Here are my “Top Ten Foodie Finds of 2010.” To qualify, it had to be something new to me that I discovered in 2010 that’s easily accessible to our readers (close enough to drive to in an hour or two). I had many foodie finds to choose from, but here are my top ten starting with #10:
#10. Hang with the locals at Swan Oyster Depot on Polk in San Francisco – A narrow restaurant with counter seating only. Don’t miss the raw oysters and crab cocktails with beer or champagne. The clam chowder is only so-so. The multigenerational family owners behind the counter are not to be missed. Read more about Swan’s here. Swan Oyster Depot is located at 1517 Polk St., San Francisco (415) 673-2757.
#9. I taste, buy and enjoy local wine and wine made by locals and was thrilled to discover my top wine choice made by locals – Senders Wine made by Davisites, Craig and Karen Senders of El Macero. They invited us over for a wine pairing dinner at their home that you can read about here and here. You can find their wine at Nugget, Seasons, Aioli, Osteria Fasulo and Mustard Seed or purchase it online at http://www.senderswines.com/.
#8. The historic Jim Denny’s in Sacramento is our new favorite Sacramento breakfast spot. With only 10 seats, it’s intimate and fills up quickly. The pancakes “are larger than your head” and that’s no joke. Jim Denny’s is known for their hamburgers and milkshakes as well. Read more about Jim Denny’s here. It’s located at 816 12th Street between H & I. http://jim-dennys.com/
#7. Thanks to the fundraiser we threw for Rochelle Swanson for City Council, we discovered Taqueria Guadalajara’s taco cart catering which was hosted by the Tomasello and Rockwell families of Davis. We then used them for a semi-formal backyard wedding and they stepped up their catering to meet our needs. Rigo shows up with a large taco cart with built-in grill and another buffet cart. You get three kinds of tacos (the pork is the crowd favorite) plus and chip, salsa and guacamole bar. Watching and smelling the food as it’s being prepared is almost as good as eating it. It’s inexpensive (starting at $8 per person) and fun! Call Rigo at the Covell Blvd. location at 530-297-4000.
#6. Happy hour at La Costanera in Montara (approx. 10 miles before Half Moon Bay) is my number six find. I lived in Montara for two years when I was in 6th and 7th grades, and my family and I return each year to play on Montara Beach. It’s gorgeous and clean surrounded by beautiful cliffs and crashing waves. The old Chart House is now La Costanera, a multi-level restaurant sitting on the cliff with floor-to-ceiling windows and sweeping views of the ocean. Sit on a comfortable couch in front of a fire pit during happy hour on one of the back patios and enjoy a Pisco Sour made with Pisco Brandy and appetizers at great prices. Call ahead because it’s becoming quite the wedding destination and sometimes is closed for private parties. The drive is spectacular! 650.728.1600 http://www.lacostanerarestaurant.com/index01.htm
#5. On a whim to relive the Visa commercials from the 80’s, we discovered the Bloody Mary’s at Fog City Diner in San Francisco. I recommend visiting on a M-F lunch shift so that you can sit at the bar and enjoy their famous Bloody Mary’s served by Roger, Fog City Diner’s original bartender. The company will be as great as the Bloody Mary’s. Read more about the food and drinks at Fog City here. http://www.fogcitydiner.com/
#4. My number four pick is our new favorite winery in the Napa Valley, Alpha Omega Winery. Not only are the wines great, it’s the most comfortable spot to spend the afternoon. Huge cushioned couches and chairs cover their back patios overlooking the hills, vineyards and their huge water fountains. The picnic area is a great place to bring the kids and on slower days, they’ll bring your wine tastings out to you while you enjoy the sun on your face. Read more about this St. Helena winery here. http://www.aowinery.com/
#3. We’ve just discovered the happy hour at KetMoRee in Davis in the past few months. Enjoy great prices on drinks and appetizers that change from day-to-day, so call to see what specials are going on when you want to visit and the times for the happy hours, but you won’t be let down. We enjoy sitting at the bar in front of one of the flat screen televisions and sharing $3 margaritas and the mango salad at a great price, then splurge on the seafood in a pot served over rice noodles. Even though that dish isn’t included on the happy hour, it’s not to be missed! http://www.ketmoree.com/
#2. Berkeley’s Tacubaya on 4th Street, the taqueria by Dona Tomas, is my number two best foodie find of 2010. To find such great food at such great prices with such inventive twists to most food found at a taqueria was a great find. My staples are the chips and guacamole (you won’t believe the portion size) and the flavorful and hearty tortilla soup. It’s the best I’ve found so far outside of Mexico. Don’t forget to add a little fresh lime squeeze and sour cream. Read more about Tacubaya here. http://tacubaya.net/
#1. Our number one overall find for 2010 is a tiny, romantic, seven-table restaurant on Ski Run Blvd. in South Shore Lake Tahoe called Café Fiore. It’s intimate to say the least, with candles flickering, an attentive staff and great food! The special appetizer the night we visited was a sautéed morel mushroom dish. One of the servers had found the morels on a hike and picked enough for the chef to make a special out of. The food is Italian and includes such delicacies as eggplant crepes, great pastas and meat dishes and several Scaloppine’s to choose from. Be sure to make a reservation, and if your table isn’t ready when you arrive, they’ll send you to the bar next door and will call over when they’re ready for you. Enjoy! http://www.cafefiore.com/