SF Restaurant Reviews

Because SF restaurant reviews make up the majority of my posts, this page is meant to be an easy way for readers to quickly view my latest SF restaurant reviews, as well as access the complete SF restaurant review archive.

Sons & Daughters: All Grown Up

March 20th, 2013

Geranium Ice Cream Sons & Daughters

Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve been to Sons & Daughters twice over the years, first in 2010 when they were relatively new, and again in 2011 after they’d received their first Michelin star. Both times the food was tasty and modern, with a fairly unique approach to hyper-local, ingredient-driven cuisine. I left both meals feeling generally happy with what I had experienced, but in the back of my mind there was something missing; I felt as though the restaurant wasn’t reaching its full potential and that, with a few small tweaks, those meals could have been memorable instead of relatively unremarkable. That all changed last Sunday when, on my third visit to Sons & Daughters, I experienced a meal that wasn’t just remarkable, it was flawlessContinue Reading

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Big Changes at Mr. Pollo Spell Trouble

January 2nd, 2013

Mr Pollo Chef Manny

Sadly, 2013 isn’t off to the best start. Why? Because one of my all-time favorite restaurants is changing, and in the process, dying. Mr. Pollo may not be closing, but with the recent, shall we say, “Hostile Takeover” of the space and the departure of the heart of the restaurant, Chef Manny Torres Gimenez, it’s certainly the end of an era (more details to follow soon, in a separate write-up). The Mr. Pollo we’ve all loved over the last three years is essentially gone, which means one thing’s for sure: it looks like I will be arepa’d no more…Continue Reading

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Aziza: An Essay on Evolution, Tears, Game Birds, and Super Mario Desserts

June 10th, 2012

Rating: ★★★★★

You know what I find most exciting about dining out? It’s not the dressing up, or chatting with industry folk, or even laughing with close friends. It’s the unknown. Whether it be not knowing what’s on the menu before walking in the door, ordering a tasting menu dotted with unexpected treats, or flying blind and leaving my meal in the hands of the chef, the things that take me by surprise are the things that stand out the most. So, unlike the typical diner who becomes a regular because of one or two particular dishes that keep them coming back for more, I keep going back to my favorite restaurants because I have no idea what will be on the menu next. All of my favorite restaurants constantly evolve, and there is no better example of evolution than Aziza.

Anyone who has dined at Aziza in recent years knows that, other than its location, the restaurant has undergone some radical changes. The menu moved away from being tied to traditional Moroccan food to one which embraced California cuisine from a Moroccan angle. What that means, in less generic language, is that less emphasis was put on staying true to the exact ingredients necessary to create traditional Moroccan flavors and more was put into building a Moroccan flavor profile using local, seasonal ingredient. Little by little, this shift in philosophy transformed the restaurant’s cuisine into what I fell in love with (and wrote about) back in April of last year. Now, over one year later, I’m compelled to write again because, after 10 years, this evolution is still happening: portions are more refined, the proportion of each ingredient on the plate is more balanced, the presentation is, well, exquisite, and the food itself? Let me tell you, it’s only getting better…Continue Reading

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My Hot and Healthy Dinner Date with Local Mission Eatery

February 12th, 2012

Rating: ★★★★☆

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh…..That’s me, breathing a sigh of relief. After many months of somewhat lackluster meals, meals which led me to depend on my all-time favorite restaurants to get me through the holidays, I finally stumbled into a dining experience that revived me from the dining dead. Thank you Local Mission Eatery for reminding me how exciting even a casual weekday meal can be when the menu is thoughtful, the ingredients are fresh and well-sourced, and every plate is perfectly executed. At last, I’ve found the motivation to write!Continue Reading

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Returning to a Long-Time Favorite: SPQR

September 22nd, 2011

Uova SPQR

Rating: ★★★★★

There are few places I can call home. After over seven years of living on my own, even my childhood home doesn’t quite feel like home anymore. This may sound crazy or exaggerated, but somehow, every time I walk into SPQR, it feels like I’m home. And I don’t just have a special place in my heart for the restaurant itself; for me, the feeling that the city of San Francisco is my home is intimately connected to my ties to particular restaurants, SPQR being one of the most important. After two years of interacting with the staff, being awed by Chef Matthew Accarrino, and just basically being a “regular” (well, at least for me), I can say that SPQR isn’t just an excellent restaurant, nor is it just one of my favorite restaurants in the City. It’s home.

But enough of my sappy, emotional sermon. Why don’t I just explain the reasons why this restaurant is so special? Sure, I could describe the dimly-lit, neighborhood atmosphere, or the professional-yet-incredibly-friendly service. I could certainly discuss the expertly chosen wine list, created by co-owner Shelley Lindgren, whose wine program at sister restaurant, A16, has been nominated more than once by the Beard Foundation. Of course all of these factors add to the overall experience. But, at the end of the day, what keeps me coming back for more is the foodContinue Reading

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Mr. Pollo Version 2.0

September 3rd, 2011

Rating: ★★★★★

Dear Mr. Pollo,

I owe you an apology. No, it’s not for what you might be thinking – I’ve never written unsavory remarks about you or slandered you to my friends. In fact I only had positive things to say in my previous write-up of your business. But I did make one mistake in that first review – one big mistake. I underestimated you.

