Tag Archives: Tacolicious

Traveling back to San Francisco and Napa

I was lucky enough to have last week off for the holidays. While it meant finally catching up on laundry from our trip to Tucson for Christmas, baking some doggy treats for the first time in about a year, and general cleaning (I think I am finally ahead of Wrigley in the vacuum-shedding battle), I was also able to spend some time reflecting on 2015. It was a fast year, and a really long year. It had lots of great moments laughing with friends and family, but also some really tough days. Instead of letting those hard days define the year, I’m hoping to share some of my favorite memories from the last few months while this blog sat neglected.

One of my favorite memories of 2015 is a trip Chip and I took to San Francisco and Napa in October. It was a bit of a spontaneous trip, but we were so excited for some time together in a part of the country we love so much. I’ve mentioned this before, but we are so glad we decided to start setting aside a little money each month for the sole purpose of traveling. We love exploring new places together and seeing what life looks like outside of our bubble in San Antonio. We flew in to San Francisco on a Tuesday evening with the plan of renting a car and then driving to Chip’s favorite place for dinner – Tacolicious. We had two smooth flights before landing in San Francisco and patiently waited for the team at Enterprise to help get us a car. Since the wait took longer than they expected, they graciously upgraded us to a sports car. We were pretty excited about that! We left the airport around 7pm and started the drive into the city…

Less than 10 minutes into our drive, one of the dashboard monitors starts beeping. A lot. And loudly. We had a flat tire. We took the first exit we could and pulled over while we called Enterprise. And called and called and called some more. Y’all. We could not get anyone at the airport office to answer the phone that entire night. We eventually spoke to one of the road side assistance reps on the general help number and they called in a tow truck for us. In the meantime, we sat in the car in a thankfully very safe neighborhood while continuously trying and failing to get in touch with someone at the Enterprise airport office. We wanted to make sure that we should tow the car back to their office instead of a mechanic, and we also wanted to see if they could have our next car ready for us. We were getting pretty hungry for dinner by that point. Fast forward over an hour later (we still haven’t talked to anyone at that Enterprise) and we’re getting the rental car towed back to the airport while riding in the truck with the driver. Fast forward a bit more, and we’re finally leaving Enterprise once again, this time in a convertible since that was just about all they had left by that time (we really didn’t want to ride in a big SUV/pay that much in gas). We quickly checked in at the Coventry Motor Inn and walked to Tacolicious for dinner around 10:30.

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Airplane selfie! We would soon both feel how Chip’s face looks…

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Towing the first rental car back to the airport

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Late dinner at Tacolicious

We decided to spend the first few days of our trip in Napa with the hopes of avoiding the big crowds that fill the wineries for weekend tastings. So after walking to breakfast at Home Plate, we loaded up the car and made the drive out to Napa.

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Morning view from the hotel

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Getting ready for the afternoon winery visits with a big breakfast

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Driving the streets of San Francisco

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These pictures just don’t capture how STEEP some of the streets are!

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Love my travel buddy

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Taking advantage of the convertible to enjoy the sunny day

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Golden Gate Bridge

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View of San Francisco from the other side of the bridge

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On the other side of the bridge

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Crazy hair on the drive to Napa

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In serious need of a Thelma and Louise head scarf

It took us about an hour to drive from San Francisco to Napa. It’s been a warm year across the country (doesn’t feel like it right now!), so we didn’t see the amount of fall colors as we did the first time we went to Napa a couple of years ago. That didn’t stop us from enjoying the view, the wine country is really one of the most beautiful places we’ve been to. Once we got into Napa, our first stop was to get a quick lunch at Oxbow Public Market. Chip got a burger while I couldn’t resist a hot dog. Keeping it classy.

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Sometimes, I have the palate of a five year old

Planning a trip to Napa can be a little overwhelming. Did you know that there are over 400 wineries in Napa? If you’re also looking at Sonoma, there are over 600 total wineries to choose from. To help pick our tours for this trip, we focused on getting a different experience from each place we would visitt. As much as we enjoy wine, it can be difficult to differentiate one tasting and tour from another unless there is something unique offered. When we first started planning this trip, I was really intrigued by a blind tasting offered at Elizabeth Spencer Wines. We had never done a tasting like this before and liked the idea of competing against each other while also learning how to get more from a wine tasting. We had 1:00 reservations at Elizabeth Spencer and we lucked out by being the only ones on this tour. We were taken into a private room with our tour guide, Dana, and had four glasses of red wine ready for us to taste. Dana walked us through the four wines, teaching us how to compare the shades of red between the wines, where you feel tannins, and more. Dana was so great and patient with us and probably spent an extra 30 minutes on our tasting, walking us through the different regions of Napa Valley and even showed us some dirt samples from each area. Unfortunately, Chip correctly guessed two of the four wines, while I was only successful with one. I’m waiting for a rematch!

