Ask An Expert : SAN FRANCISCO

In this series, Treve Ring asks local food and drink experts in various cities around North America to share their insight and appetite. 

Editor’s note: to read more stories like this, including more Ask An Expert articles, click here.

Every time I make the quick and easy two hour flight back up the Pacific coast from SFO, I feel that I’ve left my heart in San Francisco (but still gained 5 pounds). It’s hard to believe, what with the mountain-goat hills, healthy outdoor lifestyle and farm-fresh foodstuffs at every eatery. But the food and drink scene is just that good. It’s a hugely walkable city. The epicenter of new California cuisine is informed by the choicest local and seasonal produce, and filtered through the cultural influence of San Francisco’s global citizens.  From humble breads to haute cuisine, bacon beignets to craft brews, pizza, oysters, wine and every level of spice, flavour and budget, this is a city based on eating, and drinking superbly well. I always revisit my trusted favourites (love you long time Slanted Door), but the best way to dine around the city by the Bay is by asking the talented tastemakers and masters of taste themselves.

Jon Bonné

Wine Editor; The San Francisco Chronicle; author, The New California Wine

Website

Twitter

 

Best new restaurant in San Francisco (opened within last 12 months)?

It is very, very dicey territory to talk about bests, especially when it comes to new spots. But the opening of Maruya by Masaki Sasaki and Hide Sueyoshi, and the evolution of tiny Ichi into the much more ambitious Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, has brought serious sushi back into San Francisco dining in a way I haven’t seen since I’ve lived here. No longer do I plan on getting on a plane for L.A. (Vancouver, if I was really smart) for world-class sushi.

Also, the rebirth of Tosca Café was a big deal. It needs to figure out how to balance a healthy bar ecosystem with its restaurant half, but April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman are skilled at such things – and I think as San Francisco evolves out of its current short-attention-span phase of indulgences, Tosca’s worth will be proven.

Your favourite standby, never disappointing restaurant/eatery?

Nopa, just like every other wine nerd in San Francisco. But as my friends will know, I will almost always default to one of the Lers Ros locations. I’d put their Thai cooking up against anyone on this coast.

Best spot for quick bite (food trucks suggestions welcome)?

The steamed chicken bao at Out the Door. Failing that, the al pastor tacos at the Tonayense truck near the Best Buy on Harrison or the seafood tostadas at Mariscos La Costa on Oakland’s International Boulevard.

Most exciting winelist in San Francisco right now?

Our wine lists are in an odd, almost timid place this particular moment. But I adore what David Lynch is doing at St. Vincent – the sort of list that comes from someone who’s mature enough to explore the depths without just falling back on the hipster canon.

Best place to fuel your caffeine habit?

My kitchen. I am admittedly a total espresso snob, but the beans from De La Paz finally made me give up having Vivace shipped in from Seattle; I’m eagerly awaiting their retail space.

If I’m out around town, Sightglass for their iced pourovers; Four Barrel for espresso.

Best bar seat in San Francisco?

Right now Trou Normand is killing it with their focus on brandy. Although the work Jennifer Colliau is doing at the Interval at Long Now is thoughtful and charming; it’s one of the most thrilling places to drink I’ve seen in a while.

Hot neighborhood in town for food & drinks?

(Because surely you didn’t mean “’hood,” right?) The ‘hood is where s**t goes down.

I mean, the Valencia corridor of Mission, and Hayes Valley, are cray-cray right now. I try and stay away from both.

Favourite local winery?

Even if I could begin to choose just one, you couldn’t waterboard it out of me. The New California Wine has about 125 to start with, and we can build the list from there.

Favourite local brewery?

The Bay Area has an embarrassment of riches on this front. You’ve probably deduced you’re not going to get favorites from me by now, but I am ever more impressed by what Oakland’s Linden Street Brewery is doing. Their black lager speaks to me in strange tongues.

Favourite local distillery?

Well of course everyone loves St. George. But we could use some more local distilleries in the city proper. (Oakland, too.) California has made it embarrassingly hard for microdistilleries to open shop, which is why cities like Portland and New York are running circles around us.

Most welcome trend in San Francisco dining?

Our logarithmic growth of new pizza restaurants is finally slowing down. Even San Francisco can eat only so much pizza.

Your one favourite local ingredient?

Not gonna lie. Freshly steamed Dungeness crab slightly after the start of the season, right around mid-December, is one of the great joys in life.

Rajat Parr

winemaker- Sandhi wines, Partner – RN74

Website

Twitter

 

Best new restaurant in San Francisco (opened within last 12 months)? 

Kin Khao

Your favourite standby, never disappointing restaurant/eatery?

Zuni Cafe

Best spot for quick bite (food trucks suggestions welcome)? 

Out the Door

Most exciting winelist in San Francisco right now? 

Alta CA

Best place to fuel your caffeine habit? 

Blue Bottle

Best bar seat in San Francisco? 

Bar Agricole

Hot ‘hood in town for food & drinks?

Nopa

Favourite local winery? 

Bluxome Street Winery

Favourite local brewery? 

Anchor Brewing

Favourite local distillery? 

St. George Spirits

Most welcome trend in San Francisco dining? 

Restaurants without tablecloths.

Your one favourite local ingredient? 

Dungeness Crab

Nick Balla & Cortney Burns

Chefs of Bar Tartine

Website

Twitter

 

Best new restaurant in San Francisco (opened within last 12 months)?
Bouli bar

Your favourite standby, never disappointing restaurant/eatery? 

My tofu house

Best spot for quick bite (food trucks suggestions welcome)? 

ABV

Most exciting wine list in San Francisco right now? 

St. Vincent

Best place to fuel your caffeine habit? 

My house.

Best bar seat in San Francisco?  

Amnesia

Hot ‘hood in town for food & drinks? 

The Mission

Favourite local winery?

Scribe

Favourite local brewery? 

Linden street

Favourite local distillery?  

St. George

Most welcome trend in San Francisco dining?  

Ethnic flavors in modern restaurants.

Your one favourite local ingredient?  

Wild fennel

Yoon Ha, MS

Beverage Director, Benu

Website

Twitter

 

Best new restaurant in San Francisco (opened within last 12 months)? 

Verbena

Your favourite standby, never disappointing restaurant/eatery? 

San Tung

Best spot for quick bite (food trucks suggestions welcome)? 

Souvla

Most exciting winelist in San Francisco right now? 

Nopa

Best place to fuel your caffeine habit? 

Sightglass

Best bar seat in San Francisco? 

Bar Agricole

Hot ‘hood in town for food & drinks? 

Hayes Valley

Favourite local winery? 

Mathiasson

Favourite local brewery? 

Anchor Steam

Favourite local distillery? 

St. George

Most welcome trend in San Francisco dining? 

Diversity

Your one favourite local ingredient? 

Nasturtium

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade. In addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for WineAlign, ...

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