See, even after publically endorsing your Pork and Cheese Arepa as one of the best I’ve ever tasted, I still wrote you off in my mind as a simple specialty shop – my go-to place when I’m in the mood for no-fuss Venezuelan cuisine. But then, one fateful night earlier this year, I finally opened my mind up enough to look past your arepas and venture into tasting menu territory. Now, after making countless return visits for your nightly-changing menu, it’s obvious that my initial perception of you was wrong. Completely, embarrassingly wrong, and for that, I’m sorry…Continue Reading

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Screw Sexy. Serrano’s Pizza is Bringing Real Pizza Back

August 22nd, 2011

Rating: ★★★★★

San Francisco is obsessed with perfecting the Neapolitan pizza. Actually, a better way to say it is San Francisco is obsessed with adding their own unique twist to the most classic definition of Neapolitan pizza, instead creating variations that almost classify as the original but more closely resemble a close cousin. A16, Flour and Water, Ragazza, Delfina Pizzeria, Beretta, Una Pizza Napoletana, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Zero Zero…the list goes on. It’s so prolific that, other than a few, well-known deep-dish pizzerias I began thinking that this was practically the only non-chain type of pizza available in this city….Continue Reading

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Tataki Sushi: Eat Well, Save the Planet

June 18th, 2011

Rating: ★★★★★

Finding good sushi in the City is difficult. Add in the words “affordable” and “sustainable” and it becomes nearly impossible. Enter: Tataki.

First and foremost, what really sets Tataki apart from almost every other restaurant in San Francisco is their commitment to sustainable seafood. Ask yourself, and be honest, if you can tell the difference in taste between Yellowtail Tuna and Albacore Tuna? Or, for that matter, Yellowtail Tuna and Mackerel? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably no. My sushi knowledge goes as far as knowing that I prefer firmer fish to buttery fish, shrimp tempura is magically delicious, and my rolls need to be dunked in wasabi-spiced soy sauce for ultimate satisfaction. Novice at best. So when I don’t see “traditional” sushi selections, like Bluefin Tuna, and am instead greeted with a list of Pole-Caught Skipjack Tuna (katsuo), Closed-Containment Farmed Striped Bass (Suzuki), and McFarland Springs Trout, I’m not disappointed….Continue Reading

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Aziza Spices Up Seasoned California Cuisine

April 18th, 2011

Rating: ★★★★★

Prior to my first visit to Aziza, my idea of Moroccan food was something involving raisins, powdered sugar, and a huge pile of grain meant to be eaten with your hands. It left a strange, lingering impression on me as being too sweet, and too sloppy. I held onto that unattractive memory for a long time, which is the reason why, despite knowing about all of the accolades Aziza has received, I avoided it for years. If only I had only known about our mutual love of goat’s milk butter sooner! But after hearing an industry friend, whose opinion I rate very highly, rank it as his favorite SF restaurant, I knew it was time. I was finally ready…Continue Reading

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NOPA Restaurant: Consistent Californian Cuisine + a Damn Good Burger

April 17th, 2011

Rating: ★★★★☆

Even if you’ve been living in a secluded cave for the last five years, chances are you probably would’ve still heard about NOPA. As a restaurant that defined and shaped an entire neighborhood, NOPA has been a prominent force in the City’s culinary picture for years – one which everyone seems to have an opinion about.

While I was familiar with the name, I had heard from a few people that it seemed overrated, so I was always hesitant to try it out for myself. Thank god a good friend of mine finally dragged me there for a late-night feast, because as soon as that first bite hit my mouth I knew all of those other people were just flat-out wrong: NOPA deserves all of the attention it has received…Continue Reading

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The Coi Lounge: A Final Look Through Photos

March 31st, 2011

As mentioned in my most recent post on Coi Restaurant, the dining room will be expanding in early April, and the amazing lounge will transition from being casual, affordable offshoot to a formal, tasting menu only extension of the dining room. While I’m sad to see it go, I’m excited for the transformation and what surprises Daniel Patterson and his team have in store for us lucky diners. That said, I obviously had to sneak in one last time to give the lounge a proper farewell.

Because I’ve already gone into great detail describing how incredible recent experiences in the lounge have been, I’ll refrain from writing another essay here. Instead, I simply wanted to convey my most recent visit through a few beautiful photos. Enjoy!…Continue Reading

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Seasons Restaurant Should Only Have One Season: Steak Season

March 23rd, 2011

Rating: ★★★☆☆

After more than a year of seasonal, hyper local, vegetable-driven cuisine, it was about damn time I ventured out of the norm and found myself a giant, no-frills, juicy steak. While associated places like Bobo’s or, more recently, Alexander’s Steakhouse with the idea of a steakhouse, my hunger for meat led me to an unlikely location: Seasons Restaurant at the Four Seasons.

