San Francisco Bay Area rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the SF Chowhound community.

Some Surprisingly Superb Brisket

The secret of Pit Boss Barbeque? It’s highly variable, and you have to figure out who’s in the kitchen. Civil Bear’s first visit yielded OK meats, and inedible sides. His second visit: “the moistest, tenderest brisket in the Bay Area … And this time the sides were fantastic!”

adrienne156 explains what’s going on. There are different people who cook there: “Mr. Boss, Mrs. Boss, and ‘others’. The meat is always smoked the night before, but the sides are always spot on whenever Mr. Boss is in the kitchen.” Mrs. Boss is also good, but the worst meals adrienne156 has had are when one of the others is in the kitchen. adrienne156 recommends brisket, “which always has a lovely pink smoke ring but did come to me overcooked on one occasion,” and hot links, full of finely ground meat, with crisp skin and a slight kick. And the pulled pork? “Moist with a light smoke … probably one of the best I’ve had out and that’s saying a lot because my friends are self-described pork-a-holics who spend most of their weekends smoking something.”

Pit Boss Barbeque [East Bay]
12889 San Pablo Avenue, Richmond

Board Link: Pit Boss BBQ revisited…

Lebanese Pizza

The standard pizza at Sahaara is kafta mankoushe pizza, which is ground beef with chopped parsley, onions, and Lebanese spices, on a thin crust. You get slices of lemon on the side; just squeeze some over the top to complement the spicing on the beef, says AntarcticWidow.

The mezzas are good, too. Moussaka is a mixture of eggplant, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and crushed mint. “Every bite was full of flavor. I had to restrain myself from licking the plate,” says AntarcticWidow. Foul moudamas (fava beans simmered with lemon juice and garlic) is very creamy, and well balanced.

Rice pudding is “quite good, creamy with a hint of rose or orange water, and not too sweet,” and overall the portions are generous.

Sahaara Mediterranean Pizza & Cuisine [Peninsula]
1130 Broadway, Burlingame

Board Link: Burlingame: Sahaara Mediterranean Pizza & Cuisine

AVA for Fresh and Local

AVA (which stands for American Viticultural Area) serves haute-Californian fare, and the restaurant’s philosophy is to work with local small organic farms and wineries to produce perfect food.

MSK has gone six or seven times since the restaurant opened and hasn’t been disappointed by a single menu item. He likes to start with cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, which have just the right balance of sweet and salty. A salad of crispy duck confit with frisée, kumquat, and smoked almond vinaigrette has that same lovely balance.

Roast beef loin with garlic and parsley béarnaise is just right, says MSK. Braised pork shoulder with cotechino sausage, ceci beans, green olives, and coarse polenta is the perfect hearty stew for cold evenings.

Dessert of ricotta and apple fritters with honey ice cream has that same balance of sweet and salty.

AVA Restaurant [Marin County]
636 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo

Board Link: AVA, San Anselmo = Appetizing, Virtuous & Ambrosial

A Little German Market

Lehr’s German market has “all sorts of great German items,” says SteveG. There is “fresh looking rye in the fridge, vacuum packed loaves of rye on the shelf, imported German mustards, quite a few choices of sauerkraut, elderflower syrup, and a bunch of great candy.”

Windy says that if there’s sweet poppy-seed bread in the basket by the register you should grab some.

Lehr’s German Specialties [Noe Valley]
1581 Church Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Rye, Elderflower Syrup,

True Salvadoran Pupusas

We have brought you news before of Los Planes’ glorious Salvadoran tamales. Now we bring you news of their pupusas: “some of the best pupusas I’ve had in San Francisco,” says Dave MP, who adds that they’re “freshly fried and served hot and crispy.”

Pacaya rellena is a dish that we’ve never heard of before. Dave MP thinks it’s made from the edible shoots of the pacaya tree, which are stuffed with cheese, fried, and topped with tomato sauce. “The pacaya itself was very interesting! It has a bitter taste which I enjoyed, but the texture and appearance was somewhat like a cross between squid and eggplant.”

“I came upon this place because a Salvadoran cab driver recommended it to me,” explains pane. “He said most Salvadoran places in SF had Mexican or Central American cooks; only at Los Planes did the food taste distinctly Salvadoran to him.”

