TABLEHOPPING How was your New Year’s Eve? Did you tell 2013 to not let the door hit it on the ass on its way out, or who knows, maybe 2013 was oh-so-good to you? Hopefully the latter. One thing I do know is deadlines were a little wonky over the holiday, and yours truly started early on the Champagne (oops), so my end-of-the-year recap is running in the paper a wee bit late.
Here are brief highlights of new places that opened in 2013 that I’m fired up to have in our culinary scene, and look forward to visiting more in 2014. Did you check all of these off your list already? No? Let’s roll the tape.
PATISSERIES AND BAKERIES
So much beauty resides in the pastry case at b. patisserie, everyone must try the honey cake (and knishes!) at 20th Century Café, and croissants and savory creations at Le Marais Bakery in the Marina are trés destination-worthy.
A simple but good one can be found at the revamped Fog City. It’s the way you wish a McDonald’s cheeseburger would taste — the American cheese is even made in-house! And the renovated MKT at the Four Seasons has a delicious duck fat burger. (The steak tartare is also really, really good.) The beef and bacon burger at RickyBobby in the Lower Haight is the business, and the version at Mason Pacific comes on a pretzel bun with smoked tomato, tasty.
IS IT A BAR OR A RESTAURANT?
I love being able to do double duty at places with great cocktails and superior vittles, like Hard Water — have you had the fried chicken, or the fried milk-braised celery hearts?! Or Trick Dog, where the late-night kitchen hours are brilliant — and the boneless chicken wings and Manimal-style thrice-cooked fries are gifts to drunks and stoners everywhere. And then there’s the renovated Tosca, now serving some of the city’s best meatballs and housemade bucatini all’amatriciana: Start with the Trouble in Paradise cocktail.
Gotta hand it to Saison for having one of the sexiest bar menus — the same can be said of the china and stemware. Gorgeous don’t come cheap.
Russian Hill gets a two-fer: 1760 (the crudos!) and Stones Throw (squid ink conchiglie pasta for the win), while the Castro is cozying right up to Fable, and Nico is trying to charm Laurel Heights.
MEXICAN PARTY BUS
Padrecito is getting Cole Valley tipsy on good drinks — La Copa Verde, we are talking about you! — to go with goat tacos (points for selling a kale taco), while La Urbana is curing hangovers with its chilaquiles and Mexican Dude cocktail. And bienvenidos to the fiesta, Sabrosa.
For your must-try list: the Italian combo and Arista at Merigan Sub Shop, the lampredotto (it’s tripe, yo) at Elmira Rosticceria, and the Rachel at Shorty Goldstein’s in the FiDi.
JUST DAMN TASTY
Maruya in the Mission is giving us a new counter where we can enjoy some top sushi, while the Sri Lankan-influenced 1601 Bar and Kitchen brings us a spin on the traditional egg hopper, my idea of a killer app. The new menu at Betelnut is also rocking the party, with the char siu spring rolls and hamachi sashimi.
The Cavalier in SoMa is plying us with eggs and soldiers and a mighty fine burger, while Coqueta flirts with us over gin and tonics and pintxos.
THANKS FOR NOT TAKING ALL MY MONEY
It’s so good to have Guddu de Karahi back with us (and his tandoori fish), while the second location of Ramen Underground in Japantown means you can find a place to sit while you enjoy spicy miso ramen. The tortillas from the Burr-eatery truck, get ’em! And I’m digging the savory waffles at Linea Caffe.
WINE BAR 2.0
Fortunately we have moved past the lousy style and cheap wines at too many wine bars around the city — there are good bites and pours at the funky 20 Spot, excellent Italian wines from true wino pros at InoVino and La Nebbia, and some fab Frenchie picks at Aquitaine, including a duck Reuben at lunch.
HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
Sorry to say farewell to all the cool Kiwis and their fresh ingredients at pop-up restaurant Waiheke Island Yacht Club, which played up its America’s Cup connection.
FRESH ON THE SCENE
Looking forward to trying Verbena from Berkeley’s Gather crew, getting smoky at TBD in SoMa, tucking into a Hunanese banquet dinner on at Leader House, and diving deeper into the menu at Daniel Patterson’s Alta CA, where you gotta get the cracked wheat porridge with hen of the woods mushrooms. 2014, you’re looking damn good.