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 Now occupying the old Medjool space is Lolinda, the newest addition to the Beretta family.  Rather than their usual Italian and pizza ventures, Lolinda takes a step into Argentinian cuisine.  With only a handful of Argentinian restaurants in the Bay Area, when I think of Argentinian cuisine I think steak and empanadas.  Lolinda had plenty of both.

Normally I tend to go with some type of meat, cheese, or a mixture of both when I choose an empanada, but raves about their empanada de maiz (corn) swayed my usual decision. 
The outside of the empanada was perfectly fried without the slightest bit of greasiness.  Inside the crisp exterior was a hot, oozing corn filling with whole kernels of sweet corn.  It was delicious and I'm glad I ended up ordering this.
A bone marrow dish, of course!  I was a little disappointed with this one.  I haven't had one that topped Alembic's yet.  One canoe of bone marrow with a couple slices of toasted bread and chili de arbol jelly.  The combination of the marrow and the jelly tasted like the sweet and sour sauce at Wendy's, which isn't a bad thing in my book, but it could have been better. 
Every coastal Latin American country has their own take on ceviche.  The ceviche was amazing here!  Probably some of the best ceviche I've had in a long time.  The cerviche mixto (mixed cerviche) comes with squid, shrimp, halibut and fried corn.  Each piece of seafood is juicy and fresh.  The fried corn is more of a corn cracker that reminds me of a rice cracker so it give each bite of ceviche some contrasting textures.  The best part of this ceviche is the sauce.  I could slurp it up with a spoon, which I was happily doing until one of the bussers took away the plate between my slurps.  The marinade is really spicy with hints of fresh tasting lime.  So tasty.
I've eaten tongue from duck, cow, pig, chicken, and various other types of animals, but I've never tasted tongue like this.  The lengua (tongue) is braised in melbec and sits on top chayote (squash) and salsa verde.  The texture of the chayote reminds me of a taro.  The tongue is so tender that if someone told me it was beef cheek I would never doubt it.  
The asada mixto (mixed grilled meat platter) from bottom left;clockwise: padron peppers, chorizo, shortrib, blood sausage, skirt steak.  It also comes with a couple of pieces of grilled better that mostly serves as filler.  The chorizo was probably my least favorite of the bunch.  It had zero flavor and spiciness plus the texture was really soft.  The grilled shortrib was tender and juicy, but having had a lot of korean short ribs in my time, this was nothing special.  The blood sausage was really delicate and the consistency just fell apart even before you put it in your mouth.  Somewhat grainy, blood sausage isn't exactly for everyone's palette.  This one wasn't too irony and I thought lacked some flavor.  The grilled skirt steak was well cooked and probably this and the short ribs were the best meats in their platter.  The wost thing on this platter was the chimichurri sauce.  Not even close to anything that resembles chimichurri, this sauce was extremely oily and tasted of nothing but oil.  That was really disappointing since I love chimichurri sauce.
An Argentinian play on cookies and milk made with dulce de leche alfajores and a vanilla milkshake.  Alfajores are a traditional sweet dessert found in Spain and part of Latin America.  In Argentina, alfajores are commonly made with dulce de leche filling.  These powery cookies crumble in your mouth almost instantly when you bite into them.  The sweet dulce de leche filling is so decadent I could only have a cookie and a half.  Delicious and recommended for those with a sweet tooth.  The vanilla milkshake was a little too watery and icey for me, but it complimented the cookie well. 
I'm still looking for the perfect churros con chocolate similar to the crispy churros in Madrid (see post HERE) and the velvety chocolate sauce for dipping like in Lima (see post HERE).  The churros here were a tad on the greasy side with an oily aftertaste and the chocolate didn't coat the churro in a nice thick layer. 

