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Delicious and Healthy Breakfast: Walnut Avenue Cafe, Santa Cruz

17 Jul

Kicking off our road trip from San Jose down to San Diego, California, hubby and I were in search of a hearty but healthy start to our day. We found it at the Walnut Avenue Cafe in Santa Cruz.

My veggie scramble was fantastic. I hate it when scrambled eggs are too buttery, this was not it. And it came with a fruit cup and rye toast. The scramble may look simple, but it was so perfectly prepared.

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Hubby ordered a build-your-own omelette, stuffed with chorizo, onions, bell peppers, and avocado. 

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Check out all that avocado inside!! And, the side of potatoes were some of the best breakfast potatoes I’ve tried. Again, simple, but perfectly prepared.

We shared a plain, fluffy waffle too. Yum! What a perfect breakfast. I only wish I had ordered a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. The large glasses looked amazing at the other tables.

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The Final Word: A solid breakfast/brunch here, with simple ingredients done well. I would definitely come back!

Info: Walnut Avenue Cafe, 106 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 USA

Walnut Avenue Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Great Road-Side Eats: Kawamata Seafood, California

12 Jun

Our drive down the Pacific Coast Highway included a stop in Dana Point to enjoy the view over the marina. As the time ticked past lunchtime, our stomachs began to grumble, and we wanted to find a nice spot to enjoy some seafood. Of course, there are several overpriced options near the marina. But we were looking for good value, not just a view.

Dana Point

 

If you’re willing to drive a few miles away, you’ll find Kawamata Seafood near Capistrano Beach. Come here for fresh poke bowls – salmon, tuna and octopus sashimi over a bed of seasoned sushi rice, topped with goodies like wakame salad, avocado, raw scallops, ginger, and tobiko. 

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This is a pretty bare-bones place – just a few stools indoors, and a couple of tables outside. But it’s the perfect place for a filling lunch.

Above: My regular box with salmon, tuna, and wakame over brown rice.

Above: Hubby’s large box, with salmon, tuna, scallops, and wakame over white rice. We both chose the “original blend” rice, seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and lemon juice.

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Regular box stacked on top of the large box.

All together, our two poke boxes came to a little over $20. Not bad for poke! (Keep in mind that Kawamata is cash only, so be prepared).

Info: Kawamata Seafood, 26881 Camino De Estrella, Dana Point, CA 92624

Kawamata Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brenda’s French Soul Food

18 Jan

Line outside Brenda's French Soul Food, Tenderloin

Sunday in the city means brunch! One of San Francisco’s best brunch spots is Brenda’s French Soul Food. Though its location may be questionable (in the Tenderloin district), its brunch is not – check out the cluster of hungry, waiting patrons.

 

Just inside Brenda’s main doors is a huge blackboard, handy for seeing how many diners are ahead of you in line. Our wait for a party of 2 was 45 minutes. The restaurant is divided into two long sections with high ceilings, each with its own entrance. Once seated, AW and I each ordered the morning’s drink special –  passionfruit mimosas! Delicious.

The top portion of Brenda’s brunch menu is devoted to beignets, so AW and I ordered the beignet flight – a sampler the includes one each of Brenda’s four beignets (plain, chocolate, Granny Smith apple, and crawfish). Warning: these beignets are full size donuts, not dainty little donut holes.

Beignet sampler

The beignets themselves were not as light an fluffy as I had expected. They were denser, much like Chinese donuts often served with rice congee, so they were really quite filling. The plain beignet wasn’t particularly memorable, but the savory crawfish version was creamy and unique. Because we wanted to save room for our entrees, we didn’t try the chocolate and apple beignets, and got them packed up to go.

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AW had the shrimp and cheddar grits:

Shrimp and Grits

I had the catfish Benedict on cream  biscuits with creole hollandaise, with a huge portion of potato hash. Mmmm…DSC01220

The crowds are not mistaken – Brenda’s delivers a solid, Southern comfort food for brunch.

Info: Brenda’s French Soul Food, 652 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA

Brenda's French Soul Food on Urbanspoon

State-by-State Guide to Good Food

3 Jan

The media seems to have an obsession with lists – top 10 ways to get flatter abs, 15 things you didn’t know you had to fix, and 20 ways to make better lists…. the list goes on (ha ha). So what better way to kick off the new year than with a list of yummy restaurants, state by state? Ok, I haven’t yet dined in all 50 states (even if you count forgettable roadside stops), so this list is incomplete. But I did want to share some list-worthy establishments I think you should try, and I’ve included dishes I’ve enjoyed at each place. I’ve included links to my reviews of some restaurants, and I’ll update this page for reviews I’ll add in the near future. Bon appetit, and happy travels!

State, Restaurant, City Cuisine What to Order
California Brenda’s French Soul Food, San Francisco French Soul Food, obviously Eggs Benedict, crawfish beignets
Connecticut Rein’s Deli, Vernon New York style Jewish deli Turkey, roast beef, mac ‘n cheese. Order a half pound of meat to take home with you!
Florida Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa Steak, desserts, and the largest private wine collection Steak, obviously! (Exquisitely cooked to perfection every time) Grilled shrimp appetizer. Upstairs in the Dessert Room, Bern’s signature cappuccino, macadamia nut ice cream. Full review to come.
Iowa Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant, several locations Midwestern comfort food Huge cinnamon rolls (featured on the Food Network), the Cattleman’s Choice, baked sweet potato. Hearty food if you’re road-tripping through the MidWest! There’s a cute country store, and you can take photos next to farm vehicles outside.
Illinois Mercadito, Chicago Mexican Amazing margaritas, shrimp tacos
Massachusetts Atlantic Fish, Boston Seafood Calamari (ask for half-and-half grilled and fried), crab-crusted haddock, pan-seared sea bass
Maine Fore Street, Portland American, local foods Menu changes often. Order the tomato tart if it’s available!
Nevada Wicked Spoon, Las Vegas Buffet Kale and watermelon salads, poached pear…like any buffet, things can be hit and miss, but Wicked Spoon offers an awesome selection, beautifully presented. If you want to experience Vegas’ over-the-top buffets, this is the place to go.
New Hampshire Gypsy Cafe, Lincoln International Niçoise salad, enchiladas, sangria.
New York Porteño, New York City Argentinian Grilled octopus, empanadas, quinoa salad
North Carolina Curate, Asheville Spanish Tapas Butternut squash soup, grilled octopus, canelones de carne. Sit at the bar for a great view of the open kitchen.
Ohio Skillet, Columbus Breakfast/Brunch Menu varies daily.
Oregon Mother’s, Portland Comfort food Breakfast and brunch, French press coffee
Pennsylvania Tommy DiNic’s, Philadelphia Sandwiches Brisket sandwich
Rhode Island Nick’s on Broadway, Providence American Everything! Expect to wait an hour for brunch.
Texas Rudy’s BBQ, several locations Barbecue Meat! Order it by the pound. You’ll be served a whole loaf of bread to accompany it.
Vermont Farmhouse Tap and Grill, Burlington Farm-to-table gastropub Local beers and cheeses, giant onion rings (enough to share), burgers
Wisconsin Safe House, Milwaukee Pub food I didn’t actually dine here, but the experience getting into the restaurant was fun! Think secret doors and passwords…
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