San Francisco Bay Area rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the SF Chowhound community.

Australian Meat Pies

Aussie meat pies recreated for American palates often consist of tough crusts stuffed with ingredients that are too good for you, says Tabetai yo. But the pies at Kearny Street Handheld Pies are authentic and delicious. Spicy eggplant pie with olives and tomatoes is excellent. Basque beef pie is nicely spicy, filled with pleasantly soft meat. It’s not an Aussie-style pie, but it’s quite good nonetheless. The whole wheat crust is tender and delicate. Two pies cost $5.75 and are enough for a meal for a normal person.

Kearny Street Pie Company [Financial District]
307 Kearny Street, San Francisco

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Kearny St Handheld Pies

That Coffee Guy Named Wayne

Jess Leber loves Bluebottle coffee, but prefers coffee roasted by a guy named Wayne.

Just Wayne.

You acquire this coffee by searching on Craigslist (try terms like “coffee,” “bean,” and “roast”) and e-mailing the guy your coffee needs. He then roasts it to your specifications. The procedure for acquiring it is a bit weird–you slide your money through a mail slot, and Wayne has your coffee waiting for you in a box outside. “Last time, I found myself humming ‘Waiting For The Man’ by the Velvet Underground,” says Jess Leber.

Wayne the Passionate Coffee Roaster
contact through Craigslist
Oakland (Temescal)

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That Coffee Guy in Rockridge
East Bay coffee to rival Blue Bottle

Cerrito Speakeasy Theater

The food at Cerrito Speakeasy Theater is two levels above other theaters in quality and one level below in price, making it a very chowish place, says EdwardAdams. Enormous nachos are topped with real stuff, not fluorescent orange cheese product like in other theaters. Grilled beef sandwiches (“Zombie Cow”) and slices of chocolate cake are tasty, and everything is served on real plates, not paper. Even the popcorn comes in a real bowl. rworange notes that you can also buy bottled and draft beer like Trumer Pils, and wine like Ile la Forge viognier, so you can feel like you’re in a real speakeasy.

Cerrito Speakeasy Theater [East Bay]
10070 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito

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Cerrito Speakeasy Theater

A More Refined Beef Tongue Soup

Seoul Gom Tang makes excellent Korean soups, specializing in oxtail soup. The amount of care taken in making the broth is clear from the taste. However, there’s a newcomer in the Korean soup department–Seen Chon House, with an even more stripped-down menu than Seoul Gom Tang. Seen Chon House only makes soups, and the specialization results in an extremely refined broth. Try the wul sul (beef tongue) soup and you won’t be disappointed. al88 also thinks they have some of the best napa cabbage kimchi around. Feel free to toss some kimchi into your soup for a little spice–but it’s not the kind of soup to dump half a cup of chili paste into.

Seen Chon House Restaurant [South Bay]
1066 Kiely Blvd., Santa Clara

Seoul Gom Tang [South Bay]
3028 El Camino Real, Santa Clara

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Sean Chon House

Fondues and Fondon’ts

For every need, there is an appropriate fondue restaurant. Robert Lauriston faintly praises Fondue Fred as “fine for the low price.” They even serve all-you-can-eat cheesecake–after the fondue. “I can’t believe I ate that in college,” says Glencora.

On a more sophisticated note, anna loves the fondue at the Matterhorn, and The Dive likes the fondue at Cav, served with bread, apples, and walnuts.

And MSK admits (with a measure of embarrassment) that chain restaurant the Melting Pot in Marin is completely enjoyable. Kids love it, and even though the menu lists prices per person, you may order one massive serving for two to share. Enjoy!

Fondue Fred [East Bay]
2556 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley

Matterhorn Restaurant [Russian Hill]
2323 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

Cav Wine Bar [Hayes Valley]
1666 Market St., San Francisco

The Melting Pot [Marin County]
125 E. Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Larkspur

The Melting Pot [South Bay]
72 S. 1st St., San Jose

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Fond o’ Fondue

How I Learned to Stop Worry and Love the Can

jimzk initially suffered from feelings of shock and betrayal upon discovering that the luscious, perfectly-spiced baba ganoush at Haig’s Deli comes out of a can–at least, the foundation of eggplant puree does. That may be part of what gives the baba ganoush its unquestionable authenticity–the cans do come from Lebanon, and are of a very good brand. And, of course, the kitchen at Haig’s dresses up the canned base with their own spices. rworange notes that people love the clam chowder at Swan’s, even though it comes out of a can–it’s all about how the restaurant doctors it up. “There’s stuff lovingly made from scratch that is tasteless,” she says.

Haig’s Delicacies [Richmond]
642 Clement St., San Francisco

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The inconvenient truth about Haig’s Deli

Fresh Duck Livers

Just a heads-up–G&G Supermarket sells fresh duck livers (and gizzards) at the reasonable price of $1.19 per pound. They only have them on Wednesdays, and they only have a small amount, says brocante, but they are of good quality.

Manila Market also carries duck livers at a reasonable price, says Zeldog.

G&G Supermarket [Sonoma County]
1211 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa

Manila Meat Market [Mission District]
987 Mission St., San Francisco

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Fresh Duck Livers @ G&G Market

Sausage Factory Outlet

No, you are not hallucinating–that sign really does say “Sausage Factory Outlet.” It’s a warehouse with no sign indicating openness or hours, but inside you can buy Schwarz sausage, as well as all the other sausages manufactured by Engelhart Gourmet Foods, for $3.05 per pound, says Melanie Wong. The sausages usually retail for around $5 or $6 a pound, so this is a sizeable discount, says ML8000, particularly if you’re grilling for a crowd.

Schwarz Sausage Factory Outlet [Mission]
1726 Mission St., San Francisco

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Sausage Factory Outlet

Best Aguas Frescas at Hacienda Grill

Hacienda Grill serves simple food deliciously, and also has the best aguas frescas in the Bay Area, says rworange. The jar of orangeade is filled with thin slices of fresh orange and has a great fresh orangeade flavor. Watermelon agua fresca has a slushy texture, and it has a sweeter and truer watermelon flavor than most actual watermelons. Horchata has a lovely touch of cinnamon, though it’s slightly on the sweet side. House-made sangria ($2.50) is a pleasantly fruity, grapey drink, full of chopped orange–you have to finish it off with a spoon! A sip of sangria improves the experience of the excellent tortilla chips.

Hacienda Grill [East Bay]
1000 Nevin Ave., Richmond

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Richmond–Hacienda Grill–Thanks J T … Rosemary chicken enchiladas & flank steak w/chilaquiles

Huitlacoche Quesadilla at Doña Tomas

Doña Tomas is still making excellent food, says deelish–especially the terrific huitlacoche (corn smut fungus) quesadilla that one could eat at every meal, every day. Chiles rellenos are also excellent, not breaded or deep fried, just stuffed with smooth, meltingly yummy goat cheese and roasted. The masa is fresh and tastes of sweet corn. Earl Grey feels the service is sloppy, and the food is only very good, not great. And Mari likes the juicy, crispy carnitas, despite the fact that they are rubbed with Mexican oregano.

For dessert, try ice cream served with baked apples, raisins, and pecans, sprinkled with cajeta.

Restaurante Dona Tomas [Temescal]
5004 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

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Doña Tomas–Recent Reviews?