cocktails

Borrone MarketBar

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Anyone who lives in or near Menlo Park has more than likely been to (or at least heard of or driven by) Cafe Borrone. It’s a family-owned restaurant doing everything from waffles to open-face turkey melts to salads, soups, pasta and more. This year, they opened a sister restaurant called Borrone MarketBar in a smaller space next door. The verdict: delicious, unique and hard to believe it’s a Menlo Park restaurant. It’s a little fancier than Cafe Borrone (I.M.H.O.) and more of a special occasion dinner, though the prices are pretty good for what you get. Solid portions and very, very well done food. They also have various prepared foods available for take out (housemade pasta, salads, marinated meats, desserts, etc.). To top it all off, they have a beautiful oyster bar, lovely outdoor seating (well set back from El Camino and near the train station so it’s its own quiet haven) and a full liquor license.

I particularly enjoyed a proscuitto/burrata/grilled leeks appetizer plate, crab spaghetti and a gin fizz, but everything was excellent. Make sure you save room for dessert; the bombolone are out of control (see below).

Borrone MarketBar // 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park

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.

Lolinda

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If you live in San Francisco and haven’t eaten at Lolinda, stop what you’re doing and make a beeline for this Mission restaurant immediately. Though it’s dubbed an Argentinian steakhouse, you need to get to the subhead: Argentinian steakhouse with strong California sensibilities. You could do quite well here as a pescatarian or vegetarian, with delicious veggie and fish dishes (the ceviche and swordfish skewers, in particular). Though I would feel bad for them, because they won’t get to taste what might be the best pork chop I’ve ever had, the most wonderfully juicy and flavor-stuffed chorizo sausage, among other meat dishes. A small serving of chimichurri sauce comes with most dishes; I wish I could get a bucket to go to slather on everything I eat on a regular basis.

Incredible space, as well, plus quality cocktails and wine and wonderful service. (Oh, and there’s a magical bar and Mexican restaurant on the roof that is always packed but worth checking out. Though if you’re going to eat, downstairs is where it’s at.) I can’t wait to go back.

Lolinda // 2518 Mission St., San Francisco

Brunch @ Nopa

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I think I’ve found the best brunch in San Francisco. I’ve been to Nopa for dinner, but brunch at the Divisadero Street restaurant is a whole different game.

A must order is the custard french toast — a magical construction of the most perfectly cooked, crusty on the outside but custardy on the inside piece of french toast you’ll ever have, topped with a dollop of housemade butter and caramelized orange slice. Pairs quite nicely with the sunshine fix cocktail (aperol, gin, lemon & angostura). The two savory dishes we tried were also stunning — butter-basted eggs with grilled bread, crispy artichokes, ham & pecorino and kielbasa with roasted carrots, sauerkraut & some tasty creamy sauce (the official name escapes me). This is brunch on another level. Highly recommend.

Nopa // 560 Divisadero St., San Francisco

The Tasting Kitchen

IMG_8458A trip to L.A. this past weekend brought me to The Tasting Kitchen in Abbot Kinney. I’ve heard only good things, and love the area — it’s a must visit for anyone even remotely in the area — and was not disappointed. Quite possibly the best waffle I’ve ever had, paired with two succulently fried pieces of chicken. My only complaint: The waffle-chicken proportion was way off — more waffle than chicken — though that didn’t stop me from wolfing the waffle on its own. Great drinks, beautiful space, many delicious brunch dishes.

The Tasting Kitchen // 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Los Angeles

Zona Rosa

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I almost hesitate to blog about this place because it seems to be a true hidden gem, mostly undiscovered, but when your blog is the same … Anyway, the dinner I had this week at Zona Rosa in San Jose was one of the best. It’s an upscale Mexican-California cuisine type place, but maintains a tiny mom-and-pop feel. Really cute decor and less then 20 seats, so make a reservation. Also, do yourself  a favor and order the Palomaesque and/or Francisco Libre the minute you sit down. The Palomaesque – tequila, grapefruit, honey and lime, if my memory serves me correctly – comes in an amazing clay cup, the rim coated in the perfect salty-spicy flavoring for the drink. Ditch the straw and drink directly from the cup so you get both the rim flavors and cocktail. The Francisco Libre is also amazing, with a hint of pressed cilantro and jalapeno.

The food: We tried the fried avocado, ensalada temporada (seasonal greens, avocado, mango, papaya, candied pistachio & citrus dressing), crab ceviche (marinated dungeness crab+shrimp, lime, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeno, avocado, 2 crispy tortillas) and scallop tacos (royal sweet scallops, butternut squash serrano glaze, blue corn tortilla). I went to the bathroom (through the kitchen) at one point and spotted a woman making the tortillas to order. The salad and scallops were my personal highlights, but everything was top-notch. Gives any restaurant in this food category in San Francisco a run for its money.

It’s a little pricey, but you’re paying for quality, care and great customer service. It’s worth it. Trust me.

Zona Rosa // 1411 The Alameda, San Jose

The New Loló

IMG_8215I frequented Loló once before at its previous location on 22nd St.; the funky Mexican restaurant has since moved a few blocks away to a much larger space on Valencia  Street. It’s still funky, and it’s still delicious, plus lots of new cocktails to boot (the majority with mezcal, if that’s your thing). The tuna tacons and ceviche were highlights.

Loló // 974 Valencia St., San Francisco