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A plate of prime rib.
The House of Prime Rib cut at House of Prime Rib.
Lauren Saria

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The Best Dishes Editors Ate This Week

This week a classic San Francisco steakhouse, an incredible gluten-free coffee cake, and an iconic roasted duck

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There’s certainly no shortage of excellent food to be found in San Francisco and the Bay Area — but there’s plenty worth skipping, too. Luckily for you, Eater editors dine out several times a week (or more) and we’re happy to share the standout dishes we encounter as we go.

Here’s the best of everything the Eater SF team has eaten recently. Check back weekly for more don’t-miss dishes.


December 22

House of Prime Rib Cut at House of Prime Rib

There is, in my mind, never a bad time to enjoy a dinner at House of Prime Rib. But if you’re asking me about the best time of year to visit the beloved San Francisco restaurant, then I’d have to say it’s the holidays. There’s something inherently festive about those wood-wrapped dining rooms with glistening mirrors, a glowing fireplace, and cozy red leather banquettes. Throw in some strings of lights and green garlands and you’ve got a veritable holiday dining destination. The menu never changes, of course, and on this most recent occasion I opted for the classic House of Prime Rib cut with sides of creamed spinach and a baked potato dressed with a disturbing amount of butter and a shower of tiny bacon bits. And I’ll admit, I don’t usually gravitate toward large pieces of red meat, but there’s something irresistible about this restaurant’s succulent prime rib, cooked to a perfect ruby medium rare and plied with spoonfuls of nose-clearing horseradish and mayo mixture. Tis the season for doing the absolute most (for better or worse), and when it comes to culinary indulgences, there’s nothing quite like a full spread — including a dramatically spun salad, an ice-cold martini, and a big slice of beef — at House of Prime Rib. House of Prime Rib, 1906 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Banana coffee cake at Butter&Crumble

Cake at Butter&Crumble. Paolo Bicchieri

There’s a homeyness at Butter&Crumble in North Beach: copies of a neighborhood paper at the counter and a proud display of Lucky Peach issues on a rack in the kitchen. But there’s also a familiarity and loveliness that can only be imparted by the gluten-free banana coffee cake. It offers an excellent crunch — the brown sugar cinnamon bun kind — with a shockingly pliant and chewy texture beneath. (Shocking because gluten-free baking, we’re all aware, is often too rubbery or crumbly.) Whatever springy flour and starch mix this line-drawing croissant haven is working with is maybe the best wheat-free base in the city, reminiscent of when James Beard Award-winner Elisabeth Prueitt started crafting buckwheat flour cookies. The squiggles of frosting are creamy as can be, and the flavor of the coffee cake has a subtle but demanding sweetness. Before you ask, it pairs smartly with a tall cup of joe. And thank god there are 16-ounce coffees at this adorable shop. I’ve always gravitated toward coffee cakes as an everyday luxury since middle school, making it an early contender in the “lil treat” category. Butter&Crumble is the go-to before the end of the year for that all-inclusive taste of fondness. Butter&Crumble, 271 Francisco Street, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Liberty Farms ‘Peking style’ whole roast duck at Mister Jiu’s

A roast duck cut into pieces at Mister Jiu’s Dianne de Guzman

To say that Michelin-starred Mister Jiu’s has its whole roast duck down to a science would be an understatement, at least in my estimation. On a recent Friday night, an out-of-town friend and I managed to slide into the bar area for a last-minute dinner, and I figured I’d be doing her a huge disservice to pass up on Mister Jiu’s showstopper of a dish — even if we were just a table of two. I wasn’t wrong: the duck was immaculate, with perfectly crispy skin and tender meat ready to be folded into crepe-like pancakes with verdant rounds of cucumber and strips of scallions. The restaurant’s hoisin sauce anchors each pancake, as does the unusual addition of pate. The pate in particular is just one of the elements that lifts this dish, head and shoulders, above the rest — and signals that the dish has been deeply thought about and considered beyond the typical, historical offerings for which Peking duck is traditionally known. It’s that level of thoughtfulness that makes this duck a standout for me, and a perfect way to cap off my year of best dishes for 2023. Mister Jiu’s, 28 Waverly Place, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


December 15

Caviar and sourdough mochi at Nisei

Koji butter with caviar and sourdough mochi. Lauren Saria

Two years into its tenure, Nisei, the debut restaurant from chef David Yoshimura, continues to evolve and expand the horizons of modern Californian Japanese cuisine. And though Yoshimura lowered the price of the restaurant’s tasting menu earlier this year, the dozen-or-so courses remain a stunning parade of local and premium ingredients handled thoughtfully and with deft technique. A bite of chrysanthemum greens and dashi pearls started the meal with an inventive bite, while a bubbling A5 wagyu hot pot made for a playful and delicious savory course. But it’s the caviar supplement that remains embedded in my mind. Riffing on the usual bread and butter combo, Yoshimura offered a warm round of grilled sourdough mochi that retained the best qualities of both its progenitor: the chew and bounce of glutinous rice and the unmistakable tang of fermented bread. Alongside, a quenelle of Shared Cultures Koji-marinated butter anchored an inky pool of vegetable jus that can only be described as the epitome of umami — and, of course, there was that generous cap of caviar. Pulling apart the mochi and dragging it through a lovely mess of sauce, butter, and roe made for a messy but rewarding dining exercise. Apologies to any more dignified diners, but I couldn’t resist licking my fingers, sticky and slick with mochi and butter. Nisei, 2316 Polk Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Upside-down cake at Daymoon

Food at Daymoon. Paolo Bicchieri

Hoshigaki season is well underway, the hanging and drying of amber orange persimmons revealing a sugary “bloom” with just a bit of time suspended in air. On Irving Street, a purple and blue sunset cascading over the water in the horizon, biting into the persimmon and almond upside down cake at Daymoon might be the new seasonal tradition. The hand-held cake, flecked with zest invoking orange and persimmon, provides a surprisingly decadent brown sugar and stonefruit flavor profile; No semi-sweet scone or muffin is this, instead a robust level of fruity sweetness invoking pleasant memories of a lemon poppyseed muffin or raisin-laden carrot cake. Rather than dried hoshigaki, fresh chunks of persimmon run through this treat a la Ben & Jerry’s, aka more chunks than not, and the slivered almonds provided a balancing crunch to the mix. Posted up at the bakery’s handsome new parklet, maybe your friend working through a baguette or slurping a flat white, there’s no sweeter way to ring in December than Daymoon’s newest gluten-free treat; Nostalgic sugar bloom-vibes available only while supplies last. Daymoon, 3928 Irving Street, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Hamachi yuzu truffle box from Fish in the Box

A takeout container filled with hamachi, rice, tobiko, and seaweed salad from Fish in the Box in San Francisco Dianne de Guzman

Look, I often say I’m not here to tell you what to do with your life, but I am here to spread word of a small piece of San Francisco perfection I recently experienced. On the occasion of a friend’s visit to the Bay Area, I was tasked with pulling together my ideal itinerary for an evening out. I don’t often get a chance to play tourist on my home turf, but what I landed on was some stellar takeout from Fish in the Box in NoPa, eaten outdoors at dusk, seated beneath the nearby Entwined: Elder Mother installation at Golden Gate Park. The yellowtail is marinated with a yuzu truffle sauce imparting nice, subtle flavor on the fish without being too dramatic. Rice serves as a nice base for the fish, punctuated by the crunch of scallions and a healthy dose and pop of tobiko. The soy sauce was thoughtfully placed into a mini pipette, convenient for on-the-go customers like myself who don’t want to go through the rigamarole of carefully tearing off a corner of a soy sauce packet (and subsequently spilling it everywhere). Instead, I happily dotted the fish with drops of soy sauce before I tore into the food, gazing at the happy families and locals playing around with the gorgeous light installation. It’s dinner and a show on a budget, and I wasn’t mad at it — it’s one of those fun moments that combine both food and circumstance, and then turns into something greater than the sum of its parts. Fish in the Box, 800 Masonic Avenue, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


December 8

Petrole sole at Hadeem x Four Kings pop-up

Whole petrale sole with fermented mustard greens and chanterelles.
Whole petrale sole with fermented mustard greens and chanterelles.
Lauren Saria

It’s not easy to start a restaurant in any city, but it’s particularly not easy in San Francisco, a city known for its high cost of living and tiny footprint. Which makes it all the more thrilling to know that Four Kings, the “Canto nostalgia” pop-up from a group of Mister Jiu’s alums, have locked in a space for a permanent restaurant set to open next year. This week, they capped off their massive year with a collaborative dinner at Buddy the bar with Eater Award-winning pop-up Hadeem — and not a single dish missed the mark. A wide bowl of buttery crab congee remains embedded in my mind, alongside the final savory course of incredibly tender wagyu pastrami that came with a platter of fresh herbs and greens and pillowy buns. But if I have to pick a favorite, it’s got to be the whole petrale sole, which rested at the center of a pool of luscious buerre blanc sauce and buried under a blanket of fermented mustard greens and chanterelles. The flaky white fish, paired with bites of unctuous crab fat rice, was all at once nostalgia-inducing, elegant, and utterly delicious. We scraped the bones clean and only wanted more. As the year winds down I’ve got eyes peeled for things to get excited about in the New Year; this collaborative pop-up dinner offered plenty of fodder. Follow Four Kings and Hadeem on Instagram for future pop-up dates.

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Avocado latte at Outset

Drink at Outset. Paolo Bicchieri

Slurping — and I do mean slurping — an avocado latte from the Mission District’s newest coffee shop Outset should be high on your San Francisco bucket list. The quality makes this drink stand out, though the pure joy of enjoying a multi-textural caffeinating smoothie while lazing at Mission Playground in the sun is nothing to miss, either. The drink relies on specialty coffee progenitor Onyx Coffee, in addition to a fresh avocado mash and oat milk, which means the drink passes the snob test in addition to scoring points for pure novelty. A bit like a bubble tea but with far less chew, the stripped-down ingredients make for both a refreshing and familiar experience — it’s a lot less jarring than one might think, and, just like bubble tea, there are myriad ways to enjoy this concoction, from stirring it all together to letting the drink’s layers unwind before diving in. This Valencia Street to-go storefront from one of the founders behind Irving Street’s Not Latte, the first of the splashy fruit latte shops in the city, makes a welcome addition to the corridor. The economic area has had a rocky go through the last few years and though Sextant Coffee Roasters is opening a second location on the street, next door to a soon-to-be reborn Stonemill Matcha, a proper coffee destination outside of Ritual feels like just what the doctor ordered. But, again, this drink is worth ordering for the raw pleasure alone. If you’ve been on the fence about fruit lattes, beeline to Valencia to have your mind changed. Outset, 790 Valencia Street, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Brekky Sandwich at Poppy

A breakfast sandwich with egg, broccoli rabe, and cheddar sauce on a brioche bun from Poppy in San Francisco. Dianne de Guzman

I’m among the many folks eagerly awaiting the arrival of Poppy, the yet-to-open breakfast and lunch restaurant from Jessica Sullivan and Laurel Robinson in the Mission. Poppy recently held a two-day pop-up at Trick Dog, and so I found myself on a drizzly Saturday morning trying Poppy’s Brekky Sandwich. It’s a hearty vegetarian breakfast sandwich led by a gorgeously, perfectly folded omelette-style egg and topped with garlic-infused broccoli rabe. Meanwhile, a lovely Calabrian chile cheddar sauce dressed the entire situation, giving the tiniest bit of heat to balance the melty cheese, really pulling all the ingredients together. I’m also secretly picky about buns of all kinds and was impressed with the brioche bun base; it maintained that exterior softness in each bite, but the interior was nicely toasted in butter for some crunch and texture. Sullivan and Robinson just started an SMBX fund, which should hopefully get them across the finish line to opening their space — and keep the city rolling in delicious dishes like this one. Follow the Poppy Instagram for future pop-up dates and news on the upcoming restaurant.

