Reviews, Travel

Eat + Hike + Sleep: Monterey County, California

Big Sur | getinmymouf.com

Since the strong majority of our vacations primarily involve eating, hiking, and sleeping, it only makes sense to start an ongoing series aptly named Eat + Hike + Sleep. Yeah, you wish you could come up with a title as original as that. Didn’t even need a thesaurus.

The first location up for this series:  Monterey County, California. With all the times we’ve landed at SFO, we always ended up traveling north. There is tons of awesomeness up north like, duh…San Francisco, but also other cool places like Mill Valley, Sonoma, and Napa. I’ve never been, but I’ve also heard that Berkeley is a cool town to check out too. And if we’re talking further north, I enjoyed my time in Sacramento and its surrounding wine country.

Wanting to mix things up on our recent trip out west, we figured it was time to head south and check out what Monterey County had to offer. Specifically, we stayed in Carmel Valley and spent some time in Big Sur cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway.

EAT

Good to Go (Carmel-By-The-Sea)

Good to Go - Carmel-By-The-Sea | getinmymouf.com

Located in the Crossroads Carmel shopping center, this juice and smoothie joint was a convenient stop in between Carmel Valley and Big Sur. Also, with most of our other meals clocking in with a a maxed out indulgence level, grabbing some smoothies from Good to Go was a perfect way to start a day of hiking.

Café Rustica  (Carmel Valley Village)   Cafe Rustica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Rustica - Carmel Valley Village | getinmymouf.com | #foodstories

Cafe Rustica - Carmel Valley Village | getinmymouf.com | #foodstories

Herb-Roasted Half Chicken | crispy artichokes, au gratin potatoes, ratatouille, and kalamata olives

Café Rustica is such a cozy place. I felt like a foreign exchange student having dinner in a European family’s house. That kind of cozy. The portions were generous and my Herb-Roasted Half Chicken dish had like fifteen different sides (er, well four).  I was afraid they might be fattening us up for tomorrow’s special. And also, two words: Crispy artichokes.

Corkscrew Cafe (Carmel Valley Village)   Corkscrew Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Corkscrew Cafe - Carmel Valley Village | getinmymouf.com | #foodstories

Wild Mushroom Gnocchi | parsnips, arugula, pistachio, Brussels sprouts, chive lemon brown butter, & frisee

Corkscrew Cafe - Carmel Valley Village | getinmymouf.com | #foodstories

Roasted Tomato Pizza | mozzarella, basil, olive oil, goat cheese, roasted garlic, olives, tomato sauce

A sign of a good restaurant is one that you visit twice during a vacation. We did just that with Corkscrew Cafe. First of all, they have a bread basket on the menu. At first I was appalled that bread wasn’t free and was ready to fight someone. But the more we thought about it, we realized that if a restaurant is going to put bread on the menu, then it better be the best bread in town. After talking with the server, we found out that “Jason’s Bread” (as it is listed on the menu) is indeed made by Jason, whose sole responsibility at the restaurant is to make bread. He also confirmed that it was magical. So we got the bread and not only was the bread as brilliant as advertised, but the whole freaking meal was just perfect. The Wild Mushroom Gnocchi might have been the most memorable dish of the trip and the chili & honey braised Short Ribs just melted on the plate. I sent the knife back, because there was no need for it. It was so good and we returned the next night. Too bad they were out of bread, but I don’t want to talk about it…  Luckily the Roasted Tomato Pizza and Kale Salad did not disappoint.

Valley Kitchen (Carmel Valley)   Valley Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Valley Kitchen - Carmel Valley | getinmymouf.com

Located in the Carmel Valley Ranch, Valley Kitchen ended up being a perfect way to end the trip with a final dinner in Carmel Valley. The Honey and Goat Cheese Salad as well as the Asparagus and Wild Arugla Salad were fresh and filling. It was also fun playing a game of russian roulette with the cast iron pan fried shishito peppers. Somehow I ended up with all the hot ones. The real star was not the food, but our server (who’s name we forgot to write down)–He was knowledgable about the local wines in an unpretentious way and even allowed us to sample some of the ranch’s own Swing Pinot Noir. His friendliness also allowed us to find out a little bit more about the area and the ranch. The meal and service made it even harder to leave the next day, but I have a feeling we’ll be back soon.

