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    Farmers Markets, Foraging, and Soul on a Plate: The Tastes and Sips of Northern California

    by Katherine Sacks with Antoinette Bruno and Nick Rummel
    Antoinette Bruno and Katherine Sacks
    May 2013

    Local, seasonal, farmers market-driven restaurants have swept the nation in the last decade. But it’s no surprise that San Francisco chefs still outdo the rest when it comes to dedication to product. With mentors like Daniel Patterson and David Kinch training a new guard of chefs, along with some of the best produce, artisanal products, and ingredients in the country, there’s no better place to taste the terroir of a dish than one of San Francisco’s top restaurants.

    Sustainability is law in this city, literally: composting is mandatory and using refurbished woods, metals, and other building materials is pretty much expected. Chefs like Gather’s Sean Baker are working with dedicated farms to grow heirloom and uncommon products; others, like Haven’s Kim Alter, grow herbs and lettuces in whatever space their restaurant affords, including next-door gardens and rooftops; and with such a verdant landscape, chefs like Commonwealth’s Jason Fox and Manresa’s Jessica Largey often forage for mushrooms, herbs, and greens on their days off.

    That’s not to say San Francisco chefs are only focused on the what—they care about how they’re serving, too, with a focus on how to present the products in a completely individual way. As many explain it, they’re putting their “soul on the plate.” Following suit with the relaxed San Francisco restaurant feel, we’ve seen a shift away from haute cuisine and a big push to create something that represents the chef or bartender entirely. From Nick Balla’s move toward Eastern European flavors at Bar Tartine to the Trick Dog team’s fun approach to high concept drinks, the market is full of posh, yet casual restaurants and bars.

    For those who’d like a taste of that cheffy soul, prepare yourself for our favorite 60 (or so) recently tasted San Francisco restaurants and bars.


    4505 Meats

    1909 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    (415) 525-4230
    Hours: Wed-Sun: 11am-7pm

    From his small butcher shop on Mission Street, Chef Ryan Farr is bringing soul to charcuterie, with silky liverwurst, rich smoked bologna, addictively crunchy chicharrónes, and a case full of fresh cuts of meat. Although 4505 Meats has been operating at farmers markets (selling hot food items like their classic juicy hamburger) since 2009, the new butcher shop is the latest step in a calculated plan to change meat in San Francisco. One month in, Farr’s vintage-style shop is already on the path to becoming the neighborhood institution Farr envisions. On our January visit, we ran into a local brewer, several chefs, and a couple looking for their weekend dinner (along with some cooking advice). It doesn’t hurt that Farr has an award-nominated book under his belt, offers a popular meat CSA, and teaches local meatheads the ins and outs of butchery and sausage making at his 3000 square foot Hayes Valley location.

  • Smoked Pork Jowl, Truffle Butter, Chicharrónes, House Sauerkraut, House Beer Mustard, Apricot-Pistachio Terrine en Crout, and House Pickles
  • Pickled Eggs, Liverwurst, Summer Sausage, Smoked Bologna, and Beer Wurst

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    2355 Chestnut Street
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    (415) 771-2216
    Hours: Mon-Tue 5:30pm-10pm; Wed-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm; Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm; Sat 5pm-11pm; Sun 5pm-10pm

    Since opening its doors in February 2004, A16’s tightly packed tables have been perpetually full. The award-winning wine program of 2010 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Restaurateur Shelley Lindgren never disappoints, and many a guest lingers at the bar over a quartino and wood-fired pizza. Chef Chris Thompson joined the talented crew two years ago, with an offer to run the celebrated Italian restaurant’s butchery program. He’s since be promoted to executive chef, just as eager to dig into pasta making as charcuterie, and also in charge of staff and menu development. Thompson's refreshing take on Italian classics and his well executed salumi are just what keeps this Marina restaurant consistently satisfying.

  • Octopus Salad, Baby Fingerling Potatoes, Castelvetrano Olives, Blanched Celery, Roasted Garlic, Frisée and Parsley
  • Charcuterie: Spicy Goat Soppressata; Spicy Coppa; Pork Liver with Black Pepper and Coriander; Bresalo; Classic Soppressata; Soppressata Napoletana; and Coppa di Testa

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    Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

    398 Hayes Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 551-1590
    Hours: Hours: Tues-Fri 11:30am-12am; Sat 11am-12am; Sun 11am-10pm

    After working with Daniel Patterson at Coi, our 2007 New York Rising Star Pastry Chef Bill Corbett has landed at the Bay Area institution Absinthe, bringing a modern sensibility to the old-school kitchen with his updated dessert classics. His airy chocolate mousse, coconut patè, and silky caramel sauce don’t smack of German chocolate cake, but it’s a nuanced re-interpretation that will have you wanting more and more. Chef Adam Keough keeps the menu fresh and comforting; his buttery pretzel bites are the ideal snack alongside a refreshing beer, while a heartier bouillabaisse is a comforting winter’s day lunch. Behind the bar, Mixologist Matt Conway does justice to the restaurant’s saucy moniker; his exciting cocktails are balanced, innovative, and seriously gulpable. But catch him quick--in the late spring of 2013 Conway is headed a few spaces down on Hayes where he’ll open his own shop at former drag bar Marlena’s.

  • Pegleg: Kaffir Lime Vodka, Gentian Liquor, Pineapple Gum, and Citrus
  • St. Martin: Calvados, Cardoon Amaro, and Dry Vermouth
  • Bouillabaisse: Provencal Tomato Stew with Monkfish, Bass, Mussels, Shrimp, Dungeness Crab, Local Squid, Focaccia Crostini, and Sauce Rouille
  • German Chocolate Cake: Chocolate Mousse, Pressed Coconut, Chocolate Genoise, Lime Espuma, Candied Pecans, and Coconut Caramel

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    1722 Sacramento Street
    San Francisco, CA 94109
    (415) 567-5432
    Hours: Tue-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm

    Chef Suzette Gresham-Tognetti and Co-owner Giancarlo Paterlini have run Polk Gulch’s Acquerello like a well-oiled machine for more then two decades, making it a classic in the San Francisco dining scene. But with the fresh vision of Chef de Cuisine Mark Pensa and the talents of Sommelier Gianpaolo Paterlini (son of Giancarlo), the family-operated restaurant is just as impressive today as in its past. The restaurant’s elegant yet intimate 40-seat dining room makes way for Pensa’s subtly innovative Italian cuisine, packed full of modernist plays on Californian, French, and Spanish flavors. The wine list, managed by Gianpaolo, includes a wide range of Italian varietals and the expert sommeliers deftly pour refined pairings. The combination of these talents, along with stellar service and a romantic dining room, keeps Acquerello among the city’s best meals.

  • Cuttlefish "Tagliatelle," Capers, Lobster, and Agretti
  • Smoked Lamb Loin, Salsify "Pappardelle," Sunchokes, and Lamb's Quarters

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    1085 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 341-9000
    Hours: Tue-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; Sun 11am-2pm, 5:30pm-11pm

    The chefs in Northern California may be market-driven, but AQ takes it a step further, not only following the seasons but changing with them. Each spring, summer, winter, and fall, the restaurant’s décor, serviceware, menu, and website entirely transform—cherry blossoms greet the spring, while silvery winter branches set the tone for cooler months—and Chef Mark Liberman creates an intriguing, season-driven menu that has customers eagerly anticipating the next change. Mixologist Timothy Zohn’s bar program is equally compelling; his fall inspired Mexican Piano pairs smoky torched bay with tangy huckleberry, while his Bison Rose is a delicious winter refresher. The team has big plans in store for the city; their forthcoming TBD,a casual spot focused on wood-fired preparations just a few doors down from AQ, is the first of many future projects in their sights.

  • Bison Rose: Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka, Cocchi Americano, Meyer Lemon, and Rosemary Shrub
  • Mexican Piano: Espolón Blanco Tequila, Lime Juice, Huckleberry-Tarragon Syrup, and Torched Bay Leaf
  • Stew of Autumn and Abalone, Nettle, and Breadcrumb Sauce
  • Pork Trotter, Spring Garlic, Snails, and Avocado Mousse

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    Atelier Crenn

    3127 Fillmore Street
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    (415) 440-0460
    Hours: Tue-Sat 6pm-10pm

    For Chef Dominique Crenn, cuisine is art and menus are a poem. Her two Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn is an ode to the canvas of cuisine, a house of “poetic culinaria” where the chef embodies both her French heritage and her deeply creative imaginings in a truly unique tasting menu. Bare wooden tables, Edison bulbs, and a wicker-laced ceiling set an understated backdrop in the Marina restaurant, where guests are wowed by Crenn’s thought-provoking creations. The menu comes with a personal story from Crenn, and each dish is like a picture from a fantasyland, with intricate dots, lavish swooshes, and unexpected textures. Pastry Chef Juan Contreras  inspires similar, wide-eyed enthusiasm; his ethereal desserts—a refreshing pop of eucalyptus-menthol cream or smoky cinnamon-scented brioche—defy traditional plateware (he often builds plates for new dishes) and definition.

  • Grain and Seeds: Buckwheat, Quinoa, Sunflower, Flax Seed, Pumpkin Seed, Cilantro, Smoked Trout Roe, Smoked Sturgeon Roe, Shaved House Bottarga, and Smoked Bonito Dashi
  • Birth: Duck Consommé, Puffed Wild Rice, Vanilla Pudding, Curry-Apple Pudding, Pickled Bay Mushrooms, Chocolate-Porcini Branches, and Corn Silk Nest
  • Beet-Chocolate Sorbet, Sheep’s Milk Yogurt, Mandarin Purée, and Edible Flowers
  • Flavors of Squash: Spiced Brioche, Celery Root Ice Cream, Creamed Butternut Purée, Candied Squash, and Cinnamon Aroma

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    5800 Geary Boulevard
    San Francisco, CA 94121
    (415) 752-2222
    Hours: Wed-Mon 5:30pm-10pm

    2007 San Francisco Rising Star Chef Mourad Lahlou continues to impress with complex contemporary Moroccan food at his Outer Richmond restaurant Aziza. Fusing the traditional techniques he learned from his mother in Marrakesh (his couscous is hand rolled) with light, modern West Coast philosophy and local produce, Lahlou creates a menu that both revitalizes his native Moroccan cuisine and honors modern global-inspirations. Dishes like mountain yam with gingko nut or sea urchin-stuffed kohlrabi look both East and West, while others like his brown rice cracker with yogurt and coffee appeal to Lahlou’s early roots. Sommelier Farnoush Deylamian pours silky European wines and Japanese beers to match, and Mixologist Christopher Longoria’s spice-packed savory-sweet cocktails pair just as nicely. 2010 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Melissa Chou’s desserts aren’t just a refined finish to Lahlou’s impressive tasting menu—her intricate plates have a brilliance all their own.

