San Francisco’s oceanside community feels like another country, with its own weather and enthusiasms. People actually born in The City live here, along with three-legged dogs, surfers, RV dwellers, solo backpackers, bike advocates and a lot of babies and young kids, if the line out the always-open front door of Beachside Coffee Bar and Kitchen is any indication. Read More
This 3-month-old restaurant and saloon is located in the former home of the Washington Square Bar & Grill — the legendary North Beach watering hole that survived through several iterations over almost 40 years until it finally gave up the ghost last year. Rather than try to replicate the original Washbag, Bottle Cap brings a timely, bright aesthetic to this landmark spot. Likewise, bar manager Pete Gowdy and his crew of top-shelf bar expats have brought fresh flavors and original creations to its cocktail program. Read More
As a former history major, I think that in order to fully appreciate the present, you need to grasp what came before.
I never wanted to be an obituary writer, but as a wine journalist I need to honor two people, Joe Dressner and Robert Finigan, who recently passed away. Both of these men had an impact on the wine industry that has been and will continue to be felt for years to come. Read More
When Paul Bertolli left Chez Panisse to take over the kitchen at Oliveto in 1993, he turned it into one of the most wondrous and groundbreaking restaurants in the world. Every meal became a revelation about essence, about using old-world techniques to create food that rebooted culinary consciousness. Read More
It almost seems like an obligation to write about Sancerre once a year, though it may actually be longer since I last mentioned this popular appellation.
Located in the eastern part of the Loire Valley, Sancerre has become the standard for Sauvignon Blanc. In the way that California chardonnay producers may say their wine has Burgundian characteristics, you will hear folks even in New Zealand try to grab the Sancerre–like mantle at times. Read More
A fluorescent blue cartoon moose beckoned the hungry and thirsty to the beloved old Moose’s.
At Park Tavern, which just opened in the same location, the first thing that caught my eye was a big round seal set in mosaic floor tiles at the front door that reads “est. 2011.” Pretty confident, I thought, in a town where many restaurants come and go. In fact, several had revolved through this very spot since the late, legendary Ed Moose threw in his bar towel. Read More
In the spirit of cultural diversity, the first thing that struck me about Izakaya Sozai, a Japanese restaurant on a corner of the Inner Sunset, was its feng shui, its alignment in the universe. There’s something seductive about its big plate-glass windows that almost reach the sidewalk. You can’t help but notice all the engaged diners sitting on wooden banquettes a little below street level, as you approach — and if it’s past 7 p.m., how many are waiting outside for a place in the 34-seat dining room. Read More
For more than 15 years, Thirsty Bear has attracted after-work beer aficionados, office parties and tapas fans. Surprisingly, the organic craft brewery has also become a favored spot for patrons who like unique cocktails and high-end spirits. In fact, bar manager Matt Gunderson has developed a rotating cocktail menu that is every bit as innovative as the brewery’s award-winning beers and the restaurant’s popular Spanish cuisine. And Gunderson now has dedicated cocktail regulars to show for it. Thirsty Bear, 661 Howard St., San Francisco, (415) 974-0905 Read More
In spite of the glut of tourists, a lot of the really good wineries in the Napa Valley do not have public tasting rooms. With some wineries, getting an appointment is as easy as sending an email; however, many require the taster to be in the wine or hospitality industry. Many producers are small, do not have tasting rooms and lack the human resources to accommodate the general public. Read More
The last place I would expect to find an extraordinary meal is on the fourth floor of a shopping mall. But, what do I know? I’ve only written about 2,000 restaurant reviews. Imagine my astonishment at discovering Cupola Pizzeria, a new addition to the “Restaurant Collection” in the Westfield Centre, under the old Emporium glass dome. This unnoticed, cavelike space at the top of an escalator currently ranks as one of my favorite eateries in the Bay Area. Really. Read More