Opening: Sabores Del Sur Debuts South American Cafe in Walnut Creek

Categories: East Bay, Opening

Guisell Osorio with her La Cocina family.
Tomorrow is the grand opening of Guisell Osorio's café Sabores del Sur in Walnut Creek. Having been one of La Cocina's first participants, Osorio started Sabores in 2002 as a catering company specializing in Chilean empanadas and alfajores (powdered sugar-dusted butter cookies that sandwich sweet dulce de leche).

Osorio hosted a preview dinner at the cafe last Thursday. In addition to her aforementioned specialties, she showcased other traditional Chilean dishes such as pastel de choclo (a hearty casserole of beef, olives, raisins, hard-boiled egg and spices, topped with creamy corn), and churrasco sandwiches (grilled steak with tomato, avocado, and a healthy slather of aioli nestled between soft, buttery rolls).

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Sammy's Aloha: A Hawaiian-Style Pop-Up on the Bay

Anastasia Crosson
Sammy's Aloha ahi poke bowl with Thai black sticky rice, topped with a poached egg, salmon roe and garden fresh fixings.
San Francisco's cool bayside breezes may be far from the sunny shores of "the big island," but that doesn't stop lines from forming outside Sammy's Aloha (no website). Occupying a curbside corner of the takeout window at Butterfly on Pier 33, this casual Hawaiian-style pop-up that took the place of Pan Grill serves a unique take on the usual suspects, like kalua pork and loco moco.

See Also: Dispatch from Guam: Prubechu Aims to Please Your Inner Chamorro

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Bar Agricole Spinoff Trou Normand Is Designed To Awe

Categories: Opening, SOMA

Pete Kane
Lamb ragu

There sure are a lot of art boobs at Trou Normand, the new multi-meal restaurant-bar-café on the ground floor of 140 New Montgomery, aka the PacBell Building. Even when you exclude the giant nude (who is facing coquettishly away), almost all the art on the walls features breasts, in some level of abstraction. Turning a ground-floor space in the corner of an august edifice into the new zenith of nose-to-tail cuisine and communal dining shows the team behind Trou Normand felt a certain pressure. As with an ancient church in a secular Nordic country that's since become a pub, there is little margin for error. It's a Bar Agricole spin-off, and every aspect of it is designed to awe, naked lady or no naked lady.

See Also: Fanciful Cocktails and Pedagogy at SRO, Inside Oddjob in SoMa

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Ike's Place Has a Secret Menu!

Pete Kane
The John Connor (#154): Steak, habanero, mushrooms, avocado, and mozzarella sticks.

As a rule, the concept of a "secret menu" should be regarded with healthy skepticism. They're essentially a ploy to get you to feel super-cool and in-the-know about ordering from things you don't see the price of, so you usually wind up paying extra for the warm feeling of superiority towards the sheep who think, say, a Double-Double is the end-all-and-be-all.

See Also: Salumeria's $12 Sandwiches Are Worth Every Shekel

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The Sea Star: Who Wouldn't Love a Fancy Dogpatch Dive?

Categories: Dogpatch, Opening

Pete Kane
The Last Laugh: Siete Leguas Reposado, Luxardo, Green Chartreuse and lime)
If memory serves, the original Sea Star was sort of a hyper-dive, with linoleum flooring and giant signs for crappy beer, and it had probably been there since Seals Stadium opened. A couple of years ago, it became the Goat. Now it's the Sea Star again, and it's basically everything you could want in a fancy dive (unless you're the type to find that phrase to be such a contradiction in terms that you'll live out your days in self-imposed exile from a good time).

See Also: Stripped-Down Excellence at Long Bridge Pizza in the Dogpatch
Fanciful Cocktails and Pedagogy at SRO, inside Oddjob in SoMa

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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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Hop Into Fogbelt Brewing Company

Categories: Beer, Opening

Anastasia Crosson
A flight of all five Fogbelt Brewing Company beers, plus two seasonals. A blood orange garnish on the Lost Monarch wheat beer is a nice touch.

Fogbelt Brewing Company has opened the tap, introducing a few new micro-brews to the Bay Area craft beer scene. Having opened in February, this Santa Rosa brewery and taproom is as much a place to enjoy a pint and a bite as it is an homage to Northern California terroir. Hops are grown in Fogbelt's own hopyards or sourced from local producers. Not to mention, each brew is named after one of the Northern California redwoods that tower above the surrounding landscape.

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Cantina Verde, an S.F. Version of Chipotle in the FiDi

Pete Kane
A burrito isn't much to look at, it's true, and Cantina Verde's was wrapped pretty badly, but it held its structural integrity to the last bite.

When I saw the price of a burrito at Cantina Verde, the new Mexican joint in the Financial District, my eyes goggled. It's $6.50, which is also the same price as three tacos (or a salad), and a hair under the prices at obvious archrival Chipotle. Nearly all the toppings are free, which if you're a shameless glutton like me, results in a massive burrito, and chips are a dollar extra. (There's also fresh cilantro, which if memory serves, can't be ordered at Chipotle except off the secret menu.) So in that sense, win!

See Also: Chicago Man Uses Kickstarter to Fund His Chipotle Burrito
San Francisco's Top 10 Burritos

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Chamalyn, a New Tea Lounge in Bernal Heights

Pete Kane
Chamalyn's wall of tea feels like almost like candy store, but with a minimalist Japanese vibe.

Once upon a time there was a Japanese store in the Mission called Chamalyn that had bubble tea and was otherwise similar to Umami Mart in Old Oakland, but it has since shattered. Now, we have a new Chamalyn in Bernal Heights, which is a both a Japanese tea shop and lounge. It's kind of like Samovar, only more affordable.

See Also: Gifts and Cocktails from T-WE Tea

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Fanciful Cocktails and Pedgogy at SRO, Inside Oddjob in SoMa

Pete Kane
The shift towards ever-more-baroque mixology in ever-tinier surroundings hits a new high in SRO, a cash-only venue-within-a-venue that one may enter from gritty Washburn Alley in SoMa or through Oddjob. If you like dark interiors with a pendulous chandelier and a silver-tongued barkeep who plays with fire, it might be your new spot.

See Also: Topsy's Fun House is a Cocktail Carnival

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