fish

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

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

When in Napa: Oxbow Public Market

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The Oxbow Market in Napa is kind of heaven on earth. It’s like the Ferry Building in San Francisco (and is designed by the same architecture firm) – an indoor artisan market with a huge range of mini restaurants and local shops. I made two marinade and spice purchases, could have gone crazy at the Napa Valley Distillery and tried some tasty tacos from C Casa. All in all, and excellent pit stop if you find yourself in wine country.

Oxbow Public Market // 610 & 644 1st St., Napa

Feature :: Local Mission Market

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Lots of blog hubbub about this new market, which opened on Nov. 5 on Harrison and 23rd in the Mission, made me want to stop in right away. They take local to the next level with an open kitchen inside the market where a ton of their food stuffs are made. (Apparently chef-partner Jake Des Voignes spent 12 hours straight butchering meat the weekend before opening, according to InsideScoop.) Yogurt, sausage, pear butter, smoked salmon – you name it. Really tasty looking stuff, REALLY expensive – but you are paying for quality (and that in-house labor!). They also carry lots of San Francisco favorites – Humphrey Slocombe ice cream, De Laz Paz and Four Barrel coffee, TCHO chocolate and the like.

The market isn’t quite full yet, with some empty shelves, but I think it’ll be great when it’s been up and running for a few weeks or so. I’d love to see some really unique beer/wine finds. I splurged on some tasty dried figs, walnut-thyme vinaigrette (made in-house), a Local Mission Market tea mixture and some fruit.

Local Mission Market // 2670 Harrison St., San Francisco

Feature :: Fish.

IMG_6629Welcome to Fish. in Sausalito, where the fish is fresh (and uber sustainable!), a tad overpriced but pretty tasty. Sausalito is a really cute day-trip place, and Fish is a bit off the beaten downtown path. Beautiful views of the harbor and a great respite from busy San Francisco waterfront restaurants. The clam chowder and BBQ oysters were great; the standard fish tacos pretty sub-standard and very tiny for the price. I wish I had ordered what looked like very tasty fish and chips (and how can you really ruin that?). But you really can’t go wrong with beer in a mason jar, so I was sold. Plus, their online menu is a pseudo newspaper (The Fish Times: “All the Fish That’s Fit to Eat”). Amazing.

Fish. // 350 Harbor Drive, Sausalito

Feature :: The Fish Lady

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Welcome to The Fish Lady of Soquel, where you can find all-things fresh fish, meat, wine, beer, seasonings, etc. They also smoke their own fish — or yours for $3/lb. On Friday nights, it turns into a wine bar/BBQ spot, which sounds divine. Picked up some delicious ahi over the weekend to make ahi poke (see below).

The Fish Lady // 2510 S. Main St., Soquel

Drewes Meats

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Every hood needs a good butcher. Noe Valley’s is definitely Drewes Meats on Church Street. They have endless local meat cuts, much of it from local farms, as well as Drewes’ own sausages, bacon and fish. It’s a totally old school San Francisco spot (the original store opened in 1889) with great service, reasonable prices and high-quality foods. I picked up a few sausages (chicken, garlic, basil; chicken apple; mini breakfast sausages) and some Wild King salmon the other day and was a happy camper. They also make sandwiches, which I’m dying to go back and try.

Drewes Meats // 1706 Church St., San Francisco