Last week, I was publicly accused of hunting out The City’s weirdest places to eat. This gave me pause.
I never thought of myself as an odd-hunter, on a quest to uncover bizarre arcana for its own sake. I just went to places that were less noticed, where I wouldn’t have to scrum with 30 other food writers.
But whatever my intent, the facts speak for themselves. In 12 short months, I reviewed a Japanese maid cafe, a pornographic brunch spot, a museum cafe, a fish trailer, Nespresso, a Russian spa, a Champagne bar, “bro meals” and Tu Lan. Read More
I’m transfixed by one photo in a rotating slideshow on the website of the Russian spa Archimedes Banya. A young, lovestruck couple is submerged in a hot tub. The peach-skinned man hoists a stein of beer. And his paramour seems to be dunking a whole fish into the beer.
Your actual meal at the spa will not be served in the Jacuzzi (it’s for the best), but you will eat in a surreal, unsettling hideaway, not unlike the interplanetary cantina in “Star Wars.” It’s called, weirdly, Zteamers.
The absurdity of the photo is apt. Read More
In a president’s final months in office, he typically pardons his criminal friends, uses his Oval Office discount card at Dairy Queen ... stuff like that.
As you may have heard, my time as a restaurant critic is drawing to a close (be strong!). And like a lame-duck president, I’m taking advantage of my final hours in office. For this week’s review, I did a roundup of The City’s best prawn tacos. Read More
Common wisdom is that seekers of decent, authentic Filipino food need to trek southward from The City, into the badlands of the Peninsula. Here in San Francisco, offerings are meager.
But if you want a dose of in-town authenticity, a Filipino meal to placate the purists, your destination is obvious: the mall food court. 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
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
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
Early last year, I had business meetings in Cow Hollow. I’m rarely in that area, so I put out a Twitter call: Does anyone know a good place to eat near the Marina?Besides Atelier Crenn and a couple of other wallet-busters, people were stumped. “Just eat in the Mission,” quipped one wise guy.I started developing a quest to locate a secret treasure in the Marina. The requirements were simple: somewhere reasonably priced and relaxed, where I’m unlikely to get clobbered with a designer high heel. Read More
Last summer, the South Korean-ish pop-up Seoul Patch served lunch at a sushi joint near my house. One menu item — the fried chicken “sando” — became a problem for me.
I’d open my fridge, and everything seemed boring and sad. Despite fleeting good intentions (“Maybe I’ll saute up that Swiss chard.”), I kept heading back to Seoul Patch.
That sandwich was better than the sum of its parts. At its core, it was just a heaping mound of boneless fried chicken thighs served with daikon slaw and spicy-sweet gochujang sauce. Read More
Here’s a little news for the sports-ignorant: Your local football team is playing in the Super Bowl this weekend. If, like me, you’re a transplant from some shameful place (e.g., New England), you may just be interested in what you’ll eat during the game.
Before you groan at the thought of soggy nachos and gray burger patties, remember where you live. This is San Francisco, where even the sports bars serve interesting food. Bon appetit!
Tee-Off Bar & Grill3129 Clement St. Read More
Native culinary guides are worth their weight in fresh-baked pita, let me tell you. If it wasn’t for my Lebanese pal Andy, I would never have noticed Arabian Nights.
Let me amend that statement: I probably would have noticed it and blown it off. Outward appearances — the name, the Ali Baba aesthetic, the clashing swords noises on the website — painted a cartoonish portrait.
And the menu, with its broad survey of hummus, shawarma and kebabs, did little to entice. Read More
In San Francisco’s new tech economy, most of the foot soldiers are dudes. You don’t have to like it; I certainly don’t. For now, let’s just say, “It is what it is” (a beloved phrase of jaded New Yorkers).
Myriah Zaytoun says this landscape of young male programmers and engineers is a bit like “one big frat.” These boys may be great at coding and kegging, but many are still brushing up on their life skills. Read More
I’ve been vaguely aware for a couple of years of the Bubble Lounge, that bicoastal temple of Champagne worship.
Inspecting its comic-font website, with a cascade of bubbles framing the city skyline, it always seemed like a place “not for me.”
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy Champagne, in theory. It’s a toast to victory, or new babies, or sexy times. It’s a way for high rollers to flaunt their wealth, an ostentatious bit of nightclub theater. It’s stiletto heels and shellfish, boats and bachelorettes, cigars and stretch limos. Read More
There’s nothing like misplaced expectations to muck everything up.
For years, Pacific Catch was just a massive, hokey-looking spot I’d spy while cruising down Lincoln Way. I never paid it much mind; chain restaurants rarely make it on the radar.
Then I was struck by that dastardly rule of threes. In a one-month period, three different people — one a food writer — told me Pacific Catch was much better than it looked. Read More
I’d like to think there are people who plot their weeks around dinner specials at the Basque Cultural Center. Certainly the clientele has an air of permanency, of dining patterns reaching back for decades. “Put down those chips, Murray, you know Thursday is fondue night!”
I’m teasing, but without malice. The Basque Cultural Center is a delight, a place where only the sourest scenester wouldn’t appreciate its warmth or lack of pretense. Read More