I love San Francisco. This is probably due to the fact that every moment I am there is spent stuffing my face at restaurants I can’t really afford, but justify by telling myself I’m on vacation. Dollars don’t count on vacation. Calories don’t either. It’s really a win-win for my waistline and my wallet. You should try it sometime. It’s brilliant.
So here’s a list of places I enjoyed on my last trip. If you’re in the Bay area or planning a vacation there soon, I highly recommend you check them out.
Craftsman & Wolves
746 Valencia Street (at 18th Street)
Craftsman & Wolves is the type of modern patisserie I wish I had in my town. Located in the Mission and headed by Chef William Werner (Semi-finalist, ‘Outstanding Pastry Chef’, 2013 James Beard Award) the menu is a rotation of breakfast muffins, croissants, cookies, sandwiches & salads, afternoon tea and SightGlass coffee. I tried to be good for my lunch portion and had the kale salad, but I should have gone full force and ordered what my friend went with: pulled chicken salad with celery & bacon on a biscuit. Heaven.
For dessert, I went for the chocolate, caramel, vietnamese cinnamon cube cake with a cappuccino. The cube cake is a dangerous little confection that plays on Werner’s design aesthetic and culinary talents. It was also light enough to leave me with room to take down some carrot passion & grapefruit fennel pâte de fruit on my way out the door. Always appreciated.
State Bird Provisions
1529 Fillmore St.
Owned by husband and wife team, Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provision’s masterful dishes are served dim-sum style on carts, while the team works behind the bar in the open kitchen. The range of dishes can be overwhelming to a first time visitor, but each is crafted with precision and are outrageously delicious. It’s really no surprise that it made the short list for ‘Best New Restaurant’ on the 2013 James Beard Awards.
I arrived with my friend at 6PM on a Tuesday (opens at 5:30PM) and the restaurant was already full and had a wait. I practically begged the hostess for a table, and she said we could be seated at 9:45 or take the ‘sweet spot’ (aka the cold, standing, spot near the door) at 7PM. We went with the ‘sweet spot’ and hoped the whole experience would be worth it.
The best part of being seated (well, standing) at the ‘sweet spot’ is that you have a front row to everything going on in the kitchen. I got to chat with the cooks and had first dibs on all the dishes being passed around. Even though it was just the two of us, and due to my lack of self control, we got an opportunity to try a variety of amazing dishes. Standouts included: green garlic bread with burrata, guinea hen dumplings with aromatic broth, duck liver mouse with almond financier, ‘California in a bowl’ -dungeness crab, avocado, fennel, mandarin, and pork belly citrus salad. Simply amazing.
And who could forget the dessert? Chicory macaron ‘ice cream’ sandwich with coconut caramel. I really don’t feel like there’s anything more I need to say State Bird Provisions. Just go wait in line and order everything your little heart desires. You can thank me later.
2821 California St. at Divisadero St.
Do you ever find yourself saying “oh, i just wish this croissant was a bit more, I don’t know… decadent. Perhaps some sugar.. a bit more butter?” Of course not, that’s effing ridiculous, but then again so is the kouign-amann (pronounced kween ah-MON). It’s the crack-addicts version of croissant and if I was living in Pacific Heights, I would start hoarding them like a squirrel in winter. Belinda Leong has mastered this traditional Breton cake along with a variety of other amazing French desserts at her new bakery/cafe on California & Divisadero.
I couldn’t decide on just one dessert, so I ordered the kouign-amann, passionfruit almond bostock, and a vanilla caramel mille-feuille. I quickly attacked all three and proceeded to drift into a sugar-induced coma of happiness. Go to b. pastisserie and order everything.
2815 California St at Divisadero St.
Located right next door to B. Pastisserie is a tiny sustainable sushi restaurant called Tataki. I would have wandered past this unassuming restaurant had it not been for my family friend picking out this gem for dinner on Sunday night. The menu is simple, but the sushi is light, fresh, and completely divine. We ordered garlic edamame and arctic char carpaccio with capers and yuzu citrus sauce for appetizers, and then a handful of rolls including arctic char and avocado, shrimp tempura, and gari saba rolls. If you’re in the neighborhood, check out Tataki for dinner, or for take-out if the lines get too crazy.
Blue Bottle Coffee Bar at SF Moma
151 Third Street (between Mission + Howard)
Blue Bottle coffee is a staple among San Francisco coffee shops, and combined with the Rooftop Pavilion and adorable art-inspired cakes, this is definitely a great place to relax after wandering the museum. The Garry Winogrand exhibit is also open until June 2nd and is worth a wander.
1415 Larkin Street
The first time I went here I had a lovely chat with the barista and a perfect cappuccino. The second time I was served by a hipster asshat who ruined my morning. So, you know, enter at your own risk.
Hillside Supper Club
300 Precita Ave. (at Folsom Street)
I was excited to visit this former pop-up turned full time restaurant, but I was left wanting more. Apparently, I should have read the SFGate review before my visit. While the dishes were all decent and the atmosphere was comfortable, I still wouldn’t run back just yet. The duck liver mousse was a standout as were the desserts, but give this place another six months to work out the kinks and I think it will be great.