Chefchaouen- The Blue Pearl of Morocco

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Chefchaouen 

 

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Chefchaouen, Medina 

 

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View from Salon Bleu in Tanger

We flew into Tangier, a port city on the Straight of Gibraltar. You only need an afternoon here to walk through the Medina (old city) and petit/grand Socca. Do not fall prey to the men who will offer to lead you to your hostel or hotel, as they expect payment. The next day we took a 3 hour shuttle to Chefchaouen or Chaouen, known for it’s blue-washed buildings situated in the Rif Mountains. It is one of most unique and stunning places I have ever visited. It is rumored that Jewish refugees introduced the blue walls to symbolize the sky and the heavens. Now, people also believe that the walls are painted blue to repel mosquitos. Regardless of the reason, this blue city is not to be missed!

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Local paint in Chefchaouen

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On the outer edge of the Medina in Chefchaouen

Now, on to the food! Moroccan cuisine is characterized by ras-el-hanout, a typical North African spice, which is a blend of around 30 spices including cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and cardamom. You must try tagine, a signature Moroccan dish consisting of meat and vegetables cooked in Moroccan spices and served over couscous. Afterwards, enjoy the traditional Moroccan mint tea, made by boiling water with mint leaves and adding a generous amount of sugar. Tip: ask for the sugar on the side. The dishes are also served with bread and olives. The bread is cooked in a wood-fired oven giving it a crunchy outer layer and doughy inside.

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Snack Assada

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Beldi Bab Ssour

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Fresh Moroccan Bread!

Highlights:

Medina (old town): You can spend a whole day getting lost in the maze-like medina, where we stayed. The dazzling blue walls are lined with vendors selling patterned blankets, jewelry, and pastries.

Outa el Hamma Square: Main square where most restaurants and hotels are located. There is always something going on from religious processions to people dancing on the street.

Spanish Mosque: The Spanish Mosque is located about 20 minutes (by foot) outside of the medina and offers beautiful views of the city.

Cascades d’Akchour: A beautiful waterfall hike about 45 minutes from Chefchaouen.

Where to eat:

All the restaurants have a similar menu, but here are the ones I recommend:

Beldi Bab Ssour (Chefchaouen, Medina): A local spot that gets very crowded. It is around 3-4 euros for a main dish. We sat a communal table and met a local artist who gave us recommendations on what to order. The tagine is excellent.

Restaurant Aladdin (Chefchaouen, Medina): Located in the main square and a bit more expensive. The atmosphere and décor alone are enough to eat here. The rooms are lined with with colorful tapestries and patterned cushions. You feel like you walked into another world. Plus they have two outdoor terraces with panoramic views of Chefchaouen. However, the food was mediocre. I recommend going for mint tea or appetizers to enjoy the ambiance.

Snack Assada (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another cheap local spot that offers outdoor rooftop seating.

Restaurant Al Kasbah (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another delicious restaurant off of the main square. They have colorful tables and chairs on the street that are surrounded by plants. You feel like you are eating in the jungle.

Salon Bleu (Tanger, Medina): A beautiful restaurant that has a rooftop terrace with unbeatable views of the city. I recommend going at dusk and watching the sunset. It was our most expensive meal of the weekend, although still affordable—we paid 15 euros for an appetizer, main course, dessert, and mint tea.

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Homemade local pastries in Chefchaouen

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Al Kasbah

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Salon Bleu

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Drinking fresh juice in Chefchaouen!

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Lisbon & Porto

As soon as I stepped off the Baixa-Chiado metro stop in the heart of the city, I loved Lisboa. I was greeted with sunshine and street performers playing music. Lisbon is the European San Francisco sharing the trolley cars, hills, 25 de Abril bridge (constructed by the same company that built the Bay Bridge), warm weather, and relaxed atmosphere. There is even a lookout point, where locals and tourists go to enjoy a drink with a view, that reminds me of Dolores Park. I felt right at home. I spent my days meandering the stone streets and enjoying lots of pasteis de natas. I highly recommend visiting this beautiful city!

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My favorite lookout point with view of the 25 de Abril bridge

Highlights:

Free walking tour (with donation): My favorite fact I learned on the tour is that J.K Rowling lived in Lisbon! The inspiration for her character Salazar Slytherin came from a past Portuguese dictator who was assassinated near her apartment.

