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Archive for the ‘Eating Out’ Category

On a beautiful day like today, one of the top San Franciscan things to do is pack a picnic and head over to Dolores Park to soak in some rays and enjoy great people watching.  Located between the Mission District and the Castro, there’s no shortage of good eats.  Some of my favorite places to pick up food are below:

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Ike’s Place is known for some pretty epic sandwiches.  They a huge selection of sandwiches with a variety of options for meats, bread, and toppings, but all of them are served with Ike’s dirty sauce, which is what makes the sandwiches so delicious.  The place is well known and is always packed though so be prepared for a wait.

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Bi-Rite Market is a local gourmet market that is a must for any serious foodie.  There’s a deli counter where you can order sandwiches which change seasonally.  The market is small but carries a well curated selection of artisanal products and is full of local Northern California treats like Acme bread and Cowgirl Creamery cheeses.  There’s a great selection of cured meats, fresh baked breads, cheeses, and many other ready-to-eat products, and of course wine, making for a great spot to pack a picnic basket!

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And let’s not forget Bi-Rite Creamery, the sister store to the market serving ice-cream and baked goods.  No matter the time of day or the weather, there’s always a line for the delicious ice-cream.  But with flavors like the famous salted caramel, honey lavender, and earl grey, who can resist? And it doesn’t help that they are constantly coming up with new flavors so you have to keep coming back!

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And finally my absolute favorite weekend treat are the pastries at Tartine Bakery.  I’ve tried nearly all the pastries and brunch items here and they are all delicious.  My favorites are definitely the morning bun (pic above), which is similar to a cinnamon roll but with an orange zest to it, the frangipane croissant, essentially an almond croissant, and the croque monsieur.  But they also have butter, chocolate, and ham & cheese croissants, quiches, scones, and bread pudding, all yummy.  A word of warning though, there’s always a line, even at 9am on a Sunday (who wakes up that early on a Sunday???), and if you get there past 10:30am, there’s a good chance they’ll be out of the popular items, namely the morning bun and many of the croissants.  But they also have mouthwatering desserts, sandwiches, and fresh baked bread, so you can still get something delicious if you happen to be there later in the day.

And here’s a picture of Dolores Park from today.  See the throngs of people down there?  So yeah, just know that when it’s an absolute gorgeous and warm day like today, the park will be crowded and there will be very interesting people watching going on but that’s all part of the local San Francisco experience 😀

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Last weekend was the hub’s birthday and it’s been a ritual now for the past few years to celebrate at a steakhouse.  Being new to the area, we selected Harris’ Steakhouse based on yelp reviews and it lived up to expectations.  I’m not a red meat-eater so most of the review will be based on the hubs’ opinion.

First off, as you can see above, the decor of the restaurant was reminiscent of a 1960s steakhouse for businessmen.  It was still in good condition but definitely gave off a stuffy formal vibe.  I made reservations and due to the weather, we were 10 minutes late, but despite that, the host was really nice and we were seated promptly, which is a huge improvement from House of Prime Rib, where we waited nearly 45 minutes before being seated, despite having reservations and being early.  The service at Harris’ really was quite good and our waiter did a good job of making sure we had everything we needed.

On to the food.  We started off with the Veal Sweetbreads and Crab Cakes with Beurre Blanc.  The hubs loves sweetbreads and was eager to try Harris’ version.  While he liked the dish and thought it was tasty, he preferred sweetbreads just simply grilled to really taste the flavor over Harris’ saucier version.  I thought the crab cakes were done really well.  It was very flavorful, although maybe a tad on the salty side.  For entrees, hubs got the Bone-in Ribeye Steak and I had the Salmon served with scalloped potatoes instead of the rice.  The salmon was good, but the champagne sauce was a little rich so it wiped out the healthiness aspect of the dish.  The scalloped potatoes however were absolutely delicious.  The hubs thought the rib-eye was done well, he likes it medium rare, and definitely could tell that it was quality meat.  We also ordered a side of the Deep Fried Onion Rings which was good, it was fried just the right amount and it was a very generous portion.

Overall we both felt that the food was good, but not spectacular.  The formal feel of the restaurant and the good service makes this restaurant a safe bet for a special occasion, especially for steak lovers.  But if you’re looking for a good piece of meat for a reasonable price, then House of Prime Rib definitely is the better option, even with the annoying wait.  One other thing, the restaurant calls for business casual attire, but there were definitely customers dressed casually and they still got seated and served.  We also saw customers that were dressed for a night on the town too so really you can just wear whatever you feel comfortable with.

