Tag Archives: low end

There’s more than Una kind of Pizza in San Francisco

16 May

San Francisco is home to far more than una pizza, it is home too many unusual pizzas. Yes, if you want classic, I have already been quite clear that Tony’s Pizza Neoplatana is my guy/joint, but the other options are quite worldly.

There is Una Pizza, where you can rest assured that only one guy is making your pizza and that he knows what he is doing. Although you can’t be so relaxed that you will get a pie. They only serve until the dough is gone. I was once there so early for pizza security that I had to wander in a fabric store to buy time before I got the special once-a-year Christmas pizza. The festive pizza was adorned with escarole, olives, pine nuts and raisins.

I’ve never really dieted, so I am used to zero boundaries when I want to eat. Hell, there is even a big “Indulge” sign looming over my kitchen. However, there was one week when I was a vegan. Yes, it was right after Oprah and her staff all went vegan for a week. Scoff away! I used my week to indulge in all the special vegan splurges: vegan cupcakes and even a very special vegan Indian pizza. Zante is home to some pretty delicious Indian pizza and the vegan one is no exception.  The pizza with spinach, cauliflower, ginger, garlic, green onions and cilantro was one of the most flavorful pizzas of my life and made my week as a vegan totally painless.

However, behold, I have a new favorite worldly pizza that hardly anyone knows about. It is a Middle Eastern pizza at Jannah called Safeehat Falafel with a falafel crust. The garbanzo crust topped with pesto, eggplant, roasted red bell pepper, green and red onions, shitake mushrooms, tomato, feta and goat cheese is really out of this world. It takes the pie for the best, most unusual, pizza in San Francisco.

My Six Top Bites from SF Street Food Fest

29 Aug

In the Mission district of San Francisco a couple of  Saturdays ago, an expansive variety of street food was served at the 3rd annual San Francisco Street Food Festival, put on by La Cocina. Food carts, trucks, stands, coolers, grills, and brick-and-mortar restaurants showcased their offerings of food and drinks priced from $1-$8. People carried cash or special event passports in search of all the best food they could find. I was on the scene scouting local foodie goodness.

Here are the top picks from this indulgent day:

#6 Watermelon Gazpacho from Commonwealth

In several years of covering food events, I like to think that I have reached some kind of method for the madness. For instance, after judging a cupcake challenge, I go straight to a vegan restaurant for some on-the-fly cleansing. Rational? My approach perhaps makes no nutritional sense, but it’s what I do. Another well-honed tactic: There is something to be said about starting an event off with a shot of liquid courage, so that is another food fest rule. For this afternoon, I started with a shot of watermelon gazpacho with lemon verbena oil artfully decorating the top. It was sweet and tart as I shot it down, prompting a handful of fellow foodie goers to ask, “That looks so refreshing, where did you get?”

The answer was Commonwealth, a top Mission restaurant who had a stand for this event and offered the shooter for $2. It was an inexpensive way to coat my stomach with something ostensibly healthy before the delicious abuse it was about to endure.

#5 Thai Grilled Chicken with Sticky Rice from Lers Ros

Next up was the most beautiful-looking chicken and sticky rice I’ve ever seen. I was on the prowl for something substantial but not too heavy (read: fried). I was excited to encounter Lers Ros, a top Thai restaurant in San Francisco. The restaurant features a diverse menu including items such as frog legs and alligator. I have yet to visit and try these exotic meats that “taste like chicken,” so it was beneficial to see how they actually prepared their food. They do it very well. It fell off the bone. I generously rescued it with a spoon and grabbed some sticky rice for a full dip in the sweet and spicy chili sauce. My first thought? Oddly enough, that this is how mall food should taste.

#4 S’mores from Kika’s Treats

In an interview I did with San Francisco local and Top Chef: Just Desserts winner, Yigit Pura, he confessed that Kika’s Treats were one of his favorite sweets. I endured the long line to see what spell the chocolate-dipped graham crackers held over a master pastry chef. One look at the torch turning a marshmallow and a graham cracker into a S’more and I got it.