Village Under Ground: This is the hipster area characterized by retro themed double-decker buses underneath the 25 de Abril bridge that have been converted into cafes and co-working spaces.

Book stores: The streets are lined with small book stores, and in fact the oldest book store in the world, Bertrand, resides in Lisbon.

Lookout point: This is the lookout point that reminds me of Dolores Park. It is across from Museu de Farmacia off of rue Marechal Saldanha. Everyone basks in the sunlight and enjoys beers that they bought at a nearby convenience store.

Sintra: I took a perfect day trip to Sintra, located about 1-2 hours by train from Rossio station. It is a picturesque Portuguese town where the Portuguese monarchs lived in the 20th century. It is filled with lush green hills and pastel-colored houses. My three favorite sites are Quinta da Regaleira (large estate/park with the famous initiation well that you enter through a cave), Pena Palace (the colorful palace at the top of the hill), and Castelo dos Mouros (medieval castle). The castles and parks are a bit too far to walk between but you can take an overpriced (5 euro per person) tuk-tuk ride. I recommend taking at least one to Pacio da Pena at the top. From there, you can follow a trail down back to the city.

Barrio Alto: A trendy area filled with cute shops and cafés that is very Marina-esque—there is even a juice shop.

Azulejos tiles: Cannot be missed as they are all over the city.

Pink Street: This is where most of the bars and night life takes place.

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Pena Palace at Sintra

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Me walking up to Pena Palace

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Initiation Well

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Village Under Ground

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What to eat:

Pasteis de nata: Rich custard pastries. The custards grew in popularity because women used the egg whites for bleach and were left with excess yolks. Their solution was to make pastries, and lots of them.

Petiscos tapas: A typical one is Moelas– chicken gizzards with traditional sauce. Yum!

Bacalhau: Cod fish. Cod is a staple component to many Portuguese dishes and is often served with roasted potatoes. The fried cod cakes (Pasteis de Bacalhau) are popular too.

Sardines: Another specialty from the region.

Ginja: Traditional cherry liquor that you sip. To me it tastes like cough syrup but many people enjoy it.

Bicas: espresso!!

Where to eat:

Cervejaria Ramiro (Seafood)  The seafood restaurant recommended by Anthony Bourdain. It is very touristy and the queue is always long. We waited at least an hour. They offer champagne (don’t be fooled though—it’s not Moët) and charcuterie plates in a nice outdoor terrace while you wait.

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Pasteis de Belem (Pasteis de nata) A 40 minute bus ride from the city center but these are supposedly the best in Lisbon. I found the ones from the little shops in town were equally as tasty.

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Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau  (Cod pastry) The popular cod pastry that you should at least try once while you are in Lisbon. It is often served with a glass of port wine.

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TimeOut Market (All types of cuisine) It is over-priced and touristy but cool to check out if you have the time. Not a highlight.

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O Cantinho (Locals, traditional) Pan-fried sardines and roasted potatoes.

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Nicolau Cafe (Healthy) A marina-esque cafe offering soups, salads, smoothies, and toasts. I opted for the soup of the day (slit pea), avo toast, and a coconut latte. I heard their pancakes and french toast are also good.

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Artis (Portuguese tapas) I recommend the roasted octopus and moelas (chicken gizzards).

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Santini (Ice Cream) Best ice cream in Lisbon. I got roasted apple and mascarpone.

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Chapito (Nice, traditional) Restaurant with view. Needs reservations.

Casanova (Pizza) Best pizza in Lisbon

Topo (Rooftop bar)

Park Bar (Rooftop bar)

Porto

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Porto is a small coastal town in the northern part of Portugal, around 3 hours by train from Lisbon. To me it is a mixture between Nice and Florence. The close proximity to the water gives it a laid-back and carefree atmosphere that I experienced in Nice. The cobble stone streets, colorful houses, and cafes along the Douro River create the romantic Italian feel. It is often cheaper to fly out of Porto than Lisbon so I recommend tagging it on before/after your trip.

Highlights:

Walking tour

Port wine tour: It is where port wine originated so there is no shortage of wine tastings.

Dom Luis I Bridge: Beautiful view of the city.

Livraria Lello: The bookstore that inspired J.K Rowling.