Harris’ Restaurant

2100 Van Ness Ave, at the corner of Pacific Ave.

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Hey there! Remember when I waxed poetic about the pork belly at Incanto?  Well, I may have found a dish that rivals it and it’s that dish you see up there in the picture.  The salt roasted bone marrow appetizer at Wayfare Tavern.  Perfectly paired with sourdough bread and rutabaga jam, the bone marrow was tasty and oh so fatty in a good way.  But let me start from the beginning.

Wayfare Tavern is Tyler Florence’s flagship restaurant, and being a fan of Tyler Florence, I knew we had to try it out.  I made reservations a month in advance but could only manage a 9:15pm slot, which worked out well for us since we ended up sitting at the chef’s table, which is basically a counter with a direct view of the kitchen and the chefs hard at work.  It was so much fun seeing the chefs preparing all the food and in the end we wanted to try everything we saw coming out of that kitchen!

I loved everything about the restaurant.  From the moment we stepped through the door, everyone from the hostess to the waitstaff were friendly.  The ambiance is what you’d expect of a tavern, warm and inviting yet lively.  If you go, I’d highly recommend trying to get a seat at the chef’s table or at the very least on the first floor since that’s where all the action is.

Most restaurants start off their customers with a few slices of bread and butter, not Wayfare though.  They brought out freshly baked popovers!  I wish I took a picture, but trust me when I say it was delicious.  Also I’ve never seen the hubs rave about bread so much before.  It was hard narrowing down appetizers but we managed to select the bone marrow of course and the deviled eggs, which I had read about alot in reviews.  I’ll let the picture speak for itself.

For entrees, the hubs settled with the guinness braised lamb shank and I had the organic fried chicken.  I’m not a lamb person so I can’t comment but the hubs praised its flavor and tenderness.  As with everything we tried, the fried chicken was good as well.  If you’re looking for an outstanding dish with flavors exploding in your mouth, this is not it, but it is really good fried chicken.

Even though we were stuffed, we couldn’t help ourselves and ordered the wayfare tavern chocolate cream pie.  And it was…. you guessed it… so good!  It was the perfect sweetness, which is how we judge our desserts, sweet, but not too sweet.  And to top it off, the waiter brought over two little warm butter cookies to complement the dessert.  I don’t know that it necessarily complemented it but they sure were yummy!  Excuse the picture below, I was too excited and took a bite before remembering to take a photo!

Wayfare’s cuisine can be described as creative American comfort food, which is why the hubs and I enjoyed it so much.  I don’t really consider ourselves foodies  since we don’t dissect every aspect of a dish but we do appreciate and enjoy good food and we especially love comfort type food done really well so Wayfare was definitely a winner in both our books and a place we’d love to visit again and again and…

Wayfare Tavern

558 Sacramento Street, between Leidesdorff and Montgomery St.

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Temperatures have been dropping here in San Francisco which means it’s noodle soup time!  The hubs and I were in Union Square for Black Friday (I know I know, bad idea…) and after just 2 hours of shopping, we needed a break so we headed to Katana-Ya.  While the menu is quite extensive with multiple types of ramen, rice bowls, and sushi, the most popular item is the Katana-Ya ramen, which is what the hubs and I both got.  The ramen should satisfy most appetites since it comes with sliced barbecue pork, fried chicken, potstickers, corn, and bamboo shoots!  You get your choice of miso, soy sauce, or salt broth.  The noodles were perfectly cooked, firm with a chewy bite.  Overall, it was tasty, although a little too salty, and it certainly hit the spot after a chilly day of walking around and fighting shoppers.  The restaurant itself is small so most likely you’ll end up waiting quite a bit for a table since they don’t accept reservations, but the atmosphere is reminiscent of an authentic Japanese noodle shop.  I would certainly recommend Katana-Ya if you have a craving for ramen or happen to be in Union Square looking for an affordable meal.

 

Katana-Ya

430 Geary Street, between Mason and Taylor St.

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We’re back to our regularly schedule Friday date night!  And what a night it was! I had been wanting to go to Frances forever and finally got my chance.  The restaurant is so popular I had to book the reservation a month in advance and even then could only get a 9:30pm table.  But it was worth it!

Even though Frances is a one-michelin starred restaurant, the price range is still reasonable and the atmosphere is casual and unpretentious.  The restaurant is small and you end up sitting really close to the other customers so this is not the place if you want some privacy.  The service however is great.  We arrived at the restaurant 20 minutes early and they seated us right away.  The host was really friendly and attentive, as was our waiter, who even made a point to tell us not to feel pressured to drink all of the wine.  Frances sells their own blend of house red and white wine, which they sell at a $1 an ounce.  They bring out a carafe of it and you only pay what you pour.  Even without the waiter’s urging though, the hubs and I found ourselves finishing it, $16 for 4 small glasses of wine, not too shabby.

