San Francisco Bay Area rss

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

Neto Caffe

NETO, says Ken Hoffman, is a Hebrew acronym that means something like the English acronym WYSIWYG. And Neto Caffe’s additive-free yummies, with no coconut oil or shortening or anything unpleasant, stand up to repeated tastings. The giant rugulach has a buttery, soft, flaky crust–not the usual piece of sweet concrete–and turns one’s mind to the bustling bodegas of Tel Aviv. Soft, chewy house-made pita and hummus that reeks of garlic cannot be put down.

Some hounds balk at the prices–$10-12 for a sandwich, $7.25 for yogurt and granola. Others, like sally r., are very enthusiastic and find the prices reasonable for the quality.

They also serve shnitzel.

Neto Caffe [Peninsula]

135 Castro Street (across from the Mountain View train station), Mountain View

650-625-9888

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Neto Caffe in Mountain View

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Neto Caffe in Mountain View

Seafood Rice Baked in a Coconut – Late Night Cuisine

Denny’s Cafe is a Hong Kong-style coffee shop featuring sil yeh, late-night eats. It’s open until midnight during the week, and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The chow is tasty, says Melanie Wong, such as the exciting seafood rice baked (and served) in a whole coconut. Baking in the coconut means the long-grain rice is tender and infused with the fragrance of fresh coconut. Shrimp, scallops, and plump mussels are tucked inside, too, along with bits of omelette and green onion. The mild flavor of the dish makes it perfect to accompany a more strongly flavored item. It costs $6.95.

Also great: ox tongue with mushrooms and spaghetti, and oxtail soup noodles.

Denny’s Cafe [Richmond]

5530 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

415-386-3288

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Sil Yeh at Denny’s Cafe on Geary

Mini-Biscotti

Get excellent traditional mini-biscotti (called cantucci di Prato) at Emporio Rulli. They’re delicious and small, the right size to serve with coffee after dinner, says Melanie Wong, who notes they’re better dunked in coffee than in vin santo.

Danilo Bakery does a respectable job with mini-biscotti, though not at nearly the level of quality of Rulli.

rworange is “crazy in love” with the biscotti at La Biscoterria. Mini biscotti direct from the bakery are fresh and delicious, and their pre-bagged biscotti sold in markets are no match at all.

Dianda is beloved by hounds for things like their Italian rum cake and almond torte, but skip the sweet, cakey biscotti, say bernalgirl and Mari.

Emporio Rulli [Marin County]

464 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur

415-924-7478

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Danilo Bakery [North Beach]

516 Green St., San Francisco

415-989-1806

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La Biscoterria [Peninsula]

2747 El Camino Real, Redwood City

650-366-2747

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Dianda’s Italian American Bakery [Mission]

2883 Mission St, San Francisco

415-647-5469

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Where to buy good mini-biscotti in SF?

King of Thai Noodle House #2

China thinks King of Thai Noodle House #2 has the best Thai food for the money in the city. Som tum (green papaya salad) is very satisfying–tart, roughly shredded papaya with tiny pink dried shrimp mixed in. Kao pad gang khew warn (stir-fried rice with green curry paste, chicken, long beans, bamboo shoots, and basil) is very flavorful, with lots of lean chicken and basil. Dishes ordered medium come out quite spicy–a welcome piece of news for non-Thai hounds who seek “Thai spicy” and are leery of getting gringoed. Lunch for two, with tea, after tip, is around $18.

King of Thai Noodle House #2 [Richmond]

346 Clement St., at 7th Ave., San Francisco

415-831-9953

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King of Thai Noodle House #2 Yum!

Real Oaxacan Mole

If you’ve been fortunate enough to travel in Oaxaca, you may feel cursed upon your return–because back home, there’s none of that mole. You wander the world like a junkie, seeking that full strength black mole paste with which to brutalize chicken.

Never fear–Karina’s has the good stuff, though at $10 a pound, it’s not cheap. Eat_Nopal thinks it’s a very decent version, based on aroma and consistency.

Also note that many Mexican markets in the area sell fresh mole in the carniceria, often in a paste so thick it gets cut into squares. rworange thinks the carniceria in Mi Tierra Supermercado has the most promising mole, but look around your neighborhood and poke around any exciting carnicerias you find.

Karina’s Mexican Bakery [Sonoma County]

827 Petaluma Blvd N., Petaluma

707-765-2772

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Carniceria Mi Tierra [East Bay]

516 23rd Street, at Barrett, Richmond

510-232-0333

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Mole in the bay area

Don’t Miss the Boat

Sushi that comes by on a little boat on a conveyer belt isn’t going to provide you with the same epicurean enjoyment as omakase from a sushi master. But the stuff at Sushi Maru is extremely enjoyable and quite cheap, making it the perfect choice for when you’re cruising with, say, your four-year-old grandchild, says Sushi Monster. Other hounds agree. “Sushi Maru has better stuff on the conveyors than the majority of sushi bars in the Bay Area,” says Melanie Wong.

Check out their Japanese specials board, advises Humbucker. It often has unusual items you wouldn’t ordinarily find on the white boards at other cheap sushi-yas. And remember, you’re not limited to what’s on the conveyer belt–they’ll make sushi to order for you, too.

Sushi Maru [South Bay]
262 Jackson St., at 6th St., San Jose

408-998-8170

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Board Links: Yuzu (San Mateo, sushi) updater —too steep for Sushi Monster

Sheba Piano Lounge

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

415-440-7414

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Sheba Lounge–what to order?

Savory Strawberry Salsa

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

510-923-0497

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SF & Emeryville–Cocina Poblana–Corundas, 5 moles, 6 + salsas (peanut, strawberry,etc), breakfast soup & more.

Roast Pork at Tweety Deli

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

415-642-1189

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Roast pork wonton soup at Tweety’s Deli–23rd and Vermont by SF General Hospital

Mini Buns

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

510-658-1967

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Panorama Baking

800-808-7077

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Know of a good bakery that sells mini hamburger buns?