LAYOVER: San Francisco

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

So this is an interesting one. If I ever had a “Weekend Getaway” or a Anthony Bourdain-style “Layover” show on Travel channel, this would have been my shining moment. I was in Petaluma for a training/retreat for four days Tuesday through Friday. It was a great retreat but upon landing Tuesday I knew I wanted ice cream. Preferably from Bi-Rite Creamery, an unattainable feat for over seven years of traveling to San Francisco. The transit on Friday had us leaving the hills of Petaluma at 1130am and arriving at SFO around 2pm.

I purposely had an itinerary of getting to the airport (SFO) at 2pm and having half a day in San Francisco and getting back through TSA for a 8:55pm flight back to San Diego.

I previously had looked at blogs on things to do in San Francisco on a layover, and it’s a total bust and not worth anybody’s time. The best advice that I understood from it was pick one neighborhood and stay there for the time being. I picked the Mission District because of a few features, actually just one– ice cream.

In planning this half-day excursion I hyper-focused on one neighborhood: Mission District.

I fucking love ice cream in San Francisco. Mitchell’s is my number one, Bi-Rite a solid second, and Holcomb Sloan is a good third.

Craft beer a solid second.

Lesiure shit a third, because a nice day in Dolores is icing on the cake, but when it’s nice the hipsters don’t play.

So after checking-in my duffel bag I had one mission in my mind– getting ice cream.

TIME CHECK: 2PM

So after meeting up with some colleagues we had taken the BART into the Mission & 16th Street station and walked over to priority #1, Bi-Rite Creamery.

There has never been a moment where there was no line at Bi-Rite. I had one time in 2007 where me and couple of homies got in no line. But it wasn’t too bad. I’ve been craving Bi-Rite for way too long. I’ve been getting my SF Ice Cream fix via Mitchells.

TIME CHECK: 245PM

So this is where I actually deviated from the plan. The crew that I was with was from the East Coast and definitely wanted to take in some of San Francisco before heading into their red-eye flights back. I, on the other hand, have breathed Karl the Fog multiple times of my life and can seriously just be in one part of the city and kick it.

I made the change and went with the flow and caught an Uber from Mission district to the other side of the city at Inner Sunset. The folks wanted to see Golden Gate Park and specifically the Japanese Tea Garden. (LIKE ITS THE MOST TOURISTY SHIT I’VE EVER DONE IN SF.)

TIME CHECK: 315PM

So the UberXL was like $22 and we got to GGP. If I’m around GGP and the Inner Sunset my mindset is already on a Sunset staple, San Tung’s Wings though!

We got through the Japanese Tea Garden which was not as bad nor corny as I expected. If I had more time in SF, I would be able to take in more. It’s peaceful and when the fog rolls in everything feels like a different planet.

So after the photo-ops and taking in the Koi fish, we headed out to explore a little bit. I knew  that the Inner Sunset was home to some great food in SF and I suggested Social Kitchen & Brewery.

TIME CHECK: 4:15PM

Social Kitchen & Brewery is good for happy hour. It’s $1 off their own brews and a $1 off wells. They also have San Diego based beers.

What’s good about Social Kitchen & Brewery is that SAN TUNG IS ONLY TWO BLOCKS AWAY.

San Tung
San Tung Wings, credit:

San Tung has some of the best Chinese chicken wings on the planet. I put them above the almighty Golden Chopsticks salt and pepper wings. It’s not my picture above but I put in one order of dry-wings to take back to San Diego.

TIME CHECK: 6PM

At Social Kitchen, the folks who had red-eyes to the East Coast were going to get dinner in the Mission and I knew that I couldn’t make it because I needed to get back to SFO at a decent time to get through TSA.

I hailed a Lyft and got to the airport at 7PM

TIME CHECK: 7PM

SFO burger. credit: iblewupyaspot
SFO burger. credit: iblewupyaspot

I got through TSA before a strong rush. From line and through the metal detectors it took less than ten minutes. I grabbed a New Orleans Iced Coffee and a burger to kill time and start on this blog post.

TIME LEFT TO DEPART: 100 MINUTES

Final thoughts and side notes.

I realized that maybe ~five hours in the Mission is too long for me, but five hours spread across the city is just enough time to get a taste of San Francisco.

I forget how expensive transit is in San Francisco. It’s been a long ass time since I’ve used public transportation in the bay, but these prices are  ridiculous. Then factoring in Ubers and Lyfts makes my wallet sad.

Foursquare. This trip made me a believer in its algorithm. It’s one of the best out there for tips and exploring a city. It tracks the places I check-in and also sees my friends who also checked-in via Swarm.

LA ADVENTURES: A-FRAME

A-Frame

Highlights

Under the Roy Choi Empire.

Aloha. all day. (including brunch)

ALOHA style seating aka PARTY OF TWO? SIT WITH A LONELY GUY ON A 4-TOP.