Honestly, because Seasons isn’t situated on the ground floor I didn’t even realize there was a notable restaurant in this hotel. But what the fourth (or possibly fifth) floor has that the street lacks is a beautiful view of the city. Sure, it’s not the entire skyline hitting the bay, but it’s still impressive. And, having recently changed the menu’s concept from what I like to refer to as “seasonal power lunch” cuisine to one found in a more traditional steakhouse, I was excited to see if the transition was successful…Continue Reading

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The Lounge at Coi Restaurant: Relaxed Dining, World-Class Cuisine

February 28th, 2011

Rating: ★★★★★

My love affair with Coi began roughly one year ago, when I stepped into the serene dining room and proceeded to have one of the best meals of my life. That 12 course tasting menu featured some of the most inspired cooking I had ever had the pleasure to devour. So inspiring, in fact, that I was compelled by an unstoppable force to ignore all fiscal responsibilities and go back for that tasting menu two more times within the span of three months. I quickly realized that maintaining such a regular schedule at one of the most notable, and expensive, restaurants in the Bay Area was sheer madness, and a cloud of sadness crept over me. Until I discovered one of San Francisco’s best-kept secrets: the Lounge at CoiContinue Reading

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I Challenged Cotogna. Cotogna Won.

February 4th, 2011

Rating: ★★★★★

Cotogna. San Francisco’s new hot spot. Situated on a beautiful block in the financial district, right next door to a little place called Quince. Rustic Italian cuisine brought to you by one of this city’s most celebrated chefs, Michael Tusk.

Clearly, Cotogna has a lot going for it – and many people have noticed. This establishment has attracted a huge amount of attention from both important figures in the San Francisco restaurant industry, as well as local dining enthusiasts. In fact, on my first visit there was such a cloud of hype surrounding this restaurant that it was hard to even see the front door. Having dined at Quince several times, I had always left with the feeling that, while delicious, it never quite lived up to its widespread publicity. So, in all honesty I walked into Cotogna with a bit of an attitude, entering with my chin held high as if to say, “Okay hot shot. Impress me.”Continue Reading

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Benu Part 2: The Chefs Tasting Menu is Kind of a Big Deal

November 29th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★★

I really wasn’t expecting much the first time I walked into Benu for dinner. I mean, really what would there be to expect? Sure Corey Lee spent eight years at the French Laundry, four of which were spent as chef de cuisine, and yeah maybe he won a James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year. But I guess I’m just not really impressed by, you know, things like experience and public recognition. And c’mon, only fifteen courses on the tasting menu? I’m sorry but if there aren’t at least 19 courses, I’m generally not satisfied…Continue Reading

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Benu Part 1: Creating its Own Identity in San Francisco Fine Dining

November 21st, 2010


When asking fellow foodies how they would describe the dining experience at Benu, a friend of mine, well-versed in the art of fine dining, described it simply as, “The Asian Laundry.” However, after dining there on several occasions, I found this label to be a bit unfair as I wasn’t drawing parallels, but rather, I was noticing the glaring differences: the atmosphere and table settings at Benu are stark and more austere than the welcoming, cottage feel of the Laundry; the tasting menu is made of 15 courses which express Chef Lee’s Korean heritage, rather than 9 courses that communicate the restaurant’s sense of place; a feeling of grandeur is created by openly displaying Benu’s impressive, imposing kitchen, versus the quaint mystery hidden behind the closed doors at the LaundryContinue Reading

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Ramen Done Right: Hapa Ramen Serves Big Bowls with Big Flavor

November 10th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★★

After my first time experiencing what a real bowl of ramen is supposed to taste like, I was left feeling utterly perplexed. How in the world did Nissan foods take something so rich and complex in flavor, and create a replica that is totally overloaded with sodium and tastes like absolutely nothing? Who did a side by side comparison and decided, “Hey! Our instant Cup of Noodles can totally pass as ramen! It’s close enough to the real thing, I bet hardly anyone will be able to tell the difference!” It would be like saying an M&M could pass as a fresh cream truffle from Jean-Charles Rochoux, one of the best chocolatiers in Paris. It simply makes no sense…Continue Reading

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Nom Nom Nom Nombe: Where a Japanese Izakaya Menu Meets California Cuisine

October 24th, 2010

If someone would’ve told me five months ago that, by October, I’d be craving a chilled suimono salad once a week, I would’ve looked that person right in the eye and said, “What the hell a chilled suimono salad?” After hearing that it’s made with sea bean, cucumber, squash blossom, wakame seaweed, tofu, and served in a dashi broth ($14), I would’ve politely explained that I’m not the biggest fan of cucumber, seaweed, tofu, or dashi broth and proceeded to laugh at such a ridiculous prediction. Ah, silly, silly girl.