What to Eat: 

Broa Bread: Traditional bread made out of corn.

Francesinha: A sandwich consisting of sausage, steak, egg, ham, cheese, fries, and special sauce (each restaurant has their secret recipe).

Seafood

Traditional Vegetable soup

Port Wine

Where to Eat:

Café Majestic: Touristy and over-priced but it is nice to see and enjoy an expresso if you have time.

Bread and Breakfast: A cheap alternative to Cafe Majestic, located around the corner.

Casa Guedes: Pulled pork sandwich.

Café Santiago: Where you can try the famous Francesinha sandwich. I recommend splitting it with a friend.

Buraco: Cheap local food. A main entrée is around 5-6 euros.

Fish Fixe: A nice restaurant on the water but it is a bit more expensive.

Maus Habitos (Bad habits): A rooftop restaurant known for their pizzas and salads served in homemade pizza dough.

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Obrigado Portugal, for a wonderful week filled with delicious food!

La Cuisine Française

My food adventures from the last month:

Casa San Pablo (Marais): Tapas

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Balsamic mushrooms and calamari

Cute tapas restaurant in Le Marais. Order a few tapas to share and enjoy with a pitcher of Sangria on the side of the street. Waiters are friendly and happy to help you practice French 🙂

Season (Marais): Chic healthy café around the corner from Le Carreau du Temple

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Quinoa Salad and Shakshuka

They offer a seasonal menu with fresh and organic ingredients. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I need to go back and try their acai bowl. ALSO GIVEAWAY: if you like my new wood watch (Frankie Dark Sandalwood & Emerald) then enter in a contest for the chance to win a $75 gift card. PLUS everyone who enters automatically receives a $20 gift card.

Wooden Wristwatch

Mariage Frères (Multiple Locations): Famous up-scale tea house

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Classic brunch course (bougie eggs, vegetables, brioche, dessert, and choice of tea)

This is the kind of place I reserve for special occasions. The service and decor is elegant and refined. I celebrated my 23rd birthday here with my friend Dawkins, a dear friend who I’ve known since I was three. They have excellent tea and desserts. My favorite is Pleine Lune (almond black tea with honey) and Imperial Wedding (chocolate black tea with caramel). The tea list is extensive and daunting so ask for recommendations, otherwise you will be lost.

Bob’s Kitchen (Marias) Casual laid-back vegan/vegetarian café

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Green Curry Veggie Bowl

Enjoy delicious home-made food and juices in a relaxed and casual setting. Bob’s Kitchen is hidden off of one streets by the centre Pompidou—you would not notice it, unless seeking it out, like I was. They have a small kitchen and serve dishes until they run out. They are known for their daily vegetable bowls. I got the green curry veggie bowl that comes with brown rice, sweet potatoes, Yukon potatoes, and broccoli. The other two options were lentil curry and peanut curry.

Soul Kitchen (Montmartre) Adorable healthy café with Vegan/Vegetarian options

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Curry lentils with vegetables, greek yogurt, and toasted coconut

Soul Kitchen, nestled by the Montmartre steps, offers a daily-changing menu with homemade dishes made from local organic ingredients. It is owned by two cheery woman who are eager to tell you about the menu. It is creatively decorated with mismatched and colorful plates and furniture. Highly recommend!

Angelina (Rue de Rivoli) Famous tea house known for their chocolat chaud and Mont Blanc dessert

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Famous hot chocolate

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Eggs Benedict with Canadian Bacon

The best chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) in Paris!  It is touristy but the hot chocolate is the creamiest and richest I’ve ever drunk. It is so thick and decadent that I would almost classify it has pudding. I recommend putting on your most Blair Waldorf esque outfit and coming with a couple girlfriends on a chilly day.

Au P’tit Grec (Latin Quarter) Best street crêpes in Paris

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Crêpe with ham, chèvre, tomatoes, and lettuce

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Extremely delicious street crêpes located on Rue Mouffetard— lucky me it’s right down the street. My favorite combination (because there are hundreds) is jambon (ham), chèvre (goat cheese), salade (greens), tomate (tomatoes), aubergine (eggplant), and herbs de provence!

