After seven and a half years in this fair city, my husband and I are moving back east. We won’t miss the fog or the lack of a real summer, but we will miss the fresh fruits and vegetables and the abundance of wonderful restaurants that make this such a satisfying place to eat. Just eat.
In our last two weeks as residents, we’ve been dining around at old and new favorites. Top of the list is SPQR. It’s superb—creative, always crowded, and challenging to the palate. Their pasta dishes always tempt me and usually win out over any of the entrees. We will have our second dinner there in as many weeks. My latest favorite is the lasagnette with the mini meatballs.
Newer on the scene and also a favorite for repeat visits be it lunch or dinner is Coqueta. Located at Pier 5, a short walk from the Ferry Building, Michael Chiarello riffs on Spanish tapas in the most appealing way. We love Padron peppers and his preparation with salt and slivers of prosciutto is addictive. The menu changes frequently, but we also are fond of the chicken and pea croquetas (a soothing counterpart to the peppers), the little lamb and duck meatballs, and the pinxtos (tiny bites on a skewer). Recently we discovered the smoky homemade potato chips. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, sharing is the order of the day and the perfect way to sample a wide range of hot and cold dishes. And there are plenty of wine, beer, and sangria choices.
We live just two blocks from Fillmore Street where you can find everything you need from supermarkets to trendy fashion boutiques, a proper bookstore, many coffee shops, and of course, a number of very good restaurants. Besides SPQR, we have been regulars at Curbside Café, great for comfort food tinged with French ambiance (short ribs and the fish of the day always reliable and Olivier and his staff always welcoming) and also at Troya. Troya’s Turkish/Mediterranean menu offers a variety of vegetable dishes—we especially like the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower preparations—along with generous portions of kebabs and traditional Turkish manti, little meat-filled dumplings in a creamy yogurt sauce.
Another night we dined with friends at L’Ardoise in the Castro, a place we had frequented several times before. This French bistro is cozy and a popular neighborhood spot with menu classics such as escargot, cassoulet, and steak frites—all delicious.
On our last night in the city, when we were staying on Nob Hill, we returned to Ala Romana on Russian Hill. This is a friendly place—the host practically sweeps you off the corner with his enthusiastic greeting—and the service and food are both very good. Continuing our pepper theme, we enjoyed their tempura pepper appetizer (which, by the way, we had indulged in the week before with friends) followed by their prosciutto and burrata plate, the tortellini pasta with a balsamic reduction and the roast chicken. All tasty and filling.
Besides dinner, there is lunch, and I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to my favorite lunch places in the Sunset. They are Park Chow, for their smiling noodles with shrimp and chicken and their salads, especially the Thai chicken salad, and Sai Gow. This attractive Thai spot is perfect if you are by yourself and I find their curries both comforting and addictive. My personal favorite is the green curry with chicken. Lastly, the arrival of La Boulange on 9th Street is an added plus and they offer a healthy salad nicoise.
Bon appetit! We’re off to the other coast.