Afternoon Pursuit Archives | En Bloc Hotels™


Greenhorn Espresso Bar

En Bloc Hotels™ | Canada | Vancouver | Coffee + Tea, Food + Drink

Bearing the nickname given to its neighborhood’s founders is the West End’s Greenhorn Espresso Bar. Not far from The Burrard, we particularly dig this spot for its “skip the to-go cup and have a seat” ambiance. When we came upon Green Horn, our minds first raced through memories of the cafes of Paris, Madrid, and Milan. Formal, consistent, and eloquent whilst simple. After being greeted with an “Hola,” we’re pleased to learn the owners are husband/wife Argentine expats. No surprise there, considering the heavy Italian influence that’s run through Buenos Aires for more than a century. Owners Guadalupe Jolicœur and Walter Le Daca put their espresso bar roots to work with a well-appointed space complete with analog message boards, vintage bikes, original food offerings, and macchiatos poured as originally intended with Moja Coffee. Sit up front for great West End people watching or bring your brunch upstairs for some privacy and a shameless latte art Instagram session.
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Finca Altozano

En Bloc Hotels™ | Mexico | Valle De Guadalupe | Food + Drink

When San Diego Eater named its 2013 Chef of the Year, we were extremely pleased to learn the winner is a chef best known for his work in Tijuana and Valle de Guadalupe. These days, Javier Plascencia is gaining international praise for his wine-country ranch outpost Finca Altozano. In the true spirit of El Valle, this rustic open-air kitchen celebrates the region using local produce, seafood, and meats with a view of the adjacent vineyard to boot. Just a few minutes’ drive from Encuentro Guadalupe, the restaurant features an outdoor patio, group bonfire area + tables above repurposed fermentation barrels, and the faint smell of mesquite and olive charcoal emanating from the grills. Sample the homemade bread & olive oil, cured meats, vegetables, and their specialty smoked lamb from Rancho Cortés, all paired with local wine and craft brews. Finca Altozano is an amazing way to begin or end a day of wine tasting, with a friendly staff welcoming you Tuesday – Sunday (closed during winter months, re-opens 4 March 2014) Read More


Andytown Coffee Roasters

En Bloc Hotels™ | San Francisco | United States | Coffee + Tea

This is the Outer Sunset’s neighborhood spot. The one with the communal table, warm pastries and exceptional coffee. Owners Lauren Crabbe and Michael McCrory named the cafe Andytown after the Belfast suburb McCrory comes from, replicating its customs by welcoming all to some griddle-baked soda bread and hot drinks. The former Blue Bottle Barista and musician husband show their passion for creativity and specialty coffee in their roasts, now available at other cafes and grocery stores in town. We recommend their daily muffin and scone offerings, made with seasonal ingredients for every palate, along with their Snowy Plover espresso soda with whipped cream. Catch the sporadic breaks from the fog at a table outside and meet the neighbors.
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La Cocina de Doña Esthela

En Bloc Hotels™ | Mexico | Valle De Guadalupe | Food + Drink

Ideally, we recommend you visit Doña Esthela for an early lunch on an empty stomach (we’d call it brunch, but you won’t find mimos here). See, after trying the handmade queso fresco and tortilla chips no older than your appetite, the servings of the day’s offerings can be a tad daunting. Doña Esthela is known for her generosity, meaning your chorizo and cheese burritos, Caldo de Res (beef stew), or serving of their specialty Borrego Tatemado is being brought to you in true Mexican abuelita quantities – and rest assured you’re expected to eat it. This won’t be an issue once you’ve tasted the (massive) homemade tortillas. As usual, take in the scene. These types of restaurants in Mexico serve a specific purpose, catering partly to the region’s local workforce, but mostly to families from the surrounding cities on a countryside outing. This spot is humble as it is welcoming, so don’t be surprised if you catch a crowd waiting for a table on weekends. If you’re there on a Friday, don’t skip the adobe oven churned breads. Read More


Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

En Bloc Hotels™ | San Diego | United States | Coffee + Tea

In the wake of reinventing its food + beer scene, San Diego has now turned to rethinking how it takes its coffee. Leading the path is alumn Roaster of the Year Bird Rock Coffee. Since 2006, BRCR has been bringing hand selected + direct trade coffee to the area, cultivating long term relationships with Central American + African coffee growers that translate to a true “farm to cup” experience. Their sophomore location in Little Italy features their seasonal espresso and slow-drip coffees in an airy + sunny space. Grab a seat with a pastry and a cup of coffee before a walk around the neighborhood.
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Vena Cava