Address:                 Lolinda
                                2518 Mission St.
                                San Francisco, CA
Type:                       Argentinean

Popular chomps:  ceviche de mixto
                                 empanada de maiz (corn empanada)
                                 pulpo (octopus)
                                 hueso asada (bone marrow)  
                                 lengua (tongue)
                                 lubina al horno (branzino)
                                 asado mixto
                                 cookies and milk

Chomp worthy:    ceviche de mixto
                                 empanada de maiz
                                 cookies and milk        


Evolution Fresh

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Evolution Fresh is Starbuck's newest chain in their plan to take over the world.  I couldn't figure out why the name sounded familiar to me until I went here and noticed that they've been selling their bottled juiced in Starbuck's chains.
Now housed in the old Coffee Bean &Tea Leaf on Fillmore, this location makes a perfect spot for Evolution Fresh.  It's the third outpost and the only one in California with the other two in Washington.   
If you've ever been inside the old Coffee Bean you know that the store is tiny, well they make the area even smaller!  Even though there are tables with chairs and stools set up all over, it's best to take the food to go to avoid the cramped space.  I have been desperately searching for a SF version of Sprout (a super fresh custom salad bar), but the closest I've ever found was Blue Barn (see post HERE), so kinda hoped that Evolution Fresh would be a possible substitute.  
The juices are advertised as cold pressed, but they aren't juiced fresh in front of you,.  They are tapped from the wall like fresh flowing beer, which makes me question how fresh the juice is, especially at around $5 for an 8oz cup.  All the juice combinations are made from mixes of each of the wall spouts:  beet, coconut, carrot, cucumber, pineapple, mix greens, and apple.
The custom salads ($8) comes with a choice between 3 greens (kale, spinach, and spring greens), 4 toppings (julienned carrots, pea pods, grape tomatoes, fresh herbs, butternut squash, red peppers, grilled zucchini, black beans, feta, mixed seeds, scallions), and a choice of salad dressing (wild harissa, roasted garlic balsamic, lemon tahini, tamari five spice, and olive oil & lemon).  The protein choice (grilled chicken breast, soy protein, and egg crumbles) is $2 extra. 
The choices for salads aren't too appealing, but I went with the kale with grilled red peppers, grilled zucchini, fresh herbs, and scallions tossed with garlic balsamic.  The salad was nothing special and didn't have that super fresh just picked off the farm taste.  I noticed that almost every table had a salt and pepper shaker so other items must have been bland as well.

Along with custom and already prepared salads, they offer some signature noodle and rice bowls.  The Leanne's buckwheat noodle bowl (half size) will set you back $4.95 and only has 180 calories.  The menu has all the calorie information of all the food and drink items.  The signature bowl had roasted red peppers, pea pods, julienned carrots, grilled zucchini, baby spinach, scallions, fresh herbs with soba noodles and was tossed in their tamari five spice dressing.  Tamari is a gluten/wheat free soy sauce.  The bowl was more vegetables than noodles and also forgettable.
Organic gluten-free sriracha!  I never knew such a thing existed, but then again in San Francisco anything and everything can be made organic, vegan, and gluten free.  By the looks of all the almost empty bottles, the sriracha sauce seemed quite popular, but I'm not sure what you would use it for in a salad bar.  Just for fun I had a squirt to taste.  Not bad, some good kick and no weird aftertaste.  It almost passes for the real thing with a healthy vibe to it. 
Possibly trying to have a go at Jamba Juice's market, Evolution Fresh also makes a small selection of smoothies.  This one was mango, banana, strawberry.  I'm not sure if it may have been from the chaos of opening week, but this smoothie didn't taste like mango or strawberry at all, just banana.  Why do all smoothies that have some banana in it always taste like just banana?
At $5 for this glass of Coconut Zen, I almost feel guilty drinking it since I own a juicer and have a couple $2 young coconuts from Ranch 99 at home so I could probably make the same concoction for half the price.  The combination of coconut juice, cucumber, and pineapple was refreshing and thirst quenching.  I'll have to make this at home...
Address:                   Evolution Fresh
                                  2201 Fillmore St.
                                  San Francisco, CA
Type:                         American

Popular chomps:       coconut zen
                                   field of greens
                                   sweet burn

Chomp worthy:         coconut zen      


Polly Ann Ice Cream

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Along with Mitchell's, Polly Ann's is another longstanding neighborhood ice cream parlor that carry Asian ice cream flavors.  With more than forty flavors to choose from, if you can't decide what you want you can opt to spin the wheel and whatever flavor the arrow lands on is the deciding flavor to eat.  Also, there is a free spot for a free scoop of ice cream! 
I love coconut ice cream, but I haven't had it in a while since I've been indulging in the more nontraditional flavors lately.  The coconut ice cream is subtly sweet with a mellow coconut flavor and bits of coconut flakes mixed in.

