s

smiles33's Profile

Title Last Reply

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to NOLA: Feedback on my proposed plan, please!

Thank you so much for the detailed response and great feedback! Man, maybe I should consider an earlier flight that does have a stop, but I hate to think about getting stuck at some other airport if our first flight is delayed or the second flight has an issue.

Restaurant Patois looks fantastic, too. I hope you share a TR after your March trip as we won't be going until after you.

Jan 31, 2015
smiles33 in New Orleans

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to NOLA: Feedback on my proposed plan, please!

Wow, this is the first I've heard of Toup's Meatery and yes, we LOVE meat! I am so intrigued by the BBQ goat--I've only had goat curry out here in CA. The a la carte items look amazing, too--I've never had head cheese or boudin balls. Thanks also for the activity suggestions, as those all sound right up our alley.

Feelings looks like a beautiful date venue--too bad we have the kids with us on this trip. Perhaps on a subsequent kid-free vacation we'll have the chance to try it out? Thanks again.

Jan 31, 2015
smiles33 in New Orleans

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to NOLA: Feedback on my proposed plan, please!

I appreciate your advice, but to be honest, no, I'm not looking for restaurants that would be fun for the kids. Taking the girls with us will influence our choices, in that we don't want to take them to inappropriate venues and I have to make sure it's not a place that uses peanuts (e.g., we never go to a local casual restaurant that has bowls of peanuts as free appetizers given my youngest's allergy). But unless it's her birthday or some other kid-centered celebration where we might prioritize a daughter's choices, we don't eat at places that are only tolerable. DH actually refuses to go to Chuck E. Cheese ever again, even though our girls do like that place very much....Thankfully, I have found other birthday venues where I can bring our own food in so we don't have to eat bad pizza.

Anyhow, I research restaurants beforehand (google menus, scan chowhound, etc.) so I can make sure our girls will have some appealing entree choices (there often aren't kids menus at the restaurant we go to) and confirm that the ambiance is not so formal that their presence alone would annoy other guests (or wholly inappropriate, like a sports bar/Hooters type place). They are usually the only children when we go to most restaurants, so we try to target lunches but if we're traveling somewhere, we go to early dinners right when the restaurant opens at 5 or 5:30.

Thankfully, we have never had any issues with bringing them to restaurants without children's menus and have really only had compliments from other guests. Maybe other guests have muttered/thought to themselves, "Why are those kids here?" but I actively monitor my girls to ensure polite and appropriate behavior and voice volume. DH thinks I'm overly sensitive to what other people think, but I know that if I arranged for a special date with my husband and some other parents brought obnoxious kids to dinner, I would be very annoyed.

The girls are well-behaved and pleasant company. They know not to interrupt conversations (unless they're bleeding) and are still included in our conversations so it's not like we enforce the Laura Ingalls Wilder-era rule "children are seen but not heard."

I certainly will not be taking the girls to any bars, but they're not so sheltered that a bunch of obnoxious and profane guests will shock them. We'd use it as a life lesson--sometimes people who are generally nice and polite use poor language and act badly when they have too much alcohol or are just not being thoughtful.

Anyhow, that's a long tangent, and I hope I did not offend anyone, but I do have strong feelings on this topic. Too many parents coddle their kids and lead kid-centered lives. We love our girls dearly but they are not the center of the universe. We love to eat and since they do, too, we bring them along on our eating adventures when it's appropriate.

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to NOLA: Feedback on my proposed plan, please!

I did not intend to offend anyone with my question re: CP. I like distinctive dining experiences, but ones where the food is not the star will always disappoint me. Sadly, I have found that the most well-known restaurants sometimes (often?) do not live up to their reputation. For example, Mama's Fish House in Maui has severely disappointed me twice, especially given how folks claim that it is the best seafood on the island. It may have the best view, great service, and lovely ambiance, but it did not have the best food by far. Thus, when researching options for vacation dining, I tend to focus on places where the consensus among reviewers (CH, friends, professional reviewers) say the food really shines. Everything else (decor, service, location, view, etc.) is just icing on the cake unless I'm trying to plan a special occasion meal.

Given the ringing endorsements here, I will happily book a meal at CP.

Jan 28, 2015
smiles33 in New Orleans

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to NOLA: Feedback on my proposed plan, please!