  • Pumpkin, Carrot, Cinnamon, and R(h)um
  • Cranberry, Beet, Chocolate Bitters, and Brandy

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    Baker & Banker

    1701 Octavia Street
    San Francisco, CA 94109
    (415) 351-2500
    Hours: Sun 10am-2-pm; Tues-Sun 5:30pm-10pm

    Veterans of some of San Francisco’s top restaurants (Patina, Postrio), husband and wife team Jeff Banker and Lori Baker share their take on locally sourced cuisine at their Lower Pacific Heights restaurant Baker & Banker. The bistro-style décor—dark leather banquets, mirrored walls, and a friendly wooden bar—calls to mind a neighborhood gastropub, the kind of place that’s easy to settle into for a long night. And Banker’s comforting menu gives all the more reason to stay, with delightful plays on classics and Japanese-inspired items. Baker heads up the bakery next door, offering artisan breads and pastry during the week. She also works with Pastry Chef Daniel Saravia on the restaurant’s comfort-food desserts; think over-sized cake slices, apple tarte tatin à la mode, and seasonal Baked Alaska.

  • House-smoked Trout, Horseradish Crème Fraîche, Pickled Beets, Latka, and Shaved Fennel
  • Bouillabaise: Scallops, Saffron Broth, Hearts of Palm, Radish, Artichoke, Tomato, and Aïoli Foam
  • Ginger Snap-Pumpkin Tart, Gingerbread Baked Alaska, Salted Caramel, and Burnt Orange Sauce

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    Bar Agricole

    355 11th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 355-9400
    Hours: Mon-Thu 6pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; Sun 6pm-10pm

    Step off the unassuming industrial streets of SoMa into Bar Agricole and the first thing you notice is the impressive space. The LEED-certified eco-friendly restaurant, a finalist for the 2012 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design, boasts a sweeping mobile, sleek barn wood-constructed booths, and plenty of sunlight, thanks to floor-to-celling windows and sunroofs. Impressive design aside, Chef Brandon Jew gives plenty of reason to visit; he’s a familiar face at the local farmers markets, where he picks up everything from puntarelle to different varieties of beans and radishes for his regularly changing menu. Jew also works to bring new items to market, such as veal from Strauss Family Creamery. The drinks program, helmed by Mixologist Craig Lane, focuses on classic cocktails done right and features organic products that the bar sources from local producers. This dedication, and drinks like their El Morrocco, nabbed the program their own Beard nomination for 2012’s inaugural Outstanding Bar Program.

  • Fruit Cup: Gin, Lemon, Americano Rosso, and Ginger
  • El Morrocco: Brandy, Lime, Port, and Pineapple
  • Smoked Local King Salmon, Cured Roe, Nori Powder, Crispy Salmon Skin, Sorrel-Beet-Apple Relish, and Seaweed
  • Pickled Lamb Tongue, Misato Rose Radish, Puntarelle, Egg Yolk, Radish Top Gribiche, and Fried Lamb Heart

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    Bar Tartine

    561 Valencia Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 487-1600
    Hours: Mon-Thu 6pm-10pm; Fri 6pm-11pm; Sat 11am-2:30pm, 6pm-11pm; Sun 11am-2:30pm, 6pm-10pm

    Bar Tartine has long been a celebrated place to enjoy Chefs Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s Tartine bakery delights in a bistro-style setting. But with Chef Nick Balla’s new menu, the Mission restaurant has once again achieved the status of one of the most in demand places in the city. Balla draws inspiration from his Eastern European heritage, and the menu includes items like fluffy langos potato flatbread and spicy fisherman’s stew. The cozy, comforting restaurant sets just the right tone for this heart-warming food: big bay windows stream light onto the washboard walls, organic floral pieces decorate the walls and bar, and big jars of preserved goods sit high in wooden cupboards, inviting you in for a taste.

  • Langos: Potato Flatbread with Dill and Sour Cream
  • Chopped Salad: Salami, Pepper Jack, Red Wine Vinegar, and House Yogurt
  • Fisherman's Stew with Green Chili Broth, Collard Greens, and Hen of the Woods

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    22 Hawthorne St
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    (415) 685-4860
    Hours: Tue-Sat 5:30pm-9:00pm

    Chef Corey Lee worked for nearly a decade with Thomas Keller, and the thoughtful, calculated approach of his mentor shows through in the Benu dining experience. From the well-appointed chargers, perfectly shaped to hold a number of first course dishes (allowing for less serviceware and more relaxed approach) to time-intensive preparations like lobster-stuffed sea cucumber, it’s clear Lee has put consideration into every step of his restaurant. Thanks to the wise guidance of 2009 Napa Rising Star Sommelier Yoon Ha, and his own vino skills, Sommelier Bobby Conroy seamlessly pairs with Lee’s challenging cuisine. Pastry Chef Courtney Schmidig, another French Laundry alum, recently came on board, and promises to keep San Francisco’s already talented pastry chefs on their toes with her graceful desserts.

  • Tart Flambé, Sea Urchin, and Green Apple with Kitaya, Kansanui, “Cold Mountain Water,” Junmai Daiginjo, Fukuoka, Japan
  • Beef Braised in Pear Juice and Charcoal-Grilled with Winter Treasures with Chateau Fortia, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France 2000

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    Chez TJ

    938 Villa Street
    Mountain View, CA 94041
    (650) 964-7466
    Hours: Tue-Thu 5:30pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm

    Chez TJ has turned out some incredible chefs in the past, including 2009 Napa Sonoma Rising Star Chef Christopher Kostow and 2010 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Chef Scott Nishiyama. So it’s no surprise that we found the equally talented Chef Joey Elenterio helming the kitchen on our most recent visit. After working for a year as sous chef under Nishiyama, Elenterio took over as head chef in 2011, and enthusiastically lives up to the high bar set by those before him. We’re still dreaming about his completely innovative take on tartare—served with gingerbread cookies, black garlic ketchup, and shaved chestnuts—and his smoky, sturgeon-spotted leek panna cotta. In late 2012 Elenterio passed the torch to Chef Jarad Gallagher, alum of Saratoga's Plumed Horse, who is poised to carry on Chez TJ's tasty legacy.

  • Massami Ranch Rib-eye Steak Tartare, Gingerbread Cookies, Pickled Beets, Pickled Ginger, Strawberries, French Sorrel, Bull’s Blood, Chestnuts, and Black Garlic Ketchup
  • Caraway-Leek Panna Cotta, Sturgeon Caviar, Sturgeon Jerky, Watercress, Pumpkin Seeds, and Butternut Squash

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    373 Broadway
    San Francisco, CA 94133
    (415) 393-9000
    Hours: Tue-Sat 5:30pm-12am

    With his dedication to foraging, introspective menus, and uber-seasonal cuisine, Chef Daniel Patterson;s name has become synonymous with modern California cuisine. His celebrated restaurant Coi may be steps away from the bright lights of North Beach strip clubs, but duck inside the restaurant and you’re entering a tranquil temple of earth tones, cross-section wood furniture, and minimalistic Japanese-inspired décor. It’s an experience not to be forgotten; Patterson’s cerebral, patiently composed food is hyper-thoughtful and evocative. With Matt Tinder in charge of the pastry programs at Patterson’s three restaurants' (Coi, Haven, and Plum), you’ll find hearth-baked breads, handcrafted products like fresh tofu and cultured butters, and whimsical yet refined desserts that seamlessly meld savory and sweet.

  • Savory Wild Mushroom Porridge with Brown Butter, Garlic Confit, and Wood Sorrel
  • Silken White Chocolate, Kiwi, Soy, and Coffee
  • Spice, Date, Sesame, and Yogurt

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    2020 Shattuck Avenue
    Berkeley, CA 94704
    (510) 926-6300
    Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm

    The East Bay is an up and coming culinary destination and Comal, a huge new Downtown Berkeley restaurant, is one of its most vibrant additions. The rustic Mexican menu embodies Chef Matt Gandin’s NorCal approach to tacos, quesadillas, and lesser-known Oaxacan specialties, along with a delicious drinks menu from Mixologist Matthew Campbell. Campbell leans heavily on a deep roster of tequilas and small-batch agaves, offering a flight of Sangritas, shots of reserve tequila, mezcal paired with various juice-and-tincture chasers, and light, refreshing drinks like his Mexican riff on the Paloma. The cocktails and spacious 2500-square-foot outdoor patio attract the college crowd, while local families enjoy a variety of mid-priced share plates in the restaurant’s warehouse-style open dining room.

  • Tlayuda with Smashed Garbanzos, Gypsy Peppers, Zucchini, and Quesillo
  • Reposado Tequila and Rojo Sangrita: Tomato, Orange Juice, Lime, Dried Chili Paste, Habanero and Fresno Chilies, and Braggs Amino Acid
  • Palomaesque: Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Cocchi Americano, Grapefruit, Lime, Honey, Salt, and Soda

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    Commonwealth Restaurant

    2224 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 355-1500
    Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm

    Tucked away from the grit of the Mission, Commonwealth hides around the corner of 18th Street, its refined style concealed behind tinted glass. Chef Jason Fox and his team previously worked together at Bar Tartine, and they bring that same welcoming atmosphere to their own venture, blending the worlds of comfort and sophistication. Inside the small dining room, you'll find clean lines and simple décor: deep wooden banquets, whitewashed brick walls, and bare-bone over-sized light bulbs fill the space. Fox takes a naturalistic approach in his plating, using a variety of local produce to create a menu that leans towards Asian influence, often also using items he forages near his home in Marin. The neighborhood feel transcends the space and cuisine; the Commonwealth team is dedicated to improving the community around them, donating $10 from the sale of each tasting menu to a local charity.  

