beer

NYC eat & drink

Fresh East Coast oysters, a lobster roll in Williamsburg, artisan chocolate, bagels, saison on a rooftop — just a few of the things I devoured on a recent trip to New York City.

Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House

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Beer Thirty: Santa Cruz’s newest hotspot for delicious craft beer served in a great indoor-outdoor beer garden setting. They’re serving up about 30 brews on tap, most of which I had never heard of before. Pretty decent prices to boot. They also sell bottles, which you can open and drink there or take home to save for later. It’s a really beautiful space — lots of reclaimed wood and an awesome lighted “Beer!” sign inside, plus huge European beer-garden-style tables outside with plenty of room. They don’t have a kitchen or serve any food, but Beer Thirty patrons can call in take-out orders from two nearby restaurants, Carpo’s and Michael’s on Main, and pick it up to eat there. This weekend, an employee from neighboring market The Fish Lady was also around peddling some goods and snacks. All in all, a great concept that’s sure to be incredibly successful.

Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House // 2504 South Main St., Soquel

PizzaHacker

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I didn’t get to frequent PizzaHacker when it was a traveling one man show with owner Jeff Krupman using a makeshift Weber grill slash pizza oven to serve up pies all over San Francisco. But I did check out his new brick and mortar (conveniently located about three blocks from my apartment) and thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the za. The “Yo Vinny!” – marinated onions, pickled goat horn peppers, hot Italian sausage from 4505 Meats, Krupman’s own tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella – definitely came out on top, but “Rocket Man” – arugula, garlic, fresh mozzarella, lemon juice and chili paste topped with an egg – was a close second. Only two wine options, but perhaps they’ll expand after getting settled. They didn’t do much to transform the space, previously occupied by a Peruvian restaurant, but with a giant chalkboard wall, strings of lights and no-frills picnic tables, it’s got a charming indoor beer garden feel.

PizzaHacker // 3299 Mission St., San Francisco

Ramen Shop

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After almost a year of drooling over glowing reviews and desperately wanting to cave to the hype, I made it to Ramen Shop in Oakland. The College Avenue restaurant, run by three former Chez Panisse chefs, opened about this time last year and has been packed ever since. (We got there before 7 p.m. on a week night and were told there was a two-hour wait, but it only took about 30 minutes.) Though the concept of expensive, farm-to-table-like ramen might turn some off, it’s worth trying. The broths are amazingly different and flavorful without being overly rich (my problem with most ramen) and the noodles clearly made with care and quality. We tried two: shio ramen with green garlic, scallop tsukune, chashu, a shoyu-marinated egg, leeks and mizuna; veggie shoyu meyer lemon ramen with hedgehog mushrooms, salt-cured egg, roasted butternut squash, broccoli di ciccio and mizuna. 

They also serve a few small plates/appetizers (the avocado citrus salad was a winner), cocktails and ice cream sandwiches for dessert to boot. All the details are beautiful too – a long wooden bar fronting the open kitchen; sauces, alcohol bottles and old records on display on shelves; beautiful cocktail (and even water) glasses; great music.

Not exactly an authentic  ramen shop, but they know what they’re about and they do it well.

Ramen Shop // 5812 College Ave., Oakland

Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack

Whoever Emmy is, she’s a genius. I think niche restaurants like this that choose to do one, simple thing really well are among my favorites. Emmy’s is a definite neighborhood gem, with charmingly tacky decor inside, awesome murals outside, solid wine/beer/drink options and of course, some great spaghetti and meatballs.

Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack // 18 Virginia Ave., San Francisco

Feature: SOMA Streat Food Park

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SOMA Streat Food Park is nothing new, but in my opinion, it’s vastly improved since it first opened in June 2012. Better trucks, more fun (skeetball, anyone?), a pretty expansive drink selection, lots of fun events and pretty good deals ($12 bottomless mimosas, to be exact).

It’s a really fun place to spend the day, whether it’s to watch a 49ers game on a Sunday or any given evening for dinner. My particular truck favorite this time was one I’ve never seen or heard of before: Oui Chef SF. It’s American-French fusion, done quite well. ( I recommend the crab cake sliders and truffle mac and cheese – drool upon viewing below.)

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SOMA Streat Food Park // 428 11th St. (between Highway 101 & Harrison St), San Francisco