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Smoke’s Poutinerie Comes to Berkeley

When I first read this I thought Smoke Berkeley (the BBQ restaurant) was opening a new place with a new concept. Oh man, it's a Canadian chain. Ouch! I can imagine the cease and desist letter has already gone out.

Fado Portuguese Kitchen

During a recent visit to Portland, our meal at Fado was a highlight of the trip. We have no Portuguese restaurants where we live in CA, which is sad because Portuguese food is wonderful. At Fado we were able to taste very good renditions of several classic Portuguese recipes. Pork and clams, grilled sardines, salt cod fritters and rice pudding were well made and delicious. The small restaurant is cozy and informal. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable. Some good Portuguese wine added to the warm, very Portuguese experience. We look forward to returning when we are back in Portland again

Nov 22, 2014
flavorenhancer in Metro Portland

Longbranch Saloon - Berkeley

Longbranch Saloon is open on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley where Seasalt used to be. Limited food menu at present. Full bar. LOTS of beer: 25 taps plus at least that many in can/bottle ranging from Hamm's to 4 different sour beers from Almanac Brewing.
Color scheme is now gray/black/brown with big slabs of tree trunk for the bar and ubiquitous communal table as well as recycled barn wood and windows for decor. The staff are cheery and welcoming. The flatbread with ricotta/beets/greens was tasty as was the duck terrine. Looking forward to trying the full menu when it starts up. For now, this is a good new drinking spot in the neighborhood.

Rye Project, Newish Delicatessen [SOMA, San Francisco]

Good news at Rye Project. Their fabulous Pastrami sandwich (OP describes it perfectly) was $13, not $14, when we went yesterday. The roast beef was $12, also a buck less than usual. No, these are not commodity level prices, but this is not industrial meat and bread either. Top quality ingredients served by friendly people (the owner comes over and asks "Do you like the sandwich?") warrants a higher price. I feel like I got my money's worth (and my dismay at losing 1058 Hoagie disappeared).

Augie's Montreal smoked meat is fabulous [Oakland]

I too think Augie's is fabulous. They were in doing their regular pop-up in Oakland at Beuty Bagels this Monday and at 1 pm the crowd was thin, the meat running low but with still enough for a sandwich or two.
I got the 7 oz. size, coming on rye bread with a choice of yellow or deli mustard.
The meat, sliced thinly, is abundantly juicy and falling apart tender with a good ratio of fatty bits to meaty parts. The spices are warm with hints of clove, allspice, and black pepper. A sweet maple syrup note really sets this apart from Pastrami and other smoked/cured meats. Add a few house-made pickle spears to the plate and you got one tasty hot sandwich. I can't compare this to the Canadian original, but am quite happy to have this occasional treat available here in Oakland.

Where can I buy live crawfish in the city? [San Francisco]

New Sang Chong Market was the only place I saw live crawfish in Oakland Chinatown last week. A dollar cheaper per pound than Ranch 99 but vague provenance ("source: USA") makes me wonder if there is a better option for genuine Sacramento delta crawfish. The hunt continues.

Pupusas : SFBA Dish of the Month September 2014

The pupusas Pacita's in San Leandro are big, tasty and made to order with a bunch of options for fillings. They also make a huge pan con pollo and, on certain days, pastelitos de pollo (fried masa filled with chicken) served with same finely chopped curtido and mild red salsa as the pupusas. I have not yet tried any of the sweet bakery items but they look fabulous.
Las Pacita's Salvadorean Bakery
14750 E. 14th St.
San Leandro CA 94578

Where can I buy live crawfish in the city? [San Francisco]

I am curious why a delicious, abundant, high quality food like crawfish goes largely unheralded and unconsumed in this region where reverence for all thing local and edible is quite high.
Late summer/early autumn is crawfish season in the Sacramento River delta. Crab and salmon season each get tons of press and generate much enthusiasm in local shoppers/diners. Could we not do the same thing with crawfish?
I am going to shop around for live crawfish in the SF/OAK area this week and will report back with what I find.

SFBA Dish of the Month (Sept 2014) - Nominations/Voting

TURKEY LEG - any style

Mexican in the Mission [San Francisco]

For cheap, cheerful and convenient Mexican food, El Toro at 17th/Valencia is an old favorite from back in the day (the 80's were early years for the burrito craze).
In this neighborhood, the polar opposite would be Tacolicious. Crowded bar scene, cocktails, higher prices than taquerias, but also quite tasty. In between are numerous options for Mexican and Latin American food of every stripe. All depends on what you want.

