So many places opened in 2019; and so many places closed. Be it astronomical housing costs to an extremely tight labor pool and the rising price of ingredients, the Bay Area remains a challenging landscape for restaurants.
Still, they somehow manage to put their best forward day in and day out. Here are my favorite eats of the year (in no particular order) — the ones I still dream about, and the ones I’d race back for in a heartbeat. Enjoy! And cheers to even more delicious morsels in 2020.
Garlicky and tangy chicken adobo — done on the grill.
Anyone of Filipino heritage will tell you that everyone has their own rendition of adobo, the classic home-style dish that gets its punchy flavor from copious amounts of garlic, soy sauce, and sharp vinegar.
Now comes Jamie Purviance’s version. And naturally, what makes this one special is that it’s grilled rather than simmered or braised like traditional adobo.
After all, as Weber’s master griller for 20 years, the Northern California-based Purviance can’t resist cooking most anything over gas or charcoal.
A feast of grilled Maui-style Korean ribs makes summer entertaining a breeze.
When I bite down on these sweet, gingery, soy-infused, toothsome short ribs, I practically feel the tropical sun on my face and the warm white sand between my toes.
“Maui-Style Kalbi Short Ribs” will do that to you.
It’s a taste of Hawaii — in your own home.
The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. Maui native Alana Kysar, who blogs at Fix Feast Flair, may live in Los Angeles now. But a large part of her heart — and stomach — are clearly still in Hawaii.
The cookbook is a loving look at some of the most iconic Hawaiian home-style dishes, the ones you queue up for at food trucks or Hawaiian plate-lunch spots, or look forward to most if you’re lucky enough to be invited to a local’s backyard family feast. Turn the pages and feast on everything from “Soy-Glazed Spam Musubi” and “Loco Moco” to “Ginger Misoyaki Butterfish” and “Double-Chocolate Haupia Pie” and prepare to get very hungry.
Prime rib with all the fixings along with a nice glass of red wine at One Market.
Of course, House of Prime Rib in San Francisco has pretty much cornered the market on that regal cut of beef for decades, attracting hordes every night for its throwback table-side carving.
But lately, it seems like more and more restaurants are getting into the prime rib game, including Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco ($55 with hamachi shooter and a side dish on Sundays), Dan Gordon’s in Palo Alto ($33 with fixings on Thursday through Saturday), Cockscomb in San Francisco ($55 with accompaniments), and One Market in San Francisco (Friday and Saturday, $47.95 to $55.95).
Who can blame them when prime rib holds such appeal? It’s a celebratory meat associated with Christmas and festive Sunday family get-togethers. It’s also a sizeable cut of meat that takes awhile to cook, meaning it’s not something you’re likely to prepare at home on the spur of the moment for just two of you.
My husband, aka Meat Boy, prepares prime rib for our extended family every Christmas. But even he was game to leave the cooking to someone else in May when we were invited to One Market as guests of the restaurant to try its rendition.
The rotisserie turns the prime rib over the flames.
It gets wonderfully crisp all over.
The expansive restaurant is outfitted with a wood-fired burning rotisserie just in front of the open kitchen. You can walk up to it to get a close look at the chickens rotating on the spit along with a massive bone-in prime rib. There’s a limited supply each Friday and Saturday night. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Five-spice, hoisin sauce, and quick pickled carrots and cucumbers turn this lamb burger sensational.
It’s reminiscent of a steamed clamshell bun folded over Peking duck — but done up burger-style with lamb instead.
How can that ever be bad?
Those sweet, savory, garlicky, addictive Asian flavors of hoisin sauce are what make this burger such a winner. That unmistakable Chinese condiment not only combines with five spice powder to flavor the ground lamb that makes up this burger, but gets slathered on the cooked patty for a final flourish. In a sense, hoisin sauce takes the place of ketchup. One taste, and you’ll never go back, too.
It’s one of 138 recipes for burgers of every type, as well as home-made buns, condiments, side dishes and drinks. With summer around the corner, it’s the perfect time to whet your whistle with recipes such as “Italian Pork Burgers with Broccoli Rabe,” “Spicy Brown Rice-Edamame Burgers,” “Grilled Southwestern Salmon Burgers,” and “Smoky Grilled Potato Salad.”