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.
Here’s your plan for next Saturday or Sunday: Head to the Contemporary Jewish Museum downtown to check out a very interesting home-and-design exhibit, and make sure you leave room for lunch at Wise Sons’ museum outpost. The Jewish deli has a full restaurant in the Mission and very fittingly opened a branch at the museum in early 2014. Same food options, same deliciousness. I am not a big reuben fan, but Wise Sons’ version of the sandwich is excellent. You can choose from pastrami (which I tried, and is reportedly rubbed with coriander and black pepper and then smoked over hickory for seven hours), corned beef, smoked turkey or even a veggie option (done with king trumpet mushrooms). Even the standard turkey sandwich was amazing. Pickled red onions hit the spot and dressed it up. Wise Sons also serves De La Paz coffee, made practically down the street on Mission.
I’d love to go back to try the grilled cheese (made with cheddar on challah, whoa) and matzo ball soup.
Leave it to a San Franciscan to have her first breakfast in Manhattan be avocado toast. But Cafe Gitane — a wonderful little French/Moroccan spot in Nolita — does it quite well, perhaps better than some West Coast cafes. It is absolutely sublime when paired with an order of baked eggs with basil, tomato and cream. My only complaint about the eggs was that the yolks were not runny at all, but the flavor more than enough made up for it. I wish I could have returned for lunch or dinner, because many other menu items look delicious.
Cafe Gitane // 113 Jane St. and 242 Mott St., New York City
Reveille Coffee Co.’s relatively new outpost at Castro & 18th (opened in February) isn’t to be missed. Beyond high-quality coffee, they have plenty of food options: an array of those famous hipster toasts, yogurt + granola, salads and sandies. Too bad I didn’t realize and came with on a full stomach, only prepared for the coffee. It’s a really beautiful space, with indoor and outdoor seating a’plenty.
I kind of feel like I cheated on my own neighborhood gem of a cafe when I went to Jane this past weekend and – gasp – liked it better.
But Jane really has it all. Stumptown coffee, unique fresh baked treats, breakfast sandies, plenty of lunch options, really cool black-and-white striped table tops, awesome location. Just one of those places.