Honey Badger Restaurant

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When I was walking back from lunch on Saturday, another storefront caught my eye.  The exposed Edison bulb chandeliers and dark wood surfaces made me think this was going to be a hip coffee place on the rejuvenated Main street in Alhambra, but it was actually Honey Badger — yes, the same Honey Badger as the popular coffee, tea, and study spot just a few blocks down on the same street.

Honey Badger Restaurant, unlike Honey Badger Cafe, has more of a focus on food. Their specialty is their house-made noodles, and you know how much I like noodles. So much that I returned to the same area for dinner just so I could try out the restaurant, even though it was in their soft-opening* phase.

From the limited menu, Will and I ordered the Honey Badger wings, roulette peppers, garlic noodles, and eggplant noodles.

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The roulette peppers are fried shishito peppers tossed with a savory, slightly tangy sauce. None of the ones I had were all that spicy.

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The Honey Badger wings was my favorite dish of the night. The sauce was garlicky, salty, with a slight tang that made it hard to resist licking my fingers after the wings were done.

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The man who took our ordered recommended the garlic noodles only if we were garlic lovers, and boy, was right about that. The bouncy, chewy noodles were doused in a lot of garlic.  So much so that it was almost too garlicky for me, and I do love a bit of garlic.

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The eggplant noodles were a little more muted in comparison. I liked the slightly sweet taste of the eggplant noodles. While the noodles were of a great texture, even slightly stretchy, the slight sauce on the noodles made them a bit too sticky for me.

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To drink with our meal, Will ordered an iced chrysanthemum herbal tea, light on the sugar.  It was shaken with crushed ice and was a wonderful refreshing drink to have with the meal.  I went with the classic almond milk tea (also light on sugar) and it definitely hit the spot.  If the mug looks large in the picture, it’s because it is very large.

It’s nice to have a new, different spot to dine at in the neighborhood and I’m curious to see what their more established menu will bring.

Honey Badger Restaurant
555 W Main St
Alhambra, CA 91801
(free parking in a lot right next to the restaurant)

 

* Here’s my gripe about soft openings:  I understand that they’re useful for restaurants that want to try out their menu and staff, or still have a few kinks to iron out, but if that were the case, then the restaurant shouldn’t be charging full price.   If you want diners to help you test out your restaurant, then give them a discount, or make it free.  If that’s not financially feasible, then open it to only friends and family at a discount.  It seems like restaurants use the ‘soft opening’ term so that people are less critical about their dishes. I think it’s only fair that if a restaurant is charging full price, then it should be critiqued under the same standards as fully-opened restaurants.  It’s not a criticism of Honey Badger specifically — just restaurants who hide under the ‘soft opening’ term.

Colonia Taco Lounge — Party Trays

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When we were thinking of what food to serve at Robin’s 1st birthday party, we primary wanted things that 1.) tasted good, 2.) was low effort, and 3.) most people would like.  After shooting around some options and finding pros and cons of each, I suddenly thought of Colonia Taco Lounge. Will and I already loved their food, but the question was whether or not their stuff would travel well and whether or not they would do party trays.

The answer is yes and yes.

Some taco fillings at Colonia are better suited to making the trip in a party tray from the restaurant to the park than others.  Luckily, the folks at Colonia took the stress out of deciding which fillings traveled better than others by giving us a suggested list of things to pick from. We chose the tesmole (chicken and mole), pork & pumpkin, huitlacoche, chayote, and a tray of guacamole and chips. The trays also included their delicious house-made tortilla. The total turned out to be $200 not including tip.

We were told that each tray would feed 15-20 people, so we expected four trays (plus a tray of guacamole) to feed at least 60 people. Well, their food was so good that the two meat trays were gone in a short amount of time and the vegetarian trays (huitlacoche and chayote) were also very popular.

I was happy with our decision to get the party trays from Colonia because it meant we didn’t have the stress of cooking or making food for our guests at the party, and we got to eat delicious food.  The restaurant also went out of their way to accommodate us by having a person at the restaurant on a day when they were closed (Labor day) so that we could pick up the food. A-plus!

I would have taken a picture of the food, but I was too busy eating and by the time I was done, there was not much to take pictures of.

Colonia Taco Lounge
13030 Valley Blvd
La Puente, CA 91746

Contigo (SF)

I don’t usually think of Spanish food as vegetarian friendly, but when I inquired about the menu at Contigo, the woman who picked up the phone said it would be no problem for not only a vegetarian, but even a vegan. And no advance notice was necessary! With that type of attitude, I couldn’t not go to Contigo with Will.

The restaurant sits in the middle of Noe Valley, flanked by expensive childrens’ apparel stores and expensive pet apparel stores. The space itself is scarcely big enough to contain a large wood-burning oven, the open kitchen, a bar, a few seats, and an outside patio.  Thankfully, the outside patio had heaters and was some-what enclosed, which made our dining experience a lot nicer.

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I started off with a piece of toast with house-cured sardine and a nice bite of olives and anchovies. It was the perfect thing to get me in the mood for the food to come.

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Will had the avocado and pea toast topped with fresh porcini.  The avocado and pea mixture was good enough already, but the porcini sent it over the top.  Can I just sit outside and eat a plateful of that with a glass of Txakoli, please?

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The white gazpacho was similarly great.  It really surprised me because I’m usually lukewarm about gazpacho. This one was creamy, savory, and had those great tart cherries as garnish.

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Next, Will had the chickpeas and spinach, which looked almost like an Indian dish.  They were pretty good and nicely spiced.

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I had the chorizo, chickpeas, and tripe, which is a fairly common Spanish dish.  It was my favorite thing of the night. The tripe was wonderfully tender and the amount of paprika from the chorizo was perfect.  The dish had that wonderful stick-to-your-ribs satisfying taste that only things that are slow cooked for a long time seem to have.

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We also had the patatas bravas which we knew we couldn’t pass up as soon as we saw it on the menu. These were probably the best version of the dish I had ever had. The potatoes were shatteringly crispy on the outside, hot and fluffy on the inside. And the sauces! Wow.  I’m drooling just thinking back to that dish.

Is Contigo worth the bus ride into Noe Valley? Yes.  Would I return again? Yes.  Am I sad that there’s nothing like that near me? Yes, but my wallet is happy.

Contigo
1320 Castro Street (at 24th)
San Francisco, CA 94114
415.285.0250