In the heart of the Marina district, Mauna Loa Club is a cozy alternative to the numerous upscale nightspots — long on value and short on pretense. To the left of the curved bar, a large red-and-white sign informs patrons that during happy hour, which runs from 2 to 8 p.m. weekdays, draft beers are $1 off and well drinks are just $4. In a neighborhood where $12 cocktails are the norm, that’s no small thing. Read More
Over the years, this column has taken California wine prices to task. The cost of land and new oak barrels, especially French ones, are expensive, but I maintain my original position: The quality often does not justify the price, and finding bargains in this state is not an easy task. Read More
‘Can’t mac and cheese just be good? Isn’t that enough?”
I was caught. A friend and I were at Broken Record, everyone’s favorite Excelsior dive. I had just eaten some of chef Mark Furr’s mac and cheese, and made an obnoxious comment: “What’s interesting about it?”
Apparently the fresh pasta, pork belly, top-shelf cheese blend and pickled jalapeños didn’t adequately dazzle me. What a spoiled brat. Read More
In a town crowded with chic, sexy bars, Chambers stands out. Located in the Phoenix Hotel, the bar underwent a striking and modern remodeling. It once housed Backflip and Bambuddha Lounge. Unique and varied lighting in the two indoor bars, brocade and leather banquette seating, and indoor and outdoor fireplaces give it a distinctive, classy feel. A wall display with more than 10,000 classic LPs sometimes proves to be too tempting for customers, says bartender Richard Woodruff, noting that some go spinning right out the door. Read More
My apartment would fit six times inside Nespresso’s boutique cafe on Grant and Geary. But despite some revealingly huge plate-glass windows, it isn’t easy to tell what they’re doing with all that space.
You can’t find a menu or description of the cafe online, the phone number on Yelp leads you straight to Nespresso corporate headquarters, and it doesn’t look like any cafe I’ve seen. Read More
Australia is best known for shiraz, the funny name for syrah from Down Under. It so dominates the landscape that it is impossible to say there is one typical type of Australian shiraz. Read More
Burritt Room and Tavern Just steps before the Stockton Tunnel sits a cocktail gem in the Mystic Hotel where bartenders use swizzle sticks made from tree branches and eye-drop house-made tinctures into vessels of boozy glory. Red velvet stools, 12-armed chandeliers and the original layer of preserved flooring with dime-sized tiles decorate the refined yet approachable low-lit bar and adjoining restaurant. The film noir-inspired cocktail spot opened by iconic restaurateur Charlie Palmer is named after Judge Burritt and his farm, which once existed there. Read More
Few things make me as happy as Mosel riesling from Germany. Days when both the Giants and Mets win, Messi scores more goals than Ronaldo, or a Hepburn and Tracy movie is on TMC come pretty close. But when it comes to imbibing, the Mosel region’s light-bodied, high-acid, low-alcohol, floral, minerally and fruity wines make everything seem right with the world — even if it might be falling apart right outside my window. Read More
The other night I was biking down Market Street about 11 p.m., looking to fill a quarrelsome belly. I kept arriving as places closed up, while rejecting bad ideas from the devil on my shoulder (“Maybe a 7-Eleven taquito would hit the spot. …”)
Before heading home to make a sad hummus-and-pickle sandwich, inspiration struck. I remembered a scene from months ago, when a friend ordered a life-changing fish sandwich in an alley.
At the time, I had tried to ignore the friend, because he was being loud:
“OHMYGODTHISISTHEBESTFISHSANDWICHINALLOFHISTORY!!!” Read More
You gotta love a bar whose menu board on the street says “Soup of the day: Whiskey.” This proudly self-proclaimed dive bar in Lower Pacific Heights is known for good “drunk” food, such as chicken strips. But I was lucky enough to enjoy delicious sauteed Brussels sprouts during a restaurant pop-up featuring A16 cook Chris Norton. (“This is my old stomping ground, my ‘Cheers,’” he explained.) Veteran San Francisco bartender Christine Imfeld is particularly friendly and easily translated the day’s special for a French customer (“Petit chou, vert”). Read More