#3 Banh Mi and Pad Thai Taco from The Peached Tortilla

Some out-of-state vendors were present and I was so intrigued by one menu that I had to try all of the offerings. A food truck from Austin, Texas that was serving a Pad Thai taco and a Banh Mi taco? Obviously I had to try both. I got the Pad Thai taco with tofu and was a little turned off by the look it. Noodle-free, essentially a mash-up of toppings, I had my doubts. One bite in and I realized the best part of pad thai: the sauce, the crushed peanuts, the bean sprouts and the lime wedge. The tortilla was just the vessel for this flavor powerhouse. The Banh Mi taco was similarly fashioned, but had Vietnamese braised pork belly with pickled Daikon and carrots topped with Srichacha mayo and cilantro. Once again, the toppings were supreme. If I lived in Texas, you can guarantee this would be my go-to truck after a night of cocktailing.

#2 The Yes Please! from The Crème Brulee Man

Living in San Francisco, the Crème Brulee Man – and his Twitter feed – is one of my regular haunts. For the festival, I had a mouthwatering brulee featuring Nutella and balsamic strawberry. I can now die and go to heaven.

#1 Arepa de Queso from The Arepa Lady

I do not recall when or where I first heard about The Arepa Lady, but like a mythical creature, I knew she existed. Hailing from Jackson Heights in New York, she also goes by the nickname “Sainted Arepa Lady.” As part of the visiting vendor program, she graced us and gave us all a great Arepa gift. It may have the same appearance as a Salvadorian Pupusa, but the Arepa version is much denser and sweeter. Summed up? Imagine tender dough cheese-filled, buttered and grilled to a brown and crispy sweet perfection – and then topped with more cheese. This was, without question, the best thing I ate at the festival. Possibly ever. (Butter! Cheese!)

For the final paragraph, please see the full article on EcoSalon.

Side note: My whole life I’ve wanted nepotism but despite the awesome editor and I having the same last name, sadly, we are not related.

Lunching at a Gentlemen’s Club: Gold Club

22 Jun

Get ready folks, I’m here to tell you about the deal of the century. I have found a place that offers a buffet of food and women baring their breasts for $5. That’s right, five bones. For your post hump day workweek, Thursday and Friday, you can head to the Gold Club and spend your lunch break, from 11:30am-2:00pm with girls and all you can eat food.

Before I headed there for a friend’s birthday and my first time, I received these pearl necklace words of wisdom from my friend Irvin of Eat The Love via his Twitter:

There are 3 stages of dining at all-you-can-eat buffet at the Gentleman’s Club “The Gold Club” here in SF

Stage 1. The food. You go to the buffet & marvel that the food looks decent & edible (it’s relative).

Stage 2. The entertainers. Once you’ve eaten a little, you start to marvel at the dexterity of the women.

Stage 3. The clientele. Pole dancers novelty wears off. You look around & get creeped out. Time to leave.

Plus, really, who can give you advice about a female strip club better than a straight woman and a gay man? Let’s continue, I arrived well prepped and ready and with a stack of singles. Five of them went to the person just past the door as an entrance fee. Once I entered, my eyes went straight to stage one, the buffet. I am a foodie, above all else. I was curious, what would be served? There is actually a Meet Chef Juan page on their website and apparently he comes from The Globe and Tres Agaves. I instantly found myself on a hunt for a double entendre as much as for actual stuff to fill my plate. Along with fried and baked chicken there was a plethora of humorous undertones: biscuits and cookies, taquitos and churros, there was also a tossed salad and a fruit salad. My mind was chuckling in the most juvenile of ways.  I stuffed pineapple in my mouth and laughed about knowing what that is good for (it makes you taste better), I spread butter on my biscuits in a giggle, and when it came down to sitting and watching the show I was riveted.  The birthday girl that I was with got motorboated by a stripper and a good time was had by all.  Although, just as Irvin warned, I went into stage three and started looking around at the crowd. The men in suits had gone back to their offices and the crowd of regulars left, well, left something to be desired. Time to go, I finished my last whiskey and walked out into the sunlight of day. If you are looking for that dreamlike effect that normally comes from a weekend night bender or seeing a movie in the middle of the day, then head to Gold Club at the tail end of the workweek. It is a great deal, but just remember don’t stay too long!

Delicious Dates in The Sunset

21 Mar

I was going to start my date guide in the Mission, but that is too simple. If you want to ride off into the sunset of love with a date, then we might as well equip you with 3 delectable dates in the Sunset. Even though the Sunset is the largest district in San Francisco, it is often forgotten about and more trendy neighborhoods take over. However, the Sunset has some truly delicious options.

