The Fanime forums have a feedback thread where everyone is welcome to post their pros/cons/suggestions for improvements. Most of them make sense, but this one had me completely confused:
“Con: The lack of close-by food – My mother insists on real food when we go to conventions, which meant that this time we were constantly spending way too much time trying to find food, time which could have been better spent actually seeing stuff at the con. ^.^;;”
… Really? One of the things I look forward to most when going to Fanime is all the food that San Jose has to offer in that area. There are a TON of affordable restaurants in that area. We didn’t use our car once, except to get to and from the airport. Heck, if you are on a budget and walk around a corner, there is a Subway right there (it had a huge ass line all the time, but still). Maybe if one actually left the convention center…
Anyway, as a service to Fanime goers, and just because I like food (and drinking), I recapped the food we ate.
(This, btw, is poison, as learned from Fanime 2006. Bad times. Bad, bad times.)
Malvitas and Fongus made me wait in the huge hotel check in line by myself. In return they bought me a delicious Bloody Mary at the Fairmont Lobby Lounge, which is a favorite place of ours to grab drinks. It helps when we stay there, too.
After waiting in the insanely long line to get our badges, we were starving and headed off to Los Gatos Brewing Company. LGBC is on 163 W. Santa Clara, about 5 blocks from the con. It’s a bit pricy, but we showed up during Happy Hour, so 30% off their appetizers.
Usually I am all about the beer, but this vacation I only drank one, and that was at the airport flying to San Jose. This time I was more cocktaily. Here, however, I didn’t drink anything. Instead we got: spicy chicken wings (super good), crispy gulf shrimp (came w/ celery, blech, but the sauce was buffaloy), crispy calamari (yum!), roasted piquillo peppers (eh, ok; I’m not crazy about this dish, but my veggie friend likes them), chicken and cheddar sausage w/ mustard and roasted potatoes (yum, although I prefer pork sausage myself), hummus plate (for some reason I didn’t get much of this, even though we had 2 orders), a pesto pizza, and a potato pizza. They were ok. I think I am hampered by my friend’s now permanent veggie status. The meat dishes I enjoyed, but wasn’t really feeling the veggie dishes.
After dinner, since we didn’t drink much there, Autropos wanted to take us to the local speakeasy for some serious cocktails.
Single Barrel is “hidden” with only a single barrel hanging over the door (43 San Salvador Street). This is a block and half from the con. There’s always a line, as people are only allowed in when room at the bar opens up. All of the bartenders are in period costume, so vests, white shirts, suspenders, etc. There’s also rules, like, you’re not allowed to order your first drink there. You describe what you like (e.g.: citrus, whiskey, smoky, sweet) and then they make something for you. My first drink was a Bee’s Knees, which was sort of like a lemonade. It was tasty. But then one of us got a Cactus Flower that was like nothing I’ve ever had before.
It was sort of raspberry, with jalapeño infusion, and a jalapeño slice rubbed on the rim. Your lips BURN. But it’s SO GOOD. I wish we knew what was in there, it was quite amazing. Drinks are reasonably priced at $10-$12. They use the good stuff, not that well crap.
Another rule is you’re kind of supposed to be sort of quiet (so the speakeasy isn’t found), which we are very very bad at. We got shushed.
After all that drinking (my friends drank more than I did) the guys wanted more food, so we went back to our very favorite place when we come up to the con, La Victoria.
La Vic is in 2 locations, 140 E. San Carlos St. (3.5 blocks from the con) or 131 W. Santa Clara St. (5 blocks). We discovered the Santa Clara one first, and then later realized there was one slightly closer, so now we go there.
What makes La Vic so awesome are their breakfast burritos. Huge and cheap (at least before 11, which guarantees we get out of bed on time) they come in ham, bacon, chorizo, or potato. You can get the breakfast burritos all day, too, they just cost like $2 more after 11.
Plus they have the MAGIC ORANGE SAUCE. This stuff is LIQUID GOLD. I’m not kidding. We look forward to this all year. Shaz hasn’t had this in like half a decade and it’s driving her mad. Last year since we drove we bought like four bottles of the stuff and carted it home in an ice chest. This year, Fongus bought four bottles for his vegan boyfriend. That’s right, this stuff, which looks and tastes like chorizo mayo (sounds gross, but tastes good, so who cares) is VEGAN.
Anyway, for our first foray to La Vic this trip, I wasn’t feeling like a breakfast burrito that late, so I tried something new, and got the lengua super taco (beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, guac). It was… good… but a bit much. The lengua sort of got lost in all that other stuff. I ended up picking out all the lengua, which was delicious. Yes, it’s tongue. It’s freaking good.
