February 21, 2012

Eating Out: San Francisco, Part I

I ran off to San Francisco at the beginning of February for business, hence the screeching halt of my blog posts.   So while there has been a bit of a dry spell on the posting front, I have had a dozen amazing food experiences during my absence.  Honestly, the best part of visiting a new city is the food.  Eating at new places.  And boy does San Francisco really come through in the restaurant department.

I was typically rushing off for work-related purposes, so the scope of establishments was limited to something of a two block radius of my hotel. But even within such a small corner of the city, there were far too many delicious places to try over the course of the eleven official meal times available.  Sadly, I couldn't even score eleven fantastic meals due to time crunches and an overwhelming sense of fullness that carried me through the trip (omg, I ate so much!).  A number of my meals were on the go (a la Starbucks or a Mojo bar in the purse), a couple were forgettable bites at the hotel bar, and the Superbowl was a blandly catered event at the Marriott Marquis - although memorable due to the bizarre and excessive usage of olives in every single dish and appetizer (I'm not kidding).


My very first meal for the trip landed me at an adorable Mexican restaurant called  Tropisueño.  Now it's unique in that before 4pm, you order food from a carry out counter off from a tall floor to ceiling canvas menu.  The great part about the menu is the big, open-armed welcome it gives to vegetarians and vegans.  All of your classic food truck-style tacos, tamales, flautas, tortas, etc. are available with flavorful sauteed veggies.  It's the magic and spice of the meat without the meat. Once you pay for and receive your food at the checkout counter, you can take it to go or settle down at a table or the bar.  At the end of the bar is a salsa bar, where you can load up on a dozen different options for the tortilla chips provided with your meal. I highly recommend the fresh tomatillo salsa (you know, the green one).

Now 4pm is when happy hour breaks out and runs until 7pm.  Three hour happy hour?  Crazy, right?  Discount margaritas and food. As a Boston native, it delights me to see discounted alcoholic beverages, since such a thing is prohibited in our Puritanical city. Now at 4pm, the food counter closes up and your only source of munchies comes from the happy hour menu. That is, until 5:30pm, when the dinner service starts. With dinner service, the tacqueria and bar turns into a classic restaurant.  A hostess seats you, a server comes to your table for orders.  The meals, whether at the table or the bar, are started with tortilla chips and a selection of three of salsas from the earlier mentioned salsa bar.

So I rolled into this place around 3:30pm for a late lunch, ordered some veggie tacos and sat down at the bar.  Over the course of the next two hours awaiting my friend to arrive,  I tested out the following margaritas.  Both delicious and unique, as I'm partial to herbal concoctions.:

Santo: A St. Germaine elderflower liqueur Margarita. Rocks and salt.
Tropisueño: Canton ginger liqueur is balanced with meyer lemon and tequila. Served up with rose-infused sugar and lemon salt.

When my friend arrived, we devolved to discount house margaritas, describes as "appropriate measures of Agave nectar, fresh lime juice and Tequila. Served on the rocks. Arbol chili salt."  There really was nothing discount about them, only that we didn't pay full price.  I am a huge fan of these flavored salt rims, especially the chili salt.  Take note, I'm definitely tossing these together for margaritas lovers around the holidays.

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