Thanks for including your TRs. I hadn't seen them in my scans of old NOLA threads focused on specific restaurants. Reading about the food at Jazzfest and the trek to Middendorf's are making my mouth water and it's only 9 am here! We won't have a rental car to make that trek, alas, but that does sound like a great trip.

Thanks for your suggestions. I think I could pick up goodies to go from Cochon Butcher to store for late night/early morning snacks. Our kids are usually in bed by 9 pm and up by 7 am. Luke's was on my list initially, but I have read mixed reviews of them as well.

Cafe Atchafalaya's brunch menu looks fantastic--adding it to the list now!

Jan 28, 2015
smiles33 in New Orleans

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to NOLA: Feedback on my proposed plan, please!

Thanks for your input, Shanefink! If we were home in SF, I wouldn't bring my girls to any formal gourmet restaurants, mostly because I don't think it's worth spending over $50 to feed a kid unless it's an special family celebration. They are stereotypical good girls who will behave well even in a 5 star restaurant (which DH and I can take some credit for due to our discipline/parenting, but I also think they were both born with good temperaments). However, since we don't travel often and I'm not sure when we're coming back to NOLA, I'm more comfortable spending the cash to take them along so DH and I can enjoy the nicer restaurants. Of course, I do not want to take them somewhere where the sight of children will annoy others (e.g., I would be very annoyed to have seen 6 and 9 years old at French Laundry or Meadowood, even if they were perfectly behaved, as it's obnoxious to spend $300 on a child's meal IMHO).

I definitely want to avoid tourist traps and chain restaurants (I've been told to avoid Emeril's various restaurants, too!), so I appreciate the warning re: ACME. I did read here that Felix's and Casamento are better. Is Commander's Palace considered a tourist trap or do locals actually eat there?

It's true that my youngest cannot eat any type of fish (trout, bass, salmon, etc.) but she CAN eat shellfish and loves crab, lobster, scallops, prawns, etc. I'm hoping to introduce both to crawfish etoufee!

Jan 28, 2015
smiles33 in New Orleans

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to NOLA: Feedback on my proposed plan, please!

Hello NOLA Chowhounders! We are NorCal Hounds heading to NOLA for a short 5 day trip (11 meals total as we arrive so late the first night). Sadly, the only direct flight from SF doesn't land until 11 pm at night so no tasty meals that first night. That is, unless one of us heads out after we get our girls in bed....

Anyhow, I've read about a dozen NOLA threads, asked friends, and googled generally so I'd love feedback on some proposed ideas for this trip. Our girls will be 6 and 9 by the time of the trip, are well-behaved, and eat a wide variety of foods (other than the younger one's peanut and fish allergy). We don't need a kids' menu as they eat shellfish, the older one loves sushi/fish, both will eat almost any protein I put in front of them (e.g., they declined veal brains but will eat beef tongue and other unusual cuts of meat).

The emphasis is on food, not ambiance, but I am willing to take them to formal restaurants if that's the best food.

- Cochon (we love tail-to-snout pork dishes!)
- Clancy's (dinner menu looks better to me than lunch)
- Elizabeth's Restaurant (again, dinner better than lunch)
- Bayona (dinner)
- If we're already going to Cochon for dinner, is it foolish to go to Cochon Butcher for lunch given our limited number of meals?
- Bon Ton Cafe (Cajun food but not in a super formal setting)
- Peche (we love seafood and we love cocktails and it looks like same menu at lunch and dinner!)
- Acme Oyster House (my boss rec'd this place and its menu looks great) but I see Casamento's seems to be rec'd more often here on CH
- Jacques-Imos (seems to be some mixed opinions here, but menu looks great to me)
- Mandina's is what our friend rec'd over the other famous places
- Dante's Kitchen was another rec but I can't pull up a menu on their website
- Willie Mae’s Scotch House vs. Dooky Chase (not sure we have time to go to both, and since our friend rec'd Willie Mae's and it has a new location in Uptown, location may be the deciding factor)

We also have a Sunday brunch we could fill somewhere (or we might just stay on CA time and sleep in...).

