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Valencia Pizza & Pasta is one of the hidden gems you hate to tell the wide readership about. But I will.
Value is top priority at VP & P. Last Sunday morning I had Eggs Florentine and it put me back $4.95. That comes with hash browns and a banana. The banana is added to every breakfast plate, for a kind of breakfasty dessert. Everything is around that price for breakfast. And what's great is that you can usually snag one of the few booths because it's rarely crowded on weekend mornings, unlike just about every restaurant in town. Good coffee too, and nice service.
Lunch and dinner are also winners, and served every day except Sunday. I had a chicken piccata type thing for about eight bucks and it came with all sorts of sides, although I can't remember what. It was long ago. You'd pay much more for this amount of food somewhere else. The meals are all pretty bare bones and simple, but altogether solid.
The food and martinis at Olive will almost make you forget what lies in the frightening trash cans right outside the wooden sauna-looking door front. It's rare when you can go to a place, look at the menu, realize that you have tried everything on it, and can't help friends who have never been there because you would recommend every single thing. Small plates (fried calimari that dissolves, chicken satay, personal pizzas, tiger prawns, baked brie, etc.) are great for sharing and trying a lot of different foods in one setting.
And they even give you a small plate of complimentary olives, which I didn't eat because olives are gross. But some people like them. The martinis are strong and dirty, if you like them like that, or chocolatey or orangy, if you like them like that. Last time I was there with three people, we had four drinks and four plates of food for about 20 dollars each. Not a bad deal.
You hear Firecracker in the same breath as Eric's and Eliza's when people talk about upper-crust Chinese restaurants in San Francisco. On the strength of last night's meal, I think that ranking holds. The food is excellent, particularly the braised string beans and the yin and yang shrimp, both big favorites at our table of five that featured the parents of former guest judge Kesseau.
What we said to each other during the meal is largely unknown. The place is loud, crowded, and crazy. Like the 4th of July. Like the 4th of July and you're sitting at a table next to the guys shooting off the town's fireworks display. This was the party next to us. They sent penetrating laughs our way all night, different types of laughs like different types of fireworks -- high-pitched, booming, rumbling, and yes, cracking. It was a spectacular assault for which we had no defense. This is dinner on Saturday in the Mission. But it does raise the question, why do we put up with it? This is what former guest judge Kesseau's father wanted to know. How'd things get like this? When did we come to accept -- and, perhaps, "crave" -- this "barbaric" atmosphere? A mere Exhibite is too small a space to outline all we discussed on the topic (or tried to, over the din). But the final score of it is: Dining out didn't use to be this way. Yet another reason to revive the diner setting, putting booths in restaurants again.
boy, that food, a real smash. High-tier stuff. Prices
run a few bucks up
from what you're used to
good Chinese, but the portions are pretty generous.
I recommend going, maybe on a weeknight when it's
not so chaotic. If
it's on a weekend, go with people who say things
you don't want to hear, because you're not going to hear
I had the worst meal at Charley Gs in Metairie, Louisiana. I had gone expecting the old chef who Ithought was the first good chef Charleys had ever had only to find he had been let go for being too adventurous! I instead had a meal lacking any imagination and flavor Ii think Shoney's would have been better. A dish of duck that had been burned to a crisp and my wife had trout that tasted like it had spoiled. All beware, do not go here!!!!!!!!
After a couple forum postings suggesting we'd given Rosamunde short shrift in our review a couple years ago, I thought I'd better check it out again. Dining solo this time, I ordered up the polish sausage with hot & sweet peppers, plus sauerkraut. Sauerkraut was recently found to own antioxidant qualities similar to those in the green vegetables nobody likes (brussels sprouts, broccoli), but that shouldn't be your main reason to choose it. Get it 'cause it goes great with grilled sausage. So do these sweet and hot peppers. Hoo boy. The polish sausage was delicious, I enjoyed every bite. A day later, riding the 71 home, I saw Rosamunde and nearly jumped off there to try another sausage variety. I surely will soon.
I may indeed have been too hard on Rosamunde the first time around. Sure, you might be able to reproduce this in your backyard with sausages from Whole Foods but a) I don't have a bbq anymore and my backyard is under construction, and b) I don't care how great it is, Whole Foods is expensive and a hellish place to get groceries. Your will is steelier than mine if you don't have a nervous breakdown in one of the aisles.
See the full Füd Court review
One of the best restaurants I've ever dined at. It's a great northern Italian restaurant, not just another Italian restaurant. There's a lot more to choose from than just pasta. When I recieved my bill I felt I got a great deal for the level of food. Four stars!!!
