Top 10 San Francisco Dining Experiences by Tablehopper’s Marcia Gagliardi
August 30, 2007
If you are remotely interested in food, San Francisco, or the enjoyment of food in San Francisco you absolutely need to get the Tablehopper newsletter.
The freshest, tastiest, and most insider news on the city’s local restaurant scene, Tablehopper is the gastronomical brainchild of my dear friend and culinary confidant Marcia Gagliardi. A fabulously sassy writer, Marcia rules the local restaurant scene by perpetually bouncing around town to bring her insatiable readers the news–often even before it’s digested by the people making it.
Marcia graciously agreed to share her top 10 San Francisco dining experiences with GlamNest, and, as a woman after my own heart, she couldn’t pick just 10. Instead, she points us to 10 dream dishes found in her favorite local haunts–and offers an extra 10 just because we foodie girls are gluttons for tasty times.
Feast your eyes on the following roundup and start planning your own dream dining experience. –Erika Lenkert
Marcia’s Dream Dining Experience
By Marcia Gagliardi
Hmmmm, what’s on the tablehopper’s top ten restaurants list, you ask? Sure, I could give you a list of my fave ten restaurants around town, but for me, that list changes drastically to accommodate the occasion. Like, do you mean the top ten places for a hot date, or for dinner with the cold in-laws? Top ten places to have an affair, perhaps? (Quel scandale!)
So, since I am the tablehopper after all, I decided to comprise a progressive dinner instead. Below is a fantasy sequence of the ten dishes I’d feast upon for my last meal in San Francisco. (May the day never come.) Please note: pretend I have five stomachs and a power liver.
Since alcohol figures highly in my food pyramid, I’d start with a freshy fresh and flav-o-flav cocktail at Bourbon and Branch. Ideally peaches would be in season, so I would perch at the bar and have a Bourbon Peach Smash or whatever variation they are rocking that night. Or perhaps their delish twist on the Cucumber Gimlet. Or the Revolver. Or, oh, never mind, bring on the bourbon! Release the peaches!
Ahhh, much better. Now it’s time for some oysters. I’d scoot to Zuni, where I’d order a mixed dozen of whatever they have on their long menu that day, hopefully some Kumamotos and Miyagis, slurped down with a half bottle of Billecart-Salmon Rosé. (I might sneak some fries from someone else’s plate when they aren’t looking. You know, it’s my last meal in SF and all.) I’ll also need to get a Tuscan chicken for two packed up to go so I can eat it while traveling to wherever the hell I think I’m going. All I can say is it better be somewhere fabulous like Italy if I’m leaving San Francisco.
Time for more seafood. Fortunately Sebo is just around the corner. I would park myself at the counter and see what Michael and Danny had in mind for me. My heart is definitely set on some of their ankimo (monkfish liver, see below) that they poach in-house, but then again, there’s the sublime wild saba (mackerel).
The boys might convince me of something otherwise, and I will happily place myself in their hands, even if it is just for one dish instead of one of their stellar omakase dinners. I know a glass of something off Beau Timken’s sake list is going to totally thrill me. Shoot, really, I have to leave? Okay, next venue.
I’ll need some more food to help with the boozy state I am finding myself in. Leaving town without a bowl of carrot soup from Scott Howard would be criminal.
I was extremely lucky just the other night to savor some incredibly fragrant summer truffles shaved over the top, so decadent with the chervil sabayon… Let’s do it one more time. Slurp.
Speaking of slurpalicious treats, I think six xiao long bao dumplings from Yank Sing are just what I’ll need. You know, those amazing broth-filled Shanghai dumplings. I might even share the secret of how they’re made to whoever is dining with me. Shoot, the carts of dumplings that wheel by will be totally tempting. I will have get out of there before I pull it on over, flip my hazards on, and never leave.
There’s nothing quite like the motivational promise of an egg to summon me somewhere. I mean, how else do you rally for Sunday brunch, you know? It’s that egg. Oh yes, and bacon too. Which is exactly why the eggs, bacon, and toast dish at Silks is on my list.
Joel Huff does magic things at the restaurant, and this dish is a prime example of it. He tempura fries a big duck egg, and keeps it company with a pork belly-esque wedge of suckling pig that has been pressed and braised, plus some speck foam (speck is smoked prosciutto), truffled potatoes, and brioche. And I think a big glass of Willakenzie Pinot Noir is going to make me very very happy. Oink.
Is it wrong to sit and have a big bowl of tripe all to myself? It’s my last meal, who cares?! Off to A16, where I’ll take a seat at the counter overlooking the kitchen and tuck into some trippa alla napoletana—I look forward to Shelley Lindgren pouring me something special to go with it.
Chef Nate Appleman might try to ply me with some salumi, or sardines, or his sublimely tender gnocchi, but the tripe is why I’m there. Sorry, burrata, I’ll just have to hope I find you again somewhere else, like Italy.
Okay, there is simply no way I am leaving San Francisco without a big-ass super burrito. It’s quite the meal-in-one, so let’s make it my main course. I adore Castillito Taqueria (136 Church St., 621-3428 ) across from Safeway on Church—and it’s not just because the staff meows at me and cracks me up every time I’m there. (My favorite question: “Queso?? Y un beso??“) They do burrito assembly correctomundo from the get-go, placing the tortilla on the griddle and melting the slew of cheese they always seem to pile on. Bring on the fatty carnitas, baby, with pinto beans, salsa, fresh avocado, sour cream, hold the rice and the onions. Now put that puppy back on the grill for a second and make it dorado. Hell’s yes. Down the hatch with a Pacifico and I will be muy muy contento.
Oh my God, I will also be muy muy full. I might die. I’m going to bail on a cheese course, because I can get fantastic cheese all over the world. Although I do love the cheese cart at Gary Danko, a fine thing, that cart.
I think it’s time to act like an Italian and have a salad after dinner. And not just any salad, but the Little Gem salad from NOPA, with something like 15 ingredients in the highly addictive dressing. (Not sure if crack from around the corner is in the dressing as well, but it might be the only way I’m going to get through the night, so bring it on.)
For my finale, I’m going to completely entrust myself to Nicole Krasinski, the talented pastry chef at Rubicon.
Whatever is in season, I know she’ll totally showcase it in a unique and unexpected way that will make me say, “Meowza.” Here’s hoping some Chateau d’Yquem will pair well with it.
Ten more things I missed that I will be crying over:
* Faith’s cheese toast at Town Hall
* Lissa’s Staff Meal at Ame
* The sweetbread salad at Myth
* Grilled lamb tongue skewers at Kokkari
* A pile of pupusas from El Zocalo (3230 Mission St., 282-2572)
* Steak tartare at Canteen (817 Sutter St, 928-8870)
* Shrimp cupcakes at Bong Su
* Popovers and the crab BLT at the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
* Tomato soup en croute from Jeanty at Jack’s
* Banana split with salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery