Greek Food Gets Its Due at Souvla in Hayes Valley

Pete Kane
The chicken wrap: Rocky Jr. free range chicken, "Granch" dressing, fennel & citrus salad, pickled red onion, pea shoots and mizithra cheese.
Greek food is all too often relegated to the margins, possibly owing to the mediocrity of most gyros and the vegetarian adoration of hummus and baba ghanouj. (A certain cheesiness factor doesn't help. The "Greek" typeface, with its pointy E's, is worse than comic sans). If there's a place in the Bay Area to get really excellent Greek food, it needs a better publicist.

See Also: Pretty Much Everything About Lebanese Joint Mazza Luna is Amazing
Gyro Xpress: Good Middle Eastern Food on a Corner That Needs Love

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Drink of the Week: Getting Caught in a Devil's Lie at Rich Table

Lou Bustamante
Devil's Lie cocktail
Few restaurant bars inspire the kind of envy in me that Rich Table does. In its heart, it is a neighborhood restaurant, albeit one that has rightfully attracted local and national attention. It is the kind of place I wish was in my neighborhood.

The composition and presentation of the dishes suits fine dining, but the bar and range of $7 bites perfectly lends itself as a neighborhood spot. If I lived in the area, you'd find me here often with an order of dried porcini doughnuts ($7) and the fantastic Devil's Lie ($11, tequila blanco, fino sherry, apple reduction, lemon, Scrappy's Firewater Bitters) cocktail.

See also: Rich Table: Refined Comfort with California Bistro Food
Best New Restaurant San Francisco 2013 - Rich Table
Drink of the Week: Sipping the Lands End at Rich Table

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Three Sparkling Cocktails to Take You Into 2014

Absinthe Group
Christmas may be over, but the season of holiday indulgence is still going strong until January 1. And whether you're celebrating the impending new year, looking fondly upon the one passing by, or simply numbing the pain inflicted by visiting family members, these three sparkling cocktail are perfect to celebrate the waning days of 2013 -- and so delicious you'll be sipping them throughout the new year.

See also: Bay Area Bubbles: Wrapping it up at Roerderer Estate
Bay Area Bubbles: Mumm's Tour and Oak Terrace Make It Worth a Visit
Bay Area Bubbles: A Visit to Schramsberg's Candlelit Tasting Cave

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Proposition Chicken Falls Just Shy of Passage

Pete Kane
If you're only really going to do one thing, you'd better do it well. And if that one thing happens to be chicken, it had better be pretty damn terrific. The flipped chicken sandwich at Proposition Chicken, now open in that liminal zone on Market and Octavia that's technically Hayes Valley but not really part of any neighborhood, falls a bit shy of that standard.

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Talking In the Charcuterie With Fatted Calf's Toponia Miller & Taylor Boetticher

In The Charcuterie
In the Charcuterie (Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.) is a book that is as beautiful as it is detailed: 125 recipes with step-by-step tips on how exactly to make and cure sausage, salumi, stuffed roasts, pate, confits and other meaty goods. The authors of this newly published book are the husband and wife team Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller, who own and run The Fatted Calf meat emporiums locally in Napa (Oxbow Market) and San Francisco (Hayes Valley) -- stores that are media and financial success stories in their own right.

With the publication of this book, SFoodie Editor Anna Roth and I both wondered if home cooks will really take to actually making tonno di maiale -- lean pork loin accented by fresh Bay leaves; or beef oxtail terrine with piment d'Espelette. Time and space are a consideration in small apartment dwellings -- or so the excuse list begins. Apparently patience is needed, as well, as I found out from the two chef-authors. Is this a tasty-looking cookbook to have on the shelf, just in case? Or to look at the pretty pictures while saying, "Yeah, I could totally make that"?

See also: Best Educational Happy Hour - Fatted Calf Charcuterie
Meatloaf Sandwich from Fatted Calf on Fell

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Happy Hour at Two Sisters Bar & Books Lasts All Weekend

Yelp/Erin M.
The cozy window reading nook at Two Sisters.
If you think that happy hours are strictly weekday affairs, Two Sisters Bar and Books in Hayes Valley would like to respectfully disagree. In addition to offering discounted drinks 4-6 p.m. every Tuesday through Friday, the bar also offers a weekend happy hour. Its homage to day drinking spans from 1 to 4 p.m. because, as co-owner Mikha Diaz explains, "It is happy hour in New York City" -- a placed once lived in and still very loved by both sisters. So grab a seat, maybe even a book, and cozy up to their bar for a much-needed drink.

