Friday, January 24, 2014

American Cupcakes & Indian Rock

I was born and raised in the Bay Area and I've always thought of it as my playground.  Oakland was like the main base because it's my home.  Sure shit happens and a jerk kid might push you off the thing, but that's life.  The Bay Bridge was like the monkey bars.  San Francisco was like the top of the jungle gym.  West Oakland was like the slides because shit only goes downhill.  San Jose was like the swings because although it can be fun, it's not really connected to anything.  But when you live somewhere long enough you get trapped in a bit of routine.  You stop looking for new places to go.  For years I lived close to the Golden Gate Bridge but never bothered to see it.  Long had I seen the island of Alcatraz on my way to the City without ever stepping foot on it.  It's not like you plan not to see these places, life just happens.  But that changed when I moved to Los Angeles County.

I traveled to LA a lot as a kid with my family.  As a family we just loved to travel places and LA was a popular destination.  (Maybe too popular.)  Like most "tourists" we visited the main attractions there.  You know the ones: Hollywood, Venice Beach, Disneyland.  We loved discovering what this overheated, overpriced playground had to offer.  But once I moved down here for college I realized something.  I again had fallen into a routine of going to the same places, doing the same things, and eating at the same restaurants.  I lost that ambition to discover and explore.  I wanted to get back to how I was and find new places in LA while I was still here.  I looked back even further and realized there were attractions back home in the Bay that I wanted to experience.  So at the ripe age of 20 I knocked down two of the biggest items of my Bay Area bucket list: The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.  Shit was worth the wait.  It was like living next to a hot girl for a long time and then finally getting it in.  (But somehow more satisfying.)  But my journey through exploration of my home playground didn't stop there.  Over the course of this last year I've made the effort to see new places, travel to new destinations and attend new events.  Which brings us to this past winter break.

As usual I visited my favorite spots, hung out with the same friends and relived some of my favorite memories in the Bay.  But I still wanted to see new things and have new experiences, first and foremost being seeing the new Bay Bridge.  Let me just say that shit was glorious!  (If the Guaps and Kate Upton had a baby and that baby was a bridge, the new Bay Bridge would be that baby.)  I've driven on the new bridge and seen it from multiple vista points and it gets more beautiful every time.  At night it glows like Antarctic snow and it's single arch reigns over the waters.  It was truly a sight to behold.  But now what, I thought.  In my mind there weren't many new places to discover and I had just seen the newest marvel the Bay had to offer.  But interestingly one of my best friends, Smokey, approached me and two more of my best friends, Dakare and Garrett, with yet a new place to venture.  He mentioned before the break about some cupcake place in San Francisco that he saw in the Travel Channel or something.  Apparently it was gaining popularity for its famed "red velvet fried chicken."  So we decided we would venture into the City in search of this fried chicken.

One night I was picked up by Smokey and Dakare and we headed to the West Oakland Bart Station where we were to meet Garrett.  We headed to San Francisco and got off at the Montgomery Station.  The thing about this joint is that it's nowhere near a Bart station.  It's located a little south of the marina and east of Pacific Heights in this neighborhood they call Cow Hollow.  We could've taken the Muni like any chump in SF but we were on a mission so we hailed a cab.  The taxi (which DK did not pay for) dropped us off at Union Street.  If you're the type of person who likes bar hopping then Union Street is the place you should be.  They have at least a few bars on every corner of the street.  They even have a bunch of little shops and stores on this street if you want to go during the day time.  But I digress.  The best way to describe American Cupcake is if a rave was themed like Candyland, but instead of buying ecstasy from that sweaty guy in a tank top your buying food from a waitress.  Everything is decorated "cute" and the lights fluctuated between neon colors.  The menu is thicker in the bible but they have a lot of interesting selections.  The staff were extremely friendly, each with their favorites and recommendations.  After spending a long time looking at their menu/manual we all decided to get their "world famous" red velvet fried chicken" a la carte.  Their food was a bit pricey but our waitress assured us it would be worth it.

Now I love red velvet!  And I love fried chicken!  But how can I be sure those two delicious things go together?  Sometimes things that are good separate just don't work together.  (Think half the flavors at Baskin Robins or Kobe and Dwight Howard.)  But sometimes, somehow, things just mesh together perfectly and you wonder how those things were ever not together.  Red velvet fried chicken isn't one of those things.  It just doesn't work.  I liked the meal better when i peeled off the red velvet skin off the fried chicken.  The cupcakes were better.  They had a plethora of cupcake flavor you can choose from and they were pretty good.  Now what rating can I give this place?  I didn't hate the red velvet fried chicken but when that's featured on the Travel Channel and you advertise it as your specialty that shouldn't be the standard of excellence.  The cupcakes were good but far from mind blowing.  Given the price and high expectations that were never met, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to return here.  But I can see myself drop by during a night of bar hopping with my friends on Union Street.  El Guapo's official score for American Cupcake: IGHT.

If there's one thing the Bay Area has a lot of is views.  There's not a lot of things that can compare to the kind of views you get in the Bay.  Most people know about the ones like Grizzly Peak, but I'm about to speak on a spot you might not be familiar with.  One of my boys put me on to some game about this spot called Indian Rock in Albany.  There aren't a lot of reasons to travel to Albany.  I used to go their for a cross country meet and I have a friend that resides there, but that's about it.  But my friend insisted it was the perfect spot to take your girl and have a picnic so I took his word for it.  I picked up my girl around noon and headed to Albany to check out this site.  This spot isn't hard to find if you just type "Indian Rock" in your smart phone.  I arrive in Albany and follow the instructions on my GPS and lo and behold there's a giant boulder just chillin' in the middle of a residential area like it's Friday and it just lost its job for stealing boxes.  At first glance the giant beast of rock looks impossible to climb but if you look around you can find steps carved into the rock so you can climb up.  The climb isn't so hard but there was a moment where I looked down and pictured dropping to rocky death.  Once we got to the top we were treated to one of the best views I've seen.  It was a clear and sunny day so there was no interference from fog or clouds.  Looking straight ahead we could see San Francisco and it's pearl white gate we the Bay Bridge.  To the left we saw the beautiful city of Oakland and it's downtown skyline.  To the right we got a great view of Marin and Contra Costa Counties.  It was truly an amazing spot where El Guapo and La Guapa got to enjoy some sandwiches and work on our scrapbook in the midst of a great view.

There's nothing that makes me happier to write down my thoughts and put them on this blog except for knowing that people actually read this.  I thank you and I'm excited for what 2014 has to offer.  I got a lot of great blog posts lined up so make sure you get a front row seat to El Guapo's Idea Factory (patent pending.)  As usual follow me on Twitter @ELGUAPO3 and Instagram @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME.  Make sure to check me out on Tumblr at  Be safe, keep up with your resolutions and stay Guapo out there.

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