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Memories at Isobune Sushi in San Francisco’s Japantown

I was in Japantown this past week and noticed that Isobune Sushi is now closed and has been for some time. It was the first restaurant I tried sushi as a five-year-old kid in 1994 and I have been hooked ever since.

Isobune was filled with memories and I always loved the sushi boat concept and how you could see the sushi chef preparing the sushi right in front of your eyes. It is the first restaurant where I tried Unagi or BBQ Eel. Isobune was also the first restaurant where I became accustomed to having a hot towel or oshibori given to clean my hands before a meal.

One of the best parts of visiting Isobune Sushi was stacking your plates at the end with a sense of accomplishment before the bill arrived.

The last time I was at the mall a year or two back, it was obvious that the more modern conveyor belt sushi was taking over as a concept and seemed to be providing cheaper overall pricing.

The intimate lighting was also a great part of the ambiance that Isobune that was welcoming and left you with a nice feeling of joy when you visited with someone special. Isobune Sushi was one of the first conveyor belt sushi concepts in the nation and operated in San Francisco’s Japantown for 38 years.

When I visited Isobune Sushi back in 2006, the original waitress that had served me as a kid was amazingly still working there. I am sure many people in San Francisco and Burlingame have memories of Isobune Sushi. Times are changing as new food concepts emerge and rising rent in San Francisco is making it more difficult for restaurants to thrive.

Farewell Isobune Sushi.

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Articles Food Events

Vietnamese Coffee Pop-up: Kasama Cà Phê coming to SF

Filipino and Vietnamese culture is colliding with a Vietnamese coffee pop-up from Kasama Cà Phê coming to San Francisco starting on Sunday, February 17th at MAC’D (2127 Polk St.) and The Brew Coop (819 Valencia St.). The pop-up will also appear on Sunday, March 24th and Sunday, April 28th at the same locations.

Kasama is a reference to companionship or togetherness in Filipino culture and cà phê means coffee in Vietnamese.

The menu will consist of strong cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee) and ube affogatos (Philippine purple yam ice cream topped with Vietnamese coffee).

Photos via kasamacaphe.com

Vietnamese coffee background

Vietnamese coffee dates back to the 19th century when French colonialists introduced coffee to the country according to BBC News. Most Vietnamese coffee is actually exported today rather than consumed in Vietnam itself and Vietnam was ranked 2nd in the world in 2017 for coffee exports behind Brazil. Recent reports suggest a rise in both the quality and quantity of Vietnamese coffee.

Vietnam is a major producer of Robusta coffee which has more caffeine and has a much more bitter flavor than the commonly-known and used Arabica beans. Robusta makes up at least 79% of Vietnamese coffee production according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs in 2016.

Robusta can be described as earthy, harsh, or grainy. Most consumers of Vietnamese coffee will add condensed milk to sweeten it from its bitter taste. Vietnamese coffee is something you’ll want to ease into if you’re not used to high caffeine coffee.

About the people behind Kasama Cà Phê

The owners of Kasama Cà Phê are first-generation Asian-Americans and are sourcing their coffee beans from Vietnam with a plan to offer coffee from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand in the future and a plan to focus on brewing techniques from Southeast Asia.

Most people probably consume Vietnamese coffee at Vietnamese restaurants or at home at the moment, it will be interesting to see how Kasama Cà Phê differentiates themselves to make it a worthwhile experience.

Find out more about Kasama Cà Phê at kasamacaphe.com

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Articles Beer Food Trucks Reviews

SF Beer Week 2019: Anchor Brewing Battle of the Bands

Today I had the pleasure of attending the Anchor Brewing Battle of the Bands at SoMa StrEat Food Park for the Battle of the Bands, a part of San Francisco Beer Week 2019.

Today was my first at the SoMa StrEat Food Park and I was impressed with all the food trucks and the park itself which was well-positioned for some terrible weather that mostly included cold winds and rain. There were heaters and plenty of covering from the wet weather…I have not seen this done in Florida.

Street Meet Tacos Truck at SoMa StrEat Food Park in San Francisco.
Carne Asada Super Taco from Street Meet Taco Truck in San Francisco at SoMa StrEat Food Park.

I tried the Street Meet Taco Truck which is originally from San Bruno. They were selling some a super taco with rice and beans for just $5 and I couldn’t say no to that. The carne asada was tasty and it was a great meal. I always appreciate when food trucks offer lite items that can allow you to visit other trucks and see what they have.