See also: Two Sisters Bar and Books: Small Plates, Big Ambiance
Two Sisters' Eclectic Brunch Is a Haven with Personality
Meal For Every Mood: Hayes Valley

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Drink of the Week: The Spanish Prisoner at Brass Tacks

Lou Bustamante
Firsts things first: I never went to Marlena's, never experienced the drag shows, and never had the pleasure to bear witness to the kitschy Christmas wall of Santas. I won't pretend and tell you about what the bar used to be like, frankly because I don't know. Not counting this one, I've written about 96 different bars in the Bay Area for this column alone -- the one thing I learned is that I will simply never make it to as bars many as I want or should make it to.

What I can tell you about the bar at 488 Hayes, Brass Tacks, is what it is now. Sleek and clean, dressed in grays, walnut, metal, and brass, it has a striking chandelier in the center of the bar that looks like it's wearing hundreds of melted champagne flutes earrings. The bar owned by Anthony Healy-London (of Churchill), Josh McAdam, and Matty Conway (formerly of Absinthe and a 2013 Bar Star), with Conway spending most of the time behind the bar. The drinks are exceptionally crafted, complex, and fast, but the pretension level is low and it has a neighborhood vibe with a wild mix of people from all walks and even some on walks (pooches welcome). Open from two in the afternoon until two in the morning, it's a great stop for an aperitif, nightcap, or anything in between.

See also: Drink of the Week: St. Martin at Absinthe Brasserie
Drink of the Week: Joe's Manhattan at Original Joe's
Brass Tacks, the former Marlena's, Gets Post-Gay on Hayes

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Get Down with Bogie and Bacall at Noir's Blind Tiger Tap Room

Pete Kane
Blind Tiger's risotto is topped with onion rings.
When you sit at Noir's communal table, the slatted blinds above cast a slightly sinister light, as if eating risotto were now une liaison dangereuse. With the Bogie-and-Bacall classic Dark Passage playing on the TV, it's even better.

So went the debut of Blind Tiger Tap Room, Hayes Valley's newest restaurant-within-a-lounge. For ambience, Noir's very slightly lurid romance isn't really found anywhere else. And the food puts presentation on the same pedestal as atmospherics.

See also: Lunchpad: Adventurous Sandwiches And Candied Bacon In Hayes Valley

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20th Century Cafe Brings a Slice of Old-Timey Europe to Hayes Valley

Anna Roth
Clockwise from top left: Chocolate chip cookie, potato knish, Russian honey cake, raspberry-plum coffee cake from 20th Century Cafe.
After a litany of delays and setbacks, Michelle Polzine's much-anticipated pastry shop, 20th Century Café, has finally opened on the corner of Oak and Gough. Her goal is to create "a small corner café that reflects the styles of early 20th century Vienna, Budapest, and Prague." It's the kind of coffee shop that makes you feel like an expatriate, and 20th Century Cafe extends its vintage European theme to everything from its décor to its pastries.

See also: 20th Century Cafe Launches Kickstarter Campaign With Adorable Old-Timey Video
Get a Sneak Peek of 20th Century Cafe at State Bird Provisions
Two Sisters Bar and Books: Small Plates, Big Ambiance

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Brass Tacks, the former Marlena's, Gets Post-Gay on Hayes

Pete Kane
Brass Tacks has officially opened in the space that used to be Marlena's, for 23 years the go-to place for fancy opera gays, lovers of discount drag and, every December, fans of the world's largest collection of Santas. Hayes Valley must have been thirsting for it, cause it was packed on a Monday. Marlena herself (nee Garry McClain) gave it the OK, and you know she has powers from when she was Empress.

See also: Marlena's, San Francisco's Coolest Drag Bar, Sold
The Santas Are Back at Marlena's, and They Are Gloriously Creepy

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