En Bloc Hotels™ | Mexico | Valle De Guadalupe | Food + Drink

Vena Cava is the hard work of British expats Phil and Eileen Gregory, who after years of living in metropolises decided it was time to head south to wine country. Vena Cava produces some of Mexico’s top labels as well as a rare and delicious sparkling wine, none of which are strangers at the country’s top rated restaurants. Think Pujol and Corazón de Tierra. Head into the winery housed under a former fishing boat hull for a tasting of their Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Blanc before walking over to Chef Diego Hernández’s TROIKA food truck, parked just a few yards away from the tasting room’s reclaimed wood doors. Read More


General Store

En Bloc Hotels™ | San Francisco | United States | Shop Local

No neighborhood in San Francisco is complete without a quality retail outlet. The collective design community behind General Store opened its first location in 2010 (subsequent spot in Venice, CA), featuring a curated inventory of new + vintage books, crafts, jewelry, home furnishings and other lifestyle products from local artists and makers. Carefully detailed, bright and welcoming to those looking for the latest edition of Apartamento or next favorite accessory. The shop also keeps an open back patio and garden space it uses to host occasional events and workshops.
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Corazón de Tierra

En Bloc Hotels™ | Mexico | Valle De Guadalupe | Food + Drink

Two things make Corazón de Tierra’s Chef Diego Hernández stand out in today’s culinary landscape: A passion for the ingredients his organic garden yields and the vision with which he employs them. After harvesting the day’s ingredients, Hernández conjures up a unique nine-course menu inspired by traditional Baja fare; One that has made his open kitchen and ever-evolving cuisine the 30th best in Latin America. Hernández’ craft and perspective on dining experience has created some significant buzz and attracted attention from folks like Anthony Bourdain and Travel + Leisure. Perched on stilts above the garden within the grounds of La Villa del Valle, this indoor/outdoor restaurant is admittedly off the beaten path to say the least, but don’t let a dirt road cutting through the valley’s vineyards keep you from experiencing this place. The drive is just 90 minutes from San Diego, CA which means this is a quick SoCal getaway. Open daily 13:30 – 20:30, reservations recommended. Make sure to inform Chef Diego Hernández that we sent you… Read More


El Mercado Urbano

En Bloc Hotels™ | San Francisco | Food + Drink

La Urbana’s adjacent garage space brings us nostalgic flashbacks of Tijuana house parties (yes, this is a good thing). While the adults sit inside enjoying prime cuts and top-shelf agave, we say post up in “El Garage” with a Modelo, spicy peanuts, and loud games of domino on card tables. Grab an iced beer, drop five bucks in the bucket, and enjoy a Mexican taco stand vibe that’s damn near impossible to replicate beyond the republic’s 31 states. Located in the Western Addition, we dig El Mercado for some mezcal and tacos before a night along Divisadero or brunch during the Sunday farmers market.
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Modern Times Flavordome

En Bloc Hotels™ | San Diego | United States | Food + Drink

If there is any doubt surrounding San Diego’s matured homebrewing culture, simply trace the trajectory of Modern Times Beer. What started in 2012 as one beer geek’s vision and collaboration with all the right people has now become one of the country’s most respected brewing operations. A monthly 22oz release, diverse collection of flagship beers, and even a coffee roasting endeavor keep these folks busy at their two tasting rooms and throughout the west coast. Right along North Park’s 30th Street corridor, the Modern Times tasting room delivers a steady flow of their signature Lomaland Saison alongside rotating seasonal releases. Enough to require more than a dozen taps on any given day. Catch a sunny beer on their patio or gather at one of the communal tables under a lamp shade-studded ceiling. Read More


Común Kitchen + Tavern

En Bloc Hotels™ | San Diego | United States | Food + Drink

We first learned about Chef Chad White through a whimsical video we still get a kick out of. When we were formally introduced by Art Pusher at his Tijuana outpost La Justina, we knew we needed more of his craft in our diets. Bringing Baja-inspired creativity to San Diego’s East Village is Chef White’s Común Kitchen + Tavern. EBH recently visited the open space, which features Built Around Me chair + lighting designs and three Gloria Muriel art installations, to comfortably snack and chat it up with Chef. Much like its author, the menu at Comun is inventive, conscious and accessible. We love how acai bowls interact with hibiscus tostadas and “elote” in a cup, not to mention an impressive cocktail program and self-pour craft beer station. Buen provecho! Read More


