Tag Archives: Mexican food

National Taco Day 2011

I just heard that today is National Taco Day! Wow…who knew? I mean, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject of tacos and I have never heard of this wondrous day. But, now that I have, you can bet your sweet ass our family will be celebrating National Taco Day 2011 in high style tonight!

Yep, we might even bypass our usual Taco Tuesday fiesta at Del Taco and go somewhere a little more authentically Mexican…you know, where they sell real street tacos like the lovelies pictured below. Yum!

But wherever we end up tonight, here’s hoping the rest of you find time to celebrate the magic of a truly tasty taco on this happiest of days as well. Happy National Taco Day, amigos!

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Lunch at San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Christine and I usually visit San Francisco at least once a year for her work and every time we go, one of the first places we hit is the super cool Ferry Building Marketplace at the end of Market Street.

Housed inside the beautiful shell of the historic Ferry Building (which opened it’s doors in 1898), the marketplace can best be described as a gigantic indoor farmer’s market. With offices upstairs, the bustling lower level is home to some of the tastiest gourmet grub in the city.

The Ferry Building, San Francisco

Little girl (not Greta!) at Miette

Miette's collection of cool goodies!

Artisanal cheeses, chocolates, meats, tea, coffee, breads…there is nothing you can’t find at this place and if you are lucky enough to come on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday between the hours of 10:00AM and 2:00PM, you’ll find a real life farmer’s market camped outside the building as well. And, man alive, is that place amazing!

But even if you can’t make it for the outdoor farmer’s market, the permanent storefronts inside the Ferry Building will more than satisfy you. We’ve eaten at almost every joint in there and aside from the bland, totally overpriced Mexican food at Mijita, everything we’ve eaten there has been excellent.

That said, we are total creatures of habit and almost always eat at the same two places. First stop is usually Charlie Phan’s Out The Door. Located directly behind Phan’s already-legendary The Slanted Door, Out The Door has some of the best Vietnamese “street food” I’ve ever had. Soups, salads, spring rolls, out-of-this-world Vietnamese coffee, this place is probably one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Seriously good food!

Miette @ the Ferry Building!

Miette pastry table at the Ferry Building!

The amazing chocolate pots @ Miette!

And the meal we had the one time we actually managed to score a dinner reservation at The Slanted Door — which is usually booked months in advance — will go down in the record books as one of the finest meals I’ve ever had. I  kid you not, amigos, I have actually had dreams about their world-famous Chicken Claypot with caramel sauce, chilies and fresh ginger. DELICIOUS!

Our second favorite spot in the Ferry Building is Miette Patisserie home of awesome cookies, pastries and the second-best cupcakes in the city (right behind my all-time favorite, Kara’s Cupcakes!). But cookies and other baked yumminess aside, the thing that keeps Christine and I coming back year after year are Miette’s incredibly tasty Chocolate Pots de Creme. Holy crap, these things will totally change your life!

Served in a tiny glass jar (which you get to keep!) the chocolate pot is like the best pudding you ever had topped with a healthy dollop of dreamy, melt-in-your-mouth, creme fraiche. Yum!

Boccalone sandwich board sign @ the Ferry Building!

Boccalone at the Ferry Building!

And while we were a little sad to learn that they no longer uses the Miette logo glassware for the pots (which make rad tea light holders back home), as long as the chocolate keeps tasting this good, who really cares what it comes in?

Our two favorite stops aside, this past visit we decided to try something different for lunch. So, at the urging of Grandma Wendy, the four of us jumped into the long line outside Boccalone Salumeria to try their Food-Network-famous mortadella hot dogs. And, lemme tell ya, the sign out front, “tasty salted pig parts”, doesn’t even begin to describe how good this fancy hot dog was.

The sight, the smell, even the sound as it popped in your mouth when you bit into it, this was truly a weiner for the ages…delicious!

Boccalone delivery bicycle!

Mortadella hot dog @ Boccalone!

My only complaint about the Ferry Building Marketplace is the lack of parking. This was our first time driving to SF with Greta (we’re saving her first airplane trip till January!) and the parking really sucked. The dedicated lot they do have is very small and street parking is a nightmare. And when you do find street parking, it’s metered up the wazoo, so, bring your quarters!

Oh, and one more cool thing. The Ferry Building Marketplace has free WiFi, so, bring your laptop and sit a spell at one of the giant wooden tables facing the bay…the view is incredible!

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L.A. Loncheros Community Forum

First off, sorry for being away for so long. Our friend Ginger was in town this weekend and we kept ourselves way busier than usual with tons of totally blogworthy adventures. And while I am chomping at the bit to blog about them, have been way too busy to even post our pictures to Flickr yet, much less blog (or sleep!), so, it might take a couple of days to get back up to speed. Sorry!

In the meantime, while Christine and I sleep off our “staycation” hangovers, wanted to alert los locals about a super cool Taco Truck Community Forum that is taking place this Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Loncheros Community Forum flyer

Organized by La Asociación de Loncheros L.A. Familia Unida de California — I know, talk about a mouthful! — the event is geared towards updating the taco truck community and their many fans about recent developments in the ever evolving Taco Truck War of 2008.

And while all that sounds kinda cool, the big selling point for this street taco fanatic is located in the fine print at the bottom of the flyer…FREE FOOD! As you all know by now, nothing gets my fat ass out of the house faster than the promise of free food, and free taco truck food…hell, I’m thinking about camping out tonight to score a good place in line!

Thanks to our compadre Aaron Sonderleiter at Saveourtacotrucks.org for the heads up on this rocking event. Call the number on the flyer above for more info and if, by chance, you happen to grab a place in line ahead of me, I am totally cutting in line to stand with you when we get there. You know, if that’s cool with you and everything…

Either way, que viva los taco trucks!

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Dia de los Muertos 2008

Since our usual Day of the Dead menu is a bit of a hodge podge — one year we had tuna casserole and taco salad! — this year we decided to make something a little more unified. So, though it took a while to prepare, I ended up making some kick-ass chicken enchilladas and beans. OK, I didn’t actually make the beans, but I did make the enchilladas, and they were awesome.

Dia de los Muertos #1 (2008)

Christine’s been having some problems with spicy foods lately, so I toned down the hot chiles this time, but, even milder than usual, those things were delicious.

Another kind of weird thing happened in the drink department…usually we serve something sweet and yummy for my little sister Brittany, tuna juice or milk for our cats Frida and Lourdes, something non-alcoholic for Christine’s Dad, Buster, and beer for my Grandpa Romero.

So, I’m looking through my fridge for some Mexican beer for Grandpa and there, in the very back of the fridge is a San Miguel that I have no recollection of ever buying, just waiting to be opened. Crazy, huh? I’m sure my brother brought the beer over sometime when he was housesitting or something, but it was odd to find one lone bottle of Mexican beer just when I — not to mention my Grandpa! — wanted it most. Weird…

Per tradition, Christine and I served up one plate of food for our loved one’s to share, set out some pictures and mementos from their lives, poured them their favorite drinks and got down to some serious eating.

Dia de los Muertos #2 (2008)

Dia de los Muertos #3 (2008)

Another change this year was that we left our Halloween pumpkins on the table this year too, which, aside from looking pretty damn cool, also made the whole thing much more festive.

And though we bought the ingredients to make Pumpkin Pie ice cream milk shakes for dessert, we were so full by the time we finished eating that we just had a couple slices of that amazing, pink-sugar-coated Pan de Muerto (pictured above) and called it a night.

Feliz Dia de los Muertos everyone…and to our family and feline loved ones who have gone before, hope you liked the grub and see ya next year!

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Zona Rosa: best burritos on the planet!

If you haven’t eaten yet, I suggest you grab yourself a power bar or something, because these here pictures are gonna make you drool like a hungry baby. Or, well, maybe that’s just me…

Either way, allow me to introduce you to my favorite burrito place on the planet…San Francisco, California’s legendary Zona Rosa.

