Dine Like a Local in San Francisco: Neighborhood Faves in the Bay Area

To find under-the-radar gems, head out to the neighborhoods. Often run by husband and wife teams, these noteworthy spots are just off the beaten path. But they are definitely not just for insiders only. Try one out on your travels to the Bay Area to dine like a local in San Francisco.

Noe Valley is known for many things—it’s where Mark Zuckerberg resides (along with the church that was featured in Sister Act)—but it’s not typically a dining destination. However, there are a couple of places that are destination-worthy including Contigo. Opened by a chef with a passion for Barcelona and his wife who runs the front of the house, the menu offers both tapas and larger raciones both cold and hot. Staple items since day one include wood oven-roasted Half Moon Bay sardines with avocado toast served with pickled red onions and smoked salt and Catalan coca flatbreads with seasonal toppings. A must-order dish is the Monterey chipirones (squid) a la Plancha with arroz negro, chorizo, squid ink, and aioli. Make a reservation at Contigo.

Dine Like a Local in San Francisco

Spaghetti Brothers
Spaghetti Brothers is off the main drag of the Marina and practically on the edge of the Presidio. True to its name, the spaghetti with uni could make an Italian diner weep tears of joy. The restaurant’s dark interior, strong drinks, and retro specialties, such as toasted ravioli served with marinara, garlic bread, and a chopped salad with feta, sharp cheddar, and salami give it an old school Italian-American vibe. In a word, it’s fun. Don’t miss the lively happy hours and the popular brunch, which is served until 4PM on Sundays. Make a reservation at Spaghetti Brothers.

Dine Like a Local in San Francisco

Chef Kris Toliao is a rising star to be sure. His skills were honed working for Dominique Crenn and at a 2 Michelin star kaiseki restaurant in Tokyo. His wife, Yuka Loroi, smoothly oversees both the front of the house and the beverage program. The reasonably priced wines, beers, and sakes perfectly complement Toliao’s imaginative cuisine. Dishes include the creative use of grains, housemade pickles, cured salts, and jams. Locally sourced fish is a specialty often combined with seasonal ingredients in dishes like Seared Catalina Island Yellowtail with summer corn, olive oil-poached carrots, summer kale kimchee, and bacon black rice. Even simple salads are elevated to something special, such as the Sonoma Little Gem, Green Beans & Strawberry Salad with Armenian cucumbers, dried blueberries, herbed crème frâiche, crispy brown rice, and almonds. Make a reservation at Cassava.

Dine Like a Local in San Francisco

1601 Bar & Kitchen
Another restaurant owned by a husband and wife team, 1601 Bar & Kitchen serves food from chef Brian Fernando that is a fusion of Sri Lankan and California flavors — and positively compelling. In fact, you can’t go wrong with a single dish on the menu. There are two choices for dining — a tasting menu or small plates. And the small plates are very well portioned for sharing. A few of the dishes on the tasting menu, such as the street food favorite egg hopper, are available as a small plate as well. It’s a lacy rice flour and coconut milk crisp crepe, topped with an egg and served with sambals. It’s in a decidedly odd location South of Market but still well worth seeking out. Though the house-smoked salmon and bavette steak are incredible, the vegetarian dishes, including a kale salad with coconut, Parmesan, and black garlic vinaigrette and the crispy okra with cashews, are equally satisfying. Make a reservation at 1601 Bar & Kitchen.

Dine Like a Local in San Francisco

1760 is on a stretch of Polk Street more known for late night drinking than eating, and yet it’s fitting that it’s the perfect spot to indulge in a post-work drink or a leisurely brunch on the weekends. The current chef adds welcome Filipino touches to the menu. On the menu, you’ll find Crab Fat Congee with crispy pork, a soft-cooked egg, and heirloom tomato, and on the dinner menu Pork Sisig with sieved egg, kohlrabi, and ginger aioli. These dishes are so tasty it, will make you wonder why Filipino food has yet to take the country by storm! Make a reservation at 1760.

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Best Bets: Where to Watch the Big Game in the Bay Area This Sunday

February has 29 delicious days in it, thanks to Leap Year, so we’re celebrating all month long with #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary. Reason #1? The bowl is coming to town, and you don’t really want to hover around your television at home and binge on stale chips, do you? Thankfully, you are not limited to rowdy sports bars either. This year, with the game taking place in Santa Clara, many Bay Area restaurants are getting in on the action. Whether you go close to the stadium, stay in San Francisco, or head away from the crowds up in Napa, you’ll be able to enjoy the game in high style. Here’s where to watch the big game in the Bay Area.

Located just a mile from the stadium in Santa Clara, Birk’s is installing a luxury heated outdoor tent to accommodate the crowds expected prior to the game, and will be screening the game on Sunday. On the week leading up to the game there will be special happy hour offerings and on the big day there will be a pre-game lunch, then specials on oysters, oyster shooters, braised pork belly sliders, and carnitas tacos. Make a reservation at Birk’s.

Where to Watch the Big Game in the Bay Area

Hog & Rocks
There might be gridlock ahead of the players hitting the gridiron, but the Mission district is easily accessible by public transportation — and there’s a parking garage on 21st, just a couple of blocks away from Hog & Rocks, for determined drivers. In addition to the regular menu, you can slurp down $1 oysters for the entire game or indulge in a combo of beer, a shot, and Korean-style spicy wings. Make a reservation at Hog & Rocks.

Where to Watch the Big Game in the Bay Area

Nostra Spaghetteria + Bar Mia
Nostra and Bar Mia, also located in the Mission District, will be showing the bowl on their two TV’s in the bar. On Sunday, February 7, they’ll open at 3PM — just in time for kickoff. Happy hour prices will be available at the bar throughout the entire game. Make a reservation at Nostra Spaghetteria.

Where to Watch the Big Game in the Bay Area

Palm House
In the Marina district, Palm House will extend their hours, opening an hour before the game to accommodate fans jockeying for the perfect viewing spot. Specials will most likely include tasty bites, such as mango chipotle BBQ wings, spiced tropical beer nut,s and Cuban fried chicken sliders. Make a reservation at Palm House.

Where to Watch the Big Game in the Bay Area

Bob’s Steak and Chop House
Right downtown, Bob’s Steak and Chop House, located at the Omni, will be adding even more TV’s to the lobby so everyone can easily see the game. The bar will have extended hours and a game day-themed menu with wings, nachos, quesadillas, chili cheese fries, and more. Budweiser and Bud Light, the official beers of the bowl, will be on tap. Make a reservation at Bob’s Steak and Chop House.

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Bauer’s Bay Area Top 100 Restaurants 2014

nowWe’re pleased to showcase this year’s San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Restaurants in the Bay Area. Selected by esteemed restaurant critic Michael Bauer, the list represents the very best of the greater San Francisco area, from the city proper and Berkeley and Oakland to Mill Valley and wine country.

There are 20 new additions to this year’s list including Akiko’s Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Bar Agricole, Coqueta, Madrona Manor, Nico, Range, Sir and Star at The Olema, Sante, and St. Vincent, among others.

How many have you tried any– and how many will you try in 2014? Make a reservation today to get a jump start on eating your way through the Bay Area’s best restaurants.