In general, Paso Robles is a pretty quiet, sleepy, little wine town. Whether you're looking for a nice place to drink or eat dinner downtown, people tend to recommend the same handful of places. That's probably because new bars and restaurants don't open very often, and the options always are what they are. But, when new bars and restaurants do open, they tend to cause a big stir. Recently, a massive new bar and restaurant popped onto the downtown scene – a trendy, upscale, Baja-style Cal Mexican joint called Fish Gaucho and I knew on my most recent trip that I had to see for myself what all of the hype was about.
Everyone that's even partially aware of the Austin dining scene has heard of Uchiko. It's generally regarded as one of the top dining destinations in the city and I've known for many years that I needed to see what all of the excitement was about for myself. I think the restaurant may have actually first come to attention when the now-famed chef Paul Qui tore his way through Top Chef Season 9. He basically wiped the floor with his competition utilizing his signature Asian fusion style and I took notice. Paul has since moved on from Uchiko to work on other Austin ventures such as his food truck East Side King and namesake restaurant Qui. But, Uchiko remains as exciting and buzz-worthy as ever.
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 may be October, but Summer is still in full swing in the Bay Area. When I get a particularly warm and sunny day, nearly every time I just want to be outside to enjoy some fresh seafood with a cold beer. Since we have a car, taking a short drive north over the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito is not a big deal and Fish. is the perfect solution for this sunny weather scenario.
Now that I've moved to San Francisco, I've got a whole host of restaurants to explore in my new neighborhood. There are plenty of obvious eye-catching eateries on the main Polk Street drag, but there was just something about that unremarkable and completely illegible awning that caught both of our eyes while walking down one the side streets. It was getting close to dinner time and we weren't sure what we felt like having for dinner, so we decided to venture inside and try out this mysterious Latin American spot we knew absolutely nothing about.
It's not always easy to find quality restaurants in Silicon Valley, but Mountain View has proven time and time and time again that there's some really excellent places to eat and drink on their main downtown drag. There are not many restaurants that I have loved enough to eat at multiple times out here, but Scratch has sort of become my go-to, not-sure-what-I'm-in-the-mood-for dinner and drinks spot.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. It ain't easy finding great restaurants out in Silicon Valley, but they do exist if you look hard enough. Downtown Mountain View has proven over and over again that it's loaded with great spots and the Latin inspired tapas joint Cascal is no exception. Buckle up, this is gonna be a long one. But I guess that's bound to happen when you dine tapas style as a party of eight. I'll try to keep my commentary concise because honestly all of the food was really awesome.
This vacation couldn't have come at a better time. As the entire country fell into a below-zero deep freeze, I was headed for some sun and heat in Turks & Caicos with my girlfriend Amy and her family.