How about we… Eat a giant bowl of pho and have milk tea boba

Call me crazy, but nothing says romance to me like an extra large bowl of beef noodle soup and slurping up tapioca balls from a cold milky beverage. My favorite pho place is in the city, based solely on their broth, is Pho Huynh Hiep 2 – Kevin’s Noodle House on 19th and Irving in the Outer Sunset. The hint of cinnamon and blend of herbs in the beef broth taste as though it has been simmering for hours with a richness and depth of flavor. It is the perfect dish to warm your date’s heart.

How about we… indulge in A Taste of Persia feast

Lavash is one of my favorite Sunset finds. It is remarkably good Persian food in a homey setting. For a date, ordering “A Taste of Persia” special ($34.95) for 2 people is ideal. It is a variety of flavorful skewers from meat to veggie. Admit it, meat on a stick is just fun. I think we all fell in love with Mary and got that “something” when she suggested that there should be more meat on sticks. I am also obsessed with their jeweled rices that have been bedazzled with barberries and raisins. If you feed a girl some jeweled rice she will be more likely to vajazzle you….just sayin’

How about we… pack a picnic for Ocean Beach or Golden Gate Park

The best part of the Sunset is Ocean Beach and it’s Golden Gate Park border. Outdoor dates are good and all but I want food from the inside. The Handy Deli is a very handy market to have around before you head out on a picnic. Handy market has $4-$5 sandwiches, and the addition of soda and potato chips only tacks on 50 cents more. The deal is all that and a bag of chips. There is also soda and candy from all over the world and pirogies. A huge variety of my favorite lubricant (alcohol) fills the shelves. Brown bag some beer, bubbly, or wine and pack your bag.

The P Mack and Its Babies: The Pub at Ghirardelli Square

18 Mar


Fortunately, I have never been pregnant but my taste-buds and cravings would tell you otherwise. I have been known to go from pickles to gummy candy to frozen grapes on many a nights. I love craving stories almost as much as I love insider restaurant stories and on a recent visit to my new favorite stomping ground, The Pub at Ghiradelli Square, I heard a story that combines both. I have become friends with the owner, Scott Broccoli, as I do some projects for him, and he told me this story that I am about to share with you. Scott is a new first time father and when his wife was pregnant she was really craving a Big Mac. He worried for the love of his life and his unborn child and said, “You can’t eat that, you’ll kill our baby!”  I am a huge Mickey D’s fan (nothing makes me happier than boot-shaped chicken nuggets in sweet and sour sauce) but I appreciated the sentiment.  He attempted to create his own bigger, better, Big Mac that was healthier because he knew exactly what was in it. His wife approved and he added it to The Pub menu. Now it is the must-have item for pregnant women throughout San Francisco. He named it the P, for pregnant, mack. Well, that is great and all, but I have only ever experienced food babies and this burger satisfies my every craving. Also, their kitchen is open til 1:30A, something all Baby Daddys -and all of my future boyfriends- need to know because I foresee this midnight craving. I first ordered it with salad to try to be “healthy” and within seconds I traded it in for french fries to get the full effect (you can also get it with tots!)

The end of January brought Scott’s first child and the P Mack also gave birth. Along with the real life baby Lucca, came Lil Luccas to The Pub’s specials: a twin slider version of the P Mack. I will admit it, I tried both, and I preferred these cute little babies. They were more manageable, I could hold one in each hand (double fisting, yo) and didn’t get as messy. In case you’ve been living under a rock since 1950: the Big Mac secret ingredient is thousand island dressing. I love the sauce at The Pub; all of my fries were dipped into the delectable sauce oozed from my burger(s). The crunch of the pickles was so nice that I asked for an extra side of pickles. Again, I am not pregnant but at The Pub I can eat like I am.

 
The Pub at Ghirardelli Square
851 Beach St
San Francisco, CA 94109

(415) 351-0500

www.thepubsf.co

Pagolac Packs A Lotta Beef

1 Dec

“I may be ugly, but at least I am not a bitch like you.” “Why aren’t you smiling, bitch?” These were the greetings I received on my two most recent trips to the Tenderloin. Other weaker souls may be scared to revisit such parts of town after such verbal attacks. However, I am a food baller, I shrug it off. Nothing can get between me and good food at a great price. After first hearing about Pagolac and their “7 Courses of Beef” for $16, I knew that this was at the top of my restaurants to try list. I just finished the brilliant Patti Stanger’s Become Your Own Matchmaker book and she recommends that you kill two birds with one stone: if there is something you have always wanted to try you add it to a possible date list. That way, when a guy says to you, “What do you want to do on a Friday night?” you have a list full of answers. Examples: I have always wanted to go wine tasting, go horseback riding on the beach, or try that cute Italian restaurant on main street. When my date approached me with the question recently, I had one answer: 7 courses of  beef in the T-loin. The date was set and I was starving, excited to cross this restaurant off my list. Walking in, there’s an aesthetically stark (antithesis of Starck) dining room, packed only with people, and you add your name to the list at the front table. We knew what we were ordering far in advance but I wanted to get the night rolling with Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls). Jdates are always funny because I feel the need to ask, “Are you kosher?” Many of us, Jews, eat pork and shellfish but having the two wrapped in the same roll is doubly bad, which means extra awesome.