  • Blood Orange Creamsicle
  • Sea Urchin, Trout Roe, Potato, Gem Lettuce, Lime Cream, and Pickled Wasabi Leaf
  • Scallop, Hearts of Palm, Popcorn Purée, and Yuzu Kosho Milk
  • Sweetbreads, Asian Pear, Brussels Sprouts, Black Truffle, and Chestnut-Celery Root Velouté

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    Craftsman & Wolves

    746 Valencia Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 913-7713
    Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-7pm; Sat 8am-7pm; Sun 8am-5pm

    This edgy new patisserie from former Quince Pastry Chef William Werner should be on any sweet lovers to-taste list. Werner has a magical way with pastry; his technique is spot-on and he offers a menu of surprising flavors (kimchi financier; buffalo wing madeleines) and texture. But what’s truly remarkable is the wide range of products coming out of the tiny shop. Rather then focusing on a single item, Werner offers the flakiest croissants, the smoothest chocolate mousse tarts, and one seriously decadent chocolate éclair. Order a few (and then a few more), snag a seat at one of the shop’s precious few stools, and wait for sugar wonder to set in.

  • Savory Kimchi Financier
  • Sesame Passion Fruit Croissant
  • Chocolate Cocoa Nib Éclair

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    Dandelion Chocolate

    740 Valencia Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 349-0942
    Hours: Wed-Sun 11am - 6pm

    Unlike most chocolate shops—which use industrial chocolate as a base for their products—Todd Masonis and Cam Ring start with the cocoa bean and create chocolate from scratch. The duo travel the globe in order to source the best beans possible, including farms in Madagascar and Venezuela, and work out of a lofty Dogpatch factory—wood beams line the walls, industrial hood lamps light the rooms—turning small batches of beans into bars with nuanced flavor and texture. This artisan sensibility, along with the refined flavors Dandelion is able to produce thanks to their outstanding beans, roasting, and processing, is pushing the bean-to-bar concept to the forefront. At Dandelion’s new café, inside the roastery, Chef Phil Ogiela turns this outstanding product into decadent desserts; visitors can also purchase Dandelion’s range of chocolate bars here.

  • Hot Chocolate
  • Rio Caribe Ganache Tart, Shortbread, Caramel, Cocoa Nibs, and Sea Salt Cocoa Bean Hot Chocolate

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    Fifth Floor

    12 Fourth St.
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 348-1555
    Hours: Mon-Thu 5:30pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat: 5:30 pm-10pm

    High above the buzz of downtown's Market Street, the Palomar Hotel's Michelin-starred Fifth Floor restaurant reigns as a temple of otherworldly delights. 2005 San Francisco Rising Star David Bazirgan brings exotic spices and techniques from Morocco and Africa into his elevated menu; in one dish the char of eggplant gracefully lashes into the creamy texture of confit octopus; elsewhere, lush uni flan is spiked with heat from Sichuan pepper and bright kaffir lime. Talented Sommelier Amy Goldberger enhances the menu with spot-on pairings: Gonzalez Byass Cream Sherry adds subtle richness to veal sweetbreads and tangy pickled cabbage. Pastry Chef Francis Ang brings his Southeast Asian heritage and savory experience into his menu, creating dishes like his Cantaloupe Semifreddo with Blackstrap Molasses, Anise, and Tarragon. Inspired by this creative force, Bar Manager Brian Means adds savory infusions, culinary techniques, and fresh produce into the cocktail program, creating a drinks menu worth its own visit.

  • Confit Octopus, Eggplant, Purple Potato, Celery, and Pine Nut Vinaigrette with Alpha Estate “Axia” Malagouzia, Amyndeon 2010
  • Mendocino Uni Flan, Crab, Saffron, Sichuan Pepper, and Aged Kaffir Lime with Bellivière “L’Effraie” Coteaux du Loir 2008
  • Jasmine Team Crémeux, Poppy Seed Meringue, Pomelo Sorbet, Candied Pomelo Rinds, and Oro Blanco
  • Cantaloupe Semifreddo, Blackstrap Molasses, Anise, Tarragon Meringue, and Vanilla Sunrise on the Horizon: Krogstat Aquavit, Tomato, Fenugreek-infused Vermouth, and Habanero
  • Chupacabra: Partida or Don Julio Tequila, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Grapefruit Cordial, Aperol, and Sal De Gusano
  • Dram and Mount Tam: St. George Terroir Gin, Konbu-infused Vermouth, Kale Cordial, Celery Bitters, and Togarashi

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    2200 Oxford Street
    Berkeley, CA 94704
    (510) 809-0400
    Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; Mon-Sun 5pm-10pm; Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm

    While it may be easy to get a tofu/seitan/vegan option at most of Berkeley’s eateries, Chef Sean Baker is creating a menu at Gather to attract vegetarians and their meat-eating brethren. Working with a pantry of sustainable products and produce from partner Lindencroft Farm, Baker uses a variety of old-school techniques (steam juicing) and modern tools (smoke gun) to create intensely flavorful dishes. His vegan charcuterie, a seasonal combination of the most delicious vegetables in raw, preserved, puréed, and compressed forms, is not to be missed, no matter your protein tendencies, while the burger (featuring hometown producer Prather Ranch’s organic beef) is a local favorite. Housed inside the “greenest” building in Berkeley (the four-story, LEED Platinum David Bowie Center), the restaurant is impressively eco-conscious; the space was built almost exclusively from re-purposed materials.

  • Marinated Sardines, Burdock, Squid Ink, and Bacia di Satana Peppers
  • Vegan Charcuterie: Scarlet Turnips, Mushrooms, and Cipollini Onions; Mutsu Apples, Wine Grapes, Walnut Juice, Lemon Verbena-Chili Jam, and House-made Lovage Saba; Smoked Cashew- Nettle Ricotta, Dragon Carrots, and Currants; Rugosa Verde Carpaccio, Shallots, Sunflower Seed Sauce, Pomegranate, and Fermented Sunchokes

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    Hapa Ramen

    One Ferry Building
    San Francisco, CA 94111
    Hours: Tue, Thu 10am-2pm

    Unsatisfied with the traditional shoyu and miso he found in San Francisco’s noodle houses, Chef Richie Nakano created Hapa Ramen, home to his original take on the Japanese staple. Working out of a community kitchen space, Nakano developed an organic ramen noodle recipe, the backdrop for inventive options like Big Daddy’s fried chicken and vegetarian varieties made with seasonal produce and vegetable broth. Nakano’s currently serving these offerings and more twice weekly at the Ferry Building market, but he’s already started work on a small brick-and-mortar restaurant near Pacific Heights, set to open in 2013.

  • Vegetarian Ramen: Sugar Pie Pumpkin-Miso Broth, Roasted Radicchio, Smoked Soy Sauce, Carrots, Arugula, and Slow-cooked Egg
  • Big Daddy: Fried Chicken, Braised Pork, and Slow-cooked Egg

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    44 Webster Street
    Oakland, CA 94612
    (510) 663-4440
    Hours: Wed-Sat 5pm-10pm; Sun 10:30am-2:30pm; 5pm-10pm

    Daniel Patterson’s newest restaurant makes its home in Oakland’s Jack London Square. Inside Haven you’ll find a long wooden bar against an open kitchen, bright windows looking out onto the Bay, and a casual, spacious dining room. Chef Kim Alter further evokes that sense of comfort with her thoughtful menu: whole animal and vegetable preparations are served in sharable plates, garnished with items Alter forages herself. Her smoked forbidden rice with uni and blood oranges is a sensual, briny risotto for one, while the bavette with heirloom tomatoes and potatoes is an impressive portion of beef tenderloin, enough to feed a few. Just make sure to save room for the sublime desserts from Pastry Chef Matt Tinder.

  • Smoked Forbidden Rice, Uni, Blood Orange Gel, and Flora
  • Duck, Red Quinoa, Fig, Trumpet Mushrooms, and Turnip

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    Hawker Fare

    2300 Webster Street
    Oakland, CA 94612
    (510) 832-8896
    Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm; Tue-Thu 5pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm

    2007 Bay Area Rising Star James Syhabout opened Hawker Fare two years ago as a casual follow-up to his acclaimed Commis. The Oakland restaurant looks to Bangkok street food malls for inspiration, with communal tables, graffiti-covered walls, and hip hop music attracting a crowd. Of course they’ve also come for Chef Justin Hu’s menu of affordable Thai-Malaysian favorites (every dish is under $10).  There’s no better pick-me-up than the spicy Siamese peanuts—coated in an addictive chili-caramel-shrimp paste sauce—and the fragrant salads and rice bowls are huge sellers for the lunch crowd. With the addition of their new liquor license, the restaurant is becoming equally popular with night owls, who are drawn by the food, special beers (Hawker Fare has an exclusive relationship with local Linden Street Brewery for special rice lagers), and happy hour specials.

  • Siamese Peanuts: Roasted Peanuts, Fried Anchovy, and Shallot-Chili Jam
  • Coconut Red Curry Shrimp: Shrimp, Mackerel Fish Balls, Bean Sprouts, Fried Long Beans, and Coconut Crumble

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    1550 Church St
    San Francisco, CA 94131
    (415) 641-4500
    Hours: Mon 5pm–11pm; Wed-Sun 5pm–11pm

    Before Pastry Chef Robin Kloess came to 2005 Bay Area Rising Star Chris Cosentino’s Dolores Park restaurant, she says she didn’t know much about Italian desserts. But take one bite of her silky pomegranate panna cotta and you won’t believe it. At Incanto, an ode to Italian villa life with welcoming stone walls, large wooden tables, and stunning wall-length photographs of the country’s produce, Kloess is studying up on her Italian sweets, offering a combination of traditional techniques with her own twists. It’s a great finish to Cosentino’s consistently satisfying menu, which includes plenty of offal and toothsome pastas. Save room for both, and expect the total Italian (read: abundant) dining experience.

