If there is a better-known vegetarian restaurant in the world than Greens, I've never heard of it. But that sounds a little like hype, and hype is on cozy terms with falsehood. Greens is also 30 years old this year, and since restaurants often age in dog years, or worse, we are talking about a place that can't ignore the many risks of geriatric life, among them fatigue, complacency, boredom, and a descent into tourist-trappiness. No doubt there are others.
Apart from the fusty, undersized sign above the door, Greens still looks sensational. Read more »
DINE In our hamburger-challenged city, the Mission District would not seem to be a particularly promising place to go burger-hunting. The hamburger is the all-American statement food, while the Mission is many things, but probably not all-American. Among the most conspicuous burger outlets in the Mission is Whiz Burger, which has held down the corner of 18th Street and South Van Ness since time immemorial and even has a parking lot, as if Arthur Fonzarelli might soon be rolling up in a '57 Chevy. Read more »
Imagine a casting call for a beer commercial a beer, I should add, marketed toward cool young people and not geezers or swollen couch slugs and you'll have some idea of the scene at Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery on any given night. Loose halter tops, soccer butts, and headsful of tousled hair dot the Rathskeller-scape, while the human noise (let's call it the roar of youth) is so loud and steady as to achieve a transcendence. The noise is beyond noise; it warps reality and becomes another dimension. Read more »
Balompié Café looks like many another modest restaurants in the Mission, but it does make a convincing claim to uniqueness, in three parts. The first is the striking name — basically "ball foot" in Spanish. Football by any other name — including "balompié" and "fútbol" — is still ... soccer. Somehow soccer's claim to being the true football is more convincing than our own. In American football, the combination of ball and foot is seldom a presence or factor.Read more »
DINE The brightness of Yahya Salih's new restaurant, Jannah, belies or redeems what went before. Jannah's immediate predecessor was a place called Gabin, a Korean-inflected karaoke bar that drew some spicy Yelp commentary. Before that, it was Café Daebul, also Korean-influenced, maybe a bit less commentable. Both places were, apparently, on the gloomy, claustrophobic side.
Jannah, by contrast, is all about openness. Read more »
A half-score (or so) years ago, there came to the border country between the upper and lower Haight a restaurant called Metro Café. The place was an offshoot of Baker Street Bistro, and, like its progenitor, it was rather wonderful and quite affordable. In the mid-aughts the restaurant morphed into Metro Kathmandu, which served a Nepalese-Indian menu. The change was improbable, but the food was just as good in its way. Now, after a too-short run, Metro Kathmandu has disappeared, only to become ... Read more »
The color of cooked crawfish isn't red, exactly more a garnet. If it were a wine, it would be a medium-bodied pinot noir. Certainly it would never be mistaken for cooked lobster, which (pace Red Lobster) isn't red at all, but more of an inflamed orange. Read more »
Not all restaurants have authors central figures that breathe their essence into a place but the ones that do tend to be special. They are also uniquely vulnerable, for if that central figure disappears, a restaurant can be left adrift without its animating force, like a fully-rigged sailing ship on a breezeless sea.
In January, Cathie Guntli, the founder and guiding light of the Liberty Café, died. Read more »
Who needs the fleshpots of Sodom or for that matter SoMa when we can find all the flesh we can handle at barbecue restaurants? All right, it's not quite the same thing, but close. The real issue pertains to the restaurants. San Francisco isn't much of a barbecue town; we are a village of pastels, and barbecue is a primary color.
We are also a realm of hipsters, and where there are hipsters, it follows that there might also be hipster barbecue. Read more »
For the evolution-minded, the past is a living presence, and such all-American phrases as "start from scratch" or "clean-sheet design" cause anxiety. In our culture of disposability and revolution, the past is about as attractive as a worn-out razor blade and we know what happens to them. So to find a new restaurant that simultaneously manages to be contemporary yet respectful of the past gives quiet delight. Read more »