Restaurant Review

Bruno's Pizzeria Cucina

Bruno brings everyone's favorite Italian savory pie to the Fillmore historic jazz district
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paulr@sfbg.com

What do pizza and jazz have in common? Why, two z's, of course — the pair of identical twins that also appears in such exciting words as nozzle, nizzle, pizzle, pazzo, and cazzo. Put these all together and shout them from the rooftops and you'll have quite a riff, if not quite a jazz riff. For music, play ZZ Top. Then run from the obscenity police.

Other than that, pizza and jazz go together like ... well, they don't actually go together. There is no connection I know of. Read more »

Grand Pu Bah

Honey, I torched the chicken: Thai street food gets gussied up with California touches
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You might think, with today’s endless parade of television cooking shows, that the dining public’s appetite for a theatrical restaurant experience might be whetted. But mostly this does not seem to be the case. Oh, we have plenty of display kitchens, and soufflés finished tableside, and occasionally you might happen upon on a cheese cart, or a foie gras or champagne cart. Read more »

Tropisueno

Outsized taco cart by day, high-energy urban cantina in the evening: Tropisueno is a Mexican dream
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paulr@sfbg.com

Tropisueño's resonant name hints at dreams, but you won't be doing any dreaming there. In the evenings the restaurant — it's a kind of urban cantina — catches fire like a piece of newsprint and blazes up into a fabulous, if noisy, party. Read more »

City Grill

The Noe Valley spot's nouvelle American menu nods to the traditional while offering excellent modern dishes
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paulr@sfbg.com

At this moment — at the cusp of spring — the most happening restaurant in Noe Valley is Contigo, which opened early in March in what had been a computer store. The crowd promptly swooped, with a thickness and intensity not seen in the neighborhood since the launch of Fresca nearly four years ago and without, it seems, much in the way of worries about the economic meltdown. You step into Contigo, find yourself against a wall of chattering people, and step out. Read more »

Bar Johnny

More than just bar food -- memorable, eclectic, and priced for value
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paulr@sfbg.com

Until quite recently, you did not often see the word "bar" associated with food-serving establishments in this part of the world. Hungry people slipping into Bar X for a bite were most likely in Europe, or the pages of a Somerset Maugham novel, not on the streets of San Francisco. Read more »

Spicy Bite

Fragrant Indian standards at affordable prices in an easy-to-take location near Bernal Heights
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paulr@sfbg.com

We all have our little weaknesses, and one of mine is any form of the word "spice." "Spicy" is a particularly potent variation, since in common usage it doesn't mean well-spiced in a general sense, with nutmeg and clove — like carrot cake or mulled cider — but flavorfully hot. If some dish is described as spicy, whether shrimp or French fries, I am going to have a hard time staying away from it. And if a restaurant has the word "spicy" in its name, I am going to have a hard time staying away from it, too. I am all ears. Read more »

Colibri

A bistro that transcends the taqueria, expanding the Bay's definition of Mexican cuisine
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paulr@sfbg.com

The biggest shadow hanging over many a pre-theater dinner is anxiety about getting to the show on time. Will the service be prompt, is there time for dessert, where is the check, can we cover four blocks in two minutes? The human element in these sorts of situations is always incalculable, but it does help if your pre-theater restaurant is across the street from the theater. That's brick-and-mortar reassurance. And if we're talking the Geary Theater and Colibrí Mexican Bistro, I mean right across street. Read more »

Radio Africa and Kitchen

Radio nights
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paulr@sfbg.com

Radio Africa and Kitchen is described by its Web site as a "nomadic" restaurant, but if it has anything like a home, it's Coffee Bar, the Multimedia Gulch spot kitty-corner from Circolo. This juxtaposition isn't as unlikely as it seems. Although the first thing you smell when you step into Radio Africa is Coffee Bar's coffee, the smell reminds you that coffee is native to the highlands of east Africa — and Radio Africa's food is east African in influence.

The maestro of the project is Eskender Aseged. Read more »

Hard Knox Cafe

The soul of Southern comfort
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paulr@sfbg.com

The password for 2009 so far seems to be "hard," as in hard times, hard luck, hard cheese. To this list we might also add Hard Knox Café, whose time has come, though it's never really gone. By this I mean that when you can go into a place and pay $10 for three pieces of good fried chicken and two substantial side dishes, along with a complimentary cornbread muffin, chances are you'll be back, regardless of Wall Street weather. And who needs dessert when Stella Artois on tap is just $3.50?

The ironist (a.k.a. Read more »

Bar Jules

A well-polished changeable menu and great hipster watching distinguish this Parisian-influenced hotspot
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paulr@sfbg.com

From hither and yon comes word that the restaurant world is troubled. Read more »