  • Goat Cheese-Hay Mousse, Walnut Cake, and Niabella Grape Sorbet
  • Date Cake, Pomegranate Panna Cotta, and Ginger-compressed Pear

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    Knead Patisserie

    3111 24th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 655-3422
    Hours: Tue-Fri 11am-3pm; Sat-Sun 10am-3pm

    This secret pastry shop, tucked inside Local Mission Eatery, is worth searching out. Arrive early for a daily cart of morning treats set out for Local Mission visitors, or head to the back of the restaurant, where you’ll find the tiny wooden pastry counter of Knead Patisserie. Pastry Chef Shauna Des Voignes has a charming way with sweets, creating an addictive menu of flaky pop tarts, tender cookies, and updates on childhood favorites (her PBJ includes a creamy walnut purée with roasted grapes and a graham cracker tart). Don’t miss the Pomme d’Amore, a rich crème Brulée tart gently tucked inside flaky puff pastry.

  • Grape-Walnut Tartlet, Sage, Walnut Purée, Roasted Grapes, and Graham Cracker
  • Pomme d'Amore: Salted Caramel Crème Brulée Tart
  • Pop Tarts: Lemon Curd and Ricotta

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    2379 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    Hours: Sun-Thur 6pm-close

    Chef Chris Kronner gives his legendary Bar Tartine burger the spotlight with KronnerBurger. After taking time to travel the world (including a stint as a private chef in Uruguay and trips to Japan), Kronner has set up a pop-up shop in the side room of Mission nightclub Bruno’s, dishing out tasty bar grub while he continues to work on securing a brick-and-mortar location. The old-school lounge may be dark (and pretty small, so arrive early to snag a table), but San Francisco’s food lovers are happy with what Kronner’s doing. That luxurious burger often comes with a side of bone marrow; his poutine is gussied up with beef cheek gravy; and his “milkshake” combines scotch, milk, cocoa, maple, and honey—all vigorously shaken, cocktail-style, until frothy.

  • Scotcholate Milk: Scotch, Milk, Cocoa, Maple, Honey, and Salt
  • Endless Margarita: Tequila, Lime, Agave, and Margarita Ice
  • Marrow KronnerBurger
  • Puntarelle Chopped Salad

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    La Victoria Bakery

    2937 24th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 642-7120
    Hours: Mon-Fri 6am-9pm; Sat-Sun 7am-9pm

    La Victoria Bakery opened nearly 60 years ago to celebrate the traditional recipes of Mexico and you can still find pan dulce on its shelves today. But Pastry Chef Luis Villavelazquez, formerly of Orson and Absinthe, is bringing French techniques and an updated pantry to the bakery. Villavelazquez is an accomplished pastry chef in his own right (he was a finalist in 2012’s 3rd Annual International Pastry Competition), but at La Victoria he’s showing even more finesse with the doughs, tarts, and cakes of his childhood. Recognizing the similarities between Mexican doughs and puff pastry, brisée, and rum cakes, Villavelazquez has made small but significant changes—including bringing in organic lard and farmer’s produce—in order to increase quality and production. He’s also creating a new menu of Mexican-inspired treats, sold at the bakeshop and his farmers market stand; a delicate plum strudel is divine, but the fluffy biscuits, with spicy chorizo and earthy lacinato kale, are out of this world.

  • Plum Strudel
  • Black Current-Chamomile Pound Cake
  • Spanish Chorizo-Goat Jack Cheese Biscuit and Lacinato Kale-Potato Biscuit

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    Local Mission Eatery

    3111 24th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 655-3422
    Hours: Tue-Fri 11am-3pm, 5:30 pm-10pm; Sat 10am-3pm; 5:30pm-10pm; Sun 10am-3pm

    If you want to feel and eat local, head to the Mission, specifically this quaint neighborhood spot where everything is local, local, local. The produce, meats, dairy, and pantry items are all sourced from nearby producers (or the owner’s Lodi farm); the funky space was designed with reclaimed Redwood and painted tiles by locals artists; and the chefs regularly run instructional cooking labs to help get their “mission” into the hands of customers. And while it’s easy to fill up on Chef Jacob Des Voignes’ soulful cuisine—fried chicken Friday is a must—save room for the addictive pastry from his wife Shauna at Knead Patisserie, tucked in the back of the shop. At their nearby Local’s Corner you can enjoy a raw bar dinner. The eagerly anticipated Local Mission Market, where the team hopes to provide “everything you need, including the wine,” is set to open in the second half of 2013.

  • Roasted Cauliflower, Kimchi, Yogurt, and Quinoa
  • Mussel Soup, Potatoes, Grapes, Fennel, Turmeric, and Watercress
  • Chicken Roulade, Chestnuts, Persimmons, and Brussels Sprouts

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    888 Howard Street
    San Francisco, California 94103
    (415) 616-6566
    Hours: Mon-Sun 12am-11:30pm

    Chef Dominique Crenn helped bring fame to Luce at the InterContinental, snagging the restaurant its first Michelin star in 2009. Since her departure in 2011, Chef de Cuisine Daniel Corey has run the show, continuing the tradition of inventive, artistic dishes that highlight San Francisco’s best produce. The award-winning wine program is helmed by talented Wine Steward John Wight, who focuses the menu on the wines of Frescobaldi as well as West Coast producers. Enjoy the modern dining room, with smartly chic touches like hand-blown Italian lamps, sheer metallic gold curtains, and tropical floral arrangements.

  • Jerusalem Artichoke Velouté, Hazelnuts, Cocoa, and Pear with 2012 Qupe Marsanne
  • Herb-roasted Breast of Pintade, Sweet Potato, Huckleberries, and Matsutakes with Pinot Noir, La Fenetre, Sierra Madre Vineyard,, Santa Maria Valley, California, 2009

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    2825 Sand Hill Road
    Menlo Park, CA 94025
    (650) 561-1540
    Hours: Mon-Sat 6:30am-10:30am, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm; Sun 6:30am-10:30am, 5:30pm-10pm

    2007 Rising Star Peter Rudolph has planted roots at Madera, the lavish one-Michelin star restaurant inside Menlo Park's swanky Rosewood Sand Hill resort, offering new expressions of the sustainable visions we originally tasted with him at Campton Place. The restaurant sources 80 percent of their menu from local farms, much of which Rudolph picks up himself alongside Chef de Cuisine Daniel Gomez Sanchez—a remarkable feat for such a busy hotel restaurant. Sanchez gives an elegant spin to local produce in dishes like his granité of sole with creamy parsnip pain perdu, while Pastry Chef Mellisa Root puts out a stunning menu of desserts in bright colors and delightful textures. Wine Director Paul Mekis seamlessly pulls it all together, pouring refined wine pairings that dance with the cuisine and curating a list that offers something to please every one of his Silicon Valley clientele.

  • Matsutaki Bouillon, Abalone, Turnip, Rice, Wakame, and Crispy Rice
  • Granité of Sole, Parsnip Pain Perdu, Caperberries, Lettuce, "Bagna Cauda," Baby Romaine, and Mizuna
  • Raspberry Gin Fizz: Gin Granita, Raspberry Fizz, and Lemon Crème-Freyo with 2007 Heller Estate, Caramel Valley
  • Celebration of Plums: Friar Plum Fool, Candied Fruit-Pistachio Tea Cake, Compressed Plums, Golden Plum Cream, and Santa Rosa Plum Sorbet with 2008 Jean Louis Chave Offerus

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    320 Village Lane
    Los Gatos, CA 95030
    (408) 354-4330
    Hours: Wed-Sun: 5:30 pm-9:00 pm

    Manresa, Chef David Kinch’s decade-old temple to farm-to-table cuisine, underwent a fresh redesign in 2011 that did away with the Southwestern décor and made way for a more refined look that includes Japanese wood blocks of Santa Cruz landscapes, glass chandeliers, and white tableclothes. That same year partner Love Apple Farms expanded to a new 22-acre locale just 15 minutes from the Los Gatos restaurant, allowing farm production to grow and to include space for raising animals and holding educational classes. Kinch’s new team of chefs—Chef de Cuisine Jessica Largey and Pastry Chef Stephanie Prida—are bringing a fresh approach to the menu. The duo effortlessly present the farm's produce, along with foods they forage and pick themselves, in an elegant, charismatic menu of delights. Largey weaves and layers flavors without depending on technology to innovate. Her ambitious trombetta squash dish highlights the flavor of nasturtium in several bright and floral iterations, while Prida’s desserts surprise with inventive combinations and unusual textures. Kinch has also implemented new in-house bread and in-house chocolate programs and will publish his first cookbook, Manresa: An Edible Reflection (Ten Speed Press), in fall 2013.

  • Trombetta Squash, Pistachio, Nasturtium Oil, and Cultured Cream
  • Verbena-Chamomile Poached Sea Bream Collar with Pear-Celery Bouillon
  • Delicata Squash, Caramelized Clams, Porcini Emulsion, and Homemade Furikake
  • Mustard, Chocolate, Figs, and Tomato-Honey Ice Cream
  • Milk Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Milk Meringue, and Buttermilk

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    598 Haight Street
    San Francisco, CA 94117
    (415) 829-7982
    Hours: Mon-Sun 5:30pm-11pm; Sat-Sun 11am-3pm

    An upstairs lounge, inviting communal high-tables, and a lively chef’s counter combine to create a convivial atmosphere at Maven, a popular neighborhood cocktail lounge in the Lower Haight district of San Francisco. Owners Jay Bordeleau and Chef David Kurtz partnered with Mixologist Kate Bolton to bring a full menu of gastropub classics and cocktails to life. Although Bolton’s seductive drinks are easily enjoyed on their own, the suggested pairings are particularly enjoyable. The Devil's Halo, a combination of Scotch, Vermouth, Cherry, and Bitter Orange, is perfectly coupled with Kurtz’s Seared Bistro Steak and Spice Leek Soubise.

