Before going to San Francisco, I searched on the internet the best restaurants in the city and found The Perennial, a restaurant that prides itself in promoting progressive farming. I would call that responsible farm to table to make it simple. So, if you eat there, there are few things you should know:
Another place that Jodi's cousin Rebecca recommended for breakfast is Sightglass, a coffee shop that serves delicious treats. I like the place we went to: it looked like a processing plant rather than a coffee place, with its roasting and grinding machines, as well as the numerous bags of coffee beans laying there. It kind of gives a casual yet hipster atmosphere to the whole experience.
If there is a place I am always looking forward to eat at when we come to San Francisco, it is The Franciscan Crab Restaurant. This place, overlooking the bay is one of my favorite seafood places. It is definitely a tourist destination, but their seafood is fantastic, being very fresh.
And the view is great, especially if, like us, you get seated next to the Windows, with that fantastic view of Alcatraz.
Breakfast is an important meal (well, all meals are important...) and we were looking for some fantastic places in San Francisco. Jodi's cousin, Rebecca, gave us few spots in the city that were quite accessible from our hotel, either walking distance or using Uber. B Patisserie was one of them. And I have to say, I did to regret it! Result of the collaboration of Belinda Leong (the B of the name), a pastry Chef with an incredible resume and Michel Suas, another pastry Chef with also an impressive resume (he established the San Francisco Baking Institute in 1996), this is the kind of place where choices are difficult considering all the mouth watering food in front of you.
Well, I heard so many times about In-N-Out Burger in a very positive way that it was not possible not to try it when we went on vacation in San Francisco. Maybe one mistake I made was not to take a photo of the outside after we left: you should have seen the line in front of their location on Fisherman's Wharf. Yes, this place is a madhouse and I praise their staff who is doing a good job expediting the orders as fast as they can. Of course, it was impossible to try to get a table inside the restaurant and, fortunately, we realized that behind it, there was a patio with several tables available.
Located in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, Avlee is a small Greek restaurant that has its charm. Opened in February 2012, this place is the pride of the owner, Andrew Poulos that I had the chance to meet. Yes, it is a small size restaurant, but with a secret garden in the back (Avlee means garden in fact). I like the decor with its open kitchen, but mainly because, like many Greek restaurants, the decor gives the impression your are outside with its shutters.
Open face sandwiches are nothing new: there are few in American cuisine, like the Kentucky Hot Brown (that you can have at Bar Americain, the Midtown joint of Chef Bobby Flay - I recommend a nap after that), or the tartines served at Le Pain Quotidien or Maison Kayser. But I have never see anything like what Duran Sandwiches proposes: small open face sandwiches with a wide variety of combination, probably 30 different kinds, made daily.
Meaning beautiful summer in Japanese, Natsumi Tapas, located in Gramercy, is a true find. No, it is not a Japanese/Spanish fusion, but rather a Japanese/Italian fusion restaurant. It is just that people understand what tapas means better: small plates. Great concept in this modern Japanese kitchen, result of the collaboration between Barbara Matsumura and Chef Haru Konagaya, formerly from Haru.
One of my friends, Abe, who was born in India kept talking about a South Indian restaurant in Curry Hill called Kokum, taking its name from a plant whose fruit can be used in the kitchen. Little did I know that it was one of the ventures of Michelin Star Chef Hemant Mathur who already satisfies hungry crowds in places like Haldi or Dosai; Chef that I met a couple of times and, again this time at Kokum. So I was really excited to see what this place was about.
Times Square is not really a reference when it comes to dining places and I am not talking about 9th Avenue that has great places, but more the heart of Times Square that starts on 8th avenue (Port Authority) and 6th avenue. There used to be Urbo, a quite good restaurant that opened end of 2014 and closed recently (so sad). So, luckily, few weeks ago, KungFu Kitchen opened a Chinese restaurant that serves some pretty good food. We went a couple of times and I was never disappointed.
North Square is probably the kind of restaurant you have no idea exists. Located on the North square of Washington Square Park, this medium size restaurant is really a true find, although my first impression of the place was negative, the patrons being of a certain age, not that I have anything against it, but it definitely gave a certain vibe. Well, eating there changed my mind and I have to admit that I am looking forward to going back. The service was also on point and they addressed an issue with one of my dishes with great professionalism.
So I was craving a burger and as we were near Grand Central Terminal, I proposed to go to Smith and Wollensky, the famous steakhouse located Midtown East. Alright, this was not our first time: we went there few years ago and still remember the rude waiter who served us as well as the average steaks we got: definitely not on top of my list, but I was thinking that perhaps, being a steakhouse, they would have a killer burger.
If you want to experience what a brasserie in Paris can offer you, Cafe 123 is your spot: classic dishes and rude service characterize this French restaurant located in the heart of Times Square, where theater goers can enjoy a good meal. Yes, you can feel that this reasonably priced joint attracts lots of tourists and pre/post theater people, especially when you arrive in a packed restaurant that becomes empty after 8pm...
Flaming Kitchen is a Chinese restaurant located in Chinatown. I guess the name Flaming Kitchen, especially the first word, could also refer to the heat typically found in Szechuan cuisine; but don't be afraid: if you do not like spicy food, they can tame down the heat or you can pick some dishes that will satisfy your palate. This place is big, with the top floor having the perfect private room for parties.
There are places I go to where I am thinking: Damn, I wish I had such place in my neighborhood! Padoca is one of them. Meaning “neighborhood bakery” in São Paulo, this bakery opened a little over a year ago, pure product of Marina Halpern and Pastry Chef Rachel Binder, offering specialties inspired from Marina's Brazilian roots and Rachel's Israeli experience gained when living in Israel. I should mention that both of them had already an impressive exposure to the culinary world, Marina Halpern at The Dutch and The Mark, and Pastry Chef Rachel Binder at Maialino, Savoy and Tabla, credentials that surely helped them in this adventure.