This unique salad, the ultimate expression of freshness, is one of many reasons why in a very short span of time Nombe has become one of my favorite restaurants. It was in the spring when Nombe first impressed me with its California-inspired take on traditional Japanese izakaya fare, offering both a fixed selection of dishes, as well as many that evolve with the season. Now five months later, even with the summer’s proliferation of much-hyped restaurants, Nombe has continued to stand out from the crowd…Continue Reading

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A Tribute to the Men Who Arepa’ed Me – Part 2

October 1st, 2010

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Following Jonathan Kauffman’s footsteps, my quest to find San Francisco’s best arepa led me to Pica Pica Maize, a relatively new Mission eatery located at 15th and Valencia. Although Kauffman was rather critical of many of Pica Pica Maize’s menu selections, his description of his arepa led me to believe that I would have a similarly satisfying arepa experience. I was wrong. Comparing Mr. Pollo to Pica Pica is like comparing McDonald’s to In&Out – the menu selection may be similar, but the quality of food is radically differentContinue Reading

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A Tribute to the Men Who Arepa’ed Me – Part 1: Mr. Pollo

September 17th, 2010

I want to say thank you to a man, a man, I’m sure, most of you are familiar with. A man whose unmitigated arrogance and exaggerated self-confidence actually led me to one of my most cherished dining discoveries. Bobby Flay, if it wasn’t for that historic episode of Throw Down in 2008, I would have never made Caracas Arepa Bar a dining destination on my visit to New York City. Without you sir, I would have never known the messy, all-encompassing delight of a perfectly cooked arepa...Continue Reading

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Why I Want to Start Every Morning at Knead Patisserie

September 13th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★★

Nine weeks, three extra pounds, and 21 check-ins later, I think it’s just about time to write an update to my first glowing review. If you follow me on Twitter (KelsEats), you’ve likely seen my daily morning tweet, which serves 2 purposes. First it says to the world, “Guess what!? I’m at Knead!” in case anyone wanted to stalk me. Secondly, that little tweet illustrates my full-blown, uncontrollable addiction to those evil little pastries better than any words could describe…Continue Reading

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B3 Brings the Mission Exactly What it’s Been Missing: Incredible Burgers (now closed)

September 12th, 2010

For the last two months I’ve been on a burger binge. For absolutely no reason, I’ve had an uncontrollable urge to stuff myself with simple, raw, beefy goodness, and both my friends and my figure have begun to take notice. I’ve indulged my cravings at NOPA, Bar Tartine, Serpentine, Fish & Farm, Cafe des Amis, Burgermeister, and Big Mouth Burgers, only to be left wanting more. And last week, just when I thought the cravings had died down, I stumbled upon B3, the Mission’s new burger-focused restaurant located a mere two blocks from my front door. After my first bite, I knew this restaurant was created purely to destroy me…Continue Reading

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Flour + Water Lives up to the Hype

August 24th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★½

If you’ve lived in the City in the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard that Flour + Water is kind of a big deal. With endless praise from local critics, a Beard nomination under its belt, and a young, good-looking executive chef (Thomas McNaughton, named one San Francisco’s Rising Stars by Star Chefs), Flour + Water has clearly built quite the reputation. Plus, it has a cool name.

The problem is, because of its reputation, this small neighborhood restaurant has quickly become one of the most popular in the City. Nowadays it’s nearly impossible to pop in for even a weekday dinner without having to wait 45-90 minutes for a table. Hell, even Steve Jobs was recently told he had to wait, or come back another time. Lacking a full bar and only offering eager diners an uncomfortable “waiting” area that holds roughly six people, waiting this long for a casual dinner frankly seems like a joke. So, no matter how good the food may be, it’s going to be hard for any diner to overcome the expectations that come along with both the hype and the wait….Continue Reading

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Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe – a Haughty, Long-Winded Way to Say “We Serve Awesome Focaccia Sandwiches”

August 10th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★★

For weeks after dining at Mario’s, a North Beach stand-by that sits on the park, I was agonizing over my decision to award it 4 or 5 stars. After much pacing, and a fair amount of blood and tears, it finally hit me: their specialty hot focaccia sandwich(es) have become the end-all be-all sandwich to which I compare all other sandwiches. In the last couple of weeks, every time I eat a sandwich (which seems to be fairly frequently at the moment), I catch myself saying, “It’s good, but it’s not as good as Mario’s.” Apparently, Mario’s has set the upper limit of my sandwich scale, and if that’s not reason enough to give this place 5 stars, I don’t know what is…

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My Latest San Francisco Examiner Article: Restaurants to Impress – August

August 2nd, 2010

I’m not gonna lie. I have been out a lot in the last couple of months. A certain stretch included 12 restaurants in 14 days, most of which I had never tried before. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been able to try mixture of restaurants: fancy, cheap, established, just opening, under the radar, and extremely well-known.

My latest Examiner article for my Restaurants to Impress series calls out the three that have really impressed me, for various reasons, in the last few months: Saison, Jardiniere, and NOPA.

To read the full article (which includes some really stunning photos of many dishes), please click here.

