Caputo is the brand new rustic Italian eatery you HAVE to check out

Caputo SF front door
Caputo is the Embarcadero’s newest restaurant.

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

San Francisco’s waterfront neighborhood, aka the Embarcadero, is some prime real estate for luxury apartments, AT&T park, tech companies and so much more. The locale recently welcomed its newest restaurant to the ‘hood and I had the absolute pleasure of checking out the new digs at Caputo.

If you’re in the mood for rustic, tratoria-style Italian food, Caputo is definitely a place to check out. Opened in October 2015, the beautiful restaurant boasts an open kitchen and a welcoming, wood patina bar and dining room. Caputo, which took over The Slanted Door’s previous space, is helmed by Executive Chef and partner Sam Ramadan and managing partner Shah Bahrenyi.

Caputo_SF_kitchenWhen we visited, we had the pleasure of watching Chef Ramandan and Chef de Cuisine, Carrie Anne Lopez, conjure up their delicious dishes together. When you visit for dinner, I definitely suggest taking a seat near the kitchen to watch all of the magic unfold.

Caputo's beautiful bar.
Caputo’s beautiful bar.

Per usual, we started our meals with a couple cocktails. (A girl’s gotta be able to recommend a good cocktail, amiright?!) The booze list is plentiful. You’ve got your pick from California-centric wines, local micro brews and a bounty of fresh cocktail concoctions. If you need to kill time before a baseball game or whatnot, you definitely need to check out this stunner of a bar that overlooks the Bay.

We started our night off with a few super bright and light cocktails. Go for the Caputo Bellini or a Cucumber Collins. Or try my favorite of the night, the Corpse Reviver #2, a mix of #209 Gin (distilled at nearby Pier 50), lemon juice, St. George Absinthe, and Kina L’Aero d’Or aperitif. So good.

Caputo's massive meatballs
Caputo’s massive meatballs
Fluffy, creamy and savory. Try Caputo’s Burrata with oven-roasted mushrooms and honey.

For starters, I suggest the Meatballs Al Forno and the Burrata. The smokiness and richness of the meatballs and San Marzano marinara pair perfectly with the creaminess of the burrata, served with oven-roasted mushrooms, hazelnuts and honey. Other small plates on the menu include a Salumi Board, salads, yellowfin crudo and Pecorino Flan, which sounds heavenly to the fat kid in me.

Caputo’s Raviolo is filled with ricotta and a farm egg. OMG.
Caputo's Squid Ink Spaghetti with rock shrimp
Caputo’s Squid Ink Spaghetti with rock shrimp

Everyone around us was ordering various types of Caputo’s woodfired Neopolitan-style pizzas. Oh, and I’m definitely coming back to taste the Whole Mediterranean Branzino grilled over almond wood. But alas, we played the pasta card and ordered a Squid Ink Spaghetti alla Chitara, served with Rock Shrimp, and the Raviolo, one beautifully plump ricotta-filled and farm egg hunk of pasta in a shallow pool of truffle butter and grana padano sage butter. Come to Caputo hungry and with friends because I’ll guarantee you’ll want to try a bit of everything from the menu.

Caputo's Butterscotch Budino
Save room for dessert.

If you save room for dessert, Caputo offers a hefty list of dessert wines, port, cognac. scotch and coffee to accompany your sweet tooth. We opted for the Butterscotch Budino, a velvety butterscotch pudding of sorts topped with sea salt caramel and an almond biscotti crunch. The Valrhona Chocolate Terrine and the Rosemary Polenta Cake was calling our names but we ate entirely too much.

For cocktails, wine, pizza and pasta, check out Caputo before everyone else discovers how great it is. For more information, visit

Alcatraz Night Tour is for history buffs and thrillseekers

Alcatraz night tours
Alcatraz is definitely less busy, yet more eerie, late at night.

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

I take pride in myself as being the token friend my peeps go to when it comes to the following phrase: “Hey, I’m going to this place and need off-the-beaten-path recommendations on where to go and what to see and eat.”

If you’re easily spooked like me, don’t get separated from your group.

