Friday, November 16, 2007

My favorite restaurants in San Francisco

The experience of dining at a restaurant isn't just about the food, service, or ambiance. For me, it's also about the intangibles — about whether I feel relaxed or energetic, how the conversation flows, what relationship gets built (or broken) over a shared table. Also, trying a new place requires trusting someone else's opinion, whether that of a food critic or a friend. That said, here is my purely subjective list of the best places to eat in San Francisco, with old and new favorites. (If it makes you feel any better, I've been both a resident and a tourist in the city.)

Farmer Brown: On a busy Tuesday night, I came here with sorority sisters Linda and Yvonne. All of us ordered fried chicken with mac and cheese and southern greens. And we shared a baked apple pastry for dessert. The chef uses organic meats and produce from local African American farmers, and the food is tasty and unfussy. I didn't love the drinks served out of jars (unwieldy), but did love the chairs upholstered in fabric with the Declaration of Independence written on it.

Kate O' Brien's: We were tempted to order shepherd's pie, but instead Linda and I opted for a blackened chicken quesadilla, thick-cut garlic parsley fries, house-made potato chips with malt vinegar, and a spinach salad with goat cheese and apples. And how can you not love a place where your server greets regulars by name? Hearty food and friendly service — the quintissential Irish pub.

Mifune (1737 Post St., 415.922.0337): In 1993, I worked at Benihana in Japantown; that's how I discovered Mifune (its neighbor in the Kintetsu Mall). The clientele is primarily Asian — always a good sign at a Japanese restaurant. You can get a huge bowl of udon, soba, or ramen for $10. On the Sunday night we were there, the line was out the door, so we entertained ourselves by checking out the displays of plastic food (just like being in Japan).

Yank Sing: I've been going to dim sum since I was a kid. It made me feel grown-up, accepting and rejecting dishes as they were wheeled by. Here, I could've filled up on the dumplings alone, particularly the house special — a steamed ginger pork number that was delicate, translucent, and slightly chewy. I ate it with a spoon to keep the broth from escaping. Rejected: sea bass, chicken skewers, deep-fried crab claws. For dessert: sesame balls and a big pot of jasmine chrysanthemum tea. If you still need convincing, check out their photo gallery.

1 comment:

Jean said...

I am so jealous! every night this week all I had was canned Annie's organic soup!!! My son had mac and cheese on Thanksgiving though--I thought that was a cool choice!