  • Global Warming: Aged Gin, Sake, Riesling, Lemon, and Absinthe Sorbet
  • Devil's Halo: Scotch, Vermouth, Cherry, Bitter Orange, and Absinthe
  • Monterey Calamari, Thai Chili, Coriander, and Ginger

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    3316 17th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 863-3061
    Hours: Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; Sun 5:30pm-9pm

    After working at some of San Francisco’s most prominent restaurants, including Aqua and Boulevard, Chef Emmanuel Eng brings a refined edge to the formerly casual-American spot Maverick, showing off some serious plating style and adding earthy infusions and depth with funky textures. But Eng’s menu is also full of soul, drawing inspiration from his Chinese heritage with dishes like crispy soft-poached egg with maitake mushrooms. The small bright orange dining room and floor-to-ceiling views of the busy Mission neighborhood lend a sunny backdrop. Chef-owner Scott Youkills is also involved in a number of other local projects, including Hi-Lo BBQ, while Co-owner and Sommelier Michael Pierce keeps the wine flowing.

  • Autumn Vegetables: Crispy Soft-poached Egg, Maitakes, Butternut Squash Bark, Garlic Soubise, and Ancho Chili Pesto
  • Roasted Squab, Hay-smoked Carrots, Red Wine-braised Salsify, and Parmesan

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    Michael Mina

    252 California Street
    San Francisco, CA 94111
    (415) 397-9222
    Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-10pm; Fri 11:30am-10:30pm; Sat 5pm-10:30pm; Sun 5pm-10pm

    Having moved in 2010 from its original Union Square location, Michael Mina’s is now just a few blocks away in the former Aqua space (where Mina himself cooked years before). Less a reinvention then a return to roots, the restaurant’s second iteration sheds the über formal dining room for Japanese minimalist décor (dark wood, floral tapestry, low lighting), while the menu still offers Mina’s practiced combination of Asian flavors, French composition, and California sensibility. Sommelier Josiah Baldivino’s bold wine list highlights well-known Old World vintners, small California producers, and a few obscure, geeky wines. Baldivino also dabbles in cocktail pairings and throws in the occasional beer to change things up.

  • Shabu Shabu: A5 Wagyu Beef, House-made Dashi, Haricots Verts, Heirloom Carrots, Matsutake, and Dashi
  • 38 North Duck Breast, Huckleberries, Asian Pear, Matsutake, and Butternut Squash

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    Namu Gaji

    499 Dolores Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 431-6268
    Hours: Tue-Thu, Sun 11:30am-4pm, 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-4pm, 5pm-11pm

    With the sequel to their popular (and now closed) Balboa Street restaurant Namu, the three Lee brothers (Dennis, David, and Daniel) have brought “New Korean American” cuisine to San Francisco's Mission District in Namu Gaji. The hip, boisterous room of wooden stools and sparse Asian décor is often packed with their fans, chefs, and local food lovers. Behind the stoves, Chef Dennis creates a menu of Asian flavors using produce from their Sunol farm; dishes packed with umami like his Napa cabbage with soy dashi and bonito; as well as the occasional modern riff, such as silky pasta/ramen with shaved tuna hearts. It’s a fun restaurant, the type of place you want to hang out on a Friday night. The borthers exude cool confidence which has helped to earn them their “rock star” tag.

  • Napa Cabbage, Minced Anchovy, Ginger, Soy Dashi, Bonito, and Walnut
  • Cod Belly and Top Loin, Squid Ink Fluid Gel, and Matsutake Purée

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    Oliveto Cafe & Restaurant

    5655 College Avenue
    Oakland, CA 94618
    (510) 547-5356
    Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-9pm; Fri 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm; Sat 5:30pm-10pm; Sun 5pm-9pm

    The East Bay of San Francisco might be morphing into a serious dining destination, but the stone walls and elegant dining room of Oakland’s Oliveto has long been a place to find classic Italian specialties in the area. Demonstrating finesse with traditional Italian delights (silky castelmagno tortelloni with honey and sage), unctuous charcuterie and salami, and origins-inspired items, like Potato-wrapped Pigeon-stuffed Quail and Truffle Sugo, Chef Jonah Rhodehamel breathes new life into the East Bay institution. Sommelier Esteban Brunnello has gleaned a smart, classic pairing style from his years working with 2010 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Restaurateur Shelley Lindgren at SPQR; his pairings are luxurious, modestly priced, and deliciously spot-on.

  • Charcuterie Platter: Bresola; Lomsa; Coppa; Milano; Genoa; Toscano: Finocinoa; and Picante
  • Antipasto of Slow-roasted Winter Vegetables with Green Garlic-Carrot Top Pesto with 2010 Nascetta Elvio Cogno
  • Tortelloni of Castelmagno Cheese and House-made Ricotta, Sage, and Honey with Camigliano 2010 Sangiovese Grosso, Rosso di Montalcino
  • Rosemary Pappardelle, Rabbit in Bianco with I Favati Fiano de Avellino Pietramara 2009

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    4001 Judah Street
    San Francisco, CA 94122
    (415) 661-6140
    Hours: Tue-Fri 11am-3pm; Tue-Thu 6pm-10pm; Sat 10am-3pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm; Sun 10am-3pm

    When enthusiastic baker David Muller and wife Lana Porcello opened Outerlands four years ago, they were looking to create a neighborhood spot with great soup and bread. That bread (based on the popular Tartine-style) garnered its own following, and, with the help of Chef Brett Cooper, the restaurant now has visitors and locals alike travelling to its Outer Sunset location. The casual vibe is present in the décor: a storybook-inspired wooden cubby on the second floor hovers above rustic tables, framed by warm wood walls and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the beachy streets nearby. But Cooper’s food steps beyond neighborhood comforts. He combines his fine dining background (Rubicon, Coi) with seasonal and house made elements (live sea scallops, homemade umeboshi) into a thoughtful menu that’s definitely worth the trip.

  • Slow-cooked Farm Egg, Curry-roasted Cauliflower, Chanterelles, and Parmesan
  • Red Trout, Sunchoke, Sprouted Nuts and Seeds, Thompson Grapes, and Preserved Meyer Lemon

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    Rich Table

    199 Gough Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 355-9085
    Hours: Sun-Mon, Wed-Thu 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm

    After a number of successful menu-testing pop-ups, some helpful Kickstarter funding, and plenty of sweat-filled days building out the space, Rich Table became the neighborhood restaurant of Evan and Sarah Rich's dreams. The couple worked together in New York and San Francisco’s finer locales before opening their ode to relaxed dining in July 2012. The restaurant offers Hayes Valley comfort specials, like chicken lasagna with pumpkins greens, alongside a top-notch wine list from Sommelier Maz Naba. Their hard work has paid off, and it shows from the satisfying menu to the décor; with rustic accents, including two-toned salvaged-wood banquets and overhead pipe lamps that Rich helped put together himself, not to mention Kickstarter backers' names painted on the walls. Rich Table is a real neighborhood gem.

  • Lamb Tartare, Flat Bread, Shelling Bean Purée, and Olive Oil with Pinot Noir, Teutonic Wine Co., “Laurel” Chelhalem Mountains, Oregon, 2011
  • Huitlacoche Tajarin Pasta
  • Chicken Lasagna, Pumpkin Greens, and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds with Malbec, Xavier Weisskopf, ‘Rocher Des Violesttes,’ Montlouis, France, 2010

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    2124 Folsom Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 828-7990
    Hours: Tue-Sat 6pm-10pm

    When it came time for 2010 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Joshua Skenes to open his own place—in the midst of the recession, no less—he decided to test out his concept with a pop-up restaurant one night a week in a rented event space. Three years later, Skenes' brick-and-mortar Saison has risen to the top of the city’s fine dining scene, a two-Michelin starred restaurant at the height of its game. A recent move to SoMa’s historic California Electric Light Building has Saison in a more spectacular surrounding than ever; the chic, industrial styling is the perfect backdrop for Skenes’ exciting cuisine, grounded in simplistic wood-fired executions but thought-provoking through unexpected use of texture and pairings. With 2011 New York Pastry Chef Shawn Gawle on deck, along with the wine talents of Sommelier Mark Bright, the restaurant is only getting better.

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    3000 20th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 471-2998
    Hours: 9am-7pm

    2010 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Thomas McNaughton followed up his successful Italian outpost flour + water just the way he told us he would three years ago: with his more casual Central Kitchen and the next door Salumeria, a deli and larder that proffers artisan meats, cheeses, oils, honeys, and other Italian grocery staples. With Chef de Cuisine Matt Sigler at the helm, Salumeria’s menu offers a variety of addictive sandwiches, toothsome pasta, and delicate salamis and sausages. Shop around the farmhouse-style deli for dinner fixings, then venture into the shared open courtyard where you can enjoy Salumeria’s meatier lunch options (the space is used solely for Central Kitchen during evening hours).

  • Boudin Blanc in Brioche, Chicken Liver Mousse, Chestnut, and Apples
  • Bread Raviolini, Pork Belly, and Brussels Sprout Leaves
  • Ham and Cheese and Gruyere Fonduta on House Gougères

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    Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn

    47900 Highway 1
    Big Sur, CA 93920
    (831) 667-2800
    Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-6pm; Sat-Sun 9am-5pm

    The glass walls and ceiling, wooden framework, slate flooring, and expansive Pacific Ocean view is a breathtaking backdrop for Executive Chef John Cox’s American Nouveau cuisine at Sierra Mar. Extending the organic experience of the Post Ranch Inn, Cox’s menu incorporates the surrounding landscape by using local ingredients. Plates like the “Camp Fire,” which infuses the flavor of charred oak into chocolate crémeux by way of a burnt oak plate, or Crispy Crickets that seem to dance inside a forest of wheatgrass, show Cox’s playfulness and creativity. And he backs this playfulness with flawless execution and a deep understanding of flavors and seasoning.

