Great Global Tapas with a Latin American Edge at Cascal in Mountain View

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.

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Fancy, Futuristic Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream at Smitten in Hayes Valley

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As a youngster growing up in New Jersey I frequently visited Six Flags during the summer. In between lines and massive roller coaster rides, our trips always required a refreshing pit-stop at Dippin’ Dots, the ice cream of the future. These little vendor carts served a unique treat of little ice cream pebbles produced by liquid nitrogen flash-freezing. I’d often wondered why this interesting technique wasn’t more common since the people seem to love it and it didn’t seem that difficult to do.

Well I don’t need to wonder about that any more. While exploring San Francisco, I stumbled across an outdoor shanty in the middle of a park in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, where Smitten is making ice cream to order using this very technique.

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A Whimsical Edible Danish Date Night at The Copenhagen in NYC
A Whimsical Edible Danish Date Night at Aamanns-Copenhagen NYC

A Whimsical Edible Danish Date Night at The Copenhagen in NYC

*Editor’s Note 11/13/14: This restaurant used to be called Aamanns-Copenhagen NYC but is now simply referred to as The Copenhagen.

*Editor’s Note 10/15/15: I’m sad to report that The Copenhagen has permanently closed.

When you hear Danish food, what comes to mind? Maybe that eponymous jam filled pastry? Maybe you literally have absolutely no clue what Danish people eat. I know I sure didn’t. That is before I checked out the New York outpost of the Scandinavian imported restaurant Aammanns-Copenhagen, known as The Copenhagen.

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Great Silicon Valley Izakaya Open Late at En Japanese Tapas in Santa Clara

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One of the biggest takeaways I’ve gotten from all of this time I’ve been spending in Silicon Valley is that everything in California closes early. Offices become ghost towns at 6:00. Most Happy Hours end at 6:00, maybe 7:00 if you’re lucky. Bars stop serving at 1:30 AM and worst of all, most restaurant kitchens close at 9:00. If you end up working late ’til say 9:00 or later you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to getting a decent dinner.

In all of my digging, I have thankfully found a few places that keep their kitchen open ’til around 10:00. But there is one place I’ve found in Santa Clara for quality late night dining called En Japanese Tapas Restaurant where the kitchen stays open until a glorious 11:30 PM.

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Eat a Filipino Feast with Your Hands on Kamayan Night at Jeepney
Eat a Filipino Feast with Your Hands on Kamayan Night at Jeepney in NYC

Eat a Filipino Feast with Your Hands on Kamayan Night at Jeepney

I want to share one of the most fun, excessive, over-the-top meals I’ve recently had with you all. On the northern edge of the East Village on 1st Ave. at 13th St. there’s a cool, newish place called Jeepney. You won’t be able to miss the gigantic, bold, yellow signage. Jeepney is a self-described Filipino gastropub that serves hearty Filipino specialties alongside Southeast Asian inflected cocktails. Jeepney is owned by the Maharlika guys and has the same hip, cool vibe as the sit-down spot. I’ve gotta warn you though, the hip decor at Jeepney isn’t exactly Safe For Work.

On this particular Thursday evening, Amy and I were accompanied to dinner by two of my close friends from Foodspotting, Meng and Dr. Klein. We had all heard great things about a special feast at Jeepney served every Thursday (and has subsequently expanded into Wednesdays too) by reservation only called Kamayan (kuh-MY-uhn) Night. We were all very excited to check it out. Before arriving that night, I had no idea what I was getting myself into except that there was going to be a massive amount of Filipino food that we would be eating it with our hands!

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Bohemian: Secret Door, Secret Phone Number, Japanese Speakeasy
A Japanese Speakeasy Date Night Restaurant at Bohemian

Bohemian: Secret Door, Secret Phone Number, Japanese Speakeasy

I’m gonna let you in on one of New York’s best-hidden secrets. Located in the NoHo area, there’s an unmarked, members-only restaurant that doesn’t even list its phone number publicly. Even if you can manage to get your hands on Bohemian‘s phone number you’ll still need a referral to land a reservation. Seriously, when I called, the first question I was confronted with was “How did you get this number?” However, once you’ve breached their defenses and joined the ranks of their inner circle, you’ll be treated to one of the most interesting, sexy, refined meals you can find in NYC.

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Molecular Gastronomy Magic from Wylie Dufresne at WD~50
Molecular Gastronomy Magic from Wylie Dufresne at WD~50

Molecular Gastronomy Magic from Wylie Dufresne at WD~50

*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that this restaurant is not longer open.

Recently, I wrote about a particularly crazy meal I ate at Los Perros Locos. They delivered a kind of craziness through the sheer brashness of piling as many wacky pedestrian ingredients on top of one another as humanly possible. But, like I’ve said before, there are many kinds of crazy when it comes to food.

To celebrate my 26th birthday, my girlfriend took me to a restaurant that’s been high up on my worldwide to-do list for a long time, WD~50. The restaurant is the brain-child of Wylie Dufresne who established the molecular gastronomy dining scene in NYC. The kind of craziness that Wylie delivers is less like that of a psychopath, but more like that of a mad scientist through his use of complex, technical, processes and methodologies usually reserved for a chemistry lab. Every dish and drink at WD~50 has some sort of complicated twist whereby an ingredient is transformed or presented in a way you’ve probably never experienced before.

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Vist Elgin, Texas for an Epic ‘Hot Guts’ BBQ Sausage Face-off

From the moment I first heard the term “hot guts” I knew I had to have it. There’s a small barbecue town called Elgin (pronounced with a hard-G like “guy”) located only 45 minutes outside of Austin, Texas and not far from my beloved brisket mecca Lockhart. We were already in town for Austin City Limits, so it seemed like a completely necessary quick day-trip. Elgin is world famous for their hot guts. What are hot guts you ask? Sausage! Ahh, that makes sense now, doesn’t it?

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