HIKE

Point Lobos State Reserve (Carmel-By-The-Sea)

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve - Carmel-By-The-Sea, California | getinmymouf.com

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve – Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

With a lot hikes, you have to really earn the good views through steep climbs, spider-webs, and losing at least one boot to a mud puddle. But, at Point Lobos, within about five minutes of walking, we were met with landscapes that I wish we could bring back with us to the east coast. The trails are all fairly easy and your reward for what seems like no work at all, is an abundance of blue coves, towering trees, and magnificent cliffs. And as an added bonus, we’re pretty sure we saw a seal give birth. Check off “birthing seal” from the bucket list. A word of warning, parking is limited, so unless you want to park on the street and hike to your hike, arrive as early as you can.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (Big Sur)

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - Big Sur, California | getinmymouf.com

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - Big Sur, California | getinmymouf.com

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – Big Sur, California

As easy and GORGEOUS (yelled with a British accent) as Point Lobos was, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park’s .64-mile McWay Waterfall Trail leads to a blue cove and a flowing waterfall that lands directly onto the beach itself. For a longer, more challenging hike, you can head inland on the 4.5-mile Ewoldsen Trail where you follow a stream along somewhat visible paths. You can park for free fairly easily along Route 1 near the park entrance, but why wouldn’t you want to support the park system? It’s only ten bucks…

17-mile Drive (Pebble Beach)

The Lone Cypress - 17-MIle Drive - Pebble Beach, California

The Lone Cypress – 17-Mile Drive – Pebble Beach, California | getinmymouf.com

2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD | getinmymouf.com

Checking out a beach along 17-Mile Drive with our fun buddy, the 2016 Mazda CX-3.

This is less of a hike and more of a “drive and stop to walk around,” destination, but 17-Mile Drive is still a fun way to kill an afternoon. It’s a surreal contrast between nature, tourists, and a golf course community where the average home price is in the double-digit millions.

SLEEP

Carmel Valley Ranch (Carmel Valley)

Carmel Valley Ranch | Vinyard Oak Studio | getinmymouf.com

The view from our Vineyard Oak Studio balcony at Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch | Carmel Valley, CA

Making good use of the double-sided fireplace

We had originally planned on spending our last night in San Francisco before we flew back, but we just didn’t want to leave Carmel Valley Ranch. From the indoor/outdoor fireplaces and outdoor soaking tub on our deck, to sweeping views and live turkeys, pregnant deer, and ranch-made honey, this place was almost as magical as Disney World–except Carmel Valley Ranch has heated bathroom floors. And that doesn’t even touch on the massive list of activities that the resort has to offer which include hiking trails, tennis courts, golf, food demos, horseback riding, and even a chance to collect honey from their onsite bee hives. You could literally stay here for a week and never leave. Yeah, it was totally worth it to wake up at 5 AM to drive two hours to SFO to catch our flight, just so we’d have one more evening here.

Obviously these are only a few of the hikes, eats, and sleeps that can be found in the area. Drop us a comment for your favorite places or suggestions for where we should head next time. There WILL be a next time.

***

Thanks to DriveShop and Mazda, we had a 2016 Mazda CX-3 to play with for a about 500 miles (check out our car review here). Its nimble handling made it a blast to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway.

2013 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD | getinmymouf.com

***

Disclaimer:  We were not provided any free food, lodging, or park entrances for this post. We liked all these goods and services and would gladly pay for more of ’em again.

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Reviews, Travel

The Butcher and Barkeep – Harleysville, PA

The Butcher and Barkeep | getinmymouf.com

The Butcher and Barkeep is the type of establishment every town needs.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a small town, a big city, or even suburbia. There’s not a community on the planet that wouldn’t support a place like this.  A place that takes their beer as seriously as their cocktails and their cocktails as seriously as their food. The menu is thoughtful and interesting, yet the portions are generous for a reasonable price. The cocktail menu makes the joint sound fancy, but it’s plenty casual. You could come here to celebrate a promotion, or stop by for a beer after a rough day at work. It’s hard to peg The Butcher and Barkeep to a specific identity, because it has broad appeal, yet when you visit, you realize they’re doing something so specifically enjoyable that it’s as if they created the atmosphere just for you.

