve ever visited is this mid-sized store in Clifton Village (Bristol), UK. They carry many designer and mid-high range items and honestly, you’d never know that you were at a charity shop. All proceeds benefits Save The Children, which is a cause I can stand behind. I bought this fuchsia pink dress for £20 and I absolutely love it! Read more here.

Baked Catfish Springrolls (Nam Giao Restaurant): Everyone inside this Garden Grove, CA restaurant was Vietnamese so I figured this was a local favorite. My friend and I shared a Medium Catfish (which I think was $40ish), though we probably could have gotten away with a Small, carved the flesh and plopped it into our Vietnamese burrito. Read full review here.

Harry Potter Backstage Tour (Warner Brothers Studio Tour London): Tickets for the WB Studio Tour London were a nightmare to get (and I’m not sure if it’s because they limited the number of timed tickets or if everyone just wants to go on vacation – probably a combination of both), but it was worth it (!!!) since it was my favorite memory on my entire London trip. There were a couple of interactive experiences, and I just loved reading about the details about the sets and seeing props/costumes etc. On my visit they opened up a new Mandrakes Greenhouse Exhibit which had great photo/video opportunities. Tickets were £49.50 (Roughly 60ish USD with tax for a single adult) If you’re a Potterhead you HAVE to come visit – but I recommend if you’re able to making those reservations at least 6 months out. See full review here.

Falafel Bowl (Sababa Falafel Shop): Anaheim, CA is known for Mediterranean food and Sababa Falafel Shop was a fantastic find. $10.99 bowl of misc veggies, seasoned rice, and sauces, (hummus + $1) plus falafel was a perfect way to end the day. Read my entire review here.

Duck Banh Mi (Cafe Bunn Mi): I’ve eaten a lot of banh mi’s in my lifetime, but the Duck Banh Mi at Cafe Bunn Mi definitely wins for elevated comfort food. Located in the heart of San Francisco, this hipster joint serves up made to order banh mi’s. For $13.04 it’s pricey, but the duck meat is just so incredibly juicy and succulent, and paired with the fluffy baguette and tangy slaw it was a masterpiece. *Chefs Kiss* Read more yelp reviews here.

$$$ Splurge

Sashimi (Sushi Ota): This San Diego, CA sushi bar has been on my bookmarks for a long time and finally I got to cross it off! I did a omakase ($130), and while everything was tasty, the sashimi was to die for! The raw seafood is definitely worth a visit. Read about my entire experience here and tips here!

Theater Performance (Harry Potter & The Cursed Child): Watching Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a huge splurge as tickets were £199 (roughly 241.75 USD) for Orchestra 12 rows back; however, you must know that you’re watching two shows (so it’s an all day event). The special effects and the way they utilized the stage was really cool, and I enjoyed the storyline. Read all my tips here.

Tea Time (The Ritz London): If you want to experience the glitz and glamor of high society book yourself a tea time at the Ritz London. It’s hard to convey into words how regal and exquisite the experience is but I definitely think it’s worth checking out. Tea time was £67 per person (roughly 95 USD). Read full review here.

Michelin Star Dinner (Da Terra): My friend and I decided that we were going to treat ourselves to a really extravagant meal in London to celebrate our survival of the school year. After extensive research I picked Da Terra and this restaurant gave me the best meal of my life. At £189 per person, this omakase experience is not cheap; however, considering the four hour experience and over 30 unique items presented (all of which I loved) and the fact that I did not leave hungry makes this a more than worthy awardee for my June favorites. I wrote more extensively about my experience here on yelp and posted many photos (Part 1Part 2Part 3) on IG. Maybe one day I’ll do a dedicated post on the dishes Chef Rafael presented in a future post.

Until Next Time,

Irene

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