Best of the west: Vancouver to San Francisco
(part III)

The third and final installment in the Best of the West series, featuring a guest review from R., the resident sandwich expert and author of Discovery Sandwich International.

Best Sandwich
Calamari Steak Sandwich from Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero, California

I rarely ask wait staff for their opinion on items from the menu. With many summers spent in working in a restaurant, I understand the urge to rave about every item. (“The liver? Outstanding!”) But at Duarte’s, I needed some guidance if I was to take the leap into a calamari steak sandwich. The rave seemed genuine, and the waitress was spot on, it was tender and tasty. My favourite sandwich in a longtime. Breaded and herbed up, on a French roll. Good fries too.

Best Dinner
Grilled Mascarpone Polenta Cakes from Zazie in San Francisco, California

It’s not everyday that polenta entrées pop up on the menu. So, when I happened upon the following at Zazie, a cute French bistro, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity:

"Grilled Mascarpone Polenta Cakes with spicy chevre tomato sauce, wild mushrooms and wilted spinach."

I’m not the biggest fan of mushrooms there ever was, but pair them with a spicy, chevre-flecked tomato sauce and rich, creamy polenta in a golden crust, and I am convinced of at least one good use for them. So scandalously decadent you feel like you’re getting away with eating cheesecake for dinner.

Best Value

A tie between:

Chicken Burrito from Gorditos in Seattle, Washington

A chicken burrito, served wet-style with sour cream, guacamole, salsa and melted cheese. So delicious you want to convince yourself you’re capable of consuming the whole enchilada (figuratively speaking), but so big that R. and I shared one for lunch and still couldn’t finish!


Virtually anything from Chinatown in San Francisco, California

A US$6 feast from one of numerous shops that line the hectic streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown: a combination of steamed and baked pork buns, pork and shrimp dumplings and, to end on a sweet note, fried sesame balls filled with sticky rice and red bean paste. You know you’ve picked a winner when you have to point to order and the Chinese man sitting in the corner tosses a curious smile and approving nod in your direction.