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


December 1

Cluckin’ Katsu sando at Mecha Mucho

Lauren Saria

How far are you willing to drive for a sandwich? Only asking because unless, like me, you find yourself in Sacramento fairly regularly, you might have to make a dedicated trip to the state’s capital city to check out this new pop-up. Mecha Mucho launched in early November out of a tiny, walk-up window attached to one of the region’s last remaining wagashi shops, Osaka-ya. But already, chef Ryan Ota — who started the business to celebrate his Mexican/Japanese heritage — has been selling out well before the pop-up’s scheduled closing time of 4 p.m. Here’s how to avoid disappointment, from someone who learned the hard way: Place your order online before you head out and order both the Spam Musubi Mi (a riff on Spam musubi and banh mi) and Kluckin’ Katsu sandos. The former stars a fat stack of candied Spam with lightly pickled cucumbers, daikon, and carrots, while a thick slab of crispy pork katsu anchors the latter. Both benefit a generous layer of simple but flawless Japanese-style egg salad all stuffed between two slices of locally baked shokupan. These are two-hands-required meals but the kind of delightfully over-the-top food that you can’t help but enjoy. Ota has the space until March 2024 so best to start planning your sandwich-focused road trip now. Mecha Mucho, located at the walk-up window at Osaka-ya, 2215 10th Street, Sacramento

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Ciuppin at Corzetti

Food at Corzetti. Paolo Bicchieri

White and black checkerboard patterns and rust-red tones hold a subliminal sway over my restaurant preferences. At least, I believe that’s true after I visited Back of House’s newest restaurant Corzetti on the corner of Geary and Mason streets. The whole place smacks of Italiano, the kind of place my nonno would’ve loved for a glass of Cinzano. For my part, I indulged in one of San Francisco’s most historically blue-collar dishes, cioppino. At Corzetti the yeoman’s stew is called ciuppin, not that I found it much different than the fare served at Anchor or Scoma’s. The tomato-y broth and base were my favorite elements of the dish, a round mouth feel coupled with simmering peppers and herbs. The seafood in the bowl included head-on shrimp — ideal for those diners who love a bit of unctuousness and punchiness on the textural front — mussels, and clams. All of Union Square felt surreal the night I ate at Corzetti. But how instantly familiar the restaurant felt, from the visual touches to the soul-nourishing cuisine including side orders of crispy fritto misto and sharp crudo, was the most dreamy revelation of the evening. Corzetti, 398 Geary Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

KMG & Broth from Hawking Bird

A takeout tray with sliced chicken over rice, cucumbers, and a sauce, from Hawking Bird in Oakland Dianne de Guzman

On the occasion of spraining my ankle this week for the first time in years, I found myself on the couch with my leg propped up, pondering both my life decisions and what delicious lunch I could get delivered to my door. Thankfully, Hawking Bird — Commis chef James Syhabout’s casual Oakland restaurant — serves lunch, allowing me to drown my woes in a comforting delivery of khao mun ghai and chicken broth. The chicken fat rice served as a lovely base from the perfectly poached chicken, creating a nice, chicken-y synergy. Meanwhile, the ginger-laden fermented soybean sauce punched up the dish with an umami-forward flavor, creating a nice tangy bite when paired with the delicate notes of the rice and chicken. The side of broth adds another complement to the dish and keeps the KMG firmly in comfort-inducing territory, further punctuated by crisp slices of cucumber on the side. This KMG didn’t necessarily cure my ankle woes, but it did help perk me up for lunch — and for that, it’s worthy of recognition. Hawking Bird, 4901 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


November 17

Dry-aged “Peking-style” duck from Happy Crane

Dry-aged “Peking-style” duck from Happy Crane. Lauren Saria

If you’re searching for a reason to get excited about what’s to come, look no further than the menu chef James Parry served at his most recent Happy Crane pop-up at Rich Table. Parry hopes to find a permanent home for Happy Crane in the coming year, and wise diners should wish him luck because when it opens, the restaurant looks to be one of the most exciting destinations for Cantonese food in San Francisco. Parry, who was raised in Hong Kong and moved to San Francisco to cook at three-Michelin-starred Benu, started the meal with a constellation of small bites: crab har gow crowned with caviar, a demure cup of buttermilk panna cotta made up with shiso and candied ginger, and airy dried porcini doughnuts meant to be dragged through a bowl of warm raclette cheese. But the apex of the meal arrived in all its umber glory as a plate of dry-aged duck, the rose-hued flesh shrouded in shatteringly crisp skin that wept with luscious fat. Each precious slice, swaddled inside tissue-thin crepes, nestled against a rainbow of vegetables, dusted with five-spice, stood as a testament to the tradition of the dish, as well as its bright future in the hands of a talented modern chef. It may be some time until there’s a next opportunity to enjoy Parry’s cooking — the chef has slowed the Happy Crane pop-up cadence as he focuses on securing a space — but I’m confident it’ll be worth the wait. Follow the Happy Crane Instagram for future pop-up dates.

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Esquites from Barrio

Food from Barrio. Paolo Bicchieri

In Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, on a hot June afternoon, a few hours before a storm whips through the city, ordering a styrofoam cup of esquites to enjoy with my little cousins is as good as it gets. It helps that I really like corn in all its myriad presentations, whether it be thick polenta or a moist tamal. Barrio at Ghirardelli Square understood the ephemeral nature of the cob and presented it like a visiting Indigenous dignitary all summer long. The chipotle mayo in this humble side order adds a creamy bracing to a guajillo oil-laden medley. The parade of cheese on top provides a sharp peak to the flavor profile, an important ally to corn and its vehicular nature for flavor, through the plant’s subtle sweetness. These esquites transported me thanks to decadent layers of richness, stacked and combined like a complex tiramisu. It’s a proper San Francisco moment to simply unwind with a grapefruit fresca in one hand and a plate of vegan chorizo tacos before you as you watch the Dolphin Club’s rugged swimmers coursing through the Bay, Alcatraz in the distance. Taking in the views of the Bay on a Saturday morning, a tortilla chip loaded with a heaping helping of esquite between your fingers, feels as good as it gets.

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Fermented Napa cabbage hot pot at Good to Eat Dumplings

Hot pot with vegetables and broth at Emeryville’s Good to Eat Dumplings Dianne de Guzman

When more than one person enthusiastically recommends a dish, it’s sometimes worth paying attention. Such was the case when I went to Good to Eat Dumplings for dinner. I wasn’t particularly looking to make soup the main part of my meal, but when two staffers mentioned chef Tony Tung had declared the 11-month-fermented Napa cabbage at its peak and prime for use in a hot pot just that week it seemed important to sample. Indeed it was worthy of an order, enough for two people (with leftovers), and it gave me my Anton Ego-Ratatouille moment — if just for a brief second — of comfort and nostalgia. The hot pot reminded me of my own childhood favorite, sinigang, a Filipino soup known for its tart flavor, most often achieved by a tamarind-infused broth. This broth was also tart but in a different way, more delicate and punctuated by the aforementioned cabbage. The soup was filled with goodies of all sorts: rounds of daikon; softened bits of Napa cabbage; squares of delicate tofu; scallion-flecked meatballs; savory heads of beech mushrooms; and ribbons of tender, sliced pork. A lovely side of fu-ru, or fermented bean curd, accompanied the hot pot, punching up the flavors with a delicious umami flavor. It’s a new item on the menu, I was told, and it won’t last forever. So if this sounds delicious, run — don’t walk — to Good to Eat Dumplings. As I discovered on the back patio when a raincloud momentarily soaked our dinner: it pairs perfectly with winter weather. Good to Eat Dumplings, 1298 65th St Suite #1, Emeryville

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


November 10

Ricotta gnudi with truffles at 7 Adams

Hojicha opera cake at 7 Adams.
Hojicha opera cake at 7 Adams.
Lauren Saria

A long and bumpy road brought husband-and-wife chefs David Fisher and Serena Chow Fisher to the November 1 debut of their new restaurant 7 Adams, and if this first meal is any indication, the couple stuck the landing. The restaurant’s slender dining room buzzed with energy the moment the doors opened at 5 p.m. and the $87, five-course menu sung from start (a pair of delicate milk bread rolls with tangy cultured butter) to finish (a gorgeous slice of hojicha opera cake that teetered gracefully on the knife’s edge between bitter and sweet). Gratefully, every diner receives a wreath of charred broccoli di ciccio surrounding a lake of creamy gribiche bright with herbs. But you’ll have to upgrade your third course if you want this standout dish: plump and pillowy gnudi stuffed to bursting with ricotta. Huddled together in the center of the bowl like a colony of Emperor penguins, the pasta pillows get buried under a blanket of fragrant freshly shaved truffles with tender chestnuts contributing their soft sweetness to the wintery mix. If you’re ready, at least, to let go of those last gasps of summer produce, let this dish welcome you to the delights of the winter season. 7 Adams, 1963 Sutter Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Tosta-quiles at Eats

Eats on Clement Street. Paolo Bicchieri

There’s no reason coffee should be bottomless, like hitting an Old Country Buffet on a cold sunny morning in Central Washington. But, when it is, it fills me with comfort and nostalgia. Such is the power of Eats on Clement Street with its bottomless Equator coffee, yes, but also its inventive riff on chilaquiles, a Mexican breakfast dish my dad used to make for me. At this recently reopened Richmond District restaurant, the crispy tortillas absorb the guajillo chile sauce to give the firm foundation of this dish a bit of softness ideal for big chomps. Atop the all-too-important tortillas sits a mighty throne of scrambled eggs — not too watery, not too hard — a sheaf of avocado slices, and an armada of crema and cotija cheese. Importantly, to me at least, there’s nothing precious about this chilaquiles rendition. Rather the item feels like a square mile’s worth of breakfast, just how I want to enjoy my eggs, tortillas, and salsa medleys. The dish, an upscale riff on a timeless familiar recipe, fits in just so at Eats, with its huge amount of natural light showcasing sterling white walls and a busy kitchen. It reminds me of what I love about Haight Street’s Pork Store Cafe; destination-worthy, but not inaccessible or stuffy in the slightest. The tosta-quiles, the coffee, and all of Eats remind me of what I love about going out to eat most: diving into brazenly good food that satiates both the body and the spirit at the same time. Eats, 50 Clement Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Zarzuela seafood stew from Sailing Goat

A tomato-based seafood stew in a bowl from Sailing Goat in Richmond, California. Dianne de Guzman

