Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Holiday Inn Express - El Paso

There isn't much in the way of hotels in El Paso. Not downtown at least. I do have to say if staying in a hotel the Holiday Inn Express isn't a bad way to spend a night or two.
There's free breakfast, not just continental, but warm foods too
Free shuttle to and from the airport
, and within a couple mile radius if you don't rent a car and need to get someplace.
The rates are decent, there are some restaurant options nearby, and the front desk staff is very nice
Also, one or two nights a week the manager has a happy hour special
. Free Mexican food snacking, which can double as dinner!
The rooms are spacious, pretty standard furnishings
. It must cater more to business travelers than actual tourists.The beds are comfortable, but beware if you are sensitive to scented laundry detergent. I came back to my room the second day and it reeked of something flowery. I gave it some time thinking it would go away, but when I sat on the bed I realized it was the sheets and blankets. Called housekeeping, they said it was the detergent they used. Strange, since it hadn't smelled the night before, had they not changed the sheets then? But the manager came up and verified it was the detergent. Housekeeping came up, changed the linens again and this time it didn't smell. Apparently they keep a batch of unscented detergent linens somewhere.
They had a raindrop shower head which I loved, pretty high end for this type of hotel
. But the bath towels were thin and not so soft. That's to be expected though in a non-4 star.

If you are brave enough to wander over to Juarez, it's a very close drive to the border and is actually even walkable from the hotel

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dynamo Coffee and Donuts - San Francisco

With a name like Dynamo, I expected donuts with a punch or a kick. This is a little storefront in the Mission, just grab and go. No seating, no milling about.
We went with bacon donuts in mind, but they were out. So I ended up with a Huckleberry Meyer Lemon, because it had a bright pink glaze and a Chocolate Rose, because it had a rosewater glaze and I'm a sucker for anything with rosewater in it.
$3 each.

By the time I'd gotten home with my bag of donuts, the pink glaze was mostly melted to the top of the bag. But the donut was soft, so very melt in my mouth soft. THIS is what a donut that is made fresh daily tastes like. There were tiny huckleberries in the donut, but to be honest, I didn't taste much of anything. It mostly just tasted like a sugar donut. But the soft meltiness of it made me just gobble it up.

The chocolate rose on the other hand, I took that one bite you see there. The rest of that one went in the trash. The guy at the counter said it was a very sweet donut, but it wasn't. It was bitter. I'm guessing that means bittersweet chocolate was used to make it, but whatever sweetness the rosewater was supposed to impart on it, didn't take.

Next time, I need to remember to get there earlier in the day, while they still have bacon donuts.

2760 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110-4263
(415) 920-1978

Friday, March 5, 2010

Papalote - Crushing Bobby Flay's Gringo Burrito

I don't usually take food advice from Bobby Flay, but after watching Throwdown on Monday night I had to go to Papalote. The burrito they made on the show made my mouth water. Bobby's made me laugh, it was not a burrito, and certainly not by Mission standards.

So a friend and I trekked out to Valencia and 24th and were met with long lines and a very busy dining area
. Ah yes, seems that the exposure did them well. It's a small place, with three or four employees working the kitchen. The meat is being grilled constantly, so your burrito meat is freshly cooked. I got a carne asada super burrito. Nice upsell by the cashier on that one. Burrito $9, bottle of Crystal Geyser still water? $2.25!! As my friend said "that's movie theater prices"! Yeah, next time, must remember to get water at a bodega down the street for 50 cents. I really did want the Triple Threat they made on the show (steak, chicken and shrimp), but it's $20! I won't be getting that anytime soon.

Although, the shrimp that were on the grill looked damn tasty, I might have to get that next time

We ordered and then took our numbers to the dining area where we were seated. Almost immediately two bowls of chips and salsa were at out table. Nom, nom, nom, this salsa was spicey! Like super spicey, and yet I couldn't stop eating it. The salsa was what they used on the show on the burrito, but our burritos did not have it in them.
I wish they had

So then the burrito made it's appearance
. Not kidding, it was as big as my forearm! I wish I'd had my camera so I could prove that to you.
It was good, really good
. Not overwhelming on the guac and sourcream, so I could still taste everything else in it. And I ate half very quickly. My friend had the chili verde one, she loved it, so much that she ate the whole thing! Interestingly, she didn't think there was rice in hers, since it didn't fill her up like burritos with rice usually do. So they were light on the rice, meaning? More room for meat! I bagged the rest and called it dinner.

Despite being such a busy place, they weren't constantly hovering offering to take our plates and push us out the door, so that was nice
. I think it's a bit overpriced for the area, given that there are a million taquerias in the area. So this won't go down as one of my cheap eats places. Is it the bestest burrito I've ever had? No, it's not. But it is a damn good burrito.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Somerset - Rockridge

This was my second visit to Somerset. My first was for dinner last year, we sat outside in the garden, it was busy, and the food was delicious. Today I was craving carbonara, and so took my mom out to lunch. There were only 3 other tables seated and perhaps that should have been my warning. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Mom ordered the warm spinach salad, it promised mushrooms, egg, apples, a bacon-cider vinagrette and onion rings. At $10.50, for a place that touts itself as home-cooking I expected a decent sized salad. Because home-cooking doesn't mean small portions. But this salad was small. And lacked any flavor. I got my carbonara. Now, at $16.50, I expect a good-sized bowl of pasta. Pasta is cheap, and really frozen peas and bacon don't add a huge cost. I finished my entree in 7 bites. And I don't take enormous bites. So $30 later, our meals were done in less time than it took to make them. Maybe it's a lunch thing? Maybe it's just gone downhill, but I won't be back.