Popped into the old Bud's Broiler tonight (the one on Jefferson Hwy), where they do one of the city's only charcoal grilled hamburgers. Sadly, the beef had an odd consistency AND color. Nice smoky charcoal flavor but not that great. The chili that topped the burger was lukewarm and lacking spice. Bland, run-of-the-mill french fries. Cheap as my country cousin, but not that satisfying. I'd say take a pass, unless you are seriously fund-deficient.
Judge V: possible addition for your lunch in Soma list. Cafe Bosse (1599 Howard which is in the neighborhood of 12th street, perhaps too far out there to qualify) is great. Having canvassed the greater Civic Center area for a palatable salady lunch, I tell you with authority that this place is THE place. It's one of those deals where you pick out your greens (romaine or spring this-n-that or whatever) and your toppings (you get at least 5, more if you get a larger salad) and your dressing, and they toss it for you quick as you please and it's real nice. You can add chicken. The salads are big, and evenly coated with dressing. It's a pleasant, busy place. If you are craving comfort food, they have that too: one time I saw a scalloped potato casserole that was buried under a crumbled bacon topping.
Had a forgetable meal at Charley G's this past weekend. Tasteless baked oysters. Crabmeat cooked into dirty rice (Huh?) Roast duck for my entree that looked and tasted suspiciously like chicken (All white breast?) Not cheap, either. $40 a person after the food, three scotch and waters and a glass of house white. Nice atmosphere, but not worth it. Too many good places in New Orleans to shell out this kind of dough for a bad meal.
Has one of the best (and most affordable) dim sum in the city. It tends to get crowded during the prime dim sum hours of 11:30 am – 1 pm, so I would recommend going before that if possible, maybe making it a weekend early brunch (which I have done several times). The food ranges from the standard steamed shrimp dumplings to pork short ribs and the more adventurous and unrecognizable. The standard dim sum is fresh and hot. They don't do so well on crowd control – you may have to wait a while (30 min. for lunch) for a table, and you need to speak up for tea or water, but every time I have gone, it has been $8 per person including tax and tip.
A friend insisted on taking her visiting sister and me to Chez Panisse. She made a big deal about booking the reservations well in advance and calling several days before the dinner to find out the menu, as I am a vegetarian.
At Chez Panisse, the host and servers emanated smugness, as if we diners were privileged to be there. But they treated my vegetarianism as if it were an uncommon dietary restriction. There was a lot of fanfare about giving me a special menu card, literally the same as the regular dinner, minus lobster in the salad and beef with the vegetables.
The bread was quite good. The salad was alright, but not particularly special without lobster. The high point of the meal was a delightful, rich, very small serving of savory mushroom lasagna. Then the carnivores indulged in sliced beef while I was served the worst grilled vegetables I have ever had in California. I was politely pretending to enjoy a slice of eggplant when my teeth crunched down on a piece of sand or a small stone — yuck! I didn't even bother complaining. The dessert (rum baba with a few slices of fruit) lacked character. We all ate the fruit and left the baba.
Only one person had wine ($10), yet the total (prix fixe with service) came to about $300, which we divided three ways. So, I laid out $100 for one of the most disappointing meals ever!
Joe's Cable Car ain't bad (and you're right -- it's pricey), but the best burgers in town are found at Clown Alley on Columbus, and Mo's on Grant.
I have been to FAVORITE INDIAN RESTAURANT only a couple times but the food there was delicious. I liked the Roast Chicken and the Pudding I had there. I liked the unpretentiousness of the place. Also, you can order your favorite Indian food on-line. Pick up or Delivery.
John Abraham (Model & Actor)
Having moved into another new neighborhood (see Magnolia below), I decided to try out the tiny little french bistro in my building that serves brunch on the weekend. I had the ricotta crepes with strawberries, and not only were they tasty as tasty is, but they were also presented rather prettily. My dining companion had the French version of an Egg McMuffin, which was done very well and dripped with lots of good french butter. On top of this, I had some of the best coffee I've had in a while at breakfast, and the side of bacon was crunchy and delicious.
The other plus of this quiet little number is just that: it was quiet. I got there at 10:45 on a Sunday morning and there was no one else in there. The decor kind of looks like a French castle was invaded by the Japanese. There is a nice faux stone around the walls, while the backs of the booths have a Japanese print. The waitress was really nice and it was a pleasure to finally eat in the place that I can smell when I open my windows.
