High Tide Cafe and Crepery

In Hong Kong, Dallas, or at home – and regardless of whether or not I’ve been to bed – breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess. — Hunter S. Thompson

As much as I love going out to eat in general, there’s nothing quite as indulgent as going out for breakfast.

And in the town of Pacifica, CA, there’s no place quite as indulgent for breakfast as High Tide Cafe and Crepery.

Just steps away from the most popular beach in town, this is a great place to fuel up for a day of surfing or exploring. They serve breakfast and lunch, but are best known for their delicious breakfasts of omelettes, eggs benedict, or crepes both savory and sweet.

My favorite breakfast at High Tide is undoubtedly the Eggs Benedict. They come in Classic, Corned Beef Hash, Smoke Salmon, and Crab and Avocado.

I prefer Classic, served with crispy, perfectly seasoned breakfast potatoes.

Another great breakfast choice is their crepes, both savory and sweet. I love the Strawbanana, a luscious combination of strawberry, banana, and Nutella. It’s served with whipped cream, and – if you’re looking to go over the top – ice cream.

And if your breakfast isn’t indulgent enough for you, you can top it off with freshly squeezed orange juice.

High Tide Cafe and Crepery
5500 Coast Highway
Pacifica, CA 94044


Dim Sum at Yank Sing

Sundays are for Dim Sum. While the rest of America goes to church, Sunday School, or NFL games, you can find Chinese people eating Cantonese food. — Chef Eddie Huang

IMG_1980I grew up where Sundays were for church. Or rather, for Church. Wednesday nights, too.

You were expected to put on your best dress, and spend all of Sunday morning attending Sunday School (even when you were far past regular school age), drinking coffee in the fellowship hall and listening to the preacher try to save you from hellfire and damnation.

Then I moved to San Francisco, where the unchurched outnumber the churched, and Sunday mornings are for brunch…drag or not.

Soon after, I discovered an even more exotic way to spend my Sundays: Dim sum.

Dim sum translates to “touch the heart”, which is a surprisingly apt description for this unusual meal. There are no courses:  Just an endless parade of small plates and dumplings – steamed or fried – stuffed with a variety of fillings.

And it is a parade, because dim sum is an experience, not just a type of food. There are no menus; servers push past with heavily laden carts,you choose what you like, then they mark what you chose with stamps on a little card at your table.


This past Sunday was an absolutely glorious day in San Francisco, and I met my friend B downtown for Sunday dim sum at Yank Sing as a belated birthday gift.


There are plenty of places in San Francisco, of course, for amazing dim sum, some with pretty storied pasts. Yank Sing is a bit more modern, with abstract sculpture outside and a large covered seating area.


It’s located South of Market, but no less delicious for not being in Chinatown. There’s a second Yank Sing near the Embarcadero; both are conveniently located near BART. Just be sure to be clear which one you have reservations at so your friend doesn’t go to the wrong one. (Ahem.)

And yes, reservations are recommended.

I started off with a Sapporo Light beer, which had almost a gingery kick.


Our first choice was an order of absolutely perfect baked pork buns. They were just a bit sticky on the outside, as they should be, and the BBQ pork filling was both sweet and savory.


Our next choice was probably my favorite: chicken and mushroom dumplings. I’d never had these before; they were either baked or pan-griddled (I believe the latter) with a very light filling inside. They were heavenly.


Next were pork potstickers, done about as well as potstickers can be done.


We also tried the steamed Siu Maye (or shumai; I’ve seen both spellings). I believe these were shrimp, but B ate them all so I wouldn’t know.


These Spring Rolls were were so crisp and light and hot, and the accompanying sweet and sour sauce was perfectly balanced. (There were more of them, but we fell on them before the picture was taken.)


Oh, look…something green! The Chinese broccoli was a bit on the oily side, but was perfectly crisp. The sauce was added at table, and provided a nice savory taste.


Finally, we come to the main reason I do dim sum: Sesame balls. This sweet-but-not-too-sweet dessert consists of doughy balls surrounding sweet red bean paste and rolled in sesame seeds. We had to get two orders because I insist on my own.


It was a leisurely-paced, delightful meal.

It was a bit pricey, though; with tip, it came to about $120. You can do cheaper if you’re careful, but it’s also easy to spend more.

Still, not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning, completely hellfire-free.

Yank Sing
49 Stevensen St. or 101 Spear St.
San Francisco, CA

Cafe Beignet

Cafe au lait makes it possible to get out of bed. Beignets make it worthwhile — Anonymous

It’s the one thing about New Orleans that people universally agree on:

You need to try the beignets.

