Mr. Michael Bauer found his way to Coco Frio in the Mission this week and found food with an “unwavering honesty” that “satisfies those who appreciate a more bohemian approach to the dining experience.” A three-course prix fixe is your only option at Coco Frio, but it’s a reasonable $29.99. Bauer particularly liked chef Manny Torres Gimenez’s (Quince, SPQR) “complex” fish soup and “beautifully arranged” appetizers, and though the meaty mains weren’t always “served at the ideal temperature,” “the intent and the unique combinations” won Bauer over. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, though, with “happenstance” service and a “pieced together” dining room. 2 stars. [The Chron]
For his update review this week, Bauer traveled to ZuZu in Napa, which he calls “still a hotter ticket than a Taylor Swift concert” in the Valley dining scene. Bauer generally liked chef Armando Ramirez’s food, of which the flavors he called “always on point,” especially in the sauces that accompany dishes and in the paella. “ZuZu is the type of place that feels comfortable and familiar, but there’s always something to surprise and delight,” he concluded. 2 ½ stars. [The Chron]
Josh Sens found a more relaxed Dominique Crenn at her sophomore effort Petit Crenn this month — and he really liked it, calling the restaurant “a stunner” that’s “smart, charming, and carefully conceived right down to its currents of orchestrated chaos.” That chaos refers to the kitchen staff who doubles as the serving staff, which can sometimes result in bungles, but is overall a “cheerful frenzy.” Sens was impressed by the food, particularly the gougères, miyagi oysters, escargots and side dishes. He liked how much the restaurant — “meant to strike the mood of a festive sit-down at a friend’s home” — differed from its older, more serious Atelier sister, showing “evidence of a refined chef loosening her apron — or, more specifically, of a Frenchwoman reaching toward her Brittany roots.” 3 stars. [SF Mag]
It’s safe to say Anna Roth loved Los Moles, with locations in San Rafael and Emeryville, as her column’s second line called it “a triumph.” She particularly enjoyed the untraditional mango mole, though notes that the “new flavors may strike the wrong note with purists.” Of the 10 moles in chef Lito Saldana’s repertoire, “all of the sauces are good, although some are more successful than others.” The aforementioned mango is on the top, while the the pumpkin-seed mole was “too rich to consume much of it” and the Mama Elena and mole verde “weren’t as round and developed as the others.” Roth recommends visiting for weekend brunch, when there’s an all-you-can-eat $17.99 buffet that gives you the chance to sample them all for yourself.
Luke Tsai liked the marketing at Injera in Alameda, and he also really liked the food. The eponymous injera bread is “tender and only slightly spongy,” perfect for scooping up the “richly spiced stews and stir-frys.” Tsai loved the “awfully addictive” kategna, an appetizer of toasted injera with butter and berbere spice, and the “delicious” “spicy, smoky” mesir wat, or red lentil stew, which was “the best of the bunch.” The food trended a little bland in terms of spicy heat for Tsai, but the bold flavors usually made up for it.
Peter Kane visited the “stridently un-conservative” Cala this week, where he found plenty to like. Favorites included the tamal de mejillones (which was “the first tamal I've ever had that could arm-wrestle any of [the Tamale Lady’s] to the ground”), “whipped and airy” black beans and “granddaddy of the menu” black cod that “flaked apart just by gazing softly at it.” Not-so-favorites were the salad and clam aguachile. It was all enough to change his mind about chef Gabriela Cámara, whose restaurant Contramar in Mexico City was not for Kane. Cala, however, is.