Shrimp & Grits | The Butcher and Barkeep | getinmymouf.com

Shrimp & Grits | cheesy grits, Carolina shrimp, andouille-bell pepper cream

In a time where many restaurants and bars are turning towards a specialized focus, it’s nice to have a place with the culinary cahonas to try to do everything well.

So, what’s the secret?

Food-wise there are no gimmicks. They have southern staples like Shrimp & Grits and Gumbo; albeit with their own interpretation. I suppose the Sexy Fries might sound like a gimmick, but you won’t give a damn. They’re so satisfying because they combining a bunch of comforting flavors, you can eat them by hand, and they go great with a brew. And drizzle truffle oil and Hollandaise on anything and it’s going to be sexy, but that ain’t no secret.

Sexy Fries | The Butcher and Barkeep | getinmymouf.com

Sexy Fries | hand cut fries, fresh herbs, parmesan, hollandaise, truffle oil

Having a huge beer selection definitely helps. And by huge, I mean they’re basically a restaurant attached to a bottle shop and draft house. Ask the bartender for a recommendation and you’ll realize he knows the ins and outs of everything they serve. Had a bad day slogging through 9-to-5? Try a Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager. Grabbing a brew after hitting the golf course with a buddy? Hardywood’s The Great Return IPA. Killing time while the wife works and you’re partial to the art of stout? Yards Love Stout. That’s all well and good, but being an excellent brewhouse is hardly some magic secret to success.

If a restaurant excels in food and is also well versed in its selection of craft beer, there’s no way they’d be able to present a cocktail program that lives up to the already high expectations, right? Wrong. House-infused liquors and homemade syrups fuel libations such as the Matcha Maker (matcha tea infused vodka, elder flower liquor, lemon, anise syrup), Country Pie Old Fashioned (brown butter infused bourbon, luxardo, honey liquor, angostura) and the Winter Mule (black pepper infused vodka, lime, ginger beer, winter spice syrup, nutmeg). The cocktails are complex–not complicated–and so precisely balanced that you can only assume they were designed in a laboratory.

Matcha Maker | The Butcher and Barkeep | getinmymouf.com

Matcha Maker | matcha tea infused vodka, elder flower liquor, lemon, anise syrup

If the secret isn’t the food, or brews, or cocktails, then it’s easy to say that the secret has to be the people. Attentive servers and knowledgeable bartenders can only be the result of a trickling down of great leadership from the owners Gerard Angelini, Cody Ferdinand, and Jeffrey Sacco. 

The simple truth is that there is no one singular reason and that The Butcher and Barkeep is far greater than the sum of its parts, where the sum equates to a place where you want to go to simply be happy. When was the last time you had a meal that made you truly happy? Content without feeling trendy. Comfortable, despite being surrounded by strangers. Satisfied, without feeling like a glutton.

If you’re ever in Harleysville, PA–which is a suburb of Philadelphia–make the effort to stop by The Butcher and Barkeep for a great meal, cold drinks, and an unlimited supply of happiness.

The Butcher and Barkeep
712 Main St, Harleysville, PA 19438
Website:  thebutcherandbarkeep.com
Facebook
Yelp
Butcher and Barkeep Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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11 Questions, Series, Travel

11 Questions with Trang Hammond of Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

Trang Hammond - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Whenever it gets cold here on the east coast, we quickly begin to dream of all the warm, sunny fun we’ve had on the west coast. Specifically, San Diego. And it might seem counter-intuitive, but one of the foods we begin to crave the most during the winter is ice cream. But, not just any ice cream. Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream.

Thanks to my buddy, Mike from The Flying Peanut, we were introduced to Hammond’s a few years ago at their first location in North Park. They serve the Hawaiian-made Tropical Dreams ice cream and the flavors range from classics (Butter Pecan and Cookies & Cream) to more unique tastes like Peanut Butter Guava Jelly, White Chocolate Ginger, and Azuki Bean. With a ton of interesting flavors to try, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of their ice cream flights, where you’ll have a chance to try out up to 32 (yes, thirty-two) flavors at once. You don’t believe it’s thirty-two? Fine, check out this proof on Instagram:

You’re booking a ticket to San Diego now, aren’t you? Our personal favorite ice cream flavors include Lychee, Brown Sugar, Toasted Coconut, and Chocolate Orange. Only 28 more flavors to go!

