Restaurant Review

Michael Mina

Restaurant review: The chef's new downtown digs have breathed new life into his formerly fussy dishes

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Moya

Restaurant review: Bringing Ethiopian cooking to SoMa with a family atmosphere and robust seasoning

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Parada 22

Bringing some Puerto Rican sunshine to a bleak stretch in Upper Haight

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paulr@sfbg.com

Out at the west end of Haight Street, what do we find? Not a pot of gold, sadly, though plenty of pot, whose haze hovers fragrantly above the pavement like hippie ground fog. Also: a McDonald's, complete with parking lot. This has always faintly depressed me. Across the street, an emerging Whole Foods (with parking lot), while a block to the east, the old I-Beam has been obliterated in favor of condos.Read more »

Passion Cafe

High above Sixth Street, diving into French-inflected dishes

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paulr@sfbg.com

DINE Although I deplored Julie & Julia — a dreadful bit of movie pap, except for the scene where Julie discovers that Julia hates her bloody blog; priceless! — I was mesmerized by the al fresco dinner cooked and served by the unsinkable Julie on a Brooklyn rooftop. There is a magic like no other in floating motionless above the nighttime city, with a soundtrack of soft conversation, gently clicking tableware, and the odd horn honking on the street below.Read more »

Miss SaiGon

A tiara-worthy wealth of Vietnamese dishes enlivens this Sixth Street spot

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paulr@sfbg.com

DINE There really is a Miss Saigon inside of Miss SaiGon, but she seems to be made of plastic, if — to quote Groucho Marx — I'm any judge of horseflesh. With her motionless good cheer, the big doll looks like salvage from some airline's marketing campaign, circa 1968. Next to her stands a kind of aqueous sculpture, with sheets of water rippling down a long glass panel.Read more »

Pica Pica Maize Kitchen

Corn is king at this Mission spot, serving Venezuelan-style dishes in a very casual atmosphere

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paulr@sfbg.com

DINE Corn is the theme at Pica Pica, a "maize kitchen," to drive the point home. Corn is perhaps the greatest of the Americas' food offerings to the rest of the world, with the potato, tomato, and cocoa bean not too far off the pace. And it's full of ancient subtlety, a point too easily obscured by the mountainous heaps of American monoculture that helped make the movie King Corn so visually arresting. Corn is to the Americas' more southerly peoples what wine grapes are to the French.Read more »

Ragazza

Herbal perfumes and chili heat grab attention at this Divisadero spot beneath the Metro Hotel, complementing delectable pizzas

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Skool

A pizza oven in a seafood house? Skool gives a lesson in intriguing, if sometimes overwhelming, synergy

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paulr@sfbg.com

DINE When, in the course of human events, you come across a wood-fired pizza oven in a seafood house — in a seafood house tending in the direction of a sushi bar, no less — you probably blink twice, wondering if you've somehow mixed up your meds. But no: step into Skool and there it is, flickering on your left. There is a small catch (!) to stepping into Skool, and that's finding it in the first place. The restaurant, which opened early in July, lies in a nameless border country surrounded by Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, and the gallery district.Read more »

Paradise Pizza & Pasta

Amid a blizzard of trendy pizzerias, this longtime family favorite in West Portal holds its own

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paulr@sfbg.com

DINE The current pizza vogue reminds us that pizza is always in vogue. Pizza is timeless; have you ever met anyone, or even heard of anyone, who doesn't like it? Yet the welter of new and ballyhooed pizzerias, in all their worthiness, can sometimes make us overlook the older, time-tested spots like Cathy and Sal Alioto's Paradise Pizza and Pasta at the edge of West Portal.Read more »

Another Monkey

Bringing an intensity and flair to traditional Thai dishes as well as to innovative ones

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paulr@sfbg.com

DINE The restaurant formerly known as Conduit was so strikingly designed inside that when, earlier this year, it morphed into a Thai spot, another of those with "monkey" in the name — Another Monkey — I winced, and only in part because the word "monkey" makes me think of ol' Dubya, now in exile in the Dallas suburb of Elba. The indecorous neon beer sign glowing in the front window seemed to be a particularly glum portent. It said: come in and slam a few! And eat pad Thai with your fingers while you watch ESPN.Read more »