Appetite: Wicked Emeralds, snail sliders, pindi chole, pickled Fresno chiles, and more
Every week, Virginia Miller of personalized itinerary service and monthly food, drink, and travel newsletter, www.theperfectspotsf.com, shares foodie news, events, and deals. View the last installment here.
Happy hour at Grand Cafe -- delight on a stick. Photo by Virginia Miller
Grand Cafe Happy Hour
Grand Cafe is one of those long time SF classics it's easy for locals to forget is here, inside Hotel Monaco. Ideally located in the "theater district" for a little tete-a-tete or pre/post A.C.T. performance, Grand Cafe recently reopened with a new happy hour that lasts four hours each weekday with a cocktail list 23-deep, playfully employing current nearby theater plays (like one of three drinks as an ode to "Wicked": Elephaba's Wicked Emerald-tini, a refreshing mix of Hendrick's Gin, Ciroc Vodka with a sweet touch from St. Germain Elderflower and herbal notes of basil, cucumber and lemongrass syrup). During happy hour, drinks and appetizers, like gougere d'escargot (delicious escargot sliders!), salt cod beignets, salmon or duck rillette, are a mere $3-7, plus there's $1 oysters and a 400-plus wine list. PS: the bar menu online notes the "secret" employee discount they give off bar food (50%!) on Monday nights if you mention the password, "Moulin Rouge". A truly happy "happy hour".
3pm - 7pm, Monday-Friday
501 Geary, SF
Wexler's opened Friday with gourmet 'Que and Southern flavors in a former firehouse
The former Les Amis has been dramatically redone into Wexler's, a space that reminds me of hip European bistros: lots of white, wood, clean line minimalism, warmed by 15 draught beers (of the Allegash and Ommegang kind) and generous wine list. This is "new American BBQ" from chef Charlie Kleinman, of Fish & Farm and Fifth Floor. I went for lunch (priced at $7-12) opening day and enjoyed fresh Monterey Bay Squid Salad with fried green tomato chunks, frisee, pickled Fresno chilies. A 4505 Meats Mission Dog is topped with bacon (there's the Mission part), chilies and caramelized onions. A straightforward "Sloppy Joe" on an Acme roll was probably my initial favorite, the tender Texas-style burnt ends packing rich flavor. They were out of both desserts I wanted on opening day (the one I tried didn't excite), but they're certainly working out the usual opening kinks and I can't wait to come back and try Sour Cream Japanese Pear Pie and Inside-Out Root Beer Float (house-made vanilla soda with Humphry Slocumbe root beer ice cream - yes!) Dinner ($9-23) equally intrigues with Smoked Maine Lobster, BBQ Scotch Eggs, Wexler's Plate of Pork, and Hush Puppies. A balanced selection of fine bourbons, brandies, and other spirits make ideal pairings with smoky eats.