I realize that my last blog post from San Francisco was pretty lame since I kept forgetting to take photos. This time my boyfriend diligently reminded me. I can’t thank him enough, because we had some spectacular meals.
On my first day in the city we had lunch at La Palma Mexicatessen in Mission: http://www.lapalmasf.com/
My BF keeps talking about how good their plain sweet corn tamales are, but they were out (it was Saturday afternoon and they were BUSY).
In my opinion, the best thing about La Palma is the fresh tortillas.
You can watch ladies in the back skillfully kneading masa harina. Then a guy squashes a ball of the dough with a big press and then throws the tortilla onto the grill. They make fun flavors too. There was a lady going around with samples of beet-chipotle tortillas.
The stuff that goes into the tortillas is really good too.
I ordered a veggie burrito (spinach tortilla, no cheese, no sour cream, extra guacamole). It was only about $6, but it was super fresh and HUGE.
My incredibly thoughtful boyfriend also bought me some guacamole and chips for later.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that they were the best guacamole and chips I’ve ever had. The chips, of course, are made from the fresh, homemade tortillas. They’re thick and crispy, and still fresh tasting the next day. My BF pointed out that they got the amount of salt just right too.
The next day we drove south. Did you know that Gilroy, California is the garlic and cherry capital? Me neither. We stopped and bought some cherries at a roadside stand. They were wonderful. Each one was perfectly sweet.
On the road, I found that eating some eggs made aunts and B & B owners incredibly happy. That seemed worthwhile to me. We did have an amazing vegan dinner, though, in San Luis Obispo. We wandered into a Mediterranean/Moroccan restaurant called Oasis. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Oasis-Cafe/143789271928. We started with some Moroccan mint tea.
I ordered one of the specials, Spicy Makouda Vegan, which was a pita sandwich stuffed with crispy fried potato patties, fresh veggies, and a spicy tomato sauce. It came with a delectable lentil and chickpea soup.
My amazingly sweet BF ordered a vegan dish too so that we could share. He pointed out that he eats vegan more when I visit, so that balances out the times when I fall off the wagon. He went with the Couscous de Fez, which had chickpeas, raisins, sesame seeds, and tons of tender caramelized onions. It was a great balance of sweet and savory. The leftovers were still good for lunch the next day.
The next day we drove north to San Simeon, spent five hours wandering Hearst Mansion, and then made our way to Monterey. In Pacific Grove, we had a comforting meal at a mostly vegetarian restaurant called Tillie Gort’s Cafe. http://www.tilliegortscafe.com/
I ordered the Pasta Leah, which has grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers,
sautéed mushrooms and black olives in a marinara sauce.
The best part was that they had four different types of vegan cake! I went with the carrot cake.
The next day, we were craving some more sweets, so we hit up Fournier’s Bakery: http://www.yelp.com/biz/fourniers-bakery-cafe-pacific-grove. When I walked in and saw the marionberry pie, I asked what a marionberry was, and, adorably, the guy behind the counter handed me a very detailed berry family tree that he had printed from Wikipedia. To me, it tasted like a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry, which is the perfect berry! Also, my BF pointed out that it was a great pie because the filling was very dense with fruit, not at all runny.
When we checked out of the Martine Inn in Monterey, they gave us a goodie bag with bottles of water for the road and homemade banana bread! According to the ingredients list, the banana bread was vegan, so my BF insisted that I eat all of it! It was delicious, super light and cake-y. I wish I had the recipe. We are so going back there. http://www.martineinn.com/
When we got back to the Bay Area, we had dinner at a lovely little place called China Delight in Palo Alto. http://www.yelp.com/biz/china-delight-palo-alto I ordered the Broccoli with Cashews, a simple but satisfying combination of flavors.
The next day we had dim sum for brunch at a casual little Chinese bakery in San Francisco. Oops, I forget what it was called, but it was incredibly affordable and delicious.
That night we had dinner with my BF’s cousins at a mouthwatering, all-vegetarian Indian restaurant called Chaat Paradise. I had eaten there on my last trip too, but this time I remembered to snap a photo halfway through the meal.Seen above: rice, eggplant, cauliflower, peas, okra, puri, and bhel poori (which is a fun snack/appetizer with crisp rice, lentils, sprouted beans, chutneys, etc.)
We had to stop at In-N-Out again. This time I decided to see if they would make me a veggie sandwich. They didn’t even look at me weird. Apparently, it is on the “secret menu.”
The next day we had dinner with a friend in San Jose. He recommended Falafel’s Drive-In, a San Jose institution since the 1960s, featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. http://www.falafelsdrivein.com/ I was STARVING after exploring the Winchester Mystery House, and this place did not disappoint.
I ordered the large falafel sandwich.
The falafel, packed with flavorful parsley, was probably the best falafel I’ve ever had, and it was covered with a generous portion of tahini sauce. For “dessert” I got an order of baba ghanoush, which had nice big chunks of roasted eggplant, and again, plenty of tahini. It was served with 2 pita breads, a tomato slice, a pickled turnip slice, and a cucumber slice.
WARNING! Hard-core vegans may want to stop reading now.
My BF’s friends in San Jose keep chickens in their backyard, and they gave us some of their fresh eggs. Since I had personally met the chickens who produced these eggs, and saw that they lived in healthy, happy conditions, I felt absolutely no qualms about eating these eggs.
My BF made me a German-style potato omelet for breakfast on my last day.
Not shown: throughout the trip he also spoiled me with coffee, fresh fruit (including amazing fresh figs), popcorn (he figured out that Orville Redenbacher’s Natural: Simply Salted is vegan…and delicious), candy, and an off-brand Nutella that happens to be vegan.
For this past week, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.