I was going on and on to my date about how we got to roll the rolls ourselves and was a little saddened when these babies came out already rolled. However, when the first of the seven courses arrived it became clear that we were the master rollers and cooks for the rest of the evening. The first course was citrus marinated rare (read: raw) beef in onions, basil, and peanuts. All of the classic Vietnamese flavors were present and I was in heaven.

The next five courses were all a bit of a delicious blur. There was rice paper ready to be dunked in warm water to turn malleable, beef ready to be dropped into a broth and later grilled to cook, a bowl of veggies and herbs to use, and a fish sauce to dip it in. I am a strong believer that being tactile with your food increases the enjoyment of the meal and this was my playground. I was rolling out these babies non-stop. I am not sure if I talked to my date during this process, but I am sure that I was doubling up on meat in my concoctions. It is fair to say that my date had one piece of beef for every two that I had. What can I say? I am food baller, I could man the grill and roll like a pro. After the cooking process, courses four, five and six were all served on the same plate. There was onion wrapped beef, beef wrapped onion, and a beef sausage in a pepper leaf. Of course, we devoured all of these but they didn’t come close to my cooking in the second and third courses.

I was overly stimulated and having so much fun that something needed to slow me down and bring me home. Course seven did just that; it was delicious beef porridge. It was lighter than Chinese congee and was delicate while it warmed my tummy and closed my palate. I happily made it through seven courses of beef. It was quite an experience. Sure, I could have asked my date to take me on some other great adventure but in my mouth I just traveled to Vietnam and my childhood in seven courses of beef and for only $16.

Pagolac

655 Larkin St
(between Ellis St & Willow St)
San Francisco, CA 94109
Neighborhood: Civic Center/Tenderloin

(415) 776-3234

8 Great Things I Ate Since Moving to SF (that I didn’t already mention)

16 Nov

I have lived in beautiful San Francisco for 5 months and now feel like I want to give something back to my SF friends. I have eaten some amazing things since moving to this city by the bay and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. San Francisco, my favorite city: where the  women are strong and the men are pretty…and the food is life changing.

#1 Strawberry Earl Grey Donut from Dynamo Donuts. I am normally a girl that doesn’t like donuts, they make me unbelievably thirsty and since I don’t drink coffee or milk I am out of luck. It’s as bad as a cop working the night shift without his cream filled fried dough friend. Thankfully, that is not the caliber of doughnuts that Dynamo serves up. This place is cool as hell. They post their daily donuts on their Twitter page, you order outside and then you can come inside and eat up. The Chocolate Spice donut gets a lot of attention but it is not the one on my taste bud radar. The best donut I have had here is the Strawberry Earl Grey donut, apparently it is not in the regular rotation because I don’t know anyone else that had it, but it is absolutely perfect. I am fruit girl that  loves Earl Grey tea so much that I plan on naming my firstborn son Grey. (To which my mother says, “But everyone will call him gay” and I respond, “Pssh, I should be so lucky!”) If this special donut isn’t available, then I like the Apple Bacon and the Banana Dulce de Leche, but really you can’t wrong at this place. All of the donuts will cream your hole!

#2 Dim Sum at Hong Kong Lounge. It is strange because everyone seems to think of San Francisco and Dim Sum together and yet finding a good dim sum place seems to be everyone’s mission. There is the all-famous round-eye place known as Yang Sing, which I have yet to try. In fact, I haven’t tried a lot of dim sum places, but for now Hong Kong Lounge is my dim sum place. You get a (raffle) ticket and have to wait a minimum of an hour for a table and you are then escorted into the large banquet room for quite a feast. There are no carts so boo on that but I do love all of their shrimp dumplings. It is clear as the dumpling itself that the pork filled dumplings play second fiddle to the stuffed plump huge pieces of shrimp.

