Refreshing a conversation on the best breads served at Bay Area restaurants, locals rave about the fried bread under burrata at State Bird Provisions, the soft white crumb that comes with an olive-anchovy tapenade at Oakland's Barlata, and the all-you-can-eat slices from Bouchon served at Ad Hoc.
Zuni Café has been home to many special occasions, from engagements, to friends reconnecting over a bottle of wine and the restaurant's famous roast chicken (pictured). And the influence of Zuni's chef and co-owner, Judy Rodgers, was felt far beyond the glass-fronted Market Street space. After the announcement of Rodgers' death on December 2, many Chowhounds gathered to share their memories of the restaurant and Rodgers.
After operating as a pop-up, Marla Bakery opened recently in more permanent digs on York Street in the Mission District. The quality dough and concentrated fillings in both the quince and the Meyer lemon sufganiyot impressed (though more filling = more better), and a fan of the bakery's earlier iterations says to expect excellent quality from this rising star.
Tosca Café in North Beach benefits from a spit-and-polish renovation as well as a fresh menu from new chef-owner April Bloomfield (of New York's Spotted Pig). Recent reports say that some dishes seemed oversalted, but the sparkling cider and the antipasti menu—including spectacular moscardini and giardiniera—are worth your time.
Plotting a trip to Sonoma County during Christmas week? Locals recommend the "unpretentious, casual" flair at places like Cafe Citti, Fremont Diner, and El Molino Central.
Open since 1937, Buckeye Roadhouse is a stalwart along Highway 101 in Marin. Swoon over the classic Oysters Bingo broiled with spinach and garlic, and note that the bar booths are the ideal spot to enjoy your meal.
Dinner—or a drink—at Bix is a classy affair, and the tableside prep of beef tartare makes any occasion feel even more special. Tips from Chowhound: You can order tartare from the bar, but you won't get the tableside prep there; and you should ask for a mezzanine table if you'd like to avoid the clamorous bar on weekend nights.
Had enough pie at Thanksgiving? No such thing. Try the exemplary slice of pecan tart prepared by the café at Spruce; one 'hound praises the "wondrously silky caramel sauce," which sounds a lot better than the gooey, oversweet versions that some Chowhounds detest.
San Francisco is deservedly famous for Cal-Italian restaurants where house-made pasta is prized. But without a reservation (or the desire to wait in line), where do you go? Locals suggest Perbacco, Piccino, and SPQR.