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United Flavors of Eating

December 19, 2010

I imagined that on a vacation to warm and sunny (chilly) Florida, I’d be eating nothing but seafood and tropical fruit. Or so I had hoped. I haven’t found a decent (or any) Cuban restaurant in SF and I really had my heart set on eating endless Sandwich Cubanos and drinking authentic mojito after mojito. While in Rome you know…

This hasn’t been quite the case. In seclusion on the Beach, a whole range of cuisines from various countries have been made readily available. And a whole host of Eastern Europeans are also readily available to take your order at said establishments. It also turns out there is no shortage of Italian restaurants on the beach either. Somehow they have dominated sections of SOBE. Overseas investments perhaps? On Lincoln Road alone there must be at least 15 Italian restaurants in total. They all appear to be populated by locals and tourists. This still baffles me. I am also still baffled by the large presence of  Eastern Europeans on SOBE. I suppose it makes sense, with the weather and all. If I was from the Ukraine, I’d probably be happy with a one-way ticket to Miami too.

Each morning begins with the ubiquitous Continental breakfast at The News Cafe. This is usually around 10 a.m. after the morning exercise. This meal serves as not only breakfast, but brunch. And lunch. In case you were wondering.

Croissant, bacon, fruit, muffin, cafe con leche is standard. Lately I’ve been switching it up and ordering cottage cheese, scrambled eggs and even tomato/avocado/red onion salad. I like a little variation. There is, however, one waiter, who, I hope, will remain nameless, who insisted on criticizing how much food we were ordering. I think he was a male model. And out-of-work male model. I know I have mentioned him before. But he still annoys me.

And on to the countries..

A visit to Spain one night via Tapas y Tintos on Espanola Way.

We visited this cute Tapas joint last year and thought it was decent. But visiting again this time just wasn’t really the same. Not terrible, but not great (for the price).

Chorizo in wine

The very best thing at Tapas y Tintos is the grilled Pulpo.

I’d certainly return for the pulpo and only the pulpo.

On a later night we walked halfway to Sardinia. A restaurant called Sardinia, that is, for Italian. By chance, we stumbled upon a cute French Bistro called Provence Grill. (Incidentally, we’ve had Italian food  three times, but, strangely, I have no photographic evidence of this.) Sardinia was increible for pastas.

French food at Provence Grill was quite good the first visit and very average on the second. We were charmed, though, by the staff, some of whom are Northern French expats. Much like the Russians, they are enjoying the pleasures beach-living warrants.

A special of rabbit in mustard sauce

Frog legs in herbed butter sauce. Always a favorite of mine.

Lavender creme brulee was perfect.

Just the right amount of lavender infused into the custard and an appropriately burnt sugar crust.

Classic profiteroles


Cuban food at Puerto Sagua was exactly what I was looking for. The menu is filled with familiar favorites like Chuletas, Chicken Fricassee, Bistec and Sandwich Cubano. The place was also packed to the gills one Tuesday night. The service was just wonderful here as well. Genuine, sweet and no mention of the fact we were ordering quite a bit of food.

Sandwich Cubano

Cuban style Seafood Paella

Flan= heaven


Discovered a little gem of a restaurant on 5th and Collins. Tap Tap is a Haitian restaurant on the beach. From what I understand, it is alone on this side of Miami. Also a popular place for locals. I really enjoyed the food and their mojito.

Salad Chiktay/ salad, avocado, herring

Kribish Kreyol O Kokoye/ shrimp in coconut sauce

Pwason Neg/ grouper in lime sauce


Another night we wanted something lighter so went out for Sushi. Not exactly the quality we are used to in the Bay, but served as a light replacement for what could have been an Italian dinner.

Whole grilled squid. I’m missing Sushi Ran.


One afternoon we went to an Irish pub on Washington to watch a very important soccer game: Arsenal vs. Manchester United. This game was being broadcast live from the UK and there was a good crowd gathered– mostly Man.United fans. I drank a chilled cider and we shared the Fish and Chips with peas.

Fish and Chips with peas


In the mood for some serious Americana by way of the spectacle that is Ocean Drive, we went out for Burgers at Johnny Rockets. I would like to say more about the quality of the burgers. But let’s just say it’s not quite In-N-Out. So from one country to the next. Where shall we go now? Are there really no Russian restaurants here?

St. Louis Burger with onion rings.

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