Showing posts with label Tacos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tacos. 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
http://www.donpistos.com/

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!

Seasonal Snacking – Seattle Style

Every year it’s the same:  the holidays sneak up on me, I wait until the last minute to buy gifts and before I know it I’m on a plane headed to the Pacific Northwest to visit family.   The routine might seem, well, routine, but changes to the menu lineup make this “the most wonderful time of the year” for me. 

While Seattle hosts a bevvy of fine dining choices I actually think the unique quick-meal options – some would call this fast food  - define the area (yes, you are welcome to disagree).    Good food at a good price really does make me jolly J  Here’s a snapshot of our adventures…
Taco Time
Crispy meat burritos, housemade salsa and the “mexi fries” (tater tots) all make for a good quick meal at this Northwest classic.  Select from the combo menu and your wallet will thank you.  Oh and it's not just me. A co-worker commented that his first stop in Seattle is Taco Time as well (followed by Starbucks!)
Musashi’s
Nestled in a strip mall in Factoria (suburb of Bellevue) Mushashi’s is the second installment for this family-owned restaurant.   The food was good, tasty and reasonably priced.  My very-picky mother liked it and said she’d definitely return which is good as gold in terms of reviews.
3720 Factoria Blvd SE, Bellevue WA 98006

Sushi from Musashi's in Factoria

The Daily Grill (Seattle) and The Keg (Factoria) share the same paragraph simply because they have similar menu items (steaks, chops, salads) but the experience – and food – couldn’t be more different.
To be fair, we dined at the Daily Grill on Christmas so I have to cut some slack here.  But overall, food was just “okay” (steak wayyyy overdone) with service that seemed to amplify the subpar nature of the meal.  On the bright side, the huge slice of chocolate cake for dessert was decadent and delicious.

Chocolate cake from The Daily Grill - a nice holiday treat.
 

The Keg Steakhouse, located in the same strip mall as Musashi’s in Factoria is part of a long-standing Northwest chain that seems to have aged well and delivers quality in terms of food and service.   I have ordered the rib eye twice (once during my last trip and this time too) and it’s amazing; well-cooked and bursting with flavor.  At 20 oz. you might be tempted to pass up dessert, but don’t.  The Billy Miner pie -mocha ice cream on a chocolate crust with hot fudge, caramel and almonds - is fantastic. 
Now with the holidays soundly in my rearview mirror I am ready to embrace 2013 and all the food adventures I can find.  As always, I’m truly grateful for the people in my life who bring joy and laughter despite anything I might really deserve.  I am blessed and hope you – and those around you – are too!  Thanks for reading.
 

Cabo Delights

San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas
About a week before our vacation, someone, somewhere asked "where are you going?"  I blurted out "Cancun" and my friend - at the same time - said "Cabo".  Houston...we've got a problem.

Cancun was my first choice for a seaside destination so I admit I didn't expect to to love this vacation or Cabo too much...but I did.   I loved San Jose del Cabo because it was as much about the breath-taking scenery and amazing food as it was the incredible warmth from the people we met along the way.   And our newfound friends indulged my quest for tasty tacos by trekking around in a relentless pursuit of pescado perfection (and carne asada too!)

It all started with a simple order of fish tacos at the Hilton where I was instantly hooked:  flaky local fish garnished with salsa and chipotle cream plus a watermelon mint beverage to wash it all down.  My version of poolside bliss.    
                                
Next up:  Asi y Asado located on the main road between San Jose and Cabo (across from Costco.)  Asi y Asado features a taco-focused menu with my favorites being the pescado and arrachera topped with a cabbage-y coleslaw, beans, cilantro and avocado sauce.   If you go, make sure to order the hibiscus tea!

A stop at Las Guacamayas (San Jose) resulted in tacos al pastor - marinated pork on a vertical rotisserie carved to order - and thin-rolled fried cheese as an appetizer.   The food and atmosphere felt authentic and the crowd very non-touristy.  A fun way to cap my
Cabo-taco-extravaganza!

Other great places for food include French Riviera and CasaDahlia - both in San Jose as well.  French Riviera dishes out a bevy of fine fare which includes delicious chocolate croissants and cheese from...you guessed it...France.  Casa Dahlia (within walking distance) serves up art by day and wood-oven pizzas by night in the ultra charming garden courtyard.  This is where we met Hector and Lisa who become our vacation mentors and food-finding friends during our stay. 

At Hector's urging we signed up for a Sunset Cruise on the Eco Cat which turned out to be delightful and memorable.  We took in the beautiful scenery and open air surrounded by friendly staffers armed with drinks and offering impromptu dance lessons.  Cost is about $35USD - a bargain for what you get in return.

All in all I've been on my share of trips which were nothing special and those that were stellar in memory.  This one takes stellar and wraps it around the earth a few times before landing on spectacular as the top prize.   And it all comes back to the amazingly cool, supremely gracious people we met who introduced us to arrachera tacos, hibiscus tea and dancing on deck of the sunset cruise.
So to Hector, Lisa, Tammy and everyone else - muchas gracias!

More to see and do in Cabo and the surrounding area
  • Voila - San Jose del Cabo - this is a home decor store + courtyard cafe
  • Las Guacamayas - San Jose del Cabo | calle marinos col chamizal, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Must try: tacos al pastor and the thin rolled fried cheese appetizer.
  • La Taquiza- Av. Leona Vicario S/N Col. | Centro Entre Revolucion y Carranza, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Tacos in an open-air venue  (Located right next to Paisas which is supposed to be good too - but they were closed when we stopped for lunch.)

Art Galleries


Just plain fun

  • Eco Cat Sunset Cruise - Awesome - fun crew and amazing scenery and a bargain at $35USD (May 2012)
Lodging

  • Pueblo Bonito Rose Resort & Spa.  The pro's:  the beach and swimming are close.  Also, this is a good place to stay if you want a lively, party-like atmosphere.
  • El Encanto (San Jose) -   We didn't stay here but I will next time.  Super cute with a great courtyard pool and a small chapel in the back.
  • Casa Natalia (San Jose) -  We didn't stay here either but this was heavily recommended by Hector (which tells me it's great)
Transportation - to and from the airport


Terramar 1.314.754.8808.  Cost:  approx. $107USD.  Yes, it's pricey and a taxi is a better bargain.     However, if you want a nice, soft landing once you are in the area, this is a good way to go.