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Dianne de Guzman

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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate Last Week

From vegan enchiladas to breakfast sandwiches to funky ham and figs, Eater editors share their favorite dishes around town

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Even with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bay Area remains a thrilling place to eat, yet night after night many of us wind up falling back on the same usual suspects. Fortunately, Eater editors eat out more often than most, and we take seriously our responsibility to steer you toward a better meal. We report all of our most exciting findings on a weekly basis, so check back regularly to find out what you should be eating too.

July 1

Vegan enchiladas from Cielito Lindo

Paolo Bicchieri

When the wind doesn’t whip the sand into your mouth, dinner at Ocean Beach with the sun setting on foamy green waves is not so bad. Add to the mix a new major contender in the vegan dining scene: Cielito Lindo. No, not the taco shop on the oldest street in Los Angeles — though this shop isn’t new either. It is, however, new to the vegan dining scene because, as far as I can tell, diners with plant-based proclivities in San Francisco aren’t on the take about the potato-stuffed, chewy carrot-crammed vegan enchiladas made with the just-right-amount of beans. Each bite confirmed again and again that, all of a sudden, this is now my favorite Mexican restaurant on Balboa Avenue. There’s an entire half of an avocado in this dish, proving the chefs know what vegans want — nay, what they need. The green sauce is a must-add, given that the $14 dish might feel a little bland without the extra smack of cilantro. This veritable feast was a rapid montage of radishes, peppers, lettuce, tortilla, and, as another rolling wave at Kelly’s Cove thumped the beach, waking me from my hypnotic munching, it was over. It’s that good. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Petty Cash from Bandit

A vegetarian breakfast sandwich with tater tots. Lauren Saria

I was stuck at home for a good chunk of last week, essentially transported back in time to those early pandemic days when your dining options come down to two things: delivery or whatever myriad groceries you happen to have on hand. Lucky for me, there’s no shortage of excellent delivery options in San Francisco (don’t forget to tip your drivers!) including Bandit, the Tenderloin breakfast sandwich specialist. So midway through my isolation and extremely sick of cooking my own food, I had the supreme pleasure of starting another day at home with the Petty Cash, a platonic ideal of a breakfast sandwich starring a chive-flecked scrambled egg patty — tender, neither over- nor under-cooked — and a melted slice of cheddar cheese on a smooshy brioche bun. And in a feat of food delivery prowess, the tots even arrived hot and crispy. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Lady Edison ham and figs from Burdell

Dianne de Guzman

After reading about (and talking to) chef Geoff Davis about his plans for his upcoming restaurant Burdell, I decided to lock in reservations for his residency at Tribune in Oakland. It was another pop-up full of hits (see: last week’s visit to Slanted Door), but what I’m still thinking is this plate of Lady Edison ham and figs. I normally might have ignored an add-on, but after my chat with Geoff about the ingredients and getting some background on the ham itself, I was curious to try it. And thank goodness. I predicted pork-y flavor along the lines of prosciutto, but this Lady Edison ham was not that — it was deep and funky and salty in ways I haven’t experienced before. If you’re not a fan of pork, then this is definitely not for you, but it was noticeably different and attention-grabbing. I won’t get into the weeds of the process of making this ham, but in Geoff’s hands it played beautifully against the figs and mustard seeds in funky-salty-sweet bites. Add on the fact that it was served alongside a cooling salad of melon, cucumber, buttermilk, and herbs that emitted sweet summer vibes, and it was a true Dinner Moment. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


June 24

Miyagi oysters at Bluestem Restaurant and Market

Paolo Bicchieri

POV: You’re sitting on a rooftop in the Financial District on the hottest day of the year to kick off the first day of summer in famously balmy San Francisco. It’s a celebratory time; blue and gold confetti paper the sidewalk below — and it might come off as reaching, but good weather and local pride are enough, today, to stave off the doom and gloom. That’s when the first slurp of oysters joins the fray. All of a sudden, it’s clear: A view of the city, a chance to laugh, and a Pacific mollusc rinsed in lemon really are a cure for what ails you. Bluestem offers a harvest salad that’s worth its weight; meaty cuts of beet like chunks of watermelon; and the kimchi hushpuppies, gluten-free due to their chickpea flour coating, will always be too few. But it’s the oysters, sweet like cucumber, that are just what the first day of summer demanded. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Roasted half duck at the Slanted Door pop-up

The Slanted Door pop-up at Rice & Bones intersected two of my favorite things: Slanted Door, of course, and my alma mater of UC Berkeley. The preview dinner was a nice way to (slowly) welcome back Slanted Door after a two-year closure, especially for those who have been awaiting its return. Not to tease those who missed out on reservations, but the four-course meal was a lovely reminder of chef Charles Phan’s crown jewel — and it was honestly hard to pick which was the favorite amongst courses of banh bot loc, crispy soft shell crab, roasted half duck, duck fat clay pot rice, and cherry clafoutis. I ultimately selected the “simplest” dish of them all because honestly, this duck was perfectly cooked — no small feat, given that every table was given their own — with a tangy Hoisin-sesame-spice sauce that me and my dining partner raved about. It was served with a side of roasted annina eggplants, and then there was the side order of duck fat roasted mushroom clay pot rice, and the ... okay, okay, I’ll stop. But honestly the return of Slanted Door can’t come soon enough, and I’m happy to say Phan hasn’t lost his touch. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Brooklyn Blackout Cake from Maybeck’s

I’m proudly on the record as a pie-is-better-than-cake devotee, but when I saw the first plates of towering chocolate cake slide by during my recent preview dinner at the revamped Maybeck’s in the Marina, I knew I needed to give this particular cake specimen a shot. My main issue with cake stems from the fact that they can be excessively sweet, with their cloying combination of sugar-infused batter and frosting — a problem easily avoided when dealing in butter-laden slices of pie, as I like to point out. But when it comes to pastry chef Lori Baker’s decadent Brooklyn Blackout Cake diners need not worry about experiencing a spontaneous toothache upon first bite. Baker’s chocolate cake takes off the saccharine edge with the inclusion of tangy buttermilk, leaning more bittersweet, dark chocolate in profile and skewing more airy than you might expect. With a sip of the accompanying boozy egg cream, it’s a dessert out of my personal chocolate-covered dreams: neither too dense, nor too rich. The restaurant doesn’t officially open until June 30 but when it does, I’ll be back for more. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor


June 17

Roasted portobello mushroom at Jackson Fillmore

Paolo Bicchieri

In a restaurant no bigger than my living room, in the Pacific Heights neighborhood on a windy night, I cut into roasted fungus, each bite offering a semblance of home. As an Italian-Mexican American with Celiac disease, it’s not easy to eat dishes from that former national origin. Layer in my proclivity to eat vegan and I am often an inscrutable tiramisu of foodlessness. Not so the case at Jackson Fillmore Trattoria, and, no, it’s not because Dr. Fauci is looking out for patrons’ health. It’s due to the portobello mushroom. Though sold as antipasti, the $16.50 steak-sized serving is filling with its three big T-bone chunks, and exploding with umami. It’s sharply tangy from a balsamic vinaigrette glaze and enormous enough to live up to the price tag. Really, though, it reminded me of Sunday night dinners on the family farm, Nonna making gluten-free taquitos while everyone else ate Nonno’s mole. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Ganjang saewoo (soy cured shrimp) at Ilcha

Soy cured shrimp. Lauren Saria

You don’t have to take my word alone if you’re looking for reasons to rush over to Ilcha, the new Korean restaurant and bar in the Marina to try these soy cured shrimp. Even owners and longtime friends Kummi Kim and Hilwin Wong told me that it was this Instagram post from San Francisco Chronicle (and James Beard Award-winning) food critic Soleil Ho that first put their brand-new business on the map. Which it deserves to be: There’s succulent fried chicken, bubbling hot pots, and a sool (drinks) menu that offers plenty to explore in the way of rare (at least in San Francisco restaurants) Korean spirits. But the shrimp are worth stepping out of your comfort zone for, even if you’re not accustomed to eating raw seafood. They’re a perfect demonstration of just how sweet and creamy shrimp, in their raw state, can be. The ganjang saewoo, massive shrimp marinated in soy sauce, also comes with a bowl of gyeran bap, buttery rice topped with a fried egg and strips of nori — meant to be enjoyed in creamy, savory bites between sips of soju. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Cold soba noodles with dipping sauce and tempura at Soba Ichi