What can I say, I’m a sucker for an adventure. I, like many other SFGATE readers, was entranced by a 2021 article proclaiming the Point San Pablo Harbor location of the Black Star Pirate BBQ restaurant an “otherworldly” experience. I never made it in time for the barbecue era of the restaurant — which has since moved on as Baltic Kiss in Point Richmond following its closure — but I recently visited the harbor’s latest restaurant, Sailing Goat, navigating the twisty-turny roads to get there. With its charming outdoor patio and those boathouses pleasantly floating nearby, it was a delight to find friendly staff and excellent food, as well. What stood out was this hearty seafood stew generously stuffed with shrimp, mussels, fish, and bits of chorizo. The tomato base of the soup had a light spice to it, just enough to give its flavor another dimension. I don’t often encounter almonds in stews, but it was a welcome addition; they were slightly softened from their time in the broth, but still had a nice bite that added texture to the dish. It was a warming bowl on a cool day by the water and a lovely way to spend a weekend lunch. Sailing Goat, 1900 Stenmark Drive, Richmond

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


November 3

Vegan sando at Bandit

Vegan sando at Bandit. Paolo Bicchieri

There’s no greater Dolores Park companion than Bandit. The Tenderloin-founded breakfast sandwich specialist is new to the neighborhood thanks to a new gold-and-white outpost on Dolores Street, and the vegan sandwich is both light and indulgent, rich and delicate. Mushrooms and avocado work together alongside a wrapper-lickingly good aioli, making each bite of the Impossible pork patty crave-able without being a gut bomb. It tastes just like any proper sandwich, reminding a diner that long gone are the complete protein-focused plates of Mollie Katzens’s Moosewood Cookbook era of vegetarianism. Nothing about this sandwich tasted vegan, nothing about it tasted amiss or out of step in any way. It was just pure righteousness. Plus, it’s cheap for the city at just shy of $13. While most gluten-free buns or crusts cost a few bucks extra, I was over the moon to find this item priced just like any other on the menu, and not any more expensive for leaving wheat out. Be smart and order this sandwich — and an order of tots — from Bandit if you’re headed to Dolo for a cutty bang and a kickback. Bandit, 499 Dolores Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Beef empanadas at Bocanova

Two beef empanadas on a plate with chile aioli and red onions on top from Bocanova in Oakland Dianne de Guzman

I finally had the chance to visit Bocanova, the downtown redux of the former Jack London Square restaurant, which returned in 2023 after six years dark. It was nice to see the Latin American restaurant back in spacious new digs that truly rival the original. Dinner was a flurry of dishes, but what really caught me were the beef empanadas. I grew up eating a version of empanadas, typically filled with ground beef, peas, and carrots, but Bocanova’s offering hit different. Bocanova’s empanada was filled with braised brisket and chopped green olives, resulting in a juicier, tender filling wrapped inside a nice, crusty exterior. Shaved red onions added to the dish, providing crunch and bite, while a chile aioli contributed heat and tang. It made for a nice start to the meal, and it’s just the thing I would order during some happy hour drinks with friends. Bocanova, 1111 Broadway, Oakland

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Hojicha panna cotta at Rintaro

Lauren Saria

Dining at Rintaro, that lowkey California-ized izakaya in the Mission, is always a delight. But for better or worse, I can never seem to refrain from ordering the same menu standbys whenever I go. How can anyone skip starting their meal with that housemade silken tofu, brightened with shredded green onion and big flakes of katsuobushi? Or that thick cut of Kurobuta pork encased in a golden blanket of panko breadcrumbs? The surprising delight of my most recent visit, however, came at the end of the meal when our friendly server encouraged us to order the hojicha panna cotta. For all those whose dessert palates lean more tart-savory than sweet, this jiggy custard makes an ideal final note. The nutty flavor of toasted green tea grounds cool, creamy custard, while a dainty stainless steel creamer of housemade simple syrup lets diners amp up the sweetness to their own liking. Cracking into one of the delicate almond cookies served alongside, I took comfort in knowing there can still be some new thing to discover — even at restaurants you’ve loved for years. Rintaro, 82 14th Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF


October 27

Arroz con leche from Movida Lounge

Lauren Saria

Movida might be easy to miss as you meander down the dark streets of SoMa on a weeknight evening. But step inside and you may be surprised to find a handsome narrow space full of low-slung tables and a lively crowd. First-time restaurateur Bobby Marhamat wisely brought in cocktail expert Carlo Splendorini to consult on the bar and restaurant’s beverage list, which means drinks like the purple-hued Chilosa seamlessly marry Mexican and Persian ingredients — think the gentle heat of St. George green chile and sweet coconut balanced by the mild, aromatic flavor of gol gav zaban, a flower used in Persian herbal tea. Don’t skip the succulent jalapeno beef and lamb koobideh skewer or the chips and dip, which include a choice of two dips and a basket of hot, freshly fried tortilla and lavash. But wise diners will also save room for dessert. This version of arroz con leche drew a straight line around the globe from Mexican rice pudding to Persian sholezard, or saffron rice pudding, taking long-grained Basmati rice and gently infusing it with cardamom, cinnamon, pistachio, saffron, and rose water. Each creamy bite sparkled with a rainbow of floral notes and warming spices, a perfect sweet end on a windy fall evening in San Francisco. Movida Lounge, 555 2nd Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Carrot halwa at Besharam

Carrot halwa at Besharam. Paolo Bicchieri

The first bite of gold-topped carrot halwa is like a malted milkshake, a piece of blackberry pie, something mellow and savory alongside light, sugary sweetness. In hindsight, I should’ve gone to Besharam a long time ago. I was overdue to dive into the plentiful South Asian fare, something on the menu for everyone and anyone thanks to a wide range of allergen-sensitive dishes dotting the map like stars in the night sky. It’s one of the only places in the city where there’s actually an AR app to filter for Jain-friendly, vegan, soy-free, and a range of about 30 more items. But back to the halwa: The cashews sprinkled atop the shredded carrot make for an ideal textural balance where that sweet and savory medley can shine, hints of cardamom sneaking through. Served alongside a sticky and lovely gulab jamun and an apple custard sorbet that tastes like a cobbler in that awe-inspiring nostalgic warming way, the carrot halwa is the triumphant final chord in a symphonic, somehow affordable tasting menu. Besharam’s head chef Heena Patel seems to have no problem dealing with deliciousness and dietary restrictions at the same time, never trading one for the other. And the carrot halwa is the regal and logical endpoint of that approach: gluten-free, vegan, and as phenomenal a dessert as any found ending San Francisco menus. Besharam, 1275 Minnesota Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Tomato toast from Bartavelle

A plate of tomato toast, with a side of anchovy eggs, from Bartavelle in Berkeley Dianne de Guzman

I dropped into Bartavelle on the occasion of its 11th anniversary on Sunday, and I was surprised (and delighted) to find that a late-season tomato toast was still on the menu, despite being late October. The tomato toast at Bartavelle is one of my favorite dishes to pick up during tomato season, my own personal emblem of summer, and having it in October felt like a nice bookend to the season before we move into the colder weather. Served on a sturdy slab of bread, the slice is then generously slathered in aioli and topped with juicy rounds of Early Girl tomatoes. Each bite was perfect with the sweet tomato flavors accented by a touch of salt and punctuated by drizzles of olive oil and the creamy aioli underneath, all held up by the toast slice. The Move is to add an anchovy egg, to give the meal a zing of umami from the anchovy against the jammy egg yolk. If you’re dining solo, as I was, sidle up to the bar and soak in the vibes with a cup of coffee and the record player spinning tunes, and it’s the setup for a lovely morning meal. Bartavelle, 1621 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


October 20

Spaghettini from Collina

Lauren Saria

San Francisco has always had a bevy of excellent options for Italian fare, specifically fresh pasta. But this year the Bay Area saw a boom of approachable pasta spots positioned as affordable neighborhood destinations — think Anthony Strong’s Pasta Supply Co. in the Richmond District, Mattina on Fillmore, Molti Amici in Healdsburg, and Sfizio across the bridge in Oakland. Most recently, Nob Hill welcomed Collina, the little sister spot to Seven Hills up the road. The dimly lit dining room gives it a more date-night vibe than most of its contemporaries, but the tight menu of a la carte options makes it easy to split a few dishes with a friend over a couple of glasses of Italian wine. There’s pillowy housemade focaccia and sturdy arancini to start, but you’re probably here because you want a plate of carbs. In this seven-by-seven city, it’s hard to order a massive raviolo and not compare it to Cotogna’s impeccable version, the same goes for a many-layered lasagna and the sky-high timballo from Sorella. But every restaurant and chef gets to do what they will with simple, classic spaghetti, and in this arena, Collina’s version excelled: an artful tangle of delicate al dente strands coated in a shiny slick of tomato sauce, piquant with garlic and a kiss of chile. It’s the kind of dish you want to return to again, a simple and well-executed pleasure that draws you back to a restaurant when you’re done chasing the latest trends. I, for one, would be glad to have it, and Collina, in my backyard. Collina, 1550 Hyde Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Roasted duck kurma at Azalina’s Malaysian

Food at Azalina’s. Paolo Bicchieri

It’s too early to claim the Tenderloin is in a restaurant renaissance, but it’s damn near time to drop that gauntlet. Outta Sight Pizza, Bodega, Spro Coffee Lab (with another outpost on the way in the area), and, now, chef Azalina Eusope’s much-anticipated Azalina’s. And the duck kurma, chewy duck bedecked by spiced tomato pajeri and a scintillating cilantro chutney, arrives atop an addicting sesame-based sauce trumpeting that renaissance all on its own. The entree of the well-timed four-course tasting menu is a simple affair. Nothing in this dish feels inaccessible, rather the indulgent bird amid notes of fenugreek and bitters reinforces Eusope’s commitment to a friendly, enjoyable upscale dining experience. Rather than barley upma, a gluten-free diner can substitute quinoa, but otherwise the dish is the same straight up delight as anyone else would enjoy; vegan and vegetarian diners ought to head to Golden Era on Golden Gate Avenue nearby. Again, it could be like calling that ill-fated Seahawks Super Bowl in 2015. But just as that should’ve been a done deal, so too does Azalina’s presence on the corner of Ellis and Leavenworth streets invite a big gulp of fresh air and optimism to a city in need of good news. Azalina’s, 499 Ellis Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Blue cheese and date baklava at Pomella

A spiral baklava on a plate with two fig halves from Oakland’s Pomella Dianne de Guzman

On a recent warm night, I had the pleasure of attending a dinner at Oakland’s Pomella, where chef Mica Talmor shared her knowledge of spices and created a dinner fixated on exploring flavor. It was a lovely time filled with dishes such as the delightful (and refreshing) scallops in sumac aguachile and quince-glazed lamb ribs, an opportunity for Talmor to “play around” she told guests. Among my favorites for the night was the blue cheese and date baklava, dusted with a sprinkling of dried rose petals atop the crunchy filo dough exterior. It was delightful to dig into the layers, with its mix of flavors; the sweetness of the dates punctuated by zings of blue cheese here and there. The baklava was nestled over a layer of malabi, or milk pudding, which served as another subtle layer of flavor and texture in the mix. While this particular baklava isn’t currently on the Pomella menu, I’ll be looking out for the occasion it does make an appearance, but I’ll be filling myself with Pomella’s pistachio and almond paste versions of baklava in the meantime to tide myself over. Pomella, 3770 Piedmont Avenue Unit B, Oakland