To start, we ordered two bouchees (bites in French), the applewood smoked bacon beignets and the grilled local calamari.  The beignets were wonderful.  It was savory with a very strong bacon flavor and served with creme fraiche and chives.  The calamari dish was a good balance to the beignet.  It was grilled perfectly and tasted really fresh.  The hubs ordered the five dot ranch bavette steak and I had the caramelized atlantic scallops.  The hubs thought the steak was cooked perfectly (medium rare) and extremely tasty.  The scallops were also delicious.  My only gripe with the dish was that there were only two, albeit very large, scallops.  The portions are on the smaller side but you’ll be fine if you also order an appetizer.  Or you can request bread, as I did.  Frances doesn’t automatically bring bread to the table as most restaurants do, but they do have it available if you ask for it, and you should since it’s Acme bread!

To cap off the evening, we ordered the brown butter ‘friand’ cake with roasted warren pears, huckleberries, and creme fraiche.  A friand is similar to a financier, a small french teacake, which actually reminded me of a madeleine.  It was delicious!  As an example of how good their service is, the table next to hours ordered the friand cake before us but the waiter mistakenly served it to us first (oops) so the restaurant gave them a small plate of chocolates and an extra dessert!  Man, I wish they mistakenly give our dessert away!

Frances is a MUST try, but just make sure you make a reservation in advance, it’s popular!

Frances

3870 17th Street, between Pond and Noe St.

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The mission burrito, oh how I love thee.  While the hubs and I didn’t go out on our usual Friday date night, we did enjoy some yummy Mexican take-out.  San Francisco is known for Mexican food and Mission Street is chock full of taquerias that offer light on the wallet, delicious food.  Ask any local and they will surely have a different opinion on where to find the best burrito.  However, Taqueria Can-Cun does boast the distinction of best burrito 10 years in a row (and boast they do, it’s printed on their menu!).  We have been to other taquerias but so far our favorite is this place.  While the ambiance leaves much to be desired, the food more than makes up for it.  The menu is fairly simple and while they offer other typical Mexican fare, by far the most popular item is the burrito, but not just any burrito, the Super Burrito!  Suffice it to say you will not leave hungry!  The hubs always opts for the carne asada, while I always order the marinated pork.   They’re both delicious.  Other items we’ve tried include Super Nachos with marinated pork and Menudo, which is a traditional Mexican soup, served only on weekends.  Both are good and recommended.  The restaurant is open until 1am on weekdays and 2am on weekends, which is always great when you’ve got a late night snack attack!

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Taqueria Can-Cun

2288 Mission Street, between 18th & 19th St.

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Last Friday, the hubs and I took advantage of Outback’s free steak dinner promo.  While Outback certainly is delicious and can make a great date night (I love me some bloomin’ onions and wings), it’s a popular chain so I’m sure most of you guys don’t need me to tell you about the food.  Not to fret though, I had the pleasure of trying the famous Hog Island Oyster Company for lunch the following day so I’ll tell you about that experience!

Those of you who have visited or live in the San Francisco Bay Area know that going to the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market on Saturday is a must for any food lover.  And it’s even better when it’s a gorgeous day.  But of course that also means that there’ll be tons of other people there so be prepared to wait!  My friends and I ended up waiting close to 1 hour, but we were able to snag an outdoor table with views of the Bay Bridge so it was all worth it.  Since there was 4 of us, we decided to split the Oyster Bar Mix.  Our server made sure we had 4 of each kind of oysters for a total of 2 dozen so we’d all be able to try everything.  The oysters were a-mazing!  Each one was so tasty and refreshing.  The highlight for the whole table was the New Zealand oysters (sorry, I can’t remember the exact name).  My friend is from New Zealand, which is known for some of the best oysters in the world, and even he thought it was especially good!

We also ordered the grilled cheese sandwich, the clam chowder, and a light mixed greens salad.  I didn’t try the grilled cheese but my friend, who loves cheese, said that it was really delicious.  The clam chowder was also tasty.  It’s thinner than what you’d typically expect of New England clam chowders, but it did have an abundance of fresh clams (with the shell and everything!).

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Needless to say I would highly recommend Hog Island to anyone who’s an oyster enthusiast.  If you ever get the chance though, visit their oyster farm up in Tomales Bay (about an hour and a half north of SF) for a true farm-to-table experience.  You can buy fresh oysters to go, shuck them on-site at their picnic grounds, or have a meal at The Boat, which offers various shellfish, cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, and charcuterie from Fatted Calf, all good stuff!

Hog Island Oyster Company

1 Ferry Building, Shop #11

and

20215 Highway 1

Marshall, CA

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