SFGuide

The Best Things We Ate This Week

A running list of the best dishes we’ve had recently.

Welcome to The Best Things We Ate This Week. This guide is filled with all the dishes you need to have on your table, whether you’re dining out at a new San Francisco hot spot or a tried-and-true gem. Go forth, scroll through, and use this for reference the next time you’re deciding where to eat next. If you want a list of great takeout meals, we have a guide for that too.

THE DISHES

The Dish: Spaghettoni amatriciana

Coming to Zero Zero in SoMa for wood-fired pizzas with thin, chewy crusts is always a good idea. But overlooking their spaghettoni amatriciana would be a mistake—it’s the best version we’ve had in SF. The house-made pasta is cooked to a perfect al dente, and the garlicky tomato sauce builds enough heat in your mouth to make your nose run a little. Add chunks of guanciale and shaved pecorino to the mix and there’s really nothing better. Which is why you’ll usually find us somewhere inside the casual two-story space hogging this pasta stunner over a glass of wine.

The Dish: Forbidden fruit pizza

A pizza is only as good as its crust, a made-up mantra we were especially reminded of after a meal at Pizzahacker in Bernal Heights. The casual spot nails the stretch factor in their tangy sourdough crusts. Despite being gorgeously charred, they’re just the right amount of chewy, with air bubbles you can stick a finger in. The pie that we fell in love with on a recent visit was the Forbidden Fruit, which is basically a Hawaiian pizza. The sauce has a slight tang, and is balanced out nicely by sweet chunks of pineapple and jalapeños. It’s exactly what we want to be eating on midweek date nights, catch-ups with friends, or any other occasion that calls for fantastic pizzas.

The Dish: Baby octopus stew

La Ciccia’s baby octopus stew is a beloved treasure the city should commission a huge statue of and stick in the middle of Golden Gate Park. Like their other seafood-focused dishes, the Noe Valley spot treats the stew with the care and precision we give to cutting our own curtain bangs. The spicy, tomato-y broth is soul-curing, especially on chilly nights. And the octopi bathing in the stew are so tender you can cut them with a spoon. It’s always the standout on a visit to the Sardinian restaurant, but the pastas, like fusilli showered with grated tuna heart and simple yet perfect spaghetti coated in spicy olive oil, are stars in their own right, too. As reported by Tablehopper, the restaurant is changing hands on April 16th, but the menu will thankfully stay the same—so we can keep coming back when the octopus craving hits. 

The Dish: Poke tacos

Creative bake rolls drowning in sauce and yuzu and garlic ponzu-topped nigiri make Domo a great choice for casual weeknight sushi in Hayes Valley. Another reason: Tuna poke tacos. The base for each (technically) tostada is airy tempura nori that collapses in your mouth. That crunchy bite is followed by buttery avocado, and cubes of tuna poke that are well-coated in a sticky bright soy glaze. Look for these tacos on the specials board, and consider getting one order per person—only two come on a plate, and our crystal ball tells us you won’t want to share.

The Dish: BEC

Daily Driver’s two-story flagship location in Dogpatch is one of our favorite places to go whenever we need to change scenery and leave our office, a.k.a the confines of our bedroom. On a recent visit, the BEC bagel sandwich was the added fuel we needed to get through the workday. The wood-fired bagel was crispy on the outside, and coated generously with salty everything seasoning. And the layers of bacon, egg, and house-made butterkäse cheese were warm, melty, and buttery. Spending a morning here is now part of our weekly self-care routine.

Wako imageoverride image
8.4

Wako

$$$$415-682-4875
Hours:TUESDAY5:30PM to 10:00PM

The Dish: Kaisen chawanmushi

Wako is a cozy Japanese place in the Richmond that somehow feels both like a neighborhood secret and a destination restaurant for special occasions—you can keep it casual and order rolls and nigiri a la carte, or do it up with the 10-piece tasting menu ($95). On a recent chilly night, we left Wako thinking about the tiny bowl of steamy egg custard topped with roe and uni. And deeper in the silky custard, other seafood, like shrimp and pike eel, were hidden like treasures. The dish is the perfect remedy for misty, gray days, and one we’ll be back for soon. 

The Dish: French toast with apple butter and syrup

Up in Sonoma’s historic plaza is a spot that breaks up the monotony of Wine Country’s stuffy, seasonally-driven restaurants. Valley is housed in an old adobe building, has the feel of a small-town cafe, and might inspire you to fill your closet with Blundstones and denim onesies and trade in the 9-to-5 for farm life. The laidback ethos is reflected in the restaurant’s nourishing dishes. One to get is the french toast, which is served on the patio at brunch. Valley’s edition is deceptively simple, yet mighty. The bread is pillowy, thick, and egg-y. And the apple butter and maple syrup on top forms a creamy pool that somehow feels downright luxurious. Of course, french toast should not be the only thing on the table—a glass of natural wine to go with it will complete the leisurely morning.

