Down in the bustling primarily Mexican and hipster-filled Mission District, slightly off of the main drag is a nondescript El Salvadorian spot called Balompié Cafe. It doesn't exactly fit into either of the neighborhood's stereotypes because it's neither trendy nor Mexican. This El Salvadorian cafe is pretty no-frills and takes its fútbol seriously. Every one of the walls is covered in team flags and scarfs and yes, of course, the game is on every TV in the place. Yes, even when everyone is not in the midst of World Cup Fever. But at Balompié Cafe, they take their food even more seriously than their fútbol and has earned them quite the reputation for their rendition of the El Salvadorian specialties — pupusas.
*Editor's Note 1/30/15: This bar used to have a food menu, but now serves only cocktails This is San Francisco's hot new opening. Near Union Square, at the Warwick Hotel, on the cusp of the truly sketchy Tenderloin neighborhood, famed and well-loved Top Chef contestant Casey Thompson has opened a gourmet restaurant named Aveline and an accompanying cocktail bar called The European. I happened to be staying in a hotel in the neighborhood and stopped by on the opening Friday night. When I arrived at around 9:15 PM it was still a relatively quiet and empty bar, but it wasn't long before it filled out with the who's who of the San Francisco dining scene. I was able to secure myself a seat at the truly sexy bar and ordered myself a cocktail while I looked over the bar menu.
I've been watching a lot of Cutthroat Kitchen on The Food Network recently. If you're unfamiliar this show, it's a head-to-head cooking challenge where chefs sabotage each other during the competition with a variety of interesting restrictions. I keep seeing ads on TV calling out one of the supposedly more difficult challenges with a soundbite of a chef saying 'How am I supposed to make a sandwich without bread?!' The answer always seems so obvious to me. That chef has obviously never had a patacon before.
Given the number of insanely delicious things I've eaten over the past year, selecting the best of the bunch is a very difficult task. Over on Foodspotting I've released a long version that's over 200 items long which includes every single dish jaw-dropping dish from the last year. Here, instead, I've chosen the very best in select categories. In no particular order, let's begin!
This year I had the pleasure of experiencing two of the many events being held for New York City Wine & Food Festival. This is a massive three-day festival with with well over 50 different events taking place in a variety of locations around the city. Over the weekend, my girlfriend Amy and I attended two of the events, first on Friday night up near Columbus Circle for Thrillist's Barbecue & The Blues hosted by Robert Irvine followed by Sunday in Astoria, Queens for Oktoberfest presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats and hosted by Andrew Zimmern. To say I was excited about attending each of these events would be an understatement.