Bay Grape - Oakland

Bay Grape, a new wine shop/ wine bar just opened in Oakland. The shop is sparsely decorated at present, but the selection is nicely curated, covering local and imported wines, with many in the under $50/btl category. A pretty copper bar and a big wood table are where the nice couple who own the shop will open and pour any of the wines for $5 over retail price. No food, but others were eating boxed take out from neighboring restaurants.
Between this place and several other wine/spirits shops (Ordinaire & Alchemy) this stretch of Grand Avenue is becoming quite the source for interesting alcohol in many forms.

Bay Grape

376 Grand Avenue 

Oakland, California 94610

Anyone know a great East Bay Burger joint?

The burger at Handlebar is excellent. High quality ingredients, meat cooked to order, lots of options for customization, and all in a location with easy access to I-80. Full bar too.
The patty is hefty and grilled, the bun is substantial and well toasted. Home made 'tots' are also well constructed and a tasty alternative to fries.
Price is higher than some others but considering provenance of ingredients and the general state of beef prices at present, not unreasonable.

Bodega Bay Oyster Company [Petaluma]

The chalkboard in my too-blurry-to-post photo shows:
Bodea Miyagi
X-sml $10/doz, $40/bag of 50
Small $13/doz, $50/bag of 50
Medium $16/doz, $60/bag of 50
Large $18/doz, $70/bag of 50
Pt. Reyes Kumamoto $16/doz, $60/bag of 50
Bodega Bay Virginica $16/doz, $60/bag of 50
Clams, Mussels, $6/lb.
Time to get shucking?

Bodega Bay Oyster Company [Petaluma]

We stopped here over the weekend for clams, not oysters ironically, and we were happy to find the same tiny, nubby, rounded Point Reyes manila clams that are sometimes available at Tokyo Fish in Berkeley but nowhere else that I know of. These clams were super fresh and fabulous in a simple Portuguese style Ameijoas á Bulhão Pato ( clams with garlic, parsley white wine) that we made at home. Clams were $6/lb. Oysters were $10-$16 dozen with deals for larger purchases. It is a pretty bare bones operation at present.

Afternoon drive from San Francisco to Reno

Assuming a 3pm arrival, with the need to get luggage at baggage claim and a vehicle at car rental center, departing the airport area will be about 5pm. Diving to Reno will take 3-4 hours, so ETA 9-10pm. Add a meal stop and you add another hour or so. A quick and tasty destination, not too far along the journey would seem best.
How about Brennan's in Berkeley? They are right off the freeway, in the old Berkeley train station, serving kid friendly American fare, buffet style, with trains rolling past the windows and, if timing works out, Giants/A's baseball on the TVs. A turkey dinner would put the youngsters in nap mode for the not too scenic trip (after dark) to Reno.
Alternately, In-n-out burger in Richmond is a mile or three further down I-80 (No definite articles used in freeway names) for something even quicker yet still fun for all concerned.

World Cup 2014 Viewing and Eats

Venga Paella in Oakland is showing all the games, but is, as ever, sort of off the radar for local food press. The projector on the back wall and the flat screen over the bar give a good view of the games. Drink specials ($4 beer/sangria) and the regular lineup of tapas and paella by the plate make this a super location for enjoying the Copa.

Walking Trawl for Friday Night [San Francisco]

Trawling for tapas in the FiDi:
B44
Gitane
Bask
Coqueta
Bocadillos
Piperade
Admittedly, these places, while close in distance to each other, represent a wide diversity in quality and price.

Dumpling Express - Berkeley

Dumpling Express was crowded with Cal students at lunch. The neighborhood seems quite receptive to this new source for made-to-order Chinese dumplings.
The two types I tried, shrimp/chive and mixed vegetable were great. Bright, balanced flavors, fresh ingredients, medium thin wrappers. Everything is made right in front of you by a crew working at a steady pace to keep up with demand. Rice plates, soups, congee are also available. Take out only. Cash only, at present.

Upcoming Price Increase for Matos St. George Cheese (Santa Rosa)

Totally worth the price, and always best when purchased straight from the source. Their cheese is a highlight of the not-always-apparent Bay Area Portuguese (Azorean) culinary heritage.