The Sarap Shop, Filino-American Food Truck food at SoMa StrEat Food Park in San Francisco.

My friend tried The Sarap Shop, which is a Filipino-American food truck with a number of unique offerings including vegan sisig. Their Why You Laing dish features Taro leaves with coconut milk sauce and looked really good. You can an egg to anything in true Filipino fashion.

Anchor Brewing was serving a number of their beers at the event. I had the California Lager (4.9% ABV) which certainly matched its description as crisp and clean in flavor. It was a great beer to enjoy on a cold day. Anchor Brewing is San Francisco and America’s oldest craft brewery that goes back to 1896 an was sold in 2017 to Sapporo Holdings for $85 million.

The best part of the whole event though was going over where the crowd was rocking out to a number of bands though with your beer and having an excellent time. People in San Francisco love to dance everywhere and this was no exception.

It was a good day.

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Articles Dining Guide

Dining Guide: Valentine’s Day 2019 in San Francisco

Valentine’s Day is the second-busiest day in the year for restaurants after Mother’s Day.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American spent $143.56 on Valentine’s Day just two years ago and that number keeps increasing every year with nearly $4 billion spent annually on an evening out. There are dozens if not hundreds of event around San Francisco Bay Area for Valentine’s Day 2019.

Here are Valentine’s Day events happening around San Francisco that I think are worth checking out, in case you’re still looking for plans:

  • Valentine’s Day at Le Colonial: Enjoy an a la carte menu with a number of specials and also a 4-course prix-fixe menu for Valentine’s Day for $85 (excludes tax and gratuity) from 5:30PM to 11:30PM (last reservation at 10:45PM). Choices include Lemongrass Chicken Two Ways, Grilled Halibut, Roasted Duck Breast, or Grilled Filet Mignon ($10 up-charge). Live music will be provided by Mark Robinson’s jazz trio from 7PM to 10PM. 20 Cosmo Place San Francisco, CA 94109. (415) 931-3600 lecolonialsf.com
  • Valentine’s Day Tasting Menu at ROOH!: Feeling like Indian? Me too. ROOH! will have a special tasting menu to enjoy for the occasion with many items including Chickpea Cake, Duck Sheek Kebab, Double Baked Soufflé , Tandoori Cauliflower, and more. Reservations can be made online. 333 Brannan St #150, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 525-4174 roohsf.com
  • Night of The Thousand Candles at La Mar SF: Enjoy Valentine’s Day at La Mar SF with their thousand candle celebration and their 3-course prix-course meal for $85 per person. Some menu items include seasonal Dungeness crab, Diver Scallops, and Chocolate Mousse. Pier 1 1/2 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105. (415) 397-8880. lamarsf.com
  • Valentine’s Day at Alexander’s Steakhouse: Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like a steakhouse. Alexander’s will be open from 5:30PM to 9:30PM on Valentine’s Day and have a $149 (tax and gratuity not included) multi-course prix-fixe menu featuring shared dishes and top-quality beef. Diners can add a wine pairing for an additional $69. Guests will receive a complimentary glass of sparkling rosé and each couple will be given a long stem rose at the end of their meal. 448 Brannan Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 495-1111. alexanderssteakhouse.com
  • Valentine’s Day Starlight Cruise: Red and White Fleet is offering a special cruise in celebration of Valentine’s Day for $95 per person. The experience includes champagne on arrival, a romantic buffet dinner, live entertainment, and complimentary beer and wine. Buffet items include Roast Chicken, Santa Maria Carved Tri-Tip, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Spinach and Feta Pasta, and more. Red and White Fleet cruises are some of the most amazing trips I’ve been on across the San Francisco Bay Area with stunning views of Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, and San Francisco all lit up at night. redandwhite.com
  • Valentine’s Day Bakery Pop-up at Harmonic Brewing: M. Denham Baking Co. will have a bakery pop-up at Harmonic Brewing in Potrero Hill on Valentine’s Day from 3PM to 7PM. Whole cakes and pies can be pre-ordered until Sunday, February 11th. Pre-orders get 10% off. On the menu: Oat Flour Chiffon Cake with passion fruit, buttercream, and lime leaf and Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie with walnuts. 1050 26th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 872-6817. mdenhambakingco.com
  • Valentine’s Day Beer & Chocolate Pairing: Triple Voodoo Brewery near Dogpatch is having a special beer and chocolate pairing on Valentine’s Day from 6PM to 9PM that includes 4 beers and 4 truffles from Recchiuti Confections. Tickets are now on-sale for $17. The pairing lasts an hour. 2245 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 598-8811. triplevoodoo.com
  • Romance from the Sky – Valentine’s Day at Cityscape Lounge: Get that beautiful city backdrop for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day. Cityscape Lounge is located on the 46th floor of Hilton San Francisco Union Square and is offering a special evening for $99 per couple (tax and gratuity included). The event includes reserved window seating for 2 for up to 1 1/2 hours, 2 glasses of Moët & Chandon Champagne, red or white wine, or specialty cocktails, a long-stemmed rose, and a dessert. Tickets are available now. 333 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. (415) 923-5002 cityscapesf.com
  • Coffee & Jazz at Farley’s Coffee: Head over to Farley’s Coffee in Potrero Hill for some coffee and jazz on Valentine’s Day from 7:30PM to 9PM with James Everett. Admission is free. Bring a bottle of wine to celebrate the occasion. 1315 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 648-1545. farleyscoffee.com

