June 21, 2008

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: Barcelo resort at la Jolla de Mismaloya; hotel review

I'm just back from a stay at the all-inclusive, all-suite Barcelo resort at la Jolla de Mismaloya in Puerto Vallarta. It is a well-maintained, attractive property on a lovely bay, and it recently completed a major restoration. It is the very bay, in fact, where John Huston filmed "Night of the Iguana" with Richard Burton in the '60s (Liz was along for the ride). The food was fresh and tasty. I loved the margarita made with fresh lime juice--it was one of the best I've ever had--and I also loved the ice cold Coronas. The resort has lots of pools and a swim-up bar. I'd go back in a flash.  I also loved Puerto Vallarta. It's a nice little town to explore.

When you're leaving from the new airport, you might want to buy some of the cute little shot glasses with blue rims that I found there. They have little cacti inside and are perfect filled with a shot of the excellent Mexican tequila I also picked up.

More things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

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image c2008 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monterey, California: Hula's Island Grill and Tiki Room; restaurant review

Hula's Island Grill and Tiki Room  622 Lighthouse Ave., (831) 655-HULA. L Tu-Sat, D daily; $-$$.

Atmospheric, with a kitschy island decor and surf videos playing continuously, this casual restaurant serves a menu of island favorites. Fresh fish is prepared in a variety of ways—pan-fried or encrusted with coconut, lemongrass, or macadamia nuts—and plate items include slow roasted pulled pork in a super-tasty sauce. Ribs, fish tacos, and several burgers are also options. Sweet potato fries and tangy island slaw are popular sides. Better than dessert is an island drink to mellow things out.

More things to do in Monterey.

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San Francisco, California: Supperclub (CLOSED); restaurant review

Supperclub  CLOSED  657 Harrison St./3rd St., South of Market, (415) 348-0900. D Tu-Sun; $$$+; price varies depending of night of week. Reservations advised. Valet parking.

Surprises and naughty fun await diners here, where a bit of San Francisco butts heads with a bit of Roman decadence. It’s best not to know too much before arrival. Ideally, the experience begins with a drink in the round bar area before the doors open to the club, and a Black Cherry Drop is a great way to go. Diners are led to their spot among a bank of beds that flank ¾ of the all-white room. After taking off their shoes and climbing up on the beds, they can snuggle back into pillow backrests. The rest of the room is left open for watching theater—the video screen that is reminiscent of a ‘60s light show, the DJs doing their thing, the bartenders shaking away, the chefs scurrying in the exhibition kitchen, and the night’s entertainment. The set menu (dietary restrictions are accommodated) multi-course dinner consists of sophisticated cuisine served to loungers on a bed tray. Scheduled entertainment might include anything from a delightful designer fashion show to a bit of divalicious drag queen debauchery. One night, anyone who wanted to be spanked was accommodated, and every night a foot massage is available for an additional fee. After dinner, guests have the choice of staying on past bedtime for the club scene or exiting through the oversize, shiny-brass double doors and seeing the envious looks of those who are still waiting outside behind velvet ropes for entry.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.   

June 14, 2008

San Francisco, California: Mexico DF (CLOSED); restaurant review

Mexico DF  CLOSED  139 Steuart St./Mission St., South of Market, (415) 808-1048. L M-F, D daily; $$. Reservations advised.

Given the choice between the dark back dining room and the more airy front bar space, the bar wins. However, most diners wind up in the back at a table cheered up by colorful hand-painted Mexican motif “plates” that are removed when service begins. The space features framed computer screens on the walls showcasing a changing array of Mexican art and an open kitchen. A delicious meal can be made from an order of mango guacamole and a margarita (there are many versions), either a huarache (a sandal-shaped corn masa base topped with short ribs and refried black beans) or gorditas (corn masa stuffed with chorizo and cheese), and a cooling burnt caramel flan for dessert.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

San Francisco, California: The Contemporary Jewish Museum; things to do

The Contemporary Jewish Museum  736 Mission St./3rd St., South of Market, (415) 655-7800. Thur 1-8:30, F-Tu 11-5:30. $10, 65+ $8, under 19 free, Thur after 5 $5.

Retaining the original brick façade and some interior catwalks and trusses from the historic 1907 PG&E Jessie Street Power Substation building, this brand new museum has a very modern angular interior. Designed to explore Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas, the structure is filled with symbolism--for instance, the auditorium design is based on a map of Jerusalem. The museum has no permanent collection. A free cell phone tour is available, and a Family tour and drop-in art program occur each Sunday. Café on the Square serves a contemporary kosher-style Jewish menu of mostly vegetarian items. A vast entry courtyard in front—an open space that seems quite luxurious because it is surrounded by high-rises—is city operated.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.