Thoughtful Mexican Dining in the Mission? Gracias Madre Delivers

[rating: 3]

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 business...Continue Reading

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Spork Excudes Fast Food Charm Without the Fast Food Flavor


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 culture...Continue Reading

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Restaurants to Impress - April

You want the inside culinary scoop? Wanna be in the loop? Or, maybe you just wanna rhyme.

Well, unfortunately I don't have the juiciest, underground industry tip, so you're just going to have to settle for this critic's personal opinion. If you want to know which restaurants are currently putting a dent in both my personal time and bank account, and which ones you need to make a point of visiting in the next month, I've got you covered.

These, my friends, are April's Restaurants to Impress.

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

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

[rating: 4]

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 bandwagon...Continue 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.

[rating: 3.5]

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

[rating: 3.8]

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

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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Last-Minute Valentine's Day Ideas

Valentine's Day is next weekend, and if you're like half of the people I know, you're scrambling to find that idea that is sure to shock-and-awe that special person in your life. While most restaurants have been booked for weeks, if you're looking for more than a cozy night indoors watching movies, there are still a couple of fine-dining options.

Please check out my latest Examiner article for all of the juicy details.

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