Dining Out Paleo: Gordo Lele (Cabo San Lucas)

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In a former life, I was a HUGE taco fan. I’m not talking about the American-style, crunchy-shell, Taco Bell crap — I craved the authentic stuff, with perfectly-seasoned meat scooped onto fresh, piping-hot corn tortillas. (Okay. In a former FORMER life, I was a big fan of Taco Bell as well). I still love Mexican food, but since going Paleo, I rarely order tacos. Those damned tortillas can be tough to resist. But is there a better time to have an illicit taco rendezvous than when on vacation in Mexico?

After some due diligence, I found Gordo Lele — a hole-in-the-wall known as one of the best taco joints in Cabo San Lucas. Like it or not, my family was getting dragged here for lunch.

Gordo Lele isn’t easy to find. It’s just a couple of blocks from the tourist magnet known as Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo, but it’s got a non-descript storefront, and the interior’s as tiny as a shoebox. 

Once you step inside, it’ll be a little difficult not to notice that this taqueria is also a shrine to the Beatles. The walls are plastered with Fab Four-related memorabilia and magazine clippings (and an occasional Elvis poster, too). 

Javier, the jovial owner, chef, and waiter, is a bit of a renaissance man — he’s a huge Beatles fanatic (obviously), and the cover of the menus declare him to be the fifth Beatle. (Sorry, Pete Best.) In addition to making ridiculously good tacos and yummy tortas (Mexican sandwiches), Javier often breaks into song with microphone in hand, serenading his patrons with Beatles tunes.

But the main event is the food. Gordo Lele’s lunch menu is short and sweet: Just a handful of savory fillings for tacos or tortas. Given that it was our first time here and the prices are cheap, we ordered a ton of food for the six of us.

Fitbomb and I shared four (yes, FOUR) platters of tacos: Carne asada…

…pollo…

…pescado…

…and camerones.

Javier brought each table a couple of bowls of tangy guacamole and smoky salsa, so we made sure we put them to good use.

The tacos came on flour tortillas, so Fitbomb and I just ate the fillings. (I later asked and found out that you can get ‘em on corn tortillas — perfect for those of you who can’t stand the thought of eating tacos without a tortilla but want to avoid a gluten bomb.) 

The carne asada tacos were my favorite. If you’re avoiding dairy, steer clear of the shrimp tacos ‘cause they’re served with a good amount of oozy, gooey cheese. Also, if you’re unwilling to cheat a bit and eat some corn, you should know that the chicken and fish tacos both have it mixed into the filling. 

We tasted some of the corn, but left most of it uneaten. You can take the girl out of her Paleo kitchen, but you can’t (entirely) take the Paleo out of the girl.

Meanwhile, my in-laws — who are decidedly anti-Paleo — ordered a ham-and-egg torta…

…and a carne asada torta.

The sandwiches looked tasty: Soft, crusty rolls filled with meat, avocado, and tomatoes. But we didn’t partake — except to grab the leftover meat from their sandwiches and use them to make salsa-and-guacamole rolls.

We loved Gorgo Lele’s — even our resident three-year-old carbivore. 

Or maybe he was just excited to listen to Beatles songs and pose for pictures with Javier and his brother while wearing a newly-purchased lucha libre mask. (Admittedly, Javier’s mask is just a hair net, but it’s pretty awesome nonetheless.)

We left Gordo Lele stuffed and satisfied — and we spent less than $40. If you’re in Cabo San Lucas, you’ve got to visit this place.

Eating Out Paleo: Honu Restaurant (Lahaina, HI)

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Mala Ocean Tavern is one of our favorite beachfront restaurants in Maui, so we were happy to discover that owner Mark Ellman opened up a new restaurant, Honu, right next door. A bigger restaurant that features local seafood and organic produce— we’re there!

Honu is located in the old Local Motion site but all signs of the former surf shop are long gone.  The space now has beautiful ocean views, exposed beams, high ceilings, and a huge bar.