Good luck!

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Articles Bars Food Events Reviews

SF Beer Week 2019: The Brew Coop x Faction Brewing

It’s SF Beer Week 2019 and although I appeared to arrive too late to attend most events, there are a few that I am able to check out. Tonight – I checked out an event with The Brew Coop and Faction Brewing.

The Brew Coop opened recently off Valencia and 19th Street in the Mission District. The concept is a pour-your-own beer concept, think The Pub, but instead of having British beers it has craft beers from around California. Customers can get their own beer cards and load them with cash to use at the beer stations, pouring as much or as little as beer as they want.

Tonight was very lively at The Brew Coop with many customers coming in and out to drink and watch sports….mainly basketball on television. It certainly had that sports bar vibe with some hip-hop backdrops.

Faction Brewing held a trivia contest for some complimentary beer and the crowd was busy playing games and catching up with friends.

Winter Pilsner from Faction Brewing at The Brew Coop

I had a chance to chat for some time with the Sales & Marketing rep from Faction Brewing, Corey Hennegan. We talked about craft beer, the many differences between beer in Florida and California, and the history and mission behind Faction Brewing. I then tried Faction Brewing’s Winter Pilsner beer (7.2% ABV) which was so incredibly smooth, I was blown away by it.

I drink pilsners at most breweries, but none taste quite as good as this Winter Pilsner. Hennegan mentioned that it is one of the pride and joys of Faction Brewing. I highly recommend it and could easily drink it all day.

The Owner and Head Brewer of Faction Brewing, Rodger Davis, has been in the West Coast beer scene for at least 20 years and it shows. Brewers carry their experiences like chefs into their craft brews. I always notice subtle differences at Leaven Brewing in Riverview from KJ Lynch’s experiences at The Brew Hub and Ft. Lauderdale Brewing. It’s noticeable. Rodger Davis worked at Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro in the past as well as Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley.

After the Winter Pilsner, I needed some food so I ordered the Carne Asada Fries at The Brew Coop. When perusing reviews online, most people seemed to mention the Carne Asada Fries and I’m previously a fan of that dish from California Tacos-To-Go, which previously hailed from San Diego before their sale.

The style of the Carne Asada fries at The Brew Coop isn’t the same as SoCal style fries. It’s still good though. Their bar food is savory, flavorful, and filling without being greasy which is great. It truly went down well with the beer. You can’t say that about most dive-bars selling food.

Triple IPA from Faction Brewing

I enjoyed a Triple IPA from Faction Brewing with my Carne Asada fries and I was impressed that despite the hops – I enjoyed every last sip. I finally found an IPA I can love…not a small feat. It went really great with the fries as well. Beer pairing is a slight hobby of mine.

Brew Coop Owner, Gore Song, told me the idea was to create food that can be enjoyed by customers with their beer without the harsh after-effects of bar food and I completely agree that this was the case. Prices will run you about $10-$20 total which is about standard for bar eats.