I'd also love to hear other recs/feedback. A few factors to consider that influenced my choices and may affect what you suggest:

- DH has lactose intolerance and/or mild dairy allergy (no ice cream, no heavy cream, but he can tolerate very small amounts of butter and aged cheese). Most chefs can accommodate this but I mention it because he has had lackluster alternatives at some French restaurants. Thus, this is a good second reason why I'm leaning toward skipping the world-famous formal French/Cajun/Creole (yes, I know there are distinct differences between the three but they all utilize cream more than typical non-French cuisines) restaurants for both the cream and the formal ambiance (e.g., Galatoire's, Antoine's, Arnaud's, etc. which don't seem to get rave reviews here anyway). I still very much want to try Cajun and Creole foods but hoping to go to more casual places and find non-dairy options for DH.

- Budget is not an issue, nor is capacity/appetite. We are the crazy ones who had French Laundry and Meadowood on the same day (11:30 lunch and 5:30 dinner) for our anniversary last year because FL had a last-minute opening for lunch. We had the full tasting menu at both restaurants and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. I don't know that I'd recommend doing it, but it was a glorious, once-in-a-lifetime indulgence to hit both of those places on the same day. For what it's worth, we preferred Meadowood (I have a report on CH if anyone's interested).

- We both enjoy shellfish as well as game meats. I'm less interested in poultry or fish, but DH would eat fish and duck.

- We have plenty of authentic and tasty Asian food in CA so I want to avoid Chinese, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese, Thai, Afghan (which I know is more Central Asian), etc. I know there is a large Vietnamese American community in the Gulf Coast, but we have many Vietnamese restaurants in California, too. I really want local cuisine that is distinctive to NOLA.

- I'd prefer to stay within New Orleans since we're relying on taxis/streetcars and I'm not sure I want to travel too far (unless it's REALLY worthwhile).

Thank you for any tips!

Jan 27, 2015
smiles33 in New Orleans

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

Just wanted to update that we are leaning toward a quick 5 day trip in June to...NEW ORLEANS! I know it will be hot and likely humid (at least compared to California), but I am drooling over the amazing restaurant menus.

Thank you again to all. I'm definitely keeping this thread bookmarked for inspiration for future trips!

Where should we eat dinner? [Cupertino / Saratoga area]

Yikes, lamb with white onion? I hope they haven't changed chefs!

I haven't been there in about 6 months but the last time I went, we definitely had thin slices of good lamb (not the fatty stringy stuff I've had at Darda Muslim Chinese Restaurant in Fremont) with thin slivers of green onions.

I also know that my parents have ordered a sour cabbage clay pot with random stuff in it (I don't eat tripe, so I can't recall if there was tripe). I'm sorry to hear you had such a disappointing meal.

As for the statement re: LA's Muslim Chinese restaurants being better, I would love to test that out personally. I lived in LA in the late 90s and remember frequenting a Muslim Chinese place in the San Gabriel Valley (Alhambra?). I know it had a green roof and was in a strip mall near a Ranch 99/Chinese grocery store. It was good, but not as good as Eastern House, IMHO.

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

I remember Country Way! DH and I had breakfast there a couple times and you're right--large portions, homestyle breakfasts, and old-time service is right on the money.

Your mention of Mexican food reminds me of La Casita. I loved their tomato/chicken/rice soup. As for main courses, I liked their chile verde and Gibo special (potatoes smothered in cheese, which seem just like scalloped potatoes au gratin and not Mexican to me at all).

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

Thank you to everyone for all the great recommendations! Wow, looks like we have inspiration for several years' worth of vacations to plan for now.

I'll talk it over with DH, figure out what our priorities are for 2015, and definitely update the thread once it's settled.

Thanks again!

Jan 06, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

Where to buy Foie gras in East Bay?

Well, driving above 65 mph on the freeway when the maximum speed limit is marked 65 mph is also "technically illegal but lots of people don't respect or follow the law." If you drive above 65 mph, you accept the risk of being ticketed (as well as greater risk of injury should there be an incident).

If I could order foie gras in a Californian restaurant, I would do so and accept the risk that I might be fined.

Where to buy Foie gras in East Bay?

The menu, which was NOT the same as the one on the website, specifically stated "Hudson Valley foie gras." That's why I did a double-take and asked the waitress, "You REALLY have foie gras?"