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The restaurant features local seafood and, er, pizza baked in a 900 F brick oven. There’s a bunch of Paleo-friendly options on the menu if you avoid the pizza and sandwich sections plus the complimentary fried garbanzo beans.

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A couple years ago, I’d only be ordering from those sections and I’d be demanding more beans, please! 

For dinner, we shared a bunch of appetizers and starters because I think it’s more fun to eat that way.

We started with the special soup of the day, butternut squash and cocout… …

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…lamb riblets…

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…fried pig ears (yes, there’s some breading on it)…

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…grilled rock shrimp and asparagus…

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…steamed mussels…

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…and kale salad with seared ahi.

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Yummy bites, great view, and the kids were fed and entertained. Win cubed.

Paleo Eats: 11/5/11 (Maui Day #1)

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The Nombomb family is officially on vacation!

As is customary for all our trips, Fitbomb was in charge of packing the clothes and electronics and I packed the toiletries and in-flight snacks. Hubby does the bulk of the packing because his skillz are legendary. Case in point: all our crap for a weeklong vacay fit into two carry-ons and two backpacks – one backpack was even tucked inside a carry-on! We each have one change of clothes that we’ll be wearing over and over and over…

In the morning, I crisped some coconut flakes in the toaster oven (300 F for 2-5 minutes) and stored the cooled chips in a LunchBots pico container. When you’re toasting the flakes, watch them like a hawk because they will turn into cinders and ashes in a blink of an eye! 

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Other chow for our plane ride included grass fed Paleo Kits, Primal Pacs, grass fed jerky packets, SeaSnax seaweed, nuts, applesauce, and Lara bars. The place we’re staying at has a kitchen so I also packed garlic sea salt, seasoning sea salt, and volcano grind. I’m not crazy, just prepared.

Even though we were leaving the house in a couple hours, I really wanted to try out our new airtight, reusable silicone cooking and storage bag. Unlike plastic, silicone is totally inert and doesn’t leach any dangerous compounds into your food. Although the bags are labeled for microwave-use, I tested one out in the SousVide Supreme by making scrambled eggs.

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For our preflight breakfast, I ate sous vide scrambled eggs, bacon, leftover sous vide beef tongue, and sliced tomatoes.

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I think it’s obvious I wanted to make sure our bellies were stuffed with fat and protein before our long flight.

We arrived in Maui mid-afternoon and our first pit stop was at the Costco near the airport. We filled our cart with organic eggs, local mushrooms, avocados, Kalua pig, Lau Lau, spinach, purple sweet potatoes, salad greens, ground beef, and fruit. Next, we stopped by the massive Whole Foods and bought some coconut oil, butter, sausages, and bacon.

Here’s a shot of the inside of our fridge:

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By the time we unpacked our things, we were too tired from traveling to make dinner. When I write “we” I’m referring to the adults because our kids were super perky and alert.

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For dinner, we headed to one of our old favorites, Star Noodle.

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When we were last on the island a year ago, we ate at Star Noodle multiple times. Yes, there’s soy, sugar, vegetable oil — and who knows what else — in most of the dishes, but we tried to stay as Paleo as possible. (We’re probably the only folks who have dined at Star Noodle a half-a-dozen times without ever ordering any noodles.)

The hubby and I shared some housemade kimchee…

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…Ahi avo…

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…pan-roasted local mushrooms…

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…pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with kimchee puree…

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…and the rib eye special topped with a tomato salad.

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I’m pooped and gotta catch some zzz’s ‘cause I’ll bet the bank that the Double-O’s will be up at 4:00 a.m. Thankfully, we put ‘em in another bedroom, so hopefully, they won’t wake us up. (Wishful thinking, I know.)

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Eating Out Paleo: Steak Out (Mountain View, CA)

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Do you know how hard it is to find a burger joint down on the Peninsula that serves local, 100% grass fed beef? Steak Out, a casual burger and steak joint located on Castro Street, the main drag in Mountain View, finally fills that void.

Ambience here is totally lacking — it’s a no frills beer garden where you order your grub and grog at the counter. After you find a seat on the large outdoor patio or at the few tables inside, your food is brought to you.