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


October 13

Hummus from Hadeem at Bar Gemini

Hummus with pine nuts and grapes. Lauren Saria

Anyone paying attention knows that San Francisco’s pop-up scene is straight-up thriving — and among the hottest of them all is Hadeem, chef Spencer Horovitz’s California-Jewish project which launched in the spring. After months of missed opportunities, I finally caught up with Horovitz this week at Bar Gemini in the Mission, where diners settled into barstools and ordered a bevy of small plates perfect for noshing alongside a glass of chilled red. There was a lamb jager sausage made in partnership with the Morris served with a perfect KJ Orchards peach and a zippy tomatillo schug, and a bowl of dolmades, drizzled in chili crisp and smothered under a mountain of fresh herbs. My brain, however, can’t unshake the memory of dipping a hunk of warm, pillowy pita into a dish of fresh hummus. A shallow pool of brown butter sat at its center, surrounded by pine nuts and halves of juicy Thompson grapes. The combination of nutty brown butter and sweet grapes echoed the classic flavor of peanut butter and jelly, bowling me over with a wholly unexpected blast of nostalgia. Hadeem may be about as personal a project as they come — reflecting Horovitz’s Jewish identity and lived experiences — but it’s his ability to find a nugget of universality through food that makes this pop-up a real winner. Hadeem pop-up (check Instagram for future dates) at Bar Gemini, 2845 18th Street

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Yuba salad at Turntable with chef Susan Kim

A bowl of yuba salad, with matchstick-sized pieces of cucumber, kohlrabi, apple, and sprigs of cilantro Dianne de Guzman

Ever since I missed chef Susan Kim’s first stint at Turntable at Lord Stanley last year, I’ve been keeping a more diligent eye on her schedule. I’ve been an admirer of her pop-up Doshi from afar, so when a second residency was announced for the Flamingo Lazeaway Club, I knew I needed to go. There were some excellent dishes at the dinner I attended, including an “eggy” spaghetti tossed in cured egg yolk and salmon roe. But the dish that really stood out was the yuba salad. I like to joke that I’m a salad hater, but the truth is I’m a salad lover — it just takes a lot to make me sit up and notice one. This salad was exactly what I wanted on a warm afternoon: bites of crisp cucumber, apple, and radish against the tender chew of the Hodo yuba noodles and wood ear mushrooms. It was tossed in a hot mustard dressing, and Kim shared that the dish was meant to be a take on haepari naengchae, a jellyfish salad dressed in a zingy mustard dressing. I kept returning to it and thinking about it the next day as I tried the leftovers and the flavors marinated a bit more. Kim is at the Lazeaway Club until October 15, so don’t miss out. Turntable x Flamingo Lazeaway Club, 2777 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Jungle tofu at Hula’s Island Grill

Sidling into a booth at this Santa Cruz restaurant, drenched in surfing memorabilia and paintings of scantily-clad beachgoers, one does feel a bit relaxed by the ultra-chill ambiance, heavy-handed though it may be. Ordering the Jungle Tofu bowl at Hula’s Island Grill just seals the deal. The crispy rectangles of tofu are as good as casual restaurant plant-based protein gets, braced by black beans and white rice for all those extra proteins Michael Twitty describes as major ingredients for ancestral vegetarian communities in West Africa in The Cooking Gene in 2018. Frankly, this bowl of caramelly plantains, meaty tofu, macadamia nut crumble, and citrusy curry is just a cool idea. It’s hard to find a bowl, the millennial food vehicle of choice, that doesn’t feel like a shrug toward marketing trends more than a meal that’s worth the money. But this $18 dish feels worth it, full stop, and did not leave me wanting for more. Moreover, once that surfing bug does creep up in Santa Cruz, this bowl of rich, well-portioned ingredients makes for ideal fuel for skirting through Pleasure Point amongst the sea otters and seals. Hula’s Island Grill, 221 Cathcart Street, Santa Cruz

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter


October 6

Vegan pho at Bodega

Pho at Bodega. Paolo Bicchieri

When it’s late night in downtown San Francisco — a place some of us actually do go to, whether it be for a jazz show at Dawn Club or to chomp on octopus skewers at Gozu — easing into a caramel-colored booth at Bodega at 10 p.m. for a cinnamon-y bowl of vegan pho is a whole ass vibe. The restaurant’s story is inspiring, absolutely, and the downstairs club Felix is undeniably one of San Francisco’s sexiest after-hours parties. But the food and drink are still the main attraction, including an avocado-topped salad and a well-bodied pandan almond spritz. But it’s the vegan pho that allowed me to turn off the Star Wars-esque targeting computer in my brain and zero in on the scintillating combo of flavors and smells. The tofu was meaty, making for an important frontrunner in the dish, while the bok choy and Shiitake mushroom make for textural guardrails for the tofu and the broth to plie off of. Moreover, for $15 it’s bananas to get a huge bowl of pho of such high caliber. I was slurping broth until I was ready to pop, perhaps my favorite part of any soup: draining the dish and entering a lazy state of bliss, catching the N Judah train home in a semi-conscious haze of splendor. Bodega, 138 Mason Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Black Sesame Chocotaco at Good Luck Gato

Lauren Saria

It’s been over a year since Klondike made headlines for discontinuing the Choco Taco, that nostalgic frozen treat so many of us underappreciated until it was already gone. That also means restaurants from Chicago to Santa Clara have had more than enough time to create their own riffs on one of the most beloved ice cream desserts in America. The most recent and finest version I’ve had in a while came at the end of a meal at Oakland’s new — and likely, only — izakaya cantina, Good Luck Gato, a Japanese and Mexican-inspired bar and restaurant from chef Kyle Itani and Low Bar co-owners, chef Matthew Meyer and partner Daniel Paez. The crunchy waffle cone taco shell leveraged coconut flavor and a chocolate coating against a filling of smooth vanilla gelato. But the secret to the dessert’s success, however, was the earthy black sesame seeds and pepitas scattered along the top. These ensured each bite had both texture and balance, saving the whole thing from veering into overly saccharine territory. I devoured mine all too quickly, and on this exceptionally hot Bay Area weekend, I promise I’ll be dreaming about going back for more. Good Luck Gato, 1915 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Chicken and sausage gumbo at Gumbo Social

A bowl of gumbo with white rice from San Francisco’s Gumbo Social Dianne de Guzman

Ever since my first trip to New Orleans, I’ve been chasing the dishes I had there with visits to Bay Area restaurants, hopeful that I can find a version here that can tide me over until my next visit to the Big Easy. So it only follows that I’ve been tracking the opening of Gumbo Social in the Bayview with excitement, and I was finally able to head out for a bowl of gumbo on a recent evening. I ordered a bowl of the classic chicken and sausage gumbo, and what greeted me was a comforting bowl of soup, wonderfully spiced to perfection, exactly what I was looking for. Each element of the gumbo was cooked well, the holy trinity — bell pepper, onions, and celery — still standing up to the broth and not decimated under hours of cooking and softening, while the chicken and sausage added bites of protein and flavor. If you can, talk a friend into splitting the shrimp po’boy, which came doused in the restaurant’s delicious “Social Sauce.” I’m already planning my next trip back to Gumbo Social, as I’ve been told by two others that their go-to dish is the smoked turkey gumbo. A good reason for more gumbo, I say. Gumbo Social, 5176 Third Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


September 29

Lengua tacos from Taqueria Las Fuentes

Three tacos in a styrofoam takeout box from Taqueria Las Fuentes. Nat Belkov

Unless you’re traveling by car from LA up to the Bay as I was this past week, you may never find yourself passing through the quiet town of Greenfield just off the 101. And if, like me, you don’t happen to live in California, and therefore aren’t accustomed to such a delicacy, you may not be as excited as I was by the prospect of fresh, handmade tortillas like those offered at Taqueria Las Fuentes. After placing my order, I watched one of the women behind the counter tear off golf ball-sized pieces of tender white masa and carefully press them into discs before sliding them onto a searing flat top. Before I knew it, those tortillas were ladled with fillings, packaged with a ramekin of tangy salsa de arbol, and passed across the counter to me. Clearly, I haven’t lived because every other lengua taco I’ve had the pleasure of trying has come packed with delicious yet relatively tough morsels of beef tongue that beg for salsa to balance their lack of moisture. This tongue, on the other hand, was supremely tender and, had I needed to use a fork, would’ve caved to its pressure like an expertly-braised brisket. The tortillas, tender and blooming with corn flavor, have been on my mind (and frankly, also in my dreams) ever since returning to the East Coast. Taqueria Las Fuentes, 331 El Camino Real, Greenfield, California

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director

Chocolate muhallebi at Dalida

Chocolate muhallebi at Dalida Paolo Bicchieri

On a rare muggy evening in San Francisco, the lights in the Presidio adding to the park’s historic stoicism, Dalida served me maybe the finest Meditteranean fare in the Bay Area. Chefs Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz provide a laid-back but upscale ambiance, with warm tones on the walls and a playful design aesthetic. Prices are reasonable for a city as financially bloated as San Francisco — and the chocolate muhallebi is a creamy, crunchy, lordly way to end any meal. The hazelnut sauce, lathered around whole hazelnuts, combines with a Turkish coffee cream to make this generous sundae a main attraction more than a post-dinner afterthought. (The dinner itself, by the way, is worth visiting the wooded former military base for, too. Sesame horchata and pistachio coffee make for innovative and luxurious nonalcoholic drinks, and the 12-hour lamb shoulder tandoor is, as our server put it, soft enough to eat with a spoon.) Muhallebi isn’t technically ice cream, rather it’s a milk pudding composed of rice, sugar, and milk. But what I’m trying to say is Dalida allows for the comfort of both roast meat and nostalgic desserts, while kicking the familiar favorites up a notch — or ten. There’s probably no better outdoor patio for watching those enormous boats cruise on the Bay, either, with a spoon deep in hazelnut cream — or lamb shoulder for that matter. Dalida, 101 Montgomery Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Fig tart at Sesame Tiny Bakery

A fig tart from Sesame Tiny Bakery in Berkeley Dianne de Guzman

On a busy Saturday that saw me rocketing here, there, and everywhere, I was glad I made Sesame Tiny Bakery one of my stops, as it was the perfect end to a day of ceaseless activity. I may have said this in the past, but my favorite treats are not-too-sweet ones, and Sesame delivers lovely, soft flavors that don’t hit you over the head with sugar. Seeing as how we are in part II of fig season, I was drawn to the fig tart as my end-of-day snack. Sure, it was a little smushed from my travels, but the flavor of Black Mission figs carried through, and the two styles of cream were nicely balanced with the tart crust. I was committed to eating half of the tart, in order to stretch out the enjoyment, but one thing led to another and before I knew it, I had polished it off in no time. Another revelation was the walnut financier, which packed a strong walnut flavor without the drying, tannin taste that raw walnuts can impart. The cake itself had a nice crumb to it and was a nice little add-on for a tiny treat, which may or may not make it all the way to the car. Just sayin’. Sesame Tiny Bakery, 2533 Seventh St, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Turkmen mantisi at Meyhouse