It’s a bit of an odd feeling anticipating a visit to a restaurant you last visited in The Before Times. I was filled with hopes that my latest visit would retain all of the warm feelings I had toward the restaurant my last time around, that nothing changed too much during the time apart. Soba Ichi is that restaurant for me, and was the location of a recent dinner that brought up all these complicated feelings. I didn’t exactly set out to pick the entirely same meal I had when I first visited; I placed my order and only afterwards realized that my inclination toward a cold soba dish was infinitely repeatable no matter how many years it’s been. Yet! The dish was just as lovely as I remembered. It had the nice chew of homemade soba noodles, dipped into a delicate sauce with a little punch of wasabi. The tempura was just as airy and crisp as one would like, paired with a matcha salt that gave the exterior layer a nice, earthy, salty finish. To top it all off, the dinner was eaten on the cute front patio with good company, and a nicely paired sake — a worthy return that will need to be repeated again in the not-so-distant future. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


June 10

Uni scallop toast at Bansang

Toast topped with scallops, uni, and ikura. Lauren Saria

If you don’t adore the deep, salty, briny flavor of uni — riding that ambrosial wave that’s almost like someone managed to concentrate the essence of ocean-ness into a soft, creamy glob of orange flesh — well, then, move along. Because this petit plate from Bansang, the new upscale Korean restaurant from chefs Jin Lim and Ethan Min, starts there and then dares to dive even deeper into the oceanic depths with fat slices of buttery Hokkaido scallops, their delicate sweetness only underscored by the sharp salinity of tangy trout roe. And as if that wouldn’t been enough to send anyone over the edge, a layer of nori paste and soy yolk sauce just barely manage to keep each bite rooted with natural umami notes. At the base of it all: a matchbox-sized brick of sturdy buttermilk bread, offering just the appropriate amount of textural contrast. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Patate zucchini focaccia at Casa Barotti

Dianne de Guzman

When a recent appointment led to wandering College Avenue, I was delighted to cross paths with Casa Barotti, a spizzicheria that opened back in 2021 that I have been meaning to check out. It was quite warm out, so it seemed like a nice plan to grab a vegetable-forward slice with a spritz (yes, I’m very predictable in hot weather). Casa Barotti calls its dough a take on the pizza al trancio crusts of Northern Italy, a hybrid of pizza and focaccia, and the slice I tried was delightful. I selected the patate zucchini focaccia, which came with thin slices of potato and zucchini, with pesto sauce and olive oil draped on top. The pesto was light and actually tasted like vegetables (meaning not a heavy, oily, tasteless paste), and the vegetables were nicely softened with a nice, slight bite to the potatoes, over a salty Fontina cheese. But the crust! It is definitely focaccia-like, in the best ways, and had a crisp-ish exterior crust, that gives way to a soft, pillowy center. Between Casa Barotti, Pollara Pizzeria, and Rose Pizzeria — all with distinctly different pizza styles, but delicious in its own ways — is Berkeley in a Pizza Renaissance? It seems so. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


June 3

Katsuo temaki at Bar Iris

A tuna handroll. Paolo Bicchieri

It was a rare sunny, windy day, the weather fluctuating like an indecisive diner flipping a menu back and forth, when I first went to Bar Iris. I’m not much of a hand roll aficionado — though if all the new Bay Area destinations for the dish have their way, I’ll likely be a pro in short order. The thoughtful addition of lemon in this dish, deriving from a gel of fermented meyer lemon rind added to the raw tuna, gives each bite a funky and powerful nudge into sweetness. The nonalcoholic beverages, like the granny smith apple-centered Kyoto for $8, are a surprise highlight, as well — not unlike the surprise blacklight-lit mural in the bathroom. Beyond the exceptional food and drink, hanging out at Bar Iris, with the uber knowledgeable Ilya Romanov throwing cocktail shakers around like the ringleader of your own personal show, is its own bit of lightness for the unsure weather, and the unsure days, this summer’s already serving. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Tonnarelli cacio e pepe at Penny Roma

Dianne de Guzman

A friend from grad school and I used to joke that cacio e pepe is the dish we make when we’re broke, but want to eat something “fancy” for dinner. The thing is, making the dish at home always had lopsided results. Once in awhile it would turn out perfectly, but mostly there were issues: the cheese would clump, the sauce wouldn’t emulsifying, or there wasn’t enough pepper to merit the pepe moniker of the dish. I’d mostly given up on making it myself, resigned to having it at restaurants where, ultimately, it’d get overshadowed by more fanciful dishes. At Penny Roma, a friend suggested we order the cacio e pepe, and it felt like a good time to dive in again. I was soon reminded of why I liked cacio e pepe so much; the pasta was perfectly cooked and coated in a jacket of melted, peppery cheese, and there was enough sauce on the plate to drag the pasta through. It was a nice, carb-y, cheesy dish with a good pepper bite to it (although if I’d had the chance I would’ve gone even harder on the pepper). It was enough to tempt me back into the cacio e pepe game at home, but honestly I might just book another table at Penny Roma next time a craving hits. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Carnitas taco from El Gallo Giro

A carnitas taco on a white paper plate. Lauren Saria

Coming back to California after more than a decade in Arizona, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for a literal street taco — as in, a taco consumed with feet planted firmly on the blacktop, legs braced in a wide stance so as to avoid dripping crimson salsa and a flurry of cilantro down your shirt. If you, too, would like to enjoy a true taco of this variety in San Francisco, then rest assured El Gallo Giro, the longstanding and well-loved truck parked on the corner of 23rd Street and Treat Avenue, does it right. Guided by a neighborhood expert and El Gallo Giro regular, I recently ended up with a white paper plate in hand, laden with a single carnitas taco. The slow braised pork, shredded to best expose the contrast between crispy edges and pleasing pieces of fat, made a perfect base for a generous ladleful of salsa and firstful of diced onions and cilantro. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor


May 27

Salt and pepper bagel at Poppy Bagels

Salt and pepper bagel on a white paper bag in the grass. Lauren Saria

I hope it doesn’t diminish my professional credibility too much to admit that I believe the best bagel in the Bay is ... the one right in front of you. Sort of. I mean, many have weighed in on the merits of the various bagel bakers across the region, but the reality is bagels are best enjoyed fresh, still chewy, and (at least in my opinion) schmeared with a generous helping of cool cream cheese — which means waiting in a hours-long line for one or having to port it across county lines before you can bite in is far from my personal ideal. That being said, the fact remains Berkeley’s Poppy Bagels makes a damn great bagel. On a sunny Saturday morning I sat in the grass with friends and enjoyed a breakfast spread that included this perfectly salty-and-peppery bagel specimen, sporting a shiny, slightly bubbly exterior and a soft, dense bread-y inside. It was untoasted — fine by me, not a favorite for my friend — and served as a perfect reminder that sometimes it’s the simple things (a fresh bagel, a sunny morning, and time spent with good folks) that really sing. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Polenta di bella at Bella Trattoria

There’s nothing quite like the astral plane one’s sent to when crimini mushroom and gorgonzola combine inside of cooked masa. Just one bite of this northern Italian dish, a zing of pure octane umami, is the key to ascension. From above, I looked down at the rest of my meal unfold: the uber rich slurps of veal bone marrow, the dutiful nods to cioppino between the mussels and shrimp of the zuppa di pesce, and a quivering balsamic glazed panna cotta. The bubbles from a bottle of Fiuggi were enough to snap me back to reality. (Not that I wanted to return all that bad.) — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

QuikNuggets at Trick Dog

Dianne de Guzman

I recently stopped into Trick Dog ahead of an event, in search of a nice cocktail and a quick bite. I wasn’t looking for anything too hefty, so the QuikNuggets seemed the perfect choice. Now, a lot of things would have to go wrong for me to hate a chicken nugget, but Trick Dog’s version does so many things right. First off, the sauces: I’ll say the honey mustard and barbecue sauces are nothing like their gloopy fast food equivalents. The honey mustard actually has pops of mustard flavor to it, instead of being outweighed by sweetness. The barbecue sauce is something you would want on ribs, if indeed sauced ribs are your thing. And the chicken nuggets are gloriously, actual chicken; the buttermilk brine salts the chicken throughout, while the exterior has a nice crisp. The nuggets shred with each bite into morsels of meat, not the chicken mash that is the McDonald’s version — and that’s not meant as shade; I enjoy a good McDonald’s nugget and can even say I’ve probably had one in the last month or so. But there’s no comparison here. I guess we’ll just have to convince QuikDog to franchise. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


May 20

Stems, leaves, & buds from Shuggie’s Trash Pie & Natural Wine

The She-Hulk green room — in contrast to the Big Bird yellow room on the other half of the restaurant — was a complementary aesthetic for this all-veggie dish at the buzzy Mission District newcomer Shuggie’s Trash Pie & Natural Wine. The cauliflower was succulent and not-too crunchy, the labne was finger-lickin’, and the spice level topped out my white person sensibilities in a way I totally enjoyed. The pizza, served with fluffed ricotta dolloped on the pie at the table, was a grand slam. Beef, the bar dog, was another important addition to why this meal worked so well, though the friendly and quick service sure helped, too. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Dim sum at Yue Huang Restaurant