Located at the grungy tail-end of the city’s storied Haight-Ashbury district, Zona Rosa has been serving up bad-ass Mexican food for as long as I can remember. And, seeing as Christine and I have been eating there since 1990, well, wow…that’s a long-ass time, yo.

I don’t remember which one of our roommates first stumbled upon this wondrous place, but I discovered Zona Rosa in college, while living in a rundown flat full of crazies — seriously, we had six roommates and a cat at one point! — just a few blocks away on Fell Street.

Rolling out of bed, all hung over and groggy, and walking up to Zona on a Sunday morning in our sweats was more than just a mere weekend ritual for us…hell, Zona Rosa was our church, baby! And we rarely missed a chance to worship their tasty grub…even on school nights.

And, best of all, because it was the Haight, you could walk into that place in your flip flops and boxers if you wanted to. In fact, many people still do. And, yes, for the record, I did go to Zona Rosa in my boxers several times — before Christine came along and made me wear, you know, pants and stuff — but hey, they looked like shorts, so, no big.

But the extremely lax dress code is just the tip of the iceberg at Zona Rosa, because almost everything on their menu is fantastic. And though it’s not traditional Mexican food by any means, there is something kinda Cali-Mexi-authentic going on here with the flavors that is just amazing.

Let’s start with the beans, Christine favors the black beans, but for me, a Zona Rosa burrito is all about the pintos. I don’t know what they do those things, but they rock…HARD! Couple the beans with that fluffy orange Mexican rice and you’re already halfway to heaven, amigos.

The meat selection is vast: steak, pork, chicken, carnitas, saucy, dry, you name it, they have it. But my favorite will always be the grilled carne asada-style steak. Toss in some cheese, fresh salsa, guacamole and a little bit of sour cream, roll that shit up in a big, fat flour tortilla and you are good to go!

And don’t ignore those free chips either. Sure, they can be overcooked and a tad hard sometimes, but they practically melt in your mouth when smothered with the spicy green and red salsa they have at the tables. I kid you not, amigos, the food here is crazy-magical…you’ll die!

And though my friend Ginger probably gets sick of driving Christine and I all the way out to the Haight from our hotel downtown when we visit the City — as she did in July on our way to visit Master Yoda — I know that somewhere, deep down, Ginger’s a fan too. I think…

Either way, if you’re ever in the city, you gotta make time and room in your stomach for some Zona Rosa. As one of my most-loathed former roommates used to say: “Once a Zona Rosa addict, always a Zona Rosa addict.” And though that wanker has, thankfully, long since faded from our circle of friends, he could not have been more right about Zona…I will love this place till I die!

And I kinda mean that literally as I have already instructed Christine to toss a Zona Rosa Super Burrito in my coffin at my funeral. Yep, it’s that good!

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The Taco Truck war escalates!

Well, it’s official…the L.A. County Board of Supervisor’s war with our beloved taco trucks has claimed it’s first victim. And while the circumstances surrounding the citation are a bit odd — the chickenshit pendejo who called in the complaint used the name of the owner of the truck when he called! — the outcome is downright chilling.

The L.A. County Sheriff cited the owner of La Flor de Sahuayo, Alejandro Valdovino, with a misdemeanor violation of the new ordinance. That is the maximum penalty allowed by law, and if you ask me, that’s just plain loco!

So, to drum up support for the cause and encourage all of those taco-loving folks out there who have not yet signed the petition, to do so, our friends at saveourtacotrucks.com have started selling t-shirts! Yeah!

Emblazoned with the catchy: “Carne Asada is not a Crime” on the back and the words: “Salva Las Trocas” on the front, the shirts have apparently been selling like, well…taco truck tacos. So, get yourself a shirt at the website and sign the petition while you’re there, or better yet, cut out the middle man altogether and forward your thoughts directly to your County Supervisors at the links below.

And no, you don’t have to be from Los Angeles to bitch these folks out, you just have to love yourself some tasty street tacos!