L’As du Fallafel (Marais) Famous out-of-this-world falafel place

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Situated in the heart of Le Marais, my favorite area in Paris, on Rue des Rosiers. The best falafel in Paris and I’ll go as far to say, the best street food in Paris! For only 6 euros you can enjoy a heaping pita filled with falafel, aubergine, cabbage, and special spicy tahini sauce.  There is always a line so I recommend avoid going on the weekend. You will wait at least 40 minutes.

Du Pain et Des Idées (10th arr)  Delicious baked goods

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A famous boulangerie known for their pistachio-chocolate escargot croissant.

Thanks a brunch, SF!

Waking up Saturday morning is my favorite part of my week—you have the whole weekend in front of you. I enjoy starting it off with an almond milk latte and eggs benedict at a bustling cafe. Luckily, there is no shortage of brunch options in San Francisco. There are over ten decent places walking distance from my apartment in the Marina. I’m naturally an early  riser  and I immediately start thinking about breakfast. I try to wait until at least 10 so I can consider breakfast…brunch. Needless to say, my friends and I are the first in line. I love the energy and excitement (probably caused by the caffeine) at brunch as my friends and I eagerly share our latest life updates. The atmosphere is carefree and giddy. Nothing compares. Here are some of my favorite places from the past two months:

Tipsy Pig (Marina) Popular bar by night and trendy brunch tavern by day

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Goat Cheese-Chive Scramble

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Dutch Pancake

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Regular Bloody Mary

I was pleasantly surprised by the food and atmosphere. We sat in the back patio on a nice day and it was the best brunch experience I’ve had in the city. My friend and I shared the Dutch pancakes (with candied bacon, caramelized strawberries, and ricotta cheese) and the goat cheese-chive scramble (with asparagus and prosciutto). My other friend ordered the breakfast sandwich, which wasn’t as good. Everything was very tasty though. They have excellent Bloody Marys as well. I recommend the regular, not the spicy one. Recommend: Dutch pancakes, goat cheese- chive scramble, and the regular Bloody Mary. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

The Mill (Alamo Square) Eclectic and airy café known for their fresh bread and spreads

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Ham and Cheese Pastry

They also serve four barrel coffee and decadent pastries. I came with a group of friends and we ordered everything on the menu—granted they only have 4 specialty toast options a day. I ordered whole wheat poppy seed bread with house-made pear blueberry jam and butter. I would come here alone to read and sip on coffee. You order at the counter then find a table. On the weekends the line will be out the door. It is also around the corner for Alamo Square Park. Recommend: Everything—you can’t go wrong! (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Jane on Fillmore (lower pac heights) Small bustling cafe with light and creative breakfast options, Stumptown coffee, and homemade baked goods

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They offer a simple and healthy menu. Some options include avocado toast (with pickled onions and jalapenos on homemade sourdough), chia seed parfait (with berries and house-made granola), and gluten-free pastries. They also have gluten-free bread available. Great lattes and cappuccinos made with Straus milk. They have soy and almond milk available as well. It gets crowded on the weekends but the line goes pretty quick. This is the kind of cafe I envision myself opening (way down the road). Recommend: Chia Seed Pudding and avocado toast (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Brenda’s French Soul Food (Tenderloin) Southern comfort food with Creole and French influence

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Pulled-Pork Eggs Benedict

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Special Breakfast Sandwich of the day

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Beignet Flight

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Open-face egg sandwich and creamy grits

It is a very popular spot so go early or get Philz Coffee (around the corner) while you wait. You have to order the beignet flight (chocolate, apple, crab, and traditional). The savory crab and traditional were my favorite. Most breakfast dishes are served with creamy grits or potatoes. I ordered the creamy grits but wished I ordered the potatoes. The grits are extremely rich (loaded with butter and cream) so it is hard to eat more than half of the heaping bowl they give you. The portions are large—no one finished their meal. Overall the food was very tasty but a little too heavy for me. Recommend: pulled pork eggs Benedict or goat cheese omelet. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Sol Food (Marin) Healthy Peruvian food

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You order at the counter then find a table. We ordered the bistec platter, bistec sandwich, veggie sandwich, and fried plantain chips. I recommend ordering half regular plantains and half garlic plantains. The platter comes with a large serving of the bistec, black beans, rice, garlic, salad, and fried plantains. They also make their own limeade. It is the kind of food where you feel satisfied and full but not uncomfortable. It is very colorful and lively inside with large communal tables. Great food and company. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself here. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Causwells (Marina) Another great brunch spot in the marina

