Tag Archives: top San Francisco restaurant

Che Fico — San Francisco’s Hottest New Restaurant

The distinctive artisan pizzas at Che Fico.

The distinctive artisan pizzas at Che Fico.

 

Anderson Cooper has eaten here. So has Gwyneth Paltrow. Finally, so, too, has the Food Gal.

OK, I may not rank in that celebrity stratosphere, but I still count myself lucky to finally have gotten into Che Fico, which arguably is the hottest new restaurant to hit San Francisco of late.

Since the doors opened to this Italian eatery in late-March, reservations have been near-impossible to get and the walk-in line has snaked down the block. All this for another Italian joint in the city? Yes, when the team behind it is Chef David Nayfeld, Pastry Chef Angela Pinkerton and partner Matt Brewer, all alums of the illustrious Eleven Madison Park in New York.

Follow the arrow and walk upstairs to the restaurant.

Follow the arrow and walk upstairs to the restaurant.

Chef David Nayfeld and business partner Matt Brewer in the kitchen.

Chef David Nayfeld and business partner Matt Brewer in the kitchen.

 

I admit I scored a Saturday night reservation with the help of a publicist, but paid my own tab at the end, though Chef Nayfeld did bring out a couple of gratis dishes for us to try.

Che Fico is housed on the second floor of a building in the Nopa neighborhood that also has a Boba Guys on the first floor. Also on the ground level is Theorita, the diner-bakery also from the Che Fico team, which opened in August.

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Why You’ll Want To Go Back To Octavia Again and Again

That egg, that glorious egg at Octavia.

That egg, that glorious egg at Octavia.

 

There are restaurants that serve comfort food.

And then there are restaurants that are pure comfort.

Octavia in San Francisco is such a place.

Like her first restaurant, Frances in San Francisco, Chef-Owner Melissa Perello has a knack for creating places that are cozy, warm, and understated. They make you feel right at home from the get-go, as if you just settled into the corner of a favorite couch at your best friend’s abode for what you know will be a lovely, relaxed evening.

Well, if only your best bud could cook as beautifully and effortlessly as Perello and Chef de Cuisine Robert Hernandez, of course.

The laid-back dining room.

The laid-back dining room.

To be packed on a Monday night is saying something.

To be packed on a Monday night is saying something.

Even on a recent Monday night, the Michelin-starred restaurant was packed, as I found out when I met a dear old friend for dinner, with each of us paying our tab at the end. What an ideal place for a gals’ night out to catch up with each other’s busy lives.

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Chinese Food Reimagined At Mister Jiu’s

Chef Brandon Jew expediting in the kitchen of his Mister Jiu's.

Chef Brandon Jew expediting in the kitchen of his Mister Jiu’s.

 

For many years, my Uncle George had his insurance office on Waverly Place in San Francisco’s Chinatown. He’d often take clients for lunch or drinks to Four Seas restaurant across the street. Back then, it was the place to socialize, a glamorous spot where so many friends and family members of my generation remember attending celebratory banquet meals.

So maybe it was appropos that my first visit to Mister Jiu’s, which reincarnated that space a year ago, came just a few weeks after my uncle’s passing last month. Making my way through that tucked-away street, I somehow felt I was walking in his shoes, seeing this venue past, present and future.

Chinatown stopped being a destination dining scene long ago for so many Chinese-Americans of my generation. These days, if we head here at all, it’s because we’re playing tour guide to visiting friends. But Chef Brandon Jew, who grew up in San Francisco, was lured here to create a restaurant that he hopes will reinvigorate this historic neighborhood.

Certainly, he’s succeeded in drawing more Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers to this area, as evidenced by the crowd I saw dining here on a Saturday night.

Original chandeliers from the Four Seas.

Original chandeliers from the Four Seas.

The open kitchen can be seen from the dining room.

The open kitchen can be seen from the dining room.

Located on the second floor, the restaurant has a wall of windows that overlook bustling Grant Avenue. The lotus-flower chandeliers from the original Four Seas have been polished to a gleam, giving a touch of elegant nostalgia to the space.

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Coi’s Second Act

Ocean trout as imagined by the newly anointed chef of San Francisco's Coi.

Ocean trout as imagined by the newly anointed chef of San Francisco’s Coi.

 

Daniel Patterson is a hard act to follow.

The cerebral and celebrated chef created a very personal oasis of zen elegance in a neighborhood of strip clubs when he opened Coi in San Francisco.

Last year, he decided to step down as executive chef to devote more time to overseeing his growing roster of restaurants — Alta CA in San Francisco, Aster in San Francisco, Haven in Oakland, and Plum Bar in Oakland — as well as his new Locol fast-food concept in partnership with Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ Truck fame.

But he has found a most accomplished successor in Matthew Kirkley, who took over COI in January. The Baltimore-reared chef has worked at such renowned establishments as the Fat Duck in London, L20 in Chicago, Restaurant Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, and Le Meurice in Paris.

His flawless technique and breathtaking food attest to the fact that Patterson has left Coi in extraordinary hands.

The restaurant offers three wine pairing options.

The restaurant offers three wine pairing options.

The intimate dining room.

The intimate dining room.

I had a chance to experience it when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant earlier this month.

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Mourad Soars in San Francisco

A sublime chicken with sides -- family-style -- at Mourad.

A sublime chicken with sides — family-style — at Mourad.

 

Chef Mourad Lahlou has had quite the journey.

From his early days as an economics student at San Francisco State, where he started dabbling in the kitchen because he missed his mother’s cooking from his native Marrakech.

To this self-taught cook’s opening of his ground-breaking Aziza restaurant in the city’s Outer Richmond neighborhood, which was named for his mother.

To that restaurant’s evolution from belly dancers and very traditional fare to thrilling modern takes on Moroccan cuisine.

Now comes Mourad, his new eponymous restaurant in the historic Pacific Telephone building, which opened in January.

Years in the making, it’s a grand, glam setting fit for a chef who has grown into one of the most respected and gifted around.

A dramatic art piece of ancient tree roots.

A dramatic art piece of ancient tree roots.

Walk through the doors and you are immediately greeted with a striking art piece — a cross-section of a massive tree’s roots. It is beautifully organic in nature to be sure. But it’s also a symbol of how Lahlou’s cooking may grow and change, but is always firmly rooted in his heritage.

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