Four standout meals: Aziza, Prime Dip Sandwiches, Grill House Mediterranean, and the Haven preview dinner at Plum
PRIME DIP SANDWICHES
Blue collar workers and Civic Center government staff line-up at Prime Dip, a new sandwich shop on Larkin. No frills, just hefty dip sandwiches ($6.99-7.99) on French bread, including a popular prime rib dip. Under $8 is a deal for such hefty rolls, including a choice of sides like mac n' cheese or mixed veggies. There's a loaded lobster dip ($12.99) with hot dill butter, though I find my New Jersey (NY) roots push me straight for the hot pastrami dip. Crusty French bread softens when dipped in meaty jus, while spicy mustard and melted Swiss cushion thinly sliced pastrami.
518 Larkin, SF. (415) 800-8244
A meal at Aziza is never boring. Celebrated Chef Mourad Lahlou (whose new cookbook Mourad: New Moroccan was just released) puts such an artistic spin on Moroccan food. Some dishes achieve greater heights than others — but all fascinate, reinterpreting traditional elements. Although Aziza's anticipated downtown location just fell through, the hunt for a new building continues.
Savory, garden-fresh cocktails were the highlight of a recent visit, but on the food front, juicy, little meatballs ($14) on skewers with grapes play the sweet-savory card to winning effect, accented by herb-tossed jicama. I adore Lahlou's basteeya (or bastilla), to me the ultimate Moroccan dish. This visit it was tweaked from the usual chicken or traditional squab, filled instead with duck confit. Tender, shredded duck is encased in phyllo dough ($22), sweetly contrasted by raisins, cinnamon, and powdered sugar, plus slivers of almonds. Savory-plus-sweet gets me every time.
5800 Geary, SF. (415) 752-2222, www.aziza-sf.com
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