Showing posts with label Mexican. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexican. Show all posts

Don Pistos Mexican in North Beach

Located in North Beach, Don Pistos is an under-the-radar place that serves really good Mexican food.   Signage from the street is very subtle and only the people standing outside give away the fact that something great is going on inside.

That "great" is a delicious take on Mexican street food from tacos to tamales and a whole host of other items we didn't get to.    What we tasted - the fish tacos, tacos al pastor and tamales with charred green chile and cheese - all divine.  Oh, and we also downed a boatload of those super crispy, salty chips.   Try as I might, I just could not stop eating them (and they kept magically appearing too!)

I absolutely cannot wait to go back.  Hint:  if you don't have reservations the cozy bar is a nice option.

Good food, bad photo, but I'm posting anyway so you'll have to try Don Pistos on your own! 
Don Pistos
510 Union Street
San Francisco CA

Villa Valentina, Drunken Sailor and Cazuelas in San Jose del Cabo

Although it's summer in the Bay Area and my vacation now seems so long ago (really only a month ago) I'm still hungering for Baja and the food I love so much.  Tacos were the vision - and we did partake - but we also ventured out to restaurants for meals which captured the essence of the region and time and time again reflected the hospitality of the people. 

Martini-time at Villa Valentina
Three standouts on this trip include the following:

The Drunken Sailor 

Located near the new marina (look for Hotel El Ganzo) and sporting a casual, beachy vibe this place really delivers.  We ordered the taco chino; a tortilla filled with panko coated shrimp and topped with a cilantro sesame dressing.    In addition I tried the enchiladas verde filled with shrimp and just the right amount of tang and spice.   This was a nice start to the trip.... 

After dinner we hung on the deck of the very cool and sophisticated Hotel El Ganzo.  El Ganzo is jaw-dropping with it's chic decor, relaxed vibe and roof top pool.   The rooms vary from waaayyyy over the top (one has a ping pong table AND workout room) to more subdued but all boast views of the marina and on this night were served up by Gerry, our effervescent host and impromptu tour guide.  

Next up a trip to Todos Santos to see the real Hotel California.  Of course we were famished upon arrival and a taco platter plus ceviche with red pepper cream salsa was in order.  I admit I had an Eagles soundtrack playing in my head "Welcome to the Hotel California..." but it wasn't until we visited Hacienda Cerritos I felt the dream materialize.  Beautiful stonework, pools overlooking the Pacific and a friendly cat jumping around to greet us made for a delightful day trip away from the core. 

Villa Valentina

Part home decor store, art center and restaurant is the best way I can describe Villa Valentina.  Throw in well-prepared food and the sound of a local musician on his guitar and you've almost got your own romantic movie.   

My dinner companions ordered the huarache (chipped duck with mole, really terrific) and chicken with - you guessed it - more mole.  As odd as this sounds, I ordered the fish and chips thinking it would be fun to see how other cultures prepare this iconic American dish.  In this case, Villa Valentina nailed their rendition and put their own stamp on it with fresh local sea bass perfectly cooked and served alongside wedge cut potatoes.  And don't forget the tarter sauce (I didn't!) 

The huarache with chipped duck and mole.  Incredible!
Cazuelas del don

Located in San Jose del Cabo off the tourist loop this local restaurant is about as authentic as you can get.  The premise is that each day the owner slow cooks meat, vegetables and spices and then you get to choose how the concoction is served up.  On  this day we were treated to La Ira; arrachera, chile poblano and cebolla (plus a few other ingredients.)  I opted for the baked potato, my companions the torta (sandwich) and volcan which seemed to translate to "all piled up on a crispy tortilla". 

The torta at Cazuelas (check out the crispy cheese!)
This was probably one of my favorite places and not just because the food was so interestingly delicious.  It's because it was served with a dose of pride and much warmth by the owners themselves.  To this day my travel companion lights up when talk turns to Cabo, Cazuelas and that lovely torta!

Hot feet and a warm soul in San Jose del Cabo, Baja California

It started around January... a recurring vision of sandy beach and fiery sun to warm my soul...  and didn't ease up until I was poolside with a plate of  fish tacos and a generous helping of smooth guacamole.  Cabo has become the stuff of my dreams and the place I think of first when I want to unwind and unplug. 