You can't come here without getting a tub to go.  Almost everyone that walks in gets a scoop and a tub.  They don't have a wide selection of flavors for cartons like Mitchell's, but you do have a choice of the popular Asian flavors like sesame, mango, red bean, lychee, and green tea.

Address:                 Polly Ann Ice Cream
                                3138 Noriega St.
                                San Francisco, CA
Type:                       ice cream/dessert

Popular chomps:     green tea
                                 black sesame
                                 red bean

Chomp worthy:        green tea



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I prefer thin crust so I'm not a huge fan of Patxi's, which is best known for their deep dish pizza.  This pizza chain has locations all over the Bay Area.  It's now endorsed by Giant's pitcher Matt Cain.  He now has his own pizza named after him.
 Somewhat fitting for Game 4 of the World Series, the Matt Cain is fennel sausage, pepperoni, and fresh garlic.  My usual order here is sausage, mushrooms, and olives on their thin crust when I'm too lazy to stop by Pizzeria Delfina for a fresh pie.  Not even close to the same league that I hold Pizzeria Delfina in, but the thing crust pizza here usually suffices my hunger.  The best thing about the pizza here is their crispy cornmeal crust.  It's not as buttery as Little Star's crust and if I ever feel in the mood for a deep dish I'd take Little Star over Patxi's.  This special Giant's themed pizza was a little too salty and if I hadn't look at the ingredients I would have never known there was fresh garlic on this.  I have to support the Giants, but I cannot support this pizza.

Address:                          Patxi's Chicago Pizza
                                         511 Hayes St.
                                         San Francisco, CA 
Type:                               pizza

Popular chomps:             deep dish pizza

Chomp worthy:               thin crust 


Taqueria Vallarta

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 Normally I stick to my usual spots in the Mission for Mexican food, but today I think a special trip to seek out some chicken enchiladas for a nod to the SF Giants was in order.

I can't remember the last time I ordered chicken at a taqueria or had enchiladas because its so gringo, but gotta support #rallychickenenchiladas to support the meal that Ryan Vogelsong eats before a game!  Go Giants!
Surprisingly the chicken inside the enchiladas was tender and juicy.  The rice was nice and fluffy that was almost on par with that of La Palma and El Farolito.  No complaints from me on this gringo dish.  I might have to make a second trip back here to try out the burritos and tacos.

Address:                      Taqueria Vallarta
                                     3033 24th St.
                                     San Francisco, CA 
Type:                            Mexican

Popular chomps:          tacos

Chomp worthy:            chicken enchiladas  


Hoang Dat Coffee Shop

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I'm noticing that this month of October has been a big Vietnamese food month for me.  I promise that November will be more non Vietnamese spots.
Hoang Dat is another banh mi spot on my Tenderloin Vietnamese eats as well as my hunt for a satisfying Vietnamese sandwich in the city.  So far, most have been pretty disappointing and I've almost accepted that I'll have to drive across to Banh Mi Ba Le (see post HERE) in Oakland or Thanh Huong (see post HERE) in San Jose for my banh mi fix.  I've pretty much given up hope of finding a fried runny egg in a banh mi in San Francisco.
Hoang Dat is more of a coffee shop with tables of Asian men sitting around drinking coffee and tea.  I didn't see anyone eating when I walked in and even though everyone stares at you when you walk through the door, the workers are really friendly and helpful.
There are five sandwiches offered here:  combo, grilled pork, fanci pork, sardine, and meatball.  They even offer a meatball dish with a side of french bread that I'm a little sad that I didn't order (next time!).  The sandwiches prices are a lot more realistic here at a little more than $3 a piece.
The combo (dac biet) has thin slices of pate, pork, and grilled pork along with some slices of cucumbers, carrots, and daikon radish.  The bread didn't have a crispy exterior nor was it fluffy inside.  I was really disappointed since I saw that the sandwich seemed it was made with a lot of care.  The jalapeno peppers did have a nice spiciness which Saigon Sandwich does not have.   The sandwich has a weird chewiness to it. 
Usually you can't go wrong with the grilled pork, but the grilled pork is really dry here and has no flavor.  Really disappointing since I was hoping to find a hidden gem.