  • Wild Boar Tenderloin with Bay Laurel and Persimmon
  • Kumomoto Oysters with Basil Seeds, Cucumber, and Garden Herbs

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    Sons & Daughters

    708 Bush Street
    San Francisco, CA 94108
    (415) 391-8311
    Hours: Mon-Sun 5pm-9:30pm

    Chef de Cuisine Duncan Holmes is every hopeful culinary student’s success story. He came to downtown’s Sons & Daughters as a line cook, looking to learn and earn his stripes. After impressing Chefs Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara, Holmes was promoted to sous chef and last year became the restaurant’s chef de cuisine. And while he may have the humbleness of a just-starting-out-chef, the delicate, thoughtful cuisine he’s making at Sons & Daughters shows his rapid rise is well earned. A meal in the chic dining room of gilded mirrors and plush leather chairs is one of the most exciting to be had in San Francisco. Holmes has a way of turning the produce—gleaned from their Los Gatos garden into a dramatic, unforgettable menu.

  • Roasted Beets, Aromatic Spices, and Fresh Tarragon
  • Fennel Seed Soup, Garden Roots, and Bitter Leaves
  • Squab, Marcona Almond Butter, and Citrus

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    3640 Sacramento Street
    San Francisco, CA 94118
    (415) 931-5100
    Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm; 5pm-10pm; Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; 5pm-11pm Sat 5pm-11pm; Sun 5pm-10pm

    Located in neighborhoody Presidio Heights, Spruce is Chef Mark Sullivan’s follow-up to the perennially popular Village Pub in Woodside. The 70-seat restaurant offers a chic backdrop, including oversized faux ostrich chairs, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, and impressive glass wine towers. Working with produce from their Santa Cruz farm, Sullivan and Chef de Cuisine John Madriaga offer a menu of contemporary American cuisine with French influences; a duo of soups is creamy and comforting, while Veal Sweetbreads Lyonnaise Salad is a bright update on the classic French dish. Sommelier Christopher Gaither is as knowledgeable as he is affable, bringing witty wine information to his seductive pairings. With years of experience working at Los Gatos-institution Manresa behind him, new Pastry Chef Robert Vallejos infuses a combination of savory knowledge and guidance from mentors like 2007 San Francisco Rising Star Belinda Leong into his imaginative menu.

  • Duo of Soups: Cinderella Pumpkin and Maple Ice Cream with Sercial Madeira, Barbeito, 1998 and Celeriac and Roasted Chestnut Pain Perdu with Riesling, Schloss Vollrads, Spatlese, Rheingau, Germany 2005
  • Roasted Parsnip Cake, White Coffee Ice Cream, and Hosui Pear Gelée with Sherry, Emilio Lustau, East India Solera MV
  • Warm Apple Tart, Lemon Verbena Ice Cream, and Walnuts with Riesling, Toni Jost, Bacharacher Hahn, Auslese, Mittelrhein 2005

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    Tout Sweet Pâtisserie

    170 O'Farrell Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 385-1679
    Hours: Mon-Wed 10am-8pm; Thu-Sat 10am-9pm; Sun 11am-7pm

    Want to take a trip down the Champs-Élysées without the Parisian airfare? Then head to Union Square, where Pastry Chef Yigit Pura has captured the bright colors and jewel-box delights of a French patisserie à la (La Pâtisserie des Rêves). His brightly colored café, on the third floor of Macy’s Union Square, offers beautiful floor-to-ceiling window views of the city below and mod-white bubble seating to enjoy his vibrant sweets. While his macarons (in flavors like Sicilian Pistachio-Ceylon Cinnamon, and Raspberry Poppy Seed) can’t be missed, Pura also bakes a wide spectrum of pastries—everything from the fun, funky Fifth Element-inspired raspberry-white chocolate mousse to his expression of “energy” in the bright, tangy “Tesla Tart.”

  • 65C Poached Organic Egg Sandwich with Braised Fennel and House Gougère
  • Tesla Tart: Meyer Lemon-Yuzu Curd, Passion Fruit-Vanilla Cream, and Toasted House Passion Fruit-Yuzu Marshmallow
  • Tout Sweet French Macaron: Raspberry Poppy Seed, PBJ, Sicilian Pistachio-Ceylon Cinnamon, Milk Chocolate and Ginger; Burnt Caramel and Fleur de Sel, Tahitian Vanilla Bean Mousseline, Raspberry Poppy Seed

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    Twenty-Five Lusk

    25 Lusk Street
    San Francisco, CA 94107
    (415) 495-5875
    Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; Sun 11am-2pm

    The lofty SoMa restaurant Twenty Five Lusk is a place for special occasions; a swanky, cool space where Chef Matthew Dolan offers a menu that matches that loftiness in strides. Dolan and partner Chad Bourdon transformed the former meat-packing warehouse and smokehouse into the impressive space two years ago. Exposed brick and massive timbers help keep the industrial look, while intimate orb-like fireplaces and plush furniture in the downstairs bar area provide more suave style. Dolan’s menu balances an appreciation for finer tastes (escargot caviar and Martin Emigh’s rack of lamb) with the rich palate of Northern California cuisine, creating a go-to restaurant for celebrations of all kinds.

  • Seared Diver Scallop, Snow Peas, Prosciutto, Celeriac, Sunny Side Up Quail Egg, and Lemon Beurre Blanc
  • Ahi Tuna Cube, Escargot Caviar, Vanilla Powder, Avocado Mousse, Thai Chili, and Lime Gastrique

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    399 The Embarcadero
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    (415) 284-9922
    Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-10pm

    For a stunning view of the San Francisco Bay Bridge to go along with your meal, perch yourself at Embarcadero restaurant Waterbar, from Chef Parke Ulrich and Executive Pastry Chef Emily Luchetti. The nautical theme expands throughout the space with blue and teal décor, an impressive floor-to-ceiling aquarium tower, an inviting raw bar, and an approachable menu of sustainable fish and seafood. Top off a satisfying seafood lunch with one of Pastry Chef Angela Gong’s fun-loving desserts. Her peanut butter mousse with chocolate glaze and caramel corn appeals to every Snickers lover.

  • Peanut Butter Mousse, Chocolate Glaze, Banana Sorbet, and Caramel Corn

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    21st Amendment Brewery

    563 2nd Street
    San Francisco, CA 94107
    (415) 369-0900
    Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-12am; Fri-Sat 11:30am-1am; Sun 10am-12am

    Although brewers Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan started their 21st Amendment Brewery in 2000, it wasn’t until a few years ago that they expanded production and began canning in mass production. That’s right, bottle believers, 21st Amendment now comes in a can, complete with its graphic astronaut monkey and Abraham Lincoln logos. Along with bold graphics comes bold flavor; these brewers pass on traditional brewing styles and create a variety of fresh, full flavored pours, including watermelon wheat beer, oyster stout, cardamom saison, and Mission fig-infused Belgian ale. Inside the downtown brewpub, adjacent to the AT&T Park, you can catch a rotating selection on eight taps, as well as a stellar menu of pub classics boasting an award-winning burger.

  • Back in Black IPA
  • Belgian-style Farmhouse Saison

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    The Abbot's Cellar

    742 Valencia Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 626-8700
    Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 5:30pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-midnight

    Built over the ruins of the old Valencia Hotel, which collapsed after the 1906 earthquake, The Abbot’s Cellar is a monument to beer. With more than 130 beers on tap, in bottles and casked, the beer list is the star here, but food plays a good supporting role, with an ever-changing list of small plates and well-executed American fare. Chef Adam Dulye collaborates with Abbot’s Cellar Master Christian Albertson and Beer Director Mike Reis to come up with interesting pairings that often rely on lesser-known or limited-edition beers (think sea bass with Duvel’s Rustica). Formerly a garage, the restaurant offers a homey take on industrial-style: the old hotel’s stone-walled foundations make up the beer and wine cellar, and barn wood from Oregon and Kentucky lines the walls and floors.

  • Beef Bone Marrow, House Pastrami, Red Mizuna, Pickled Mustard Seeds, and Rye Crouton with Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
  • Oven-roasted Pheasant, Parsnip Purée, Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Huckleberry with Trappistes Brasserie Rochefort “6”

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    Almanac Beer Co.

    2325 3rd Street, Suite 202
    San Francisco, CA 94107
    (415) 992-3438
    Hours: not open for tours

    After spending years as passionate home brewers, Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan are converting San Francisco’s obsession with local product into beer making with their Almanac Beer Company. The goal: to create uniquely Northern California ales. Their self-named farm-to-barrel brews feature local fruit, spices, and herbs, everything from local fennel pollen and chocolate to vanilla and single-origin cocoa nibs from Dandelion Chocolate. Although their San Jose brewing space isn’t open for tours, the duo is pumping out an impressive line of food-friendly ales, saison, and IPAs that are available at restaurants, bars, and specialty stores throughout the city.

  • Summer 2010 Vintage: Belgian-style Golden Ale with Sonoma County Blackberries
  • Extra Pale Ale: Blossom Bluff Farm Mandarins, Cascade and Columbus Hops

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    Contraband Coffee Bar

    1415 Larkin Street
    San Francisco, CA 94109
    (415) 839-7388
    Hours: Mon 6:30am-8pm; Tue 6:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat 6:30am-9pm; Sun 8am-6pm

    Contraband’s home on the border of Nob Hill and Russian Hill has been a haven for locals who don’t want to drive down to the Mission or battle tourists at Blue Bottle’s Civic Center location to get a good cup of joe. Although the neighborhood boasts a few corporate coffee chains, this coffee bar is the first to offer something serious. Featuring light roasts and single-origin beans, Contraband’s mission is to serve great coffee with a smile, tossing out the attitude that has come to be associated with high-end coffee. The new venture is still gearing up—packaging, labeling, and a new website are all in the works in preparation for retail—and additional locations are planned for the future.

