Category Archives: Restaurants

The Little Caboose That Could — Dad’s Luncheonette

Hamburger Sandwich (top), and Mushroom Sandwich (bottom), at Dad's Luncheonette.
Hamburger Sandwich (top), and Mushroom Sandwich (bottom), at Dad’s Luncheonette.

It may be a train to nowhere, but it’s guaranteed to take your taste buds on a satisfying ride.

Dad’s Luncheonette opened two years ago in a historic caboose permanently parked on the edge of a shopping center in Half Moon Bay. Ever since then, it’s been drawing hordes to this unassuming spot.

After all, it’s not every day that a chef whose resume includes stints at uber upscale, Michelin three-starred Benu and Saison, decides to set up shop in such unusual and cramped quarters, all of 250 square feet.

Permanently parked on the side of Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay.
Permanently parked on the side of Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay.

But Chef Scott Clark and girlfriend Alexis Liu, owner of San Francisco’s Beacon Coffee & Pantry, were after a less hectic life after the birth of their daughter. When they spied the old caboose, it was love at first sight.

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Win A Signed Copy of My New “East Bay Cooks” Cookbook

Flourless chocolate cake from Old Towne Danville Bakery. (Photo by Eva Kolenko)
Flourless chocolate cake from Old Towne Danville Bakery. (Photo by Eva Kolenko)

Remember when you were a kid, and beamed with pride and happiness the first time you donned a snazzy new pair of red cowboy boots?

That’s how I feel about my newest cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1), which debuts this week. Thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of people, it turned out more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Just get a load of the images here from the book, all of them shot by the incredibly talented Bay Area photographer Eva Kolenko.

Chorizo sourdough toast from Sabio on Main in Pleasanton. (Photo by Eva Kolenko)
Chorizo sourdough toast from Sabio on Main in Pleasanton. (Photo by Eva Kolenko)

Whether you’re a Bay Area native or not, this book will have you enthralled with the East Bay, the most populous region in the Bay Area. It spotlights 41 restaurants and bakeries, some brand new, and others that have endured for decades — no easy feat in this challenging and competitive market.

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All Roads Lead to A16 Rockridge

An especially meaty, sweet, tender tasting prosciutto at A16 Rockridge.
An especially meaty, sweet, tender tasting prosciutto at A16 Rockridge.

I have been a fan of A16 ever since it opened its doors in 2004 in San Francisco’s Marina district. But I may have become an even bigger fan now of its younger sister location, A16 Rockridge in Oakland, which opened in 2013.

That’s because parking is a breeze, especially on an early Sunday evening, as when I visited recently. In contrast, visiting the original location will always involve circling the blocks over and over to hunt for a parking space.

In Oakland, I save time in the car to spend more of it comfortably at my seat in the restaurant, done up in rustic-industrial style with exposed brick walls and duct work on the ceilings.

The restaurant, which takes its name from the highway that spans across Italy from Napoli to Bari, specializes in the food of Campania.

The comfortable dining room with high ceilings and large windows overlooking the sidewalk.
The comfortable dining room with high ceilings and large windows overlooking the sidewalk.

Its wine list is also killer. In fact, Wine Director and Co-Founder Shelley Lindgren won a James Beard Award for it. So when our server recommended a half carafe ($26) of the 2018 Terredora di Paolo “Rosaenovae” Montefusco, Avellino, Campania rose, on the warm summer evening, we knew it would hit the spot. And it did with its pale salmon color, and light, dry, minerally-forward character.

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When It Comes To Pizza, It’s Hip to Be Square

Sausage and mushroom pizza take a fun square turn at Square Pie Guys in San Francisco.
Sausage and mushroom pizza take a fun square turn at Square Pie Guys in San Francisco.

First-time restaurateurs Marc Schechter and Danny Stoller may call themselves and their new San Francisco establishment, the Square Pie Guys.

Even if the pizza is actually rectangular. And even if the other items on the menu deserve top-billing, too, including Asian-style fried chicken wings that nearly steal the show.

Semantics aside, this Detroit-style pizza joint is already winning over fans and making repeat customers, even after being open just a month. On a recent Wednesday night, when I was invited in as a guest, the place was packed.

Detroit-style pizza was born in — where else — the Motor City. Originally, the thick-crust pizza was baked in industrial car parts trays. At Square Pie Guys, the pizzas are baked in deep rectangular pans.

Danny Stoller (left) and Marc Schechter (right) in the kitchen of the first restaurant to call their own.
Danny Stoller (left) and Marc Schechter (right) in the kitchen of the first restaurant to call their own.

Stoller hails from Seattle, where he cooked at such institutions as Tilth and Revel. Schechter worked his way though some of San Francisco’s finest pizza places, including Pizzahacker, Del Popolo, Casey’s, and Pizzeria Delfina.

“I’m a pizza nerd,” Schechter says proudly.

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The Alluring Nari

Cornish game hen curry with the best roti you’ll ever have — at the new Nari in San Francisco.

The newest restaurant sensation in San Francisco to open its doors just last week is named for the Thai word for “woman.”

It’s an apt moniker because it was opened by a woman as formidable as they get.

The captivating Nari, which opened in the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown, is the latest endeavor by Pim Techamuanvivit, who holds two Michelin stars, one each at Kin Khao in San Francisco’s Parc 55 hotel, and Nahm in Bangkok. Additionally, she operates Kamin, a fast-casual cafe in the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport.

Born and raised in Bangkok, Techamuanvivit worked in tech in the Bay Area, before becoming one of the earliest breakout blogging stars with her site Chez Pim. Along the way, she wrote a cookbook, then became an artisan jam maker before reinventing herself again as a chef-restaurateur.

In every case, she’s done so with aplomb.

Restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit in the dining room of her newest restaurant, Nari.
Restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit in the dining room of her newest restaurant, Nari.

So it comes as no surprise that a day before the official opening at a “friends and family” preview dinner, to which I was invited as a guest, her newest restaurant was already hitting it out of the park.

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