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).
Don’t miss the recently revamped Hog Island Oyster Co. at the Ferry Building. You might have to wait outside in a short line, even on Wednesday evening, but it’s worth your time (plus, you can stare at the gorgeous Bay view behind you if you’re really grumpy about waiting).
Exquisite oysters, excellent drinks (I loved the Marshall Mule), salads, ceviche, mussels — oh, and grilled cheese, because why not. Sitting outside on a nice night is beautiful but the inside is great too — it was expanded and remodeled earlier this year.
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.)
I made it to the acclaimed and very-hyped Coqueta this weekend for a wonderful birthday dinner. The food was definitely excellent, but with restaurants like these that are written about so much and you hear so much about, you go in with super high expectations without even realizing it. So despite really great food, intriguing drinks (but not the best service, for the price you pay), it felt like it didn’t measure up in some way. I think the best eating experiences are those you expect nothing out of. So Coqueta was difficult, but undoubtedly delicious. I especially enjoyed a giant meat and cheese platter and all the hot tapas we tried.
There’s been a lot of buzz around La Urbana, the latest upscale, contemporary Mexican restaurant to hit San Francisco. As it’s described on the restaurant’s website: “sophisticated cantina-style Mexican food that draws on the best of Mexico City combined with the incredible local ingredients and talent of the Bay Area.” You get the drift. Delicious, contemporary Mexican fare, a bit pricey but totally worth it.
I loved the food (ordered only appetizers and sides, which works out wonderfully for your stomach and wallet) and drinks (they have a massive mezcal menu + various cocktails) but the space itself might be the best thing La Urbana has going on. (One of the two owners/creators is an architect from Mexico.) At the corner of Divisadero and Grove, La Urbana is a pretty big space. Really cool glass beveled doors at the entrance (and a giant “La Urbana,” the contemporary Mexico City woman, illuminated by light outside – see above and below), beautiful bar with rustic wooden shelves, beautiful tables and floor. Check out this California Home Design post for more details. Apparently, at some point they want to put in a parklet outside, a deck on the roof and transform what is now an awkward wait-for-your-table space with fold out chairs and tables into a market. Hot damn.