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SPQR: Seasonal Plates You’d Invade Gaul For

July 30th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★★

In my last article, written not too long ago, I asked enduring question, “SPQR u seriously this good?” and six months later I’m happy to report, SPQR is seriously this good. I know it has been a short time since I last reviewed this restaurant, but because I believe that it is truly a shining example of culinary innovation and refined, modern cuisine in the Bay Area, it’s hard to avoid talking about it. What has led me to place this restaurant amongst this country’s finest? Chef Accarrino’s unique approach to cooking, the philosophy behind the food he serves, is the primary reason for my complete and utter infatuation with SPQR…Continue Reading

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My Latest Examiner Article – a Review of Baker and Banker

July 19th, 2010

The following is an excerpt from my latest Examiner article, a review of Baker and Banker. To read the way-more-interesting Examiner article please click here.

On opening day, Baker and Banker faced two problems. First, as there is no lack of mid-priced, neighborhood restaurants serving New American cuisine in San Francisco, how would their food stand out? Secondly, the previous tenant of this space was a lil’ ol’ restaurant known as Quince; Baker and Banker would need to find a way to avoid living in the shadow of such an immensely popular, critically-acclaimed restaurant by quickly establishing their own unique image and reputation…

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Taqueria Cancun and Greasy Mexican Food: a Critical Analysis

July 14th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★★

Having lived in the Mission for over a year now and indulging in the oh-so-healthy cuisine of Taqueria Cancun countless times (and yes, even sober), it’s time to formally give it the attention it deserves…

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Cafe Claude: a Union Square Bistro That is Neither a Tourist Trap, Nor a Power Lunch Destination

July 11th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★½

At the risk of insulting a fair number of restaurants, I’m gonna just come out and say it: if you’re not looking to spend a small fortune on a meal (think tasting menu at Michael Mina), the dining options around Union Square suck. How many places can you name that go beyond the tourist-trap fare and serve thoughtful, well-executed cuisine without also coming with an intimidating price tag? If you can think of more than one or two, please contact me, as I need to know about such magical places. However, after eight years of shopping my way through the mean streets of Union Square, there’s only one restaurant that I believe fits the bill – a little French bistro known as Cafe Claude…

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With RN74 You Can Take Trip to Burgundy Without Ever Leaving San Francisco

July 5th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

I would skip the food car on Amtrak and take the RN74 any day of the week. The restaurant was clearly decorated with the Route Nationale 74 (french road/railway that goes through Burgundy) theme in mind. With luggage tags around the napkins, numbered tables, french dialogue playing in the bathrooms, and a wine board that actually flips like the signs in a train station, the attention to detail (at least in terms of design) is impressive to say the least…

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Ironside is the Perfect Spot for a Lunchtime Sandwich, and is Evil

July 3rd, 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

You know when you buy a sandwich and you say to yourself, “Okay, I’m only going to eat half now, and I’ll save the other half for dinner tonight,” but then the sandwich is so magically delicious that, after that 1st half, you stare at the rest in agony trying to decide if you should go for it or not? Like, people could be talking to you and really you’re just nodding and thinking, “Man, am I gonna eat this sandwich? Maybe just 1 bite…”…

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Thoughtful and Fresh…Diner Food? Nombe’s Izakaya Menu Proves it Can be Done

June 27th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

In my opinion, Nombe (pronounced “nom-bay”) has been the best addition to the Mission’s dining scene in the last year (in fact, I included it in the May edition of my Examiner series “Restaurants to Impress.” The spirit of the area is completely embodied in the restaurant’s concept: no-frills, relatively inexpensive, open late, a hip-without-trying-to-be vibe on the inside, and a unique menu (well close to it, as there are almost no izakaya-style restaurants in SF), that proves seasonal, sustainable, local, Japanese diner food has a place in this city…

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Bar Tartine Knows Exactly How to Seduce Me and Keep Me Coming Back For More

June 26th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★★

I already wrote about it for Examiner, but after another meal that left me in disbelief, I have to write about it again. I’m making it my personal mission to make sure that anyone considering dining in the Mission doesn’t overlook one of this areas best options: Bar Tartine…

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Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems? Nope. Momo’s Brings the Crowds and the Quality

May 1st, 2010

Rating: ★★★½☆

Momo’s, I wanted so much to dislike you! You’re huge, you’re flashy, you’re packed, and I’m jealous of how much money you make (at least on game days!). But I have to say, for the type of restaurant you are trying to be, you keep it real, and I can’t help but be a fan…

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Market Bar. Market Epic Fail.

April 30th, 2010

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

If this place was not one of the only places with outdoor seating over at the Embarcadero, there would be pretty much no reason to go here.

I’m pretty sure I could’ve swam to Alcatraz and back in the time it took to get our food, the attention of the waiter to get more food, and finally, the check. That’s 3 trips to Alcatraz and back! Lets put it this way: I had absolutely nothing better to do but sit there for hours and hours, in fact I was trying to pass the time, and I was still freakishly annoyed with how long it took to perform every single service-oriented task, no matter how simple (i.e. fill up my water)…

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Need a Go-To Tacqueria to Satisfy Those 2am Cravings? Look No Further Than El Farolito

April 28th, 2010

Rating: ★★★½☆

Ahhh Farolito. We’ve certainly had some good times together, haven’t we? Like, that one time I came in drunk just before 2 and ordered a Super Carnitas Quesadilla? Or that other night when I stumbled in drunk after bar-hopping in the Mission, and ordered a Super Carnitas Quesadilla? And, of course, you can’t forget the time when I wandered in drunk on a Saturday and ordered a Super Carnitas Quesodilla. Do you remember that!? Good times my friend, good times…

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Pomp and Circumstance at Acquerello? Hey! I Thought this was Supposed to be Italian!

