In the city of New Orleans, there are two contenders vying for the enviable title of most iconic sandwich. Sure, the Po' Boy gets a majority of the attention with its vast variety of fillings and multitude of shops specializing in the dish (which all claim to serve the very best). But, for my money (and belly), I'd argue that the Muffuletta should be the NOLA specialty sandwich torch bearer.
Break out the confetti and champagne!! It's a perfect ten! Chef Chris Cosentino knows exactly how to work his way into that soft spot in my heart. All it took was a few of his crazy, funky, zany, inventive, and downright delicious over-the-top meat-filled culinary creations. Yes, that's right — I'm giving this place my first and only flawless 10/10 review, so buckle up for a long one as I explain why I'm so obsessed. You may know of Chris from his many stints on food TV, but I've found myself uncontrollably drawn to him because he cooks only the kind of food that he wants to eat. With his cooking, there's no remorse for pushing people's palettes to the edge of fear. Fear? Yeah, most of his food utilizes all of the delicious miscellaneous organs and obscure cuts of meat that many other chefs won't even dare to work with that most people don't ordinarily choose to consume — frequently involving complete nose-to-tail dishes. Fortunately for me, I share his love for well-prepared organ meats.
When people ask me what I miss most about New York, the answer pretty much solely correlates to food. There are a lot of things that are better out here in SF, but there's some things that I've found particularly difficult to get my hands on. Specifically, I truly miss my weekly stops in at the old Italian meat and cheese shrines at Di Palo and Alleva in Little Italy. Their prosciutto, mozzarella, porchetta, meatballs, and other sliced meats rank as some of my favorite things to eat in all of New York and it sort of feels like I've lost a part of myself without them in my life. Upon moving to SF, I learned the hard way that finding incredible versions of these simple Italian classics wasn't nearly as easy as it was back east. Sure, SF has North Beach – its own unsatisfying version of Little Italy, but just like New York's Little Italy, most of it is just touristy dreck. In SF, to find the good stuff, you've got attack the city with a little bit more of an informed approach. And that's exactly what brought me to Lucca Delicatessen on this Sunday afternoon.
Amy and I were in need of a great breakfast stop while driving back from Monterey to San Francisco on Route 1. For a task as specific as this, I hopped on Chowhound to see if any helpful threads already covered this topic and sure enough there was one perfect for my needs. Through this thread, I learned about a very highly regarded shop called Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria located in Capitola just south of Santa Cruz. It was also only a two minute detour off of Route 1 so it seemed like a perfect fit for our breakfast situation.
No, really. That’s the name of the place: Hey!...You Gonna Eat Or What? We were wandering around the South Congress Austin neighborhood popping into awesome places like Allens Boots, Uncommon Objects, and Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds. While walking further down the strip we found ourselves up getting hollered at by a food vendor who successfully sucked into a lot full of food trailers including his own – the aggressively named Hey!...You Gonna Eat Or What?
Let's face it, New Yorkers love to drink. And with bars that stay open 'til 4 AM, it's bound to get out of hand from time to time. I know that I, for one, love to drunk eat after a big night out and in my opinion there's no better place in the East Village to do it than at Crif Dogs.
I feel like it's a good idea to always have at least one great date night spot in every neighborhood. San Francisco's Financial District is pretty quiet at night compared to the rest of the city, so it isn't always too easy to find a great place to serve this purpose. One night I was in the area looking for a nice place to take Amy to and I stumbled upon Salt House which I seemed like it might very well fit the evening's bill.
For Stanford students, there's only a few bars that everyone goes to. One of the biggest nightlife hotspots is NOLA, an aggressively Mardi Gras themed bar and restaurant that's gaudily decorated with scattered dangling beaded necklaces. It's the kind of place that I'd normally write off at first glance, assuming they'd only be able to make stupidly sweet and strong alcoholic punches and serve shitty bar food, but that assumption would be wrong.
This story begins four years ago. Just after graduating from college I took a month-long backpacking trip around a number of European cities. One of the many stops was in Madrid and on that leg of the trip, my buddy Evan and I stopped for a budget-friendly tapas and beer-filled lunch at the now shuttered outdoor Plaza Santa Ana location of 100 Montaditos. Seeing as we were traveling on the cheap, their dollar beers and mini sandwiches known as montaditos were a perfect fit for us. And would you look at that, I even managed to scrounge up some old photos from that first trip.
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.