These puffy pillows of fried dough drenched in powdered sugar are practically synonymous with the city, as is the cafe au lait made with chicory coffee they’re usually served with.

So, most newcomers dutifully tramp over to where all the blogs and brochures point them: Cafe Du Monde.


There they stand, sweating, in a line that can stretch blocks (not even kidding); a line that is basically a gauntlet of panhandlers and grifters. And they stand in that line either because they’re determined to grab one of the few tiny, cramped tables, or because they don’t know that there’s actually a to go window and they don’t have to stand in the line at all.

That is, by the way, the only way I’ll go to Cafe Du Monde:

Simply bypass the line, slip under the awning and through the gift shop with its piles of golden boxes filled with pralines to the window at the very back. You can get all the cafe au lait and beignets your heart desires, right there, and then take your bounty over to Jackson Square.


But if you want beignets that are just as good without the tourist trap?

Go to Cafe Beignet.

There are three locations: one on Royal, one on Decatur and my favorite: tucked away in Musical Legends Park on Bourbon, across from the Royal Sonesta hotel.


Not only is this little jazz courtyard lovely and open and usually not crowded, there are almost always live musicians playing New Orleans jazz. (See the trombonist above in the lefthand corner as evidence.)

As you can see above, the Cafe Beignet counter is straight ahead when you enter the courtyard from Bourbon. You can walk up there, order and have your beignets delivered to your table. They also usually have people stopping by the tables to take orders. There’s a full bar, too, something of which Cafe Du Monde can’t boast.

And the beignets and cafe au lait?



In general, Cafe Beignet is a much more civilized way to get your beignet fix. So, if you want an authentic New Orleans beignet without the hassle and bustle of Jackson Square, head over to one of Cafe Beignet’s three locations in the French Quarter.

Just don’t wear all black, and then sneeze just as you bite into one.

Ask me how I know.

Cafe Beignet
311 Bourbon St. | 334 Royal St. | 600 Decatur St.



Work is the curse of the drinking class. –Oscar Wilde (from a napkin at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar)

I have eaten a lot of amazing meals in New Orleans. Arnaud’s beats them all.

I started off in the bar, sitting in a leopard print chair and sipping one of the place’s namesake champagne and cognac cocktails. (That sentence, by the way, is the definition of ‘winning at life’.)


If you, however, are nowhere near Arnaud’s French 75 Bar and its fanciful chairs, Saveur has the recipe.

I was then led to a dining room that can only be described as magnificent:




Once seated, I was presented with a paper menu much more low-key than the meal that would follow.


IMG_7119.JPGI visited in the summer, so while the signature dishes won’t disappear, others will change with the seasons.

I was greeted with a hot, freshly baked baguette, and was encouraged by my waiter to just “get in there and tear it up!”…which I did. No butter necessary.


My salad was a special for the night: the first Creole tomatoes of the season, lightly dressed with lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper and sprinkled with chiffonade basil.

If tomatoes could be a religious experience, these were it. I’ve never had tomatoes like these in my life.


My next course was the restaurant’s signature souffle potatoes served with béarnaise sauce. According to the menu…

Legend has it that Collinet, French King Louis Phillipe’s (reign 1830-1848) chef unintentionally created soufflé potatoes by plunging already fried potatoes into extremely hot oil to reheat them when the King arrived late for dinner one night. To the Chef’s surprise and the king’s delight, the potatoes puffed up like little balloons.


The maître d’ rushed over when he saw me taking pictures, and urged me to not let them go cold. Not much chance of that.

One note: These are served in the bar, too, and if there’s any bar food that would go better with a French 75, I don’t know it.

For my entree, I chose the filet mignon Charlemond: grilled center-cut filet in a rich mushroom sauce, topped with béarnaise sauce. If this seems like a lot of béarnaise sauce for one meal, it was not, it was not. I could have bathed in the stuff.


I stuck with the house speciality theme when choosing dessert. Strawberries Arnaud is simply fresh strawberries marinated in port wine and served with French vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, but that hardly does them justice.

And how cute is that tuile cookie spoon?? It was as delicious as it was adorable, and it was pretty adorable.


This meal was perfect from start to finish. The food was simple but perfectly prepared, and the service was that formal yet down to earth style that New Orleans does so well.

When I left, I told the manager that he had beaten out Brennan’s for my favorite restaurant in New Orleans, and he shook my hand with a triumphant look on his face.

813 Rue Bienville, New Orleans | 504-523-5433

Breakfast at Brennan’s

We have a saying in our family: ‘When you die, see you in the saloon in the sky.’ And that’s where I’ll be. — Ella Brennan

I will admit right up front that there is a reason that some of the photos in this article are a bit, shall we say…fuzzy.