I trudged more than a mile on meandering streets angling upward at a 9% or greater vertical gradient in a slight drizzle to dine at the Cordon Bleu Restaurant -- then had to wait over an hour for it to open. Was it worth the Abe Lincoln-like pilgrimage? You bet! Contrary to its condescendingly French name, the Cordon Bleu Restaurant is completely unassuming, absolutely no frills. The attraction here is the food. Boasting "possibly the best chicken you will ever have outside of Vietnam," the number 5 gets you a mouth-watering five-spiced roast chicken breast, a "to write home about" imperial roll, a succulent shish kebab, country salad, and a mountain of rice slathered with meat sauce better than red chile and marinara sauce put together. My hour-long wait was certainly made bearable when the affable proprietor invited me in to wait until the restaurant's opening. Of course, the proximity to the odoriferous emanations only made me crave the culinary masterpieces proffered here all the more.
Yearning to step back in time to a world when a thick steak and an icy Martini meant a swell night? Well look no further. Alfred's Steakhouse is an SF tradition beyond reproach, and you won't find a better, classier steak anywhere in town. Plush surroundings and top-flight old-world steakhouse charm make this place a classic. Sink into a booth and order the Chateau Briand for two, side of creamed spinach, French fries, or whatever. Do get the Caesar Salad, as the waiter will prepare the whole deal, including dressing, at your table. Bring a lot of money or a well-stocked credit card, because the place is STEEP, but it's worth it for a special occasion. And I can't say I've had a better hunk of fancy restaurant beef. Everything else is real good, too.
Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe
One unseasonably balmy evening part-time ninja and pig racing enthusiast Randy Antin and I went in search of outdoor dining in North Beach. We wound up at Mario's, whose meatball sandwich I've enjoyed several times. This time, with ExhiBite in mind, I thought I'd branch out, and ordered polenta and sausage. Antin called for the cannelloni. Maybe they had to hunt, trap, and kill the polenta themselves, because we waited...through one beer...waited...through another, which they brought unrequested and apparently as an apology...and waited...until finally, nearly one hour after ordering, we received our entrees.
Now. At this point, what can a restaurant do to mend a diner's attitude? Antin and I agreed that, in our dining histories, the most we'd ever gotten was a free dessert. We'd already received free beers, so we didn't expect much more. But...then...the waiter said something neither of us had ever heard..."On the house, guys. I'm really sorry about that." The entire meal was free. Free! To paraphrase Antin at that moment: Nothing placates a frustrated customer like a free meal. We dropped five bucks for a tip and walked off triumphant.
And, oh, the polenta and sausage was quite good, and not just 'cause it was free. Did you hear me, free!
I stopped by East Coast West on Polk after hearing a lot about it from neighbors. Definitely a Füd kind of restaurant. We were overwhelmed both emotionally and physically by the huge portions of sumptuous cabbage and chicken. It's a bright, cheery place with friendly service, people who talk across tables --just a very real kind of place. A second visit just for desserts was not a disappointment. Carrot cake and cheesecake were absolutely delicious. Our problem is the size of our stomachs, which doesn't let us eat both main course and dessert, let alone a side of latkes. The plan next time is to pack half of everything for dinner the next day.
Our neighbor, who is suffering the longest cold of the decade, assures us that the chicken soup has medicinal qualities. The last time we were there someone ordered a long strip of delicious looking beef in sauce, which we have planned for the next round.
Celestin's is my new favorite place in Sacramento, the best yet in what is proving to be quite a winning streak of randomly chosen restaurants. It was a frigid Saturday night and we walked to the restaurant. It was warm, welcoming, and, for Sacramento, quite a lively spot. Now this is nothing against the Tomato -- in fact, one of the best things about this place so far is the lack of crowding in bars and restaurants. We actually had to wait at this place, a first for me in Sac.
We knew from the delish aromas that it would be worth it. It's a Caribbean place. For this reason alone, I knew it would be tasty. Oh god, it was. You can pick any combination of rock shrimp, scallops, three types of sausage, snapper, chicken, salmon, and veg for your gumbo, and they look great going by, but we opted for other stuff, including jerk chicken and fried sea bass. (I've never had sea bass, but after tasting it, I now understand why it is being overfished. I pray that this species continues to thrive. It's too tasty for its own damn good.) Everything comes with great condiments (like Ajili Mojili sauce: can't pronounce it but that's for the best when your mouth is full). They have fancy and plain cocktails. They have fancy and plain desserts (we were too full). It's affordable, and generous portion-wise, and anyone who comes to Sacramento to visit me will be taken there right away. FYI, it's in the 1800 block of K Street.