Hammond’s recently opened up a second location in Pacific Beach, so for any one who doesn’t like to travel too far inland, you now have a solid super premium ice cream option near the beach. And a third location is in the works in Point Loma, too!

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

One of the owners, Trang Hammond, was kind enough to take time out from building an ice cream empire to answer 11 questions about ice cream, Hawaii, San Diego, and all the fun stuff that goes into running your own shop.

1.  Hammond’s serves a ton of unique flavors; are there any that have turned out to be more popular than you expected?

Every flavor is unique and has its own fan base, so to speak. I guess the Vanilla Rose, a new flavor we just debuted, is going pretty fast and is really popular. And of course our Ginger Cream, which I think is absolutely amazing–but I was worried it could be too strong–has been such a fan favorite as well since it perfectly captures the ginger taste while maintaining a creamy base.

2.  Your North Park location is a natural extension, since you and the other owners were already North Park residents – Why choose Pacific Beach for your second shop?

The first time my husband moved to San Diego from Georgia, he moved to Pacific Beach (like any twenty-something male would, I guess). But he lived there for many years and naturally I hung out there with him a lot, so we really got to know the community. We like the area and the community and we just wanted to provide it with a gourmet ice cream scoop shop.

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

3.  My first experience at Hammond’s included an ice cream flight (as everyone’s first visit should), which allowed me an opportunity to sample six different flavors. Were the ice cream flights always part of the original plan when you all decided to open up the shop, or was it a happy accident that was realized along the way ?

The ice cream flight was a happy accident. We offer so many different flavors that my husband, Ryan, actually thought it would be a great idea to be able to try a lot in individual, smaller portions just like a beer flight. And so, I did the research on cone sizes, and flight holders and the Hammond’s Flight was born.

4.  If you could go back in time and give yourself and the other owners one piece of advice about opening up Hammond’s first location, what would it be?

It gets easier. Especially the first location–we opened up right in the middle of summer. None of us ever owned a business before, so we thought we were ready, but we definitely had some growing pains. The community was so warm and welcoming and forgiving that it was crazy, but fun. The first few months before and after opening up is always going to be intense, so looking back, I would tell all of us that it gets easier.

5.  What were some of the challenges that you faced when opening up the second location in Pacific Beach? Was it any easier than opening the first store?

The only challenge I would say with the second store, as opposed to the first store, is that because I knew so much more, there was more to do. With the first store, I was still doing start-up things after the Grand Opening, because I was still learning about everything it took to open an ice cream shop. With the second store (and soon third) I started out knowing everything I needed to do and to have, so the list of things to do, make, and buy was enormous.

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

6.  You’ve mentioned in other interviews that Hammond’s is inspired by you and your husband’s vacations to Hawaii in which you discovered this super rich, unique ice cream that you couldn’t find anywhere in San Diego. Are there any other Hawaiian foods that you wish you could find on the mainland?

Yes, pretty much any poke sandwich, nacho wrap, burger, salad, or appetizer I ever ate in Hawaii I wish we had here in the mainland. As for desserts, I just love the Hershey’s Macadamia Nut Kisses you can only get in Hawaii.

7.  Do you have any go-to restaurants that you always visit when you’re in Hawaii?

Our favorite island is Kauai. We loved going to a sports bar called Backyards for their Ahi Poke Nachos. The Shrimp Station is always a must for us as well. We liked the low key ambiance on vacation. My best memories involve getting a poke burger at a little shack and heading over to the beach with Ryan and just enjoying the moment.

8.  What are some of your favorite North Park restaurants and bars that you frequent? 

North Park is full of amazing restaurants and bars. For bars we really like WayPoint Public, because it has great food and a nice little play area where we can watch our toddler play safely while we enjoy our meal. When I was in college, (many years ago) I studied and hung out at Claire de Lune Coffee Shop all the time. They have great pastries, teas and coffees. There is a new restaurant that just opened called Encontro, which I have been dying to try, but haven’t had the chance. They actually make amazing shakes using our ice cream! And we like going to Lefty’s Pizza for a solid slice of pizza with no fuss. While we’re talking about pizza, our North Park neighbor, Urbn Pizza has really good pizzas as well. And they actually created a drink using our waffle cones. Lastly, when we have friends in town, we like taking them to Urban Solace, it’s got great food and a very nice ambiance. And then after dinner I like going to Hammond’s for ice cream, haha. I can go on and on about North Park, but I think this should suffice 🙂

9.  For people visiting San Diego, what is one attraction (touristy or non-touristy) that they absolutely must check out?