Fitbomb and I wandered here for lunch today and got a couple of bun-less burgers to eat al fresco.

I ordered the Jammin’ burger ($9.50) + extra patty ($4.00) and it came with house-made sweet bacon jam (yes, it has sugar in it), gruyere cheese, tomato, and pickles…

…and Fitbomb ordered a Roswell ($9.50) + an additional patty ($4.00) which came with bacon, cheddar cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, and red onions. He asked for the BBQ sauce on the side.

Nope, there ain’t no lettuce on the burgers but you can add it on for $0.50. The beef was juicy, well-seasoned, and cooked the way we ordered it (medium-rare). We both enjoyed our meal but we wish they offered more add-ons. I would’ve loved to add avocado to my burger but it’s not an option — even though it comes standard on their turkey burger.

Some people may think paying $13.50 for a double-burger is kinda steep but quality beef ain’t cheap. We’ll definitely be back!

Eating Out Paleo: Locavore Restaurant (San Francisco, CA)

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Locavore is a cozy joint in Bernal Heights where all the food is sourced within a 100-mile radius. It’s the type of place where you can eat, drink, and chat for hours — and that’s just what we did.

After a busy day throwing a party at our digs, Fitbomb and I were in no mood to cook. Instead, we headed to Locavore with a gaggle of friends to relax and gobble down pretty much everything on the menu. Although most dishes contained some non-Paleo-approved ingredients (e.g. beans, bread, dairy) we only requested one Paleo modification – no buns on the burgers.  When you’re eating family-style, you can pick around things you don’t like, and there’s always someone (e.g. Dr. HA) who will eat the grains and legumes. (Yes, if you’re special enough, I’ll be friends with you even if you eat tofu and no fat.)

Maybe we should’ve made more substitution requests, because the kitchen apparently forgot (ignored?) our no-buns-on-the-burgers mandate. Not a big deal - we just ate around them.

My favorite dishes of the night were the crispy duck wings, the duck breast entree, the meatballs, and the side of warmed cherry tomatoes. 

For the amount of food and drink we consumed, the final bill was very reasonable. The fact that they didn’t kick us out after talking, drinking and laughing for three hours, however, was priceless.

Eating Out Paleo: Martins West (Redwood City, CA)

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Wow! Could it be? Yes, Virginia, there is a good, reasonably priced restaurant in the ‘burbs and its name is Martins West.

Martins West is a gastropub, “a public house that specializes in serving high quality food.” Executive chef Michael Dotson, formerly of PlumpJack Cafe and Evvia Estiatorio, has designed a menu of Scottish-inspired shared plates that are all made with market-driven, local ingredients. The nosh is delicious and every dish is less than $20. 

Although we were tempted to take a gluten-laden detour (Scotch eggs! Rarebit! Lamb tongue butty!), we stayed on the Paleo straight-and-narrow tonight.

We shared a wild arugula salad with sweet and sour Sebastopol apples, fried shallots, and pistachio…

…house-made braised oxtail terrine…

…Tunisian spiced lamb…

…grilled octopus with potatoes, french beans, and salsa verde…

…toasted green and yellow pole beans…

…fried Brussels sprouts…

…pork belly with chili pepper ragout and brown turkey fig…

…and bavette steak with chanterelles, corn, black salt, and sauce bearnaise.

All four of us enjoyed the nosh and can’t wait to return to try new items on the seasonally-changing menu! 

Eating Out Paleo: Anatolian Kitchen (Palo Alto, CA)

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I love kabobs and Turkish food, specifically, so I was excited when Anatolian Kitchen opened up in my neck of the woods last year. It’s run by the Tekdemir brothers: Dino mans the front of the house and Shahan runs the kitchen. Service is always warm and welcoming, but the reason we return over and over again is their tasty, uncomplicated food. It’s comforting Middle Eastern fare done well.

We’ve eaten here a bunch of times and almost ALWAYS order the combo grill and ask for extra veggies in place of rice. The combo comes with lamb, chicken, doner, and kofte and the meat’s always well-seasoned and moist.

