In this week's Appetite column in the paper, I ran down my picks for the best spots to eat a quality meal (without the expense of other areas) in the Upper Haight and Cole Valley region. Below are more of my favorites from my home 'hood, including picks for coffee, brunch, and cocktails -- including delicious sangria, a cheese gem, and a woeful tale of a hot dog scramble to avoid.
COFFEE: Coffee has long been rough in the Haight. Until Haight Street Market opened a Blue Bottle kiosk in their store, one couldn't get a proper cup. While appealing cafes like Reverie boast a welcome back patio, and the La Boulange chain on Cole serves substantial pastries, none offers a cappuccino or espresso to satisfy coffee snobs. But just in the last week or so, there's a quiet coffee revolution afoot with two new cafes. Flywheel Coffee Roasters looks like a hipster Mission coffee spot with a handful of laptops and industrial-stark interior. Though they aren't going the foam art/microfoam route at this point and they have not begun roasting their own beans in-house as they plan to, initial cups are promising. The other new spot is Stanza in the Coco Luxe space. They'll be doing coffee cuppings on the first Thursday of each month (7pm) and have their coffee roasted by Augies in Southern California. They DO have foam art and proper cappuccinos. A welcome neighborhood addition.
CHEAP EATS The good wings were at Noriega Pizza in the Sunset. So there, Mission District! First Wayway leaves the building and takes his cutie-pie with him — not to mention their baby. And now this.
And not only to the Sunset, by the way, did they move, but way the hell out there in the Sunset, on 40-somethingth Avenue, around the corner from Noriega Pizza. Or, as it is more officially known, The Pizza Place on Noriega. Which Wayway likes better than Delfina, but maybe just because it's possible to eat there.Read more »
APPETITE Incredible burgers in a bowling alley, SF's deaf community gathering over Neapolitan pizzas, brothers serving food from their hometown of Nice in a tiny restaurant, dining around a U-shaped counter off a FiDi alley... each of the restaurants below opened within the last 6 months, providing a unique communal experience (and, most important, fine food to go with) that makes one feel like actually engaging with, rather than ignoring, fellow diners.
Despite chilly breezes and outrageously high ticket prices ($500 was cheap), PBF&W, April 12-15, was a bustling, fun-filled weekend, with celebrity chefs, after (and after-after) parties, copious amounts of caviar, champagne and white Burgundy sipped overlooking the waves from the Inn at Spanish Bay fire pits, and a helicopter ride with sommeliers(!) to Carmel Road's vineyards.
True, at first glance a vegan and gluten-free lifestyle sounds like a joke from Portlandia's Allergy Pride Parade. Wave those flags high, besmirched friends. But here's a non-snarky thought: for some people, it's just life. They have actual allergies to gluten and/or dairy.Read more »
Tequila Avión has gained a sort of cult status from a (unsolicited) mention in the show Entourage, but I’m glad to say this tequila holds enough quality to stand on its own. Produced in the Jalisco highlands, in the town of Jesus Maria at the highest elevation of any tequila producer (7000 feet), brings a naturally higher sugar content to the agave plants. Their process is to roast the agave plants at very low temperatures and let them cool naturally which retains more juices and makes the plants less fibrous when crushed.
Call it dessert wine if you will, icewine (eiswein in German) is definitely sweet. But winemakers prefer to call it “rich and concentrated,” an apt icewine description, which, when produced well, retains enough acidity to keep it from being cloying.
Icewine’s intensity comes from frozen grapes, allowing greater flavor concentration. Unlike in Sauternes, Bordeaux, icewine is not sweet from botrytis (noble rot), rather from frozen, concentrated juice. Canada and Germany are the largest icewine producers in the world, with most of Canada’s icewine vineyards in Ontario, which I recently visited. Besides attending the annual Niagara Icewine Festival, I spent time with three wineries and tasted winning salumi and cheeses made locally.