restaurant

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

Feature :: La Urbana

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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.

La Urbana // 661 Divisadero St., San Francisco

Feature :: Market & Rye

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Market & Rye has been on my radar ever since I saw it featured on Josh Leskar’s (of the blog Nosh with Josh) Top 10 Best Breakfast Sandwiches in San Francisco. Though Friday night’s Outside Lands activities made consuming essentially a giant, towering gourmet McBiscuit plus potatoes and an Italian scramble a bit difficult, it was really delicious and a cute place. Low key vibe, no crazy lines or hipsters anywhere to be found. A nice respite for breakfast on any morning.

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Market & Rye // 300 De Haro St., San Francisco

Feature :: Mission Cheese

Mission Cheese has been on my to-eat list for quite some time. I finally made it there for dinner this week and loved it – very cute small space, beautiful bar, delicious cheese-centric menu (cheese flights, charcuterie, griled cheeses, mac and cheese…it goes on), great wine and beer selection. I especially enjoyed the California Gold (San Joaquin Gold, chevre, prosciutto, fig preserves) and Alotta Buratta (Belfiore burrata, cherry tomatoes, balsamic, basil) sandies. The only two pitfalls: they turn their grill off at 8 p.m. (and close at 10 p.m.), so if you’re out for a late dinner you’ll miss out on their sandwiches. Oh, and you have to bus your own tables? I don’t really get the point and it doesn’t bother me too much, but for such a small place, it’s sort of a strange policy.

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Mission Cheese // 736 Valencia St., San Francisco

Feature :: Rosamunde Sausage Grill

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Rosamunde’s = great beer selection, high-quality sausages, dark lighting, big crowds, lots of hipsters. That pretty much sums it up. The dark lighting really put a damper on my picture-taking abilities. Still a great spot.

Feature :: Padrecito

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The illustrated cocktail menu at Padrecito in Cole Valley.

Ever since Mamacita’s sister/brother restaurant, Padrecito, opened in early March, I’ve been dying to go. I’ve always been a big Mamacita fan and Padrecito somehow sounded like it was going to be even better. I made it to the Cole Valley spot last night and was in no way disappointed.

We started with the crudo (yellowtail, mango, avocado, chipotle-agave salsita; comes with blue corn strips on the side). It was amazing, and very different from anything I’ve ever had. The chipotle maakes it slightly smoky, which was a delicious twist.

Next up: taco time. Tried the grilled arctic char (achiote rub, avocado aioli & mango/jicama slaw), duck enmermalada (black beans, mixed chicories, arbolstrawberry marmalade & dry jack) and crispy calamari (maseca dredge, ajillo aioli & chipotlechayote slaw). I strongly dislike calamari, but was told it was one of the better taco options, and it really was good. The calamari almost buttery. I could have done with less slaw though (see picture below). The char and duck were unreal. Some of of the best tacos I’ve ever had and in very different ways. You have to go try them to understand what I mean. Just do it.

The drinks weren’t anything too special; I think at these kind of places it’s always best to stick with their most basic margarita-type drink rather than go too wild with lots of ingredients that take away from simple-good tequila.

Also, check out some professionally taken pictures of the space from EaterSF: Padrecito Heats Up Cole Valley, Starting Tomorrow

Padrecito // 901 Cole St., San Francisco

Feature :: Foreign Cinema brunch

An unseasonably warm San Francisco Saturday + beautiful people + great brunch + happiness.

Unfortunately, I have had consistently bad experiences with the staff at Foreign Cinema, but the restaurant/space/food is great so it’s hard to care. Get the croque madame and the rhubarb pop tart if you know what’s good for you, and do your best to ignore the rude waiters.

Foreign Cinema // 2534 Mission St., San Francisco // Monday-Thursday 6-10 p.m.; Friday 5:30-10 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.