What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

Thursday, 18 February 2016 18:54

A Foodie's Guide to San Francisco’s Fillmore

Balboa Cafe PicmonkeyThere's high energy at the Balboa Café

By Marcia Gagliardi

February 19, 2016 - Fillmore Street is known for many things: its jazz history, its famous music venue, its very steep grade (near Broadway) and also its extensive shopping. Fillmore stretches all the way from the Marina to the Haight, crossing through many neighborhoods—here are some restaurants to note along the way.

Balboa Café (3199 Fillmore St.)This American mainstay dates back to 1913 and has a San Francisco saloon style. It’s known for its burger and offers other classics like a Cobb salad and a good Bloody Mary. (It also has quite the pick-up scene at its long bar.)

Sunday, 17 January 2016 23:33

Adventurous Dining in the Richmond District

Richmond Dist SF Photo PicmonkeyLooking eastward from edge of The Richmond. Photo: David Sawyer

 By Marcia Gagliardi

January 18, 2016 – San Francisco’s Richmond District (which runs north of Golden Gate Park) is full of international restaurants, from Chinese to Vietnamese to Burmese to pizza. Here are a few highlights of some local favorites that visitors may enjoy.

Saturday, 09 January 2016 19:48

10 Bars Where You Need to Drink in 2016

drinks from SFCVB photo PicmonkeyPhoto: Paul Saad

By Marcia “Tablehopper” Gagliardi

January 10, 2016 - San Francisco’s bar scene is just as lively as its restaurant scene, with new watering holes opening all the time (hey, we’re a thirsty city). Here are a few recently opened places—with the rest opening soon—that you’ll want to pull up a barstool at. And fans of wine, we have a couple spots for you, too.

Azalina Eusope SF Chef and Rest Owner PicmonkeyAzalina Eusope serves Malaysian food

By Paula Keung

The name San Francisco is derived from Saint Francis of Assisi, a Roman friar who was canonized in 1228. What’s interesting about Saint Francis is that he is the patron saint of animals and the environment. So it is only natural that the vegetarian lifestyle is so popular in the scenic City by the Bay. We tapped into the veg-scene via two locals, Mirran and Jenny, who shared with us some of the best places for deliciously conscientious dining.

Mirran Raphaely, Founder & CEO at FLOW GLOBAL

“I’m a lifelong vegetarian at 41 and have never eaten meat, fish or fowl. Our unparalleled quality of produce combined with the creative talents of food entrepreneurs who truly care about their wares makes this an ideal city for vegetarians!” Here are her picks:

 By Marcia GagliardiOctopus at La Ciccia PicmonkeyOctopus at La Ciccia

People always ask chefs where they like to eat, but unfortunately chefs don’t get to eat out very much, and when they do, it’s often on the late side. But here are a few places where you’ll find cooks and chefs in San Francisco when they have a chance to let someone else do the cooking.

La Ciccia (291 30th St.)

A San Francisco restaurant industry favorite, this authentic Sardinian restaurant in Noe Valley always has a happy crowd dining on chef Massimiliano Conti’s spaghetti and bottarga, spicy octopus, fresh seafood, and fregola and urchin. The wine list is deep and the hospitality from wife, Lorella Degan is unmatched. (Their neighboring enoteca, La Nebbia, is also becoming an industry hangout.)

By Dan Rosenbaum

Treasure Island Flea Mkt Picmonkey Great view of San Francisco from Treasure Island market

San Francisco is home to big brands, haute couture and major department stores. Many including Westfield San Francisco Centre are centered around Union Square, and neighborhoods such as Fillmore and Hayes Valley are filled with boutiques. For those who want random kitsch, vintage wares, local and only in San Francisco products, there are plenty of outdoor flea markets that happen every month. The next time you're looking for an opportunity to do a little retail reconnaissance, shop at these great markets.

crabcloseup at Alioto PicmonkeyCracked Dungeness crab at Alioto'sBy Marcia Gagliardi

Let’s take a look at some dishes that come from San Francisco, mythical items that almost every visitor has on their checklist. (To be clear, while items like the focaccia at Liguria Bakery and the egg custard tarts from Golden Gate Bakery are superlative and local favorites, those dishes’ origins are not in San Francisco.) And don’t forget: if you want to try an It’s-It, you just need to visit a corner store and nab one on the fly. The question is: vanilla or mint chip?

Dungeness Crab

When local Dungeness crab comes into season (usually around Thanksgiving), you’ll want to hightail it to places like Swan Oyster Depot, Scoma’s, Sam’s Grill and Alioto’s for fresh, local crab. Throughout the rest of the year, it will come in from Oregon, Washington and beyond . . . still delicious, just not local. Pro tip: while you’re at Swan, be sure to get a pint of Anchor Steam fresh from the tap, another S.F. original!