April 28th, 2010

Rating: ★★★½☆

Never having been treated to a full tasting menu (+ wine pairing) at an upscale Italian restaurant, I was quite excited to finally get in touch with my Italian roots and try (what I had heard to be) the best in this field in SF. While parts of the dinner were outstanding, my overall impression was that the food was very hit and miss…

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Ghee Golly, Indian Cuisine Doesn’t get Better Than Udupi

April 27th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★★

Udupi Palace. I have 1 question for you.

Why are you so good?

Who needs meat when vegetarian options can taste this great? Udupi has been my go-to restaurant for my Indian fix for 6 years now (there are locations in Berkeley, as well as SF), and it has never let me down…

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Thoughtful Mexican Dining in the Mission? Gracias Madre Delivers

April 27th, 2010

Rating: ★★★☆☆

I am neither vegan, nor do I live off of a gluten-free diet (thank god!). If I could have carnitas smothered in cream on top of pasta every night, I would. Well, that’s a lie because that would be disgusting, but you get the point. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly satisfied by my meal here tonight.

Gracias Madres is very SF in the sense that they’re taking a lot of seasonal ingredients (and maybe a few that are just past their season, i.e. butternut squash) and throwing them into classic Mexican entrees. Tacos with roasted asparagus is a perfect example. Although they haven’t updated all the winter ingredients (kale, brussel sprouts, & squash, for example), they’re certainly mixing things up. And, when the menu says “mushrooms” they don’t mean flavorless button mushrooms, they mean shiitake. And if they mean shiitake, they mean businessContinue Reading

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Spork Excudes Fast Food Charm Without the Fast Food Flavor

April 10th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

Miniature, plastic Pikachus decorate the restaurant’s entrance, greeting each customer when they walk in the door. Giant prints of 1950’s billboards hang from the walls. Shiny, illuminated cooling fans adorn the space above the food pass window. If walking into Spork feels a bit like walking into a modern-day drive-thru, that’s probably because this space was literally an old KFC that has been converted into a lively, quirky neighborhood restaurant. Although the days of serving buckets of chicken wings may be over, every detail of the renovated space, from the décor to the cuisine to the staff’s dress code, preserves the spirit of fast food cultureContinue Reading

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Innovative Cuisine That Puts the “Je ne Sais Coi” in Fine-Dining

April 5th, 2010

Let’s face it, there are some restaurants that a diner can’t help but enter with high expectations. Many of these restaurants live up to said expectations; a select few exceed them. Then, once in a blue moon, you stumble upon a restaurant that doesn’t just go above and beyond, doesn’t just become another entry in the book of memorable meals, but redefines your concept of food. Coi is one of those restaurants…Continue Reading

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Incanto Round 2 – the Head to Tail Review

April 3rd, 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

As I remarked in my last article on Incanto, I was excited to attend their annual Head to Tail dinner to find out just how delicious the seemingly foul parts of animals can truly be. If I wasn’t 100% convinced by my first visit, after being exposed to the sweet, sweet goodness of innards at this meal, I’m officially on Incanto’s offal bandwagonContinue Reading

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Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No, it’s a Fish, and at Anchor & Hope, it’s Delicious.

March 25th, 2010

Rating: ★★★½☆

Is it a pirate ship? Is it an oceanic habitat? Is it a warehouse sprinkled with a few tables, posing as a fine-dining restaurant? Or is it simply a place to kick back after a long day of work for a drink and a solid meal? After visiting Anchor & Hope, an unassuming restaurant tucked away on a side street in SOMA, I’m convinced that it’s all of the above.

This is not the sort of restaurant where you sit back in your seat, sip your whiskey rocks, and let the mood lighting ease you into the setting – the second you step foot inside, the spacious, barge-like environment embraces you head on. From the wooden rafters, the lengths of rope hanging from the ceiling, to the lamps painted to resemble giant eyeballs, it’s clear that you’re here for a deep-sea culinary adventure.

Dive in…Continue Reading

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Incanto Brings the Guts, You Bring the Courage

February 26th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

Bird brain, pork tongue, and tuna heart, oh my!

