Category Archives: Mexican

On Mission

When it comes to finding good food in San Francisco, Mission has yet to fail me. I have only relatively recently started branching out into the food scene in this part of the city more and here’s my latest scoop:

Humphry Slocombe 

Humphrey Slocombe

On a mission to try one of the city’s most popular ice cream, I made my way to Humphry Slocombe. I shunned the popular Secret Breakfast consisting of cereal and bourbon, and opted for Tahitian vanilla and Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee instead. The Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee’s pretty good and will most likely be my flavor of choice if I were to come back again. However, I will probably not because on the Humphry-Slocombe-or-Bi-Rite-Creamery debate, I am definitely leaning more strongly towards Bi-Rite Creamery.

While Humphry Slocombe has more interesting flavors, it was relatively hard for me to find flavors that I really wanted besides the Blue Bottle. Ice cream quality aside, I am also more likely to go to Bi-Rite Creamery because it is a little more accessible for someone without a car and has the beautiful Dolores Park just round the block.

When I think of Mission, I think of Mexican food amongst other things. Pancho Villa Taqueria, a very short walk from the BART station for which I was grateful for, has quite the extensive menu. I was absolutely spoilt for choice and it took us a while to decide on the carne asada nachos and the ceviche taco.

Pancho Villa Taqueria @ 16th Mission

Carne Asada Bowl

 The carne asada nachos were great. Gotta love all that guacamole…and cheese and sour cream that went to my hips. So I ordered ceviche taco too without knowing ceviche was, living my illusion as an adventurous eater. Little did I know that raw mashed-up fish is not quite up my alley. To those who like ceviche, you would have probably enjoyed this taco.

Ceviche Taco

For a girl whose main purpose of going to San Francisco is hit the stores in Powell, Mission is kind of out of the way. But if I do so happen to be in San Francisco, and craving for some good Mexican food, and some ice cream too, I may make that extra BART stop. My future mission would also include checking out the Mexican bakeries with their oh-so-colorful pastries, and to revisit Tartine Bakery.

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Sandwiches and Tacos

The move from California to Texas has been an eye-opening experience so far. The Texan accent and the whole Texas gentleman deal is starting to grow on me but I still get slightly taken aback whenever someone calls me ma’am or when someone holds the door open for me even though I am ten seconds from the door. Taking pictures of food here is also considered very unusual and I should probably exercise some control…

With no homework or midterms to study for on weekends, I have been spending my new found free time foraging for food in this city.One of the first sandwich places I went to was Potbelly Sandwich Shop. I had ‘A Wreck’ sandwich with salami, ham, roast beef, ham and swiss cheese — with hot pepper as a topping of course.

A Wreck @ Potbelly Sandwich Shop

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I love it when my sandwiches are neatly packed so Potbelly gets a thumbs up from me for that. ‘A Wreck’ was a good sandwich but has a little more meat and oil than what I would usually have.

Up the street on Guadalupe is Which Wich, another sandwich store that I did not know existed until I came here. Which Wich has a really cool way of getting their orders from customers. Over here, customers tick off their preferred options on a paper bag and pass it to the cashier. These paper bags are then hung on pegs suspended on a metal wire and slid down the room as they prepare your sandwich.

Tomato and Avocado Sandwich @ Which Wich

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Thumbs up for another neat, non-sloppy sandwich. Love the generous amount of avocado in this sandwich. Between Potbelly and Which Wich, I gotta say that my loyalty lies with Which Wich although the comparison is not exactly fair since I ordered a ‘cleaner’ sandwich in Which Wich.

One of the cool places in Austin is South Congress Avenue, a colorful and eclectic looking street. I have yet to explore the retailers but I did walk past a lot of restaurants including Hopdoddy, a popular burger place where people would line up an hour for. I ended up at a place with a shorter wait but good food nonetheless — Guero’s Taco Bar.

Picadillo and Fish Tacos @ Guero’s Taco Bar

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I chose the picadillo (spicy beef, potatoes and carrots) taco and fish taco with homegrown corn, and they came with a side of rice and beans. I had a hard time holding the tacos because the tortillas got soggy and ripped but this was a hearty meal and the fillings were great nonetheless.

