Category: Top Tastes

Why this tapas restaurant has become a Castro institution

Chef Mat Schuster opened Canela Bistro & Wine Bar in 2011 on ever-bustling Market Street in the heart of the Castro. I remember those early days when Canela was immediately a cozy, inviting neighborhood Spanish restaurant. This was before still-excellent Spanish spots like Bellota opened in 2016. And since, we’ve lost some of our best Spanish go-tos like Contigo and Barcino. Read more →

Where to Eat & Drink Now: 5 Newcomers or Reborn Spots for Food & Cocktails

Restaurants/bars reviewed:
— Cozy Italian Comfort: Che Fico Alimentari
— Georgian Food Rarity: Georgian Cheese Boat, North Beach
— Fillmore Seafood House Gets a Remodel: Woodhouse Fish Co., Pacific Heights
— Tiny Thai Hit: Prik Hom, Laurel Heights
— SJ Cocktail Pioneer: Paper Plane, San Jose
Food Recommends:
— Jack and Remi Chef-Crafted Ice Cream
— Van Van Vietnamese Ingredients Read more →

SF’s Korean Wave Continues as Michelin-starred SSAL Matures

Their swoon-worthy fried chicken and uni boxes were a lifeline in pandemic, and their pivot since reopening to modern Korean tasting menu format has swiftly earned them a Michelin star in December 2022. But what is the reinvented SSAL like in its remodeled, more refined, soothing space? First off, it’s more fine dining, though still relaxed and intimate, a restaurant that would easily fit in with the Michelin-starred restaurants I dined at recently in Seoul, S. Korea. Read more →

Absinthe turns 25, retaining old school French spirit with refreshed lightness

French food hasn’t exactly been trending nationally, but thank goodness for stalwarts like San Francisco’s Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, a craft cocktail pioneer way back in the late 1990s also faithfully serving upscale French bistro fare and beloved brunches. It still draws Hayes Valley crowds as it hits 25 years old this summer… an impressive feat for any restaurant. Though I’ve been dining here over 20 years, post-pandemic I’ve only been in for a couple weekday lunches and brunch (with absinthe cocktails, of course). It has been years since I returned for dinner. So it was time to go back to “Green Fairy” central on a recent mild Saturday night.  Read more →

Where to eat with your family in San Francisco

Whether you’re going out with your own kids, friends with kids or taking out local niece and nephews as I do, you don’t want to compromise what you eat. And you shouldn’t ever have to in San Francisco.

There is no end to the wealth of food education one can casually participate in with children while eating heartwarming, fun meals. Covering a range of cuisines from Korean to Cajun — across neighborhoods — here are eight places you may not initially think of as kid-friendly: Read more →

Che Fico is a restaurant reborn post-pandemic

Che Fico has been a special pizza, pasta and house charcuterie haven in a city that’s silly with the best in the nation in each of those categories. But despite our plethora of world-class pizza and pasta in San Francisco, chef David Nayfeld has a unique take unmatched in SF — or anywhere, for that matter. Yet the style is so very San Francisco. Che Fico has made dramatic shifts behind the scenes since pandemic. How does that translate on the plate? Read more →

Mexican Brunch to Upscale Indian Food: 7 SF Restaurant Standouts

These newcomers or new menus cover the gamut, from upscale Indian to casual Mexican food. Alongside this month’s full restaurant reviews, these seven are also worth visiting, with last month’s standouts here:
—Better-Than-Nola Muffalettas at Sandy’s, Haight-Ashbury
—Non-Alcoholic Pairing with Fine Dining Creativity: Sons & Daughters
—Fab Mexican Food & Cocktails with a View: Barrio
—1940’s Supperclub Live Jazz Dream: Dawn Club
—Unexpected Modern Indian Tasting Menu: Blue Mermaid Restaurant
—Low-Gluten Pizza Alternative from Rome: Pinsa Rossa
—Hearty Mexican Food 7 Days a Week: Tacos del Barrio Read more →

A Pizza Master Opens Her First Place in Berkeley: Pizzeria da Laura + Original Joe’s North Beach

My Sicilian side can tend to dominate. That intense passion for the things I love, bordering on an obsessive impulse to research, study and dig deep, includes food. This was only fueled by homecooked pastas and sauces from my Italian mama and grandfather growing up on both coasts. Add in my crucial teen years in New Jersey after we moved across the nation from SoCal and my hankering for red sauce, American-Sicilian food was solidifed in Jersey and NYC’s deep Sicilian culture.

Here, I dig into two spots, one new, one old. The new pizza destination in Berkeley turns out pies from Sicilian to NY-inspired, and the latter is an over 80-year-old San Francisco red sauce American-Italian institution always worth keeping on your dining rotation. Read more →