I have many San Francisco obsessions–colorful and thought-provoking street art, Coit Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid, funky alleys and cozy wine bars. My Facebook feed is filled with random pics of this wonderful city. One of my other obsessions is the one and only Anthony Bourdain–rebel chef, world traveler and lover of food. He is famous for his breakout book Kitchen Confidential, but MY favorite of his is A Cook’s Tour where he travels the world to find the perfect meal. While filming a show in the city he said “San Francisco is a two-fisted drinking town, a carnivorous meat-eating town…dirty and nasty and wonderful.” You got that right AB. While there are no two-fisted drinking antics to brag about in this post (stay tuned though) I did want to share some places I’ve checked out in the past few months. I am usually pretty budget conscious so most of the places I write about are $ to $$ with no $$$ unless I splurge and definitely no $$$$ unless I get a rich boyfriend.
Jardiniere–In the bustling and tree-lined Hayes Valley, Jardiniere has been on my list for quite a while, but I always thought it was too expensive and fancy for me, not that I don’t do fancy but their regular tasting menu is $140 and if you want wine its another $72. Surviving on a concierge’s salary I will have to save a few months for that. So imagine my excitement when I was perusing Open Table for Monday night dinner options (the only week night I have available to go out to dinner and socialize with friends) I was extremely pleased to see that Jardiniere has a Monday night three course tasting menu for $55 including wine. Now that’s more like it. Every Monday they have a different menu, my friend and I happened to go there on 4/20 so the theme was Munchies. The appetizer was a Bear Garlic Knudi (paired with a Lioco “Indica” Rose, Mendocino County, California 2014), a nice, light start to the evening. The main dish was a Half Baked Mount Lassen Trout (paired with a Domaine Antugnac Les Closerie Des Lys “Les Fruitieries” France 2013) and the dessert was a Sugar High Sunday (paired with a Sandeman 10 year Tawny Port). I ended the night with a drink they called the After School Special–Flor de Cana Grand Reserve Rum, Zaya Rum, cereal milk, Triana Sherry and Chocolate Bitters. It was the first time I had a cocktail with cereal milk and it was a fun way to cap off the night.
Hayes Valley is a great place to stroll and window shop, with a lot of cute and funky stores on the main street. Other places to check out in the area: Boxing Room, The Fig and Thistle, Monsieur Benjamin and Absinthe.
The Yard–Food trucks, I know, sooooo 2012, but come on, it’s food, on trucks and some of them express wine and beer from their metal teats (yes I said teats). The Yard has been open a few months and it’s in a prime spot in Mission Rock, right near the AT&T Ball park. You can either go before a Giants game, watch the game at The Yard or do as I did and go with a friend on a bright and sunny SF day to enjoy the view and food. I opted for fish tacos and a glass of vibrant and tropical Viognier from The Courtyard truck. Pinky seemed to enjoy it. The other food truck options were Proposition Chicken and Senior Sisig and around the corner Anchor Steam Brewing has a space. If you get chilly and didn’t bring your sweatshirt, you can buy one in The North Face pop up store they have on-site.
Other spots to check out: The Dogpatch is a funky neighborhood with an industrial feel and they have a few wineries, BBQ houses and saloons that are worth visiting. It’s a short walk or muni ride from The Yard. The Ramp is another option if you want to have brunch or oysters by the water.
Food Inc –Located in Lower Pacific Heights, Food Inc. Trattoria is a very unassuming place–I have walked by it plenty of times and never imagined I could get a lovely three course meal with a delicious fruit tart to end the night. I do spend a few hours a month browsing through Living Social to find meal deals and this one jumped out at me. The food is simple, nothing fancy but the service was great, advantages of going out on a Monday night when it’s not super busy. I’ve noticed that many restaurants have half off wine specials and other deals on Monday to drum up business, must investigate more.
Food Inc has a decent wine selection and I really enjoyed my Truffle Macaroni and Cheese, not too much truffle oil, just enough bubbly cheese and bread crumbs for texture and crunch. I balanced the cheesy dish with an Oregon Pinot. But the star of the night–holy strawberries and cream it was good–was the dessert tart. Flaky crust, airy cream filling and perfectly ripe berries are three delectable traits for a heavenly tart. Our waiter, Michael, told us that it had been made just a few hours ago by their pastry chef, so we could not pass it up. I did begrudgingly share some with my dinner companion but it was a struggle and I think I just let him have a bite or two. I need to work on my dessert sharing skills.
Other cool spots in the area: Wild Hare, Bistro SF Grille and if you want to splurge Spruce is down the road.
Plouf —Belden Lane use to be a dark, unused alley until the 1990s when restaurants starting popping up and it became a trendy lunch and dinner spot. The French restaurants on the block have marked their territory by have a huge Bastille Day celebration every July 14th but there is also Italian and American places to choose from. I go to Plouf for their Mussels Poulette. They have a $24 prix fix lunch menu everyday–I chose the Clam Chowder as my starter and it was not really a chowder but one dimensional soupy water (next time I will go for the salad of baby lettuce) but the mussels were perfection; swimming in their well balanced sauce of shallots, garlic, bacon, white wine, cream and parsley. And don’t forget bread, lots of bread. When the weather is warm, it is always nice to sit outside but be careful of what table you choose as the sidewalk is at somewhat of a slant and there is a slight chance of you or worse your wine toppling over. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Belden Lane is close to the financial district so there are many eating options. As mentioned there are quite a few good restaurants just on Belden Lane. Cafe Tiramisu and Sauce are two of my favorites. If you are in a noodly mood and don’t mind waiting in line you can try the ever so popular Ramen Underground.
Brenda’s Meat & Three — Located in the NOPA(North Of PAnhandle) area of San Francisco, amidst tattoo parlors and art bars there is Brenda’s. I am not a expert on southern food but this place kinda knocked my socks off. There is no door closing off the kitchen so I could see them making biscuits with lots of butter, every time I looked, I saw the chef adding another block of butter, can’t be mad at that. It’s a good sign of flaky, buttery biscuits. After I ordered my Shrimp and Grits, and a glass of wine, yes I can have wine with my breakfast, I jealously looked at my neighbors Stuffed Johnnycakes–wait, did that sound dirty? So much goodness on the menu from Pulled Pork and Sweet Potato Hash to good ole Cream Biscuits and Country Gravy, it was hard to pick one, but when my order came and I got a taste of the spicy tomato bacon gravy, I was giddy. Manish Boy by Muddy Waters played overhead as regulars came in for their quick morning coffee and a chat. I munched on my shrimp, sipped my wine and hummed along with Muddy. By the way, am I the only person who eats the whole shrimp, tails and all? Reasonably priced food and great space will have me coming back to see what else will make my taste buds do a happy dance.
Other places to check out in the area: Bean bag Cafe, Bar Crudo and Wine Kitchen
I know you are probably fully capable of doing this yourself but I have included the wiki link to all the different neighborhoods in San Francisco as I have mentioned them in this blog. Also, a few of my favorite bay area restaurant blogs I enjoy checking out are SF Eater and Tablehopper. Investigate for yourself. Thank you for reading and until next time, get your eat on!!