El Toreador – San Francisco

El Toreador Store Front

Rated: ♣♣♣

When most of my Mexican food intake consists of ordering from a truck, I sometimes want to sit down at an incredibly themed Mexican restaurant with loud colors and frozen margaritas. That’s exactly what you’ll find at El Toreador in West Portal.

This West Portal landmark has been around for forever. They also have the most random things hanging on their wall and ceiling like cowboy hats and stuffed parrots.  I love the old autographed celebrity photos on the wall. Not only is this place quirky, it’s also a part of history.

El Toreador Celeb Pics

The best part about this place is the house chips and salsa. The salsa is completely different than any other kind of salsa I’ve ever had. It’s smooth, rich and spicy. No chunks whatsoever, and I actually like that! The only bad thing about this is that this is served prior to your meal. So, if you do not have any self-control (like me), you’ll end up getting really full on this before receiving your entree.

El Toreador Salsa Chips

For lunch, I had the carnitas burrito. K got the scrambled egg and chorizo burrito because he absolutely loves chorizo and will order anything with it in it. My burrito was stuffed with carnitas (deep fried pork), rice and pinto beans with salsa and guacamole on the side. The caranitas was moist, but cubed. Usually, I like my carnitas shredded, but if it’s moist, I’m not complaining. K’s chorizo burrito wasn’t too bad. The egg and chorizo was ground really fine. We would prefer the sausage and egg to be a little chunkier so we can taste each ingredient separately. I didn’t find any hot sauce on the table, so I lathered up my burrito with the house salsa that was served with the chips. I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to think of that.

El Toreador Carnitas Burrito

El Toreador Chorizo Egg Burrito

I love El Toreador. It’s fun, wacky and serves some pretty good Mexican fare. Enchiladas seem to be the hot item on the menu, so I’m sure to order that on my next visit.

El Toreador
50 W Portal Ave
(between Claremont Blvd & Portola Dr)
San Francisco, CA 94127
Neighborhood: West Portal

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Alemany Farmers Market Find… Pupusas!

Alemany Farmers Market Produce Stand

I love coming to the Alemany Farmers Market. I admit, the Ferry Building Farmers Market is fun to walk through and taste (for free), but I couldn’t afford to buy the produce they sell here! The Alemany Farmers Market is much more pocket friendly. I know this because I found a ton of Asian mamas here. I, myself, walked away with 2 bunches of kale for only $1!

Alemany Farmers Market Making Pupusa

The fun part about farmers markets is the food stands! True, everything here is a little dirtier than the gourmet food stands at the ferry building, but that’s what makes the this market more authentic, right? K and I opted for lunch at the pupusa stand. We watched a Hispanic woman standing in the back pounding the dough and throwing them on the grill.

Alemany Farmers Market Pupusa

We each got a pork pupusa with a side of pickled slaw and a cup of the smoothest horchata I’ve ever tasted. The pupusa was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. And, the sauce they served it with was HOT! All this for $6 a person!

100 Alemany Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94110
Neighborhood: Bernal Heights

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San Diego Here We Come!

S and I are heading over to San Diego next week for a small convention.  I’m really looking forward to trying a few of the local dishes that many of my friends and colleagues have mentioned including the California Burrito, Carne Asada Fries and Fish Tacos.  They may have these dishes elsewhere, but I hear it’s the best in San Diego.

Courtesy of Yelp

I’m looking forward to trying out Mexican Fiesta for their California Burrito. What is a California Burrito?  I’m glad you asked.  A California Burrito is a San Diego treat that consists of carne asada meat, French fries, cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole.  Doesn’t that sound delicious?

Courtesy of Yelp

Next on the list? La Puerta to try out their Carne Asada fries which consists of french fries, carne asada, guacamole, sour cream and cheese.  I’m not really sure if this is supposed to be an appetizer or a meal, but it sounds really filling.  What’s up with the San Diego love of adding french fries to their Mexican food?

Courtesy of Yelp

Last, I want to make sure I make a stop for some Baja-style fish tacos at La Fachada.  I’m dying to find out why everyone says San Diego has the best fish tacos in the world. I love Nick’s Crispy Tacos/Underdogs, but I’d love to have something to compare it to.

We’re also open to suggestions so if you have any places you think is awesome and is near Gaslamp, feel free to leave us a comment!  I’ll definitely make an effort to try the places your recommend.

Mexican Fiesta
1460 India St
San Diego, CA 92101

La Puerta
560 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

La Fachada
20 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102

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Primavera – San Francisco

Primavera TamalesPrimavera
1 Ferry Plaza
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
San Francisco, CA 94101
Neighborhood: Embarcadero

Rated: ♣♣♣♣

The Ferry Building Farmers’ Market can get overwhelming. Luckily, most of the food stands also come on Tuesdays or Thursdays, but it really takes a while for you to try food from every stand. On my last visit to the Saturday Farmers’ Market, I decided to try Primavera. Expensive, but great tasting tamales.

The scene:

I checked out their Yelp page and it seems like they switched up their menu quite often. I appreciate that because it shows they put real thought into their food and they keep their food fresh.

The food:

I got the 2 tamale plate for $9.50 and a pineapple cucumber aguas fresca.

2 tamale combo (pork and mushroom/spinach/cheese) – Both were moist and tasty. Good ratio of masa to filling. I’m a masa lover, so I could care less about the filling. However, the filling in both these tamales were delicious. Even though I love my meats, I always somehow prefer the vegetarian option over the meat. In my opinion, the mushroom and cheese tamale was better. The mushrooms were buttery and there was just enough cheese in the filling. The beans served with the tamales are thick, creamy and fresh. I could tell these beans were made in house rather than from a can. Muy perfecto.

Pineapple Cucumber Aguas Fresca – I am not a cucumber fan, but ordered the drink since it sounded really interesting. It was amazing. I never had anything like it before. It had some kind of tea base mixed with the juices of a pineapple and a cucumber. Occasionally, you’d run into chunks of the ingredients which added a little texture. Perfect drink for a hot day.

I’m thinking about coming back here next Tuesday to see what special tamales they’ll have on their menu. I read they sometimes serve a butternut squash tamale. I HAVE to try that if I ever see it on the menu.

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Mijita – San Francisco

Mijita Carnitas TacoMijita
1 Ferry Building #44
San Francisco, CA 94111
Neighborhood: Embarcadero

Rated: ♣

Mijita is terribly expensive for street-style Mexican food. K pointed at my $9 2-taco order and said, “I get those for $1.50 each at Taco’s Peralta in San Mateo.” Knowing that made it difficult to enjoy my meal.

The scene:

Mijita is situated in the back of the Ferry Building and gets quite crowded during lunch time. Wait staff is friendly, especially when I found a hair in my fish taco once and they replaced it and gave me a flan for free.

The food:

Pretty bad. I don’t even understand why this place is crowded. You can walk over to one of the taco trucks near by and get better Mexican food for half the price.

Fish tacos – I had this on a seperate occasion, so I don’t have a photo. I was a little turned off by it after I found the hair. Once you’ve had Nick’s, no other fish taco comes close.

Carnita’s tacos – Since I’m a picky eater, I ordered 2 tacos minus the salsa. When I got my order, I was surprised to find only meat and a tortilla wrapped in foil with no cabbage. It looked pretty unappetizing, so I asked for hot sauce. With the sauce, the taste wasn’t too bad. Meat was pretty dry and the tortillas kept cracking. Totally not worth my $9.

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