Thanks to the movement’s rocking man of the hour, Aaron Sonderleiter, for forwarding me this information via e-mail and, as always, que viva las trocas!

District 1
Gloria Molina
(213) 974-4111
molina@bos.lacounty.gov

District 2
Yvone Burke
(213) 974-2222
seconddistrict@burke.lacounty.gov
This seat is still up for grabs after Tuesday’s election, so Burke may or may not get your e-mail…but, what the hell, send it anyway!

District 3
Zev Yaroslavsky
(213) 974-3333
zev@bos.lacounty.gov

District 4
Don Knabe
(213) 974-4444
don@lacbos.org

District 5
Michael D. Antonovich
(213) 974-5555
FifthDistrict@lacbos.org

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Downtown L.A.’s “Ciudad”

On their very cool website, Ciudad invites one and all to “experience the bold and seductive flavors of the Latin World” and last night, we took them up on it!

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, Ciudad is the brainchild of world-renowned Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger and though a little pricier than their fare at the similarly-themed Border Grill in Santa Monica and Las Vegas, Ciudad is worth every penny you pay. Seriously…it’s kind of magical.

Although Christine has eaten at Ciudad a number of times over the years — her workplace, downtown’s Central Library is practically across the street from the restaurant — I had only been there on one other occasion, but the memory of that meal has stayed with me ever since.

So after enjoying the sunset from the rooftop bar of The Standard nearby, we hiked on over to Ciudad for a late dinner with some of Christine’s co-workers. And seeing as the late night happy hour at Ciudad had begun just minutes before we walked in — incredibly enough, they have house mojitos, sangria and a number of other rocking good cocktails for only $4 a pop from 9-11 on Friday nights! — we could not have planned it better!

The only hitch to the late night happy hour is that you have to enjoy your drinks literally at the bar and cannot move to your table until after you’ve settled your tab. Fine by us! So we drank ourselves silly at the bar, settled the tab and stumbled to our table around 10-ish.

And the food? Wow…word’s cannot do this place justice. Fusing delicious new and classic authentic dishes from Spain, Mexico, South America, Central America, Cuba and even Portugal, the menu is almost as rich, colorful and varied as the crazy hip decor and art work inside.

We started with some incredible tapas-style dishes. And though the Peruvian Ceviche with plantain chips and Argentine Empandas (with wild mushroom, warm chipotle sauce and swiss chard!) were fantastic, I gotta say that my favorite of the three appetizers we shared was the Fried Spanish Brie. Dios mio, that stuff melted in your mouth…it was incredible.

And this from a man who is not a huge fan of the Brie…don’t get me wrong, I love me some soft cheeses, but Brie has never been my favorite. Until now!

And dinner was even more amazing! Not only were the hip, mid-century dishes super groovy to look at, but the plating of this food was out of this world. Beautiful culinary art on every plate…just gorgeous!

I had the slow-roasted Niman Ranch Carnitas with mashed yuca, organic black beans, fried plantains and grilled corn salsa. Wow, even just typing those words is making me drool. It was probably the best carnitas I’ve ever had anywhere…and that mashed yuca is something I wanna make at home, like, every night. I loved it!

Christine had a huge crusted pork chop from the “Specials” menu that not only tasted like heaven, but rivaled the Brontosaurus bone on “The Flintsones” in heft. That thing was enormous!

And that lovely pork chop was not alone in the size department, because, unlike other hipster haunts downtown, the portions at Ciudad are authentically gigantic. That’s right, they don’t eat dainty in any of the countries listed above, so why should we do it here? Sí se puede, indeed!

I don’t have any pictures to back this all up of course — Christine forbid me to photograph my food in front of her work friends — but you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that even the heartiest eaters out there will not leave this joint hungry. It’s just not possible…

So next time you find yourself downtown on a Friday night between 9-11PM — gotta hit that happy hour, I mean, come on, regular-priced Supremo Mojitos are $15! — check out Ciudad! Sure, it might cost you and arm and a leg, but I swear to God, the food you eat here will flash before your eyes when you die.

Yep, it’s that good!

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