Court Reporter Louise
Sears has been around for almost 100 years, and the atmosphere and service reflect it. An old-school feel comes through despite a preponderance of brightly-clad tourists. Rest assured, as a local you'll be the only local in the room. But don't let it dissuade you. Anyone from anywhere can enjoy the ever-brimming coffee and solid standard breakfast fare. I always get bacon (Ask Andy's favorite in the city) and eggs and their perfect hash browns, but the little pancakes (18 to a plate, I believe) are famous.
Things get pretty crowded there, but the line moves quickly (especially if you're willing to sit at the counter) and if you go on a weekday morning you probably won't wait more than five minutes.
It's Skewer City at Asqew in the Upper Haight. Choose between chicken, beef, pork, seafood, vegetarian (there's even a tofu kebob), and maybe lamb. They've got a few varieties of each. I chose the Creole Chicken. There are two sizes, half and regular. Half gets you a six-inch skewer, regular gets you two of them. Mine were stacked with chicken, red peppers, onions, potatoes, section of corn on the cob(!), and I think that's it. Served atop mashed potatoes (which I got), rice, or couscous. You choose. Some of the chicken chunks were a bit dry but overall very flavorful. I think I'll get beef next time, and there will be a next time.
There is nothing over 10 dollars, and my regular order, running me $7.95, was far more than I could eat. Half-orders go for about five bucks. Quite a value. Go check it.
The next time you are in Castro Valley (east of Hayward), do not bother with JD's, particularly for dinner.
This place has been around since 1973 but has lost sight of what it is all about and appears to be traveling on reputation.
I ordered "fresh" turkey the other night. I got microwaved turkey from a plastic baggie. (I watched him -- portion control, I assume), instant mashed potatoes, frozen peas (peas & carrots promised, stacked over two pieces of wonder bread lovingly coated with canned gravy.) All for just $8.95. BAD but served with all the pride and arrogance of a restaurant that is years past its prime.
My kids had grilled cheese and fries -- $6.95. Yes, $6.95. Who in the hell charges $6.95 for grilled cheese? JD's, that's who. One would expect a deluxe model to arrive but nope, the same old sandwich everyone else serves for $3.95.
Everyone raves about the pies at this place. They are OK but that's about it. There are much better places in Castro Valley. Do yourself a favor and skip this joint.
Having just moved in down the street, I decided to revisit this hippie haven in the Haight. Things have changed since I was here last! Not only do they have a full selection of their homemade brews, but their food is delicious and not too expensive. I had strips of flank steak in a honey and spice sauce on top of scalloped potatoes with crispy asparagus. Side that with possibly the best calamari I've had in ages light and crispy and you got yourself a winner.
Reader-eater Louise mentions that the best food deal is in Mexico. Well I got two words for her: Czech Republic. You guys have undoubtedly heard about Prague, but just in case the insanely cheap food, lodging, and booze don't interest you, then perhaps insanely cheap food, lodging, booze, drugs, and loads of model types will. After this trip we understood why there are so many Czech models.
Our first night in Prague was our most expensive meal by far. This place was way overpriced considering it was in Vinohrady a residential district away from all the touristy stuff. Anyway, the four of us had five-course meals: appetizer, soup, salad, roast duck with cabbage reduced in a vinegar sugar mixture, sauerkraut type stuff and dumplings, beer, wine, dessert- pain perdue, and some burly coffee. The bill after the tip which I don't think we were even obliged to give was only 400 crown or kroner whatever. That means ten bucks to you and me, kids. This was an excellent meal, with great service and stupid large portions. The food was cooked to perfection and the flavors well balanced. I couldn't finish anything after the salad except for the booze.
The next day we bought 20 liters of beer for about $3.50. Drank that shit up in a few days, returned the bottles for the refund AND BOUGHT MORE. A few days after that on our way to an AC/DC concert (not fans, but the novelty factor of seeing drunken eastern European metalheads was not to be missed) we washed everything down with $1.50 bottles of wine.
Prague is the shit.
All I know is if you happen to be in Europe and you've got like 20 bucks on you, then head to eastern Europe and live like a king.
When in Baltimore paying homage to your favorite detective show EVER, it's essential to eat crab in some form. You have to do it, if you are at all interested in feeling like a local, and it's always good to feel like a local. It lends legitimacy to everything you do thereafter, even walking around like a moron looking for the bar that Bayliss, Munch, and Lewis owned together.