An overhead view of dumplings, noodles, vegetables, and more. Lauren Saria

Mother’s Day may have already come and gone but when mom says she wants dim sum, you get in the car and get the lady some har gow. Which is exactly what we did last weekend, when said mom was craving Cantonese. We hit Yue Huang, the Michelin Guide-recognized dim sum spot in the Sacramento suburb of Natomas, for a family brunch just after 10 a.m. and managed to snag a table immediately. Then we proceed to take down a full spread: wrestling with fat, slippery shrimp and chive dumplings; slurping soy sauce noodles imbued with the magical aura of wok hei; and crunching into tender gai lan swimming in oyster sauce. But my favorite part of dim sum is always the last few bites, which included hot, deep fried sesame balls encasing just-barely-sweet red bean paste and, at least in this case, warm pineapple buns with crumbling tops and a runny salted egg yolk custard filling. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Barbecue and kacang goreng from Fiks Cue

I committed the ultimate cardinal sin for our weekly roundup this week, and managed to capture just one part of my wonderful barbecue order from pop-up Fiks Cue this past weekend, the kacang goreng peanuts seen here. Thankfully, there’s photographic evidence of the BBQ platter I ordered here at Fiks’ Instagram, a hefty dish which includes a half-chicken, links, and brisket, as well as two sides. The brisket was perfectly tender and remained so despite an hours-later reheat in my oven, and an order of smoked brisket sate padang alongside it — Fiks serves both Texas-style barbecue with Indonesian food, it’s worth mentioning — stretched the dishes into two delightful dinners, with enough food for two people each meal. The peanuts are worth a mention on its own, and they were savory and garlicky, with a nice touch of salt, and was a hit with all who tried it in my household. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


May 13

Foie gras pasta at Acquerello

A white plate with stacked rigged pasta in a brown sauce with shaved truffles. Lauren Saria

The presence of a brown leather purse stool next to my chair probably should have been a hint I was in for a full-court press dining experience, but nevertheless I was still a little bit stunned to find myself stumbling out of Acquerello after a marathon five hours of eating and drinking. In the restaurant’s defense, we went all-in on the full tasting menu — plus the caviar and cheese supplements and wine pairings, which included a number of unexpected (in a good way!) selections throughout. Chef Suzette Gresham and team have earned two Michelin stars with thoughtful but not over-wrought dishes, but I have to admit it’s the restaurant’s signature dish that stands out in my mind: a stack of perfectly al dente rigatoni swaddled in the smoothest foie gras-and-butter sauce you could ever imagine — amped up by the addition of thinly shaved black truffles. The wine pairing, a sweet but acidic Torcolato, cut through the richness so well I almost believed I could have eaten two portions. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Plant Squares 2.0 at Square Pie Guys

Paolo Bicchieri

After the first bite — my teeth sinking into a cloud-like springy rice-based crust — I knew this gluten-less pizza was different. The vegetables were well-roasted, and the vegan cheese done right, but it’s the base on this veggie dish that’s noteworthy. I’ll admit, however, that this dinner isn’t exactly cheap; the pie starts at $23 and, with the gluten-free crust and vegan cheese, plus delivery fees, my receipt came in at just over $50 with a tip — though I did shrug remembering a gallon of gas in San Francisco can round out near $8 these days. The gluten-free crust has trace amounts of dairy, too, which could be why it struck me as a bit richer than the average gluten-free vegan pizza. And for the folks rocking wheat and meat, the Square Pie Guys-Souvla pizza looks pretty good, too. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Guava coconut at Viridian

Dianne de Guzman

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was in for when I ordered the guava coconut at Viridian, just that something cold sounded pretty damn good after a warm walk through downtown Oakland. What I got was a treat: a scoop of guava sorbet atop crunchy-sweet candied macadamias, all enveloped in a coconut espuma. Each bite was a mix of sweetness from the coconut, the tartness of the sorbet, and the buttery flavor of the macadamia, which also added a nice crunch. The dessert was punched up with three types of citrus, the preserved Meyer lemon, calamansi jam, and lime culminating in a nice, light dessert given the warm weather — and hey, it’s really dang pretty, too. Pair it with a nice, citrusy cocktail for a pretty unbeatable duo. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


May 6

Seven layer bar at Wholesome Bakery

Paolo Bicchieri

At a cafe in Noe Valley, I asked my server (in a maybe too chipper tone for 4 p.m. on a Thursday) if they had anything both gluten-free and vegan. The server scoffed, stared into my soul, and said “I have never heard of anything both gluten-free and vegan in San Francisco.” Ignorance, in this case, didn’t seem all that blissful. On Divisadero Street, Wholesome Bakery is one such entirely gluten-free and vegan establishment. The options rotate often, with a few mainstays, and this seven layer bar was new to me. Salty and chocolatey, crunchy and chewy, with no one layer of any of the alleged seven stealing the show from the other six. The coconut makes this dessert just indulgent enough that it’s hard to eat with any patience. Wholesome Bakery also just opened for dinner, and if the nighttime options are anything like the daily offerings, then we’re all in for a wakeup call just like that confused server. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Suadero and tripita tacos at Taqueria Vallarta

Dianne de Guzman

I recently ate my way through the city, embarking on a taco tour of San Francisco (rough life, I know) and found myself at Taqueria Vallarta staring down these two beautiful tacos on a Saturday afternoon. The shop offers the usual meat options, such as carnitas and carne asada, but I gravitated toward the less-common suadero and tripita just to switch things up. I was handed the tacos quickly and after paying up, I sat outside on the parklet, impatiently snapping this photo before I dug in. I was trying to be chill, knowing there were more tacos on deck for the rest of the day, but I couldn’t help it: I ate these two quickly and briefly contemplated ordering one more, just to reconfirm they were the best of the day (or so I told myself). My stomach was glad I didn’t since I had one more stop left, although Today Me does feel a little sad that I didn’t opt for a third. Next time, I guess. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

King crab at Le Comptoir at Bar Crenn

A piece of crab on a black plate next to a plate of small green crepes. Lauren Saria

It’s pretty rude of anyone to be able to expect me to name one single standout dish from a weekend that included meals at San Ho Wan, Nightbird, Prubechu, and an embarrassing number of other excellent restaurants. But fine. I’ll do it. I guess the thing I’d go back and eat again, immediately and unceasingly if I could, would be this perfect piece of king crab served as part of the stunning meal at Bar Crenn. While the bar isn’t open in the pre-pandemic sense these days, it is hosting a dining experience called Le Comptoir at Bar Crenn, which involves six courses cooked a la minute at the bar for a total of six guests per night. Everything was both delicious and visually stunning but I loved the relative simplicity of this abalone XO sauce-glazed bite, served with soft moss-colored crepes inspired by scallion pancakes. It was a build-your-own taco situation (always fun) and then the chef team served tiny bowls of rich broth made from the crab shells. It’s not a small feat to nab a seat for these dinners, but I sure am glad we did. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor


April 29

House of Prime Rib Cut at House of Prime Rib

A plate of food at House of Prime Rib. Lauren Saria

Completely, honestly, and entirely by accident, I found myself at the one-and-only House of Prime Rib for the first time on — wait for it — National Prime Rib Day, which is of course a fake “holiday” but nonetheless felt auspicious. (Maybe it’s also why the dining room felt particularly rowdy on that windy Wednesday night; one diner at a raucous table nearby actually took off his shirt halfway through his meal.) So, once again I’m here to heap praises on a San Francisco dining institution. But in case you didn’t already know: House of Prime Rib is, in fact, the Real Deal. A slightly cheeky, white jacket-wearing server spun up a remarkably good salad, heaped a nearly offensive amount of butter into my loaded baked potato, and delivered a thick cut of beef that was perfectly cooked and absolutely drowning in rich au jus. I nearly lost my cool inhaling a pungent dollop of horseradish at one point and washed it all down with an extra dirty gin martini. Sheer, beefy bliss. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Lemongrass tofu over vermicelli from Thanh Tam II

Paolo Bicchieri

Rare is the restaurant on Valencia Street that has operated for more than 30 years, yet Thanh Tam II endures. The shotgun style Vietnamese restaurant has been open every day of the week for decades, yet amongst its noisy neighbors between 16th and 17th streets the tiny business can be overlooked. That’s too bad, as the food is outstanding and, maybe most importantly, cheap. This bowl of noodles, with well-spiced tofu and a zing of fresh vegetables, sauce served on the side, costs just $8.95. Our food came much quicker than expected, and our server was generous and thoughtful, providing ideas on how to get the most bang for our buck. In San Francisco, where a pizza can cost $50, that’s the type of service I need. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

