Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the SF Chowhound community.
Maya loves Sheba Lounge for upscale Ethiopian food–especially a dish of sirloin tips cooked in clarified butter with Ethiopian spices. The vegetarian sampler platter and lentil sambussas are great, too, and the mild injera will be loved even by those who claim to hate Ethiopian food. Food for two, plus two beers and a fantastic pomegranate martini, will run you about $50.
Besides the food, the real draw of the place is the atmosphere, featuring the eponymous piano, a comfortable lounge with a fireplace, big armchairs, and “two female owners who spoil you with great service,” says Maya. It’s the best option in the area by far, and a great destination in its own right.
Sheba Piano Lounge [Fillmore]
1419 Fillmore Street, at Ellis, San Francisco
Sheba Lounge–what to order?
Corundas (tamales) where the masa is made with olive oil instead of lard shouldn’t be good. Especially vegetarian corundas, topped with grilled cactus and potatoes. But, as it turns out, these abominations from the Emeryville branch of Cocina Poblana are indeed good–moist and tasty, and better than many lard versions. “This dish was just so wrong from every point of view that to win me over it had to be good,” says rworange. And it is.
The place gets extra points for its unusual and tasty salsas, like a hot peanut salsa and a savory, smoky strawberry salsa made with chunks of chopped fresh strawberry.
Cocina Poblana [Emeryville]
1320 65th Street, at Hollis, Emeryville
SF & Emeryville–Cocina Poblana–Corundas, 5 moles, 6 + salsas (peanut, strawberry,etc), breakfast soup & more.
Dave MP thinks the roast pork that comes in the roast pork wonton soup at Tweety Deli is the best in San Francisco. A generous serving of tasty, nicely sweet pork comes in a simple broth with large pieces of bok choi and overcooked, falling-apart wontons. For $4, though, the soup is worth it just for that lovely pork.
Tweety Deli [Mission]
1200 Vermont St., San Francisco
Roast pork wonton soup at Tweety’s Deli–23rd and Vermont by SF General Hospital
If you’re making homemade sliders or adorable miniature sandwiches for a party, you can buy mini buns from Neldam’s Bakery. mochimunchie made miniature pulled pork sandwiches with them for a party and the guests loved them.
Another option is to use dinner rolls. San Francisco Sourdough makes a good version, available in the bread aisle in local grocery stores (look for the orange label, not the green one), that won’t overpower the flavor of the sandwich you’re making. foodiegrl has successfully used them to make sliders with grass-fed beef and pickled onions.
The best rolls ever are made by Panorama, but they can be tough to get ahold of. Robert Lauriston notes that they sell at many farmers’ markets (check their web site for locations), and suggests you call ahead to see if they could bring you some when they are at your local market. foodiegrl notes that these are the rolls that Myth restaurant uses for their sliders. Just don’t get seduced by the beautifully glossy, eggy dinner rolls ordinarily on sale at the Panorama stand at the farmers’ markets–they have orange rind in them, probably not appropriate for most savory sandwich uses.
Neldam’s Danish Bakery [Downtown]
3401 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
Know of a good bakery that sells mini hamburger buns?
It’s the place whose logo is a happy little lamb wearing a bow tie. He looks happy, doesn’t he? He might not be so happy when he gets sliced paper thin and served alongside a cauldron of bubbling, cumin-scented broth. He may not be happy, but you will be.
There’s not just little lambs, but also fish balls, tofu, mushrooms, winter melon, hand-pulled noodles, and a ton of other uncooked items that show up ready for you to cook in that vat of spiced broth. All items are fresh and delicious, says Martin Strell, and the broth itself is a work of art. Actually, there are multiple broths to try, and you can get your hot pot half-and-half, one side full of spicy Sichuan broth, the other full of a milder broth of cumin, garlic, clove, and other spice treasures. Turns out you may not have to go to China for superior hot pot.
Little Lamb Mongolian Hot Pot [East Bay]
34396 Alvarado Niles Rd., at Decoto, Union City
Little Lamb Mongolian Hot Pot in Union City
Dunkin Donut likes the Lafayette branch of Pizza Antica, both for the goat cheese pizza with a cracker-thin crust, and for the portobello mushroom fritti–like french fries, but made with beautiful strips of portobello mushrooms, served with a great dipping sauce.
The place is packed, so call ahead and put yourself on the wait list.
Pizza Antica [East Bay]
3600 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette
Of all the tamales available on the Peninsula, yimster enthusiastically recommends those sold by the lady with the tamale cart who is usually found outside a produce shop called El Mercadito Latino. Her masa is the best around. Go early, because they sell out.
Tamales come in several flavors, including mild and spicy versions of chicken and pork that are spectacular. At $1 each, they’re a bargain, and they’re so good, it’s easy to get carried away. “My brother-in-law once purchase two dozen and ate fourteen of them at one sitting,” says yimster. “I believe he was sick for a couple of days, not from the tamales themselves but from the amount he ate.” You’ve been warned.
Lady with Tamale Cart [Peninsula]
ouside El Mercadito Latino
1726 El Camino Real, Redwood City
Tamales in the Peninsula
For delicious Vietnamese with nice ambience, Le Soleil is a perfect choice. Bodegadawg thinks the mango salad topped with fried shallots is exceptional, and loves the barbecued pork rolls and clams with black beans. makaroon likes the tasty, succulent BBQ chicken, and many hounds recommend the five-spice chicken. Le Soleil is more expensive than your average Vietnamese dive in the area, but it has attractive decor and nice service to make up for it, if you’re into that sort of thing. And the food is actually really good. Even the seafood curry–a dish that sounds like bad imitation Thai–tastes delicious, says Windy.
Le Soleil Authentic Vietnamese [Richmond]
133 Clement St., San Francisco
Dinner at Le Soleil on Clement
Chika specializes in Japanese Western-style food, like meat sauce pasta. And they do it well. Mushroom (kinoko) pasta is better than any Wendy_san tasted in Japan, with noodles cooked perfectly al dente. More traditional Japanese fare, like tanuki udon, is also excellent.
This place has a more elegant and quiet feel than an izakaya. There’s jazz playing in the background and everything. Dinner for four, plus two pitchers of Sapporo, runs about $130 before tip.
841 Irving St., San Francisco 94122
El Delphin serves tasty, fresh ceviche and beautifully prepared southern Mexican dishes, says China. Quality is high: caldo de pollo features incredibly rich broth, and it’s chock full of vegetables and stewed chicken, and garnished with cilantro and mint. Order camarones con chile de arbol for a good portion of large prawns, partially butterflied and cooked in a creamy sauce with parsley, garlic, and dried chiles. It comes with fluffy Spanish rice and delicious, partially mashed refried beans, just like the ones you get in Michoacan. Service is really nice, and prices are very reasonable–a plentiful dinner for five plus six beers will run you about $75.
Restaurente El Delphin [Mission]
3066 24th St, at Folsom, San Francisco 94110
Delfine Report–24th and Folsom