We routinely share a second entree and typically choose one of the daily specials. The braised lamb shank is always tender and well-seasoned (we sub out the orzo with veggies) but my favorite dish is the pan roasted whole sea bass stuffed with fennel and onions.

When we ordered it the other day, the fish was fantastic! The skin was crisp, yet the flesh was moist and delicious! We didn’t even need to Paleo-fy the dish because it came with a side salad and no grains.

If you’re in the area — say you’re finishing a WOD at CrossFit Palo Alto — give this place a try!

Dining Out Paleo(ish): Alexander’s Steakhouse (Cupertino, CA)

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Last night, to celebrate the end of my MIL’s chemo treatments, my parents invited us and my in-laws to dinner at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino.

This place is WILDLY popular and I was looking forward to chowing on MEATMEATMEATMEATMEAT.

Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing you see is a enormous window into the brightly-lit dry-aging area of the kitchen, along with a display of the different cuts of steak available. The most impressive-looking one was the Tomahawk Chop (or, as the restaurant inexplicably spelled it last night, “TOMAWAK SHOP”), an enormous 32-ounce bone-in ribeye.

We don’t often take the boys out to high-end (read: expensive) restaurants, but they were absorbed in our iPhones, and didn’t turn into pumpkins or anything. It helped, too, that service was quick, efficient, and personable. Our friendly waiter spent a good few minutes going over the menu with us, and was warm and attentive all night.

For starters, Fitbomb and I shared seared foie gras with cherries…

…and filet mignon tartare with quail egg.

When in Rome — or in this case, Cupertino, California — you should always order the restaurant’s best. So both of us ordered the same entree: A trio of different Wagyu New York steaks.

The steaks were perfectly-cooked — medium-rare edge-to-edge (sous vide, anyone?) — and each were topped with flavorful sauces and garnishes. The cuts of Wagyu were fatty and had a great mouth-feel, but I still missed the beefiness of grass-fed meat.

And that’s the rub with trying to stay Paleo at any steakhouse: The restaurant will always opt to serve grain-fed beef (some even proudly proclaim that they only serve grain-fed stuff) because of the taste and customer demand. Alexander’s meat, for example, is exclusively grain-fed. When asked, our waiter told us that Alexander’s has tried offering grass-fed meat in the past, but stopped because “of the metallic aftertaste” and “inconsistency” of the cuts.)

Our table also shared a bunch of sides: mushrooms, creamed spinach, fries, mac ‘n cheese and corn. (Yes, FRIES and MAC ‘N CHEESE and CORN. Not all of us at the table are Paleo eaters, sadly.)

As we’ve said before, we don’t keep non-Paleo foods in the house, but on the rare occasions when we eat out at restaurants with the kids, we typically let them order what they want. To be sustainable, we think that Paleo eating can’t be coerced. We teach our boys about making the right food choices, and cross our fingers that they’ll actually make ‘em. 

But that doesn’t mean they won’t see the bread basket their grandparents are eating from and not demand a gluten-y hunk. Or refrain from eating the mac ‘n cheese and fries. Or turn away the complimentary fizzy fruit soda that the waiter brought over to them. Or the palate-cleanser — a strawberry-orange granita — that arrived between courses. Or the celebratory piece of cake that my MIL received gratis from the restaurant. Or the humongous cone of cotton candy that was brought to every table after dinner.

I’ll admit it: I didn’t cover the kids’ eyes and hustle them away from the table. (I did, however, move the cotton candy out of reach after the kids had grabbed a few handfuls of fluffy spun sugar.)

Blech. Bad Paleo mommy.

It’s not the waiter’s fault, of course. The service was fantastic and well-orchestrated. After learning of the reason we were dining at Alexander’s, our waiter made a point of bringing out complimentary champagne and dessert to toast to my MIL’s health. These were thoughtful touches, and it made the dinner a very special one for our parents.

How was the food?

