This place has a cult of appreciators for their breakfast sandwiches, which is why my visiting NC foodie friends insisted we check it out. It’s open only for breakfast and lunch and is located right off the fork between 29th and 23rd leading into Alameda.
It is a simple fact of life that egg-and-cheeses are heaven on earth, and Kefa’s workers know how to offer them proper tribute. They take their preparations seriously, which results in a longer wait than you might expect for an egg-and-cheese. English muffins are toasted to a deep crisp, and the cheese is broiled to the point that it gets a plasticine outer shell. Note: that is not a complaint. True egg-and-cheeses bear both those marks of quality.
I went for the basic egg, bacon, and cheese.
Top marks for the English muffin’s burnt edges, the cheese’s flavor and texture, and the sheer volume of egg, but my bacon was definitely burnt. As someone who microwaves her bacon because she hates it undercooked, that’s saying something. The bacon was rather salty as well.
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The husband and I ended up at Afghan Village after a quick Yelp search from the freeway when our hunger post-wine-tasting had reached critical levels. So that hunger may have influenced my opinion of the establishment, but honestly, I think Afghan Village just plain has amazing food despite mixed Yelp reviews.
It’s located in a dark strip mall, and the restaurant was just starting to get patrons in the early evening, around 6 pm. Traditional, elaborate decorations adorn the walls. Gold, white, and red were the primary colors of the room.
It gave of the vibe of a special occasion restaurant, the type where a large family would rent half the room for a birthday or wedding celebration—the two throne chairs in the center of the restaurant definitely contributed to that effect. The décor made the place seem vast when not filled, but it was pleasant to gape at, regardless.
Service was prompt. Because of our hunger, an appetizer was a must.
Those are potatoes pakora, and I loved them. The spices in the besan flour batter made for an intriguing blend, and the cilantro chutney banished any potential for blandness. It was a healthy helping, too. Despite that glossy sheen, they didn’t taste at all greasy and had a crisp exterior.
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The Cheese Steak Shop is a Bay Area chain that’s been in operation since the early 1980s. They’ve done so well, they even have a couple franchises in the Philippines! I love a good Philly cheese steak, to the point that it was probably more than half the reason I visited Philly a few years back. The Cheese Steak Shop makes their sandwiches in that classic style, going so far as to ship in their ingredients from Philly-based vendors. I think that commitment has paid off.
At the Castro Valley store, chopped sirloin beef or chicken are the meat options. White American cheese comes with the standard sandwich, which you can get in 7-, 10-, or 15-inch sizes. They have plenty of variations, however, including provolone, meat tossed in barbecue sauce, mushrooms, and spinach. I’m partial to the green chiles and provolone cheese sandwich myself.
That one is a 7-inch with chicken. The slightly saucy cheese is melted on the bottom. The meat is juicy and nicely browned, and the bread is absolutely perfect—squishy Italian rolls that melt in your mouth along with the sandwich fillings. Grilled onions and hot and sweet cherry peppers topped off my roll. Subjectively, I prefer my grilled onions in slices rather than diced into nothingness, and the peppers were sautéed too long for my preferences. But I loved each and every bite of the meal. It successful made me marvel at the magnificence that is the greasy cheese steak.
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