HOW DO YOU EVEN MAKE IN-HOUSE SPAM? LIKE HOW DID YALL MAKE IT A THING?

Parking-friendly Westside LA.

filed under: Roy Choi running things, SPAM does amazing things

SPAMSANDWICH
Surfer’s Sandwich. House-made SPAM, Grilled Pineapple, Cabbage slaw, Sriarcha, Sweet Hawaiian Bread.

If there is one person who could and would kill it at serving Hawaiian grinds at a really good price point on the mainland, it would be Roy Choi. The other Roy has a reputation of serving the high-end version of what they do on the island. A-Frame has been around for a few years, but through Roy Choi’s personal twitter account he announced in the winter of 2014 he was going to re-work A-Frame’s menu.

The rumors out there had A-Frame’s new menu tasting closer to cuisine from Side Street Inn. On the island, Side Street Inn is one of the Hawaiian/local grinds that constantly serves great food with lines always out the door even at the newer location on Kappahulu.

Food memories engaged, GF and I were LA-bound for Sunday brunch service.

Weird happened when we arrived– they had not transitioned into the new menu. The hype that drove us there was for naught. So weren’t going to take a loss, we just went hard and ordered all the Aloha we could stomach.

Surfer’s Sandwich. What caught my eye was house-made SPAM. I love SPAM with all its salty-canned meat glory. Upon eating a bite into the sandwich like for real how do you make in-house SPAM?

LIKE FOR REAL HOW DO YOU MAKE IN-HOUSE SPAM?

The idea of making spam from scratch is insane, because you might as well use the canned product. Save yourself time Roy, but the SPAM matches the exact the flavor of SPAM and all its detractors. Canned meat, nitrates all day, salt salt salt. But the sandwich itself was everything I love about Hawaii presented in a sandwich. The grilled hawaiian sweet bread was a great touch as well.

LOCOMOCO
Loco Moco. Hamburger, Rice, Curry Gravy, Sunnyside egg, sriarcha.

LOCO MOCO. I’m always weary of any loco moco because it’s always mad heavy going down. The egg, gravy and hamburger patty is greasy. But my reservations always fade when I take a bite. The heartiness of this meal goes great first thing in the morning. The taste profile is different from what one might be used to from L&L and other Hawaiian spots. The curry gravy is a great difference here and I feel like it’s a good deviation from the norm.

FRIEDPOUNDCAKE
Fried poundcake with chocolate milk and ice cream.

This time around no aloha pancakes were ordered, because protein rules everything around me. It’s definitely on the radar for the next time up. And looking on their online menu it looks like the transition has been made into the new menu. R.I.P. Beer-can chicken.

If you can’t find aloha on the mainland, then that’s on you. Because you can order it at A-Frame. DRINKSFURIKAKE

Cheers to the Westside.

A-Frame
12565 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066

New Orleans Food Adventures

IMG_0109.PNG

New Orleans is a great city to experience food and drink, watching people getting drunk publicly, and Mardi Gras. NOLA doesn’t play when it comes to Mardi Gras. Unbeknownst to me, Mardi Gras is a month-long celebration son #mindblown, so to recap that’s parades, beads, booze for straight four weekends. No matter how you cut it, it’s a really dope time to be down there.

Highlights & Tips:

Keep it movin. Mardi Gras is a fun time to go, but don’t get stuck in the French Quarter or Bourbon St. Treat the French Quarter like you would to Vegas Strip. There’s more out there.
Drinks to go. There’s no urgency to cop a frozen daiquiri aka Fat Tuesday. Shit is overrated, especially if you’ve been to Vegas. Instead, walk into any bar and ask for a drink to go…
Don’t sleep on the cocktail game here. Some of the best cocktails were born here. That being said: Sazerac.
Live music. Make it out to Preservation Hall. You won’t regret it, but if you can’t make it out Frenchmen St. has a plethora of bars with live music playing nightly.
Seafood. Definitely go with the Southern staples (shrimp, crawfish, catfish). You will not go wrong.

IMG_5867.JPG

Cafe du Monde (French Quarter)
#priorities. I can eat dessert and coffee before meals. Getting beignets from THE spot for beignets feels like coming home. The beignets here taste slightly airier than the SoCal counterparts at Downtown Disney’s Jazz Kitchen. You can chalk it up the difference in taste to atmospheric conditions (air, water, small batch vs large batch frying), but regardless they’re amazing here. When it comes to coffee– If you’re not drinking coffee with chicory in NOLA, then you will surely be disappointed. Chicory is in every cup of coffee here, except for Starbucks.IMG_6068.JPG

French Market (French Quarter)
It’s not the best, but it does its job of introducing Cajun cuisine. It feels like a truly local spot, despite being in the French Quarter. Pictured above is the fried catfish & fried oyster plate, but like I said– go with the Southern staples.

photo: Serious Eats

Willie Mae’s (Treme)
The fried chicken will not change your opinions on fried chicken. It will rearrange your fried chicken ranking because simply: it’s the best and it’s soul food done right. Know that their James Beard award is well deserved. Since it’s on EVERYONE’S radar, there’s a Disneyland-esque wait from start to finish. Personally, don’t try with other proteins. Share a basket of chicken with your people. Butter beans is a must side and don’t mess with the cornbread, okra, and green beans.