The Dish: Pancakes without boundaries

Whoever invented eating pancakes for dinner deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, or at the very least a national holiday in their honor. Cutting into a stack of pancakes before bed is always a certified mood-booster, which is why we’re grateful for Hilda and Jesse’s “Pancakes Without Boundaries” (they're served until 9:30pm on Mondays). The stack of two thick buttermilk cakes is a sight to behold. Cranberry maple syrup and a melty pat of butter overflow on all sides like a freshly-erupted volcano at a 3rd-grade science fair. It’s decadent, sweet, and just a lot of fun—so next time you’re in the mood to change up your Monday night routine, get to this North Beach spot.

The Dish: Automat breakfast sandwich

Automat works well for many situations, from a morning pastry run to a mid-afternoon post-up when you need to whip out a computer and get work done (they have plenty of booths, plus free WiFi). Another occasion we head to this all-day NoPa spot: to start our day with the Automat Breakfast Sandwich. At first glance, it looks simple: just sausage, egg, pimento cheese, and bread. But one bite of the creamy, salty masterpiece, and you’ll be plotting the next time you’ll get another. The housemade grilled bread is what really takes this sandwich over the top—each slice is thick, buttery, and crackles loudly when you sink your teeth in. Grab a cappuccino or some kombucha to go with it, and don’t leave without at least one of the filled donuts or cookies from their well-stocked pastry case. 

The Dish: Chipotle bourbon grilled oysters

Along with beautiful views, this Ferry Building seafood spot has a seemingly endless selection of oysters for you to throw back as you stare out at the bay and contemplate your life. And, yes, the namesake oysters on the half shell are fantastic, but the grilled versions are just as great. Specifically, the chipotle bourbon oysters, which arrive hot and soaking in butter, brown sugar, and garlic. Each flavor is distinct, and none overwhelm the others. The next time you’re in the market for a solo oyster date, grab a seat on Hog Island’s waterfront patio and get these.

The Dish: Grilled Mt. Lassen trout

The casual neighborhood spot in San Leandro has a menu that’s best described as “whatever’s in season.” It’s also filled with hits. One is the whole-grilled Mt Lassen trout. The skin is perfectly seasoned and crispy. The meat is juicy. And the fish is presented on a platter atop greens, herbs, sliced fruits, and fried onions and capers. A zingy sweet nuoc cham sauce drizzled on top gives the whole thing the “can’t stop, won’t stop eating this” factor. You can order the fish in three different sizes, depending on how much you and your table want to feast. 

The Dish: Supplí

Che Fico recently reopened their gorgeous dining room for dine-in—and we’re glad they did, because it means we can once again get our hands on their fantastic supplí. The fried balls of risotto and tomato sauce are stuffed with melty fontina that oozes out when you cut into them, and they’re perfectly golden-brown on the outside. We’d swing by this Italian spot in NoPa for them alone. 

The Dish: Mango chicken

This Burmese restaurant is a guaranteed mood-booster: there are bright yellow walls, ornaments and umbrellas hang from the ceiling, and the friendly staff make you feel like you’ve just walked into the world's best family reunion. The mango chicken also has the ability to completely turn around a terrible day. It’s sautéed and caramelized with slices of onion, green chilis, and mangos, and packs just the right amount of sweetness and heat. Getting it with coconut rice is a must. Everything else on the menu, from the ong no kaw soi to the pan-fried string beans, is ideal for sharing—so come to this Richmond spot with a group, and order the mango chicken and as many other plates as will fit on the table.

The Dish: Hummus with chicken shawarma

Walking into this family-run Middle Eastern spot in Upper Haight feels like stepping into a friend’s cozy living room, with bright murals and cushy red and black banquettes that wrap around the space. And the same comforting energy applies to the food too, from the shawarma wraps and torpedo-shaped falafel to the fluffy pita. The silky-smooth hummus topped with a heap of chicken shawarma was a standout on our recent visit. The creamy dip was excellent by the spoonful and also dipped in the still-warm pita. It wasn’t long before the entire plate of it was gone.

The Dish: Lobster pad thai

The pad thai at this new Thai restaurant in East Oakland had us at hello (sorry, not apologizing for the dated movie reference). That’s because the moment the huge mound of thin rice noodles, fried tofu, and egg hit the table, we immediately felt like happy-weepy Renée Zellweger confessing her love to an equally happy-weepy Jerry Maguire. The spicy dish is shiny pearl-levels of beautiful and it’s also delicious—with two frankly adorable lobster tails resting over the whole thing like a celebratory cake topper. We've eaten pad thai countless times, but it’s been awhile since we encountered one this memorable.