If you haven’t already heard, Incanto’s Chef Cosentino is known for bringing attention to what most people think of as the “undesirable” parts of an animal by basically throwing them in the diner’s face. The menu is splattered with all sorts of offal, ranging from the tame (sweetbreads) to the extreme (slow-cooked duck head, split in half). Sure, since Cosentino is a proponent of using all parts of the animal there are still plenty of options for the not-so-daring diner: duck leg, sardines, pasta with pork ragu, etc… But, if you’re looking to throw caution to the wind and challenge your preconceived notions of what’s edible and appetizing, Incanto is your spot…

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The Garden Comes to Life on Saison’s Seasonal Menu

February 21st, 2010

In a sense, Saison is a play of contradiction: a sophisticated restaurant tucked into what looks like the back alley of a Mission warehouse, a French country-side interior with Led Zepplin and Lynyrd Skynyrd serenading diners in the background, and seemingly simple food which, in actuality, requires an astonishing amount of patience and technique to prepare. And when I say patience, envision a chef carefully balancing tiny flower petals, one by one, onto a bite-sized piece of sashimi with tweezers. And that’s just the amuse-bouche…Continue Reading

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One Market: So Much More Than a Power Lunch

February 3rd, 2010

Dungeness Crab Salad One Market

One Market. One Michelin star. One hell of a good lunch.

From the outside, One Market resembles many of its Embarcadero neighbors – a conspicuous, sprawling, posh space dotted with white tablecloths and men in suits. But don’t let the exterior fool you. Unlike many waterfront restaurants, which exude a Power Lunch confidence but have little substance, the quality of the food being served inside far surpasses its nearby competitors…Continue Reading

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Sausages in the Mission? Yes, Please!

February 1st, 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

This place is going to be dangerous. Why? Because now juicy, delicious sausages are right off of the 24th street Bart station, and I will have to walk by it at the end of the day when I’m tired, hungry, and too lazy to cook anything for myself. The chances of me eating a sausage every day went from 1 in 300,000 to about 2 in 5. Obesity here I come!…

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Frances Delivers Clean, Well-Exectuted Food That Brings the Farm to Your Table

January 27th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

When I walked into Frances, I wasn’t sure if I had entered a restaurant, or a room in my friend’s upper-middle class, suburban home. Cream walls, walnut tables, black-and-white stock-art – if Restoration Hardware died and came back as a restaurant, this would be it.

Starting with that first impression, it’s clear that they want you to feel at home. I was almost surprised that a Labrador retriever didn’t greet me at the door with a pair of slippers. Much like a pair of Ralph Lauren khakis, both the atmosphere and the attitude of the service embody this feeling of relaxed casual, but still exude a certain air of sophistication…Continue Reading

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Luce: Bring a Camera But Not Your Appetite

January 26th, 2010

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Luce, I’m sorry to have to say this, but you’re all about the presentation. You’re that chick who is great to have as arm candy for the night, but good luck getting into a meaningful relationship with her. Great looking decor, great looking bar, beautifully presented food. But, I think you should spend a little less time making the food look pretty and a little more time thinking about the flavors you’re putting on the plate…

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“SPQR U Seriously This Good?” Updated – A More Detailed Review

January 24th, 2010

[review: 5]

The many years of hopelessly searching for an upscale Italian restaurant to rival Delfina finally led me to the doorstep of SPQR. Actually, because the entrance is so nondescript, I walked by the place two times, in the rain, before realizing it was what I was searching for. But, when I walked in, I knew I was in for an amazing experienceContinue Reading< /strong>

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Gitane: If Only the Food Was as Flavorful as the Atmosphere

January 13th, 2010

Rating: ★★★½☆

This restaurant has a lot going for it: owned by the same people in charge of Cafe Claude (one of my favorite restaurants in the City), good location, beautiful decor, lively atmosphere, outdoor seating, french/spanish small plates (rather unique in this city), an extensive cocktail menu, and listed as one of the 100 Best of the Bay this year. Whew, that’s one impressive list!

It’s like they thought of all the ingredients to make a perfect date environment, and if that’s the reason you’re going here, you will not be disappointed. Plus, they have mirrors on the walls so you can secretly watch other people without your date remarking on your wandering eyes!

What it doesn’t exactly have going for it is the food, which is my bottom line. I can deal with a snippy server, minimalist decor, and a short beer/wine list if the food is amazing. I mean, the whole point of going to a restaurant is to eat, right?…Continue Reading

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Maverick on Track to be a Mission Stand-by

January 10th, 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

When I first walked into Maverick, I instantly went into grandma mode. “Ohhh this is just darling! Isn’t it cute?! It’s just so cute!” If Maverick had cheeks they would’ve been bright red from all of the pinching. It’s a warm, intimate restaurant, which isn’t crazy loud, but certainly not awkwardly silent; perfect for any occasion (they even have a table that seats 8-10 if you want to go with a larger group)…Continue Reading

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New Year’s Day. 10:30 am. I Must Have a Po Boy From Brenda’s.

January 9th, 2010

Rating: ★★★☆☆

I saved Brenda’s for a very special occasion, one of the top 3 hungover days of the year – New Years brunch. Nothing like a fried shrimp po boy at 10:30 in the morning to get your day started!…

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Pesce – a Cut Above Your Average Neighborhood Italian

January 6th, 2010

Rating: ★★★½☆

Okay you know the scene in the Godfather when Michael assassinates Sollozzo in the Italian restaurant? As soon as I walked into Pesce I felt like I was in a similar scene. Well, minus the white table cloths and the getting shot in the head part. This is a tile floored, wooden walled, no frills, neighborhood Italian joint that is taking a spin on “family style” by serving seafood tapas instead of giant platters of baked ziti. And it works…Continue Reading

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Waterbar – Fun to Look at, Not as Fun to Eat at.