Tasty, but waaaaaay overpriced for nice but fairly standard steakhouse fare. Don’t get me wrong — I’ll gladly shell out for great food, but: (1) Alexander’s did not blow my mind, and (2) it was more expensive than meals we’ve had at Momofuku Ko, Eleven Madison Park, Saison, and other super-insanely-awesome places.

Yes, I do go off the Paleo reservation once in a blue moon — even when we’re not at Per Se or whatever. I am under no illusion that restaurants cook with coconut oil instead of canola, and that restaurant sauces aren’t “enhanced” with sugar, corn starch and flour. It’s one thing for me to consciously decide to have an occasional eff-off meal — especially when the food’s fantastic — but I learned last night that it’s quite another thing to watch my kids blithely scarf down sugar, gluten and soy. I might have enjoyed the experience more if the Faileo foods weren’t devoured so gleefully by my children.

Lots of people love Alexander’s, and eat there guilt-free. Sadly, I’m not one of them.

Eating Out Paleo: DishDash (Sunnyvale, CA)

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DishDash is super popular Mediterranean restaurant down in the South Bay with over 1300 reviews on Yelp! Ker-azy.

I’d eaten here a couple years ago but tonight would be the first time I’d be abstaining from the breadbasket. We were definitely the only cave peeps in the restaurant because all the tables around us were asking for refills on their pita bread and ordering entrees where the portion of rice looked like a mini mountain on the plate. Oh, the metabolic derangement!

Servings here are huge so Fitbomb and I decided to split two appetizers and one entrée. We shared a Hoset Sabenech (spinach sautéed with onions topped with a lemon, garlic, and sumac sauce)…

…Gamberi (marinated eggplant topped with grilled prawns in a traditional tomato coriander sauce)…

…and Mo, the King of Kebabs combo platter (chicken, lamb, and kufta) with extra grilled vegetables in lieu of rice.

Is it worthy of all the praise?

Probably not, but our eats were tasty and filling and the service was prompt and friendly. It wasn’t mind-blowingly delicious but we left stuffed and satisfied. Sometimes you just wanna go somewhere with reliable chow and DishDash fits the bill.

Eating Out Paleo: 4505 Meats (San Francisco, CA)

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Without a doubt, I’m a HUGE fan of Ryan Farr and his meat magic. Remember? I called him the Jedi Master for all things meat and I regularly treat our family to his seasonal meat CSA packages.

However, up until today, I’d never tried one of his famous cheeseburgers. (I heard that audible gasp. Shut it.) 

He’d recently tweeted that the 4505 meat stand makes “Paleo-style” burgers so I vowed to get myself up to the Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market to try one.

But when I stepped up to order my sandwich, I saw a sign that said “no substitutions or alterations.” Whaaaa?

“Um, I know your sign says no substitutions, but can I get two double burgers with no bun and an extra egg?”

“Of course you can!” The friendly server turned and called out to one of the grill masters: “Two double burgers, extra egg, no bun please.”

One of the guys behind the grill yelled back, “Two burgers…PALEO-STYLE?”

My heart leapt!

“Nope, she wants cheese on them.”

“WAIT! No no no — I don’t! I want ‘em PALEO-style! I just didn’t want to be a pain in the ass and ask for more changes!”

The server smiled. “No problem! We’re very Paleo-friendly here. Kent, the cook back there, eats Paleo and gets very excited when someone orders Paleo-style burgers.”

Kent, I love you.

The burger was fantastic, with perfectly seasoned patties, a thick slice of ripe heirloom tomato, and nice, runny egg yolks.

When I went back to tell Ryan and Kent how much I loved my Paleo burger, they joked that Ryan is actually “Bi-Paleo.” (And if you’re scratching your head, you’re clearly not from San Francisco.)

Lunch at the 4505 Meats stand was one of the highlights of my summer FO SHO.

p.s. Don’t forget to pick up a few bags of their amazingly delicious chicharrones as an eff-off treat. Yes, I’m aware that they’re fried in rice bran oil and seasoned with sugar, but I don’t care. At all.