The Dish: Twin tostadas

Going to Chuy’s Fiestas in the Mission is always an exercise in self-control. On print, everything from the long menu sounds amazing—and based on what we’ve tried, it all is. You should get as many dishes as will fit on your table, because you can't really order wrong. But be sure the twin ceviche tostadas are among them. The ceviches (one with tilapia, the other with shrimp) are light and refreshing, and topped with perfect chunks of avocado. A nice touch of acidity from the fresh lime juice rounds them all out.

The Dish: Panucho with cochinita pibil

You have a lot of great options when you head to Taqueria Los Mayas, the casual, counter-service Mexican restaurant in the Richmond, from huge empanadas to aguachile to tacos with homemade tortillas. And everything here is great, but we’re doing you a great disservice if we don’t tell you to get the panuchos. The base for the Yucatecan specialty is the fried corn tortilla, which has a thin layer of black beans inside. Get yours with the slow-cooked cochinita pibil or the beer-marinated poc chuc. Cabbage, pickled onion, avocado, and crema then get piled on top, and when it arrives at your table the only thing to do is eat it all up and (probably) head back to the counter for more.

The Dish: Cappelletti di zucca

Itria is a new-ish Italian spot in the Mission that has a rotating menu of excellent housemade pastas—and one we're very into is the cappelleti di zucca. The roasted squash-filled pockets with seared radicchio and aged balsamic were slightly sweet, and tasted more like a dessert than a main course, in the best way possible. And using the rest of Itria’s bubbly house-made focaccia to sop up the rest of the buttery sauce was a must.

Mister Jiu’s imageoverride image
9.0

Mister Jiu's

$$$$(415) 857-9688
Hours:TUESDAY5:00PM to 10:30PM

The Dish: Baby bok choy

There are a lot of reasons to head to Mister Jiu’s. For starters, it’s perfect for a special occasion, or any time you feel like dropping some serious money on a whole roasted duck. And the Chinese American dishes are flat-out incredible. Case in point: the baby bok choy. It’s perfectly stir-fried with garlic and oyster sauce, and each bite releases a flood of magical juices that is even better than a shot of serotonin to the brain. The dish unlocks the full potential of a vegetable in a way that’s hard to beat.

The Dish: Jhol momo

There are several guarantees to having dinner at this cozy Nepali restaurant in Bernal Heights: you will leave well-fed and happy, and possibly tipsy from all the free wine refills chef Prem Tamang may personally pour you, especially if it’s a slow night. One reason for the feel-good vibes you’ll get at Cuisine of Nepal comes courtesy of the steamed chicken and vegetable momos. They’re served plain with a side of chutney, or drenched in a creamy soup of blended tomatoes, chilis, and other spices that warm your tongue. Go with the latter, complement it with the sizzling lamb and the chicken cashew cream curry, and call it a night

The Dish: Five-spice chicken with garlic noodles

The garlic noodles with five-spice chicken from this Vietnamese spot in the Sunset bring us comfort, much like Seasons 1-6 of Grey’s Anatomy. And sitting in front of a pile of these buttery noodles and inhaling the garlicky scent is our preferred form of self-care. And when those noodles are combined with the crispy-skinned chicken that's doused in fish sauce, there’s really nothing better. The whole plate will only run you $12 ($13, if you add imperial rolls), and you’ll definitely leave full.

The Dish: Mezze sampler

It’s physically impossible to come to Beit Rima and not order the mezze sampler, which is so beautiful we want to commission a still life painting of it for our bedroom. The plate is loaded with baba ganoush, hummus, lebna, and muhammara, and finished with crispy falafel, tahini, and pickled veggies. Be sure to get one of the za’atar-dusted hand-kneaded pitas to soak up every last bit of the sampler with.

The Dish: Patatas bravas

The Spanish restaurant in North Beach is home to excellent low-proof cocktails, a fun, lively atmosphere, and, possibly, our favorite potato dish in the city: patatas bravas. They aren’t cubed like they are at most tapas spots—instead, paper-thin layers of potato are stacked, fried, and served over drizzles of aioli and bravas sauce. You’ll probably put in another order before you’re even done with the first. Wash it all down with a glass of sangria.

The Dish: Juicy pork bao

Despite opening up just last year, Dumpling Home's dining room and parklet are packed every night. That’s because everything that comes out of their kitchen is fantastic, from the delicate xiao long bao to the dry-fried chicken wings. But what keeps us coming back to this Hayes Valley spot are the shengjianbao. The juicy pork buns have thick, chewy skins, crispy pan-fried bottoms, and flavorful hot soup inside—which may or may not accidentally projectile spray across the table when you first bite into one. Dumpling Home is walk-in only, and even if there’s a line, it moves quickly. And know a meal here is 100% worth the wait.

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