Lauren Saria

If you’re going to dine solo, there’s no better seat than the bar and perhaps, few menus more conducive to an epic meal for one than that at Meyhouse in Palo Alto. The spacious restaurant opened in August as a place for Turkish-born entrepreneur-turned-restaurateur Omer Artun to bring a taste of Turkish drinking culture to the Bay Area. But even if you’re not having any booze, it’s a worthwhile stop. The menu of small plates akin to Spanish tapas makes it all too easy to order a small feast as a single diner. And of the plates I tried — including sheep’s milk “Ezine cheese” served with sesame-crusted flatbread and a vibrant little plate of salt-cured bonito bedecked with pomegranate seeds and dill — the standout had to be these steamed Turkish dumplings. The shiny wrappers each coddled a morsel of spiced beef, the flavors of which were simultaneously cooled down and amplified by the sea of creamy garlic yogurt underneath. A richly layered paprika mint butter sauce sealed the deal along with a flurry of fresh herbs. Meyhouse Palo Alto, 640 Emerson Street, Palo Alto

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF


September 22

Klingeman pork neck at Burdell

Summer succotash
Lauren Saria

As soon as I caught wind of the news that chef Geoff Davis’s much-anticipated debut restaurant Burdell had opened its doors, I secured a reservation and started counting down the days. Thus, on Sunday night, I walked into that stylish dining room, swooning immediately over the groovy 70s-inspired color palette and vintage Corelle and Pyrex plates. Not that any of it outshone the food. We started with miso-soaked boiled peanuts; a simple but elegant compressed summer melon salad; and a smart riff on barbecue shrimp starring tender head-on, shell-off prawns and buttery batards of toast. Thankfully, our kind and professional server warned us to save room for a larger plate. A thick slice of pork neck — sourced from Non-GMO Project-verified Klingeman Family Ranch — cut like butter having been brined, air-dried, roasted, and then basted with garlic and thyme. There was just enough peach jam to add a touch of sweetness, balanced perfectly against the tangy acid of pickled mustard seeds. Still, as much as I loved it, I almost loved the side of summer succotash even more. The medley of peak-season produce including snappy green beans, sweet corn, and tender squash felt like the perfect celebration of that last full weekend before the autumn equinox. It’s not easy to come out the gate firing on all cylinders, but from where I’m standing Burdell seems to have just about pulled it off. Burdell, 4640 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Caviar service at Bungalow Kitchen

Caviar at Bungalow Kitchen. Paolo Bicchieri

I’ve written about Michael Mina before, and I promise I won’t make a big habit of waxing on my fondness for cooks from Central Washington. But Bungalow Kitchen’s caviar service is just too decadent — the type of bacchanalian delight of Aphrodite’s dreams. The business corridor where the restaurant holds court by the water also plays host to The Caviar Co., which partners with Mina’s restaurant to provide a luxurious Kaluga hybrid caviar. Atop little potato roasties and a basket of shatteringly-fried chips, bedecked by creme fraiche, chives, egg, and onion, and served in a silver goblet with tiny fish for handles, the raw power of caviar clicked with me for maybe the first time. Each bite was simultaneously crisp, crunchy, and creamy, filling and rich but not overly so. This highlight doubles as a shout-out to Tiburon, the North Bay treasure I had never heard of until wrapping up my mini-honeymoon. Sitting in a booth on a busy ferry dock, allegedly where Barry Bonds likes to hang his hat after biking to the restaurant, one feels like a part of the Bay itself. Whatever comes from the Mina Group next is anyone’s guess. But if the group crafts anything as beautiful as Bungalow Kitchen, I’ll be the first in line, caviar spoon in the air. Bungalow Kitchen, 5 Main Street, Tiburon

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Hainan chicken salad sandwich at Outta Sight Pizza

Dianne de Guzman

Hainanese chicken rice is one of my favorite dishes, so it only follows that when Outta Sight Pizza advertised a Hainan chicken salad sandwich, I made plans to trek out to San Francisco for it. And when I had it in my hands, I knew the trip was worth it, as I’m also an unabashed fan of chicken salad sandwiches done right. I was curious how the ingredients would pull together, but I found it to be a clever play on both parts of the name, as the sandwich showcased bites of chicken tossed in a ginger-scallion aioli. Add onto that a lovely trifecta of crunchiness from batons of cucumber, wonton crisps, and fried shallots, with some green cilantro also nestled in. There was also a nice bit of heat from the addition of sambal sauce, very much welcomed. The sandwich was then served on a Rize Up Bakery roll — this summer’s sandwich star — which has an ideal crunchy-soft ratio. For me, this sandwich was a hit all the way around. Outta Sight Pizza is popular for, well, pizza, but I’d argue the sandwiches are a draw in their own right. Outta Sight Pizza, 422 Larkin Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


September 15

Duck heart skewers at the Morris

It’s no secret that the Morris is an industry favorite; it has been for years. Still, I wasn’t fully prepared for the impromptu party I’d find at the bar on Monday night. It was a whole entire scene — in a good way — as a parade of acquaintances new and old popped up seemingly out of the blue while I sipped a glass of nerello mascalese and ate my way through a hit list of the restaurant's many tried-and-true offerings. I started with these: a duo of grilled duck heart skewers. Each disappeared only too soon, the perfectly tender morsels being brushed with a slightly sweet glaze that brightened up the bites of fatty, gamey offal. My only consolation for finishing them so quickly was the additional plates that arrived in rapid succession: a trio of savory mushroom profiteroles; a zippy plate of charred broccolini and squid, swimming in a mouth-puckeringly tart chili lime sauce; and a generous portion of fries begging to be dipped into a side of creamy garlic aioli and swiped into that aforementioned sauce. As if by magic, I somehow ended up with a trio of beverages in front of me including a splash of a stunning, apricot-y reisling and a crisp glass of Chenin blanc, poured from another patron’s bottle that I just had to try. And isn’t that kind of what this place is all about? A fantastic neighborhood restaurant where anyone can feel like a regular any day of the week. The Morris, 2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Vegetarian fries at Mothers

Waffle fries at Mothers. Paolo Bicchieri

I didn’t get enough time to hype up this Mexico City-style taqueria in an old Pizza Hut just yet. Leaving the bottomless baskets of chips on the side, Mothers opts instead for the most supreme form of fry: the waffle fry. (For the record, it goes waffle first, then sweet potato, curly, and classic last. McDonald’s fries are the only exception to this rule. Fight me.) This mountain of garlic-sauteed shiitake and cremini mushrooms intersects with nostalgic shreds of cheddar and mozzarella cheese for a salty and savory combo breaker that’d make Street Fighter fans’ heads spin. Perhaps a holdover from the business’ former tenant, the dish has a loving pizza effect, each bite of oily carbs and onion and cilantro providing a primal invitation for another. That’s the joy of loaded waffle fries at Mothers: For just $13, one can load up on crunchy escabeche and four salsas while plowing through a shrine of cheesy, umami-riddled wonder. The smart shopper orders a tall glass of horchata, rich and creamy like it should be, and the hungry shopper orders the three vegetarian tacos and one vegan taco as accouterments, basic accessories for the hungry beast looking to stock up before the next trip to the Jefferson Street’s finest parking lot. Mothers, 3150 Jefferson Street, Napa

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter


September 8

You Had Me at UBE at Cyrus

Coffee cocktail at Cyrus. Paolo Bicchieri

There’s nothing like sipping Kona coffee combined with vanilla, ube, cherry blossom, and oat milk beneath a thick toasted meringue inside a building lying at the precise intersection of A24’s Ex Machina and Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka. I wouldn’t have known this anything but simple pleasure if not for the hard-working team at Geyserville’s Cyrus. This $16 nonalcoholic beverage can be ordered in the Bubbles Lounge, which is open for walk-ins Thursday through Sunday. But, for me, it was the kick-off to the entire Cyrus dinner experience, a whimsical and sublime gustatory delight. Once the sun went down over the Alexander Valley our dining cohort was trotted to the Kitchen Table area, where chef Douglas Keane walks guests through a flight of small bites featuring tempura-fried sweet potato custard and a rendition of gazpacho. Guests are encouraged to ask questions, to walk amongst the kitchen’s staff as 90s rock including Pearl Jam growls overhead. The main dinner is a bit more standard; mains include yuba “ravioli” and a righteous Andante Dairy melange that was like a fine dining riff on a cheesy blooming onion. On the way out, the ultra-warm service staff walked my wife and me through the famed chocolate fountain room with boxes of confections waiting on an actual hover disc. But throughout it all I couldn’t shake the creamy, buzzy, genius treat that was the restaurant’s opening procession: It lived up to its namesake, as, indeed, Cyrus had me at “ube.” Cyrus, 275 CA Highway 128, Geyserville

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Fish n’ chips at Mersea

Lauren Saria

As a northern California native, I’ve driven past Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands countless times and, I’ll admit, it never really occurred to me that there was anything worth pulling off the bridge for on either isle. But with a long holiday weekend at my disposal and international guests in tow, I thought it might be nice to pop over for some sun and food. We landed at Mersea, where the panoramic vista of the city and both its graceful bridges left our mouths agape. At an outdoor table absolutely pummeled with sunshine, we ordered a small seafood feast. The daily special, a bay shrimp roll, came in a fluffy, toasted, and buttered bun. But the fish n’ chips were the crowd favorite. The order includes a single piece of deep-fried haddock, wrapped in a thick and crispy and, importantly, perfectly salted coating of batter. The fish retained its firm, flaky texture, falling apart (in a good way) at a gentle touch. Curried tartare sauce added a nice punch of flavor to the fish and the side of Old Bay fries. Sipping my pineapple mimosa in the sun, I thought about how perfect the waterfront venue would be for sunset happy hours or a big weekend brunch. It’s nice to know that after years in the Bay ARea, there are still hidden-in-plain-sight gems to be discovered. Mersea, 699 Avenue of the Palms, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF


September 1

Braised short rib at Ssal

A cube croisssant at Ssal.
Ssal x Ariscault croissant
Lauren Saria

Despite the fact that Ssal has been open since 2019, walking up to the austere storefront on Polk Street, shaded by black awnings and shrouded in white drapes, feels like a discovery. And don’t let the minimalist decor lead you to believe the restaurant lacks warmth. Over 11 courses and two and a half hours, the small Ssal team demonstrated both exquisite skill and enthusiasm in their work, making for a mid-week tasting menu experience that felt anything but tedious. I’ll be dreaming about the bread course — a stunning cube of Ariscault laminated dough served with a cloud of whipped injeolmi butter — for at least a few weeks, and the heady scent of the hand-pressed sesame oil that got meticulously drizzled over a delicate bluefin tuna tartare will be etched into my memory forever. But the restaurant’s final savory course truly marked a high point of the meal. A deck of card-sized piece of stunningly marbled short rib rolled up to the table on a cart, along with a whole, gently steamed Jimmy Nardello pepper stuffed with tteokgalbi sausage made from short rib trimmings. The tender beef, served with a rich black garlic sauce, practically dissolved at the lightest touch and the sausage-stuffed pepper seamlessly married Northern California ingredients with Korean culinary traditions. The San Francisco Korean dining scene may still be coming into its own, but Ssal stands as a prime example of the heights it can reach. Ssal, 2226 Polk Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Deconstructed tiramisu at Just Some Folks