That being said, when I got the invitation from one of my girls from back home to go to Alcatraz while she was in town, I had some mixed feelings (sorry Brandie!!). Taking a ferry to check out Alcatraz conjures up images of silly shirts that say “Alcatraz Swim Team” or weird and boring tours led by overly-enthusiastic guides. But, I had the chance to take the Alcatraz Night Tour and it was pretty freaking fun. All of my biased expectations were thrown out the window…And into the chilly waters of the Bay.

If you’re even remotely thinking of visiting Alcatraz while you’re in town, you better get your tickets early. Time slots to visit “The Rock” sell out like hotcakes and it may be nearly impossible if you’re trying to buy tickets for a day out. You can visit the island throughout the day, but I recommend you enjoy the city by day and line up for the Alcatraz Night Tour around sundown.

The ride to Alcatraz is quick so make sure you grab a seat upstairs and outside for the best view. Once you disembark, you’ll be guided on a semi-steep walk up to the entrance into the cell house through the shower house. Grab a pair of headphones and start the self-guided walking tour, available in 11 languages.

Library at Alcatraz.
Take a seat in the Library at Alcatraz.
The hospital walls inside Alcatraz.
Beauty in the details. The hospital walls inside Alcatraz.

The story of Alcatraz is pretty unbelievable and the audio tour is about 45 minutes. It’s all self-paced so if you want to spend some extra time learning about famous inmates or at “The Hole,” you can do that too. Make some time to check out the hospital, which is not part of the audio tour, and see what other programs and presentations are on the schedule.

Check out the daily schedule for programs, like prisoner escape stories and cell door demos.

While the Gardens of Alcatraz won’t be visible at night, thrill seekers will definitely appreciate the extra time they have peering around the cell block avenues, the library and dining hall. Alcatraz, which spans over 12 acres, is definitely something to experience in person, even for a skeptical like me. While it may look extremely touristy from the outside — or the mainland — it’s definitely something worth checking out at night.

For more information, visit

Get lost on the rock…






Pacific Catch offers signature seafood dishes of SF in the Inner Sunset

The San Francisco Classics menu at Pacific Catch.
The San Francisco Classics menu at Pacific Catch.

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

It’s kinda unreal how good the seafood is up here. From the chowder and lobster rolls, to the oysters and ahi, the City has seafood restaurants everywhere you go. While going out for sushi or a seafood dinner was a treat before moving up to SF, now it’s a weekly occurrence. I had the pleasure of checking out Pacific Catch in the Sunset the other night to check out their digs and their new San Francisco Classics menu.

Pacific Catch's Kiwi Flash.
Pacific Catch’s Kiwi Flash.

Situated in the heart of the Inner Sunset, Pacific Catch is surrounded by restaurants, shops, cafes, dessert places and the Golden Gate Park. The fish house offers sushi, poke, sandwiches, bowls, fish frys, and more alongside its lively bar. I started my meal out with a cocktail and the Hawaiian Poke trio. The Kiwi Flash is a mix of gin, fresh kiwi, cucumber and lemon juice. The brightness of the cocktail paired perfectly with the poke trio. Six different types of poke are on the menu and I highly recommend going for a trio if you’re with a group.

The Hawaiian Poke trio from Pacific Catch. So good as an entree or to share with friends.

Go for the Original, California Style and the Seared Albacore poke, which are all served with wonton crisps, seaweed salad and daikon salad. The Original is so flavorful and good for anyone still trying to figure out their poke style. The California Style is rich with avocado and a lemon aioli. And the Seared Albacore is meaty and smoky.

The menu at Pacific Catch is enormous and you either need to visit several times or with a large group to truly experience it. The fish house is known for its Japanese Wasabi bowl, Fish & Chips, tacos, sandwiches and sushi. But I had to order from the San Francisco Classics menu, the restaurant’s celebration of the City’s signature dishes.

For a limited time, go for the Pan Seared Local Petrale Sole at Pacific Catch.

You’ll find items like clam chowder, cioppino, crab melt, and a Green Goddess shrimp salad. I opted for the Pan Seared Local Petrale Sole. A dollop of dungeness crab was placed on top of the sole, which was on top of a potato puree, brocolini and crimini mushrooms in a brandy cream sauce. The sole was perfectly crisp and tender and the brocolini provided a much-needed crunch. Everything was perfect and was a flavorful way to experience the tastes of the City.

