2015: best year of the millennium, without question. We got to Pluto, the Warriors won the title, and people everywhere continued to sell delicious food, for money. (Thank you for our ongoing employment!)
It's time to look back on the 95.4% of days that have passed so far and notate our favorite additions to SF's eating scene. If you're a restauranteur looking to open something in the next 17 days, tough luck.
Since there's no theme connecting these restaurants that we could come up with in 30 seconds, we'll just say we've got good food coming from all directions — Mexico! Islands! Morocco! Vegetables! Meat! Vegetables mixed with meat!
SF has it all. Aren't we lucky.
No year in review is complete without one elaborate tasting menu. Californios is our pick — it's in a cool, low-key location, the upscale take on Mexican food is novel and delicious, and it's not murderous to the wallet (okay, not AS murderous as a lot of the other super-fancy options in town).
SPAM IS BACK people. If you consumed Spam frequently as a child (we did), know that it tastes a lot better in the fried rice at Liholiho Yacht Club than when your dad makes it on his night to cook dinner. Besides the fried rice, everything from the cocktails to the beef tongue buns to the Instagram-melting Baked Hawaii dessert is close to perfection. We wish more fun and unique restaurants like Liholiho would pop up - it’s one of our favorite places in the city.
After a few dinners at Cala, we booked a trip to Mexico City. Actually. The chef runs a wildly popular restaurant there, and she brings a traditional vegetable and seafood based menu to the gorgeous spot tucked between Hayes Valley and Civic Center. It’s the most exciting place to open up here in a long, long time and we are singing the praises of the sopes and sweet potato with bone marrow salsa. Will report back if the food in Mexico City lives up to the strong showing from Cala. Guessing it will.
What if State Bird Provisions were bigger, had a cool bar, and didn't require lining up at 4:30 to get into? Presto: The Progress. The food is great, the scene is happening, and the choose-your-own-adventure, family-style, six-course menu is entertaining. It'd be hard not to have a good time here.
Al’s place straight-up rules. The plates are beautiful, the food is creative without being overly fancified, and it all tastes amazing. Better still, the seafood-centric spot deep in the Mission is unintimidating and welcoming. The wine they keep in buckets near all the tables doesn’t hurt either.
All of the California, give it to us. The dishes and vibes and general decor (including A+ light fixtures) are very West Coast, and we are feeling it. Aster opened in the spring and has continued to be a welcome presence in a slightly dead area of the Mission, with its excellent and somewhat whimsical food. A meal here is an experience worth saving for a birthday, promotion, Fantasy Football win, or anything else you may be celebrating.
The Mourad experience is worth it just for the massive shared meat plates. We like the chicken, but if you're looking to ball-out, go with the short rib or lamb shoulder. The hidden benefit of ordering family-style is you get all four sides, including the butteriest, most decadent couscous you've ever had. The room is a bit staid and shiny, but for special occasions, it's perfect.
Burmese food that isn’t in the Richmond. It’s a Christmas miracle. The other miracle is that Burma Love has a nice bar, funky tiled walls and Heath Ceramic plates to allow it into the SF cool kids' restaurant club. This isn't a hole-in-the-wall situation - Burma Love is a place you want to sit down and enjoy, with a very similar menu to Superstar, only better executed. Throw in their serious cocktail menu and we never want to leave this spot.
Cockscomb goes all in on the meats and makes great use of pretty much all animal parts. This spot near AT&T Park is pushing out some ridiculously good carnivorous food, from the burger to the game hen to the preposterous whole pig’s head. If you’re a vegetarian though, hide yo kids, hide yo wife, hide yo self. It's not the cheapest place around, but absolutely worth a visit to sate your protein needs.
Iza Ramen opened at the very end of October in the Lower Haight and we couldn't be happier that legit ramen is creeping its way north in the city. The vibe is slightly nicer than the average noodle den, the toro chili rice bowl is fantastic, and the ramen is our favorite in the city. We would drink the broth with a straw. Throw in the fact that they have sake on tap and you basically have to drag us out of there.