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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to Garaje, where the beer is good, the decor super cool, the food tasty and the vibe unpretentious. Though it’s pretty much in nowhere’s land in SOMA, it’s worth checking out. The fusion place opened earlier this year and has made many food blog listicles, like best fish tacos and best burgers in San Francisco. Great beer on tap; delicious burger (sort of reminiscent of In n Out, but a little more restaurant-style and you can add a fried egg to step it up a notch) and tacos. Get the ahi – it comes with a giant hunk of perfectly seared fish. Pretty funky and a great escape from the over-hyped hustle and bustle of most other neighborhoods in the city.
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.