Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the SF Chowhound community.
Pizzaiolo recently hired a new pastry chef, and hounds love her inventive, tasty, frequently changing desserts. Doodleboomer has tried several, and especially likes the rosemary-infused ice milk with blood orange granita, though olive oil gelato is also fantastic and worth a visit all on its own. JasmineG was also blown away by these stupendous gelati, and puts in a good word for the apple fritters. Cerise 37 likes the ice milk with tarragon. It is not only an interestingly savory taste, but a great palate cleanser.
5008 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
Desserts at Pizzaiolo
bbulkow is a big fan of Jerusalem Organic–the food is fast, cheap, and well-spiced. lintygmom finds the food very fresh. Hounds are partial to the schwerma and the chicken, and even the salmon is excellent. Also delicious: the little dab of chutney-ish stuff they give you with your plate of food. “And the owner, Anny, is a real sweetie who looks uncannily like a young Alan Arkin playing the owner of a Middle Eastern restaurant,” says lintygmom.
Jerusalem Organic Kitchen [East Bay]
1897 Solano Avenue, Berkeley
Jerusalem Organic Cafe
El Rey Pakal is a new Yucatan restaurant with a deep and fairly exciting menu. One draw is that they serve very fresh hand-made corn tortillas, says wineguy7. The salsa is some of the best josquared has had in a while, though the chicken in black chimole sauce is good, but not earth shaking. Mick Ruthven suggests you come with a group of at least four so you can try lots of dishes. He likes the empanadas–“different from anything I’ve had before, simple, fresh, and very good.”
El Rey Pakal [Marin County]
227 3rd Avenue, San Rafael
El Rey Pakal
Messob is the most brightly lit of the Ethiopian restaurants around town–you may wonder if you’ve accidentally wandered into a Subway sandwich shop. But the waitstaff is warm and friendly, and the food is very good, according to daveena. Injera is thin and quite sour, kitfo is nicely spicy, and red lentils are delicious, if not as buttery as they might be in an ideal world. Dinner is about $16 including a beer, tax, and tip.
Messob is “not earth-shaking, genre-defining good, but I-plan-to-become-a-regular good,” says daveena.
4301 Piedmont Ave., Oakland
Messob–good Ethiopian on Piedmont
The clam chowder is nothing special, but the raw oysters at the Marshall Store sing with a pure, sweet freshness. “They were the freshest I have ever tasted since I was on the Chesapeake Bay in 1972. My uncle caught them that time,” says Euonymous. BBQ oysters are wonderful as well; they’re just barely cooked, with just a tiny bit of sauce that doesn’t overpower the delicate flavor of the oysters.
Oysters Rockefeller are a bit of a train wreck, overwhelmed by too many ingredients–once you get past the Swiss cheese, spinach, yogurt, bread crumbs, and who knows what else, you can hardly perceive any of the perfect oyster flavor. It’s a decent prep if you have crappy oysters, but it’s a waste of seasonal, immaculately fresh oysters. “Next time I’m getting them all raw,” he says.
The Marshall Store [Marin County]
19225 Hwy. 1, Marshall
The Marshall Store–Report
With its yuppie crowd, upscale decor, and respectable wine list, Soi 4 would not exactly set off your chow-dar for great Thai food. But it’s not the lame fusion place it appears to be–hardcore Thai flavors are in evidence in the food, says Robert Lauriston, and the kitchen’s not shy with the fish sauce or chiles. Everyone loves the steamed turnip cakes, served nice and crispy with a great mung bean and herb salad. The grilled eggplant and minced pork salad is delicious, served with a nice, intense dressing. So is the crunchy Chinese broccoli with crisp pork belly. Janet thinks the green papaya salad is a masterpiece.
Armoise likes that the kitchen at Soi 4 will take it easy on the chiles for diners with heat-sensitive palates, without dumbing down the other funky, pungent flavors in the dish to please the gringos. And to top it off, you can get good wines for $6 or $7 a glass.
Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery [Rockridge]
5421 College Avenue, between Manila & Kale, Oakland
Thai in the East Bay: Soi 4 in Rockridge
You might not expect it from the silly name, but Chili Lemon Garlic does great Thai food. Dave MP likes the boat noodle soup, #37 on the menu ($6.95). The broth is dark and has a nice beef flavor, though this is somewhat overpowered by the flakes of fried garlic that are generously sprinkles over the soup. If you like fried garlic, though, that won’t be a problem. Meatballs are good and very beefy; the rare steak isn’t really rare, but it’s good nonetheless.
They claim to be able to make any dish vegetarian using fake meat, but this claim is as yet untested by ‘hounds.
Chili Lemon Garlic Thai Cafe [Mission]
3166 24th Street, San Francisco
Noodle soup at CLG (Chili Lemon Garlic) in the Mission
Mama Lucy’s has amazing fried catfish, says Benny Choi. It has a thin, crunchy crust covering the hot, moist, tender fish–and it’s not at all greasy. Fried chicken wings are also admirably fried, with a nice crust and tasty flesh. Also try the tender collard greens, with a subtle balance of sweet and tangy. Lunch is around $16, including an entrée, two sides, and a drink. Sweet corn and red beans are just OK.
Mama Lucy’s Soulful Comfort Cuisine [SoMa]
1 Gilbert Street, San Francisco
Mama Lucy’s Soulful Comfort Cuisine
Mandalay Restaurant is a Burmese restaurant a few blocks from Burma Super Star, but without a line to get in. schnigglebob finds the food at Mandaly Restaurant to be better–especially the flavorful tea leaf salad, made without lemon or tomatoes. Rainbow chicken, with flavors of mango and pineapple, is also recommended.
Melanie Wong likes the spark and funk of the rainbow salad, which is a wild mix of more than ten different things, including deep-fried shallots and golden-brown garlic chips. Her favorite is the coconut chicken noodle soup (ono kaukswe), with bite-sized pieces of smooth and succulent boneless dark meat chicken and soft egg noodles floating in a mild, curry-flavored coconut milk broth.
daveena highly recommends the nan gvi dok (Burmese rice noodle soup with spiced coconut chicken, split yellow pea powder, and fried onion). It’s a must-eat–the coconut flavor goes all the way through the perfectly chewy, tender noodles. And all hounds like the balada, a flaky, tender Burmese flatbread akin to paratha.
Mandalay Restaurant [Richmond]
4348 California St. (at 6th), San Francisco
Burma Super Star Restaurant [Richmond]
309 Clement St, between 4th and 5th, San Francisco
Mandalay Restaurant on California Street, Surprisingly good!
The Road Back to Mandalay
Fans of the Cameroonian food truck at the Berkeley Flea Market will be happy to learn that they’ve recently opened a standing restaurant, called A Taste of Africa. rworange loves the expertly fried plantains (sule do do), a fluffy, moist rice dish full of black-eyed peas (jolaffe), and the tart house-made lemonade. This place is very vegan and vegetarian friendly, with vegan dishes on the menu every day, as well as meat dishes. Chuckles the Clone loves the stewed yams (nkule) with rice and a tiny dollop of their fabulously fiery hot sauce on the side. But, he says, if they have something called “traditional turkey”–which sometimes turns out to be chicken–then you need to order that.
This is not the kind of restaurant that makes a ton of food ahead of time and chucks it in the freezer. They make relatively small batches of delicious, fresh food and they actually run out of stuff–“you gotta step lively if you want it,” a server explained. So go early and often if you want to try everything.
A Taste of Africa [East Bay]
3015 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
Berkeley–A Taste of Africa re-emerges on Shattuck- Cameroonian comfort food & lunch specials