If You Had One Day To Spend in San Francisco-This Is What You Should Eat!
I consider myself one of the luckiest foodies in the world-I get to live, eat, and work food in a city that has fun and fabulous cuisine as well as perfect weather to go along with it. I love when visitors come to town and I can take them to all of my favorite elite treats-some are well known, others are sort of on the D.L-When friends come to see me, they know that they won’t be going to Coit tower or Twin Peaks, but most likely will be visiting chocolate chops, bakeries and Italian restaurants that make their pasta from scratch! And because I am such a nice person and like to share the love, here are a few of my favorite all time culinary spots in San Francisco, the peninsula and beyond…I consider this my “The Best Places To Eat in 2008” summary-you know how it is, the end the year its all about the “best of this” and “best of that”-so here I am, making my best of list.
Starting at the top and working my way down-I love stopping into XOX truffles. A hole in the wall place right on Columbus Ave, they make these tiny little chocolate truffles in 25 different flavors. The store does not look like much and there are never any crowds, its right around the corner from the big church where Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimaggio got married!
Over in the mission district are some of my MOST favorite dessert places! Bi-Rite creamery with homemade organic free range from happy cows milk and all of these great flavors that are slightly out of the ordinary but by no means unusual or different, and its all so damn good! Roasted banana, chocolate mint, peanut and malt-lots of these retro-remind you of your childhood flavors going on here. The people who work there will give you as many free samples as you want, no strings attached. This is a MUST VISIT place in the Mission. Somewhere nearby is also the famous Tartine Bakery. I don’t really need to say much about Tartine, most people know about it already, but they have the best breakfast buns –drizzled with an orange syrup.. I am going there tomorrow after the 5K race in GG park-I am sure I will be waiting in a really long line! Switching gears now-away from desserts is a great Italian restaurant that makes all their own pasta, bakes their own bread and has a very sexually descriptive wine list where Italian fruity whites are described as “penetrating” –the wine guy there is from Italy so a few things got lost in translation, but a very fun read-and a must order is their handkerchief pasta, which really looks like a folded up green-pesto coated handkerchief.. of pasta! Its called Farina, and their website is kind of slow and annoying, but they are only opened for dinner Mon-Thurs, and the other days for brunch and dinner.
The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market can be touristy but if you get there before 9:30 on a Saturday then you don’t have to wait in line for all of the fabulous breakfast food out back. For example, you can get these amazing salmon open faced sandwiches, or a bit fat all beef hot dog from the Golden Gate Meat Company. Other Ferry Plaza highlights include” The French style macarons from Miettes, the chocolate S’more kits from Recchiuti, as well as their burnt caramel almonds. Frog Hollow Farms has great overpriced pluots in the summer and even more ridiculously expensive jams all year round. A few months ago I had this fruit tartlette-it was the middle of summer and it was just out of their oven, warm, with peaches and cherries-get it if they have it! According to the very cute boy selling the jams today-no frogs are ever harmed at frog hollow farm-they love them!
A few more recent places that I just visited include –Aziza, a very authentic Moroccan restaurant on Geary street. Hardly noticeable, not flashy, kind of dark-I learned that I absolutely LOVE Moroccan food-they have these spiced almonds to snack on and I had the Basteeya-minced chicken with nuts and cinnamon-sweet and savory at the same time with a crispy pastry crust-I had half for dinner and the other half for lunch the next day. The chef Mourad is becoming really famous so I would go here now before they move their location to the Ferry Plaza building and start charging triple. I also had a chance to visit Pilita Grill, an authentic Turkish restaurant in San Carlos. This guy has the real deal stuff on the menu, super sour foamy yogurt drinks, food wrapped in dried eggplant skins, Kibbeh, sour cherry infused meatballs… there are a few Greek-like items for those who are too scared to venture into the unknown Turkish world-but everything was so flavorful and acidic and lemony-it almost makes me want to cry when I think about the sorry state of our menu choices at casual dining restaurants today-we have so many great flavors available to us and no one is truly taking advantage of it! Thus-we must all welcome our chefs from around the world and support them by visiting their unique establishments!
Moving down the Peninsula, my favorite places for Asian food are Fat Wong’s and my local Pho noodle shop in Milbrae-both authentic and tasty. Fat Wong’s isverycheapand there is usually a wait. Notable dishes include my favorite clay pot minced pork and eggplant dish, the turnip and beef stew, the deep-fried (but not greasy) tofu, and the duck appetizer. Average dinner cost is $10/person-with leftovers. The Pho place-it has the standard menu but their broth is tastier then the other local pho joints around San Mateo and Foster City. Trust me on this, I am right-Recently an Asian transplant from NYC asked me-“why should I trust a round eye like you?”-To that I reply-my co workers all hail from China, Thailand and Korea, I work for a Japanese company.. where do you think we go to lunch? It sure ain’t Mr. Happy’s Chineseon Trousdale-that’s for sure!
. And while I won’t start listing all the wineries I like to visit in the Santa Cruz area, -I think Picchetti Winery in Cupertino is a fun place to visit. They have peacocks outside and they have some very sweet fortified wines that I like and if you get bored drinking, you can go for a walk down a path and look at the view.
This year I spent thousands of dollars at fine restaurants like Mina’s (SF) and Dean Fearing (Dallas) and The Fifth Floor (SF) and Campagne (Seattle) and Dahlia Lounge (Seattle) and Nine Steak House (Chicago) And most were decent, even pretty good-but give me Fat Wong’s any day of the week!
That a wrap of my favorite SF and bay area places of 2008. There are a few more and I may have to edit this blog as I remember them, but would love to hear anyone else’s feedback on the above mentioned eateries-agree? Disagree? Bite this and tell me what YOU think