Tonga Room PicmonkeyTASTE News Service September 16, 2015 - This month, the iconic Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, located at Fairmont San Francisco, will celebrate seven decades of delighting guests with tropical décor and island-inspired libations and cuisine. Tonga Room, the oldest continually-operating tiki bar in North America, opened its doors on September 18, 1945 and has reigned as a swanky outpost of South Seas splendor ever since.

Rintaro 01 PicmonkeyJapanese-influenced Rintaro is on Top 50 list. photo: Aya Brackett

TASTE News Service, August 15, 2015 - Bon Appétit  magazine has named San Francisco “The Best Food City in the Country Right Now.”

Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appétit's deputy editor, wrote that “Over four days and 15 meals, San Francisco proved itself on culinary fire in 2015 . . . I don't think I've ever experienced such a concentration of exciting and invigorating restaurants in a single year, in a single season. Not even in New York.”

“Yep, the city's eating scene is having a great year. I'd say it's time to pay it a visit,” Knowlton concluded. When asked about his decision, he said, “San Francisco (and its restaurants and chefs) did all the hard work. My job was easy . . . eating!”

San Francisco also has two restaurants on Bon Appétit's Hot 10 list, which will be released on Aug. 18, and six on the recently released Top 50.

“We are very excited to have our city's culinary excellence recognized by Bon Appétit,” said Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association whose recent research showed that the most popular activities in which San Francisco visitors participated were dining in restaurants (77.4%), shopping (54.4%) and visiting a park (42.0%).

San Francisco's ambiance, scenic beauty and restaurants continue to be the most important factors attracting visitors to the city. About one-third reported that San Francisco's overall ambiance and atmosphere (38.7%), scenic beauty (34.3%) and/or restaurants and cuisine (28.0%) were the factors that were most important to their decision to visit the city.

Editor’s note: If you’re planning on visiting San Francisco and sampling some of its great restaurants, we suggest you first check out Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Bay Area Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to Wineries and Craft Beer purveyors.

TASTE News Service, June 1, 2015 – There’s a vibrant craft beer scene south of San Francisco.AB Logo Picmonkey

Two new brewpubs are due to open this summer in South San Francisco. South City, as it’s known to locals, is actually located in San Mateo County, just south of its bigger and better known namesake. For years the municipality has carried the identity, “The Industrial City,” and it seems appropriate that a place that has reveled in being home to hard work should welcome the brewing industry.

Armstrong Brewing began brewing in another location three years ago and is awaiting the date they can open the doors in their new and bigger digs at 415 Grand Ave. By this July they’ll be serving from a menu that includes a sour dubbed South City Brown, a Belgian styled 415 Fog and an infrequently-seen German style (Moe’s Gose).

Also opening soon in South San Francisco is 47 Hills Brewing Company. Founder John Tucci studied brewing in Germany, where he worked for Paulaner. More recently, he managed 5 separate Gordon Biersch breweries. When 47 Hills opens at 137 South Linden Ave, John’s brews will complemented by a selection of locally-sourced sausages.

Seven miles south is Steelhead Brewing Company, which has been in business since 1991. It’s location at 333 California Drive in Burlingame is a 5 minute ride from San Francisco’s Airport (SFO)

Freewheel Taps PicmonkeyCask-conditioned pour at Freewheel A bit further south—but over on the coast—are two attractive options. Half Moon Bay Brewing at 390 Capistrano Rd. is actually located a few miles north of the town of Half Moon Bay and is closer to El Granada on the maps. They feature a substantial menu of pub grub and are frequently home to live music. Patio seating for those mild days, too. Just across Highway 1 (also known as Cabrillo Hwy) at 30 Avenida Portola in the town of El Granada is Hop Dogma’s tasting room. Owners Dan Littlefield and Ethan Martini have made beers in a wide variety of styles, but say that they’re narrowing the focus now to concentrate on hoppy American styles, Belgians and darks.

Further south, but  but over the hill and on the bay side of the county, is Freewheel Brewery and Pub, located at 3736 Florence St. in Redwood City. Taking a different direction than the many California IPA producers, Freewheel has chosen to specialize in lower-hopped beers in the British tradition. They’re even making them in cask-conditioned style (their brews are naturally carbonated and are poured using no added carbon dioxide).

Editor’s note: Links to the websites of many brewpubs and craft beer purveyors can be found in the Beer section of Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. Also in that directory are links to Lodging and Dining options, as well as Wineries, and they’re all sorted in easy-to-use geographic zones.

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