Well, Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream, of course! The tidepools in Cabrillo are always refreshing to hang out around. I grew up loving tidepools, so this is a must do for me. There are many many nice hiking trails in San Diego as well. Really, everyone should check out the diversity and charisma of all the neighborhoods in San Diego: North Park, Hillcrest, Little Italy, Gaslamp, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Golden Hills, etc. Each area is unique in its own way offering different cuisines and experiences and I think this would be the best way for someone to truly experience San Diego.

10.  What’s your personal preference for holding ice cream: cup, cake cone, or waffle cone?

It depends on the flavor. For example, I love the fruity flavors in a cup, the chocolaty flavors on a Waffle Cone and some of the classic ones like Butter Pecan or Tahitian Vanilla on a cake cone. When I am eating ice cream with someone else, I pretty much always get a waffle flight to share.

11.  Let’s say the President of the United States of America visits your store and wants a six-flavor ice cream flight, but he wants you to choose the flavors. Which six do you serve him?

Oh man, your questions really get into the heart of things! Tahitian Vanilla (something ordinary, easy to please everyone, yet satisfying), Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut (it really brings out the Hawaiian flavors and President Obama IS from Hawaii), Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreos (a total guy’s flavor, and really really delicious), Blueberry Cheesecake (Fruity, yet still savory with chunks of cheesecake), Birthday Cake (because his job is so stressful, ice cream with tons of yellow cake, frosting and sprinkles might help lighten the load), and POG (Pineapple-Orange-Guava) Sorbet (everyone needs to try our sorbets–they are dairy free, but bursting with all natural fruit flavors). I think the President would like this, as it would bring him back to his days in Hawaii.

Huge thanks to Trang for chatting with us! If you’re in San Diego, definitely stop by Hammond’s for an ice cream cone…or thirty-two.

Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream
North Park:  3077 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
Pacific Beach:  1418 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Point Loma:  Coming Soon!
hammondsgourmet.com
Twitter: @HammondsGIC
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Hammonds-Gourmet-Ice-Cream-1428243157432275/
Instagram:  @HammondsIceCream

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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11 Questions, Travel

11 Questions with The Dining Traveler

Jessica van Dop Dejesus - The Dining Traveler

Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop Dejesus

If you’re a food and/or travel blogger in the Washington, DC area, you probably already know Jessica van Dop Dejesus aka The Dining Traveler. If you don’t, well you’re missing out on a generous blogger and local influencer who pays-it-forward more than any person we’ve ever met. Seriously, almost every cool trip, blogger-friendship, and restaurant relationship that we’ve established over the last year can in some way be traced back to her.

Jessica is currently in the last leg of a Kickstarter campaign to fund her Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, a photo book and travel guide that portrays the island from a Puerto Rican perspective. Take a moment and check out her campaign video below, then channel some holiday spirit and make a donation to help her close in on her goal. And “donation” is a loose term, since you’re basically pre-ordering the guide along with some other cool perks at different pledge levels (including a home-cooked Puerto Rican meal made by Jessica herself!).

Despite being insanely busy with the campaign, as well as traveling, and finding time to enjoy the holidays, Jessica was kind enough to answer 11 questions about Puerto Rico, traveling, and (of course) food.

1.  What’s the one food dish that you recommend people try while in Puerto Rico?

Where do I start? My favorite places on the islands are the panaderias (bakeries). I love a medianoche sandwich. It’s similar to a panini; a soft baguette filled with roasted pork, ham, and Swiss cheese.

The Dining Traveler - Jessica | getinmymouf.com

Medianoche | Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop Dejesus

2.  If someone wanted to stay away from touristy areas in Puerto Rico, like San Juan, what area(s) would you tell them to check out?

The west coast of Puerto Rico. Cabo Rojo in the southwest coast has beaches to die for, like Playa Buye and Playa Sucia. The town of Mayaguez for the food; they are known for their artisanal sangria and the guava jelly roll (Brazo Gitano).

Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico | Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop DeJesus

3.  What is the one thing that you’d like to share about Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture that people might not know?

That Puerto Ricans are very welcoming and open people. Don’t get weirded out when people tell you their whole life story after five minutes of meeting you!

4.  On average, how many days do you spend traveling each year?

This past year I have been on the road over 100 days so far.

5.  You seem to have already traveled almost everywhere, but what’s one country or city that you haven’t visited yet, but would like to?

Peru. It’s my dream destination. We’ve been trying to go for the last two years but something always happens. Hopefully in 2016.

6.  Do you have any travel rituals that you follow before a big trip?

I always wait until the last minute to pack. Does that count as a ritual?

7.  Do you remember your first plane ride?

I was five. We flew Eastern Airlines (dating myself here, LOL). We moved from Rochester, NY to Puerto Rico. I was super excited. The whole family, including our German Shepherd, was on the flight!

8.  When you’re back home in DC, what are some of your hobbies and other activities that you like to do to relax?

I love exploring DC. I enjoy going for a run along the Mount Vernon Trail and admiring the monuments across the Potomac. I also love checking out the new exciting restaurants that continue to pop up in the city.

9.  Okay, it’s late at night and you’re craving a sweet and/or salty snack. What do you make or grab from your kitchen to satisfy your late night hunger?

Well… this food blogger is trying to lose weight! I’m trying to be disciplined! However, my downfall is cheese. We always bring tons of cheese back from Holland, where my husband is from.

10.  You currently live in Washington, DC; what other U.S. city or cities do you think you would enjoy living in for an extended period of time? 

I lived in Miami for three months and truly enjoyed it; there are so many cultures converging in this area. Wouldn’t mind returning. I would be open to living in Chicago or San Francisco. However, I love DC. It will be hard to get me out of here.

11.  If you could have one person from any time period, dead or alive, be your tour guide in any city in the world, who would you choose and why?

I would have loved for Pablo Neruda to show me his native Chile. I studied his poetry in high school and college. His words made me feel as if I was already in the country.

Many thanks to Jessica for taking time out of her non-stop travel schedule to chat with us. Don’t forget to check out her Kickstarter, Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, before the campaign ends on December 10th!

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Travel

DIY Food Tour: San Francisco’s Mission District

DIY Food Tour: San Francisco's Mission District

When we were preparing for our last trip to San Francisco, something quickly became apparent: The Mission District’s food offerings would require us to set aside an entire day. Now, obviously San Francisco as a whole is one of, if not the best food city in America, so it goes without saying that you could easily create a food tour in any of its neighborhoods. But as I Googled, Yelp’d, and food blogged the heck out of San Francisco, I kept finding Mission District gems that required a visit.

Thus, this is the first in series of DIY food tours that we’ll be posting here on the blog. And what better way to start than with San Francisco?

Aside from all the tasty food stops, the Mission District is also home to a ton of great thrift stores. With the amount of food you’ll want to eat, they’ll be a good way to kill time in between stuffing your face.

How to get there:  All of the places are easily walkable via one of the two BART stations in the Mission district. I will note that there is a bit of back-tracking involved based on the order that I set up; feel free to mix and match your own order to fit what you have time and/or want to check out.

Stop #1:  Breakfast at Craftsman and Wolves

Closest BART Station:  16th Street Mission
Address:  746 Valencia Street, San Francisco 94110
Website:  craftsman-wolves.com
Craftsman and Wolves Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Rebel Within - Craftsman and Wolves

The Rebel Within – asiago, sausage, green onion, soft cooked egg

Having gained attention for their soft-boiled egg-filled sausage and cheese muffin, The Rebel Within, Craftsman and Wolves is the perfect place to start your tour de eating. I fueled up with said muffin and some cold brew; a near perfect breakfast that helps set the foundation for a long day of eating. Although The Rebel Within has garnered the most attention, their pastry counter is worthy of its own mini-food tour, filled with items such as a Thai scone (green curry, candied ginger, coconut) and matcha snickerdoodles. While the food at CAW is exciting, the atmosphere is calm and makes for a spot that’s easy to get some work done.

