Yes, I know this year-end list is beyond belated. Actually, I'm probably over a month late. Normally, I'm not one to make these kinds of excuses, but my life has been pretty hectic lately. As you may or may not know, I'm getting married in a couple of months, so my time has recently come at an extreme premium and I haven't been able to commit as much attention as I'd like to this little
publication obsession. With that being said, over the next couple of months, I'll be playing around with post style and formatting a bit in an attempt to find new ways to rapidly pump out awesome food articles with fewer publishing limitations on my end. Please feel free to give me feedback on the new content — I'm planning to review this little experiment in a few months and we can take it from there.
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.
On the long drive between Paso Robles and San Francisco, there's not a whole lot of viable places to stop at for a good meal on the road. The 101 is the most efficient route, but it'll still take approximately three hours from start to finish. Before embarking on the drive back from the wonderfully quaint wine town of Paso Robles, we knew wanted to grab a quick meal close to town before really hitting the road. A brief bit of online exploration led me to a place that showed potential for a quick meal. Just a 10-minute drive north of downtown Paso Robles, just off of the 101, there's a dusty little nothing town called San Miguel. In this practically non-existent town, I read about a place with a 4-star Yelp rating that included many stories characterized by its local charm. We had high hopes that The County Diner, a lonely eatery in this desolate trapped-in-time town, would serve as a great place to get a quick and filling breakfast before we headed towards home.
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.
The San Francisco food scene is full of all sorts of inventive, creative crossover cuisines. And one of the city's most loved and most delicious integrated creations comes from a beloved Filipino-fusion vendor called Señor Sisig. This city seriously has so much love for this truck – I've honestly never heard a negative word spoken against it, and that says a lot in a city so extremely divisive and combative about whose favorite place is best. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they exist in a category all alone by themselves – absolutely no one else is competing in the Mexican-Filipino arena. And why would they? This truck's reputation alone would be nearly impossible to topple.
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.
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.
Amy and I spent a Thursday up in Napa then made our way further north up to Calistoga for some pampering with some fancy spa treatments at their famed mineral pools. After concluding an incredible session that included a mud bath, jacuzzi soak, sauna sit, hour-long Swedish massage, and dip in their hot mineral pools, we were ready for lunch.
In general, the Inner Richmond is known for its vast array of authentic Asian restaurants. It's certainly not thought of as an opportune place to be able to get Mexican food, but there I was on a Sunday afternoon doing exactly that. After a stop by the Presidio for Off The Grid's Picnic at the Presidio to find ridiculously large crowds and excessive lines at every food vendor, I hopped onto Foursquare in search of a lunch alternative. Sure, mostly Asian food dominated the search results, but there was still a single listing that differed completely from everything else called La Ciudad de Mexico that caught my eye. San Francisco is definitely a town known it's Mission style burritos, and there are plenty of great options for those around, but there is another traditional, handheld Mexican street food that La Ciudad de Mexico specializes in that tends not to get as much love – the torta.