Category Archives: General

What’s Old Is New Again At Dan Gordon’s

Fried chicken and barbecue star at the new Dan Gordon's in Palo Alto.

Fried chicken and barbecue star at the new Dan Gordon’s in Palo Alto.


Some laws are meant to be broken. Or rescinded.

Especially when it comes to the one that California enacted in 1999 that prohibited someone from owning both a restaurant and a bottling brewery.

The result was that long-time brewer Dan Gordon was forced to sell his 12 Gordon Biersch Brewery restaurants in order to maintain ownership of his Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose.

It was not a decision he wanted to make. And it was one that haunted him.

When California legislators rescinded that law this year, Gordon rejoiced. By chance, he learned that his original Gordon Biersch restaurant in downtown Palo Alto was about to be shuttered and sold. He managed to buy it back.

The expansive bar.

The expansive bar.

The soaring, barn-like dining room.

The soaring, barn-like dining room.

This March, he and his business partner, Steve Sincheck (Gordon’s original bar manager at that location, and now owner of Palo Alto’s Old Pro and Local Union 271) reopened the restaurant, christening it Dan Gordon’s and transforming it into a contemporary barbecue joint. It is the only restaurant Gordon actually owns now.

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Kinda, Sorta Patatas Bravas

A take on a favorite tapa -- without the deep-frying.

A take on a favorite tapa — without the deep-frying.


Whenever I think of fried foods, I can’t help but think of two friends, whose opinions couldn’t be more divergent.

On one side, I have my buddy Ben of the blog, FocusSnapEat, who vows no fried foods will ever pass his lips.

On the other side, I have my friend Andrea Nguyen, creator of the Viet World Kitchen blog and a veteran cookbook author, who is an avid home-fryer and chides me for not wanting to fry my own chicken or spring rolls at home.

To Ben, I always say: Relax. A couple french fries or a doughnut now and then won’t kill you.

To Andrea, I always say: Ugh, the mess, the splatter, the leftover oil to deal with.

That’s why I love this particular recipe for patatas bravas. In this traditional Spanish tapa, potatoes are deep-fried, then drizzled with a creamy, smoky and gently spicy tomato-y sauce.

I always order it at Spanish restaurants. I have not made them at home, though, because of the whole deep-frying conundrum.

But “Kinda, Sorta Patatas Bravas” lets me have my crisp potatoes without a second thought because these potatoes are boiled, then roasted on high heat — not fried at all.

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A Tale of Three New Cookies

Cookies at your doorstep in minutes with a touch of an app? It's possible.

Cookies at your doorstep in minutes with a touch of an app? It’s possible.

On-Demand Cookies with Doughbies

In a world where most anything seems capable of materializing with just a click or swipe on an app comes cookies delivered to you in 20 minutes after you’ve placed your order online.

That’s the premise of San Francisco startup Doughbies.

I should qualify that. In order for that to happen, you must live in San Francisco or as far south as San Mateo, as that is the region the company currently services with its drivers who deliver the cookies. You also have to order Monday through Friday, either between noon to 4 p.m. or 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. to get the cookies within 20 minutes. If you live farther south like I do, you get next-day delivery instead.

For orders within the on-demand delivery region, there is a minimum order of six cookies. For overnight orders, the minimum required is 12 cookies. There is no delivery charge.

I had a chance to try out the next-day delivery for free. From the menu online, I chose my cookies: three each of the Double Chocolate Chunk, Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Chip with Sea Salt. The cookies are generally priced at $8 for three palm-sized cookies.

They arrived the next afternoon as promised, each cookie individually wrapped in plastic and neatly stacked inside a brown box.

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Sate Your Thirst and Appetite at Smokestack

A sampler at Smokestack.

A sampler at Smokestack.


Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing Company in San Francisco specializes in B2B operations.

That’s beer-to-barbecue to you and me.

Think the usual suspects of ribs and chopped pork. But also the out-of-the-norm pastrami. Yes, New York deli-proud pastrami.

The soaring warehouse-like space in the Dogpatch neighborhood sports a bona fide brewery in the back, and a barbecue joint in the front that features an expansive bar complete with shelves of liquor stacked so high, the bartenders need to climb a tall wooden ladder to reach the top ones.

Done up in an abundance of reclaimed wood, exposed concrete walls and steel pipes, it’s a festive spot that draws a crowd, as I witnessed recently when I was invited in to dine as a guest.

On the top shelves is a zany display of assorted rubber work boots.

On the top shelves is a zany display of assorted rubber work boots.

You order at the counter, then find a seat among the several communal tables, until your food is brought to you.

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My Vietnamese Escargot Vongole

A little bit Italian, a little bit Vietnamese.

A little bit Italian, a little bit Vietnamese.


Inspiration comes in many forms.

Reading a clever turn of phrase that captivates. Feeling the bracing spray of the ocean against your face. Viewing the magnificence of a rocket-red sunset.

For me, it came in the form of snails.

Escargot, actually. Loaded up in a saucy dish at Cassia in Santa Monica to be exact.

Chef Bryant Ng melds French and Vietnamese influences in his dishes. His charred naan-like flatbread with a side of chopped lemongrass escargot, which I enjoyed at his restaurant earlier this year, is nothing short of spectacular.

My husband and I attacked the dish, finishing every last drop and crumb. All the while, I kept thinking how amazing this escargot would be tossed with pasta.

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