I'm not an idiot. I can read. If it had said ankimo or monkfish liver, I wouldn't have posted it here on this thread about foie gras.

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

Hi Bada Bing. We usually take 4-5 day trips, as DH's work schedule is such that he can't take more than 2-3 days off work. Thus, unless we stick to CA (and we've done a lot of road trips already), we won't be able to limit our travel to just road trips with that short of a timeframe. We also usually travel in the shoulder season, April/May or Sept., again due to his work schedule.

I have been to DC a dozen times or more now due to work commitments, so I don't wish to return as a family. It conjures up too many work-related memories so I don't find DC relaxing at all. I've also been to NYC about a half-dozen times and DH and I have made 2 adult-only treks there in the past 2 years so we also want to try something new. I went to Chicago for the first time last summer for work and loved the high-end food I had. Yet I think I'm looking for something more distinctive than a "typical" American city for our next family vacation. I do think it could be fun to explore Portland (if I can convince DH, who probably thinks it's full of the same hipsters/hippies as SF/Berkeley).

As I said in my initial post, we have road-tripped throughout California (as far north as Shasta, throughout the Central Valley to DH's various favorite lakes, Lake Tahoe/Reno to the east, Los Angeles to the south) as that's how we vacationed for the first 6 years of parenthood. In our early budget-conscious days, we'd rent a houseboat at Shasta or a small condo/apartment somewhere in CA and DH would just cook all meals.

We finally took the girls on a flight when we went to Maui 2 years ago. It's not the prettiest Hawaiian island, but it has the best compromise of good food and good outdoor options without the urban congestion of Oahu. We hang out on the beach or at the pool/hot tub, explored local food options (it was fun seeking out the little bakeries for malasadas and strolling the Swap Meet), and headed to local restaurants. No luaus, no submarine rides, no boat rides, or anything else where the typical tourist crowds are.

Jan 04, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

I really appreciate this thorough reply, so I thought I'd respond to it directly. I'm sorry to hear Montreal was disappointing and would love to hear which restaurants you found lackluster. In my mind, the French culture would be a nice bonus, but what's most relevant to us are French attitudes/preferences when it comes to eating! I can happily imagine indulging in pain au chocolat for breakfast, cheese, pate, and baguettes for a light lunch or snack, foie gras at dinner, etc.

I went to Vancouver decades ago as a teen and was impressed by all the Asian cuisine, but it doesn't strike me as a food destination for other cuisines. Maybe I'm wrong?

New Orleans does strongly appeal to us but you're right, as I worry about the party atmosphere/Bourbon Street vibe. My kids are both in bed by 9 and I wonder if we can find a place where it would actually be quiet but not in the middle of nowhere.

FWIW, my girls are very calm and happily play together or read together (the 8 year old reads to the 5 year old). Yes, they like to swim/lounge in a hot tub (which we don't have at home), so it would be nice to find a place with access to a pool/hot tub. Other than that, we do not schedule their days nor do we go out of our way to specially cater to them while on vacation (though we do avoid Michelin-starred restaurants when they're with us and I always make sure to accommodate our younger daughter's food allergies).

In fact, I often joke they would enjoy almost anything if we keep them plied with snacks. That's been DH's strategy when he drags them to college football games--they eat for hours from every vendor who walks by and at halftime there is also sushi and hot food in the Club room. Give them food and then they're happy to watch a boring football game!

Jan 03, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

Thanks to all who have chimed in with your thoughts thus far. Yes, as James pointed out, we really are ALL about the food and just relaxing. If there's something interesting to fill up an hour or two in between meals, I'm receptive, but we are not going to choose a locale for the activities. I really want to go for great food, something less available here in California, which is why both New Orleans and Montreal appeal to me. We have French restaurants in SF, but I'm sure there is something special (and perhaps more authentic?) when it comes to French restaurants in French-speaking Montreal. Plus I have yet to have really good Cajun or Creole food in CA.

I think I'd skip some of the places mentioned thus far because we have great Asian food, Mexican (though I understand Tex-Mex is different), seafood, "American fine dining" (meaning not French), etc. We also have a ton of activities available to us here (world-class aquarium, children's museums, zoos, skiing, fishing, boating, wine-tasting, hiking, etc.) so I'm really looking for a more unique food culture.