Stop #2:  Lunch at La Taqueria

Closest BART Station: 24th Street Mission
Address:  2889 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Website:  Ha. Nope.
La Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Photo Jul 15, 3 12 18 PM

Carne Asada Tacos Dorados - La Taqueria

Carne Asada Tacos Dorados – steak, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, monterey jack cheese

Does La Taqueria have the best burrito in America? I’m not skilled enough in the ancient art of burrito eating to provide an insightful answer. The burritos are good, but that’s not why you’re here (and from experience, eating an entire burrito in the early legs of a food tour is not a smart choice). Why are you here? Four words: Carne Asada Tacos Dorados. A mountain of moist carne asada, covered with salsa, guac, and sour cream, all wrapped up in two tortillas–one of which has been fried crispy with Monterey Jack cheese. This taco satisfies every taste and texture you’d want from a taco. Show up early to avoid lines, because aside from the national attention that this place has received, the locals clearly love it just as much. More than a few native San Franciscans I talked to mentioned La Taqueria as their go-to Mexican joint.

Stop #3:  Dessert at Tartine Bakery

Closest BART Station:  16th Street Mission
Address:  600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Website:  tartinebakery.com
Tartine Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Banana Cream Tart - Tartine Bakery

Banana Cream Tart – flaky pastry coated in dark chocolate with caramel, pastry cream, and lightly sweetened cream

A James Beard Award winning bakery, Tartine will surely be the reason your sweet tooths will need to spend hours in confession on Sunday. A sucker for anything combining cream and bananas, my instincts took over and I tried their Banana Cream Tart. FYI, objects in picture are larger than they appear. Did I mention food tours are best done with a companion? Yeah, a partner would be really helpful here. However, despite its intimidating size, the tart is surprisingly light. And for you cocoa nib groupies out there, grab a Cocoa Nib Rocher for the road.

Stop #4:  Cocktails at %ABV  

Closest BART Station: 16th Street Mission
Address:  3174 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Website:  abvsf.com
ABV Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Special Note:  This bar opens at 2 PM, so plan accordingly.

Fogerty - %ABV

Fogerty – rye, campari, cacao, orange bitters

Mumbai Mule - %ABV

Mumbai Mule – saffron vodka, lemon, ginger, mint, soda

If you’ve done your job, you should be fairly full and your feet should have marshmallowed from all the walking. This is where %ABV comes into play: Time to take a seat, order some cocktails, and enjoy the company of one of their talented and friendly bartenders. Speaking of talented and friendly bartenders, I want to give a shout out to Eric (90% sure that’s his name) who mixed up some great drinks and was full of delicious restaurant recommendations. I enjoyed a refreshing Mumbai Mule and a strong, yet smooth Fogerty. Although I was too full for any solid food, I’d love to go back to try their kimchee fritters, pimento cheese burger, and some PB&J “ice cream”.

Stop #5:  Ice Cream at Bi-Rite Creamery

Closest BART Station: 16th Street Mission
Address:  3692 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Website:  biritecreamery.com
Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Strawberry Soft Serve - Bi-Rite Creamery

Strawberry Soft Serve

An ice cream institution, no trip to the Mission District is complete without a treat from Bi-Rite Creamery. Have time to kill and are still a little full? Stand in the long line headed inside where you’ll find a large selection of their hand-made, small-batch ice cream like vegan strawberry coconut; Blue Bottle coffee with Alfieri almonds and chocolate chips; and brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl. In a hurry? Then jump into the “express” soft serve lane to see what flavors are swirling up.

Stop #6:  Coffee at Four Barrel Coffee

Closest BART Station: 16th Street Mission
Address:  375 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Website:  fourbarrelcoffee.com
Four Barrel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Iced Latte - Four Barrel Coffee

Iced Latte

After some serious eating, drinking, eating, walking, and eating, it will be tempting to crash and sleep through dinner. Remedy that by ending your Mission [District] Impossible with a caffeine boost from Four Barrel Coffee. I did not have a chance to visit the shop, but I did enjoy an iced latte from their stand at the Ferry Building farmer’s market. They roast their beans in-house, so I’m sure their store smells so good you’ll take a bag home as an air freshener. You’ll probably be force-fed coffee from a blue bottle the rest of your trip, so you might as well experience another great west coast coffee house.

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Disclaimer: Visiting these restaurants can result in San Francisco Deficiency Syndrome. Talk to you doctor before participating in any food tour. Also, we were not provided any free goods or services to write this post. 

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