Where to Find a School Bus Slinging Killer Street Tacos in Austin

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.

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A Grand, New, Cal Mexican Hot Spot in Downtown Paso Robles

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.

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A Hawaiian Oasis Hidden Away From The Santa Cruz Tourists

When people hear “California”, visions of sun-soaked, brah-filled, coastal, Southern California beach towns usually fill their minds. Imagine the level of surprise and disappointment we’ve seen on our unknowing out-of-towner guests’ faces when they come to visit us in San Francisco and are faced with our unusual patchwork of foggy and rather chilly micro-climates instead of a permanent summer. It always throws them for a (disappointed) loop. Really, Nor-Cal and So-Cal are so extremely different that it would probably make sense to consider them two separate states, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

But, there is a place like this dreamlike version of California that does exist in Nor-Cal and it’s actually not that far from San Francisco. This place actually has that stereotypical beach bum vibe where surfers and skaters live their carefree suntanned lifestyles and tourists flock to catch rays of sunshine. This place is Santa Cruz.

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Catfishing for Southern Deep-Fried Perfection in Denison, TX

Over my many trips to Texas and other parts of The South, there’s one thing I’ve learned for sure – the most delicious foods usually come deep-fried. There are exceptions, of course, but in general I’ve found that Southerners have a very skilled hand using a deep fryer. Whether it’s deep-fried bacon, deep-fried eggs, deep-fried breakfast steak, deep-fried vegetables, deep-fried cheese, deep-fried balls of mystery meat, deep-fried sushi rolls, deep-fried samoa Girl Scout cookies, deep-fried sandwich fillings, or even an entire deep-fried sandwich – it’s all bound to taste really good and of course be really bad for you. But, one of the simplest, but most incredible things I’ve found you can get deep-fried in Texas is catfish and there’s one place I constantly return to for the very best – Huck’s Catfish in Denison, Texas.

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Where to Go For Boatloads of Fresh Sushi That Paddle Right Up to You

The Japan Center Mall is a mysterious maze-like shopping center full of stalls selling Asian miscellany and a wide variety of authentic Asian eats. There are many places you could choose to eat at – with specialists for just about every Japanese food type you could think of. There are in fact a number of sushi options, but there is only one sushi purveyor inside of this massive mall that I find myself consistently returning to. It’s called Isobune and its a truly special place.

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Where to go for Innovative Twists on Japanese Traditions in Austin

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.

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California Freshness at Rusty’s Southern in the Tenderloin

I always get really excited when new restaurants open, especially when they are close to enough to my home that they can easily become part of my regular dinner rotation. This particular new opening in the Tenderloin was only under a week old, but I couldn’t help but find myself drawn to it. Rusty’s Southern may be in a dicey part of town, but this spacious spot is serving up affordable, California-inspired takes on North and South Carolinan Southern classics. In a town desperately in need of more Southern food, what more could you ask for?

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Bold, Playful Flavors Found at Montrio Bistro in Monterey

Every month or so, we like to head south of San Francisco down to Monterey. For us, it’s a nice way to take a mini-vacation and because it’s a beautiful place within driving distance and we have family there to crash with. We’ve done a variety of food exploration in the area on our own, but as is usually the case, a recommendation by a local resident usually holds more weight than what I can uncover. In our hosts’ opinion, Montrio Bistro is one of the best restaurants in all of Monterey and it happened to only be a five minute walk from their downtown home.

The restaurant is located right on the main drag of town and even though we had headed over quite late on a late Sunday night, it still wasn’t easy to grab a table for four. Quick on my feet, I pulled up OpenTable at exactly 8:48 PM and successfully nabbed a table for us all at 9:00 PM. Bam, that did the trick. Only a few minutes later, my name was called and we were seated in the surprisingly bustling restaurant.

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Quenching Late Night Sushi Cravings at Ryoko’s in Union Sq.

Back when I was living in New York, I think I took for granted the fact that it really was “the city that never sleeps”. Literally any hour of the day, I could get my hands on anything I craved. Bars stayed open to 4, delivery services ran around the clock and worked lightening fast, and there was always a restaurant open serving exactly what I was in the mood for, no matter what crazy hour it was that I wanted it.

Now, let’s compare that to San Francisco, where bars start winding down at 1 AM and close at 2. It’s a place where most restaurant and bar kitchens close around 10 PM and food delivery is an utter joke. If it’s past 10 PM and you feel like having a great late night meal, you’ve got to approach the situation with a little more care and a lot more knowledge.

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O-Toro: Another Solid Spot for Fresh Sushi in Hayes Valley

*Editor’s Note 4/17/15: O-Toro has since relocated to a larger space only a block away at 298 Gough St.

I’m constantly looking for sushi joints in the Bay Area serving really high quality fish at very reasonable prices. I’ve got spots all over the region (see: Wayo, Tataki, Sushi Tomi, Live Sushi Bar, and Geta) and I’ve even already got a place I love in Hayes Valley, but Domo is quite small and doesn’t take reservations so it’s not super easy to rely on it as a go-to spot in that neighborhood. Only a few blocks away is another well-reputed sushi den called O-Toro that actually does take OpenTable reservations and also sounded like it had a lot of potential to become my new go-to sushi bar in that neighborhood.

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