Last year I travelled to Cabo and stayed at the Hilton which is very plush and a great way to touch down for a few days of doing nothing (which is quite pleasant I must admit!)  This year it was the same but after a few days we changed hotels (Casa Natalia, boutique hotel) and locations (San Jose del Cabo) for a walkable experience via newly cobblestoned streets and updated core.

Fun, funky art adds beauty and character to Casa Natalia
Great for relaxing poolside

I loved Casa Natalia with its ultra chic setting and simple but comfortable rooms.  The hotel is right on the plaza so you can go out for a coffee at the French Riviera (great pastries) and then check out Casa Dahlia (art, light food) or Mi Casa Azul (nice collection of items for you or your home.)  Casa Natalia (whew, seems like everything here starts or ends with a "casa") also offers breakfast delivered to your room for dining al fresco. A great way to start the day!
Fresh fruit for our daily desayuno...breakfast!

One thing I will say is this:  Casa Natalia offers natural cooling with ceiling fans and open windows which isn't for everyone but was fine with us.   If you are looking for air-conditioned bliss, a larger hotel is probably a better fit.  However, the location and amenities overrule the lack of A/C in my opinion (unless of course it's the middle of summer when it's blistering hot.)

 Next up:  the food and fun of Cabo.  Don't miss the next post coming your way soon!

Boulevard Mijares N. 4
San Jose del Cabo
Baja California Sur 23400, Mexico
Mi Casa Azul Studio
Casa Dahlia

French Riveria

Mission Pie, El Farolito and La Palma Mexica-tessen in the Mission, SF

Pork tacos at El Farolito - spicy but oh so tasty!

A recent walking tour of the Mission in SF yielded some good food tips.  Below is a long list of the places we stopped at and yes...we were very full at the end of the tour!

Starting point was Mission Pie.  They are all about sustainability, youth advocacy and oh...great pie.  Check out all the dough...

That's a lot of dough, but you should have seen all the butter!
Mission Pie
2901 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
415. 282.4PIE

Next up at Humphry Slocombe, ice cream before lunch.  It's like a progressive dinner - but in reverse order.

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
2790A Harrison Street
San Francisco CA 94110

The menu at Mission Local Eatery
Local Mission Eatery
3111 24th Street
San Francisco CA 94110

They served a mean roasted chicken sandwich with peaches and purslane.  (note:  purslane grows wild around the area and is sometimes considered a nuisance.)

La Palma Mexica-tessen
2884 24th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110-4233

Great for takeout: tamales and masa.  We didn't eat here but I secretly was hoping since the food looked fab!  We did eat at El Farolito which has excellent tacos (pictured at the top of this post) and 9 locations in the Bay Area.

El Farolito
2779 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA
Note: website under construction

The person who put all this together...Lisa Rogovin (epicurean concierge).  Love the title!
In the kitchen with Lisa

The cooking class after the walking tour.  Loved these small bites of masa (used for tamales) and avocado filling.

Milagros - Redwood City, CA

1099 Middlefield Road
Redwood City, CA 94063 (650) 369-4730

I haven’t eaten at Milagros in Redwood City for quite some time and really don’t know why. My dinner last night was good all around from the selection, taste and price. The service was okay, but the quality of the food balanced this out.

What I devoured:

  • Copious amounts of really tasty guacamole and thin crispy chips.
  • The entire contents of the combo plate which consisted of a chicken tamale and enchilada suiza plus the standard rice and beans. The enchilada was filled with “spit” roasted chicken and corn in a creamy poblano sauce – delish.

Nice atmosphere, good location (mid Penninsula) and great food. Thumbs up!

Mexican Food Magic at Cucina Poblana

Cucina Poblana
499 Embarcadero West
Oakland, CA 94607

Salsa and chips - my favorite starter!

Trio of small fish tacos (these were killer!)

Great food, nice setting. Loved the chips and salsa (esp. the salsa verde) and the entrees. We ordered the trio of fish tacos which had great flavor and a decent amount of "punch" (spice). In addition (not shown) we finished off a plate of chile rellenos which were perfect: enough cheese to round out the heat of the chile.
Overall - a very pleasant meal and a place I will be adding to my "go-to" places.