Athena: I think you make a valid point. I always research extensively before our vacations to figure out where the "locals" eat and CH'ers have been remarkably accurate in their recommendations (and places to avoid!). When we go to Maui, we really do feel like "seasoned pros" given the excellent advice we've received. I feel sorry for the travelers who never leave their resorts or who flock to the restaurants in tourist-heavy neighborhoods--they are missing out on the "hole-in-the-wall" gems that don't advertise in the airport brochures!

Jan 03, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

Hello CH'ers! I found a few older threads touting New Orleans, NYC, SF, Montreal, Vancouver, Oaxaca, etc., but I wondered if folks with young children could chime in, too, about North American cities for a culinary vacation. FYI, we're not yet ready to spend the time and money to fly all 4 of us to Asia or Europe from the West Coast.

Our daughters are 5 and 8 and adventurous eaters, but the 5 year old has peanut and fish allergies. We are cautious when going to any restaurant that uses peanuts (e.g., Thai or Vietnamese) due to cross-contamination concerns. I'm less concerned about restaurants that serve fish, so we regularly eat at sushi and seafood restaurants.

Food is the priority for us when we travel as a family. We typically rent a place with a kitchen (DH loves to cook, even while we're on vacation) and eat breakfast there. Then the remainder of the day is spent planned around restaurants or food markets to explore. When not eating, we spend a lot of time relaxing at the rental (reading books, playing board games, watching TV, surfing the net, playing in the pool) and exploring the outdoors (beach, mountain, etc.). We are loungers, not go-go-go vacationers who want to see all the sights. We never go to historical sites where you have to stand in line (like an old mission), museums, etc. while on vacation. We'd rather just be like the locals and eat and relax while on vacation.

For what it's worth, we've traveled throughout California (road trips are fun and DH has taken us to nearly every lake with bass fishing within a 5 hour drive), take annual trips to Maui, and DH and I have taken adults-only trips to NYC, Vegas, and Texas. I took a solo business trip to Chicago last summer and that was a great dining destination, too.

I'm leaning toward either Montreal or New Orleans right now. Both sound amazing, though I think they offer very different types of experiences. Since we'll be bringing our kids, I don't plan to indulge in high-end dining. While my girls are well-behaved (I just had an older man compliment me on their behavior last week while we were waiting for passport photos), I personally don't feel comfortable taking them to the high-end/special occasion restaurants. We have taken them right at opening (like 5:30!) to "nice" restaurants (meaning real tablecloths and mid-range price points) but otherwise we focus on restaurants offering really delicious food rather than ambiance when we're planning family meals.

We live in the SF Bay Area so we often take the girls to casual ethnic restaurants (Afghan, Burmese, Korean, Mexican, etc.). We also enjoy "destination" adventures like snacking at the Ferry Building in SF with oysters and clam chowder (plus grilled cheese sandwiches for them) from Hog Island, bread from Acme, more cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, charcuterie from Boccalone, etc. Montreal's Jean-Talon Market sounds like a similar fun food playground! Yet I know my girls also would love to eat beignets, jambalaya, and po boys.

Thanks for any tips or feedback!

Jan 03, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

2 Nights in Avila Beach

Sounds like a great first day! I forgot to mention the farm--my kids love feeding the animals and getting ice cream there.

Jan 02, 2015
smiles33 in California

Kid-friendly yet high quality food in North Shore Lake Tahoe?

Congrats on the new vacation home! Very exciting. My eldest is now 8, so not quite 10.

We haven't been back to Tahoe in a couple years, but the last time we went, we had a delicious breakfast at Log Cabin Cafe. Girls got pancakes, I opted for the crab cake Benedict, DH got some sort of scramble, and we both enjoyed Bloody Mary cocktails. Now that they're 5 and 8, we can go to more restaurants but since we have a kitchen in the condo at Northstar, DH usually just cooks.

Jan 02, 2015
smiles33 in California

Jamestown, Sonora and other Gold Country options?

Oops! You're right, I'm sorry I misspoke re: the brewery. We even made a trek to Turlock to eat at the brewery last year (I remember our girls loved the mac and cheese on a stick!).