Since we finished the day with La Vic, I wanted to try something different. We’ve been meaning to try La Vic’s biggest competitor, Iguana’s (330 South 3rd Street, 3 blocks from the con) for some time, but last year they didn’t open fifteen minutes past their opening time so we gave up.
Iguana’s claims their orange sauce is even BETTER than La Vic’s which we found extremely doubtful, but willing to try. Plus their the home of the Burritozilla, which is like 3 super burritos laid end to end. It’s gigantic. And ridiculous. And probably should be on “This Is Why You’re Fat.”
Anyway, once again they opened like ten minutes late, but this time we stuck it out (although we were on the verge of leaving again). And once we got in there, it’s like they burned something because the entire restaurant was filled with heavy smoke. We discovered to our disappointment they didn’t have a breakfast burrito. I decided to just go with their nachos (totally boring, but I have a weakness for processed cheese and pickled jalapeños), and some items off their $1 menu: a mini baby bean burrito, deep fried, and a Mexican corn dog (hot dog in a corn tortilla and deep fried). Everything was delicious, but my friends are fixated on La Vic’s. And the orange sauce was most definitely not better than La Vic’s. Their tortillas were good though. I would go back for more $1 items.
I don’t think we really had a lunch that day. Instead, we ate snacks at the con. This year, the con had 2 vendors come in with their specialty foods. It was kinda cool.
Psycho Donuts is known for their off the wall donuts (take for instance, if you go to main page now, there’s a picture of a cricket donut. With real dead crickets). We went last year and got a Captain Crunch donut, which was decent. This year, they were serving up their Psycho Psushi, which is their donuts that look like sushi, complete with Pocky chopsticks and “wasabi” frosting.
It was $7 per pack of sushi. While extremely fun in concept, the donuts themselves were kind of mediocre. It’s sort of like their regular donuts. I love their ideas and the super fun aspect, but when I eat them, they’re only ok in flavor.
Sweet Breams is a taiyaki place. Taiyaki is a Japanese dessert thing that is basically a fish-shaped waffle filled with red bean paste.
(I had a real picture there of a taiyaki, but am now super paranoid of copyright rules, so all you get is my bad scribbles if I used questionable photos. Actual taiyaki are normally the size of your hand.)
Sweet Breams took that idea and made all their taiyaki chibi (small) and filled them with a number of different things. At Fanime, they were serving vanilla, red bean, and nutella. We got all of them!
Super yummy! But the vanilla was like eating vanilla-flavored molten lava.
For dinner, we tried a new place, Billy Berk’s.
Billy Berk’s is billed as “American” food, so basically that means anything goes. It’s found at the corner of San Fernando and South 1st, so 3 blocks from the con. Other than La Vic’s, this was probably our favorite place this time around. We had two wines (viognier and a Sauvignon Blanc), fried zucchini with wasabi aioli (yum!), calamari with fried lemons and fried jalapeños and wasabi aioli (this was AMAZING. Ok, the calamari at Los Gatos was a tad better, but the fried lemons were something we never knew existed and loved immediately, and fried jalapeños were delicious), and the mango guacamole, which was sort of disappointing. I don’t like fruit in my guac, to be honest, unless it’s a lemon or a lime. For dinner, I had the beet salad (wanted something sort of healthy!) which came with candied pecans, tomatoes, blue cheese, and corn with a side of creamy mushroom polenta. The guys for some reason ALL got the triple mushroom fettucini.
After a semi-food coma back at our hotel room, we rolled out for dessert at Bijan Bakery & Cafe, which is attached to the hotel.
I went here last year with Katrina and Fongus and enjoyed it, so back we went, this time with Autropos and Malvitas.
L to R: Pear cake, Raspberry Mousse, Chocolate Mousse, Pistachio Mousse, Apple Streudel
I didn’t really notice it last year, but this place seems to really specialize in mousses. The pear mousse was divine. It reminded me of one of my favorite cakes back in Davis at Little Prague, the French Pear cake. Delicious. There should be more pear cakes!
Wow, this post is really long. I think I will stop here and finish up Sunday and Monday in a separate post!
Part 1: Fanime 2012: What I Watched is here.
Part 2: Fanime 2012: What I Saw is here.
Part 3: Fanime 2012: What I Got is here.
Part 4B: Fanime 2012: What I Ate (Sunday/Monday) is here.