Tag Archives: mission

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.

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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!

When Surrounded By Hot Gay Men…Grab your Rabbit (Pot Pie)

10 Aug

My first house guest in my SF apartment was my favorite guy from LA, Edward. We both love Hillary Clinton, Will & Grace, Dexter, Sweet Tea Vodka, and Diet Coke. He is pretty much my dream man. We spent the first two nights of his visit in gay bars in the Castro. It was ridiculously fun to be spun around on the dance floor by hunky men while Lady Gaga was blasted. Perhaps I love to be tortured because these nights were heaven for me. My bestie, Edward, left for a few days to spend time with his family and when he returned to SF for one last night he brought his niece that was a day shy of two years old. Clearly this was a trip of torment: hot men that have no interest in touching me beyond the dance floor, the cutest toddler that I couldn’t steal or eat to pieces, and my Edward taunting me by us being back in the same city. After all of this pent up frustration, a girl needs some relief. As a girl in a new city that release normally comes in the way of food. After a day at the zoo, and a cocktail, Edward and I headed to one of his friend’s houses for drinks and dinner. A couple of glasses of wine in, I divulged about about my bad SF dating luck and how I just want a nice Jewish banker. Edward’s friend laughed as clearly he fit that profile, although he was yet another one not on my team. I laughed at my own misfortunate and after we polished off a few bottles of wine we walked to a local restaurant called Mission Beach Cafe.

To be honest I remember very little about the starters we ordered, perhaps that’s because we moved on to bottle #3 when we arrived. I remember the beef had hot peppers and an Asian marinade. I also remember ordering the salad based solely on the fact that there were gold and red beets and artichoke hearts. Although there was a tofu or something in the salad that, for me, threw off the entire dish. Edward got the burger, which I just learned was on the 7×7 10 Best Burgers in the City list. It was massive with Prather Ranch Beef, aged gouda, caramelized onion, and an oven-roasted tomato. Edward, of course, opted for the bacon and avocado addition. While his entree was an enormous, his friend had sadly thin pieces of branzino.

Finally, Carina’s bad luck took a turn. I got the mama bear (not too big and not too small) perfect portion. I also got reunited with one of my favorite foods: rabbit. Edward somehow always manages to bring me good rabbit luck, like the time I got the white mole rabbit from Fig in Santa Monica with him. On this night I ordered the Rabbit Pot Pie, which I was told was a favorite at Mission Beach Cafe. Apparently in the Fall, there are Pot Pie Tuesdays but while we are still in summer this rabbit pot pie will certainly do. As soon as my dish arrived the aroma was oozing from the puff pastry and as soon as I broke it with my fork I was hypnotized. It smelled phenomenal. The carrots were roasted, there were fresh English peas and the rabbit reduction was perfection. Mission Fruition, this is the dish! I do not yet have an adorable tot, or my very own hunky Jewish banker, but I can order delicious food. When you are feeling all pent-up with frustration (sexual or otherwise) head to Mission Beach Cafe where their rabbit pot pie will take care of you…real good.