All posts tagged “drinks

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Flores

Flores is the classier Mexican brunch that San Francisco has been needing. While there are other contenders like Padrecito in Cole Valley, the Marina district is covered in classic American brunches and was in desperate need of a little spice.

Taking up a large, open air space on Union St., Flores offers fresh, homemade masa tortillas, fresh cocktails, and great dishes.

The front of the restaurant features their large bar, with cute palm frond shaped fans, a colorful tile floor, and lounge seats. Above the bar is a kitchen, a large community table, and an expansive area of tables fills the back.

One of the highlights of Flores is the decor, with intricate lighting fixtures and lamps, as well as the ornately designed walls, full of vibrant colors and patterns.

As we were there for brunch (they serve lunch and dinner as well), we ordered their specialty coffee drinks, which were a combination of horchata – mexican hot chocolate – iced coffee with cinnamon on top. It was DELICIOUS. It’s sweet, but also has the coffee kick required for mornings.

Below is the Mango appetizer, fresh mango and jicama sprinkled with habanero, chili, and lime. This is a twist on a classic Mexican snack, and it was a great appetizer for our brunch. I love spice, but it was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy (my friend hates spice and ate it just fine!).

One of the dishes we ordered was the Flores Ranchero, which has 2 baked eggs, tomato-bean stew, tortilla, cheese, pico de gallo, and avocado. The other dish is the Huarache, which was a spinach and cheese tortilla, carnitas, sunny eggs, lettuce, spicy onion,  and queso fresco. Both were hearty and delicious, with big portions and big flavors. All of their tortillas are made in house and are only corn (so gluten-free!) and are thick, warm, and soft.

For a city that has so much brunch competition, Flores did us right in its great menu options, drinks, and affordable prices. The space is also fairly large, so I would recommend it if you hate waiting in lines and paying $20 a dish!

2030 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

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Liholiho Yacht Club

Liholiho Yacht Club may have been the peak of my food adventures. Yes, it was THAT good. Nothing can beat it. (Yet?)

Liholiho is another restaurant that is largely famous because of Instagram. However, unlike Media Noche, Liholiho not only serves food that is (almost) too attractive to eat, it tastes f****** BOMB.

The space is larger than I expected, with a completely open floor plan. The kitchen sits in the center, and underneath the restaurant is its sister bar (with food), Louie’s Gen-Gen Room. The restaurant has wait times up to 3 hours (even on a week night!) and reservations can only be made a month in advance and fill up right away, so I would recommend making a res for a random night and going for it! Otherwise, line-up at 5pm and you’ll most likely be seated in the first round.

Liholiho offers a multitude of Hawaiian/Chinese/Indian fusion dishes, from small appetizer size bites to larger entrees with meats and fish. I had done a bit of research before my first meal here, and ordered the Tuna Poke and Beef Tongue Bao to start, as well as a fruity, tropical cocktail.

The Tuna Poke, served on a nori cracker with sesame oil and radish, was phenomenal. It was a generous serving of fresh tuna, and was a light snack before we dove into heavier foods. Get it.

The Beef Tongue Bao, however, might’ve changed my life. I might have an unhealthy obsession with bao (Chairman!!!!), but this bao was unlike anything I’ve tasted. I love beef tongue, and this one was tender, juicy, and there was SO much. It was wrapped up in the soft, warm poppy-seed bao bun like a little cloud, and topped with kimchi and cucumber. It was sweet, it was sour, it was juicy, it was HEAVEN. Get it. Twice.

After the smaller plates, we ordered a couple of medium sized plates.

*Disclaimer: these photos are from two different times, I did not eat all of this in one sitting. Although I probably could have.

Below is the Tuna Belly Misoyaki, with apricot, raddichio, and radish. It was good, sweet, and cooked well, but it didn’t stand out. Especially not after that Beef Tongue Bao.

Next is the Fried Rice with Bay Shrimp, Spam, and Abalone mushrooms. Although I was looking for the Spam & Rice bowl that is one of the highest Instagrammed dishes in SF, I didn’t realize it was off-menu (hint hint) and ordered this thinking it was the same. The shrimp fried rice, however, was REALLY good. I would order this again, as it was topped plentiful with shrimp and had a *tiny* kick.

Here, I redeemed myself. Look at how beautiful this is. I’m drooling. I never would’ve ordered spam before (especially in a restaurant), and have only ever tried it once in my life. However, Liholiho makes their own spam, and the (I think) Sriracha-Mayo drizzle, the pickled cucumbers, and the shower of furikake made this dish incredibly delicious.

This is a MUST when going to Liholiho (’cause if you don’t Instagram it, did you even go?).

One of two entrees we tried (one different occasions!) features the Whole Maine Lobster with preserved black bean sauce. A bit messy, but it was juicy and great! However, we were between the lobster and the next dish…

… which is honestly one of the best things we’ve ever eaten. This is the Grilled Short Rib with mushrooms, served next to the Escargot- Bone Marrow- Twice Baked Potato. It sounds like a mouthful and a weird mish-mash of ingredients but holy s***. The bone marrow potato goodness had escargot under the layers of baked potato and cheese, which melted in your mouth. The grilled short rib, which was topped with chimichurri sauce, was cooked so perfectly, and was so MOIST (I said it!), flavorful, tender, and everything you could ever want from beef.