Tacos Perla

En Bloc Hotels™ | San Diego | United States | Food + Drink

Having spent countless hours pouring over smoky grills around Tijuana, the EBH team takes the institution that is Mexican street food very seriously. In California, heated conversations ensue over which spot makes the best burrito, spiciest salsa, or freshest tortillas. With a diverse menu of staples like adobada and asada tacos to Baja-style grilled octopus and central Mexico fried crickets, Tacos Perla brings the best aspects of the Taquero to San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. Paying homage to Mexico circa 1968, Tacos Perla projects popular films from the day amongst the reclaimed materials that make up its decor. Seasonal aguas frescas and mango/habanero infused Micheladas are at hand to wash down the inventive salsa menu created by Oso Campos of Tijuana’s famed Tacos Kokopeli. A plus to this place is it delivers next door to Modern Times’ tasting room. Read More


La Guerrerense

En Bloc Hotels™ | Mexico | Valle De Guadalupe | Food + Drink

Arguing about the best ceviche in Baja is a futile task. There’s just too much to offer. Nonetheless, an enduring favorite is Ensenada’s La Guerrerense. For more than 50 years, families and “morning after” crowds have been making the pilgrimage to Sabina Banderas’ street cart for the world-renowned fresh seafood cocktails and tostadas. In case you’re wondering what makes hers so special, think of a handmade tostada topped with sea urchin, pismo clam, and half an avocado spooned on top. With a dozen kinds of “Cebiches Guerrerenses,” a variety of handmade salsas, made-to-order seafood cocktails, and aguas frescas, you’ll forget all about the previous day of Valle wine tasting and sun. Despite Banderas’ success and celebrity chef clientele, she’s never too busy to make herself a tostada and join the conversations around her stand, much less move it to a brick and mortar location. Read More


Azul Café

En Bloc Hotels™ | | Coffee + Tea

Housed inside La Estación de Oficios El Porvenir lives one of Valle de Guadalupe’s many hidden gems, Azul Café. Besides the onsite winemaking school, community center and olive pressing, the cooperative features onsite roasting of single-origin beans from throughout Mexico. Mornings in Valle aren’t complete without an espresso or stiff iced coffee from Azul’s unassuming counter. Take a moment to engage roaster Felipe González, who’s always happy to chat about Mexico’s coffee culture and brewing methods. If hunger strikes, next door’s Cooperativa counter serves light fare. Don’t leave without peaking around La Escuelita’s onsite wine production and architect Alejandro D’Acosta’s creativity, which is evident throughout the property.
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Le Marché St. George

En Bloc Hotels™ | Canada | Vancouver | Coffee + Tea, Food + Drink

If a successful business is one that can provide quality products and unite its neighbors, Le Marché St. George stands victorious. Located in Vancouver’s Riley Park area, this cafe + grocery has become a neighborhood staple and visitor requisite for its cozy francophile food and aesthetic. A strong relationship with local farmers and vendors keeps the menu at this place seasonal and fresh, allowing the kitchen to switch up their crêpe and quiche ingredients. We suggest the Ham & Gruyère Crêpe with Bechamel and the Asparagus & Asiago Quiche for savory tastes. For those with a sweet side, try their Almond Croissant or a Seasonal Fruit Crêpe with Brie & Honey. Pair this all with Le Marché St. George’s London Fogs, Cortados or drip coffee. While you’re there, make sure to browse the variety of home + lifestyle goods by local and international makers and artists.
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Chouchou Breton Crêpes

En Bloc Hotels™ | Canada | Vancouver | Food + Drink

If you happen to stumble upon Chouchou whilst roaming around Gastown, we recommend giving Nathalie’s crêpes a try. The cart can be spotted around the neighborhood rain or shine ready to whip up a savory treat. Chouchou serves savory crêpes like the Mr. Jules, filled with smoked salmon, mascarpone cream cheese, dill and lemon. Sweet fillings include apple compote, fresh fruit, salty caramel, and Grand Marnier liqueur. Availability to seasonal ingredients also yield some noteworthy specials. Check out her Twitter feed @chouchoucrepes for up-to-date hours and locations.
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20th Century Cafe

En Bloc Hotels™ | San Francisco | United States | Coffee + Tea

We all have a “treat yourself” place we frequent for, well, the treats. 20th Century Cafe is one. Classic and beautifully polished, this sunny corner spot in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley is where we come for the salt-crusted bagels with salmon (open faced, of course), espresso, and pastries. The cafe was an immediate draw thanks to the location, setting, and food. After learning Chef + Owner Michelle Polzine found inspiration for the menu during travels to Vienna, Budapest, and Prague, our bias was solidified.
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En Bloc Hotels™ | San Francisco | United States | Food + Drink

