Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner

In the little town of Alameda, few restaurants offer Thanksgiving Dinner. Most of the eating establishments prefer to be closed for the holiday to spend time with their own families. In addition, in this weak economy, families may opt to eat at home instead of going out. Of course the large hotels in San Francisco like the St. Regis, Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton create a prix fix menu with with the works for a hefty price.

A few of the places in Alameda that are offering food for the holiday is Pappo and Pier 29. One has a fifty/fifty chance of eating out. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chipotle Mexican Grill

I went to the Mall on a Sunday afternoon and wanted lunch. I was at the eastern side of the Mall where Borders is located. I dabbled between Daphne's, Panera and Chipotle. I quickly eliminated Panera because it was too crowded and the line was out the front door. The decision then became a taco or a gyro. I chose the tacos. For $7.00 I received three crunchy shelled tacos. I ordered one chicken, one shredded beef called barbacoa, and one carne asade (grilled beef) taco. In the tacos, you have a choice of rice and beans or plain meat. I opted for one taco to have the rice, beans and meat and the other two tacos with only the meat.

I watched the staff assemble the tacos that I ordered. The first person inserted the meat in the taco shells. The second person added the salsa, cheese, sour cream and lettuce. By the time I received my food, the plate was a hot mess...and not in a good way. There was sour cream over the side of the plate, sprinkled cheese all over the plate and not necessarily inside the taco. The food was poorly prepared. Presentation wise, it was a sad looking meal.

I ate my meal at the restaurant. The first taco was the barbacoa. The meat was tender and tasty. The salsa was medium spicy and it had a kick, but it did not overwhelm the mouth. The second taco I consumed was the carne asada. The grilled beef was cut into little cubes. Unfortunately, the carne asada was overcooked. The beef ended up as hard, chewy, little meat cubes. The meat was dry and it made the taco less desirable. The last taco I ate was the chicken. The chicken was a little tough to eat. The chicken taco had the rice and beans inside; the two ingredients did not add a lot of value. All three tacos were messy to eat and salsa dripped out the sides. The saving grace of the tacos was the sour cream. The sour cream cooled the heat from the salsa and added moisture to the overcooked meat.

Chipotle seems to specialize in cooked meats and not fish. I did not see any fish tacos or fish plates on the menu board. The barbacoa was the best of the bunch, since it sits in its own sauce. The chicken and carne asada are kept hot in a heated tray which dries out the meat. My recommendation is to eat barbacoa.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Vegetarians out there always complain that I don't comment about any vegetarian restaurants in Alameda. Well, one important factor is that there is only one vegetarian restaurant in Alameda, Central Vegetarian Cuisine on Park Street. Of course a majority of all restaurants in town have vegetarian dishes, but Central Vegetarian Cuisine is strictly vegetarian.

Recently, I walked along Park Street one Friday evening. I passed by Central Vegetarian Cuisine, and noticed the place was closed. The night was early and definitely during normal business hours for a food establishment. There was no sign on the door. I wonder if this is an indication of the economy or that Alamedans are not into vegetarian cuisine. I have not walked back to the restaurant since then to see if the owner is still in operation.

Other food that is popular in the vegetarian realm is Indian food. Most Indians are vegetarians, but Indian restaurants in the US serve meat. India Palace serves great vegetarian dishes that are not side plates. I definitely enjoy the cauliflower entree in curry sauce with peas and potatoes. The rice at India Palace is really tasty with the slight hint of saffron. Yummy!

Chinese restaurants also serve vegetarian dishes, but it is mostly stir fry. I find stir fry to be one-dimensional at times; I guess it depends upon what type of sauce is served with it. What I do love in Chinese vegetarian dishes is the tofu. Love tofu! Hong Kong East Ocean on Webster Street prepares a great deep fried tofu dish with stuffed shrimp. Unfortunately the stuffed tofu is really a side dish and not an entree. I will not even go there with the imitation (soy product) of pork, chicken and beef served in some Chinese restaurants. I ate a few of those meals in a vegan, Buddhist Chinese restaurant in San Francisco and found the few experiences to be odd. It tastes like meat, has a slightly different texture than meat, but it suppose to be meat. I don't get it since it is a vegan restaurant?

The other option is pasta at Italian restaurants. Cera Una Volta has a few decent pasta dishes sans meat. The eggplant parmesan is entree worthy.

Alamedans may have find it difficult to support a truly vegan restaurant (no egg or milk product, or no seafood) on the island. I don't think there are enough vegans or vegetarians on the island to be able to financially support a restaurant.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stuck on Philly Cheesesteaks

For some reason, I am stuck on Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches. I don't know why since the sandwich is unhealthy for me. Perhaps, I enjoy bouts of gluttony, but in all honesty, I am driven to find a great Philly Cheesesteak.

I ate at Burgermeister on Sunday and of course ordered a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. I was curious about their version of the sandwich because I tasted all of the other places around the island and I am still not content with what is available. Call me a masochist.

The first bite of the Philly Cheesesteak was pretty good. My first impression was that the sandwich was better than the sandwich I had at Yo! Philly Cheesesteak. The cheesesteak from Burgermeister had better flavors of beef, onions, grilled peppers and melted cheese. The sandwich was amply filled with meat and vegetables in a regular roll. In terms of price, Burgermeister is more expensive, however, the atmosphere is much more pleasant and you can sit down and enjoy your food.

Recommendations for a satisfying Philly Cheesesteak in Alameda...not the Cheesesteak Shop in Nob Hill, and definitely not McGee's Bar & Grill. I suppose it is a toss-up between Yo! Philly Cheesesteak and Burgermeister.