Yes, Louie's is quite a place. We often see lots of Harleys out front on the weekends, so it draws a fair amount of out-of-town folks. Great beer, cool ambience (but for the electricity and the beer signs, it could be a 100 years ago), and the aforementioned awesome prime rib sandwich. We haven't made it out there for dinner yet, but Louie's Facebook page has a menu link and says the open-faced prime rib sandwich is only $14 while the prime rib dinner is $25.

I saw Tululah's today but it wasn't open when we first walked by and then my girls saw JDogg's. We ended up waiting until they opened at 11 am and had delicious hot dogs. It's a small cozy diner-type restaurant specializing in hot dogs and burgers. The waitress was awesome--friendly, efficient, helpful, and sincere. Plus I really liked my "snappy" habanero dog--much spicier than I anticipated with their added sauce! I definitely hope to return to try some of the other options.

Jan 02, 2015
smiles33 in California

Jamestown, Sonora and other Gold Country options?

I did a search but most of the posts were from 2006 or earlier....We have made a few treks to Gold Country over the past year and would love more tips on where to get a good meal. For what's it worth, here are a few of the places we've tried:

Willow Steakhouse in Jamestown has been our go-to place because we love their prime rib melt sandwiches. We've probably gone at least 5 or 6 times now. Funny thing is that I don't think many Asians go there, because the one male waiter there recognizes us now on sight. :)

We also have eaten several times at Louie's Saloon in La Grange. This is a tiny town and the saloon is in an amazing old building. We never would have guessed that they have an amazing prime rib sandwich. Yes, more red meat, and prime rib specifically! We've taken family and friends here as well and many rave that this rivals the best prime rib they've had from places in SF (aka House of Prime Rib). Yet they are priced at a fraction of the cost of what you'd pay in the city. I think this is even better than Willow.

We also tried the Lumberyard, which is closer to Lake Don Pedro side of La Grange. This place has burgers and hot dogs, as well as beers on tap (including our new favorite IPA from a Tuolumne County brewery, Hops of Wrath). I've seen signs about their "world famous hamburger" but I wasn't that impressed. The kids liked the play area in the back (lots of toys, including a tricycle that my then 4 year old rode around the area). It used to be an actual lumberyard store, so it's huge, with a pool table and not the best ambience. But it's casual, bus-your-own-dishes kind of place and friendly folks working there. Yet I don't think it's worth the trek out there. They don't have much competition, as the only other establishment nearby is a gas station/mini-mart.

We wandered over to Coulterville one day and ended up having lunch at Coulter Cafe. There was a very friendly woman at the counter, where we ordered our sandwiches. I was surprised when first walking in, as the cafe is part of a general store. It's not a huge building, so there's limited seating (albeit very cozy booths) and you can see customers walk up to the same woman to buy toilet paper and other sundry goods. Basic solid food, but it's one of the few options when in the tiny town of Coulterville with young children (we passed a noisy bar when walking through the one street town).

In Sonora, the big city of the area, we tried Emberz. Menu looked appealing on-line, but execution was disappointing. I think they were sorely understaffed the day we went, too. Anyhow, not worth a return trip when there are so many other options.

We are heading to Sonora again tomorrow to check out a few more options so I'll update when I have more to add.

Jan 01, 2015
smiles33 in California

Stops on I 5 between San Francisco and the Northern CA border

We used to annually make the trek from the Bay to Lake Shasta with our dog and always stopped at Granzella's in Williams, CA for the Big Tom sandwich (basically, your traditional Italian combo with salami, mortadella, turkey, etc.). We always called ahead and ordered them to go and then ate them at the picnic benches across the street in the small "park" (basically a grass strip) adjacent to the parking lot. That way our dog could stretch his legs, too, while we ate.

With the drought and low lake levels, we haven't been in a few years and I know I read somewhere that they suffered a major fire. Still, assuming they're still there, it's a convenient option. They also have a full sit-down restaurant but we always opted for the deli sandwiches and eating outside.

Jan 01, 2015
smiles33 in California

2 Nights in Avila Beach

I'm not sure if you will see this since you're already there, but I thought I'd chime in with my two cents. We meet up with friends in Avila Beach regularly and Giuseppe's is always on the list. However, since we have a 5 and 8 year old, we try to go to dinner early (like 5:30) or order dinner to go because of the popularity of the place. It's difficult waiting over an hour to sit down to dinner if you have kids!