This next part is crucial.

This first dessert was a chocolate thing with some ice cream and caramel. It was good but not memorable (clearly). It’s also off the menu now so it doesn’t matter.

THIS:

The grand finale of Liholiho Yacht club: the Baked Hawaii. It’s a Hawaiian spinoff from the Baked Alaska, which is an ice cream cake topped with a meringue, and usually torched with some sort of alcohol drizzle. The Baked Hawaii is a caramelized pineapple ice cream surrounded by a hive of ‘vanilla chiffon,’ a.k.a. marshmallow fluff, on top of a shortbread-y type cookie/cake thing (I have no idea but it’s good) and little pineapple chunks. Best dessert I’ve ever had. I love pineapple, ice cream, caramel, and marshmallow. You really can’t go wrong here.

Although it’s difficult to make a commitment for dinner a month in advance, this one is WORTH IT. I’m even making it easy for you and telling you exactly what to order so there’s no excuse. AND giving you the reservation link.

871 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109

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Media Noche

I know I’m a little late to the game but nevertheless, I finally made it to Media Noche in May. Media Noche is a Cuban fast-casual spot in the Mission, right by Boba Guys. The menu offers Cubanos, salads, and rice bowls, and the decorations are very cute and festive (and I hate to call it this, but very Instagrammable).

The decor is very colorful, with pastel hues of mint and light pink, and the space is bright and airy, with indoor and outdoor seating.

We ordered the El Cubano (roasted pork shoulder, smoked ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard), as well as the Lechón Asado (the roasted pork shoulder rice bowl).

The Cubano was flavorful, with the crispy, buttery bread and the sweet and savory flavors of the meats, pickles, and mustard. However, for the price ($12.50), it was a small sandwich, and could’ve used a side dish or salad of some sort. Or just bigger portions.

The Lechón Asado, which came with black beans, rice, and coconut slaw, was a decent portion and tasted good, however for a whopping $16.50, the meat was fairly dry, and there was nothing spectacular about the dish.

I was disappointed that they had run out of the Café con Leche Moon Bar (coffee ice cream dipped in dark chocolate), because the Mi Abuela Favorita, which was guava cheesecake ice cream dipped in dark chocolate, was OK (and I love guava!), but I think the coffee flavor would’ve gone better with the dark chocolate.

Media Noche was a bit of a disappointment. It was incredibly hyped up, and while the spot is incredibly cute and the food is decent (don’t forget to check out the bathroom, with the banana wallpaper!), I would recommend going for a happy hour glass of wine and a Moon Bar (preferably the coffee one). Maybe it’s just me and maybe I don’t appreciate Cuban cuisine as much as I should, but for the $$$, I would skip this one.

These walls are insufferably cute though, so I’m still a happy camper 🙃.

3465 19th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

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Friends with Benedicts

Friends with Benedicts is a brunch pop-up, currently operating out of Mykonos Greek Cuisine on Polk St. Not only is their name incredibly catchy, but they create a special weekly menu with a specific theme with decadent items and hilarious pun filled titles.

The pop-up, which only operates on weekends, has a steady menu along with the themed menu, which features classics like eggs benedicts (obviously), french toast, scrambles, omelettes, pancakes, and of course mimosas and other cocktails. When I visited two weeks ago, the special menu was “Conspiracy Theories.” Here are some of the menu items:

“Moonlanding:” Chocolate Moon Pies Pancakes stuffed with chocolate mousse and marshmallow

I ordered the “Long Live the King,” an Elvis reference, which was a pork belly eggs benedict with spinach, topped with a red curry hollandaise. I felt I had to get a benedict – and I’m glad I did! The eggs were perfectly poached, and the red curry hollandaise was a welcome twist from the classic hollandaise on the rich flavor of the pork belly.

Every weekend is a new special menu, ranging from Star Wars themed to Social Media puns, Hayao Miyazaki movie titles to Superheroes. The themed menus are only available on the weekend, but the regular menu is served during the week. See the past themed menus here.

The french toast below, off the regular menu, is the Grand Marnier French Toast, made into a combo with eggs and sausage. The regular menu still offers a wide selection of sweet and savory meals that would please any brunch go-er.

The food was great, and the concept of a pop-up as well as the witty weekend menus create a silly and fun atmosphere for a casual weekend brunch. Take a break from the San Francisco classics and try Friends with Benedicts pop-up – there’s always something new!

Stay tuned to this post for upcoming visits for more themed brunches!

1433 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109

 

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Coqueta

Coqueta, the Spanish restaurant created by Chef Michael Chiarello, has easily become one of my favorite spots in the city. With its unbeatable location on Pier 5 overlooking the Bay Bridge, its exquisite selection of cocktails and wines, and its mouthwatering tapas, Coqueta is the perfect place for a special occasion or entertaining clients and relatives.