The menu was created by Tim Luym, a James Beard Rising Chef Nominee from Alchemy Bar. Chef Ronnie Taylor is also a part of Brew Coop, him and I are both acquainted from his work over at where I have eaten at in the past with my friend Jo from JBKollaborations.

I still have plenty of things to try on the menu, but I think repeat visits would be necessary. The Brew Coop is perfect to visit with some friends to split a few dishes and enjoy some brews, maybe watch a sports game. The noise level certainly spikes when it gets busy, but what sports bar doesn’t?

The location in the Mission District is next to many other San Francisco popular shop names like Boba Guys and Stonemill Matcha. Watching the transformation of the Mission District as former SF resident in the 90s is intriguing and also quite exciting.

I’ll be back.

Event Name: SF Beer Week: Wings x Faction Brewing

Bar Name: The Brew Coop

Neighborhood: Mission District

Address: 819 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Website: http://www.thebrewcoop.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thebrewcoop/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thebrewcoop/

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Articles Restaurant News

SF Restaurant Week 2019 starts January 23rd – 100+ restaurants participating

SF Restaurant Week starts Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 until January 31st in San Francisco and is presented by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. Participating restaurants will offer special prix-fixe menus during this time.

Lunch (2 courses) will cost $15 or $25. Dinner (3 or more courses) will cost $40 or $65.

It’s a great time to get out there and try a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try and get a feel for the restaurant at an affordable price. Over 100+ restaurants will be participating in SF Restaurant Week in 2019.

Some restaurant participating include Barbara Pinseria & Cocktail Bar, flour + water, Nami Gaji, PABU Izakaya, Sushi Ran, and more.

Diners who visit at least 4 restaurant can submit entries with proof to the official Facebook event page for a chance to win up to $1,200 in dining gift certificates to different restaurants.

SF Restaurant Week hashtag is #SFRW

The official hashtag for SF Restaurant Week is #SFRW – Follow SF Restaurant Week on Instagram @eatdrinksf and on Twitter @eatdrinksf

You can check out all the restaurants on the list and even a map at www.sfrestaurantweek.com/restaurants/

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Articles Bars Travel

Daffodil Bar at The Orchard Hotel San Francisco

I have a deep love for hotel bars. Usually there is a relaxing environment to them that still speaks elegance and many times quality bartenders find themselves there enjoying a bit of a relief from busy nightclubs and dive bars. Daffodil restaurant bar inside The Orchard Hotel San Francisco and located just minutes from Union Square fits the bill.

The bar has a focus on sustainability and local and is still in the middle of blossoming and expanding its menu. One of their local products they serve is Lake Tahoe Vodka which is distilled in Mountain View, California and made with Lake Tahoe water. The bar aims to use farm-fresh ingredients whenever available as well in its cocktails.

The Orchard Hotel is inspired by “Orchard Road” in Singapore, one of Asia’s most famous shopping streets and a luxurious place to shop, dine, and explore. Owner, Mr. S.C. Huang and family, hope to recreate that feeling in their boutique hotel.

Many Americans were first introduced to Singapore last year when “Crazy Rich Asians” became a world-wide success and one of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen.

On the cocktail list you’ll find the Singapore Sling, La Mission Mary, Swiss Sidecar, Vesper Martini, and more with daily specials also available. The Singapore Sling was created in Singapore in 1915 at Long Bar inside Raffles Hotel and is a tasty gin concoction. If you’ve never had one I recommend giving one a try.

Beer fans can indulge in 21st Amendment Brewery from San Francisco, Ballast Point from San Diego, and it wouldn’t be a San Francisco bar without Anchor Steam. Wine enthusiasts can find a variety of California wines from Parducci Wine Cellars, Wilson Creek Winery, and Sterling Vineyards…to name a few.

Prices are fair for a tourist area in San Francisco and will range between $6 for a beer and $14 for a cocktail depending on your choices. Daffodil offers happy hour daily from 4:30PM-6:30PM and offers 1/2 price beer, house wine, and well-drinks.

Name: Daffodil

Venue: The Orchard Hotel

Neighborhood: Union Square

Address: 665 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

Phone: (415) 362-8878

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 4:30PM-11PM, Closed Sundays

Website: http://www.theorchardhotel.com/daffodil-restaurant

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Articles Food Events

10 brands I recommend from Winter Fancy Food Show 2019 in SF

I attended the Winter Fancy Food Show this year in San Francisco. This food-industry trade show features 80,000+ specialty food and beverages as well as thousands of new products, industry networking events, and 1,400+ exhibitors from around the planet.

