This morning Kyoko and I decided to visit TWO restaurants off the 7×7 list, Gracias Madre for butternut squash tacos and Sunflower for the vermicelli. Two birds one stone!
Butternut squash tacos- very great vegan dish, the butternut squash was perfectly sweet paired with a sauce that was nicely salty, all sat comfortably in a thick corn tortilla. Spoon some of the beans on top and you have yourself one fantastic healthy taco. This restaurant is perfect for big and small groups because there are plenty of big tables along with bar seating. It’s also great for indoor or outdoor dining because of the heated porch. I would visit again the next time I’m in the mood for Mexican with a healthy twist.
Vermicelli – let me preface with the fact that I am an incredibly-credible-Vietnamese-food-critic. My resume goes something like this: I am Vietnamese so I grew up on this stuff, my veins are filled with both blood and fish sauce. Moreover, I just returned from a month-long hiatus throughout Southeast Asia, including two weeks in Vietnam where I ate everything I could get my hands on. Back to the task at hand, the vermicelli at Sunflower was definitely not the best I’ve ever had (I mean, nobody can beat mom’s and grandma’s home made vermicelli and fish sauce dynamite), but definitely worthy of a B+. I would have preferred some bean sprouts and herbs in addition to the lettuce and carrots that were already waiting at the bottom of the bowl. Also, I would have liked more chicken, but nothing a simple request (and of course an extra charge) can’t fix. The restaurant is on the “run-down” side, exactly what you would expect from an older Vietnamese restaurant in hipster-town, or the Mission if you want political correctness. I wouldn’t want to have my vermicelli in any other environment, porcelain plates and authentic Vietnamese cuisine don’t exactly mix in my humble opinion.
Vietnamese coffee – damn it, I forgot to drink some of Kyoko’s while she was in the bathroom, guess she will tell you all about it. Thanks Koko for spending the day exploring San Francisco with me! I really can not get enough of this city and can’t wait until my next post. Stay tuned! xx, Angie
As Angie and I hopped off the bus, landing feet first in the Mission, our stomachs aching with hunger and excitement, we began to walk quickly towards our destination. Naturally, it took us a solid 5 minutes to realize we were actually headed in the opposite direction but it turned out to be a good thing because we passed Gracias Madre and decided that we might as well sneak in some tacos while we were there. So gracias to our poor navigation skills, that actually led us to two destinations instead of one!
Gracias Madre is one of those rare all-vegan restaurants where the food is so hearty and delicious that you seem to forget it’s actually really healthy for you too. Those are the best kind of restaurants, right? I’ve been there a couple times prior to today and it has never let me down. The air is welcoming, the music festive (at times there is even a live mariachi band playing), and the tables arranged family-style. We ordered two butternut squash tacos and one platanos taco. I’m a huge fan of butternut squash and it was roasted to perfection, topped with herbs and cashew cheese, atop a homemade corn tortilla. I spiced it up (but not too much – I’m rather weak) with a little verde sauce that made it absolutely perfect! The platanos taco was more of a dessert but it was the perfect bite to end our little meal. I also ordered the horchata which was not too sweet and absolutely refreshing. It definitely prepped me for our next pit stop.
Having traveled to Vietnam on a soul-o adventure and eating my way through the entire country (no shame), I naturally have high expectations. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of vermicelli and am more of a pho-kinda-chick but I thought it tasted pretty standard to my previous experiences with vermicelli. I enjoyed the chicken, crisp on the outside and tender and juicy in the inside. They smothered that baby up with spices and it gave the dish a savory kick in the butt, I mean bowl. It wasn’t a life-changing dish but it was certainly yum. Also, like the standard coffee addict that I am, I ordered an iced Vietnamese coffee, which was coffee-sighing-good. I don’t know if it was good because I needed a caffeine boost desperately, or because I just love slow-drip coffee, but I was grateful that they didn’t drown it in a muddle of condensed milk. The waiter was surprisingly cheerful and enthusiastic and said something like, “Oh you LOVE coffee?” which I appreciated because I felt like he got me. And I liked that.
All in all, it was a fun and successful 1st day of our challenge in the Mish (like the hep-cats call it) and was the perfect ending to another lovely weekend in the Bay. Like they say, eat big, or go home. xx, Kyoko