There I was, seated inside of a gold-painted shipping container, face-to-face with a live-streaming 23-year-old girl in Havana. What in the world should we talk about? First, names. Then I…
That naughty V word. You know the one I'm talking about. No, not that one you perv. I'm talking about "Vegan". I don't think it would come as any surprise to any of my readers that I'm pretty obsessed with meat. All types of meat. And to be honest, I usually don't consider a meal complete without the inclusion of some sort of meat. But, a situation recently arose that gave me the perfect excuse and opportunity to check out a completely vegan restaurant that I actually had interest in trying. Amy's vegan and gluten-free cousin was staying with us in SF and it was my task to find suitable places to eat that we could all enjoy. I had heard wonderful things about the Mission vegan Mexican spot named Gracias Madre so I figured that it had the greatest shot at solving our puzzle. Seriously though, people love this restaurant. By reputation, it's the kind of place that people claim will make meat-eaters completely forget that everything they are eating is even vegan. That's a tall order – I'll see about that. I'll put that crazy claim up to the ultimate test – me.
Another day, another awesome, upscale dinner out in Austin. This place called Odd Duck is the sibling restaurant to chef Bryce Gilmore's also amazing, tasting menu-only hot spot Barley Swine which I had visited only a few night earlier. Similar to Barley Swine, the theme of this meal seemed to be small plates with either a pickled element, runny egg yolks, or both. The menu leans heavily toward Southern gastropub fare with plenty of clean, modern, cheffy flair and even a bit of molecular gastronomy trickery thrown in. The vibe of the decor matches the tone of the food with its use of mismatched country miscellany carefully arranged by an smart, upscale, interior designer's touch. This restaurant is pretty well known in the Austin food scene as one of the more exciting places to have a meal and it makes sense why. It has such an interesting menu that continues to experiment and evolve over time – the fervor is only going to grow as this place continues to get the industry recognition it rightly deserves like the James Beard Award Rising Star nod it just recieved.
It's getting to be that time when we look back on the year in review and 2014 was a very big year of travel for me. Between working remotely in Silicon Valley while still officially living in NYC, moving from NYC to SF, and other miscellaneous leisure travel, I spent a lot of time in airports. I know that airports get a bad rap when it comes to dining options and you know what, most of the time the food really does suck. But, every now and then I've been able to come across some truly excellent dishes. Beyond that, I've even managed to find a number of dishes served in airports that blew me away – the overacheivers – the kinds of things I would get even if I wasn't stuck eating in an airport. Without further ado, read on below to see the best of the best to eat before you fly in the sky.
There's been a lot of talk on the web recently about who makes the best burrito in the world. Nate Silver's Burrito Bracket brought this issue right to the forefront and the Internet community immediately jumped in to battle to fight for who they believed was the real best. Now, I haven't eaten nearly enough of the competing burritos to make a conclusive judgement on the bracket's findings, but I recently took a trip to their #1 seed, but surprisingly early knockout, El Farolito, and I'm having a hard time believing any burrito in the world could be better than the ones they served to me.
I ventured into the land that birthed Guy Fieri. Santa Rosa is the place the spiky Food Network demigod calls home. I wasn't intending to eat at another place that had been featured on Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives so soon, but given the fact our day trip that ended up taking us to his hometown, it shouldn't be too big of a surprise that we did. We were actually in Santa Rosa exploring the area's wineries, but pre-noon wine tasting on an empty stomach pretty much always necessitates a good, filling meal. My growling stomach went straight to Foursquare to find a killer lunch spot nearby which led us to the Fieri-favorite La Texanita.
WOAH YEAH. Who'd a thought you could find super-legit Mexican food in Eastern Connecticut? I certainly didn't. But there I was, sitting on the SoNo waterfront (South Norwalk for all you out-of-towners) searching for a solid lunch spot and when I stumbled across a little taqueria on Yelp with only a few reviews, but every single one of them was utterly ecstatic about the place. It was settled, Amy and I were going to drive across town to Rincon Taqueria in Norwalk to see what all the people were buzzing about.
I absolutely love Puerto Rican food. To be fair, Dominican and Cuban food hit the same spot for me, but whichever nationality cuisine it is, as long as there's heaping portions of roasted meat over rice and beans, I'm gonna be a happy camper. One day, on a drive about a half hour north of San Francisco to the quaint and sunny town of San Rafael, Amy stumbled upon some serious Puerto Rican food at a place called Sol Food. Amy was so blown away by the food that only two weeks later she felt compelled to drive me up there to see for myself.
Is it a liquor store? Is it a taqueria? Well... Los Hermanos Taqueria is both and it's actually also a convenience store, grocery, and butcher as well. This strange place is situated right in the middle of the bad part of the Tenderloin and it's about as unassuming as eateries get. But the hand painted signage, complete with a handful of Spanish speaking Mexican clientele and mariachi music drew me in. And I knew I had to eat Mexican food in a liquor store at the very least for the story.
Starbelly is generally regarded as the best restaurant in The Castro so I definitely went into this meal with high expectations. People rave about this place and their renditions of Californian farm-to-table local organic comfort food. I certainly haven't dined in the Castro enough to be able to confirm or deny if it really is the best restaurant in the neighborhood, but I knew I definitely had to check it out for myself.