Food Finds

I wanted to mention a couple tasty items I've come across in the past few months and that I've enjoyed again recently.

The rootbeer floats at Taylor's Automatic Refresher in the Ferry Building in San Francisco are the best I think I've ever had. The rootbeer is delicious, with a nice peppery finish, and the ice cream is smooth and creamy and has a fresh, authentic vanilla flavor. Best of all, the proportions of rootbeer and ice cream are perfect; most floats I've found elsewhere have had too much ice cream and not enough rootbeer. At Taylor's, you have a chance to eat a few spoonfuls of the ice cream, but there's still plenty of rootbeer to quench your thirst—and your curiosity. I loved trying to identify the faint herbal flavors that lingered on my tongue after each swallow.

Taylor's also has excellent garlic fries—better than the ones at SBC Park, IMHO. They're a bit thinner than the SBC/Gordon Biersch variety, with a better distribution of garlic. The result is a more subtle garlic flavor and fries that remain crispy all the way to the bottom of the cardboard basket. They're well complemented by malt vinegar (which can be found near the ketchup dispensers) and a bit of extra salt. Next time I think I'll try the sweet potato fries for variety... as long as someone else at the table gets the garlic fries. :)

On the eastern side of the country, the white pizza with spinach at the Fresh Grocer at 40th and Walnut in Philadelphia is not only delicious, it's also an amazing value ($1.60 per humongous slice, including tax). The crust is thin, buttery, and alternately chewy and crispy (think of a very thin pita brushed with butter and lightly broiled), and there's plenty of yummy cheese, garlic, and fresh (not frozen!) baby spinach leaves on top. For me, it's totally worth the nearly 20-block walk each way—and I can usually pay for a slice with the change at the bottom of my backpack.

One word of caution about this Fresh Grocer: While I've found the service at the prepared foods counter to be fairly good, it leaves something to be desired in the rest of the store—especially at the checkouts and the "customer service" counter. Employees seem more interested in picking up their paychecks and chatting with their colleagues than in waiting on customers. The lack of service attitude is appalling, really, even by Philadelphia standards. I wouldn't recommend buying groceries unless you're feeling especially patient and in good humor. One way to put a smile on your face: Eat your pizza first. :)

Posted by Lori in food and philadelphia and san francisco at 2:52 PM on September 29, 2004