Tag Archives: san francisco

Philz Coffee – 09.07.2009

Philz Coffee
Mission District
3101 24th St. at Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA

Some people say they “left their heart in San Francisco” but I left my stomach.  Bi Rite’s Ice cream, mexican food from Mission district, Bouchon, and now Philz coffee.  These eateries offered the best of their genre and for me it was the best I’ve ever had.  Philz coffee has a interesting story (which I won’t recount here) but more importantly,  out-of-this-world coffee.  I ordered Jacob’s Brew which is accurately described by Philz as:

Named in honor of Phil’z only son Jacob. Each memorable sip boasts delicious layers of nuts and chocolate filled with a full-bodied flavor and finished without any acidity or bitterness. Jacob’s Wonderbar brew is a dark roast favorite!
Inside this hip coffee joint is a conglomerate of coffee drinkers lounging, chatting, and web surfing.  Standard coffee shop atmosphere until you watch the magic of the coffee being made.

The brew masters hand grind each order and hand filter it.  I’ve never heard of any other coffee shop that does this.  I am positive they must be downing cups of Philz brew to multitask coffee orders and stay sharp.  Even if you don’t love coffee, you must try Philz; it may turn you into a coffee lover.

The coffee, duh.

Can be crowded and hectic

The dark roasts can deliver a serious caffeine buzz for the uninitiated


Mayfield – 09.05.2009

855 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA

La Cumbre Taqueria – 09.04.2009

515 Valencia St
(between 16th St & 17th St)
San Francisco, CA

The best place to go for real Mexi-Cali food is, you guessed it, Cali.  SF has too many taco joints to name and this review is not to find the best one.  La Cumbre, however, does put up a good fight and is a perfect example of what a mexican restaurnt should be:  tasty, fresh, and cheap!

The menu is huge and the combinations endless.  Combine that with low prices and you will want to order everything twice.  Taking much thought and restraint, I decided to order just 2 tacos:  pollo asada (grilled chicken) and al pastor(grilled marinated pork).  After you order, the assembly line starts and fresh grilled meat is pulled out of a tray and chopped up before your eyes and then toppings are added to your liking.  Stop by the surprisingly ample salsa bar for peppers and sauces and chow down.

I could tell right away these tacos were the real deal from the refried beans alone.  The grilled pork and chicken were juicy and tender.  The pastor was flavorful but not too salty or overpowering with a touch of sweetness.  For less than $6, you get 2 tacos with plenty of meat and all the fixin’s.

Tacos al pastor y pollo asada ($2.85 each)

South of the border vibe

Bi-Rite Creamery – 09.04.2009

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street
(@ Dolores)
San Francisco CA

You know an ice cream shop is good when customers are willing to wait 30 minutes in a line out the door on a chilly 40 degree SF evening.  That was the scene Friday night in front of Bi-Rite Creamery.  Inside the small shop is a raucous atmosphere of ice cream assembly and chatter.  The customers were not the only ones adding to the noise; the lively servers  barked orders aloud and at each other in what hardly seemed like work but a fun Friday night.  Dave tried the banana “split” sundae with caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, toasted walnuts and whipped cream.  At Bi-Rite, all of these toppings and ingredients are as close to hand made as possible and never out of a can.  Despite all that, the sundae was not good as the caramel topping was burnt.  Of course this would never happen in a mass-produced 5 gallon tin of mega-mart caramel but Bi-Rite made it from scratch and they messed up.  On any other batch the caramel would probably be fine but the taste of overcooked sugar was obvious and ruined the entire sundae.  At least it looked great.

I was reluctant to order the balsamic strawberry but was glad I did.  FANTASTIC, and not just because I am a strawberry ice cream fan.  This simple scoop was the best tasting strawberry I have ever had.  It was a rich smooth strawberry and cream taste at first with later more complex hints of unami (meatiness) from the balsamic.  I don’t know how much balsamic vinegar is used but don’t be put off by it, expecting acid-like salad dressing.  If they didn’t mention it, you would never know it was there.

Just look at how many customers come out on a autumn evening.
The balsamic strawberry is the BEST. EVER.

The caramel tasted burnt that night.

My gut if I lived nearby and ate there everyday.

Quaint cramped creamery customers collectively queued

Sundae with roasted bananas and vanilla ice cream

You MUST try the Balsamic Strawberry

In-N-Out – 09.04.2009

In-N-Out Burger
333 Jefferson St.
San Francisco, CA

The famous and infamous In-N-Out (INO) burger.  I finally had the chance to try this fabled burger out west.  My quick opinion is:  not bad, not amazing, five guys has better fries and burgers.  Read the long review after the pics.

Clean restaurant, great food presentation, and fresh ingredients all with reasonable prices.

The wait, especially if going for lunch.

The post greasy burger, animal fries, and sticky sweet soda coma. ugh.

I can stare at this ALL day

If these fries were an animal, it would be a T-Rex

Subliminal messages or inspiration for the curious?

Paul demonstrating his animal-style

Don’t get me wrong, INO is very good.  I would eat there over any McDonald’s or BK any day.  It didn’t however, live up to the hype.  Everything is prepared fresh when ordered and they even let you SEE your food while its being made.  INO is proud of its offerings and treats their employees well.  Despite all that, the burger and fries fall short.  I am all about establishing baselines so I tried the single hamburger and single cheeseburger with onions and sauce.  Both burgers definitely needed the second patty, the meat to bun ratio was seriously lacking.  At least the veggies were fresh and crisp but that’s always the case in California.  I did not enjoy the fries and animal style did not help.  The shoe-string fries were too thin without any ‘tato flavor.  The addition of melted cheese and sauce only obscured the already little potato taste that was there.  I still like you In-N-Out, but I like my 5 guys better.

-burger bru