Maverick Restaurant: fun place to eat in the Mission, SF.

We do sneak into the city of San Francisco periodically and rely upon our friends who live there to give us suggestions.  For our guests visiting San Francisco, we like to give them new and unusual options for dining.  Maverick is one of those places.  Small, intimate, and smack in the middle of the Mission District; the hip, trendy people go there to try new restaurants.  Not that we are hip or trendy, but we do like to keep up on the food scene.  Their theme is “American regional comfort food”.  Jamie ordered macaroni and cheese as a side plate to share, the little gem salad with nectarines and blue cheese, and fried chicken with chive and black pepper gravy (delicious).  I enjoyed a smoked trout salad drizzled with caper vinaigrette that was a great opener to the meal , as well as the braised pork ribs with tequila glaze.    The menu changes seasonally which is always a nice touch, so that you can return multiple times and expect different items on the menu.  (I’m afraid we’re just not Denny’s kind of guys who like a set menu)  The organic produce as well as the use of sustainable meats and fish is an added bonus as you feel good about what you are eating.  Located on 17th Street, a fun place to eat in the Mission.

Zuni Cafe: classic San Francisco eatery.

Judy Rogers, owner/chef of Zuni’s Cafe in San Francisco, continues to provide the ambience and great food that has defined her restaurant since 1987.  The whole roast chicken and the 30-minute wait are still on the menu, and still is a huge hit with it’s accompanying bread salad.  We decided to try the anchovies and parmesan cheese as an appetizer and we loved them with the crusty bread on the table and the parmesan cheese bits sprinkled on top.  The tomato soup was perfect, with roasted tomatoes and cilantro and creme fraiche, and the classic Caesar she makes still delights me.  I was given the opportunity to taste the ricotta gnocchi (wanted to compare them to my own- and I still prefer my own!), the pork chop roasted in the wood-burning oven, and the spaghetti and meatballs she had on the menu.  I still have yet to have a bad bite there.  The ambience is still funky and fun, with nooks and crannies and cubby holes hidden all over; the restaurant looks deceptively small until you walk through the labyrinth and discover tables that are hidden gems.  We kept dessert simple with the plate of biscottini, and with the large bowl cappucino it was a perfect ending to the meal.

Kingfish: a casual place for lunch in the Bay Area

For those headed to San Francisco Airport and have some time on their hands before their flight, I would highly recommend a small side-trip to the town of San Mateo.  Quaint, with lots of shops and little eateries along South B Street, one of their main thoroughfares.  We chose Kingfish Restaurant as our destination that day for lunch, as we were looking for special grasses for the front yard to replace the roses and there is a nursery in San Mateo that specializes in those.  The ambience is casual, with a slice of Southern charm throughout.  The restaurant feels comfortable, and the food follows in line with that.  We enjoyed the Jambalaya, rich with sausage and chicken pieces throughout the seasoned rice, as well as the chicken avocado sandwich.  We also saw the French Dip sandwich come out that looked really big and luscious.  Oh well, for the next time.  And the front yard, by the way, really looks great with the new grasses!

Town Hall Restaurant: a San Francisco favorite!

We know that plenty of our guests will be spending time in San Francisco as part of their stay in Northern California, and we would like to recommend to you Town Hall restaurant on Howard Street.  The cuisine is Southern, with really crispy fried chicken, and osso bucco that falls right off the bones.  The chopped salad with a ton of different vegetables is just incredible, as is the Barbeque Shrimp that has a hint of heat and spice.  We were going to pass up on dessert but the waitress convinced us that the pot de creme was not to be missed: with chocolate on the bottom and butterscotch on top.  Oh my!  It was absolutely incredible.

Now, the ambience is loud and happening, so if you are looking for a quiet and romantic spot, this is not it.  But if you are hankering for some really great homestyle Louisianna, southern cuisine, then Town Hall is a definite stop for you.  It is casual and very sophisticated, with great flavors and food.

Soluna: a casual restaurant in San Francisco

We went to the City for a meeting and while there tried out Soluna Cafe and Lounge near the Civic Center in San Francisco.  A small restaurant with large, comfortable booths, and a great lunch menu for those looking for casual dining.  For those visiting the Asian Art Museum, City Hall, or the City Library, this would make a nice stop at midday.  With a nice selections of salads (Caeser, Nicoise, Green Salad with fresh fruit and vinaigrette to name a few), and a wonderful selection of appetizers and sandwiches to create an afternoon meal (garlic fries, macaroni and cheese, chicken sandwich, smoked mozzarella and Black Forest ham grilled sandwich to name the three that we enjoyed), we found it to be a simple eatery with a nice urban touch and a nice break from some of the fancier eateries available in San Francisco.  Sandwiches ranged from $9-$12, appetizers in the $5 range, and salads ranging from $6-$12.

Bellanico: a restaurant in the Bay Area

We have discovered many people who dine all over the Bay Area when they come to Napa, either visiting friends or choosing to see other sights apart from the wineries, and so we decided to take some of their recommendations and add them to our list.  For those coming into or out of the Oakland Airport, this would be a great place for lunch or dinner.  Italian in style with a wide selection of meats, fish, and vegetarian options.  The fried olives appetizer were incredible, as was the fig salad with Arugula and Hazelnuts that Jamie enjoyed, while I dug heartily into the farro salad (a grain salad tossed with a vinaigrette with cucumbers, tomatoes, and toasted pistachios).   I chose the duck tortelloni as my main course while Jamie ordered the Grilled pork chop with tomatoes and a balsamic sauce.  Both were really tasty dishes.  We want to go back as the short ribs with marsala sauce and the orecchiette with pork ragu and sweet onions was also tempting.  It is a small restaurant and we were the first to arrive without reservations as soon as it opened.  Within fifteen minutes the place was packed and there was a line out the door.  My advice- make a reservation, or get there at opening and be seated right away.  The food is just delicious and the prices within reach ($6 apps to $19 main courses).