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    De La Paz Coffee Roasters

    1081 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 525-4344
    Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-2am

    In a city where coffee is taken seriously—with local players like Blue Bottle Coffee and Ritual Coffee Roasters successfully edging into the national market—De La Paz is taking the slow and steady path toward caffeinated success. The company was founded by Jason Benford in 2006 and made its footing selling wholesale espresso and coffee blends to restaurants and cafés throughout San Francisco. Now, construction and small changes to the Mission Street location are making way for a coffee bar, which Head Roaster Shark Senesac says is aimed to be more tasting bar and less Wi-Fi café. It will offer a rotating list of brewed coffees and pour-over options, and although the Four Barrel team recently purchased the SoMa-based roastery, things are still on track for Benford’s original intentions.

  • Yayo Ethiopia Pour-over
  • Finca Columbia Pour-over

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    Four Barrel

    375 Valencia Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 252-0800
    Hours: Mon-Sat 7am-8pm; Sun 8am-8pm

    If we had a rainy San Francisco day to sit around coffee shops, Four Barrel is where you’d find us. The former-motorcycle shop’s charms alone draw us in: garage windows look out onto the Mission, exposed wooden beams and vintage furniture fill the room, and a music nook offers a record player and small record library. But this local roastery is also one of the city’s best spots for a cup of joe. After working to start Ritual Roasters, Owner Jeremy Tooker opened shop in 2008, sourcing the highest quality beans and roasting them traditionally. And he has big plans for the city, including two new venues slated for 2013. Take a walk around back, down tiny Caledonia Alley, and you might find Head Trainer Brett Whitman teaching the art of espresso shots at the shop’s training lab (or working up a batch of his addictive Caledonia Casual Encounters in the Alley for a group of neighborhood fans).

  • Friendo Blendo Espresso
  • Caledonia Casual Encounters in the Alley: Pour-over Coffee, Soda Water, Simple Syrup, and Orange Zest

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    Heaven's Dog

    1148 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 863-6008
    Hours: Mon-Sat 5pm-1am; Sun 4:30pm-9pm

    The Bay Area is booming with talented mixologists and one of our favorite San Francisco watering holes is easily Charles Phan’s Chinese Heaven’s Dog. That’s thanks in no small part to the charms of Ethan Terry, one of the friendliest and most knowledgeable barkeeps we know. Inside the modern, red-decked restaurant you can find Terry behind the sleek, narrow bar, pouring his version of pre-Prohibition drinks. His rendition of a sour combines Pear Eau de Vie, Maple, Cardamom, and Armagnac for the perfect balance of fall fruit. And although Heaven’s Dog has been closed for renovations for the last few months, Terry has kept busy guest pouring at spots all over the city, including AQ’s bar, a menu he originally helped design.

  • Autumn Motive: Aged Bols Genever, Allspice Dram, Nocino, and Madeira
  • Stone Cell Sour: Armagnac, Pear Eaux de Vie, Maple, Lemon, Cardamom Bitters, and Egg Whites
  • Not Buttered Rum: Añejo Tequila, Mezcal, Gravenstein Apple Juice, Sage Butter, Clove, Brown Sugar, and Black Pepper

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    Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen

    401 Taylor Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 775-7979
    Hours: Mon-Wed, Sun 11:30am- midnight; Thu-Sat 11:30am-1am

    Named after the famous San Francisco surveyor Jasper O’Farrell, Jasper’s Corner Tap distinguishes itself from the nearby Financial District bar masses with the stellar talents of Bar Manager Kevin Diedrich. Tucked around the corner from the Serrano Hotel, the low-key atmosphere has the look of a sports bar (with wide-screen TVs, dark wooden furniture, and a large central bar), but Dietrich crafts a menu of both high-level cocktails and an impressive beer selection, keeping discerning drinkers, happy hour crowds, and tourists all content. Tea-infused toddies, batched Negronis, and tequila-based sodas are there for the drinking, along with beers like Chicago’s Goose Island Matilda and a number of California pours. Bar hoppers can finish off the drinks with Chef Adam Carpenter’s satisfying menu.

  • Black Cross: Black Tea-infused Smith & Cross, Dubonnet Rouge Vermouth, Belle de Brillet, and Angostura Bitters
  • Soda Jerk: Blanco Tequila, Lime, Passion Fruit, Egg White, Vanilla Agave, Campari, and Cream Soda

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    Linden Street Brewery

    95 Linden Street
    Oakland, CA 94607
    (510) 251-8898
    Hours: Thurs 5pm-9pm; Fri 5pm-9pm; Sat 12pm-5pm; Sun 12pm-5pm

    Brewer-owner Adam Lamoreaux got his first taste of great beer in the Navy—returning home from a tour of Australia he drank his first microbrews. After retiring from the service and working his way through microbreweries and large-scale production houses, Lamoreaux decided first and foremost he wanted to be his own boss. Setting up shop in a historic 1890s brick warehouse in Oakland’s port, the San Francisco-native founded Linden Street Brewery in 2009, reviving the lost art of brewing in the city while striving to create a go-to beer for the locals. His easy-drinking lagers are brewed in the old California steam tradition, making for a distinct flavor and smooth mouthfeel that sets him apart from the pack in the East Bay, and as Lamoreaux hopes, eventually the nation.

  • Urban People's Common Lager
  • Burning Oak Black Lager

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    Pacific Brewing Laboratory

    214 Clara Street
    San Francisco, CA 94107
    (415) 937-7843
    Hours: Limited openings; check website for tour and tasting times.

    At the epicenter of the nation’s start-up boom, it makes sense that an entrepreneurial spirit thrives. Enter gypsy brewing, a pop-up brewery of sorts, where brewers rent equipment from an established business, test out their brand on limited capital, and see if the market responds. Bryan Hermannsson, a former chemist, and Patrick Horn started their Pacific Brewing Laboratory three years ago in this way, sharing homebrews with friends before graduating to a rented garage space and equipment in SoMa. Their esoteric brews—flavors like Hibiscus Saison, Squid Ink Black IPA, Szechwan Peppercorn Red Ale—are intriguing enough to stand out from the growing crowd of Bay Area microbrewers but are also easy to drink on a Sunday afternoon, refreshing and food-friendly. Still in the gypsy brewing, “start-up” phase, the team delivers kegs throughout the Bay Area, and has plans for their own dedicated brewery in the near future.

  • Nautilus Hibiscus Saison: Belgian Style with Coriander, Bitter Orange, and Hibiscus
  • Black Sea Common: Oysters and Sea Salt

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    Ritual Coffee Roasters

    1026 Valencia Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 641-1011
    Hours: Mon-Fri 6am-10pm; Sat 7am-10pm; Sun 7am-9pm

    Elieen Rinaldi fell in love with coffee after tasting a deliciously sweet espresso shot at a San Francisco coffee conference more than a decade ago; she’s been recreating the experience for devoted coffee lovers and the uninitiated for the past eight years at her Ritual Coffee Roasters. The goal at Ritual is to do everything possible to make the coffee taste better, whether it is improving the bags used for storing beans, decreasing the time it takes to get customers coffee, or improving relationships with farmers. Rinaldi purchases 92 percent of her beans directly from farmers, looking for three distinct qualities of flavor— clean, sweet, and bright—as well as complexity, depth of flavor, and nuance in finish. With four coffee bars (including a Napa store) and a roasting facility, and operations including wholesale accounts, restaurant relationships, and exporting as far as Canada and China, Rinaldi is shaping the face of coffee culture worldwide.

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    St. Vincent

    270 Valencia Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 285-1200
    Hours: Mon-Thu Mon-Fri noon-3pm; Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm

    Named for the patron saint of wine, St. Vincent is famed wine star David Lynch’s first foray into restaurants. The wine menu leans heavily on Italian and Californian producers (Lynch helped create the stellar wine program at both Babbo and Quince), and beer pours from Cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski are equally enjoyable. Up-and-coming Chef Bill Niles is self taught, and his Bar Tartine background has helped him create a tempting menu, with favorites from his Maryland home state (the she-crab is incredible), nods to British gastropub fare, and a few French classics. The barn-like room is a cozy place to enjoy a glass of wine any night of the week, outfitted with wrought-iron light fixtures, floor-to-ceiling curtains, repurposed tables, and jars of Niles’ curried pickled eggs.

  • She-Crab: Lobster, Corn Chowder, Lobster Roe, Anson Mills Gold Rice, Uni, and Green Mix
  • Laver Bread: Tartine Rye, Nori Spread, Poached Oysters, Wild Chanterelles, Nasturtium Leaf, Purslane, and Chervil

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    Trick Dog

    3010 20th Street
    San Francisco, California 94110
    (415) 471-2999
    Hours: Mon-Sun 3pm-2am

    After working the bars of some of San Francisco’s best cocktail spots (15 Romolo, Comal, Coco500), the wildly talented duo behind cocktail consulting company Bon Vivants opened their own shop—and we can’t get enough. Nestled behind 2010 San Fransicso Bay Area Rising Star Chef Thomas McNaughton’s Central Kitchen, Trick Dog is equal parts speakeasy, motorcycle bar, and serious drinking den. The split-level room features a variety of industrial unfinished accents, bright colors, and vintage furnishings, with funky 1950s tunes to keep the mood lively. Owner-Mixologists Scott Harris and Josh Baird’ Pantone-themed menu lists drinks by paint name and ingredient; the minty “Polar Bear” and earthy beet and ginger “Pantone” are both standout options. A menu from Chef Chester Watson includes grown-up bar snacks like crispy fried Brussels Sprouts and the Trick Dog—a juicy flattened burger served inside a hot dog bun.

  • Polar Bear: Pierde Almas Puritita Mezcal, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, and Tempus Fugit Crème de Menthe
  • Pantone (7621): Four Roses Bourbon, Combier, Kummel, Beet, Ginger, and Lemon
  • St. Elmo’s Fire (2763): Denizen White Rum, Amaro Averna, Pineapple, Coconut Vinegar, Allspice, and Lime

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    Verve Coffee Roasters

    104 Bronson Street, Suite 19
    Santa Cruz, CA 95062
    (831) 471-8469
    Hours: 7am-5pm

    Roasters Colby Barr and Ryan O’Donovan have set up shop in the laid-back beach town of Santa Cruz, and Verve Coffee Roasters is worth the trek. The airy downtown space is filled with wooden siding, mid-century décor, and young creatives busy at work. While their new roastery café embraces the warehouse style; you’ll find Verve’s impeccable coffee at both spaces (along with a third East Side location), sourced from single-origin green beans and roasted until vibrant and smooth. Don’t miss pastries from local bakeries, including a downright addictive tangy lemon tart.