A.P. Spritz from Anina

Dianne de Guzman

With the weather still transitioning toward summer, I’ve been chasing down my ideal drink on the hottest days — the spritz. Sure, maybe it’s Basic, but my staple cocktail (a negroni) just doesn’t hit as well when the sun decides to crank up the heat. The A.P. Spritz at Anina hit me with a perfect trifecta of cooperative warm weather, cooling drink, and patio vibes, making for a great afternoon of cocktails and conversation. Anina’s spritz is a nice combo of aperol, grapefruit, prosecco, soda, and comes served with a lemon wedge — highly sippable and lovely. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


April 22

Hodo yuba at Good Good Culture Club

I hate to be bossy and tell you what to order at Good Good Culture Club, but to be frank this Hodo yuba dish could easily be overlooked by other items on the menu, and I don’t want you to miss out. In fact, this dish was a last-minute addition to my group’s order, but a highlight for me. I’ve mentioned things I love in previous weeks, but here’s another: I love a good miso dressing. Here, Good Good’s version is a black bean-sesame-miso dressing, which the restaurant recently shared is an evolution of the black bean chili used on the fried lobster dish at Liholiho Yacht Club. The yuba is also excellent, and the bites with just the right amount of crispy shallot are delightful. If you have room for dessert, the halo ha-lao is great. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Americana burger at Causwells

A smashburger from Causwells. Lauren Saria

In case anyone was curious, the smashburger at Causwells continues to earn its well-deserved reputation as one of the best burgers in San Francisco. After running an errand I’d been putting off for almost a literal year, I rewarded myself with one of these gigantic double-stacked beasts, opting to take my dinner home to be enjoyed with a bottle of Hammerling Wine’s trendy Cabernet Pfeffer — shout out Bottle Bacchanal for the recommendation — on the couch. I’m far from being the first person to sing the praises of the Causwells burger, but here I go anyway: Admire those two thick beef patties, not lacy so much as juicy and dense but still sporting a bit of char along the edges; appreciate the thoughtfulness of the accoutrements including a melty blend of American cheese and “special sauce” and healthy handfuls of shredded lettuce and white onions; and respect the sturdy sesame-seeded bun for being able to encase it all so neatly. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Faloodeh at Lavash

A cup of faloodeh. Paolo Bicchieri

Under a warm low light and amongst dozens of chatty customers, this rosewater dessert seemed commonplace. I recently had the fortune to enjoy a proper feast at Irving Street’s Lavash, and after dinner came an order of faloodeh. It’s a sorbet, served with a small cup of lime juice and threaded with rice noodles. After each spoonful the noodles unfurl and melt, and each time the lime juice is poured on top the texture changes, too, making for a dynamic sensory experience. At just $7, I contend this dessert is an unsung member of the San Francisco dessert greatest hits list. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter


April 15

Funghi misti at Beretta

Toppings on pizza can get wildly out of hand and, when there are too many Things on a pizza, it can make me act wildly out of pocket. I once got a pizza from a Bay Area chain that was topped with so many cloves of roasted garlic they must have sent Gilroy’s garlic stockbrokers into a frenzy. This pie at Beretta, however, was light and salty — the gluten-free crust appropriately crispy and the vegan cheese just the proper amount of browned — with the Goldilocks’ amount of mushrooms on top. Not too many, not too few, and certainly not an armada of garlic. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Chilled Zuckerman jumbo asparagus at Prospect

A salad of chilled asparagus with pickled green strawberries. Lauren Saria

Look, I didn’t make the rules and I know the laws of celestial science would have something to say on the matter, but according to at least one food writer, spring only starts when the Zuckerman jumbo asparagus arrives. If you’re not familiar with these emerald beauties, the harbingers of spring are grown on a family farm in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and suffice it to say they’re basically the platonic ideal of asparagus: thick spears with tender heads and gorgeous grassy flavor, almost completely unrecognizable from the skinny, stringy matchsticks lining most grocery store bins. At Prospect, the team leans fully into the sentiment of the season, pairing the chilled batons with creamy crescenza cheese and pale quarters of green strawberries, pickled to be just barely spicy and tart, plus a dusting of crunchy focaccia crostini. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Charred fava pods and ricotta at Daytrip

Dianne de Guzman

Before the rain swept through the Bay Area this week, I somehow managed to slide into the parklet at Daytrip in Oakland with friends during the hot weather, and experienced my own beauty of a springtime dish: charred fava pods and ricotta. I was really impressed by the flavors and textures Daytrip pulled off with this plate; along with the aforementioned charred fava and ricotta, it featured a gorgeous pine nut pesto and sesame crunch that really rounded the dish for me (I’m a sucker for a sesame-crunchy-anything). It was a nice serving of Springtime Things, between the blackened pods that deepened the fava flavor, the soft mellowness of the ricotta, and the crunchy bits of sesame between sips of wine. I’m calling it now: a new springtime classic. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


April 8

Spicy caesar salad at Rose Pizzeria

Dianne de Guzman

While the mushroom pizza I tried at the newish Rose Pizzeria in Berkeley was perfectly delightful, when I think of my week of eating, it’s Rose’s spicy caesar salad that stands out to me. It might be because I’m in my own caesar salad rut at home, making my own perfunctory salads out of habit, but this shook me out of that funk: imagine crunchy leaves of little gems, slathered in a dressing made using Shared Cultures miso and add a small, spicy kick to it, along with peppery bites and some nice crunchy bits. I’m a self-acknowledged salad hater (as stated on my Instagram bio) but for this, I’m a salad lover, finally. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Get Up N Fly at Sistory Thai Kitchen

A small pan of potatoes topped with an overeasy egg. Lauren Saria

I’ve been dying to check out Sistory Thai Kitchen ever since deputy editor Dianne De Guzman gave it an initial stamp of approval last month, so when I recently found myself looking for a place for post-Saturday morning hike brunch in the East Bay, I knew exactly where to go. This cozy casual Thai spot completely lived up to expectations with a somewhat confounding breakfast and lunch menu that meanders from mac n’ cheese, crispy Thai-style chicken wings, and calamari to garlic noodles, tom yum fried rice, and pad se ew. We started with the curiously named Get Up N Fly, a small starter of crisp russet potato wedges topped with a fried egg and dusted with Parmesan cheese. Truly though, it’s just a good excuse to sop up the restaurant’s fragrant yellow curry, which whispered with a hint of chilli heat. The roti-rito — essentially a breakfast burrito that swaps flaky roti for a tortilla — was a messy meal but satisfying, filled with a delicate piece of fried white fish, eggs, tomatoes, and avocado. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Little Saigon chocolate collection at Socola Chocolatier

Eating a Sriracha-flavored chocolate on a sunny afternoon in Golden Gate Park is, to me, a singularly San Francisco experience. The sisters behind SoMa’s Socola Chocolatier, Wendy and Susan Lieu, continue to bridge the gap between what has historically been considered high-end cuisine and the flavors they hold near and dear to their hearts. In this collection there is also a slightly savory pho-flavored chocolate, plus varieties infused with durian and Vietnamese coffee. The Sriracha chocolate, with a flake of chili on top, invoked the right kind of dissonance, giving my brain a delicious “a-ha” moment somewhere between sweet and savory. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter


April 1

Taksim trio at Taksim

A trio of dips with pita bread on a white plate. Lauren Saria

Thursday night found me sharing dinner with a friend at Taksim, the upscale Mediterranean restaurant now open in SoMa from the team behind Lomka, the Inner Richmond restaurant known for its grand Turkish breakfast spreads. Tucked down a little side street, the former Cockscomb space retains much of its airy appeal with high ceilings and an industrial concrete-and-metal interior that’s only just barely softened by scant floral arrangements and the glow of the woodfired oven. A crispy skinned branzino served with rice pilaf adorned with shiny anchovies made a fine entree, but the best bites were some of our first: a trio of dips served with three pieces of warm, soft pita. The bright, lemony hummus swam with pungent olive oil and a cup of muhammara swung high on notes of roasted bell peppers — but the labneh was a real treat. The tart yogurt was not only strained, but also aerated to reach cloud-light heights. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Ube chocolate milkshake from Malibu’s Burgers

