On the block that contains State Bird Provisions, did you know there are some shops, even other restaurants? Rack your brain and try to remember what’s nearby: “Well, I think there’s a Subway, and a shop that sells hats, and um, maybe a big patch of dirt?”
I get it. This year’s runaway culinary darling has such an outsized presence that it practically obscures anything within visual range.
But from the doorway of State Bird, where you’ve just been told the wait time is eight hours, you can cast your eyes on a fine alternative for dinner. Read More
These days, it takes an awful lot for a San Francisco restaurant to fly under the radar. Professional food writers, bloggers and dilettantes hunt for secret gems with the doggedness of a search-and-rescue team.
So how can you account for Peña Pachamama, a charming and unique North Beach restaurant that has plugged along for more than a decade without attracting notice? Read More
Ever since the convenience store near my house shuttered, I’ve been playing a game with my ladyfriend, Sarah.
The rules are simple: Pick a new business venture, and talk about how we’d make it work in the empty storefront.
I’m gunning for a whiskey bar, or maybe something with puppies, but Sarah is adamant about her idea: a late-night dessert bar in the style of New York’s ChikaLicious, or Pix in Portland, Ore. She imagined she’d be the first in The City. Read More
‘Can’t a little restaurant have its chance at being themselves, without people’s expectations and desires [messing] up the whole damn thing?”
Someone wrote this on my first negative review, as part of a lengthy comment that boiled down to: “Hey, at least they’re trying!”
Company, a new restaurant on the Mission-Noe fault line, is certainly trying. Though the sterile name may seem like an afterthought, the owners are putting a lot of sweat equity into their menu. Read More
By now, we’ve all heard that wine experts sometime can’t tell red from white in blind tastings. I considered these findings after interviewing Anthony Lucero, director of an in-progress movie about making sushi.
He’s been studying sushi for a couple of years and is amazed by all the subtle variations. What kind of vinegar is used to prepare the rice? Is the fish overly chilled? If the chef slices a few millimeters too thick, will your sashimi be less tender, or more? Read More
I love introducing The Chubby Noodle to new friends. “Who knew you could get such good food in a dive bar?!?” they ask. I smile and nod, imagining I look wise (but possibly just self-satisfied and smug).
So upon bringing some newbies there recently, I was surprised to find a very limited menu — no ramen! — and a meal that fell shy of my high praise. Our server told us things had been chaotic, and wasn’t sure what the future held. Say it isn’t so! Read More
Some diners will steer clear of any Bayview restaurant, without knowing (or wanting to know) the details. And I’m sure Eskender Aseged was well aware of that risk when he planted his flag deep in the heart of Third Street.
Aseged was one of The City’s first pop-up chefs, haphazardly feeding thousands of San Franciscans in cafes and Mission backyards. So when his brick and mortar opened in Bayview this spring, he had a built-in fan base, and plenty of hype to go with it. Read More
Critics typically avoid pop-ups; who wants to review a restaurant that might never return? I once reviewed a Caribbean pop-up in Berkeley, only to learn the cook left for Jamaica a week later. Fool me once.
OK, fool me twice. I want to review Sneaky’s BBQ now, with full knowledge that it could disappear into the fog.
Here’s the abridged Sneaky’s story: Part-time rocker Ben Thorne, a Maine native with no barbecue experience, inherited a smoker with his friend Pat Wachter. They self-schooled for many moons, transforming from “comically inept” to smoker savants. Read More
Like malfunctioning iPhone apps or high ATM fees, long brunch waits are one of our favorite first-world complaints. I’m no exception; I’ve certainly whined about the lines at Boogaloos or Mission Beach Café while blowing on my too-hot latte and wondering why Twitter crashed again. Read More
Let’s say you work in the Civic Center. If you are daring, lunchtime reveals an embarrassment of low-end Vietnamese, Burmese and Thai. But for the nervous-minded “clutch my pearls” crowd, the funky neighborhood offerings might possess a bit too much, ah, character.
This review is for the second group.
Marching orders: Enter the Asian Art Museum, subject your bag to a frisk and nab a cute chopstick sticker at the front desk. Don’t look at any art, freeloader; that sticker is only for eating. Read More
There are few reasons less elegant than low prices (clean bathrooms? validated parking?) to suggest a French bistro for dinner. But if it wasn’t evident before, let me out myself: I’m a thrifty diner.
In my non-reviewer life – it exists – I consume a lot of tacos, tortas and pho. And while I certainly have some upscale favorites, a splurge usually requires a special occasion. Read More
Outside Harlem and the Deep South, combining fried chicken and waffles used to reliably provoke a double-take and a snicker. Now it’s become another trendy plaything for chefs to riff on, and for luxe travel magazines to feature in roundups: “City’s best chicken and waffles for under $40!”
But Auntie April’s Chicken and Waffles started serving its house specialty long before Dixie and Twenty Five Lusk subbed in quail for chicken, before anyone might suggest your waffles could be made with quinoa. Read More
When I sent Akiba’s menu to a food-obsessive friend, he was stymied. “I’m not seeing much that’s unique here. Am I missing something?”
On the face, it looks to be a standard-issue Asian creperie and cafe. Similar renditions of Akiba’s sweet and savory crepes can be nabbed at Belly Good or Sophie’s in Japantown.
For drinks, there’s bubble tea, mango jelly soda and a “beer taste beverage” called Fine Free that proudly boasts a 0.0 percent alcohol content. Read More
My friend Mike insists on bringing out-of-town relatives to Loló, though he’d list other restaurants as his favorites. I’ve got a few theories why.
First, it’s sophisticated but unpretentious, a place for Midwestern visitors to feel comfortable (maybe even cool). Next, it’s in the Mission, a neighborhood your auntie probably learned about on the Food Network. And, most importantly, Loló is a great intro to San Francisco’s insistent playful spirit. Read More
As I waited in the brutal lunch line at HRD Coffee Shop, a woman sidled up close. “Have you been here before?” she asked. I had not. “Are you like us? We got in line because everyone else did.” She gestured to a trio of sheepish, grinning guys.My first impulse was to snicker at these lemmings, but was I so different? Whenever I had read about HRD, the fabled lines always came into play. The website says they won’t even take phone orders, citing an “overwhelming number of customers.” It piqued my interest. Read More