December 27th, 2009

Rating: ★★½☆☆

In an era when restaurants are getting cozier and street food is the emerging city-wide trend (read: the economy took a hit), waterbar is a bit out of place.

Let’s not kid ourselves here – much like any other restaurant on the Embarcadero, when you come here you’re paying for the atmosphere. Kuleto’s vision was grand indeed and deserves 4 stars, so, if you don’t care much about how the food tastes and prefer to be surrounded by white tablecloths, glitzy railings, and aquariums, then this is the place for you. This place screams power lunch, and if setting the right mood and landing the deal was more important to me than how the food tastes, then this would be a solid choice. However, as we all know, my bottom line is the food, which is 2 stars topsContinue Reading

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Tis the Season to be Captivated by Boulevard

December 20th, 2009

Rating: ★★★★☆

As soon as I walked through the revolving doors, I knew it was going to be a special night. To describe the holiday decor as “festive” would not be doing this restaurant justice – garlands, wreaths, and glistening ornaments decorating the ceilings, walls, and walkways make the already beautiful interior nothing short of breathtaking. The whole dining room sparkled like there was magic in the air. I know, I know that’s totally cheesy but hey, I know magic when I see itContinue Reading

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Jardiniere, Deconstructed.

December 19th, 2009

Rating: ★★★★½

First of all, making reservations a month in advance is like torture because every day you get more and more impatient for the big day to come. As much as I tried not to, after so much waiting I had very high expectations for the meal I planned on having at this restaurant (the full tasting + wine pairing). In a sense, I was setting myself up to be let down. Not only did Jardiniere meet my somewhat unrealistic expectations, it far surpassed them…Continue Reading

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Beretta – Overrated, Underwhelming.

December 15th, 2009

Rating: ★★½☆☆

You know that “…Really?” segment of SNL’s weekend update? That’s exactly how I feel about this place…

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I Stole La Taqueria’s Carnitas Recipe, and I’m Not Sharing it.

December 14th, 2009

Rating: ★★★★☆

My reviews have been getting epically long, so lets keep this one to the essentials – order something with carnitas.

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SPQR U Seriously That Good?

December 13th, 2009

Rating: ★★★★★

I almost hate to say this, but I think my quest to find Italian to rival Delfina has come to an end. Ahhhh the many years of hopelessly searching finally led me to the doorstep of SPQR (pronounced “spa-khrrrrr”- no that’s a complete lie). Actually, because the entrance is so nondescript, I walked by the place 2 times (in the rain) before realizing it was what I was searching for.

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Paragon huh? Of What? Mediocrity?

December 11th, 2009

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The fact that I never pay for my lunch (I love my company) is one of the only thinks that makes this restaurant appealing. I guess free food tends to do that. That and the fact that on a busy Friday afternoon there are always seats, and we are generally on a time limit. The point is that if I was spending my own money, I wouldn’t go back for the food. It’s a nice place to meet a friend for a drink, if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t trek more than say, 4 blocks, to do that.

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Perbacco San Francisco – A Modern Italian Menu with Only 1,346 Different Options

December 6th, 2009

Rating: ★★★☆☆

My never-ending quest to find an Italian restaurant comparable to Delfina finally led me to the entrance of Perbacco (read: a very nice gentleman finally offered to take me there) – one of Bauer’s 100 best of the bay, and generally known to have a reputation for delicious, sophisticated Italian in the City. Equipped with 7×7′s “Big Eat SF” list (not to mention an appetite big enough to eat the world), and having researched their signature dishes, I was ready to tackle Perbacco head-on.

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Delfina San Francisco – Quite Simply the Best. Period.

November 30th, 2009

Rating: ★★★★★

After being a loyal patron for over 5 years and having only written a fairly brief review about the magical dessert menu, the time has finally come to put joking aside and pay tribute to what I consider to be the best restaurant in San Francisco. Delfina, even after this long you are still the restaurant to which I compare all other restaurants in the City. Why? It’s simple – you are the epitome of what you are trying to be.

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Michael Mina’s Menu – a Masterfully-Executed, Mouthwatering Meal.

November 25th, 2009

Rating: ★★★★★

*queue cheesy entertainment TV voice*

“In the heart of downtown San Francisco, Michael Mina boasts one of the most reputable menus in the city. Under the innovative direction of owner Michael Mina, this restaurant takes California Cuisine to level of “Haute Couture.”…

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Lolo SF – Like a Children’s Playhouse with Drinks

November 21st, 2009

Rating: ★★★☆☆

There is a difference between “cozy” or “intimate” and “so freakishly small that I’m hitting everyone around me with my bag and coat.” Lolo clearly falls into the latter category. Within the first 20 seconds of walking in I had already already apologized 4 times for smacking someone in the face.

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