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Blind tasting at Elizabeth Spencer

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So focused on the wines

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Dana walking us through the different regions in the Napa Valley

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Who knew grapes could grow in these types of soil?

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Dana gave us one more sample of each wine once we finished the tasting

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Elizabeth Spencer was definitely one of the highlights to our trip!

We had such a great time at Elizabeth Spencer. We loved the unique tasting experience, which was both fun and extremely informative. Out of the different wineries we’ve been to in California and Fredericksburg, this was by far one of the best tasting experiences we’ve ever had. Dana did a great job answering our questions and made us feel so welcome there. We can’t wait to do a blind tasting with my family sometime soon!

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Leaving Elizabeth Spencer

After Elizabeth Spencer, we drove to our next winery: Pride Mountain Vineyards. We decided to visit this winery because of their Facebook page. Like everything social media related, a lot of wineries would post just beautiful and perfectly lighted pictures, beautiful glasses of wine with the perfect backdrop. But Pride Mountain had a lot of fun, behind the scenes posts. We loved seeing how the staff has fun while making great wine, and that they give so much credit to their field workers. We had the last tasting of the day, so it did feel a little rushed, but we loved the casual feel to the winery and seeing some of the wine-making process in action. Since the staff was wrapping up for the day, we also got to see them cleaning out some of the equipment while they joked with our tour guide. It was nice to see such a transparent picture of what life on this vineyard looks like. I have to admit, they made all that hard work look really fun.

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Driving to Pride Mountain Vineyards

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Chip wanted to smell the barrels outside of Pride Mountain Vineyards. Spoiler: they didn’t smell like wine.

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Not a bad view from the parking lot at Pride Mountain Vineyards

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Can I work here?

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Grape vines for the win

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Chip found some grapes. They smelled better than the barrels.

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Ready to tour Pride Mountain Vineyards

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In the tasting room at Pride Mountain Vineyards before the tour

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You bet we bought Wrigley a bag of these treats

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Speaking of Wrigley… this could have been his long lost cousin in a book at Pride Mountain Vineyards.

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Part of the wine making process

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More of the wine making process

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On one side of the brick line is Napa. On the other side is Sonoma.

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In the cave at Pride Mountain Vineyards

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Pride Mountain Vineyards

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Leaving Pride Mountain Vineyards after our tour

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Can we live here?

More to come on our time in Napa, a concert in Berkeley, and our weekend in San Francisco!

And now to end this post with a funny picture…

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Even guys get convertible hair

San Francisco, Round Two

Last year, Chip and I took a (belated) anniversary trip to San Francisco and Napa. To say we had a great time would be an understatement and we have mentioned more than once how fun it would be to go back again someday. We really enjoyed getting to see different parts of the city and the wine country was awesome (hello, it’s the wine country). So when my mom suggested these two spots for our family vacation this year, we were pretty excited. Since I was taking some time off of work this past spring, I was able to help my mom plan the trip and find places for us to stay, restaurants to try out, different winery tours, etc. Since we would be a group of six with my parents, Chip, myself, Alex, and his girlfriend Teresa, we thought a rental home would be great for us instead of a hotel. I’m glad we started planning this trip back in April since we quickly discovered that a lot of places were already booked almost five months in advance. Thankfully, we still found some really great places, but if you’re planning a trip to San Francisco or Napa, get to booking stuff early.

Chip and I flew into San Francisco on a Friday afternoon and got into the city just in time for dinner at one of our favorite places from our last trip – Tacolicious. Chip has mentioned this restaurant just about every time we talk about San Francisco, so I was really glad we were able to go back and enjoy it all over again. My parents had flown into San Francisco Thursday afternoon, so the four of us had dinner together before Alex and Teresa landed later that night. My mom just about ate a bowl of salsa by herself, which if you’ve tried their salsa, you would understand. It’s some roasted tomato-mint combination and it’s delicious. Chip and I are going to try to recreate it and probably never come close to the real thing. But we will try. Tacolicious actually has some of their other salsas for sale at most William-Sonoma stores right now. We bought some this past weekend and will be having an epic taco night soon.

On our flight to SF

On our flight to SF

Tacolicious

Tacolicious

Can Tacolicious please deliver to Texas?

Can Tacolicious please deliver to Texas?

