Now that my entire team is based in California, I will pretty much be bi-coastal for the next few months. Thankfully I have my family and friends as an added incentive to make the constant travel less brutal. This time around, I was busier than usual but managed to try a few new places, one I would never return to, Gracias Madre, and another I would put on my list of favorites, Le Colonial. In between it was Mama’s home cooking and nothing gets much better than that.
Night one my parents discovered a seafood shop on Clement street where we bought three sweet, massive lobsters for only $50. My mom steamed these with artichoke and baked potato, and though there were lobster chunks flying in the air throughout the meal, it was well worth the effort.
Night two was uneventful due to a late night at work, but I was able to pick up one of my all time favorites: a fish taco at Nick’s Crispy Tacos. No where else do they slather the jack cheese and fresh guacamole like they do here, and with the black bean and corn salad, you’ve got the most well rounded Mexican meal possible for just $10. I’m obsessed with this place.
Night three was a fantasy come true: my mom’s famous Filipino chicken adobo with traditional Filipino eggplant omelette, sticky rice, and rice wine vinegar cucumber salad. I had little reason to make conversation while getting so involved in the sense of love, comfort and nostalgia that emanated from the wafting scents of vinegar and soy sauce. After a really rough day at work, it was honestly the only thing that could soothe me out of anxiety mode.
Night four I had a very last minute pick me up vegan meal with my co-worker and friend Carolyn at Gracias Madre, which also came recommended by my good friend Sam. With small chunks of white peaches, their sangria is refreshing and perfectly sweet…I hate to say it was almost as good as mine. I was skeptical to eat at a restaurant serving vegan food in the Mission, the home of the real deal burrito, but I could definitely see the appeal to this place. It has SF ambience, great drinks, cleanliness, and a selection of healthy Mexican food for anti-cheese eaters who want to pretend to splurge. But the second I read cashew cheese on the menu, I got a little turned off. Oddly enough, even without the gooey substance my tacos felt like bricks in my stomach, a common result of eating vegan food. I think for those who’ve neglected dairy in a while, this place is a goldmine. But I’d rather have authenticity than needlessly sacrifice my favorite thing in the world.
My last night was devoted to dinner at Le Colonial and “Ballroom with a Twist” at the Marine Memorial Theater, just two blocks away. I have bittersweet memories of Le Colonial being the site of my fake ID removal after a waiter blatantly called me out for being an imposter. Apparently she knew and went to school with the person I was claiming to be…couldn’t really argue there. This time around was much more pleasant, and my parents and I ordered a slew of delicious Vietnamese style food. My favorite was the pork fried rice and the steamed chilean sea bass with rice noodles. Dessert hit a homerun – molten chocolate cake with a side of vanilla ice cream. Just enough to sustain me while watching a two hour dance show.
I never leave San Francisco disappointed with the restaurants. But after a week of mixing both eating out and eating at home, I can safely say that nothing could ever top my mom’s home-cooking.