Can someone please explain to me why Austin is utterly overflowing with ridiculously good breakfast tacos and I can barely find expensive, passable versions anywhere else in the country. I mean, it's not like San Francisco isn't loaded with cheap and amazing Mexican joints and they certainly know how to put a great taco together. It's a mystery that I don't know if I'll ever solve.
This is probably the most bizarrely happy-go-lucky place anywhere on the entire planet. On this day, torrential rain was falling from the sky, the shop's WiFi was out so the normal music source was unusable, and many of the ingredients had not and were not going to be delivered. But, that couldn't hold the Dat Dog staff down – it's not in their nature. In fact, from the moment I laid my eyes upon that gigantic, two-story, neon, multicolored building on New Orleans' Magazine Street, I knew there was something special about the place. I think passing through those Heinz mustard-colored doors functioned as a sort of portal to a comically super-happy alternate dimension.
Alright, today I'm gonna throw it back. Back to the time when I was living in NYC and the inevitable boozy Sunday brunch ritual was both a reality and a necessity. Sure, San Francisco has a thriving brunch scene with plenty of interesting versions of Eggs Benedict and brunch cocktails, but I just haven't seen the boozy excessiveness on the same level.
It's a time-honored Austin breakfast tradition unlike any other. And for some reason – despite it's awesomeness – it just hasn't made the jump to mainstream breakfast noshing in either of my home cities: NYC and San Francisco. What is this breakfast tradition I speak of? Why, Breakfast Tacos, of course. Now, get on it SF and NYC. I want breakfast tacos!
What a year!! I did something like this last year too, but oh boy was 2014 a doozy. I started off living in NYC, then a started a new job that whisked me off the San Francisco and Silicon Valley for a few months before ultimately relocating to San Francisco permanently. And along the way, I squeezed in a couple of vacations too. Sooooo, I did a LOT of epic eating this year. And truth be told, I found it particularly difficult to narrow down my list as concisely as last year's, but I somehow managed. So, without further ado, I present the winners (and runner-ups) broken down by category. I tried to cluster similar dish types together, but really they are in no particular order. Let's begin! And if you wanna hear about the 2014's Best Cocktails, read more here.
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.
Ever since I was seven years old playing Crusin' USA on Nintendo 64, I've wanted to see the gigantic Californian Redwood trees in person. Finally, almost 20 years later, now that I've moved from NYC to San Francisco, I easily have the ability to go to them whenever the urge strikes. All it takes is a short drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to the North Bay followed by a truly treacherous, narrow, winding, fog-shrouded, mountainside drive up to Muir Woods.
Have you ever had the desire to eat tacos in a strip club? Nah me either, but at Nick's Crispy Tacos in Russian Hill you can do just that without all the... you know... herpes. And you're going to want to do it too because these are some seriously awesome tacos. You know what kind of place this is? It's the kind of place where a waitress could be mistaken for a hooker. It's the kind of place where DJs spin deafening EDM mixes so loud that conversation is practically impossible and dancing is unavoidable. It's the kind of place where the sun isn't even close to setting but someone's already puked in the urinal.
I love new restaurant openings. There's always this energy in the air, an excitement, the mystery of what the gut gamble might uncover. That's why I was so excited to be invited to the soft launch of Union Bar & Kitchen in West SoHo.
Over the past few years NYC has been going through a sort of Texas style barbecue renaissance. With many new massive traditional smokehouses popping up, the competition is fierce and some will obviously succeed where others fail. While most of the places serving 'cue are in the traditional format of counter, line, butcher paper, and meat by weight, Tres Carnes takes a completely different approach. Their menu consists mostly of tacos, burritos, and burrito bowls which get loaded with authentic Texas smoked meats like brisket and pulled pork in a Chipotle-esque construction line. At Tres Carnes, the smoker is helmed by pitmaster Mike Rodriguez who has a pedigree that includes the very famous Salt Lick in Austin. This guy knows what he's doing.