Just Some Folks dessert. Paolo Bicchieri

It’s a little unfair to have a nectarine-washed sunset and a little yellow building full of my friends and family as a backdrop to this unreal dessert. Still, Just Some Folks knows the set and setting is just as important as the ingredients themselves. The last course of my wedding’s rehearsal dinner, which one of my favorite bakers Claudia Fleming refers to as the sweet finale to a multi-course meal, was a bowl full of gluten-free ladyfingers, mango mascarpone, orange zest, and Hulk-green basil drizzle, with dashes of cocoa and cardamom for spicy measure. The chorus of oohs and aahs from the outdoor patio that evening should serve as its own review of this genius combination of crunchy cookie and rich fruit cream. Still, I’ll take the opportunity to say I sometimes underestimate the power of the right dish at the right time. And, one night before my partner and I tied the knot, a deconstructed tiramisu — with components thoughtfully selected after interviewing my partner and me about our favorite flavors and dishes — propelled us into a weekend of pure delight. Beside a raucous and joyous community, beneath a rare Montara sun, I tucked into the last course for the last time as a bachelor: 10/10 recommend. Just Some Folks, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Tempura corn on the cob from Palmetto

Dianne de Guzman

This summer, I’ve been singularly focused on tomatoes. But a recent visit to Palmetto (and this post) really shook me into savoring corn season. On a scorcher of a night, this fried corn on the cob delivered just the vibes I needed, no standing over a grill required. The fact that it was lightly fried added to this dish’s enjoyment, the crunch-sweet bite and flavor that signifies warmth and sun-kissed feelings — but with flair. The cobs were dressed in a cilantro-lime aioli that gave them a bit of creamy, citrus flavor, and the chile furikake added some bonus crunch and texture. It was just one part of a larger dinner that hit at a lot of summery angles. If I can do one other shoutout, I’ll mention the jasmine rice caldo — it’s maybe the opposite of a summertime dish, given that it’s served warm and maybe isn’t quite what one wants when it’s hot, but for me, it was nostalgic. For someone who’s grown up with arroz caldo on days I was sick, it was a lovely moment to enjoy someone else’s take on the classic Filipino dish. Palmetto, 1900 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


August 25

Breakfast porridge at Deluxe Queer

Sitting at a long table in a condo in the Bayview, in a room abuzz with mimosas made from fresh-squeezed oranges and just-popped Champagne, I blitzed through a rich bowl of congee so appealing to the eye it could make its way onto Hayao Miyazaki’s storyboards. Deluxe Queer hosted a three-course meal awash with luxury coffee drinks from Sāe Coffee Studio including a coffee lemonade pairing for this dish. Regen Williams, one of the minds behind the pop-up, worked the kitchen all morning while Paolo Godcharles-Méndez brought out the soy-marinated egg and Millionaire’s bacon-loaded bowl. I tried to eat slowly, but the dish combined my favorite aspects of any meal: A harmonic balance of flavors and textures, in this case, a mellow duality of salty and spicy, crispy meat alongside a chewy egg. The miso tomatoes, wisely used this season, were like sugary boba thanks to their sweet, explosive nature. The shiitake mushrooms included in the dish, in addition to a shiitake stock for the base, served as another major player in the bowl, significant but not overbearing. It’s always good to go to a brunch befitting The Hobbit — somewhere between the first chapter’s “An Unexpected Party” and the seventh chapter’s “Queer Lodgings” I suppose — and always good to find a meaty, warming breakfast of jammy tomatoes and gochujang-spiced squash. Deluxe Queer, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Brisket cast iron stir-fried rice at Baekjeong

Fried rice at Baekjeong. Lauren Saria

If you’re into Korean barbecue then you might have heard the news: one of the country’s most popular Korean barbecue chains, Baekjeong, blasted into the Bay Area last week. The company’s first northern California outpost opened on August 16 at Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose (though the mall uses a Santa Clara mailing address). In the first days of business, some fans waited, reportedly, up to six hours for a table — and honestly, as much as I wish I could tell you it’s totally overrated, the truth is I loved every dish I ate during lunch on opening day. Of them all, however, the one I was most surprised to enjoy was the brisket fried rice. It’s cooked on the table, which means your server will remove the stainless steel grill to make room for a hefty cast-iron wok, then load it up with paper-thin slices of marbled brisket and a medley of sliced mushrooms. Long batons of garlic chives and bean sprouts add texture, but it’s the slick sesame oil and a final blast of white truffle oil that gives the final dish its oomph. I adored the kick from ample black pepper and salt and best of all, the leftovers made a fantastic lunch the following day. Baekjeong, 2855 Stevens Creek Boulevard #1808, Santa Clara

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Tenbrink Farms tomatoes from Ashes & Diamonds

Dianne de Guzman

August has been a whirlwind month, kicking off with some good eating during Outside Lands weekend, but sometimes a nice leisurely pause is what’s needed. A recent trip to Ashes & Diamonds in Napa provided a bit of respite from all the activity, with a luxe lunch and wine pairings to boot. It’s peak summer, so that meant a meal highlighting seasonal ingredients in the best ways. This gorgeous tomato dish arrived at the table, featuring a healthy scoop of labneh and dressed in a saffron vinaigrette. The ingredients really sang together in ways that kept me swirling bits of tomato through the vinaigrette and topping it off with a cooling bit of labneh, thankful for a refreshing bite in the summer heat. The tomato dish came paired with a separate number featuring stone fruit slices plated with a nasturtium tahini sauce that also screamed capital-S Summer in the best ways. Together, it was a pairing that hit the best notes with tart bites of tomato and labneh, along with the sweetness of yellow- and red-fleshed plums. This is my type of summer meal. Ashes & Diamonds, 4130 Howard Lane, Napa

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


August 18

Pizza Pomodoro at Mentone

A pizza topped with tomatoes and stracciatella. Lauren Saria

This summer’s tomatoes might be running late — but when they do finally arrive, they certainly make an impression. It’s a lesson I learned first-hand thanks to this leopard-spotted and tomato-topped pie at chef David Kinch’s casual French-Italian restaurant Mentone just east of Santa Cruz. For the full summer experience, start your meal with one of the frozen bubbly spritzes, an Aperol and Kettle One Peach-laced slushie that you could easily suck down before realizing exactly how much alcohol occupies that little plastic cup. Then chase it with this Pizza Pomodoro, a seasonal special that channels all the freshness of summer starting with cheery sungold tomatoes, each blistered to a shrivel that brings out the orbs’ inherent sweetness. Mozzarella and stracciatella sweep through like an ocean breeze, cool and creamy, with a little acid and bite coming from garlic and those basil leaves strewn over top. The only thing that’ll make your brow furrow will be when you realize how six slices of pizza can disappear in the blink of an eye — sort of like this summer’s tomato bounty. Best enjoy it while you can. Mentone, 174 Aptos Village Way, Aptos

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Mexican Yoloxochitlan washed-process black coffee at the Crown

Coffee from Crown. Paolo Bicchieri

You might avoid hot black coffee in the summer. But the Crown in Uptown Oakland is here to show you why that’s a bad idea every day of the week. This $4 light roast coffee is nutty, full of lovely toasty high notes, and well worth every dollar. It’s not overpowering in any way, not too dark, nor so tinny and minute the righteous coffee taste is lost. This is the kind of black coffee that can convert a nonbeliever, the heady but accessible cup that brings your chocolate-loving, tea-drinking friend over to the dark side. The shop is the tasting room for legendary green coffee importer Royal Coffee, running strong since 1978 and serving 16-ounce coffees to the bold. As Sam Stone wrote in Bon Appetit, hot coffee really can be a summer drink; I nabbed this batch-brewed elixir on a sweat-inducing afternoon running errands around Lake Merritt. So, grab a pineapple cake from the case of Bake Sum pastries, dive into this ideal cup of smooth coffee, and vibe through your morning caffeine take-off like Binky when the Nights beat switch hits. The Crown, 2523 Broadway, Oakland

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Sweet & sour pig ears from PRESS

Strips of sweet and sour pig ear from PRESS Dianne de Guzman

I’d already heard impressive things about PRESS in Napa, so when I went in for a recent dinner, I was excited to finally check it out for myself. Our kind server recommended the sweet and sour pig ears, and immediately I was intrigued. When the bowl arrived, inside sat strips of pig ears, cut to almost fry-size and coated in sweet and sour espelette glaze, with bing cherries halves and tiny sprigs of cilantro flowers on top. The sauce hit notes of nostalgia from years of eating Chinese American food: tangy and sweet but also deeper and richer, a darker glaze than the orange-red sweet and sours of my past. The sauce coated each crevice of the battered and fried pork ears and I was really impressed with how crisp the ears stayed under the saucy coating, still giving that crunch under the first bite. The fried exterior gave way to that familiar texture and chew of cartilage. The crunch-bite combo of the competing textures, plus the sauce, led to clearing out my bowl as I considered with each piece why I liked it so much. I never really arrived at an answer, but a few days later, I realized that sometimes you can have an excellent dinner with many memorable dishes in a row but when something manages to be surprising and fun that’s what makes me sit up and notice. PRESS, 587 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


August 11

Abalone Skewers at Chez Noir

Lauren Saria

I’ve been looking for a good excuse — and, to be fair, a free weekend — to escape down the coast to Carmel-by-the-Sea since last fall, and this weekend finally managed to make it happen. Part of the draw was the area itself, with those stoic cypress trees and capriciously misty beaches, and the new Caramel Beach Hotel made a lovely home base thanks to its location just a block off the water. The pinnacle of the trip, however, was dinner at Chez Noir, the upscale mom-and-pop restaurant from chef Jonny Black and wife Monique Black, who runs front of house. They packed up and moved to the seaside town to transform the bottom floor of their new family home into an upscale restaurant, decorated a la a chic modern bistro complete with brass accents and playful round chandeliers. The menu doubles down on that French accent, applying French techniques to a bounty of local ingredients. Of them all, my favorite dish (and I’m not alone in this assessment) was the abalone skewer, which saw a cutting of local bay laurel skewered through tender mollusks pulled from the Monterey Bay and dressed in decadent liver butter with thin wedges of sweet meyer lemon. The buttery salty bite provided a perfect sense of place, grounding me immediately on the coast I’d been itching to visit for so long. Chez Noir, 5th Avenue between Dolores and San Carlos streets, Carmel-by-the-Sea

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Vegan donburi at Itani Ramen

Itani Ramen. Paolo Bicchieri

The first bite of my custom donburi at Kyle Itani’s spacious Itani Ramen on Telegraph Avenue included a big blast of deep seaweed flavor and roasted kale. Next door, lunch-goers ducked inside for Itani’s dark and sparse restaurant Yonsei Handrolls, where creamy avocado and black garlic aioli-dressed albacore handrolls reign as royalty. But at the 2016-born Uptown Oakland ramen shop, things feel casual, like the kind of restaurant you head to with your friends after a night seeing Boppenheimer before heading home. The rice bowl, in and around $20 depending on which toppings you’re craving, was the true ideal of a vegetable-heavy yet filling entree. The squash provides a mellow flavor and chewy texture alongside a flight of savory marinaded mushrooms. A side of kimchi balances the bed of fluffy rice. I absolutely added corn, a nice pop against the big bricks of tofu. And I made sure to drown my bowl in tamari and hot sauce, jamming on as much umami as I could. There is something not only belly-filling but heart-warming about tucking into an enormous bowl of allergen- and earth-friendly ingredients without being a party pooper for the normies in one’s midst. For the casual donburi fan or for the diehard, Itani Ramen provides not only for the carnivores and pescatarians but for the soy boys, too. Itani Ramen, 1736 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Samosas at Cedar Market