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    Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

    1648 Pacific Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94109
    No phone
    Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-2pm; Sat-Sun 8am-3pm

    Combining nearly three decades of experience in the coffee business, Trish Rothgeb and Nick Cho’s Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters is a welcome addition to the growing coffee scene in San Francisco. Among other accolades, Rothgeb is a founding member of the Barista Guild of America, while Cho (her husband) won the 2006 South East Regional Barista Championships. With an eye for more acidity and rarer coffee strains, Rothgeb buys their sustainable green coffee and roasts it in Oakland, where she plans to expand, opening a second retail shop. Cho runs their coffee bar operation inside Nob Hill’s Firehouse 8 Center, offering a variety of pour-over and filter-brewed coffees, as well as the team’s whole beans selections. Wrecking Ball aims to be one of the leading purveyors of coffee in the Bay Area, and already has relationships with a few local restaurants. The team also has a side consulting operation, in which they teach fellow roasters and restaurants the ins and outs of retail, cupping, and roasting.

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    Clift Hotel

    495 Geary Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 775-4700
    Rooms range from about $249 to $749

    Every city visitor should take a peak inside the majestic Clift Hotel’s lobby. Located just above Union Square’s shopping district, and designed by Philippe Starck, the soaring lobby contains an acclaimed furniture collection complete with chairs from Ray and Charles Eames, a coffee table by Salvador Dali, a surreal stool by Renee Marguerite , and a custom-made sculpture by William Sawaya. Overnight guests won’t be disappointed, either—the artistic wonderland continues inside the hotel’s sweeping rooms. The colorful purple-accented bedrooms host their own funky Starck furniture, luxurious king size beds, and Malin + Goetz bath amenities.

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    The Four Seasons San Francisco

    757 Market Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 633-3000
    Rooms range from about $425 to $8000

    The San Francisco branch of this elegant hotel group lives up to its reputation. Tucked into an alley behind Market Street, it offers proximity to Union Square, the Westfield Shopping Center, and the Embarcadero. A chandelier-clad lobby greets visitors, setting the tone for graceful rooms complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, marble baths with deep tubs, and complimentary newspapers. And the hotel’s Seasons restaurant, run by Chef Mark Richardson, provides sweeping views of the city alongside a menu packed with famers market finds.

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    Hotel Monaco

    501 Geary Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 292-0100
    Rooms range from about $250 to $430

    The award-winning Hotel Monaco was recently updated and is now outfitted with modernized, Moroccan-inspired rooms: bright blues offset ethnic prints, metal accents, and woodwork furnishings, and sweeping canopy beds fill the rooms. The enormous marble bathroom offers a relaxing Jacuzzi tub, C.O. Bigelow bath products, and cozy robes. An inviting lobby encourages guests to leave these comforts for a morning coffee and tea reception (including a tempting hot chocolate spread) and the complimentary evening wine hour.  For more filling options, Chef Alicia Jenish is bringing fresh perspective to the property’s historic Grand Café with a variety of whole animal preparations and updated classics, including her delicious goat mixed grill.

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    Hotel Diva

    440 Geary Boulevard
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 885-0200
    Rooms Range from about $184 to $500

    The chic and modern Hotel Diva is located in the hub of San Francisco’s Union Square surrounded by shopping, theaters, and blocks away from the Moscone Convention Center, Chinatown, and the Embarcadero. Upon arrival, stroll past the diva sidewalk of fame—featuring signatures of celebrity guests—and into the modern yet, sophisticated lobby. Sexy custom shades and stainless steel sculpted headboards set the stage in your room, for your own diva experience. Guests can take advantage of the artist-designed diva lounges, 24-hour fitness center, newly remodeled business center and Starbucks located just off the lobby. Before hitting the nearby theaters and nightclubs, indulge in authentic Central Mexican tapas at the Colibrí Restaurant, located in the lobby. Hotel Diva promises a stylish and diva-worthy experience during your stay in San Francisco.

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    Hotel Shattuck Plaza

    2086 Allston Way
    Berkeley, CA 94704
    (510) 845-7300
    Rooms range from about $129 to $275

    First opened in 1910, the historic Hotel Shattuck Plaza underwent renovations several years ago, making it one of the more popular boutique hotels in the East Bay today. And as Berkeley and Oakland continue to expand into dining destinations in their own right, its an ideal place to stay across the Bay—the Metro is just around the corner, Berkeley’s theater district is nearby, and downtown San Francisco is only a 25 minute drive away. The modern rooms come equipped with flat-screen TVs, an in-room coffee maker, complimentary wireless Internet, and luxury amenities. And the hotel’s chic restaurant FIVE is helmed by Chef Banks White, who serves a menu of updated American classics.

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    InterContinental Mark Hopkins

    1 Nob Hill
    San Francisco, CA 94108
    (415) 392-3434
    Rooms range from $129 to $5000

    Experience a taste of old San Francisco in one of the city’s more refined hotels, the InterContinental Mark Hopkins. Perched atop of Nob Hill, this elegant hotel still houses the same grandeur as it did during its opening in 1926. A decadent lobby shows off gilded mirrors, chandeliers, and opulent décor. The neoclassical designed rooms feature magnificent views of the city, along with rich wooden furniture, spa tubs, and Frette bathrobes. To catch even more of the city, guests can enjoy the hotel’s sky lounge, Top of the Mark, where panoramic views are on daily display for breakfast, lunch, and cocktails.

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    The Mandarin Oriental

    222 Sansome Street
    San Francisco, CA 94104
    (415) 276-9888
    Rooms range from about $400 to $6000

    A stay at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco offers the ultimate in luxury; the rooms are situated high above the city, in the top 11 floors of the 48-floor building, and the dramatic city views are an incredible way to take it all in. Inside you’ll find a number of distinct touches, including spacious rooms with plush goose down bedding, complimentary bottled water, and Molton Brown bath products (ahhhh...). For dining options, Chef Adam Mali makes some of our favorite brunch dishes at the hotel’s Brasserie S&P—tangy Dungeness Crab Louis or bright pickled herring with crispy rye bread—while Mixologist Priscilla Young creates the perfect in-room experience with her DIY gin & tonic set, complete with a mini bottle of local distillery St. George gin.

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    Omni Hotels & Resorts San Francisco

    500 California Street
    San Francisco, CA 94104
    (415) 677-9494
    Rooms range from about $245 to $659

    Like most impressive Omni properties, the San Francisco location offers luxury rooms, top-notch service, and modern amenities. A grandiose lobby welcomes guests with chandeliers and old-school charm; the stately rooms include plush bedding, roomy marble bathrooms, and Omni bath products. The ideal downtown location puts travelers a step away from a cable car ride and Union Square shopping, and the Financial District and Embarcadero are all a short walk away.

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    The Orchard Hotel

    665 Bush Street
    San Francisco, CA 94108
    (415) 362-8878
    Rooms range from about $190 to $425

    As the first LEED-EB certified hotel in the city, The Orchard Hotel offers travelers an eco-conscious, “green” experience, along with a location central to both Union Square’s shopping district and the culinary charms of Nob Hill. The hotel’s interior features sustainably harvested wood and low-emission paint. Along with those touches, the rooms are large and organic bath products are offered with loving care. The lobby’s Daffodil Restaurant offers simple, comforting options, with Kitchen Manager Linus Lee’s take on California’s organic produce.

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    Post Ranch Inn

    47900 Highway 1
    Big Sur, CA 93920
    (831) 667-2200
    Rooms Range from $675 to $1,585

    Nestled in the cliffs of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn offers spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and over 100-acres of lush, verdant mountains. Constructed in 1992, the Inn was designed by visionary architect Mickey Muennig and has since become a premier award-winning luxury hotel. The building’s design incorporates its structures into the natural landscape, creating a peaceful, synergetic relationship that promotes relaxation and reconnection with the natural environment. Its inspired rooms offer tree-level balconies above vibrant mountain ranges, coastal views with warm Pacific sunsets, and even free standing structures built directly into the tree line for an intimate organic experience.

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    Rosewood Sand Hill Resort

    2825 Sand Hill Road
    Menlo Park, CA 94025
    (650) 561-1500
    Rooms range from about $365 to $1000

    From the deluxe rooms to the 1,900-square-foot villas, everything about the Rosewood Sand Hill Resort oozes luxury. Situated amid 16 acres in Silicon Valley, the property itself is stunning, with California ranch architecture, sweeping views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, lush courtyards, and tempting cabanas and pools. Inside the hotel’s main lodge, you’ll find an inviting Rococo-style lounge, a popular nighttime gathering place for locals, as well as Chef Peter Rudolph’s Michelin-starred Madera restaurant. The resort-style lodgings offer furnished private balconies, separate rain shower and marble bathtubs, walk-in closets, and Italian Rivolta Carmignani bed linens.

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    W Hotel San Francisco

    181 Third Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 777-5300
    Rooms range from about $279 to $909

    A refreshing change from the corporate lodgings of downtown San Francisco, the W Hotel San Francisco exudes cool. The loungey three-story first floor houses the popular nightlife spot Upstairs Drink Boutique and the hotel’s restaurant Trace, where Chefs Paul Piscopo and Alaun Grimaud offer a menu of seasonal, local produce. Located in the heart of the SoMa district, the hotel neighbors with the Museum of Modern Art and Yerba Buena Gardens, and is a short walk away from Union Square’s shops, the Financial District, or the Embarcadero waterfront. Inside amidst the modern, funky décor of the rooms, you’ll find Bliss bath products, a 32-inch flat screen plasma TV, an Apple iPod docking station, and fun touches like Chinese checkers. Guests can also unwind with a dip in the outdoor heated lap pool.

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