Chicken tamal is good here, says pane, but elote tamal is even better: “With a punch of sweet corn flavor, it tasted like July.”

Los Planes de Renderos Restaurant [Excelsior]
12 Persia Avenue (near Mission), San Francisco

Board Link: Los Planes - Excelsior - Report

Kingdom of Dumplings

coconut2 picked up a taste for steamed jiaozi, sometimes sold in the States as pot stickers, while living in Beijing. Most of the versions here, though, tend to be less fresh and greasier, with too much pork and not enough greens.

Your best shot for getting great jiaozi might be at Kingdom of Dumpling, says K K. The steamed/boiled lamb dumplings and soup dumplings are both very good, agrees yimster. The owners also run a “dumpling and mien guan (flour-based products) operation” called Asian American Foods.

Kingdom of Dumpling (formerly known as Dave’s Kitchen) [Sunset]
1713 Taraval Street, San Francisco

Asian American Foods [Sunset]
1426 Noriega Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Best jiaozi/steamed dumplings a.k.a. potstickers?

Warm, Moist, Perfect Pastrami

The pastrami Reuben at the Refuge is “simply outstanding,” says alfatcat. “The pastrami was warm and moist yet not fatty … with great texture.” It’s perfectly spiced, and perfectly sized, ample, but not overstuffed. “Let’s see if I can put it into perspective. The Refuge’s pastrami is to the typical Boar’s Head pastrami as a Hershey bar is to an artisan handmade truffle. Not in the same universe,” says alfatcat. They also serve a very tasty grilled cheese and fries, for the tykes.

The owner, Matt Levin, used to be chef de cuisine at Viogner but wanted to open up a less formal place. And the Refuge is, overall, great, especially for lovers of artisan meats, says Shane Greenwood.

It’s not cheap, but it’s reasonable given the quality. A basic pastrami is $13.

The Refuge [Peninsula]
963 Laurel Street, San Carlos

Board Link: The Refuge in San Carlos: REAL Pastrami and more!

A Map of Portuguese Food in the Bay Area

rworange has put together a Google Map of all the Portuguese restaurants, bakeries, and groceries she knows of in the Bay Area.

I, Thi N., the Editor of CHOW Digest San Francisco, hereby confer to rworange the Official Medal of Portuguese Google Mapping Awesomeness. This is sort of like being made a knight, but with less fighting and more salt cod. Congratulations.

Board Link: Google Map of Bay Area Portuguese food

The Elusive Merguez Sausage

Xiao Yang has found excellent, reasonably priced merguez at Nour Halal Meats. Tuesdays they have freshly made lamb merguez; Wednesdays they make beef and chicken merguez. “The lamb merguez was perhaps a little lighter on the harissa than I like but otherwise was the right texture and nicely spiced,” he says. All versions are $3.99 a pound.

This is cheaper than Fatted Calf’s merguez. “Fatted Calf’s is good, but it’s $9 per pound and they ‘cheat’ by adding a little pork to the mix,” says Xiao Yang. You can find Fatted Calf at various farmers’ markets around town.

Nour Halal Meats and Market [Tenderloin]
476 Eddy Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Nour Halal Meats—Reasonable Merguez source

Absurdly Fresh Flat Rice Noodles

The freshest flat rice noodles can be had at a number of places in San Francisco. At Yung Kee in Chinatown the noodles are made fresh daily, and sell out early, says intomeat. Four sheets of noodles for $1.10. Be aware, though, that Yung Kee has no English signage, only Chinese signage.

On 16th between Mission and S. Van Ness, a few storefronts away from Bar Bambino, there’s a place where you can by fresh flat rice noodles by the pound. “You will get to see the equipment that is used to make and steam the noodles,” says foodiemonster. There’s no obvious English signage, just Chinese characters that translate to something like “noodle factory.”

Hon’s Wun-Tun House may make its noodles slightly off premises, at its nearby factory, but the noodles are superfresh, says peppatty.

Yung Kee [Chinatown]
732 Jackson Street, San Francisco

Unnamed noodle shop, a few shops away from Bar Bambino [Mission District]
16th Street, between Mission and S. Van Ness

Hon’s Wun-Tun House [Chinatown]
648 Kearny Street, San Francisco

Board Link: where can I buy fresh flat rice noodles in the city?