I was able to try hundreds of new products coming to the food industry. These are the 10 brands that left the biggest impression on me and that I’m recommending to my readers.

  1. Ithaca Cold-Crafted Hummus: A premium hummus brand that is achieved by using cold processing techniques that preserve nutrients that are normally lost when heating ingredients to make hummus. There are no GMOs, no preservatives, no citric acids, no artificial ingredients, no canola, and no soy. What’s really incredible is how fresh this hummus tastes with each bite. My favorite flavors were the garlic hummus and lemon dill.
  2. Proud Label: This is a new brand that makes spreads made with different vegetables. It was in the Incubator Village at the Fancy Food Show. Each one I tried was truly delicious with my favorite being the Product Label Red that is made with beets and pepper. It tasted like it would go great on a breakfast item (maybe even some Huevos Rancheros). The Proud Label Orange was also delicious and uses carrots, cauliflower, and spices to create a great spread. I hope to see these in stores soon.
  3. Blue Evolution: An incubator that grows seaweed in Baja California and Alaska and is finding new ways to introduce them the public. Right now they sell penne and rotini pasta to the public, but soon they will release seaweed popcorn which was an awesome experience to try and is something I’ve never thought of doing before. I want more soon.
  4. Ocean’s Halo: Speaking of seaweed. It seemed to be an emerging trend at the Fancy Food Show. Ocean’s Halo had a variety of products on display but their kelp-based ramen broth blew me away as well as their soy less sauces made with seaweed. There are so many things I want to try now from this brand after this experience.
  5. Villa Piva Jucies: Southern Brazil is creating 100% natural juices that have no preservatives, no added water, no added sugar, and juices that are gluten-free and lactose-free. They are quite tasty and my favorite was the apple juice made with hibiscus, cinnamon, and ginger. Their tangerine juice was also quite tasty and is made with lemongrass. I’d recommend giving them a look.
  6. Exotic Food Thailand: This brand from Thailand is beginning to sell Thai chili sauces made with Stevia which is a nice alternative to the sugary Thai products currently on the market and can be helpful for diabetics who still want to have some sweeter flavor in their food. Upon sampling these sauces, even I would make the switch if the product becomes available to me.
  7. Shimadaya: This Japanese brand makes Shin Uchi Frozen Ramen which was probably one of the booths I ran past the quickest, but actually had a lasting impression because it tasted quite good and requires very little preparation. Just 20-40 seconds boiling depending on whether you want standard or thick noodles. This product is not out just yet on the market, but is coming soon.
  8. Roam Free Bison Bites: Food with a mission describes Roam Free Bison Bites. The owner, Brittany Masters, hopes to make grass-fed bison a staple of the American diet again. She owns a sustainable start-up ranch in Western Montana that smokes premium bison meat in small batches and flavors with organic spices. The bison jerky snacks are high protein (24 grams per snack) and sugar-free. Farmers need Americans to eat bison again to help make their farms grow and become more sustainable. Personally, I found the snacks to be quick yummy and healthier than beef jerky.
  9. The Swiss Rosti: This is a product from Portland, Oregon that can be used as snack, side dish, or hor d’oeuvre and is made with vegetables blended with potatoes or sweet potatoes. The one I tried was the Curry Lentil flavor whcih is made with shredded parsnip, carrot and potato filled with Curried Acorn Squash and Cauliflower. It was gluten-free, vegan, and incredibly delicious! I would buy these.
  10. Aedan Foods: This is a local SF food business that makes fermented rice with something called koji which can be used as a food starter for different dishes. They offer different fermented items for cooking including miso, shio koji, amazake, and sagohachi. Their products use non-GMO and organic ingredients. I tried the shio koji and it was delicious. Fermentation is so important in Asian food cuisines and there is plenty of ways this can be used in cooking. I’ve never seen something like it in the Southeast. There’s a bit of a learning curve to their products, but they have recipes and plenty of information on their website.

Until next time!

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Articles Reviews

Eating Cubans in San Francisco: Isla Vida

I was born and lived in San Francisco until I was 8 years old. During my childhood Caribbean restaurants were far and between. Caribbean culture in general was mostly hidden from public view.