Pacific Catch's dessert spring rolls.
Pacific Catch’s dessert spring rolls.

If you leave room for dessert, the SF Classics menu offers two sweet SF ways to end your meal: an It’s It ice cream sandwich and a Ghiradelli sundae. My server suggested that I at least have a bite of their signature dessert, a Crispy Dulce de Leche Spring Roll, filled with cheese cake filling and a scoop of vanilla ice cream from a local ice cream shop in Berkeley.

If you’re in the neighborhood after walking through the Park and are craving seafood, Pacific Catch is just a quick walk or bus ride. For more information, visit

The de Young Museum celebrates 10 years with a free community day

Kevin Kelleher captures the true spirit of discovering and embracing the art in the City at the de Young.  (Kevin Kelleher/Special to Wander Magazine)
Kevin Kelleher captures the true spirit of discovering and embracing the art in the City at the de Young.
(Kevin Kelleher/Special to Wander Magazine)

Written by Nadia Ibanez, photos by Kevin Kelleher

It’s kind of amazing to live in such a small, yet diverse city that’s just dripping in art. From the street art and installations subsidized by the city, to the random art formations you’ll find in alleys and our green spaces, art and inspiration is everywhere. And don’t even get me started on all of the museums in town — especially the ones that are walking distance from my place. One of the museums I’ve grown to love is the de Young Museum. Known for its beautiful, geometric look-out point that towers over Golden Gate Park, the de Young also promotes artists in residence and unique photo, art and mixed media exhibits.

The de Young celebrated its 10th anniversary of its building remodel in GGP with free admission for a full 12 hours. We spent the day — and night — checking out the exhibits, listening to live music, making our own art, and talking to artists in residence. Check out our photos of the people we’ve met along the way. Read more

ICYMI: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2015

Nadia Ibanez, 31, of San Diego, California watches Steve Earle & The Dukes close out Saturday night (Kevin Kelleher/Special to Wander Magazine)
Festie girl, in full force.

Written by Nadia Ibanez, photos by Kevin Kelleher

Some peeps (ahem, my photographer for instance) would say that I’m a festie girl. I travel throughout the state for three-day music festivals. I’ll drop almost $400 for a weekend pass to something. I don’t scoff at body paint, metallic temporary tattoos or putting flowers and ribbons in my hair. I’ll put on a flowy dress and cowboy boots. And I’ll f*cking dance my booty off with strangers in front of the main stage without skipping a beat.

As I’m rounding out my first year in the City, I’m finding about all of the annual street parties, SF-centric holidays and music festivals. The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival was last weekend and I finally had the chance to experience it for myself. Three days, seven stages, in the middle of Golden Gate Park. Oh, and it’s a totally free event. I mean…if you’re in the city and don’t check it out, you’re doing it wrong.

SF venture capitalist and philanthropist Warren Hellman came up with and funded the non-commercial festival to focus on the music, the community and the absolute beauty of the venue. The first event was held in 2001 and more than 750,000 music lovers trek to the GGP each year.

Crowds flock the Banjo and also main Stage at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass on October 3, 2015 (Kevin Kelleher/Special to Wander Magazine)
Crowds flock the Banjo and also main Stage at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass on October 3, 2015 (Kevin Kelleher/Special to Wander Magazine)

Because Hardly Strictly is a non-commercial event, don’t expect to find any booths sponsored by the likes of Google, Spotify, Chevy or any other corporations hawking their brand and wares like you’d find at Outside Lands or other festivals. But rather, you’ll find groups of people bringing in their own lawn chairs, blankets, booze and food intending to spend the entire day in front of their favorite stage. The idea of “pack it in, pack it out” is huge at Hardly Strictly and it was kinda amazing to see people picking up after each other and not trashing the park like you’ll often see at festivals.

Kevin and I ran around the festival all weekend and shot crazy concert goers, musicians, free-lovin’ drifters and everyone in between. We hope you enjoy this photo gallery. Read more