Address:                      Hoang Dat Coffee Shop
                                     930 Geary St.
                                     San Francisco, CA

Type:                            Vietnamese

Popular chomps:          combo (dac biet) sandwich
                                      meatball soup with french bread

Chomp worthy:            combo (dac biet) sandwich    


CatHead's BBQ

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San Francisco seems to do well in almost all types of cuisine, except bbq.  I'm still searching high and low for some satisfying, stick-to-your-bones bbq.  After having some disappointing bbq at Sneaky's (see post HERE), I've been a little reluctant to seek out more bbq spots in the city.
With the one main and two sides being $14 and the two mains with two sides at $18, its almost a no brainer to order the two main combo.  The ribs and pulled pork came with the sauce on the side so you have the option to make it as messy as you like. The ribs are tender, but not falling off the bone succulent.  The pulled pork seems to be a popular item here, but it was a little dry.  I prefer mine soaked in the sauce so the meat absorbs that smokey bbq flavor.   
The bbq chicken has the oddest texture and presentation here.  Its so smooth that it almost looks like a sliced mushroom or abalone.  Its juicy, but doesn't have much flavor.  I'm not sure if I like how the chicken is sliced here.  It just doesn't give it that hearty, messy bbq feeling.  The smoked brisket here is probably the best of the four mains I tasted.  The meat is ultra tender and pulls apart right away when you stick your fork into it.  There are some fatty bits in the meat, but, hey, that's bbq. 

The collard greens are made slightly bitter with a hint of vinegar.  I prefer mine a little more on the tangy side, but there were not bad.
Its not your average mac and cheese.  The mac and cheese was probably my favorite side of the meal.  It has a little sweetness and wasn't as rich as most mac and cheese, which made devouring it a lot easier.
After having a taste of the habanero sauce, I was a little afraid to try the habanero slaw.  The slaw isn't remotely as hot as the actual sauce and its toned down quite a bit with only a slight heat aftermath.  The red cabbage is nice and crunchy with a hint of vinegar.
The potato salad had an interesting twist.  Its made with dandelion green so it gives it the soft potato salad a little crunch and a slight bitterness.  Not bad.
A slight tangyness from the vinegar gave these pickled vegetables a nice kick.
Before putting this sauce into my bag, I was heeded with a warning about using this habanero sauce sparingly, just a couple drops would do the trick.  Having had habanero flavored stuff before and not really feeling like I was on fire, I unknowingly licked my finger when taking the top off this container.  This sauce has an insane kick!  The flavor is good, which I find is rare for extremely spicy things.  Usually the sauce is too hot to even have a decent flavor, but this sauce has a good balance of spiciness and flavor.  The couple drops is definitely enough.  I even saved the extra containers to use on other foods.
To the left is the CatHead's biscuit, which is named because the biscuit is the size of a cat's head.  Having had a cat growing up, I can vouch that it is the size of a cat's head.  A mini biscuit (left) comes with each meal.  Even though the biscuits are made of the same dough with the cathead's biscuit, you get to experience the full fluffy texture of the biscuit.  Even a day old the cathead's biscuit was soft and fluffy. 
Pepper jelly is one of the spreads for the biscuits.  I've had pepper jelly at Comstock (see post HERE), so I'm familar with the taste.  CatHead's pepper jelly was a little milder than Comstock's, but it still delivered a little peppery kick.  I preferred this spread on the biscuit over the honey butter.
My first taste of honey butter was at an unusual spot - Sweet Tomatoes, which is a better version of Fresh Choice.  The creamy whipped butter there had a sweet honey flavor and is delicious.  The honey butter here has a nice spreadable consistency, but doesn't have much sweetness to it.  
CatHead's not bad and its better than Sneaky's, but I think I'm still searching for something more chompworthy.
Address:                  Cat's Head BBQ
                                 1665 Folsom St.
                                 San Francisco, CA
Type:                        bbq