Most food media was limited back then as well since it was the 1990s and media did not have the multicultural voices of today. My exposure to Caribbean cuisine growing up was mostly from home cooking until we moved to Florida where it thrives.

Now that I am back in San Francisco I see a number of restaurants taking root in the direction of this food and I welcome it.

Today I decided to check out Isla Vida (Island Life) after finishing an article about The International Cuban Sandwich Festival and making myself crave a Cuban nearly 3,000 miles from home. Isla Vida has a Miami-like vibe to its interior with floral features (without the house music) although there is still room for growth in the interior. It has only been around for a few months.

The menu is fairly simple with Cuban and Jamaican influences and Isla Vida proudly refers to itself as Afro-Caribbean. The signature items are the smoked chicken and sandwiches as well as the Guava BBQ Ribs.

The restaurant is fast-casual but feels similar to a sit-down restaurant. If it was in South Florida, there would be a DJ inside spinning music, but the playlist was pretty enjoyable regardless.

Chef and Co-Owner, Jay Foster, and Co-Owner, Matthew Washington, are one of the only black business owners in the Fillmore which is a historically black neighborhood once called “Harlem of the West”, according to KQED.

There are many recent cases of chefs and restaurateurs moving into specific neighborhoods throughout the country and world with a mission to enrich them with history and culture in the last few years, a renaissance of a past when immigrants and minority groups formed powerful neighborhoods filled with music, art, and food. Food is a powerful way to create change. That is the San Francisco I remember as a kid.

I went for the Cuban Sandwich or Cubano ($13) as they call it. The Cuban Sandwich is originally from Tampa so I wanted to compare and contrast how people in San Francisco are enjoying their Cubans compared to my home city.

The Cuban Sandwich at Isla Vida comes with oven-roasted and wood-fired pork, ham, manchego, mustard, and a pickle on bread and comes with a helping of mixed greens, dressing, and shoestring fries.

The first thing I noticed is that the sandwich does not have salami. Salami is included in a traditional Cuban in Tampa due to influences from Italian immigrants that goes back to the 1800s and a is a foundation of the sandwich. Although I did find myself missing my salami, I was quite happy with the additions added by the chef.

The second thing I noticed is the swap of dijon mustard which is something that might have people from Tampa fuming, but for me the dijon mustard worked really with the smoked pork stacked on top of the sandwich. The swap of Swiss cheese for Manchego wasn’t noticeable in my opinion due to the bold flavors throughout the sandwich.

I admit that I am much more open-minded than some of my fellow diners in the East Coast who expect their roots to be maintained exactly that way, but to me food is always evolving and chefs should be respected for taking risks and rewarded when it works well.

Isla Vida Cubano or Cuban Sandwich with smoked pork.

One of the biggest differences is the addition smoked pork. Isla Vida is not the first place to use smoked pork in the country, however restaurants in Tampa move towards pulled pork as a topping on their Cuban. The smoked pork really worked on Isla Vida’s Cuban and it has a very unique and flavorful finish that is perfect when you hit the aftertaste of ham, mustard, and crunchy bread as you take each bite.

The only thing I would add is more ham to the sandwich to better balance the smoked pork, it is great but personally I would add more ham to taste it more.

The smoked pork almost made me want Guava BBQ sauce on my sandwich, but I feel I would have completely betrayed my sandwich and roots if I fully entertained that so I ruled against it.

Fries at Isla Vida

The portion size was generous. I could have easily have split the sandwich with someone and ordered some more sides, but I hardly can ever finish a Cuban in general. Your mileage may vary. The salad and fries were plentiful.

I would like to try the tostones and maduros in someday to see how they line up to my experiences. Isla Vida is also offering brunch and I am interested in giving that a shot in the future as well.

Hopefully they also add some cocktails in the future as that would be a major add. I also found myself craving a Cafe con Leche with my sandwich and I think it would be a powerful addition to the menu if done right.

I will return to Isla Vida in the future for more food and am happy to recommend it as a former judge to the International Cuban Sandwich Festival.