With a day’s worth of meals on the menu, cafe hours and a full bar, Outerlands has long been an anchor to the Outer Sunset. Drift wood, tile and natural light create a NorCal coastal ambiance to accompany your eggs-in-jail breakfast, grilled cheese lunch, and duck leg dinner. Sustainably sourced ingredients make the New American menus stand out, from the clam stew down to the brussel sprouts and pastrami sandwich. The bar features Four Barrel coffee via espresso and Chemex, craft beer on draft, a cocktail program that incorporates artisanal spirits, and an ample wine list. Sheltered yet spacious, the dining room’s design boasts a bright, airy space with elbow room that’s warmly encapsulated by reclaimed wood-lined ceilings and walls. Layers are the secret to weekend brunch on the sidewalk patio.
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The Sycamore

En Bloc Hotels™ | San Francisco | Food + Drink

Inconspicuously tucked near Clarion Alley on Mission Street is one of our favorite watering holes, The Sycamore. This local hangout beckons those in search of rotating beer taps, hilarious quiz nights, and a “hair of the dog” brunch. The bar packs plenty of character into a small space and a back patio covered in street art, perfect for ducking out of sight for some sunny beers. Pick a bench and try their mix n’ match sliders and sandwiches throughout the day. Brunch means chicken & waffles stuffed with prosciutto and manchego + bottomless mimosas. They have eggs, too. So, at any time of day, stop by and pick a board game off the shelf, because this Beer Week favorite has something for all.
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Café 123

En Bloc Hotels™ | Mexico | Mexico City | Coffee + Tea

Café 123, located on Calle Artículo 123 in Ciudad De Mexico’s “Centro” neighborhood, is a true off the path find. Housed inside a reclaimed building once used for the sale + storage of newspapers, the interiors have been left to coexist with its new décor; the vibes here are good and so is the food. Guests are welcomed by a down to earth menu consisting of healthy and tasty ingredients; expect to find an interesting mix of Asian + Mexican treats. Read More


Heart Coffee Roasters

En Bloc Hotels™ | Portland | United States | Coffee + Tea

Just wake up from a night of eats and beats at Jupiter’s Doug Fir Lounge? Take a 15 minute stroll down East Burnside to Heart Coffee Roasters. Owners Rebekah and Wille Yli-Luome and their team of coffee scientists bring an advanced twist to the craft, from the Probat roaster full of green beans to the fruity, aromatic yields of espresso, pour-over, and Aero press. With the addition of a second location, both spaces offer a simple, welcoming space where the Technics spin for guests and the WiFi goes dark for the sake of good company (Fridays and weekends respectively). Sweeten the whole thing with a pastry by PDX’s own Bakeshop and you’ll see why Heart Roasters have become a city favorite. Read More


Nong’s Khao Man Gai

En Bloc Hotels™ | Portland | United States | Food + Drink

Proof that less is more never manifested itself this well. Nong Poonsukwattana was still a recent transplant from Bangkok when she decided to start her own food cart. Having spent years working in Portland’s Thai food scene, Nong worried her own menu wouldn’t stand out, so she decided to keep it simple. Focusing on staples from Bangkok’s street food scene enabled this single cart to grow into a brick-and-mortar space with a loyal following and its own branded sauce. Luckily, they have no intention of losing site of their roots. The Khao Man Gai, consisting of chicken and rice accompanied with cucumber, a cup of broth and chili sauce, is where Nong recommends you start. She’ll tell you this herself whenever you catch her behind the counter. Those with a hearty or curious appetite should upgrade to the PISET, which comes in a larger quantity and includes delicious chicken livers. Pork lovers can choose some hog braised in coke, coco powder, herbs and spice, all on a bed of rice and pickled veggies. The best thing about Nong’s Khao Man Gai? It’s two blocks from The Jupiter. Read More


Boxer Ramen

En Bloc Hotels™ | Portland | United States | Food + Drink

A small spot for a big appetite, downtown’s Boxer Ramen is precisely what your tired bones will crave after a long day of Portland explorations. A micro menu offers the pork lover hearty tonkotuso-shio and spicy red miso bowls of Sun Noodle soup along with a vegetarian stock base partnered with coconut milk. Watch the bonito flakes on your okonomiyaki tater tots dance and take in the wall art by Trish Grantham in the bright, window-flanked space. Once the last of your noodles have been slurped, take a quick stroll down the Union Way alley for some retail therapy at Self Edge or sweets at QUIN. Read More