Another great taco place in town is Turf N Surf Po Boy in Downtown Austin. This place is a food stand with a bar adjacent to it where people can watch sports on TV, eat and drink to their hearts’ content. The stand has a ghetto-looking exterior with some items on the menu featured on reused cardboards hung on windowsills. Customers get the option of having their entrees in the form of tacos, po’ boys or salad, and then they can choose to have their seafood fillings either fried, blackened or grilled.

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The tacos were pricey but they were also the largest tacos I have ever had. Each taco literally had a whole mahi-mahi fillet in it and was stuffed with a lot of salad greens, not just your usual coleslaw. They were also went a little crazy with the white sauce (sour cream?). No problem of soggy and fragile tortillas this time but eating these with my hands was still a problem because the tacos were too big. These are probably the most wholesome tacos I have ever had, and did I mention that these tacos were huge?! A great place to go to if you are looking for quantity and good seafood in your tacos.

I popped my Texas tex-mex cherry on my birthday at a place in South Austin called Maria’s Taco Xpress. This place has got to be the hippiest restaurant I have ever been to with its odd and psychedelic displays and live performances. The tacos here are cheap and well worth their price. I ordered the Al Pastor, a favorite raved by many, and while I thought it was good, I think it is confirmed that I am truly not much of a pork person. I do want to come back here and experience their hippy gospel sunday brunch though.

With the temperatures reaching a hundred degrees, there was no way I could get by without having some ice cream to cool myself down at some point. Amy’s ice cream is a local’s favorite (Sandra Bullock’s too) and is supposed to be a must-have in Austin. This place is similar to Cold Stone in the sense that you get to choose your toppings and have them mixed with your ice cream on a cold plate but Amy’s  has a wider range of toppings. Their Mexican Vanilla is their most popular flavor so I went for that as well as chocolate coconut rum.

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Perhaps my taste buds are not trained enough but I could not really distinguish between Mexican vanilla and regular vanilla. I still miss some of the great ice creams in the Bay Area such as those from Bi-Rite creamery and Ici’s, which have more interesting and pleasantly surprising flavors on some days, but Amy’s ice cream will do the job for now!

Sushi + Burrito = Sushirrito!

Sushirrito @ New Montgomery St, San Francisco

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Top: Mayan Dragon consisting of chicken katsu, peruvian potatoes,avocado and jalapenos among other things

Bottom: Geisha’s Kiss with stuffings such as  yellowfin tuna, tamago, lotus chips and avocado

Finally tried the much raved about Sushirrito in San Francisco! There is always a long line for these during lunch hours and I ended up waiting for at least fifteen minutes. Since Sushirrito only does takeouts, my friend and I ended up going to Starbucks across the street and had some peppermint hot chocolate (my favourite!) to go with our sushirritos. Strange combination, I know, but we were definitely not the only ones who did that.

Personally, I think this Japanese-Mexican fusion food is more Japanese than Mexican and is pretty similar to the Japanese hand roll but with more ingredients. I love Geisha’s Kiss, especially the fresh tuna and the crispy lotus chips! The portions are large and I had little room to spare for dessert after downing this with my small cup of hot chocolate. I had to abandon my plan of indulging myself with some sundae at the new Ghirardelli Ice Cream shop two blocks away.

Mexican Snack Time

The Mayans were believed to be the first to cultivate cocoa for the purpose of making hot chocolate beverages. For this purpose, and also because chocolate drinks vary from one region to another, I wanted to give the Mayan hot chocolate at Ah Cacao in Cancun a shot. Ah Cacao at La Isla is a small but great cafe stocked with many bars of delicious dark chocolate, chocolate ice cream, chocolate shower gel, massage oil and shampoo, and whatever chocolate goodiness you can think of. One of the guys who worked there was also really sweet and awesome — he remembered us on our second visit and gave us samples of dark chocolate and actual cocoa to try too.

Mayan Hot Chocolate @ Ah Cacao, Plaza La Isla, Cancun

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The hot chocolate was pretty rich but no where near as thick as European hot chocolate. The drink had a certain type of spiciness to it — I could not tell if it was cinnamon or some sort of pepper or a combination of both. It was very nice to sip on this on a relatively cool day in Cancun and because of its richness, a small cup was a satisfactory amount to sip on.

The guy who worked there told us about the health benefits of eating cocoa beans and warned us about the bitterness before giving us some to try. Boy was he not kidding.