IMG_6069.JPG

801 Royal (French Quarter)
Honestly, I don’t really care about this place, but the seafood nachos and the fried green tomatoes are a point to kinda care of this place. Also the owner puts in work, so I have to acknowledge the hustle. This is the first time I’ve had fried green tomatoes this delicious. Other fried green tomatoes I’ve had were too oily and felt like the batter was falling apart. Might be saucy, but the crisp was done well.

IMG_6072.JPG

District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew (Garden District) 
Hipsters gotta kick it and setup somewhere right? Might be the only independent shop in NO that has cold brew on nitro…with that being said, it’s probably also the other place that doesn’t do NO-style coffee (read: Starbucks). I fux with the donuts, they’re airy and fluffy. I’m not talking Krispy Kreme, but like mom & pop small batch. They’re not beignets, but small batch cooking is smart and results in a really good donut.

IMG_6070.JPG

IMG_6013.JPG

Cochon Butcher (CBD)
Made a trip twice here one for the Muffaletta and other for the King Cake. Muffaletta is a must cop, but it’s salty. They serve their sandwiches with a pickle, so the sweetness of the pickle offsets the saltiness of the sandwich. Folks keep talking up that muffaletta, so I will say it’s delicious here. Try it, but if I were to go back (again) I’m switching to a different sandwich.

IMG_5952.JPG

Commander’s Palace (Garden District)
It’s the only place on this list that had a dress code. BALL OUT, AM I RIGHT? I don’t know but with all the presentation and the execution of the food this place feels a bit magical. No matter how I chop it up say it, it’s really good food and because of the price tag the ingredients taste better here than the other shops in town.

IMG_6073-0.JPG

The lacquered quail is distinctive because of the tangy taste. I don’t try quail too often because of their availability on menus but biting into the legs of the quail feels like eating a moist mini-chicken wing. Their service matches the food and we even kicked it in the wine cellar for a bit.

IMG_5987.JPG

IMG_6071.JPG

Surrey’s Uptown (Uptown)
SHRIMP & GRITS. If you were going to get shrimp & grits anywhere, it has to be at Surrey’s. Doesn’t matter if its downtown or if its Uptown, Surrey’s nails the flavor. It’s not elevated, it is direct and it goes for the heart and soul.

IMG_5936.JPG

Verti Mart. (French Quarter)

Fried Oyster Po’ Boy. By the time I bit into this sandwich, I was having stomach issues. So I can’t say that it was bomb. My girlfriend can attest to it, so I’ll take her word for it. I think the first bite was good… /shrug.

IMG_5994.JPG

filed under: Comeback season, more jazz, more cocktails, less douchebags, parades are serious.

OC Adventures: One Star Pizza & Chicken

One Star Pizza & Chicken

Highlights

Really though, dabble with the pizza fux with the wings.

How can you say no to drunken family specials?

It’s not going to replace your K-Town Kyochon (LA) or Bonchon (NYC)

filed under: Disneyland Area Eats

IMG_1506

If you drove 90 miles for Disneyland and you want food nearby, the food needs to justify itself.

A quick browse on Yelp produced this spot within a good 10 minutes of Disneyland. Korean chicken wings are good, and friends have brought down Kyochon from LA to San Diego because San Diego lacks in the Korean Wing department. Yeah, there are chicken wings in San Diego, but really  no one has gotten their shit together with K-Chicken Wings. OC/LA has a deeper Korean population, so there are better restaurants that do have their shit together.

One Star Pizza & Chicken shares a small plaza off Euclid in the real, non-Disneyfied Anaheim. I’m confident you will miss this spot on the first try, so if you don’t feel comfortable with neighborhoods that haven’t been gentrified yet, then keep it moving. Their logo is a chicken serving pizza and beer, you really can’t miss it.

Fux with the wings and a small pizza. Don’t get the bulgogi pizza. Your head reads savory, sweet, maybe delicious. You’ll end up with a confused face while grubbing on wings.

They serve a cabbage and corn slaw topped with a spicy thousand island complementary with the wings. If you want to try the kinda-not-really Korean fusion pizza, go for it. Stay small if you’re on the fence. This place gets the Korean wing craving down, but they’re definitely not Kyochon or Bonchon. Also keep this place in mind instead of BBQ Chicken at the Diamond & Jamboree plaza.

No body aint got time to wait for your 85° shit.

One Star Pizza & Chicken
821 N Euclid St Ste B
Anaheim, CA 92801
(714) 956-0077