Two triangular samosas from Berkeley’s Cedar Market, on a plate Dianne de Guzman

In honor of contributor Garrett Schlichte’s ode to the Walk and Snack, my best dish this week comes in that same spirit, celebrating the Punjabi samosas at Cedar Market in Berkeley. It’s a convenience store located in a lovely (and yes, walkable) neighborhood in North Berkeley, and the samosas are the treat at the end of a visit. I typically go to Cedar Market for its proximity, but also for the store’s excellent drink selection of local craft beer and kombucha, as well as ice cream bars and ice cream pints on hot days. Next to the cash register sits a warming lamp over a metal tray, with crisp, triangular samosas nestled inside. From what I hear, the store’s owners make the samosas themselves, and it’s my tiny treat whenever I stop by. The outside of each samosa is blistered from being fried in oil, creating a nice bite before giving way to its spiced interior of potato, peas, and onions. There are two sauces, what I’ve only ever heard called “the green sauce” and a tamarind version, but I’d argue these samosas stand up on their own. It’s one of my favorite samosas in the Bay Area for reasons having to do with flavor — but also so much more. The samosas feel like a caring gesture for the neighborhood and the market’s customers, and I love supporting that sentiment — especially since it’s so tasty, in this case — because it’s shops like these that keep any city going. Cedar Market, 1601 California Street, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


August 4

Honey Cake with Walnuts at Cinderella Bakery

I’ve retained, unfortunately, very little of my Russian heritage into adulthood, much to my grandparents’ dismay. I can’t speak the language, and I know little of the cultural traditions. That said, memories of medovik, the layered honey sponge cake ubiquitous throughout Eastern Europe, have and will continue to take up permanent residence in my soul. Last week, Cinderella Bakery tugged on my heartstrings by tempting me with a delicious and unique version of the iconic Soviet dessert. Studded with walnuts, the oft-smooth cake took on another dimension. Tangy sour cream permeated the frosting applied in alternating layers with the thin, warmly-spiced cake. I’m glad I decided to grab two slices, because they were gone before I even made it home. Cinderella Bakery, 436 Balboa St, San Francisco

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director

Miso bone marrow baked oysters at Little Shucker

Lauren Saria

The motley crew behind the popular Pac-Heights cocktail bar the Snug rolled out their newest offering to the neighborhood this week. Little Shucker debuted on Wednesday, August 3 bringing a tight and relatively straightforward seafood-focused menu to Fillmore Street. If I had to bet, I’d put my money on the lobster roll as a potential most popular offering; you can order it hot or cold, and the former option means you’ll get a petite sandwich on a toasted bun overflowing with lightly buttered hunks of lobster meat. But personally, I’m looking forward to returning for more of the baked oysters, specifically the ones swimming in miso and bone marrow. The decadent accouterments to these toasty bivalves transform the usually bright and briny mollusks into slurpable umami bombs — and just when you think they’ve maybe taken things too far with all that richness, you get a kiss of acid and a delicate crunch from pickled daikon and a single leaf of cilantro. All that flavor balanced into one tiny shell? Who wouldn’t be impressed. Little Shucker, 2016 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Ahi tuna crudo at Estiatorio Ornos

Tuna crudo at Estiatorio Ornos Paolo Bicchieri

Who knew that Michael Mina, sort of a Shaquille O’Neal of the Bay Area’s fine dining world, is from the same weird, small town as me? And who knew that his mother came up with a falafel recipe leaning on sweet peas and fava beans rather than chickpeas so the nuggets brandish a bright green interior? Beneath a slice of raw tuna, it’s got to be the best bite at Mina’s Estiatorio Ornos in FiDi. If Mina is Shaq, that means chef Daniela Vergara is Penny Hardaway, Mina’s youngest and one of the only female executive chefs amongst his many restaurants. She’s to thank for the crudo’s precise execution: each order comes with four of the creamy, crunchy, and melty falafel and fish combos. The falafel works as a crouton, providing a stage for a drizzle of tahini and a dash of salata baladi, an Egyptian salad that functions almost like pico de gallo in this dish. Each fourth of the crudo is indulgent and insultingly rich, as good or better than anything I’ve eaten in a long time. Even against the coral pink booths and the icy goliath God of Olympus, poured tableside, the thoughtful starter feels like the main character. Estiatorio Ornos, 252 California Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Local tofu from Kuma Sushi + Sake

Dianne de Guzman

I never used to make it a point to order tofu at sushi restaurants, but somewhere in my years of eating, I’ve since fixed that fact. Now, it’s a rarer sight when I don’t try to talk dining partners into my tofu starter obsession. And so it was that I ordered this plate of local tofu at Kuma Sushi + Sake at a recent dinner, interested in trying a take on the usual agedashi tofu offerings at sushi restaurants, this one made with local firm tofu. The tofu had a nice, lovely texture — it was worlds different from any store-bought brands I’ve worked with in the past — and served as a base for a crunchy garlic oil dressing laden with sesame seeds. The garlic oil of course gave the dish some nice bite and crunch, but the sesame added hints of sweetness and nuttiness. The mix of finely sliced scallions and shiso gave the dish a different sort of texture, this time a vegetal one, that also punctuated each bite with that certain, mellow allium taste that scallions are known for. The ponzu rounded things out with a nice bit of citrus and soy sauce to the mix, and honestly, it all reaffirmed that this is my new sushi bff. Kuma Sushi + Sake, 1040 Polk Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


July 28

California tahdig at Dalida

Octopus and sujuk at Dalida.
Lauren Saria

Sometimes, a restaurant has the power to lift you out of reality and transport you far from the day-to-day. Such was the case at Dalida, thanks in part to its picturesque perch on the edge of the Presidio's rolling green lawns — with those views of the bay and bridge beyond — and also to a menu that deftly blends Mediterranean and California cuisines for an experience that’s both familiar and fresh. Dinner started with a prime example: the California tahdig, a dainty version of a dish bejeweled with amber pads of uni, orbs of trout roe, thin slices of local halibut, tart pickles, and seaweed. I might have liked a bit more crunch on the crust, but the bites of saffron-inflected rice made a delicate backdrop for the mosaic of oceanic flavors amassed on top. Bites of hardened rice with briny uni or slippery seaweed surfaced memories of scraping rice from the bottom of the rice cooker as a kid, providing an unexpected gust of nostalgia. By the end of the meal, I felt like I’d enjoyed a two-hour getaway to some sort of oceanside destination both foreign and, somehow, familiar at the same time. Dalida, 101 Montgomery Street, Suite 100, at the Presidio in San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Korokke Curry Sandwich at Bread n’ Chu

Nat Belkov

The golden truffle sandwich at Bread n’ Chu is an impressive sight. Before taking a bite, you’re struck by the delicately placed layers of Burgundy truffle shavings and golf leaf adorning the sandwich’s cross-section. Under that thin, veneered facade lies a bounty of textures, just as impressive as what conceals them — a deep-fried Japanese omelet drizzled in ginger shoyu and roasted sesame. On a recent visit, however, the sandwich that stood out to me from this Richmond District counter showcased a perfectly fried potato croquette between its two airy slabs of milk bread. Inside that croquette, hiding like the prize at the center of a Tootsie Pop, was a cavern of molten cheese. With its turmeric, coriander, and cumin-laden curry, this sandwich made me think of Indian samosas, a fun reminder of how much culinary history disparate cultures share. Bread N’ Chu, 1900 Clement Street, San Francisco

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director

Mochi coconut brownie at Ditas

Ditas dessert.
Mochi coconut brownie at Ditas.
Paolo Bicchieri

The team at Sausalito’s Ditas, from front of house to back, is full of top-of-class dynamos. Chef Cody Buchholz crafts immaculate entrees such as a near-perfect cut of steak flanked by a trio of mushrooms and pea puree, and Andrew Fuentes shines with ultra-friendly service. But pastry chef Anthony Le’s mochi coconut brownie pushed the night into pure luxury. The sweetened coconut on top of the gluten-free brownie, which had a pleasant chewiness thanks to mochi flour, is just one of the many textural delights throughout this treasure. A coconut gel zhushes up the flavor and body of both the shredded coconut and the mochi, and dashes of cocoa powder and coffee provide bitter notes to hum alongside the sweetness. Brushstrokes of syrupy chocolate, little dollops of whipped cream, and chunks of pecan add to the grand slam. I suggest using your fork like a zamboni to get a bite of cake coated in all of those flavors and textures. I have always been and remain an ardent supporter of watching huge boats chug along great bodies of water, furnishing that love on the Washington coast. And there’s maybe nowhere better to catch that vibe in the Bay Area than at Ditas, and no better way to end that experience than with Le’s desserts. Ditas, 562 Bridgeway, Sausalito

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Ray J at Pizzeria da Laura

Dianne de Guzman

My favorite style of pizza can be mood-dependent. But somehow I will never tire of a Sicilian pizza and my favorite right now is the one at Pizzeria da Laura, done up as the Ray J. For me, every component is tight, from the fluffy, open crumb of the bread base to the toppings. The sauce leans into the slightly tart taste of tomatoes, which is offset by the sweet, light drizzle of fermented honey. Each square slice receives a bump of burrata, which offers a cooling lift partway through each square. I was also pleasantly pleased to discover two types of pepperoni, including ones of the cuppy persuasion, curling up so the edges get satisfyingly char-crisped. Basil and mozzarella are also in the mix, offering a vegetal note and melted cheese goodness. It’s a lovely pie for Sicilian pizza fans, and this certainly won’t be my last pie from Pizzeria da Laura. Pizzeria da Laura, 2049 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


July 21

Green Garlic Pretzel Focaccia at Automat

On the way to the beach the other day, a friend and I stopped to pick up a few baked goods, along with one of Automat’s signature breakfast sandwiches on ethereally light, freshly-made milk bread. Satisfied with our haul, we were on our way out when the contents of the deck oven caught my eye, only to learn that the rising rounds within weren’t quite ready yet. We got to the beach, and I was elated to find that my friend had snagged a focaccia just in time, still glistening from its baste in allium-rich compound butter replete with confit garlic, scallions, parsley, and shallots. I read somewhere that the item’s inspiration roots itself in chef Matt Kirk’s love of Wetzel’s Pretzels, but for me, lifting the edges of the focaccia’s personal pizza box to inhale the scent of (lots of) garlic butter transported me back to freshman soccer practice after which teammates and I would devour a Papa Johns cheesy garlic bread. Sprinkled in the requisite coarse salt crystals, the 3 day-fermented, hot water alkaline-washed round nails low-brow-high-brow nostalgia, and was the perfect snack for a blustery San Francisco beach day. Automat 1801 McAllister St, San Francisco