And as much as I love chocolate, I refrained from purchasing any chocolate toiletries because I think those would just encourage me to eat an obscene amount of chocolate.

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Donuts are not remotely Mexican but they deserve a mention in this blog post because the donuts at the beach behind Coco Bongo are so soft and delicious!

Donuts by the Beach

Another one of my favourite treats here is the fruity sorbets sold at a hut on Isla Mujeres, an island that is just a ferry ride away from Cancun. Had their guanabana (soursop) sorbet ice cream and loved it! A very refereshing treat on a hot and humid day.

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For the sake of being ‘adventurous’ and ‘cultured’, I purchased some local and possibly questionable snacks from the souvenir store. One of the snacks I got was the candy coconut roll. I bought a couple to bring back home but ended up snacking on one during my twelve hour layover in LAX.

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This snack has a strong coconut taste to it and is very sticky. To describe this more accurately, it was like coconut flavoured sticky rice but is not made from rice the last time I checked the ingredients on the label.

The souvenir stores also sold a lot of chocolates, cakes and candies filled with liqueur such as tequila, Baileys and Kahlua. I do wonder if these liqueur filled snacks are truly Mexican specialties or if they only marketed as local delicacies to tourists who presumably love their alcohol and often equate Cancun to drinks and parties. The stores also sold plenty of mini bottles of tequilas, which I learnt is Mexican water, much like how vodka is Russian water.

Speaking of tequila, I came across bottles of liquor. To get to the bottom of things, there were worms in them.

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I sipped a small sample of this drink which I later found out was not tequila but mezcal. Mezcal is actually stronger than tequila and its distillation process is distinct from the one for producing tequila. I was curious as to why there were worms in the bottles of mezcals and wondered if they actually played any role in enhancing the drink but after looking it up online, it does seem like the worms are only there as a marketing gimmick.

13

13 is usually not a number I am too fond of unless you are talking about quesadillas that cost only 13 pesos each, which is approximately USD 1.30!

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One of our best food finds in Cancun I have to say. Great quantity and quality for the price! They have quite a number of fillings to choose from such as chorizo and potatoes, zucchini flowers, chicken and beef. Their green hot sauce is also the best — the spiciness and tanginess has that oomph that just gets to you! I am still curious as to what type of cheese they used for the quesadillas cause they are very different from the ones I typically find in quesadillas in the States.

It is unfortunate that we only tried this place out on our second to last day here. Would have saved us a lot of bucks but I’m glad we managed to experience this little gem before we left!

Mocambo’s

Christmas eve dinner at Mocambo Seafood Beachfront Restaurant. My friends and I were yearning for some seafood and this was one of the restaurants that were more friendly on college students’ wallets. The restaurant has pretty nice decor and ambience, as well as musical performances at night.

Mocambo Seafood Beachfront Restaurant @ Cancun, Mexico


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I ordered the Shrimp Cozumel in Pineapple and Mango sauce. Beautiful presentation but I did not think those seven pieces of shrimps were worth USD 25. This dish was blandly sweet and I felt the need to ‘cleanse’ my palate with something savoury after. The shrimps themselves were also not as juicy and tasty as the ones at Mextreme.

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Close to my least favourite dining out  experience in Cancun but the beautiful view of the sunset, the restaurant’s ambience and the company of friends was this Christmas dinner’s saving grace.

Mextreme

Mextreme @ Cancun, Mexico

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La Parilla

Mole enchilada @ La Parilla, Downtown Cancun

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Tacubaya

I went to 4th Street in Berkeley with the intention of having a souffle pancake and a fried fish sandwich from Bette’s Oceanview Diner but the wait was too long. I ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant called Tacubaya.

Enchiladas @ Tacubaya, 4th Street Berkeley
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When we told the cashier that we were looking for an dish that had quantity, she told us that the enchiladas came in really large portions. Well, it was an exaggeration. I was still hungry after and headed to Nation’s to wash down the enchiladas with some banana creme pie. Despite being disappointed by the quantity thanks to the cashier raising my expectations a little too high, I thought the enchiladas were pretty good. I will probably not go out of my way to eat here though since the quality is comparable to Cancun in downtown Berkeley.

Taco Party!

Fish Tacos @ Rubio’s, San Francisco