#3 Falafel at Old Jerusalem Cafe. Alright, let’s talk balls…the falafel at Old Jerusalem Cafe are as scrumptious as can be. The shape of these babies resemble a mini bran muffin and yet the taste reminds you that this is a damn well-seasoned falafel. When I first ordered them I was getting it to go and by the time I arrived at home there were several balls missing from the bag and I was in delight with the flavor that these little balls packed. I made myself save some for a salad the following day and I was quite impressed. One of my dates told me that you can order these little guys stuffed, now that is something that I would like to try, but for now the unfilled ones do the trick quite nicely.

#4 Pho broth at Pho Hyunh Hiep 2. Pho is something I take very seriously, before moving to San Francisco it was Golden Deli in San Gabriel that had my heart. Moving to San Francisco meant that I needed to find a new pho go to place. Even though I always forget the name when I recommend this place, Pho Huynh Hiep 2, I can use the simpler name  and call it Kevin’s Noodle House. Apparently this place has a few locations but it is the spot on Irving that does it for me. They are surrounded by several other pho joints but this one serves up my kind of broth with the hint of anise, cardamon, and cinnamon without being too overpowering.

#5 Shabu Shabu at Shabu House. Speaking of broth, shabu broth bores most people to death because of the lack of flavor. Shabu House brings something quite exciting with their spicy miso broth. Despite being a fairly lazy person in most aspects of my life, I love Do It Yourself kinds of meals. I like to crack crab, tear pizza, peel artichoke petals, and pull my nuts in two. Therefore, getting my own pot in front of me to cook my meal was quite exciting and the broth actually has a nice kick.

#6 Fried Rice Ball Salad at Champa Garden. Okay, this dish isn’t in San Francisco. It is across the bay in Oakland, but it is so unbelievably delicious that it had to be included. Champa Garden is not in the best neighborhood but step inside and you are lucky if you can find an open table in this small restaurant. The fried rice ball salad has crispy rice, preserved pork, limes, cilantro, and a variety of herbs and lettuce to wrap this salad up. The pork makes this salad but it is a refreshing flavorful package that makes this the most awesome salad ever. Plus, I like to pretend to sound gangsta and say that I am a Champa, it is an upgrade from calling myself a Food Baller.

#7 Chicken-Fried Rabbit at Comstock Saloon. I have already exhausted every innuendo and pun to express my love for rabbit but it is truly one of my favorite meats. The chicken fried rabbit at Comstock Saloon was one of my first dishes after moving here. I was catching up with an old friend that I hadn’t seen since high school and was sipping a whiskey cocktail. The fried batter on the delicate meat and the chili vinegar sauce was the topper on this night. Comstock Saloon is so effing cool and this dish along with the rabbit toast and the celery salad is a fantastic classic cocktail companion.

#8 Cioppino at Tadich Grill. For the last several months I have been writing for SF Weekly’s SFoodie and after I read their list SFoodie’s 92 best dishes in San Francisco I knew I needed to try their #1, which was Tadich Grill’s cioppino. I am a cioppino lover and my favorite restaurant version is at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing, that is my fish stew standard. A few months ago, I was having a perfect San Francisco day, I was driving (remember I only moved from LA 5 months ago) the weather was sunny and breezy and as I was driving down a hill, I spotted Tadich on my left. Again, I am still very LA so I called them from my car and asked if I could get cioppino to go. They are very San Francisco and said that I can’t call in my order but I can park right in front in the white zone and order at the bar. (I don’t want to jinx it but I have never gotten a parking ticket since moving here, I have parked in front of driveways and had expired metters but they aren’t as pesky about parking here, maybe that’s becaus eI am the only driving fool.) Anyway, walking in, I completely stepped back in time. It wasn’t in a themey way, it was just Tadich. I actually would have loved to eat it there but I had other places to go and sun to soak in before the fog rolled in. I was a little shocked by the price, over $30 for a bowl. However, it was a mighty big bowl that did not skimp on seafood in the slightest. When I had the first bite it was clear to me that I now live in San Francisco and this is my kind of food. You break a tough piece of classic SF sourdough and you dunk away. The sweet crab and the plump scallops melt in your mouth and this is truly a San Franicisco treat. My colleague, Jonathan Kauffman, at SF Weekly said it way better in the beginning and end of his article,

“Admit it: Every time you walk into Tadich Grill you fall back in love with San Francisco….We love the cioppino at Tadich not just because it’s a great dish but because it is ours.”

San Francisco, I officially love you, thank you for feeding me so damn well!