Coqueta’s drink menu features a multitude of wines and cocktails, including gin drinks, tequila, rum, whiskey, etc. The cocktails are all light and fresh, with beautiful fresh flowers and fruits as well as subtle spices and flair. The drink on the right is the Barça Gin & Tonic, with fresh grapefruit and thyme, and the drink on the left is the Salt “Air” Margarita (above).

The menu is split into two sections: hot and cold. The cold side features pintxos and tapas such as Deviled Eggs and Lacinto Kale Salad, as well as my personal favorite, the Salmon Ahumado, which is a slice of smoked salmon laid on top of a layer of queso fresco smeared on a crunchy bite of bread, with a drizzle of truffle honey.

The ultimate starter, of course, is the ham & cheese plate, or in fancier terms, the ‘charcuterie’ plate. At Coqueta, diners can order any combination of meats and cheeses they desire, with choices such as the Jamon Serrano (below), Chorizo, Salami, and cheeses such as Manchego (below). The plate comes with Marcona almonds, an olive oil torta, and little breads with tomáquet.

The winning dish of the entire meal, however, may have been the ‘Pulpo a la Parrilla,’ the wood grilled Mediterranean octopus with fingerling potatoes and Pimentón olive oil. The octopus was tender and slightly charred, while the potatoes were savory and soft.

For an entree, we ordered the special of the day: the suckling pig with romesco sauce and a small side salad with watermelon radish and citrus. While the pig was a bit on the dry side, the outer layer of skin was sweet and flavorful, and the jus, with the romesco sauce and flakes of salt, added the perfect level of moisture to the succulent pork.

We also ordered ‘Esparragos Trigueros,’ which were juicy with hints of lemon, laid in a bed of romesco sauce that paired well with the entree.

The dessert could not have been better. We started with the ‘Bizcocho de Arroz con Leche,’ which is a warm molten arroz con leche cake with arroz con leche ice cream and huckleberries. The cake resembled a volcano, that revealed an eruption of rice pudding when sliced through the middle. The cake was sweet, warm, and not too rich in flavor, creating the perfect balanced dessert.

The Manchego Cheesecake, however, with caramel popcorn, was amazing, but a bit too rich. It was very sweet with the outer layer of caramel, but with the thickness of the manchego cheese, proved to be a little too on the decadent side. For sweets and cheese-lovers, this dessert is the way to go!

Whether it’s date night or your parents last night in town, Coqueta is an amazing place to go for dinner and drinks, or even a cocktail with some small bites. You can’t go wrong with the Barça Gin & Tonic, or go big with the massive paella!

Pier 5, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111

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Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle may be hands down one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. Of course, it’s on the other side of the world and incredibly busy! Perched on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, 2 floors up from the popular Sushi Samba, Duck & Waffle has the most amazing food and one of the best views in all of London.

The only reservation I could get for the week that I would be in London was a 3:30PM brunch on a random weekday. While it wasn’t packed inside, it was still bustling with people from all over the world enjoying their late-time brunch as we were, or transitioning to the late lunch menu.

As a sucker for all things brunch, we stuck to the classics – the Duck & Waffle and the Smoked Scottish Salmon flatbread.

The Duck & Waffle blew Chicken & Waffles out of the water (and I LOVE Chicken & Waffles. But I love duck more). The Duck & Waffle, the namesake of the restaurant, was a crispy leg confit and fried duck egg on top of a Belgian waffle with a mustard maple syrup on the side. While incredibly flavorful and filling, I could definitely eat 6 of these in one sitting. I could see why this is the favorite dish of the restaurant: the meat was tender and rich, with perfectly runny yolk and a fluffy Belgian waffle. The mustard maple syrup flawlessly tied the sweet and savory flavors of the dish together.

The Smoked Scottish Salmon flatbread was another mind-blowing favorite for me, as I’m addicted to all things smoked salmon. The flatbread was light, with the perfect amount of creamy shmear, and topped with pickled cucumber and sprigs of dill. I could have eaten 6 of these as well. With the Duck & Waffle.

The third dish on the table is the Puy Lentils, ordered by my vegetarian friend that doesn’t understand brunch (sorry Becca 😘 ). However, I’m glad she did because it was delicious! Although I wouldn’t order 6 of these (I’d be too full from the other two x 6), the combination of spinach, sweet onion, yogurt, miso, and nasturtiums (I had to google that, it’s the little edible flowers) was a sweet and savory surprise that went perfectly with the house bread (which looks almost like a flatbread too).

The brunch, however, would not have been complete without this view!

Duck & Waffle overlooks ‘The City,’ aka London’s Financial District, with the giant Gherkin (a pickle shaped building) right next to it, and a view of Tower Bridge, Tower of London, the Thames, and St Paul’s Cathedral on the opposite side. It was absolutely incredible and slightly terrifying at the same time, knowing we were casually sipping wine and eating a 3:30 brunch 40 floors high.

I would definitely recommend, or more like order you to book a meal at Duck & Waffle, if not for the delicious food at least for the amazing view!

Heron Tower
110 Bishopsgate
London EC2N 4AY
United Kingdom

PS. Dress well 😉