Los Cilantros in Berkeley

Some very good antojitos coming out of this Mexican restaurant that just opened on Shattuck Avenue adjacent to La Peña.
The cheese/pepper tamale, carne asada taco and watermelon agua fresca that I tried were all fresh and tasty. Hand made tortilla, good quality meat, fresh fruit. Looks promising.

Los Cilantros - 3105 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley CA 94705

East Bay Wine Shop with Wines that will age

Lucky kid. 2011 is the most recent and best vintage for Port in a long time. The 2011 Vintage Ports are available from many producers at many price levels. In 15-20 years they will be at their best, so stash them away at home for now. Whether or not your offspring turns out to be a Port appreciator or not, you will have a fabulous reminder of a momentous year.
K&L in SF or RWC, Spanish Table in Berkeley or Mill Valley, Trade Rite in SJ, Sousas in Fremont and Santa Clara all have a good selection.

El Chevere, new Cuban restaurant in San Rafael

The El Chevere Cubano is mighty good, even with the small amount of shredded lettuce/tomato, actually better because it lightens up a pretty heavy pork/ham/melted swiss cheese sandwich. My request would be for more pickle but I thought the bread was as close to form as you are likely to find around here, the pork was moist and kind of chunky and the serving size over all was generous. Comes with fries or salad. An additional side of freshly fried tostones was also quite tasty.

Smokey J's Q House - BBQ in Berkeley

I only just this week tried Smokey J's smoked rotisserie chicken and it is really good. Flavorful but not overwhelming smoke flavor, firm yet moist (heavily brined) texture, well priced ($12). The mixed meat chili is so finely chopped and thick as to be almost spreadable, with a kidney bean here and there, very smokey and rich, almost overwhelming but like the chicken, really good.

Dumpling Express - Berkeley

Looks interesting. 2328 Bowditch @ Durant in Berkeley. Still in brown papered windows mode.

SF Dish of the Month (April 2014) - Nominations/Voting

Chinese boiled dumplings (Jiaozi) - they are available in restaurants as well as several specialty shops devoted to/named after these regional snacks (Tian Jin Dumplings, Dumpling King, Dumpling Express, etc.). Not about dim sum in general or XLB, Momo, Gyoza (plenty of talk on those topics already) the simple meat/veg filled boiled dumpling deserves a thread of it's own.

Ran Kanom Thai Noodle - San Pablo

Ran Kanom Thai Noodle in San Pablo, an offshoot of the diminutive Ran Kanom shop in the Pacific East Mall in Richmond, is now open, serving a nice selecton of noodle dishes (soups,stir fries, etc.), salads and snacks. The duck noodle soup I had was really good. A few pieces of bone-in braised duck, a small tangle of egg noodles, scallions and some star anise infused broth made for a rich, oily (hey, it's duck!) soup that was filling and affordable ($8.25...almost everything on the menu is $8.25).
Unlike the mall location there is plenty of seating in addition to a retail store selling take out items and Thai snacks. Friendly staff and parking out front. Open 7 days a week.

Ran Kanom Thai Noodle
2300 El Prortal Dr.
San Pablo CA 94806
510-255-7284
rankanom@gmail.com

Organic Thai grocery/takeout at El Cerrito Ranch 99 Center [Richmond]

Ran Kanom Thai noodle is open. Plenty of tables plus a shop area for Thai snacks and take out food. The duck noodles were tasty. The green mango salad too. The previous days specials are on sale for $5/pint by the front door. Could be a good solution for quick dinner at home, there.

Artis Coffee on Fourth. I have mixed feelings. [Berkeley]

I have not had their coffee in a cup but for me this place is all about coffee beans roasted to order right in front of you.
Choose your level of roasted-ness and the type of bean. They roast each batch in custom machinesthat look like big hot air popcorn poppers. The beans are so fresh they tell you to wait a day after roasting before grinding and brewing. Something about off gassing. The end result is some very fine coffee.

Recs for grabbing a quick bite in/around the Dogpatch? [San Francisco]

If you like The New Spot, you will also like Triple Voodoo as I hear they are getting their food from New Spot around the corner.

Pastel de Frango - Brazilian House & Restaurant Goiano [Richmond]

This small Brazilian restaurant in Richmond is mostly a buffet, but they also sell some really tasty pastries in several styles/shapes/flavors. The ones I tried had chicken and beef fillings with delicate, eggy, pastry wrappers. They are perfect snacks for in-the-car dining. The buffet looked good too, with several colorful salads in addition to more meaty looking fare which I look forward to next time I am in the neighborhood.