Popular chomps:      brisket
                                 pulled pork
                                 mac n' cheese
                                 sweet tea

Chomp worthy:       biscuit with pepper jam
                                mac n cheese
                                habanero sauce         


2013 Michelin (Bay Area) List

Pin It Now! The year has been going by so fast! The Michelin Guide has already posted their 2013 winners.

Three Stars:
French Laundry
The Restaurant at Meadowwood

Two Stars:
Atelier Crenn

One Star:
Alexander's Steakhouse
All Spice
Auberge du Soleil
Campton Place
Chez TJ
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant
Gary Danko
Keiko a Nob Hill
La Costanera
La Folie
La Toque
Madrona Manor
Michael Mina
Sons & Daughters
Terrapin Creek
The Village Pub

Vietnam Restaurant

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Wedged between the bars of North Beach and the drinking area of Polk, Chinatown provides a couple of late night eating options so you don't have to travel all the way to the Mission.  Vietnam Restaurant is small hole in the wall that looks dangerously dingy during the day, but during the late night seems like an adventurous eating option, especially since its open till 3a.  If you aren't feening for some Asian food, you can visit Sam's (see post HERE) for similar opening hours. 

This food spot offers pho, rice plates, and even a couple banh mi options.  The popular choices here during this time seems to be the soup options for nursing a preemptive hangover.
The beef pho is a little murky for my taste.  The broth has a very strong anise flavor, which gives it a lot of sweetness.  Usually I like to have my beef slices rare and served on the side, but considering the environment I thought it best to have it already served in the soup.  The beef slices are fatty and kinda gristly.  At 3a its not a bad option, but during the normal daylight hours, there are better options.
The grilled pork banh mi came overflowing with julienned overly sweet pickled vegetables.  I'm not sure I was into this presentation of vegetables since it takes away from the crunch.  The bread is crisp and oddly blistered.  The sandwich is a better taste option than the soup, but I wouldn't venture here again for either.

Address:                Vietnam Restaurant
                               620 Broadway
                               San Francisco, CA
Type:                     Vietnamese

Popular chomps:   bun bo hue
                               beef pho
                               pork banh mi

Chomp worthy:     nothing  


Fenton's Creamery

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So everyone knows about Fenton's now because of Pixar and movies like Up, but its been an East Bay institution long before Pixar existed.
Sometimes you are just in the mood for a traditional ice cream parlor that reminds you of your childhood.  Bonus- they even have bubblegum ice cream here.

Most people just come here for the ice cream, but Fenton's also serves up burgers and sandwiches. 
 The mini sliders came with three bite sized burgers along with curly fries that reminded me of Jack in the Box.  The sliders were decent with a fresh grilled taste.
The bacon cheeseburger was thick and satisfying with a hearty grilled taste.  The fries were surprisingly addictive with a very crispy exterior.

The ice cream sundae's are huge here.  This one is a jr size. The ice cream menu is huge here and it's somewhat hard to choose from, but the black and tan is a always a good fallback and won't let you down.  Its made with almond ice cream and vanilla ice cream and topped with a huge dollop of whipped cream and drizzled with caramel and fudge. 
If one of the many ice cream options doesn't catch you eye, then you can opt for a custom build one.  This one is mint chocolate with strawberry cheesecake topped with strawberries, and marshmallow cream.  For the mint chocolate lovers out there, the mint chocolate here is really minty.

Address:                      Fenton's Creamery
                                     4226 Piedmont Ave.
                                     Oakland, CA 
Type:                            ice cream/American

Popular chomps:         black and tan sundae
                                     banana special
                                     chili cheese fries
                                     banana special
Chomp worthy:            black and tan sundae