I had three cocktails with breakfast.

Let me repeat that: I had three cocktails…with breakfast.

I suppose there are other restaurants in the world where you can get away with such utter indulgence at the most important meal of the day, but I doubt any regularly do it with such panache – and make you feel so good about it – as Brennan’s.

Here’s the first of my trifecta of breakfast lushness: Brennan’s milk punch. I believe I had one each of the Caribbean milk punch (with Mt. Gay Black Barrel rum and Buffalo Trace bourbon) and Brandy (with…brandy). But honestly, who knows?


I’m fairly certain, however, that this photo is of my second milk punch, and that I’d already sucked this one halfway down before I thought to take a picture. This is of many “artsy” shots I took on this particular morning.

Oh, and that’s freshly grated nutmeg, not black pepper.

We might as well get the third cocktail out of the way now, since I have no idea at what point in my three course breakfast (three course breakfast!) this arrived.


Truth is, I can’t remember exactly what it was, except that it was not the Irish Coffee it appears to be. Or it was, but with a Brennan’s twist. I want to say it had amaretto in it, but it doesn’t appear on the online menus. I do know that whipped cream on top was flecked with real vanilla beans.

What I do know is that the waiter talked me into it (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and it was delicious.

Let’s get to the actual meal, shall we?

I was seated by the window overlooking the lush courtyard, where sometime during the boozefest that followed, I took this “artsy” photo:


I kicked off my breakfast with the most amazing version of ‘strawberries and cream’ you could imagine. The Louisiana strawberries were served atop vanilla yogurt, drizzled with basil oil and sprinkled with poppy seeds.

It sounds odd, but it absolutely works.


My main course was a house specialty, Eggs Sardou, described in the menu as: housemade English muffins, coffee cured Canadian bacon, hollandaise, and Marchand De Vin sauce.


What they are is the best version of Eggs Benedict I’ve ever put in my mouth (and I’m something of a connoisseur).

I’m also a connoisseur of grits, and the side of Georgia cheddar grits I ordered was so good I ate nearly all of them, even though I really did not have room.


Speaking of not having room, what would a leisurely breakfast be without dessert? Strawberry sorbet over fresh fruit. I ate every bite, too.


I might have needed a wheelbarrow after my three course, three cocktail breakfast, but it was very worth it.

If Ella Brennan’s ‘saloon in the sky’ is anything like this breakfast, hopefully you’ll see me there, too.

417 Royal Street, New Orleans | 504-525-9711












Mr. B’s Bistro

New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin. — Mark Twain

I’ve eaten some amazing food at the most amazing restaurants in New Orleans. I’ve dined in elegant, centuries-old dining rooms that made me feel like a pompous aristocrat. I’ve had service on par with the best in the world, and yet that still left me feeling comfortable and welcome.

Mr. B’s was, sadly, not one of these. I felt ignored and forgotten. When I finally left the bar to find out if I’d ever be seated, I was shoved into a tiny table right in the center of the busiest thoroughfare in the restaurant.

Which is all to sound as if I’d never come back to visit Mr. B’s Bistro, but au contraire: This is the first place to which I plan to return. Why?

Because when I close my eyes and dream of what I ate in New Orleans, I always come back here.

This was, hands down, some of the best, most memorable food I’ve had in the city.

I started off at the bar, as I mentioned, with the restaurant’s signature drink: the Orange Julius. This isn’t your local mall’s Orange Julius let me tell you.


It was delicious but since one of the main ingredients is vanilla ice cream, I switched to a blood orange margarita next. (Also delicious.)


Since I was in New Orleans just as the Creole tomatoes were coming into season, many restaurants had specials featuring them, and Mr. B’s was no exception. Theirs were thick-sliced, drizzled with aged balsamic and scattered with shaved parmesan. They were mind-blowingly good.


But this…this is what haunts my dreams at night:


Bacon-wrapped Shrimp and Grits

This is Mr. B’s best-known dish and for good reason. The huge Gulf shrimp are wrapped in pecanwood-smoked bacon, served over creamy yellow grits and drenched in red-eye gravy.

A closer look:


This may have been one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten.

It would be very difficult to top the shrimp and grits with dessert. Then in steps the other Mr. B’s cult favorite: Profiteroles with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream.


Simple dishes like this have to be done well to be memorable, and these profiteroles were done very, very well.

In short, Mr. B’s can put me at any table they like and I will gladly hang out for hours at the bar, if it means I can make my bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits and profiterole dreams a reality.

Mr. B’s Bistro
201 Royal Street, New Orleans | 504-523-2078