Best of the Bay 2009: Food and Drink - Page 7

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Whether the dessert is stuck to a plastic spoon and wrapped in a wad of plastic (the messiest and the best) or served hard and chewy on a stick, the full-blown tropical flavor makes you salivate for more. And all that tang for a mere couple of quarters? Not since the first Pac Man arcade games have we found this much joy for this little coinage.

BEST "TACO" IN THE CASTRO

When considering eating in the Castro, most of us are more likely to think of attractive dining rooms and steep prices than impressive Indian cuisine. But one argument against this neighborhood's culinary reputation for style above substance is Kasa Indian Eatery. This 18th Street eatery provides an attractive atmosphere along with delicious food, particularly the kati roll: Calcutta's street food answer to the taco, featuring four flaky, ghee-laden wraps filled with flavor-forward curries. Particularly impressive are the veggie options, including bhangin bharta, a smoky-sweet eggplant mash punctuated with the pop of fresh peas, and karahi paneer, a toothsome cheese tossed with silken green peppers in a light tomato sauce. But carnivores won't be disappointed with (free-range) chicken tikka, or one of the other rotating meat-based specials. And the rolls are just five bucks a pop. Affordable, edible, and attractive food in the Castro? The only thing better would be if they delivered to your neighborhood. Oh wait. They do.

4001 18th St., SF. (415) 621-6940, www.kasaindian.com

BEST LATE NIGHT PIG-OUT

Any restaurant open seven days a week until 3 a.m. deserves serious awesomeness points. But Pizza Zone & Grill not only has late hours (including delivery until 2:45 a.m. every day), but pizza that's actually pretty damn good. Slices are made to order and come double-sized, so they're always fresh and big enough for your post-bar belly rumblings. And if you're not in the mood for pizza, you can also order burgers, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. Right across from Zeitgeist and only blocks from the rest of northern Valencia's watering holes, this convenient family-owned fueling station may forever eliminate your need to visit Taco Bell Heights' namesake landmark. You're welcome.

178 Valencia, SF. (415) 701-7300, pizzazoneandgrill.com

BEST MID-MORNING MENU

There's breakfast, and then there's brunch. Breakfast was invented to fuel your work day on the farm, or fight last night's hangover, or maybe to make the price of your stay at the Comfort Inn seem like a better deal. But brunch is an indulgence, suggesting leisure, pleasure, and good company. One of our favorite spots for this meal-between-meals is Mission Beach Cafe. With a poetic menu, clean design elements, a sunny dining room, and the blissful absence of club music, this Guerrero Street stop is the perfect spot for a morning(ish) meal that's stylish without trying too hard. Sip Blue Bottle coffee while you wait for a pulled pork sandwich with onion citrus relish, or soufflé pancakes with blueberry compote. Or simply eye those waiting in line (seating can take as long as 30 minutes on a weekend) while you imagine the beef brisket hash or spiced fried eggs with horseradish crème fraiche that are coming your way. And since this special meal takes the place of two regular ones, you might even consider your $15 entrée a bargain.

198 Guerrero, SF. (415) 861-0198, www.missionbeachcafesf.com

BEST FIELD TRIP FOR THE FRAT BOY IN ALL OF US

There are benefits to drinking local beers, beyond getting locavore points and microbrew cred. The best thing about having a brewery in your very own city is the chance to see how that most awesome of libations is made.