Another “bougie” taco place and a slice of pop culture in this weeks edition of The Newcomers
by Alexander Quebec
Puesto (Santa Clara)
As far as bougie taco places go, this place wasn’t too bad. The first branch of the original restaurant from Southern California, in my opinion what sets Puesto apart from other restaurants like it is that it doesn’t try too hard to reinvent the taco and other Mexican cuisine basics. Understandably, you’re going to have a few unique items you may not find at your local taqueria, but where it may lack in authenticity for an experienced taco connoisseur, it makes up for in the ability to present a new idea in a way that doesn’t come off as offensive to the diner.
I gave the trio of tacos a try (at $16 dollars, it’s not too shabby). I tried the verduras, the Chicken al Pastor and the classic, carnitas. The verduras taco was an interesting concept, but for me it fell apart a bit too quickly, while the chicken taco was okay, the meat was juicy enough. It was the carnitas tacos that really got my attention, all drippy with the savory juices of being slow cooked for hours. Main takeaway? Don’t ever mess with a classic.
I also gave the guacamole a try, which veered towards the traditional ingredients of Avocado, lime juice and chillies. Not a bad way to start the course, and again, it’s an old standby that needs very little modification.
To satisfy my sweet tooth, I gave their Mango-Limon Aguas Fresca a try, which tasted refreshingly sweet, but not too sweet. True to form, I was able to taste both fruits without any enhancements added in by heavy sweeteners. To round out the meal, I gave their Tres Leches cake a try. Sweet, creamy and moist like a traditional Tres Leches cake, it was a great way to cap an otherwise great lunch.
Good food paired with hip decor and a full service bar, Puesto would be the perfect place for a taco on a first date night or after hours business meeting kind of place.
Hello Kitty Cafe (San Jose)
I waited over two hours in line to see what it was all about. I was hoping my time wasn’t wasted.
With deserts such as apple pie, chocolate cake and with an assortment of cafe style beverages, the Hello Kitty Cafe pop up sure does live up to its creations standards. Inside the 10×10 foot shop that used to house Kara’s Cupcakes at Santana Row, As soon as you walk in, it’s immediately apparent that you’ve stepped into the world of Hello Kitty herself. Merchandise is everywhere (what is Hello Kitty without merchandise?) in addition to the sweet treats offered in the shop as well.
I tried both the chocolate cake and the macarons. The chocolate cake itself wasn’t too exciting, but it had a
very light chocolatey flavor, which was perfect for someone who isn’t looking for a chocolate overload, and it had a nice, white chocolate bow on top. The macarons were also good as well, the box set has a assortment of flavors like chocolate or berry, and most of them had the signature Hello Kitty bow on each cookie.
While I wasn’t super enthused myself, I figured that it was the chance to experience a slice of Hello Kitty’s world IRL that compels fans to come and visit. While I must admit, that Hello Kitty has been part the postmodern cultural zeitgeist for a very long time, and as someone who has an interest in both pop culture and branding, I find that the sheer staying power the Hello Kitty brand has alone is quite impressive. I also remind myself that while HK isn’t my thing per se, this wouldn’t mean that I wouldn’t fangirl at something myself, say, a Bob’s Burgers inspired pop up
If you have the patience to wait in line and the love of a Hello Kitty fan, or if you just like to enjoy different elements of pop culture, why not give this place a go?
Have you had a chance to check these places out? Let us know what you thought in the comments below. Do you have a place to share with us? use the tag#heycaliplate on social media to let us know all about it.