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Pork Hash

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Chilaquiles

We sat outside on a perfect sunny afternoon. I ordered the omelet of the day, which was Canadian bacon, arugula, caramelized onions, sweet potatoes, and Parmesan cheese. A perfect combination. My friends ordered the Chilaquiles (tortilla chips, salsa, black beans, scrambled eggs, and sour cream) and the Pork Hash (braised pork, potatoes, and a fried egg). They are known for their breakfast hamburger that I’ve heard is spectacular. Recommend: Pork Hash and Omelet. (5 taste, 5 service, 5 atmosphere)

Blackwood (Chestnut St, Marina) Chic traditional American breakfast with an Asian twist

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My favorite brunch place in the Marina. Most brunch dishes have an asian twist and flavor. They have excellent dinner as well. It is the same owners as Sweet Maple and Kitchen Story. There is always a wait on the weekend and they do not take reservations for brunch (like most popular brunch places). Recommend: the BQ Scramble (chicken apple sausage, sweet basil, shallots, and carrots) and the eggs Benedict with millionaire’s bacon. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 3 service)

Belga (Marina) Sophisticated European style café with dishes ranging from French Croque Madame to German sausages

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They also offer brunch and happy hour. They have fun drink options like Devil’s Advokaat (brandy, egg, lemon, & nutmeg) or Oude Cobbler (aged genever, vermouth, lemon, sugar, sherry, berries). They have the best cinnamon brioche beignets served with whipped crème fraiche. Recommend: Veggie frittata (squash and goat cheese) or flat bread with shaved brussels sprouts and a fried egg. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service)

El Techo (Mission) Trendy Argentinean tapas and brunch dishes situated on a rooftop in the heart of the Mission

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I came here for a friend’s birthday. On a nice day you have a beautiful view of the city—unfortunately it was raining when we went. The food is great. I ordered the Chorizo Scramble with roasted veggies and potatoes. The potatoes were amazing but I was not a fan of the chorizo. I preferred my friend’s Techo Rancheros (tortilla, pork, fried eggs, salsa, and beans). Recommend: Techo Rancheros and the fresh squeezed OJ. (4 taste, 5 service, 5 atmosphere)

Grove (Pac Heights) Rustic café serving traditional breakfast and lunch dishes

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I ordered the avocado toast and my friend ordered the breakfast sandwich. The rosemary potatoes were disappointing but overall I would recommend this place to someone looking for a casual and reasonably priced brunch place. They have great pies too! The service is a little slow. You order at the counter then find a seat. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 3 service)

Perry’s (Financial District and Marina) American soups, salads, and sandwiches

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They also have decent brunch and happy hour.  There are 3 locations in the city: Cow Hollow, Embarcadero, and Potrero. The Embarcadero location near the water and is a perfect place to come on a nice day. The food is decent but you get what you expect. They do not experiment with unique flavors, spices or combinations. It’s a perfect go-to restaurant to bring your non-adventurous/picky friend who is visiting.  Recommend: California Eggs Benedict (comes with avocado, tomato, and spinach). (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Healthy SF Bites

The Plant (Marina and Pier 3)

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Fully Belly Salad

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Shiitake Spring Rolls

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Udon

Casual local and organic cafe serving healthy dishes and fresh juices. Recommend: Shiitake Spring Rolls, Udon Noodles, and Full Belly Salad (kale, roasted beets, pea shoots, quinoa, avocado, hummus, pickled onions, and sunflower seeds). (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Blue Barn (Marina and Russian Hill) 

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Winter Salad

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Truffle Sandwich

Delicious sandwiches and salads. They also have good seasonal soups. You order at a counter so it can be quick but there is usually a line and the food that takes a while to prepare. I usually order ahead of time and pick it up.  Recommend: Winter salad and Truffle sandwich. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 3 service)

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Healthy Sandwiches and sides. The menu changes seasonally. It’s a block from my work so I come here frequently for lunch. They also serve breakfast— rich Straus greek yogurt (with lots of topping options) and avocado toast. Recommend: Moroccan Chickpea Salad, Smoked Rainbow Trout toast, and Roasted Sweet Potato and Romaine Salad. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 4 service)

SF Brunch

Here are some of my favorite SF brunch places (so far). Click here to see my full list of restaurants.

