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.
MJ, with Mary, at Doc's Clock. Photos by Virginia Miller
EARLY TAKES on new OPENINGS
Three Papayas at Doc's Clock
Guardian readers are no stranger to Doc's Clock, a longtime favorite dive bar of many of us, where they pour it strong and keep it real. There's been something special afoot at Doc's on Sunday afternoons the last few weeks -- you can get your Bible reading in over a Bloody Mary as Three Papayas (aka Chef Ta-Wei Lin) cooks up Vietnamese brunch. Open your Bibles to Papayas' menu and choose from around five huge entrees (all $8) like papaya salad, a Vietnamese crepe (vegetarian or with pork and shrimp), or the Bunny Chao, a hollowed-out (bread filling piled neatly on the side) loaf of bread stuffed with green lentils, veggies and cardamom-pods. Lin keeps the plates exciting with an array of garnishes and in-season fruits like figs, passion fruit and papayas, of course. Doc's capable bartenders take care of the drinks. Ryan bartends on Sundays and his Bloody Mary ($8) is killer: sometimes he grills juicy tri-tip and crisp asparagus for a meaty, peppery version (vegetarians can stick with non-carnivorous asparagus). Sit at Doc's bar with a fresh plate of Vietnamese creativity on your Michael Jackson (Jackson 5 era) placemat, and you'll wish every Sunday was this chill.
2575 Mission Street
Starbelly gets fresh
First take on brand new Starbelly (from owners of mainstay Beretta) is a positive one... opening week was full and steady during their blessed all day hours, so this is one to keep in mind when you need a mid-afternoon meal. Similar to Beretta, there are pizzas of the gourmet, blistered crust kind, but there's much more and all of it priced under $15. Moving away from what Beretta does best on my initial visit brought some impeccably fresh vegetable dishes, like a hot side of corn with mascarpone and garlic ($6). $5 starters are generous in size and playful, like three mini-corn dogs. Butter lettuce salad ($8) is crisp and lightly covered in roasted Oregon hazelnuts, Mission figs, and Pt. Reyes blue cheese vinaigrette. A beauty of a salad. Satisfaction comes in the form of a Prather Ranch burger ($11) or spaghetti ($11) with blissfully fatty house bacon, jalapeno, tomato and basil. Save room for dessert when it's delights like warm strawberry and fig crumble ($7) topped with Humprhy Slocombe's balsamic-caramel ice cream. Still working out new opening kinks, I suspect Starbelly will become a Castro classic and another great go-to spot for hip, gourmet comfort food and fine beers.
3583 16th Street
9/3 "Upper Diversion" Pub Crawl
Another long holiday weekend is upon us and what better way to usher it in than an affordable pub crawl?