During a very quick work trip up to the San Francisco Bay Area last week, I only had time to travel into the city for one meal. Thankfully my dinner companion knew of my affinity for tacos, and we made a beeline for Tacolicious as soon as I arrived (after 90 minutes of excruciating traffic up from the South Bay – ick). The hour wait for a table was easily passed while having a Paloma at The Chapel, a dark, quiet, classy bar next door. And, as it was the first time meeting my knitting buddy in person, we had more than enough to catch up on.Blogging is a funny thing – putting pieces of you out there, wondering if anyone will pause long enough to watch, listen and interact. My initial motivation to start ResearchingParis (the precursor to this blog) was to transport my friends and family in the US into my day-to-day adventures half a world away. Although it is still a wonderful way to keep up with loved ones flung far and wide, ResearchingSanDiego feels bigger than that – a place where I am challenging myself to open up, write often, cook locally, and push my limits creatively. I am only just now feeling comfortable enough in this space to start reaching out into the blogging community to connect with other likeminded people. Thankfully, the first time I did, I connected with Mere.I’ve written before of how Mere’s blog has inspired me to consider each day an opportunity to make something new, set fresh goals and recommit to myself, without getting bogged down in missed opportunities of yesterday. It was in this vein (and due to unflagging kindness and optimism that radiated through her words), that I contacted her in late February to see if maybe she’d want to cross “join a knitting club” off of her life list by working on cooperative monthly knitting projects in a virtual knitting club with me. From our first few email exchanges I knew I had found a kindred spirit and was thrilled that we were going to connect when I traveled north. As it turns out, we did not discuss our knitting once. Not one sentence about Honey Cowl progress (tomorrow, I promise!) or possible May projects. Instead we shared stories of international travel, younger brothers and relationships gone both horribly wrong and wonderfully right. I felt immediately comfortable seated across from her and that trust was not misplaced; by the end of the night I returned to my hotel reinvigorated and motivated to get back on the blogging bandwagon, with at least 5 new projects in mind.There was only one stretch of silence throughout our evening and it came when we were seated on the candlelit patio of Tacolicious enjoying the first bites of dinner that had just arrived, piping hot from the kitchen. To start we ordered the queso dip. Steamy, spicy and gooey, this queso was everything you wanted from the traditional cheese dip. We followed that up with a taco combo platter (4 for $14!) – 2 braised beef short rib tacos for Mere; 1 carnitas and 1 bistec adobado with pickled onions for me – and housemade refried beans. The meal was served with three salsas of increasing hotness, the vibrant red, yellow and green of the sauces lending a festive atmosphere to our table.The quiet of us savoring our tacos was quickly broken by exclamations of their deliciousness and insistance that we trade and try each other’s chosen combination of fillings. The carnitas were very good, rich and savory, served with white onions and fresh cilantro. The bistec (marinated steak, cooked medium) was tender and juicy, the pickled onions lending a nice tart, sour crunch that cut well through the heft of the meat. The stars of the show, however, were the short rib tacos. Unexpectedly (to me), the sweet-ish braising liquid paired well with piquant onions and spicy salsa. The meat itself had clearly been simmering for hours and all but melted in my mouth with each bite. When (not if) I return, it will take all my self-control to branch out beyond their deliciousness. Despite the traffic, wait for a table and (irrational) worry of potential awkwardness meeting an “Inter-friend”, this was one of the best evenings I have had in a long while. I was out, exploring a new city, getting to know a new friend and eating amazing food. It truly does not get much better than that.
Tacolicious, Mission Location
741 Valencia St. (at 18th St.)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Reservations not taken for parties less than 12. There will be a line. That’s ok, tuck in at the bar (or at The Chapel next door). It’s worth it.