With a full spectrum of artisanal whites, greens, and blacks, plus edibles such as delicate lavender cookies, hearty Japanese maki bowls, and winsome sandwiches, Samovar's emphasis on taste, texture, and traditional tea service both tantalizes the senses and engages the mind. Surprising, refreshing, and invigorating, a trip to Samovar is a bit like visiting a spa retreat for the tongue.
297 Page, SF. (415) 861-0303, www.samovarlife.com
BEST HOMEMADE HANGOVER FOOD
The original Moulin Rouge was known as a place for drinking and debauchery. Our favorite S.F. version is a friendly, family-owned diner perfect for recovering from such shenanigans. The husband-and-wife team serves up legendary omelets and corned beef hash in portions hefty enough to soak up last night's alcohol, while teetotalling friends who've joined you for breakfast won't be disappointed by cream cheese-<\d>stuffed thick-cut French toast. And everyone will appreciate being able to get a meal and coffee for less than $10 especially when you won't know how much you spent at that Tenderloin bar the previous night until you go back to pick up your forgotten credit card.
887 Geary, SF. (415) 928-0158
BEST WAY TO PRETEND TO EAT NONEDIBLES
Debbie Goard is to cake what Karl Lagerfeld is to cloth. Both have the eye of an artist, the hands of a sculptor, and a fondness for classic quilted Chanel bags. But while Lagerfeld's denim and sequin satchels may look good enough to eat, Goard's purse cakes actually are. The Oakland-based baker behind Debbie Does Cakes specializes in turning any object and we mean any into an edible masterpiece. She's made a giant iPhone cake for Apple, tiny replicas of cosmetics for Benefit, and a three-foot version of San Francisco's Union Bank of California to commemorate its 100th anniversary. And those are just the corporate jobs. Her Flickr account proves she can turn flour, sugar, and eggs into severed feet, rice cookers, dead rats, and just about every type of toy dog known to humanity. In fact, we're willing to bet she could construct a confection of Lagerfeld himself.
BEST PRE-GAME DOG
As Mission Bay continues its dull development in the shadow of AT&T Park, it is good to know that there are still some real-deal holdouts from a time before the neighborhood devolved into generic condo chaos. The Java House has been serving up delicious blue-collar fare for sailors and longshoreworkers since 1912 (before Willie Mays was even a pup), retaining its prime location along South Beach Harbor within pitching distance of the ballpark. Stop by for top-notch, pregame burgers and chili dogs without the major league price gouging or a breakfast of pancakes and eggs, all still served up by owner Philip Papadopoulos. Affordable, delicious food with history and a view? That's a home run.
Pier 40, SF. (415) 495-7620, www.javahousesf.com
BEST DRIVE-BY BURRITO
Serving first-rate organic Southwest-style Mexican cuisine, Green Chile Kitchen has grown so popular for its fantastically fresh plates of blue corn enchiladas, green chile stew, and $2 bottles of Pacifico that seats are often in short supply. This is particularly true during peak feeding hours, when locals have grown inclined to bring along the entire family for one of Green Chile's whole Fulton Valley rotisserie chicken meals (with cheesy mashed potatoes and fresh calabacitas). Luckily, for those who can't wait for their grilled Niman Ranch pork burrito, the cozy NoPa eatery provides drive-by service. Just call in your order and cruise by the restaurant. Someone will run your grub curbside.