Splash Cafe in Pismo always has a line out the door, but their clam chowder is world famous and worth the wait. Fortunately, the line moves quickly as it's a counter-service restaurant.

We don't often go to SLO, but I second the rec for Novo. We had a lovely lunch on their patio a couple years ago.

When we go without the kids, there are a few places right on the ocean cliffs that are perfect to enjoy cocktails and appetizers, but less appropriate if your 8 year old is with you.

We also love picking up charcuterie, cheese, wine, and other snacks from the DePalo & Sons deli in Shell Beach. It's overpriced, I know, but they have delicious options from their Italian deli, including specialty items (we love their jars of roasted artichokes imported from Italy). We rarely get out with a bill under $100!

Have a great time!

Jan 01, 2015
smiles33 in California

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

Thanks for chiming in! I just wanted to add that I believe Yuki sold his place last year and we haven't been back since it's been under new ownership. That's why it wasn't on my original list.

There was a big sign on the window on one of our last visits. I think he decided to retire. Too bad, as his was the only Japanese-owned Japanese restaurant that I knew of in the area. I believe Satomi and a few others in FUN are either Korean or Chinese-owned (and the nigiri/sashimi cuts are inferior, IMHO, so it could be they don't have properly trained sushi chefs). My in-laws live very close to Yuki's so we went there at least a dozen times over the past decade.

Etoile, restaurant that helped launch Napa Valley food scene, is closing

How sad! We were wine club members a few years ago and regularly enjoyed lunch at Etoile.

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

Went to Kyain Kyain last night and wanted to report in! We ordered the samosa salad (a winner with spicy kick that snuck up on us!), garlic chicken noodles (decent, but not memorable--fortunately my 5 and 8 year old girls enjoyed it), goat curry with paratha (another winner--and my girls devoured the paratha), pork noodle soup (pork meatballs were bland but DH enjoyed the quail eggs and I was surprised to see both thin vermicelli and thicker wide noodles in the same bowl!), and fish noodle soup (which was a surprise to me given its thicker consistency and crunchy bits of some sort of fried bean or lentil).

When we return, I want to try some of the dry noodle dishes, the tea leaf salad, and order the samosa salad and goat curry again. Totally worth a detour to try this place when in Fremont!

Where to buy Foie gras in East Bay?

I know selling foie gras in California is illegal, but there are loopholes to that law, which was my point. I know you can "give" it away, but Joshu-Ya had a price next to the foie gras so I'm wondering if there is some other loophole that the owner/chef discovered that no other Bay Area restaurant has yet (to my limited knowledge).

Where should we eat dinner? [Cupertino / Saratoga area]

LOL! They have never had a "nice" ambience in their various incarnations, but the food is awesome. We have followed the owners all around the Bay Area as they have moved the restaurant a few times, back when it used to be known as Peking Eastern House. I remember their Campbell location when I still lived at my parents' home in the early 1990s, then Fremont in the 2000s after I finished grad school, and then back to West San Jose within the past 5-7 years.

Where should we eat dinner? [Cupertino / Saratoga area]

+1 for both Chinjin Eastern House and Shanghai Garden. My immigrant Chinese parents live in Saratoga and those are two of our favorite restaurants. We just ate at Shanghai Garden on Saturday and I absolutely love their seaweed/tempura-fried fish filets (I have no idea what the English name is, my parents always order it). At Chinjin, we always order the sesame bread, the lamb with scallions, the beef noodle soup, and the "Chinese hamburgers."

Where to buy Foie gras in East Bay?

FYI, at least some places seem to ignore that law. We were at Joshu-Ya Brasserie in Berkeley last night and their special tasting menu (which also allows you to order individual items a la carte) had Hudson Valley foie on it. I did a double-take and asked the waitress, "Is that REALLY foie gras?" She said yes, so I ordered it. However, she came back later and said the chef decided not to serve any of the tasting menu that night. I was disappointed, but not too surprised given the fact that it's supposedly illegal. I don't understand how they're able to do this! For what it's worth, it was under $20 for the entree and I can't recall how it was supposed to be prepared.