You can get crabs, and crab-based dishes, at many locations. The correct venue, though, is a crab house, which serves hard shelled crabs for crack-and-pick marathons, soft shelled crabs for easier, albeit slightly creepy, munching (ya eat 'em whole, shell and all), and crab cakes, the effortless (and expensive) way to consume crab.
Go to Obrycki's. It's down-home, but not run-down. In fact, it's a comfy cross between classy joint and family style eatery (it's hard to put on airs when you're wearing a bib, as loyal Füd Court followers know) with just a hint of touristy-ness (beer was available in a souvenir glass) offset by its location in a modest working class neighborhood.
Bring money. You won't get out of there for under $30$40. I had no problem rationalizing this: it's unique food that you can't get on the West Coast, and these are crazy times when you don't want money hang-ups to prevent enjoyment of your precious moments on this earth.
The main philosophical debate around crab cakes: broiled or fried? Our super-friendly waitress (some would say her chatter was distracting during the crucial ordering phase) reported that fried tasted best. Say no more! I ordered fried. My companions (the lovely and vivacious "Lil' Marcella" and the beautiful and mysterious Mary) ordered broiled. They had some convincing arguments about why broiled was better, but once we got our food, I thought I saw a couple envious glances at my deliciously crispy cakes.
These cakes are very high quality: almost entirely crab, with some barely noticeable binding agent. It's hard to believe they don't fall apart during cooking. It's still harder to believe Mary's statement that they used to contain even more crab. Frankly, I don't think that's possible. However, Mary is seldom wrong.
They're large, too. I'd say if you took a tennis ball, and squashed it a bit, that's about how big they are quite filling. You get stuff with 'em, of course: potato, etc. All good, but not so good as to distract from the main event.
Go ahead, get the souvenir glass. You can drink a toast to Baltimore when you're back home, thawing out fish sticks and searching for Homicide reruns on CourtTV.
Court Report Louise
Frenchy füd at the gate of Chinatown. Had the New York steak special, with Bordelaise sauce, French fries, and green beans. Pretty good. It better be good for $23. Big portions, too. Super tasty sauce, with mushrooms, shallots, wine. Thin, crispy pomme frites and garlicky, peppery green beans. The steak was a bit tough, but still good. Also on the table was the grilled halibut with lobster sauce and asparagus, mashed potatoes and green beans. Quite good, browned outside, tender inside, with a big ol' grilled prawn on top. That ran around $18, I believe. Good bread. Expensive wine. Decent crab cakes for an appetizer. Nice, big, dense, lemon cheesecake for dessert. Fairly expensive all in all, but pretty good food, good portions, and nice comfortable Frenchish atmosphere. Attached to a big coffee house of the same name, so don't get confused.
Often referred to as, "You know, the place with the yellow sign that says TAQUERIA, across the street from the Safeway," El Castillito does indeed have a name, and it is on the sign. And I rank their burritos high on my local list of favorites. The vegetarian version will run you $2.86 ($3.10 with tax), making it the cheapest good veggie burrito I know of (thanks to Can-Cun's recent minor price hike).
Pakwan and Shalimar beat Scenic India for flavor and value, but this low-key restaurant is rarely crowded, candle-lit, and offers not great but good tandoori chicken and other standards such as saag paneer. Portions are nice and large. Scenic India's a nice little dining escape amid the bustle 'round 16th and Valencia.
The chow at Chow is solid. I've never gone wrong on their menu but my favorite thing is the Cobb Salad. You'll find chicken in almost every bite, and when there's not chicken on your fork you've got bacon to give things a kick. They also feature daily sandwich specials, burgers, a number of pasta dishes, and pizzas. It's all of high quality but reasonably priced (the full Cobb goes for $7.95). Located right off the MUNI line at Church at Market, Chow sees a lot of traffic, so don't be surprised to wait for a table. But they've got an arrangement with the Pilsner Bar next door, so put your name in, grab a pre-dinner drink, and they'll come find you when your table's ready.
Serving lunch and dinner. I popped in one evening to see what was up and what a nice surprise. Tried the Vietnamese Potstickers, what a treat. Probably not what you expect in a P-Sticker, these were brown rice balls filled with a filling of carrot, pork and shrimp, then deep fried. I had never had anything like 'em. Served of course with a yummy dippin' sauce. I was in the mood for one of my favorite dishes, the Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong, but to my disappointment it is only served at lunch. Then to my delight the waitress offered to make it for me, saying it could be done 'cause it was a bit slow that evening. It was delicious. The noodles, the pork, the spring rolls and the sauce were put together and served up very nicely. The staff is friendly and the prices all right. Check it out.
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