Sweet Maple (Lower Pac Heights)

Salmon Open Face (a poached egg and avocado on garlic sourdough)

Salmon Open Face (a poached egg and avocado on garlic sourdough)

Millionaire’s Melt (egg sandwich with bacon and gouda aioli)

Millionaire’s Melt (egg sandwich with bacon and gouda aioli)

South of the Border (breakfast tacos)

South of the Border (breakfast tacos)

the Millionaire’s Bacon (bacon cooked in brown sugar).

the Millionaire’s Bacon (bacon cooked in brown sugar).

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I arrived at 9:30 am on a Saturday with 3 three friends and there was already a 45 minute line. But don’t worry they serve complimentary coffee while you wait. When you sit outside they give you a blanket to stay warm. We ordered the SM Omurice (rice with scrambled eggs and ribeye), South of the Border (breakfast tacos), Millionaire’s Melt (egg sandwich with bacon and gouda aioli), the Salmon Open Face (a poached egg and avocado on garlic sourdough), and of course the Millionaire’s Bacon (bacon cooked in brown sugar). Recommend: the Millionaire’s Bacon, Salmon Open Face, and Millionaire’s Melt. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 3 service)

Lovejoy’s Tea Room (Noe Valley)

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A flowery and eclectic tea house with mismatched furniture and nick-nacks. A fun place to come with a group of girlfriends and gossip. It’s very kid-friendly. There were 3 little girls sitting at their own miniature table. We ordered the high tea special which comes with 2 sandwiches, scones, salad, chocolate biscuits, and unlimited tea per person. Recommend: Chestnut black tea (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service)

Don Pistos (North Beach)

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros

Tamales

Tamales

Popular Mexican brunch place. The waiters are extremely attentive and friendly. The owner even sent out 4 free margaritas—we would have been more grateful if it wasn’t 11 am! The food is excellent. The portions are small but filling. Recommend: Huevos Rancheros and the tamales. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Home Plate (Marina)

Complimentary scones

Complimentary scones

The New Yorker (salmon and avocado scramble) with carrot potato latkes

The New Yorker (salmon and avocado scramble) with carrot potato latkes

The Eggs Benedict served with carrot potato latkes

The Eggs Benedict served with carrot potato latkes

I came here at 7:30 am (it opens at 7) and it was already busy. It is extremely crowded by 9. They serve complimentary scones. Most dishes come with their homemade carrot potato latkes. The coffee is good too. It is one of most reasonably priced brunch places you will find in the marina.  Recommend: The New Yorker (salmon and avocado scramble) and The Eggs Benedict. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

East Side West (Marina)

Dirty Hippy (squash blossoms, garlic greens, hollandaise, and truffle oil).

Dirty Hippy (squash blossoms, garlic greens, hollandaise, and truffle oil).

Fresh Off the Boat (cheesy red enchiladas with poached eggs and avocado)

Fresh Off the Boat (cheesy red enchiladas with poached eggs and avocado)

A popular bar in the marina. The food is mediocre but it is a fun place to come with friends. Very lively. A lot of people come here to watch games and order beer. Recommend: Dirty Hippy (squash blossoms, garlic greens, hollandaise, and truffle oil). (3 taste, 5 atmosphere, 3 service)

Café Roses (Marina)

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A simple Italian brunch spot in the Marina. They use fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. Very popular so arrive early. The menu is small but you cannot go wrong. I like to sit outside on a nice day. Recommend: Crescenza-Stuffed Focaccia breakfast pizza with an egg. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Caffe Sapore (North Beach)

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Veggie bagel

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Loxs bagel

Neighborhood coffee shop serving hearty and satisfying bagel sandwiches. A perfect place to come on a rainy day to sip on coffee and read. Recommend: Bagel and loxs. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 4 service)

Pescatore (North Beach)

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Veggie Frittata

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Cute and reasonably priced Italian restaurant. I’ve only been for brunch but they also serve lunch and dinner. Not the most trendy brunch place in town but it is a perfect place to bring your relatives. It is in the Best Western Hotel. Great service. They brought my friends and I each a complimentary pancake! Recommend Veggie Frittata. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Healthy Restaurants

Healthy Restaurants 

A few of my favorite healthy/organic/farm-to-table restaurants.

