Best of the Bay 2011

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST BROMANCE ON BREAD

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We like our sandwiches the way Comcast and peep shows like their customers: pay-per-view. We don't want no pre-made, plastic-wrapped, sittin' around sandwiches. We want to watch. And we especially want to watch if hunky Italian uomini are making the sandwiches, and hunky construction worker uomini are waiting for them, and hunky delivery uomini are picking them up. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST ARMAGNAC ATTACK

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There's a saying that goes "the French make cognac, but they drink Armagnac." Add an "as do San Franciscans" parenthetical to the truism, because one 76-year-old Fillmore Street liquor store stocks a collection of the superior Gallic brandy fit to spawn a connoisseur. We refer to D&M Liquors' Armagnac selection, which includes $50 bottles of Tariquet for everyday sips as well as Veuve J. Goudoulin Vieux Bas vintages dating back to 1929 and bottled especially for the store. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST RIGHTEOUS VEGAN SASS

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If we could even fake the exuberance that Vegansaurus editor-founder Laura Beck trips out willy-nilly in her sparklingly sassy blog posts sans animal products ... we'd be running to the store a lot more for economy-sized boxes of capital letters and exclamation points. But the site's zazz is by no means irritating — indeed, we consider its daily updates on the hottest new vegan grub dens, footwear, and activist news required reading for leading a sexy, cutting-edge vegan lifestyle in the Bay (and with the addition of new writers, the country). Read more »

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST BESTING OF THE BIG BOTTLES

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The year was 2010, a flim-flam was erupting over the high alcohol content of kombucha sold long after its bottling date — and large companies with their complicated supply lines were compelled to pull their brews from grocery store shelves. Not so House Kombucha, SF's little 'bucha bottler that could. The Sixth Street factory was able to gain a sturdy market share due to its local distribution and small company profile — not to mention its sustainable practices (the company recently announced a 42 percent bottle return rate — that 50-cent deposit really works!). Read more »

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST BEANS ON A TRUCK

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You'll know it by the smell of slow-roasting ribs and pulled pork: on weekdays Smoke BBQ generally parks its truck on a semi-desolate warehouse stretch of Bayview-Hunters Point. The pulled pork has a satisfying juiciness, reflecting its Midwest roots. The brisket and ribs are well loved by local worker bees. But what gives the meats a run for their money is the Smoke BBQ's BBQ beans. Rich broth, smoky beans, and fatty chunks of pork — so good you just might forget your carnivorous entree.Read more »

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST WAY TO GET SMARTER BY DRINKING

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San Franciscans are lucky to have educational opportunities like the Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts. Over the last year — since it debuted during SF Cocktail Week — it has played host to a slew of classes, tastings, and events regarding all things drink. Of course, cocktails and spirits are heavily represented, but founder H. Joseph Ehrmann also envisions coffee classes, tea and wine seminars — and more — for the future of his Mixology 101 series. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST HOME ROASTS IN THE AVENUES

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The gracious husband and wife team behind the beans at Brown Owl Coffee have been roasting together as Hearth Coffee Roasters for a few years now. Their passion shows — the two serve lush coffees at their tiny, cozy cafe. Impeccable cappuccinos and a mean cup of drip pair well with breads and pastries from local producers like Mi2Sweets; Oakland's Pepples Donuts; and baklava from Richmond Egyptian restaurant Al Masri. Affogato lovers, take note — theirs is a beaut, made with Straus vanilla ice cream. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST NO-HASSLE HOF

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We've been raving about good cheer and good food at Leopold's since it opened in January. The masses quickly followed suit and the Austrian hofbrau has been packed ever since. Tip back German, American, and Belgian draft beers at hearty pinewood tables under animal heads and Austrian art — a warm, welcoming space created by Sazlberg natives and brothers Albert and Klaus Rainer. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST CHANGE OF CHEESE

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Waits can be epic at Plow, which has become Potrero's brunch destination in the year since it opened. But there's no reason to spin your wheels — try the breakfast and lunch menus Tuesday through Friday for quicker comestibles. For a midday meal, you could hardly do better than Plow's grilled cheese sandwich. It's always bracketed by thick slabs of Acme bread, but its filler rotates: one day you might be noshing on Vermont cheddar accompanying a Point Reyes Toma, on another you'll sink into Gruyere and creamy fromage blanc with sweet oven-roasted tomatoes. Collect them all! Read more »

Best of the Bay 2011: BEST CRUNCHY ALMOND BALLS

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Waits are long at dingy, bustling Hong Kong Lounge, but on weekends you'll be kept company by multigenerational Chinese families — kids and grandparents bonding over mountainous cheap meals. Like all superlative dim sum spots, not only is a meal here blessedly affordable (generally $2-$6 for dim sum plates), there are unusual items — like deep-fried coffee pork ribs that taste robustly of a cup of joe — to keep things interesting. We're in love with the Lounge's egg yolk almond balls: they're doughy and filled with yellow sweet cream that looks like yolk. Read more »