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director

Whole turbot at Animo

A whole fish. Lauren Saria

My only regret after a recent dinner at Animo in Sonoma is that it took me so long to finally get there. I knew it was going to be good — after all, chef Joshua Smookler and front-of-house maestra Heidy Mu He have earned ample praise already — but I wasn’t prepared to be so impressed by the earnest menu that so seamlessly marries honest wood-fired cooking with influences the chef’s Jewish and Korean heritages. I’d be more than happy to return to slurp perfectly al dente cacio e pepe bucatini with its peppery bite ingeniously tamped down by the cool salinity of uni and to tackle another mountain of Manila clams dunked into a funky fish sauce broth that made my eyes pop due to the shocking amount of flavor packed into a single bowl. But I have to say that if you’re going to go, then go big and get the whole grilled turbot. It’s a perfect embodiment of the chef’s ability to take gorgeous ingredients, apply skill and fire and smoke, and turn them into something that sings. In this case, Smookler emprisons the prized flatfish in a grill basket before cooking it until the skin reaches a crinkly crisp. Then he amps up the silky flesh with a yuzu-based vinaigrette that will have you happily plucking the meat from the mess of delicate bones. If it sounds simple that’s part of the magic of this restaurant where the cooking so clearly comes from the heart. Animo, 18976 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Vegan smokin’ hot mother clucker at Joyride Pizza

Vegan pizza from Joyride Pizza. Paolo Bicchieri

Thanks to the raunchy comedy “Joy Ride” playing at the Metreon in Yerba Buena, my friends and I found a perfect reason to hit Joyride Pizza: joyride squared. I’ve followed Jesse Jacobs’s pizza crusade since he launched in 2021, converting his Samovar Tea shops into upscale pie dealers. When the business debuted, though, there wasn’t a gluten-free and vegan option on the menu. That’s since changed, and I’m delighted at the result. The pizza was dense, chewy, and titanic, with huge Ben & Jerry’s-style chunky ingredients plopped atop passably vegan cheese. The chicken was more than sufficient, a house-made plant-based protein. My dining guests for the night included two Michigan natives, both of whom felt the pies were airier than Buddy’s, the original Detroit-style pizza, and the crown — that part where the cheese comes up the side of the pan — was flakier and lighter than Buddy’s, with its characteristic crunch. Now, the $32 price point is high; this is a luxury pizza. And it’s not fully vegan when ordered gluten-free, due to buttermilk in the dough. But when a bit of wordplay sets up a night of pizza and movies, one doesn’t say no. One orders the vegan gluten-free smokin’ hot clucker, slathered in barbecue sauce and heavily dressed in a cornucopia of vegetables. Joyride Pizza, 730 Howard Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Strange flavor-style figs at Hadeem

Dianne de Guzman

Sometimes you’re a fig person and sometimes you’re not. Yet, somehow, this fig dish at Hadeem was delicious enough to transform a table of two Eater writers (and Michelin party rejects) with disagreeing opinions on figs into believers. How do you funk up a plate of figs? Throw some chile crisp on it because Alice Waters would never. Add a base layer of tahini. Arrange some fresh leaves of greenery and fancy-ass flowers on top. As you make your way through the dish, the pops of chile crisp stand out against the sweetness of the figs, yet meld with the crunch of the fig seeds (just don’t think about that crunch for too long), all mellowed by the tahini and greens. It’s this mix of flavors that creates a balanced dish, one that can win over even skeptics. This was just one dish that hit from the night, among several others from the meal. In short: Chase down the next Hadeem pop-up while you can. Hadeem, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


July 14

Salt & vinegar chicken wings at Piglet & Co

If you’re the kind of flavor masochist who appreciates the acidic bite and mouth-puckering sourness of salt and vinegar chips, then it’s almost a guarantee you’ll adore this plate of chicken wings at Piglet & Co. The Mission District restaurant debuted in February, but a recent visit confirmed the menu of nostalgia-driven Asian comfort food has reached new heights. That stunning honey walnut shrimp and pork toast remains an essential order, but throughout the meal, dishes both new (charred Taiwanese street corn) and familiar (succulent mala barbecue pork ribs) had me sighing with delight. These wings in particular brought a smile to my face for being both utterly delicious — delivering a powerful punch of tang and salt only underscored by that crunchy batter — and an Easter egg of sorts for those familiar with beloved Hawai’i-only grocery store chain Foodland, which sells similarly flavored wings by the pound and pan. Chris Yang’s chef-y touches elevated his version to legendary status. A dusting of mixed peppercorns added a layer of pungent earthiness to ground the acid and salt, with a creamy yuzu-infused housemade ranch, flourishing with a bouquet of herbs, to slice through it all. As usual with Yang’s food, it’s a dish that can totally be appreciated on its face, but a little backstory only adds satisfying weight to the experience. Piglet & Co, 2170 Mission Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Beef fried rice at Toyose

Paolo Bicchieri

Eating plants in a warming world is more than just a good idea theoretically, it seems to be a good idea, scientifically, too. Still, at midnight after a raucously good time listening to Azure McClure scat her way across the stage at Dawn Club, we headed due west to Toyose, and once there, ordered the beef fried rice, despite our more enlightened selves protesting. The dish is rich in the way I want meat to be after however long abstaining: I want buttery, deep flavors of beefy goodness, a fried egg bleeding its yoke through the rice below. The cache of seaweed and sesame seeds on top of the sizeable portion provided a salty, nutty profile to the wonderfully-oily plate. You’ll almost certainly wait in line at this converted house-restaurant, even in the wee hours of the morning, so it’s a smart move to wait across the street at Flanahan’s Pub across the street, where drinks are cheap and ring swing is free. Then, you can return to Toyose once your number is called, step beneath the orange-lit awning, and plow into some beef fried rice, each soothing bite better than the last. Toyose, 3814 Noriega Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Imperial kaluga caviar at Kiln

A dish with caviar in broth. Lauren Saria

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with chef John Wesley of Kiln, dissecting the techniques and flavors behind some of the dishes at the new Fell Street restaurant. So by the time I dropped in this week, I was excited to sample everything. Plenty of masterful bites filled the meal — among them the blue lobster, Carabineros prawn, fermented potato bread, and squab — but allow me to mention one of the simpler but no less intriguing items, one I think speaks to the team’s impeccable taste. Caviar is almost a requirement at a fine dining establishment but it can sometimes seem … standard. Caviar along with a starchy vessel (blini or chips, sometimes tater tots) makes the usual pairing, but at Kiln the luxurious item takes a different format. Nestled in a gorgeous glass bowl, the orbs of roe sat in a pool of made-in-house onion vinegar with a light slick of chicken fat atop, ready to be scooped up and eaten by the spoonful. It’s a presentation I’ve never considered and maybe sounds odd, but it worked: the sweet tang of vinegar against the saline burst of caviar, rounded off by the subtlety and richness of chicken fat made for extremely well-balanced bites. To me, the dish shows careful consideration of flavor and texture, and enough trust in the composition to eschew distractions. It’s a dish that belies the thoughtfulness of the chef and staff, much like the keepsake Polaroid and candle given at the end of the night. Kiln, 149 Fell Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Chicharron super burrito at La Palma

A burrito, salsa, and a bag or tortillas on a table. Nat Belkov

I have such a soft spot for a food counter/market combo. La Palma, with its huaraches, tamales, sopes, and litany of fresh masas sold by the pound, excels in both categories. On a recent visit, I opted for a super burrito filled with chicharron and spicy charro beans, the former of which was reminiscent of the outer bark peeled from a good rack of smoked ribs in its chew and crisp texture. And the tortilla swaddling those fillings, along with punchy chopped tomatoes, cilantro, crema, and guacamole, was pleasantly elastic. Ogle the cold cases and shelves lined with ready-to-eat items and pantry staples while you wait for your order. Try and fail as I did to resist bringing home a stack of freshly-pressed Sonoran flour tortillas, a hunk of queso de canasta, and a ½ pint or two of different salsas. La Palma, 2884 24th Street, San Francisco

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director


July 7

Lobster butter spaghetti at Pasta Supply Co.

It’s an excellent time to be a pasta-lover in the Bay Area. On top of standard bearers like Flour + Water and Cotogna, the region has welcomed a crop of new and more affordable options including Sfizio in the East Bay and chef Anthony Strong’s Pasta Supply Co. in the Richmond District. The latter only opened for dinner service on June 21 and already you can expect a queue on the sidewalk as soon as the clock hits 5 p.m. Of course, Strong, who spent time in the kitchens at Prairie, Locanda, and Delfina, delivered bowl after bowl of perfectly al dente delicacies. I have to shout out the mafaldine, which we upgraded to include fragrant black truffle butter. It’s a simple preparation but the frilly, long, and highly slurpable noodles had me chair-dancing like a happy kid. The lobster butter spaghetti makes a more grown-up option and yes, you should have them toss a whole tail on top. Each noodle shined under a light coating of sauce made from butter that’s been bolstered by lobster shells and smoky-sharp fermented chiles, while hunks of bouncy meat broke up the dish’s texture nicely. Mostly, the depth of the flavors at play — acidic, funky, and a little bit spicy — made this the evening’s all-around star. The shop offers fresh noodles and sauce to take home, too. But if you have the time to let Strong and his team do the work, why would you ever want to get in the way? Pasta Supply Co., 236 Clement Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Sake & ikura don from Iyasare

Dianne de Guzman

Sometimes I go into dips of sushi deficiency and, when corrected by a great meal, I find myself visiting more and more sushi places. Grocery store sushi (hi, Tokyo Fish Market!), American-style rolls, high-end offerings, I’ll try them all. So when a day off intersected with a need to go to Fourth Street in Berkeley, I decided to seek out and devour a favorite I haven’t had in quite a bit: the sake ikura don bowl at Iyasare. It’s still somewhat of a splurge, but how often do I have time for a leisurely lunch? Each element of the dish was well executed. There were melting bites of raw salmon, rectangles of tamago highlighting the layering of the lightly sweet egg, briny bursts of umami from the marinated salmon roe, and the chew and flavor of two different types of treated seaweed. The rice hiding underneath it all was cooked to desired sushi bowl done-ness, while the vegetables maintained a nice crunch. How to attack the dish is an enjoyable Choose Your Own Adventure of a lunch. Cucumber and rice in one bite, a tiny bump of wasabi added to the salmon in another, I picked my way through the bowl and wrapped things up very satisfied from my seat at the bar. Iyasare, 1830 Fourth Street, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Yachae bibimbab at Daeho Kalbijjim

Food at Daeho. Paolo Bicchieri

Pretty much everyone seems to be well aware of the phenomenal Daeho Kalbijjim and its empire-esque reach in the Bay Area, even topping croissants in Japantown. At the same time, everyone seems to know the wonderful H Mart and its both emotional and impressive spread of foodstuffs. But until last week, I was more or less in the dark on both fronts. Thank heavens I rose to the occasion while traveling through Daly City and ordered this vegetable-stuffed, hot stone goliath. I whipped the strips of carrot and seaweed together as quickly as I could while the egg cooked into the cracklingly-hot dish, rich scents of sesame and pepper rising from the metal tray. The banchan alone are noteworthy: the classic kimchi was firm and flavorful, the kkakdugi chunky and crisp. For fans of budget eating, this meal is a win, too, as $24 doesn’t feel pricey when an entire armada of Korean fare shuttles from the kitchen. I can’t recommend enough to incorporate the entire dish of scintillating spicy sauce into the stone pot as the egg firms and to make sure to scrape the base for that paella-esque crispy rice. I didn’t cry, but dining at Daeho’s H Mart outpost was a full-on vegetarian revelation. Daeho Kalbijjim, 3995 Alemany Boulevard, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

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