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My trip to Cali (reviews + pics)

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Thanks to all of those who provided suggestions…here’s where I ended up going…
I arrived hungry at San Francisco airport…I was walking around the food court looking for a place to eat when I noticed a very appetizing plate of an omellet and hashbrown that someone was having…I immediately found the source, Lori’s Diner.
I ordered the spinach/cream cheese omelet (never had that combination) for my first taste of California food…it was pretty good and the people were very friendly (something that I found true of Californians).

http://www.fototime.com/AED239724A785...

http://www.fototime.com/51BEEB83D005A...

Eventually I got to Monterey (the connecting flight was overbooked so I volunteered to deplane and drove down). After walking around Fisherman’s Wharf, I decided on Domenico’s. I don’t eat seafood often but hey, it’s Monterey.

Nice view

http://www.fototime.com/7B77C07BF78A6...

I started with the roast garlic. Nice touch on pairing it with feta cheese. It was very messy though and I felt that something was missing (fruits/vegetables?

)

http://www.fototime.com/9B2B3D7D66556...

Next I tried some authentic Monterey calamari..too bad they were sprinkled with green onions. They were “ok”…

http://www.fototime.com/5F7CAE543DCBC...

For my main dish, I chose the Petrale Sole, again a local fish, in porcini mushroom sauce. It was GREAT! I liked the “tougher” texture (like swordfish).

http://www.fototime.com/9CB2BE6129328...

I headed down to Carmel the next day. I wanted to try Forge in the Forrest but two people gave me negative reviews so I went for (a late lunch) at The Grill instead.

http://www.fototime.com/F6E7283A4A8C9...

Once again, I started with roast garlic! The presentation was completely different than the one I had eaten the night prior…no mess here as the garlic was already extracted and this time there were pears and apples on the side. The warm brie was great too.

http://www.fototime.com/91980C2EC61DE...

I ordered pasta as a main dish, duck filled ravioli in orange sauce. Flavour-wise it was good but the pasta was a bit hard.

http://www.fototime.com/39F2D8E6D3417...

Next stop, San Francisco! I rented a Shelby GT500 (500HP!!!) for the scenic drive up Pacific Highway 1..check out the pics and vids below..

http://www.fototime.com/EF5D16E07642E...

http://www.fototime.com/D5E4346CF4E87...

http://www.fototime.com/CFF2BE61467C3...

http://www.fototime.com/6EC6F1345A5B9...

http://www.fototime.com/951F70E5E27E0...

http://www.fototime.com/C8DEC15AB8934...

http://www.fototime.com/3BA4C44D2DD04...

http://www.fototime.com/C217B91425A3E...

http://www.fototime.com/D42891F4DDBE2...

Based on comments here and my own research, I decided on Zuni. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the atmosphere! Being a loft owner/lover, different shapes and textures are very appealing to me.

http://www.fototime.com/6833C14E8D67A...

http://www.fototime.com/59BEA4318124E...

http://www.fototime.com/FB54FAE9E44B0...

http://www.fototime.com/DA7C01D216C9F...

I ordered their signature chicken dish and waited patiently for the hour it takes to prepare. If I could sum up the chicken in one word, I would say “clean”…no fat..and it was the whitest white meat I have ever seen.

http://www.fototime.com/BA01DA2423790...

I had the incredibly good pot de chocolat for dessert

http://www.fototime.com/0B9BCC1326204...

Service was great too…of course, it was not cheap but in all fairness the chicken is usually served for two.

Back in Monterey for my final California meal…I headed back to the Cannery district..I thought about going to the Sardine Factory but it was 3PM and they only open at 5..also, I was not in the mood for a snooty haute cuisine experience so I took the opportunity to try some Mexican food (a local specialty, according to you chowhounders ;) ).
Jose’s Mexican Grill is quite quaint.

http://www.fototime.com/CFFAF756FA605...

http://www.fototime.com/4A57281B16D39...

The patio overlooks a some old railway cars and you can see the bay as well.

http://www.fototime.com/DCDC1BB06177C...

http://www.fototime.com/61CA0D3B87372...

I had the steak and enchilada combo..it was decent.

http://www.fototime.com/0D45CBB1701AB...

I had the flan for dessert

http://www.fototime.com/934810E962DB0...

So there you have it, Zuni by a long shot..I would definitely repeat but more for the atmosphere than the chicken..I would try other things on the menu.

RL

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  1. Really, really, really, really ... really ... excellent photos of zuni.You should upload some of those to the place record link below as they capture the spirit of the place. I think there is a four photo limit ... my vote would be the first three and the chicken.

    Glad Lori's worked out for you (despite a caution against it). I wasn't sure which terminal you were in so I linked to all three. Probably a good choice at the airport. There are a few more in SF. When Lori's first started a few decades ago, it was very good. However, as they expanded the quality went down. Good to know the food is decent at the airport.

    Carmel / Monterey is usually reported on the California board. So I put a link on that board to this post so people looking there will have a chance to read your thoughts.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/545251

    The further you get away from Cannery Row and the Wharf, the better the food. The pictures of Domenico’s looks a lot like the food that you would get at SF's Fisherman's Wharf. Petrole should be delicate and not something that would remind anyone of swordfish. All the wharf restaurants are pretty much the same and the view is wonderful. I've often traded off better food for ambiance when I'm a visitor down that way yet always enjoy myself a lot. Love watching the sea lions and pelicans.

    You didn't miss anything by skipping the Sardine Factory, IMO. Was looking around the web and the impression of Jose's is pretty much that it is just ok, as you said. The margarita's are supposed to be good.

    First 'San Fran' and now 'Cali' ... well this local will forgive those sins because of the terrific report and photos (giggle). Thanks so much for taking the time to report. Next time you are up this way, if you think of it, remind us of this report. It gives us an idea of what you liked locally ... and anyone who does such great report should be reward with lots more suggestions that you got with your query.

    Thanks so much again.

    -----
    Zuni Cafe
    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Jose's Mexican Food
    638 Wave St, Monterey, CA 93940

    Domenico's On the Wharf
    50 Fishermans Wharf # 1N, Monterey, CA 93940

    Grill On Ocean Avenue
    Ocean Ave Carmel CA, Ocean Ave Carmel, CA

    SFO Restaurants
    San Francisco International Airport South San Francisco, CA, San Francisco International Airport South San Francisco, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      wow thanks so much for your kind words!

      I have a couple more pics of Zuni...again, the atmosphere was just so great! I also have high res versions of all my pics too (should anyone need them, i can post links).

      BTW, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen! So many different natural elements..the hills are extremely cool but somewhat scary for driving (especially with 500HP on tap!)...

      loftman