Au Lac (Fountain Valley and Downtown LA)

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“Cream cheese” and flaxseed crackers with dehydrated onions

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Steamed jicama rolls with peanut sauce

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Curried rice

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The tiRAWmisu

They specialize in Vietnamese/Chinese raw food but also have vegan and vegetarian options. The atmosphere does not match the price of the food; however, the eloquently prepared raw entrées belie the cheesy Chinese décor. The servers are very attentive. Our waitress gave us extra peanut sauce for our leftovers. They serve free filtered alkaline water (at Pressed Juicery it’s $2.50 a bottle). I recommend the steamed jicama rolls with peanut sauce, “cream cheese” and flaxseed crackers, curried rice, kelp noodles chow mein, and the tiRAWmisu. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Café Gratitude (Larchmont, Downtown, and Venice) 100% organic plant-based cuisine. Sister restaurant to Gracias Madre. The dishes range from Indian curry to pesto kelp noodles. I ordered the “Fabulous,” raw lasagna with squash blossoms and Brazil nut Parmesan. The vibrant colors in the dishes make them look more like art than food. They offer everything a vegan could wish for—cashew nacho cheese, pumpkin seed pesto, and tiramisu with coconut cashew cream. It is a vegan/vegetarians dream come true but carnivores will love this restaurant too. The freshness and creativity of the food make up for the lack of meat. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

True Foods (Newport and Santa Monica)

Salmon Dip (not on the menu anymore)

Salmon Dip (not on the menu anymore)

Veggie Crudités

Veggie Crudités

Veggie egg white omelette and Kale-Aid

Veggie egg white omelette and Kale-Aid

Watermelon sorbet

Watermelon sorbet

Lemon Pie with coconut cream and strawberries (summer seasonal dessert)

Lemon Pie with coconut cream and strawberries (summer seasonal dessert)

My all time favorite restaurant. They offer vegan, vegetarian, and gluten- free dishes as well as sustainable organic meat. Their menu changes seasonally to serve the freshest ingredients but some of my staples are the caramelized onion tart, spaghetti squash casserole, and the flourless chocolate cake. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Malibu Farm (Malibu Pier)

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Egg sandwich

Egg sandwich

Seasoned eggs and veggies

Seasoned eggs and veggies

I went to the cafe at the end of the pier but they also have a restaurant. The dishes are locally sourced and organic. I got the egg vegetable plate (that comes with potatoes and whole wheat toast) and my friend got the egg sandwich. Large servings for the price and quality. Everything was delicious. You order inside at the front then find a table.  They offer indoor and outdoor seating. We enjoyed sitting outside and watching the paddle boarders. Very fast service. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Kreation (Santa Monica) 100% organic Middle Eastern cuisine. They offer an array of brunch dishes, tapas, desserts, and juices. I think their tapas are the best items on the menu. I recommend the ash soup, the eggplant dip, and the hummus. The soup is extremely hearty filled with veggies, beans, quinoa, and a dollop of yogurt. For breakfast I recommend the oatmeal almond pancakes and the Mediterranean plate. The pancakes are filling but do not feel unhealthy (check check out my pancake recipe here). (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Euphoria loves Rawvolution (Santa Monica)  Raw, organic, vegan. Stop in for a quick and healthy snack like the lentil chili or bok choy salad. They also have delicious raw desserts. They list all their ingredients on their website(3 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Old Vine Café (Costa Mesa)

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Quinoa and vegetables

Italian-inspired café located at the Camp. Elegant and refined but casual. Large selection of wine. Recommend: Quinoa and vegetables and pulled pork panini. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Urth Caffé (Beverley Hills and Santa Monica)

Spanish Latte and Thai Tea Latte

Spanish Latte and Thai Tea Latte

With multiple locations all over LA, Urth has become a staple restaurant for LA foodies. They specialize in organic coffees and breakfast items. I prefer their tea lattes though. My favorite is the Thai Latte. It tastes like a hot version of a Thai Iced tea. My favorite breakfast dish is the salmon and eggs served with brioche and arugula. My mom’s favorite is the beef hash and the eggs verde. You cannot go wrong here. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service)