What a year. On the downside, normal is still far more of a concept than a reality. But on a bright note, my favorite eats this year are not comprised solely of takeout foods. I actually was able to dine outside at restaurants, and a couple times even indoors when the situation felt especially safe. So, there is that.
Whether you are comfortable dining indoors, only outdoors or just through delivery or takeout orders, please continue to support your local restaurants, which still need you more than ever.
To stoke your appetite to do so, here are my Top 10 eats of this year, in no particular order:
If you’ve been thinking there’s no way I can afford to get takeout at a Michelin three-starred restaurant, think again.
While pre-pandemic, a dinner at Manresa would have dented your bank account, its Manresa Family Meal selections offered at this time are actually quite affordable, especially considering the quality of what you get. That’s what I found when I picked up dinner last week.
Manresa’s takeout is offered Wednesday through Sunday, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The family meal not only changes each week, but actually each day of the week, too.
When I spied last Saturday’s Japanese-influenced spread, I went for it. For each family meal, there is a vegetarian counterpart option offered, as well. I got one of each, with the soy-braised short ribs with beef jus option ($67) for my husband Meat Boy, of course. While I’m not necessarily a vegetarian, the Jidori hen egg omelette with toasted nori vegetarian substitution ($43) proved irresistible.
Manresa Bread is a must-stop any day of the week. But come holidays, it shines even more.
That’s what I discovered when I dropped by last week to pick up Valentine’s Day treats. It pays to heed the window for early pre-ordering, too, as popular items will sell out fast.
Pastry Chef-Founder Avery Ruzicka built a reputation for her outstanding breads, made with organic flour milled on site. Those are a must-purchase, especially the profoundly crusty baguette, which quite frankly is a steal for $4, and the oblong levain ($9) with such depth of flavor from a combination of organic whole wheat, organic white, and organic rye flours in concert with a sourdough starter.
Admittedly, I was there for two holiday items in particular: the 6-inch chocolate silk pie ($22), and the Basque cheesecake ($35).
Its name means “celebrate,” and pre-pandemic, Milpitas-based Jalsa Catering & Events was all about that, catering lavish weddings and festive parties all over the Bay Area.
But of course, with large events — and pretty much gatherings of any sort — verboten right now, Jalsa has pivoted to being a meal delivery service instead.
The company was co-founded by Vittal Shetty, who for years was the corporate chef of the Bay Area’s Amber India restaurants; and Reshmi Nair, who was Amber India’s director of events and catering.
Delivery (2 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and pick-up are available on a schedule that depends on what city you live in: Monday and Friday, there’s delivery to San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Cupertino, Los Gatos, and Monte Sereno. Tuesday and Sunday, it’s Palo Alto, Los Altos, Atherton, Redwood City, San Mateo. Thursday, it’s San Carlos, Hillsborough, and San Francisco. Saturday, it’s Fremont, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Dublin, Hayward, and Danville. And Wednesday, pick-up is available at its Milipitas commercial kitchen.
You don’t know necessarily when the food will show up at your doorstep between 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., but everything heats up well enough in the microwave or a skillet if you want to enjoy it hours later, as I found when I was invited to try some of the food gratis.