Isla Vida San Francisco

Restaurant Name: Isla Vida

Cuisine: Caribbean, Cuban, Jamaican

Neighborhood: Fillmore

Address: 1325 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

Phone Number: (415) 678-5171

Website: http://www.islavidasf.com

Cost: $$

Menu: http://www.islavidasf.com/#menu

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/islavida.415/

Instagram: @islavidasf

Twitter: @islavidasf

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Articles Travel

10 food destinations to visit for a 24-hour trip to San Francisco

San Francisco is packed with thousands of restaurants and cafes to visit. It’s hard to filter through all of it and really it is all about knowing where to go without getting caught up by the hype. Here are my recommendations on food destinations to visit for a 24-hour trip to San Francisco.

No. 1 – Taqueria El Farolito – The King of the Super Burrito and Mexican food in San Francisco. Don’t let anybody convince you that the other spots are superior (they aren’t). El Farolito has been in this game for decades and still serves up the best burrito in San Francisco at decent prices. The best one is located on Mission and 24th Street. 2779 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. (415) 824-7877. Multiple locations. http://www.elfarolitosf.com

No. 2 – Balompié Cafe #3 – Salvodoran food can be found around SF just as much as Mexican cuisine. Balompié serves an authentic sit-down experience of the cuisine and is a hotspot for hungry customers. The signature dish is the pupusa and if you have never had one, I highly recommend trying one during your visit. You can get different stuffings inside this corn meal dish, but my favorites are beans, cheese, and mixed. 3801 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. (415) 647-4000


No. 3 – Ton Kiang – Good dim sum is hard to come by where I come from in the South (not true in SF), but Ton Kiang serves an excellent and wide-selection of dim sum that will keep it coming and the prices are reasonable. Their tea is excellent and the experience is one I need to have on every visit to San Francisco. 5821 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121. (415) 752-4440 http://www.tonkiang.us

No. 4 – Boba Guys – The best bubble tea in San Francisco hands down and maybe even the United States of America. Boba Guys has a commitment to quality and excellence that is a rare find in the fast upstart tea business. Their Matcha Strawberry bubble tea is a must as are their frescas. Multiple locations. www.bobaguys.com

No. 5 – Señor Sisig – What started off as a random food truck bite to eat in SF during one Christmas has become an annual mission for me to find Señor Sisig wherever they may be roaming around the San Francisco Bay Area. Their Sisig Burrito is like no other. I LOVE it. It may not be traditional, but it packs flavor and understands the complexities between Mexican and Filipino cuisine and that is truly satisfying to my palette. Check website for daily locations. http://www.senorsisig.com

No. 6. – Kitchen Story – This fusion restaurant is the perfect blend of Korean cuisine with brunch and American food. The mimosas do pack a punch and is totally worth buying the unlimited price. Try the Pork Belly Rancheros if you have a chance and you will not regret a thing about life. 3499 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. (415) 525-4905. http://www.kitchenstorysf.com

No. 7 – I’a Poke – I wandered into here one day when a sushi restaurant I was heading towards nearby was closed for lunch and I had the best sushi burrito of my life. No lie, I’a Poke uses quality ingredients and has great customer service. They have since expanded more in the city and with every bite having a heavenly taste to it, I’m not surprised. Multiple locations. http://www.iapoke.com

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No. 8 – Alioto’s – Most visitors will no doubt wander into San Francisco planning to get a bowl of clam chowder from Fisherman’s Wharf. An investigation a few years ago found that most restaurants in SF are actually using Campbell’s Clam Chowder soup which is disappointing to say the least. Alioto’s is one of the ones who serves quality clam chowder and you can buy it in a bread bowl downstairs if you want to have a quick bowl and go explore the waterfront harbor. 8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133. (415) 673-0183. http://www.aliotos.com

No. 9 – Mitchell’s Ice Cream – An ice cream staple for over 65 years in San Francisco. Mitchell’s Ice Cream has survived generations of transformation for the Bay Area and one taste of their ice cream makes it easy to see why. My favorite is their Ube ice cream which is inspired from the Philippines, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on their menu. It’s so good that you’ll even find people there on rainy days in SF waiting in line for a scoop. 688 San Jose Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110. (415) 648-2300. http://www.mitchellsicecream.com

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難得的二人世界💑🍵

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No. 10 – Stonemill Matcha – If you love matcha tea and a zen environment, then you will love Stonemill Matcha. One of the newer businesses to open on Valencia Street, they have more matcha dishes and drinks on their menu then you will know what to do with. Their popularity is through the roof so expect a bit of a wait to sit. 561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. (415) 796-3876 http://www.stonemillmatcha.com