Paolo Bicchieri

I’m not the first to praise the revolutionary burgers from this Piedmont Avenue joint. The company is staying strong despite a recent Chapter Seven bankruptcy declaration, and the day we visited Blackstreet’s “No Diggity’’ was keeping morale high throughout the shop. We ordered the Tasha Grande with a lettuce wrap, the Malibu Burger, an ube chocolate milkshake, and Hella Hella fries (their riff on In-N-Out’s Animal-style fries). The milkshake, which comes from a relatively new supplier to the shop, was thick in texture and bangin’ in taste. I’m not sure I’ve had as good a milkshake in years, as any non-vegan shakes I’ve had were random drunk escapes from Wendy’s and the like, and vegan desserts rarely come in such good form. The cheese on the burgers was rich and creamy, somehow, so props also to Follow Your Heart’s non-cheeses. I don’t know if anyone is putting such respect on vegan foods’ name, and I can’t recommend this place enough. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Strawberry cake from Bartavelle

Dianne de Guzman

Although I don’t think I’m a dessert person, I’m easily persuaded when I see a dessert as fanciful as the cake I spied through the window of Bartavelle last weekend. I did briefly, jokingly refer to my purchase as part of the poop swoop effect, A Thing my Eater colleague has coined, but it does feel like a disservice to reference the word “poop” in the same sentence as this pink confection. (So I’ll stop, promise.) This cake by Nellie Stark was dreamy with its delicately flavored strawberry frosting, and the cake was perfect and light. As if one needed another reason to visit Bartavelle, the seasonal desserts are compelling enough on its own. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


March 25

Nasi Lemak with Jackfruit Rendang at Lion Dance Cafe

Paolo Bicchieri

On Friday night I hopped off BART at 19th and walked in the golden hour light to the takeout window of the Kickstarter-launched, Singaporean-Chinese restaurant Lion Dance Cafe. Owners C-Y Marie Chia and Shane Stanbridge opted to participate in Oakland’s Restaurant Week, so my partner and I were treated to a feast of plant-based goodness for just $35. The main course, nasi lemak with a jackfruit rendang, was as good or better than anything I’ve found for the price and especially so for being entirely vegan. The jackfruit had the consistency and flavor of rich, ground-up beef, but the peanuts — mixed with bright cilantro and a dab of hot sauce with a scoop of rice, exceedingly flavorful and fresh — made the sides just as exciting as the vegan rendang itself. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Grilled firefly squid at Le Fantastique

A plate of grilled squids with nasturtium leaves and cucumber. Lauren Saria

In a city famed for its location by the bay, you’d think there’d be little space for a new seafood-focused restaurant to feel truly unique. But Le Fantastique, the stylish seafood-wine bar from the restaurateur couple behind Palo Alto’s Bird Dog manages quite well. Sure, there’s enough caviar to appeal to even the bougiest of diners, including hefty quenelles atop gorgeous eclairs, but it’s chef Robbie Wilson’s knack for turning pristine pieces of fish into bite-sized flavor bombs that really makes the meal. There are chamomile-kissed slices of ivory hirame, brook trout swimming in dill-infused pine nut milk, and fatty squares of big eye tuna piqued with barbecue flavor. But if you’re lucky enough to catch the hyper-seasonal firefly squids while they’re on the menu, don’t hesitate. Wilson explains they’re only available for a few weeks a year from Japan and are prized for their texture: custardy heads, rich as a jammy egg yolk, with tiny tentacles grilled to the ideal delicate crunch. You can wrap them up in nasturtium leaves with tiny flower-shaped cucumber cutouts if you want — or maybe more accurately, if you have enough patience to not inhale them on sight. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Cookies from Salty Sweet

Dianne de Guzman

I believe in celebrating triumphs (even the small ones) with treats, and a recent, particular occasion called for cookies. I’d been following Salty Sweet on Instagram for who knows how long, and after exchanging baking advice and pleasantries over social media, it finally felt like the right time to splurge on a present for myself: the Greatest Hits Gift Box (Vol. 1) of cookies. It arrived promptly on my doorstep with two cookies of each flavor: chocolate chip, caramel crunch (the favorite), oatmeal raisin, sprinkles, and double chocolate. The cookies were the perfect level of sweetness for my tastes, a nice crust-to-gooey center ratio, with a lovely, salty punch of flaky finishing salt — fitting, given the name of the bakery. I’m now a fan and am determined to make up more special occasions to celebrate with cookies. — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


March 18

Royal Corona Bean croquette at Californios

Lauren Saria

When our server set down the third of three tacos – this one starring a charred cabbage, tart rounds of Lucy Glow apple, and braised pork jowl on a supple corn tortilla – my friend actually frowned. “I’m sad the tacos are over,” she admitted. It’s not easy to leave diners wanting more after a three-and-a-half hour meal. And yet, almost every time the consummately professional and warm staff at Californios whisked away a plate, I did feel a little bit sad – not that it happened, just that it was over. The cavalcade of impeccable and thoughtful dishes included that Insta-famous grilled Cavendish banana with its lumescent crown of smoked caviar, a mosaic-like tostada layered with Mexican bluefin tuna and creamy Brokaw avocado, and a pristine segment of Spanish octopus set atop a rich, inky romesco negro. There was a duck course: thick slices of grilled breast; a petit and tightly packed braised duck leg taquito; and a fragrant caldo de pato, lifted with Hatch chile and ginger and as warm and comforting as a hug. But my two favorite bites were probably an airy Corona bean croquette stacked high with salty jamon Iberico, chive creama, and a single black truffle coin, and a delicately crisp chilapita made with black masa and laden with sturgeon mousse and caviar. More, please? — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Vegan shan noodles at Burma Superstar

The shan noodles at Burma Love. Paolo Bicchieri

Sitting at Burma Love on a Friday night, looking at the bright map of what was once Burma on the wall and the giant peacock painted next to it, I thought about food corridors. The shan noodles — a medley of tofu, cilantro, and peanuts in tomato sauce — reminded me of a richer, more flavorful spaghetti that provided a complexity not always found in its European counterparts. Researchers Marichu Liwanag and Antonino Alejandro found the food of the Philippines is inextricably tied to the export of China’s food culture, and Lucky Peach took a shot at the Asia to Europe food migration years ago with a bit of humor. I won’t be the eater to make the claim that Italians lifted pasta from Asia, but I sure wouldn’t blame them if they were inspired by this dish. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Mud Slide Slim at Bottle Club Pub

Lauren Saria

If it’s wrong to be a little bit into dessert cocktails, then I don’t want to be right. I mean, I love an ice-cold, briny martini as much as anyone, but sometimes you do want a drink that’s downright fun — and the trio of “rich and creamy” dessert cocktails on the menu at Future Bar’s new plaid-and-neon green Bottle Club Pub perfectly fits that bill. Best of all, these drinks aren’t exact duplicates of the agressively saccharine disco drinks of the 1970s. No, these are nicely updated versions with an eye toward balance. Take for example the Mudslide Slim, which manages to step back from barreling over the edge into fullon milkshake territory with a blend of Irish and French creams and Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate spiced with cinnamon. Pro-tip, if you’re truly worried about it being too sweet, you can always ask for an extra straw to split your liquid dessert with a companion. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor


March 11

Fried Chicken at Brenda’s Meat and Three

A plate of fried chicken with a biscuit, mac n cheese, and spinach. Lauren Saria

I’ve been on a walking kick of late, which means I hoofed it the full 30 minutes from my neighborhood, through the Panhandle, and down Divisadero over to Brenda’s Meat and Three for Saturday night dinner. And let me tell you, aftering weaving my way around busy parklets and passing through boisterous crowds of bar-goers on Divis, it was a real and welcome treat to step inside the charming little restaurant with its semi-circle bar and homey energy. Of course, the fried chicken was irresistible and perfectly executed with a thin but crunchy layer of batter clinging to succulent meat. I might have devoured all three pieces except for the fact that I couldn’t help myself from polishing off my sides: an impossibly fluffy biscuit, which I slathered in butter, plus rich mac n’ cheese and garlicky spinach (because, vegetables). — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Chilaquiles at Nuevo Sol

Chilaquiles with sliced avocado and over easy eggs. Dianne de Guzman

I love breakfast foods, but I’m admittedly not the best at eating breakfast at breakfast time. Thankfully there’s finally a Berkeley restaurant that tempted me out of my slump: Nuevo Sol. After reading in Berkeleyside about how owner Gilberto Monroy finally opened his own restaurant after 29 years with Bette’s Oceanview Diner, I was curious to see how Nuevo Sol blends Monroy’s time at Bette’s with his own love of Mexican food — Monroy’s from San Juan Jaripeo, in Guanajuato, Mexico, per Berkeleyside. Chorizo potato pancakes, corn beef hash, and French toast, all sit comfortably together on the menu. I ordered chilaquiles with red salsa, which arrived with a generous sprinkling of onions and cilantro, plus sour cream on top. The dish comes served with eggs made to order (I went with over easy eggs) and slices of avocado, and when I tucked in, the tortilla chips had that wonderful texture of both crispy chip corners, with centers softened by salsa. Swirling forkfuls of chips into my eggs with each bite, I thought, “Why don’t I have breakfast at breakfast time more often? I need to change that immediately.” — Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Avocado fruit latte at Not Latte