Now, we had been really excited about our rental home in San Francisco. We found a great spot in Nob Hill that was a perfect space for the six of us…. as well as some super rowdy neighbors below us. How rowdy? We’re talking a party that was just getting started when Alex and Teresa landed a little before midnight and went until about four in the morning. Somehow, I slept through the worst of their music and dialogue but no one got good sleep that night. It wasn’t the experience we were looking for, so we actually decided to stay in a hotel Saturday night. Regardless of our sleepless night on Friday, we had a fun and very full Saturday in the city.

Saturday morning, we took a cable car to the farmers market at the Ferry Building. This is hands down the best farmers market I’ve ever been to. We made our way around the Ferry Building and the stands outside, eating breakfast and more than our fair share of samples (I’m looking at you, dad). And no, I didn’t eat the deep fried mac n’ cheese we got last year (shame, I know).

Foggy ride on the cable car

Foggy ride on the cable car

On the cable car

On the cable car

The Ferry Building

The Ferry Building

Why, yes, we did have some of these

Why, yes, we did have some of these

After the farmers market, we spent some time walking along the Embarcadero. This included some time at Pier 39 watching all of the seal lions.

Posing for the camera

Posing for the camera

How is this comfortable?

How is this comfortable?

Walking around Pier 39

Walking around Pier 39

Pier 39

Pier 39

Mom and Dad at Pier 39

Mom and Dad at Pier 39

Alex and Teresa

Alex and Teresa

Ready to go on our tour of Alcatraz

Ready to go on our tour of Alcatraz

More to come on our afternoon at Alcatraz and the rest of our time in California!

San Francisco: Part One

Chip and I just got back from a great trip to San Francisco and Napa. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to northern California, here’s my advice: GO. It’s absolutely beautiful and was so much more fun than we had expected. October is definitely an ideal time to go with the perfect weather and changing seasons, so plan a trip now!

On our two year anniversary this past May, Chip and I spent time talking at dinner about how much fun it would be to plan a trip to San Francisco. Neither of us had ever been to this city but had always heard great things about it from family and friends. So after dinner that day, we went to Barnes & Noble and bought a couple of travel books to get us started. We were hoping to take this belated two year anniversary trip earlier in the summer, but things got busy and planning the trip kept getting put off… my bad. Knowing that Chip’s vacation black-out period would be starting in November, we were determined to make this trip happen by October so we wouldn’t have to wait until the new year. I had already done most of our research earlier in the summer thanks to our Fodor’s book but had yet to set official dates for this trip or find flights and hotel for us. So after spending a Saturday doing some research online last month, we finally had our trip booked. We had been saving some American Airlines giftcards my parents got us for our birthdays a couple of years ago and thought this trip was the perfect time to use them (thanks again, mom and dad!!). We found some great prices for flights leaving out of Austin, and considering how much cheaper these flights were over the San Antonio options, we decided that the drive up to Austin as well as the long-term airport parking costs would definitely be worth it. Finding our hotel was a lot trickier. Our two biggest obstacles were: 1-finding a hotel for the consecutive days that we would be in town and 2-finding one that wasn’t ridiculously priced (there are some really cute hotels in San Francisco, but whoa, were their prices painful to look at). After looking through the Fodor’s book and reading reviews on Trip Advisor, we decided to go with the Coventry Motor Inn on Lombard Street. It isn’t a fancy hotel and is a little outdated, but it really can’t be beat on price and location.

Planning our trip

Planning our trip

We left for San Francisco last Wednesday. We finished our packing in the morning, dropped Wrigley off at Lucy’s Doggy Daycare and then drove up to Austin with enough time to grab lunch before our 2:00 flight. We got into San Francisco around 6:00 that evening and took a Super Shuttle to our hotel.

We decided to take it easy Wednesday night and walked to Tacolicious for dinner after seeing some reviews on Trip Advisor. This place was way better than we had been expecting. We got there at just the right time and were seated right away while groups after us had to wait out in the San Francisco cold for a table. The food was amazing and probably one of the best meals we had while in the city. We started with some fried plantains (I can never resist those) and a great chicken tortilla soup. We then split a few small tacos that Chip still can’t stop talking about. If you go to Tacolicious, be sure to try their carnitas taco. It will change your life. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from our dinner there; for one reason it was extremely dark in the restaurant and I didn’t want to be “that tourist” with the bright flash going off and for another reason, I was fighting a cold and just didn’t feel that great, so I let myself be lazy on documenting our first meal in San Francisco. Might not be the best excuses, but we really did have a great time at dinner Wednesday night.

More to come on our time in San Francisco!