Best of the Bay 2009: Food and Drink - Page 8

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Anchor Steam gives tours of its Potrero Hill facility every weekday — 45 minutes of walking and 45 minutes of tasting. Groups witness the whole process, including bottling, while getting a full history of Anchor's trademark steam beer that's been made in San Francisco since 1896 (though the current recipe has only been around since Fritz Maytag bought the business in 1965). The tour is something like a grade-school field trip mixed with a post-college wine tour. You'll get all the educational (and mind-altering) benefits without the boredom (or the school-bus smell). Don't believe us? Tours are so popular they are booked solid three to six weeks in advance.

1705 Mariposa, SF. (415) 863-8350, www.anchorbrewing.com

BEST SUSTAINABLE SHORE THING

Beach fare tends to fall into two food groups: snacks and beer. But where do health nuts go when they want to fuel up for sun and sand? A feel-good option for smoothie-drinking vegans and sustainability-conscious locavores alike is Judahlicious, a registered green business that serves sandwiches, raw vegan desserts, and fresh sandwiches hearty enough for a day of riding gnar gnar breaks or light enough for an afternoon of displaying brand-new hemp bikinis. Hippie jokes aside, though: we love that this independent business supports local organic farmers, uses compostable and recycleable products, and hand-sorts waste to contribute to organic soil for a small, native-plant nursery in the city. And it doesn't hurt that the food is delicious.

3906 Judah, SF. (415) 66-JUICE, www.judahlicious.com

BEST WAY TO BRING HOME THE BACON

It's just too easy making sexual jokes about how much the three women who own Avedano's love their meat. Besides, the trio who revamped a century-old butcher shop are nothing if not serious about their mission to serve curious carnivores. Co-owner and Sociale executive chef Tia Harrison and her partners have combined the traditions of a classic meat market with the sensibilities of sustainability to create a neighborhood butchery perfect for the eco-conscious-yet-bacon-loving city that spawned Meatpaper. The shop not only sells what's for dinner, but offers classes on everything from butchering a suckling pig to handling a hacksaw — after which students take home $100 worth of fresh meat. But don't think all this dedication means the Avedano's ladies have no sense of humor. A recent sign board read, "Nothing Beats Back Fat." Uh, that's what she said?

235 Cortland, SF. (415) 285-MEAT, www.avedanos.com

BEST BELLYFUL WITH BELLY DANCE

Some pundits will argue that belly dance is rarely, if ever, a regular part of African and Middle Eastern dining; they say, in fact, it's a rare or underground activity made mainstream for Aladdin-loving tourists with Arabian Nights fantasies. To them we say, so what? Sometimes we want our dinner with a bit of Disney flair — particularly if the food itself is authentic and delicious. A perfect example is Al-Masri, the Egyptian eatery in a far-flung corner of the Outer Richmond whose cuisine and décor say "fertile crescent" and whose entertainment says "for Americans." Talented ladies jiggle their hips while you fill your stomach with towering columns of eggplant, perfect pyramids of spice rice, lamb kebabs, and lentil stew. What could be more festive? More delicious? More of a pleasant departure from the predictability of taquerias and mariachis in the Mission, and creperies and easy listening in the Castro?

4031 Balboa, SF.