Avocado fruit latter from Not Latte. Paolo Bicchieri

On a sunny corner of the Sunset District, an eclectic group of people were huddled outside of Not Latte, a new shop to the neighborhood. Trendy youths in jorts and walker-wielding folks shared amazement over the espresso poured over oat milk and mashed fruit drinks, with chunks of durian and pineapple mingling with the brew. I was none too shocked to see that, outside my slice of the universe, there are still a million fantastic ways to enjoy an avocado — not over toast today, alas — and get caffeinated at the same time. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter


March 4

Pasta tasting menu at Flour + Water

Five tortellini in a white bowl of broth. Lauren Saria

Following a four-month slumber, Flour + Water resumed rolling out plates of impeccably shaped fresh pasta on February 10 and after an hours-long carb-filled feast earlier this week, I can confirm the kitchen is firing on all cylinders. Despite taking time to revamp the menu top and tail, co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow haven’t lost sight of what’s made the Mission restaurant a San Francisco destination since 2009; every dish on the pasta tasting menu served to uplift simple but pristine ingredients ranging from sheer sheets of amberjack and ruby slices of blood oranges to aceto balsamico old enough to drive itself to dinner and unctuous black truffles. After an onslaught of inventive plates, the most traditional dish, tortellini en brodo, lodged itself in my memory for being so delicately balanced. A glistening cup of chicken consomme arrived with five neatly folded salume-stuffed tortellini nestled inside, proving it’s always nice to take it back to skillfully executed basics from time to time. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Khao tom mad at Mangrove Kitchen

Khao tom mad at Mangrove Kitchen Paolo Bicchieri

Mangrove Kitchen is much more than just another a Thai restaurant on Divisadero Street; it has to be, considering there are a few other Thai spots on the street, which has an abundance of incredible eats. As I sat eating the decadently sweet sticky rice, stuffed with banana and black bean beneath thick coconut milk, I saw dozens of groups of diners stop by, some with yoga mats on their backs and some stepping across the block from the Page. The dessert wrapped an impressive and affordable meal and made it clear that, even on a Wednesday night, Mangrove Kitchen is a place that’s earned its fans’ adoration. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Tom yum xiao long bao at Dumpling Time

Two red soup dumplings in metal containers in a bamboo steam basket. Lauren Saria

For those still favoring outdoor dining over indoor setups, the expansive front patio at Dumpling Time (it’s covered and heated!) really can’t be beat. There’s room for large parties or, in my case, a duo of friends looking to fill up on dim sum before heading out for a busy Saturday. We sampled an item or two from every category – tender garlicky green beans, slippery and spicy mala shu mai, crunchy fried shrimp toast – and at the advice of our server threw in a late addition of the tom yum xiao long bao. It’s admittedly a little tricky to extract the delicate dumplings from those tiny tins without breaking their skins, but if you do, you’ll find each beet red package houses slightly sour and coconut-scented tom yum broth plus a piece of rich pork belly. In a city swimming in excellent and traditional dim sum options, these were a fun breath of fresh air. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor


February 25

Salted Egg Custard Toasted at Na Ya Dessert Cafe

A black crepe in a compostable bowl with golden threads of egg yolk on top. Lauren Saria

My parents came to hang out in the city last week and after gorging on two whole crabs and two orders of garlic noodles at PPQ Dungeness Island, we found ourselves craving something sweet to cap off the meal. We meandered through the dark avenues over to Naya Dessert Cafe in the Inner Richmond, joining hoards of twenty-somethings crowding around the tiny tables on Friday night. A striking black charcoal crepe wrapped around Thai tea ice cream had its fans, as did the strawberry-topped “croffle” – a hybrid croissant-waffle that really did deliver on the promise of buttery, flaky layers griddled to a satisfying crunch. But my personal favorite was the salted egg custard brick toast, an ingenious architectural feat. It’s a little box built of toast and filled with salted egg custard-soaked cubes of bread and scoops of ice cream. As far as San Francisco foods served in bread vessels go, my apologies to sourdough bread bowls, I’ll take this one every time. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Pan Seared Scallops at Black Cat

Our cocktail was a concert of cognac, Prosecco, and the essence of, we’re told, six to seven blood oranges, assumedly no more and no fewer, sprayed from a perfume-style bottle in a mist above our drink to settle on the glass below. Tal Cohen tore open the piano with energy and style. And still the food was, somehow, the star of the evening at Black Cat. The scallops were meaty, topped with a pepita cilantro salsa with a treasure map’s X of mushrooms and espellete mandarin below. Eddy Street, and the entire city, is lucky that the team behind the food at the Black Cat are as much geniuses as the musicians the bar plays host to. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Warm Parmesan Budino at Sorella

A white plate with a small curard over a bed of sunchokes. Becky Duffet

I finally had a chance to try Sorella, the new little sister wine bar from the Acquerello team. Sliding into the banquette in the front window, it was a treat to sip on wine, spritz, and alternately bitter and sweet shots of amaro. I already knew I was going to be obsessed with the kingfish crudo based on chef Denise St Onge’s description of the clean white fish topped with three forms of citrus, from dots of blood orange gel to crispy fried zest. But the surprise for me, which won’t be a surprise to longtime fans of Acquerello, was the Parmesan budino. A savory custard that shudders with the nudge of a spoon, it was robustly flavored with truffles and resting on a nest of nutty sunchokes and toasted hazelnuts. And yet it managed to not be overwhelmingly rich, as the texture remained so velvety and light. — Becky Duffett, freelance writer and former Eater SF deputy editor


February 18

Ringan No Oro at Besharam

Bowls of basmati rice, eggplant stew, and dark green paneer in a spinach sauce. Lauren Saria

With a simple neon pink sign, Besharam is a literal beacon of light on an otherwise quiet and largely industrial block of Dogpatch – the upside to the off-my-beaten-path location being that a minimalist sidewalk seating setup felt sufficiently cozy for a Friday night dinner with friends. I’d been eager to meander my way through chef Heena Patel’s now-all-vegetarian menu since last summer but was nonetheless extremely grateful for guidance from our (terribly busy) server. He pointed us toward some of the chef’s signatures including those noticeably gin-spiked Drunken Pani Puri and a ring of dahi wada, crispy dal fritters buried under heavy dollops of yogurt and gilded with toasted cumin. But what we politely fought over were the last dregs of Patel’s ringan no oro, a smoky eggplant stew that’s galvanized with fresh garlic and sweet urfa chile, and maska paneer, a classic Gujarati dish that blends spinach, fenugreek, and creamy house-made cheese. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Pork Belly Tacos at Bombera

A trio of tacos in a white bowl. Becky Duffet

A crew girlfriends decided to push out a reservation due to omicron last month, but last night was the night — and Bombera, the highly anticipated Mexican restaurant from star chef Dominica Rice-Cisneros, which opened over the summer in Oakland’s Dimond District, was worth the wait. We got into it with spicy palomas, smoked trout tostadas with creamy avocado and frizzled shallots, and that crispy duck leg poised over a pool of green mole. But my personal favorite was the pork belly tacos, with tender corn tortillas folded around a crackle of fat. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat around a restaurant table of not two or four, but a full party of six women. The staff had to not-so-subtly crank up the Aaliyah at the end of the night, which wasn’t terrifically effective, because who doesn’t want one last mezcal cocktail while rocking the boat? Dear women (and good men) of the Bombera staff, we hope we did not overstay your warm welcome. We truly had the best time. — Becky Duffett, freelance writer and former Eater SF deputy editor

Spicy Gobi Uthappam from Masala Dosa

With absolutely no respect for the mask mandate lifting on February 16, COVID came knocking at my house this week. It was the perfect excuse to order takeout from the fast, reliable magicians at Masala Dosa in the Sunset. They’re magicians because their food is incredible, allowing them to create dishes that are both affordable and deeply satisfying to fans. The pakora is a $5 box of fried vegetable deliciousness, the dosas are stuffed to their pancakey brim, and the spicy Gobi uthappam is a vegan, gluten-free delight for just $8. Bottomline: for a COVID relief package, Masala Dosa does the trick. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter


