Last week Arnold and I took a "date day" to SF during his Thanksgiving break. Elian was in school, I took the day off and we were footloose and fancy free. I love Arnold with all my heart and we had a good time, but...
He kinda sucks as a Big Eat Wing-man.
Why? Oh I don't know, maybe because he kept complaining "I'm full! I don't want more chicken! I already ate too much!" etc etc. And he was slow "Let's walk around this street. Can I go to the bathroom? I want to buy Elian a children's book in spanish. Remember when we went there with your Aunt? Isn't the weather nice?"
Geez. It's like he wanted to spend a leisurely day enjoying himself with his wife in the city instead of madly running around on a food treausre hunt.
Sometimes men are so difficult.
Despite his lack of steely resolve we had a great time. Thanks to my steely resolve we're 15% of the way through the list.
I have some winning entrees for you all to salivate over. Let's get to it!
#13 Chicken and Waffles at Little Skillet: I have to be upfront and say that I don't really know anything about Chicken and Waffles. I've had very little exposure to southern food and while I've always been intrigued by the idea I've never actually tried it. When I walked up to the window they were blasting one of my favorite Mana songs. I took this as a positive omen.
I ordered our chicken and waffles and then on impulse I got a black-pepper/honey biscuit.
As Elian would say "Oh no goodness"! That biscuit was so good. There's no picture because I ate it in three seconds. And all I could think was "How could anything else they produce measure up?"
As a consequence I don't know what to say about the chicken and waffles. I don't really like fried chicken (weird I know) but it was good. The chicken was juicy inside with a nice crisp light exterior. The crunch also had a slight warmth to it, like a hint of chile? I loved the waffles, they were soft and light and like eating waffley marshmallows.
Verdict: If you like chicken and waffles you will like this. It's only a walk up window and there is nowhere to park so it's a "To-Go" sort of situation. The biscuits were a-mazing. It turns out that I still am ambivalent at best about fried chicken but now I've officially had chicken and waffles. I like "accomplishing" things so that was good too.
#14-Chicken Porridge at Out the Door: We had some trouble locating this place due to me uh, not writing down directions so I put a call in to my best Big Eat cheerleader Justina to get the address. "Holy crap, $9 for porridge, that's nuts!" she said. I was thinking "Crap, I don't even want to eat chicken porridge". It just sounded gross to me. I don't really like chicken or porridge, and I wasn't excited about the combo, but oh my, oh my, if this is what being wrong feels like I don't wanna be right.
Do you see it there? How beautiful and homey and wonderful it is? As always it was freezing in SF and that bowl of porridge gave me a kind hug. Arnold and I slurped it up the way sailors on leave hit the bar. I'm sure there are lots of places where you get something that tastes just as good in the city for less, but I don't think that's always the point of eating out. Sometimes you want cheap eats in a dive with your friendly neighborhood waiter but sometimes you want to eat something delicious and beautiful in a beautiful place. That's what this porridge was, it was presentation and techique AND quality. It was home style cooking with precise attention to detail. It was heaven. Perfectly balanced in every way.
Side Note: While I'm on the subject I have to state for the record that one of my chief annoyances are when people say things like "I won't pay X for a taco, or there are cheaper noodles over there". Sure, there are always cheaper places to get good food, but... I've never heard someone say "I'm not paying so much for Spanish food or French food" Mexican Food and Indian food and other various "ethnic" foods are not less worthy of the respect that European food receives yet people constantly dismiss these foods as unworthy of elevated dining. Is this not a form of discrimination or disrespect? Am I crazy here?
Verdict: I really wish that we could've eaten a whole meal at Out the Door. We had a side of rainbow chard with our porridge and it was also divine. So go here, and treat yourself to a nice meal. It's only $9. :)
#15- Tuna Tostada at Tacolicious-My friend Danielle raves about Tacolicious like a woman possessed and although I never doubted her sincerity I wondered if any place could live up to the hype.
I know better now and urge you all to never ever doubt Danielle.
When we walked in they were playing Beastie boys and there was a big sign that said "Fingers not Forks". I smiled to myself and though "Well I've come home."
The tostada didn't photograph too well but it was quite beautiful. I think the best part was the textural contrasts. There were so many layers: the crispy tostada, the creamy seared tuna, the crunchy fried leaks and the smooth avocado sliced on top. Side note: How are avocados always so perfect at restaurants? The contrast of the tostada made it both rich and light at the same time, it was quite the balancing act. I wanted to eat 10 million of them, but you know, even a girl like me has her limits.
Since this was our last stop of the day I convinced Arnold we needed to go for the glory, so we got a fish taco too, and some empanadas. The empanadas were not so great, not bad, just not great. The fish taco was awesome and I really only like my fish tacos a certain way: The fish needs to be super crisp and light, the cabbage has to be crunchy but not hard. The sauce should be creamy and tangy but not all heavy. Tacolicious totally delivered on my demands. Plus they played some MJ while we were there. Bonus points.
At this point we were stuffed but I was quite off the rails in terms of being reasonable. I ordered desert over Arnold's increasing protests because they had Pan con chocolate! I read about Spanish Pan con Chocolate in Amanda Hesser's "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and I've been romanticizing the idea ever since. I mean can you imagine? Toasted bread smeared with chocolate, a tiny bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt? I've been thinking about it FOREVER.
I think my half-blood heritage makes me inclined towards contrasts. I want everything to be balanced by its opposing side. I want chocolate AND salt. Wizards and Muggles. Sweet and Savory.
It was really good. Even Arnold stopped complaining about how full he was long enough to eat it... I'm just sayin.
Verdict: Is this the cheapeast Mexican food in the city? No. Is it the best or most authentic. Probably not. Is it totally awesome in it's own unique half-blood way? Heck yeah! Do I command that you immediately visit Tacolicious and eat tacos without delay. Yes I do! And please for the love of all that is delicious, take me with you...