February 11

Spaghittusu cun Allu Ollu e Bottariga at La Ciccia

A plate of yellow-colored spaghetti with grated bottarga. Lauren Saria

My heart soared stepping into the intimate dining room at La Ciccia on an unseasonably warm mid-week evening. It would be easy to assume the restaurant offers a somewhat buttoned up experience — what with the starched white tablecloths and all — but the relaxed service and two-tops cozied up over disks of fragrant flatbread and piles of fresh pasta make it clear this is a neighborhood favorite, and a well-loved one at that. But even that description isn’t quite fair because La Ciccia really should be considered don’t-miss dining for San Francisco. From tiny octopus swimming in spicy tomato stew to a jumble of pancetta and tender cauliflower, each dish delivered bold and balanced flavors. The stunner was, unsurprisingly, one of the house specialties: a plate of perfectly al dente fresh spaghetti drenched in piquant, garickly olive oil and showered with grated bottarga, or cured fish roe. Unless you’ve been to Sardinia it’s likely you’ve experienced Italian food with flavors quite like this, peppery without being hot and savory without being overpowering. All in all, a true delight. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Chikn’Paella Valenciana at Om Sabor

It was dark out while we took down a feast of vegan Mexican food at Om Sabor like wolves to a hapless tofurkey. Owned by business and life partners Dhanistha Rivera and Luis Flores, the all vegan Mexican restaurant provides food for the music lovers at Phonobar. A DJ was spinning jungle techno beats as our server grooved through the narrow single hall, taxiing plates of hibiscus tacos and dishes of not-chicken over saffron rice, the Paella Valenciana, from the kitchen to our table. For what one gets, on the fringes of Hayes Valley, Om Sabor is affordable — but we went for broke. The furikake, gluten-free crab cakes went down fast, followed by flautas stuffed with King Oyster mushrooms and soyrizo. There were no bones to lick clean, but, had there been one in the plant medley, we’d have taken that to task, too. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

La Mer Eggs Benedict at Zazie

A flowered plate with eggs Benedict covered in hollandaise. Becky Duffet

On a rare Friday off, and a gorgeous sunny morning, I was headed to brunch — brunch! And where else but Zazie, the French bistro standby that serves brunch every day of the damn week, and has always boasted a lovely back patio, but now also sets out pleasant sidewalk seats in front. Some love the gingerbread pancakes or French toast, while others peruse the extensive menu of Benedicts, but speaking personally, my favorite thing about Zazie is that you do not have to choose sides in the great sweet-versus-savory brunch debate. I ordered just one Benny and just one pancake, and because I was feeling extra, I went for the La Mer Benedict, loaded with Dungeness crab, avocado, and of course, drowned in Hollandaise. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. Seafood Benedicts are so much more than breakfast. They’re a lifestyle. — Becky Duffett, freelance writer and former Eater SF deputy editor


February 4

Pineapple Fried Rice at Jo’s Modern Thai

Squid salad in a white bowl. Lauren Saria

Here’s the truth: there wasn’t a single miss during the early Sunday evening dinner I shared with friends on the lively and beachy back patio at Jo’s Modern Thai. From the starters — including a vibrant squid salad peppered with chili and rice powders that we scooped up with crackly sheets of sesame shrimp chips, and a plate of the restaurant’s signature sticky chicken wings — to dessert — blue sticky rice covered in cool mango sorbet and rice crispies — the meal was a master class in unexpectedly bold flavors corralled into familiar forms. The best example had to be the pineapple fried rice; not my pick, but called out immediately by someone else in the party. And thank goodness. It had nothing in common with the simultaneously bland and super-saccharine dish you may have previously encountered. No, chef Intu-on Kornnawong’s rendition balances gentle notes of curry with cashews, raisins, and shrimp paste — and packs a visual punch when it all arrives in a hollowed-out Pink Glow pineapple with tiny shrimp tails poking out. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Crispy Potatoes at Chezchez

A plate with crispy potatoes and a side of sauce. Becky Duffet

Apparently reliving my youth, I met friends for cocktails on a Friday evening on Valencia Street, hitting not one but two bars, and even bagging a super burrito before hopping BART home. (“You’re still a rockstar,” I whispered to myself, getting into sweats at 9 p.m.) But before the evening rolled downhill, we started with some tinned fish and crispy potatoes at Chezchez, that hot new cocktail bar from the Trick Dog team. “Spud whisperer” chef Timmy Malloy once told me that he based these off of potatoes dauphines, starting with a pillowy choux dough that puffs up like a doughnut when it hits the deep fryer. And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, they come with a side of fancy ranch for dunking. I may have regretted the espresso martini that kept me wired until 2 a.m., but these potatoes were the best move of the night. — Becky Duffett, freelance writer and former Eater SF deputy editor

Cheez’n hashcakes at Beach’n

The Whispers harmonized above as the salty breeze from Ocean Beach tiptoed through the door. The same servers who hold it down every time I’m at Beach’n were chatting with regulars who breezed in and out, seemingly just to say hi. The vibe, as the young people say, was immaculate. Earlier that week, Berkeleyside got me thinking about hash, and I admit the hashcakes at Becah’n aren’t familiar by any stretch of the imagination. But Judahlicious owner Michael Petite, who launched Beach’n just a few months ago, has a knack for making plants taste good without a bit of animal. The three cakes, smothered in cashew “cheese,” straddled the line between creamy and crispy. The cinnamon roll, an experiment Petite was testing on customers and staff about that morning, was melty and smelled like the best big, sugary pastry you’d get at any highway bakery. For a slice of that good, coastal living, you don’t have to head to Point Reyes. Hop the N-Judah to its last stop and say hello to the Outer Sunset’s newest. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter


January 28

Dinner at Automat

Four squares of garlic pretzel focaccia on a blue plate. Lauren Saria

The best part of my dinner at the recently-ish opened Automat with the first thing I ate: a square of pillowy pretzel focaccia, shining shamelessly under a coat of butter, absolutely singing with garlic, and adorned with chunks of salt. But then again, I did swoon when the server dropped a bowl of stir-fried Dungeness crab on the table along with crackers and skinny little forks so we could extract the sweet buff-colored meat from each slippery leg, before swiping it through a cup of rich miso butter. Oh — and I can’t forget the sweet potato pavé, with its soft layers contrasted so nicely by a smoky, chunky salsa macha and a cloud of cheese whip. Or the simple but satisfying hamburger we ordered just to push ourselves over the edge that came with a side of perfectly airy and crispy fries dusted with a tart dill pickle flavoring. Ok, I guess if I really think about it, the whole meal was kind of incredible. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Korean Fried Chicken at Um.ma

A fried chicken leg with a Korean flag in it. Becky Duffet

A lot of my friends and family have been returning to outdoor dining these days, and so I finally snagged a reservation for an outdoor table at Um.ma, the LA-style Korean barbecue scene of the Inner Sunset. Um.ma originally took care of all of the grilling in the kitchen, but during the pandemic the restaurant installed tabletop grills into picnic tables, so now it’s a barbecue-it-yourself situation on the patio, and a good time for a crew of four to six people. We clinked citron soju, tucked into sinus-warming kimchi, pulled apart chewy seafood pancakes, and racked up galbi on the sizzling grate. But my favorite dish at Umma remains the littlest Korean fried chicken wing, crackly of skin and slick with gochujang, proudly waving a flag on a toothpick. That hot sauce was just hot enough to make my brother sweat a little bit, removing his hipster glasses to ceremoniously wipe his brow, and that never fails to make me smile through bites of fried chicken. — Becky Duffett, freelance writer and former Eater SF deputy editor

Lambrusco and pizza at Rose Pizzeria

A pizza topped with burrata. Lauren Saria

With apologies to those who weren’t able to enjoy it, the weather last weekend in Bay Area was absolutely gorgeous and made the perfect backdrop for lunch on the sunny back patio at Rose Pizzeria in Berkeley. The simple menu stars a collection of 12-inch pies that sport a crispier crust than you might expect, which I state without judgement. I paired the She Wolf with goblet of cool, fizzy lambrusco from the restaurant’s natural wine-heavy list of options by the bottle. The pizza was a saucy red beauty topped with fresh burrata and funky-sweet confit garlic cloves, with briny pop thanks to olives and capers — and I do encourage you to add anchovies, as the menu suggests, for extra umami oomph. My companion was thrilled to have found a new favorite neighborhood pizzeria, while I can’t wait to return to take advantage of the option to take home bottles of wine for a full $15 off the menu price. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor


January 21

Hot Bird at Kowbird

A hot chicken sandwich on a counter. Lauren Saria

I’m not too proud to admit I was intimidated at the thought of taking on the Hot Bird at Matt Horn’s much-anticipated Kowbird, which opened in West Oakland just a week ago. Afterall, the chef told me directly to my face about how he’d notched up the heat after a diner complained his hot chicken wasn’t actually all that hot a couple years ago. In any case — and, ok fine, due to the insistence of my more intrepid colleague — we ordered one of the Nashville-inspired sandwiches, which comes on a extra-large Martin’s potato roll that’s lacquered in butter and dusted with cardinal-colored chili spice. Great news: Horn wasn’t lying when he promised it would be manageably spicy; the combo of fermented and dried chiles lends a more complex and flavorful heat that sidesteps being sheer pain and lands squarely in the delicious category. Per Instagram, the restaurants been coping with long lines and a gas leak, but I’m already looking forward to a second visit. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Italian American Hoagie at Palm City Wines

Philly-style hoagie Becky Duffett

I had brothers visiting from Portland last weekend and asked what they wished to do and eat. “Anything involving the sun,” said the elder. And upon further reflection, “Sandwiches.” “Dude, yes, the big Italian sandwiches,” the younger agreed. So after a long walk on Ocean Beach, we arrived at Palm City Wines, hungry for hoagies. They grew ominously silent while we waited 20 minutes for an outdoor table, but once the rosé, chips, and giardiniera started flowing, spirits were restored, and when the hoagies arrived, it was “fuck yeahs” all around. The Italian American is a Philly-style icon, stuffed with ever so thinly sliced mortadella, finocchiona, mozzarella, and parmesan, with peppery arugula and spicy nduja mayo, bundled into a seeded roll. Believe it or not, Palm City has actually slightly sized down these monstrosities, and although I myself could still only handle half, my littlest brother did in fact demolish an entire Roast Pork, which is hero level sandwich ambition. — Becky Duffett, Eater SF deputy editor

Spicy sausage & peppers pizza at Baia SF

I’m running late to the Baia party. This is a classy party: brick walls, fancy symphony goers buzzing in and around the establishment, and trendy hit queen Olivia Rodrigo on the evening’s playlist. And this party is most certainly a dinner party. The celebrity guest at this swanky affair? Somehow, an Impossible sausage, gluten-free pizza. I have eaten many, many gluten-free and vegan pizzas. But this pizza, for us Celiac folks, is a triumph. This pizza’s globs of Impossible meat, for us part-time vegans, is a pleasantly salty reminder of the cured meats we left behind. This pizza did not slap. It sang. — Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Pappardelle at Altovino

Pappardelle Rachel Levin

Saturday night. We’d cancelled our omicron-y long weekend plans and longed to do something to get us out of our 2020-like funk. A scroll through Resy revealed an outdoor table at Altovino, all the way in Nob Hill. Hm. It would be an adventure. A peek at a part of the city I hadn’t been to in two (or is it three? or 30?) pandemic years. The wine, winter salad, and hearty pappardelle, made with heart — and tangled in a 10-hour bolognese of veal, pork, dry-aged beef, and prosciutto, showered in a heap of parmesan — was well worth the trip, parking, and every penny. We watched an empty cable car rumble by. Our server promised to send us his awkward senior-year photo. And as we strolled back to our car, past the Bay Bridge twinkling through a narrow sliver of a steep street, I felt a San Francisco surge, of a different kind. — Rachel Levin, freelance writer and former Eater SF restaurant critic


January 14

Dutch Crunch Pastrami Sandwich at Hot Johnnie’s

A pastrami sandwich on Dutch crunch bread cut in half. Lauren Saria

I recently ate my way through the Castro on a drizzling midweek evening, collapsing (at least, emotionally) into the cozy dining room at Canela for tapas and wine before ending the night over plates of fresh pasta at the utterly charming Poesia, which might have the most-underrated back patio in all of San Francisco. But if I’m being honest, the thing I want to go back to immediately is the fat sandwich I devoured from Hot Johnnie’s, the somewhat idiosyncratic pastrami sensation that opened in the neighborhood last summer. Owner Jonathan Young says he spent many long months perfecting his pastrami methodology, braising big hunks of beef before infusing each brisket with loads of smoke. The Dutch Crunch sandwich comes on the Bay Area’s favorite bread (from a secret bakery source Young isn’t sharing) layered with thick slices of flavorful pastrami, muenster cheese, pepperoncini spread, and tart little house pickles. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Milkshake and Curly Fries from Beep’s Burgers

Milkshake and curly fries Rachel Levin

It was cold and rainy and three days into the new year. Not the kind of moment to crave a milkshake — unless you’re a kid after the first day of omicron-school with time to kill before soccer. Which is how I found myself sitting with said kid, in the car, sucking down icy, extra-thick, chocolate shakes and paper baskets of crisp, tightly curled curly fries from Beep’s. “More French fries in 2022” one formerly local food writer friend happened to post on her Instagram. Hear, hear! I’ll toast my milkshake to that. — Rachel Levin, freelance writer and former Eater SF restaurant critic

Rosca de Coco at Cafe de Casa

Brazilian coconut buns Becky Duffett

After venturing down to the docks to talk to crab fishermen, photographer Patricia Chang and I were soaked with rain. We stumbled laughing into Cafe de Casa, an unexpectedly cozy and warm coffee shop on Leavenworth, serving Brazilian coffee, fresh juices, acai bowls, coxinha (chicken croquettes), and more. I grabbed a Rosca de Coco (coconut bun) to go, and in the rush to get back on Slack, completely forgot it in the depths of my purse. Until my puppy went ominously quiet, because she had fished it out and was casually strolling upstairs with the entire takeout container between her teeth. “Excuse me miss!” I screamed. “That is my coconut bun.” And pried from the jaws of disappointment, what a not-sad desk breakfast it was: A pillowy swirl, with a touch more chew than a tender brioche, brushed with condensed milk, and dusted with a light snow of coconut flakes. — Becky Duffett, Eater SF deputy editor


January 7

Hong Kong-Style Wonton Noodle Soup at Beyond Cafe

A white bowl of noodles and soup with a spoon. Bao Ong

Since it opened a few months ago, diners have filled one wall at Beyond Cafe full of praises, including this one: “We drove 380 miles to have lunch here! We [heart emoji] everything!!!” I’ll go even further: I would fly across the country to have the Hong Kong-style wonton noodle soup ($11) at this SoMa restaurant. Everything about this classic dish was perfect, especially during a rainy visit over the holidays. The clear broth — with a distinct taste of shrimp, pork, and fried flounder — must have been bubbling away for hours. A half dozen or so bite-size wontons weren’t bobbing in the bowl but were carefully tucked under a tangle of springy egg noodles (some would argue this is how it should be served so the noodles don’t overcook). Unlike many other spots, Beyond Cafe serves its soup in smaller bowls like you’d find in many casual Hong Kong cafes. Still, I left feeling full after slurping spoonful after spoonful of the balanced broth in between bites of the dumplings. I’m already thinking about my next trip to San Francisco, when I no doubt will make another visit and ask for a marker to say I flew nearly 3,000 miles for this dish. — Bao Ong, Eater New York editor

Pupusas Revueltas at Pupuseria Metapan

Pupusas revueltas on a paper plate at Pupuseria Metapan Becky Duffett

I like many moved during the pandemic and now call home the micro-neighborhood of Mission Terrace, which borders the much broader Excelsior. There’s a large Central American population in the area, and evidently good pupusas are to be found. Pupuseria Metapan is a small Salvadoran restaurant squeezed in on Mission, filled with festive poinsettia tablecloths and multi-colored twinkle lights over the holidays. The pupusas were fork-raking crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, stuffed with many different fillings, from camarones to chicharrones, zucchini or queso; the revuelta that’s a triple mashup of pork, beans, and cheese; or the loca that’s fully loaded with a large number of those things. There’s a full menu of other comforts, too, but a couple of $4 pupusas alone makes for a satisfying meal, especially with a pile of the curtido pickled cabbage and dollop of thick and tangy crema. — Becky Duffett, Eater SF deputy editor

Berkshire Pork Chop from Boulevard

The weeks leading up to Christmas were a blur so I went all in on soaking up the holiday cheer during the days between the holiday and the New Year. I looked at Christmas lights in Golden Gate Park, sipped Champagne beneath the shiny rotunda at Union Square’s Neiman Marcus, and indulged in a full-on feast at Boulevard, where the dimly lit and uber-glamorous dining room shone with twinkling lights and stars dangled from the ceiling. We started with elegant amuse bouche, paraded on to a tart and fresh hamachi crudo, and rolled into a small plate starring crispy calamari and Spanish octopus. But there’s a reason Nancy Oakes and executive chef Dana Younkin left the pork chop on the menu; after all these years it’s still a stunner. It’s no longer grilled, but rather cooked on a live-fire oven from Italy. An obsidian char obscures the perfectly juicy and remarkably flavorful meat. I’m not usually a pork chop kind of gal, but thank goodness my dining companion had the smarts to order this dish. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

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