Restaurant Review

Tinderbox

Tinder is the night
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paulr@sfbg.com

For more than a decade, the king of the hill over in Bernal Heights, restaurant-wise, has been Liberty Café, one of those marvelous places that bloomed in the city's neighborhoods after the 1989 earthquake. Read more »

Palencia

Nice niche!
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paulr@sfbg.com

Palencia so nicely fills such an obvious niche in the city's restaurant universe that we are left only to wonder why it wasn't filled sooner. The niche is white-linen or upmarket Filipino cuisine, and it's an obvious one in the sense that the connection between the Philippines and the United States — the West Coast in particular — has been strong for more than a century.

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Pete's Tavern

The house that Pete built
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paulr@sfbg.com

With the recent cashiering of Barry Bonds, the House that Barry Built goes into receivership, while the neighborhood pauses to reflect. Perhaps the foul odors that have gathered over AT&T Park in recent seasons — bad-team and steroid-scandal stinks — will now dissipate. Read more »

Golden Rice Bowl and San Tung

Why did the chicken cross the street?
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paulr@sfbg.com

If you think chicken is restaurant food for losers, you haven't been getting out to enough Chinese restaurants lately. And who could blame you? Going out for Chinese food these days is a little like voting in a presidential primary: there are far too many choices that seem far too much alike, and most of them turn out to be disappointing. But we mustn't let ourselves become discouraged by mediocrity, which after all is the usual state of human affairs and the human beings who conduct them. Read more »

Metro Kathmandu

Dateline: Kathmandu
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paulr@sfbg.com

On the list of pleasures a restaurant can offer, let's agree that unexpectedness sits pretty high. Scene: you are drifting along Divisadero in the lower Haight, a still-scruffy region filled with filling stations, along with cafes and liquor stores whose signage has faded. You are hungry and not feeling especially picky. You stop in front of a place that used to be a decent French bistro, Metro, and note that it is now called Metro Kathmandu. You wonder if it has become a French bistro serving Nepalese food, in some wrinkle of a twist of a trend. Read more »

Hayes and Kebab and Stacks'

How green was my valley?
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paulr@sfbg.com

On a warm late summer afternoon a few weeks ago, a friend and I stood in front of a shuttered market on Hayes Street, marveling at the shutters themselves. These really weren't shutters but a kind of corrugated-steel fortification, the sort of thing people in hurricane country buy at Sears so high winds don't blow out all the windows. Here the danger would not have been hurricanes but vandalism and perhaps an occasional touch of civil unrest — but during our momentary vigil we saw nothing of the kind, not a possibility nor even a hint. Read more »

Destino

Destiny's house
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paulr@sfbg.com

A venerable bit of wisdom from the Greek sage Heraclitus teaches that you can never step in the same river twice, for neither you nor the ceaselessly flowing river remains the same. Your odds are better at restaurants, which also change, though not quite ceaselessly. (I am extrapoutf8g from Heraclitus here; if the man ever made remarks about restaurants, posterity has forgotten them.) Crowds come and go, of course — but decor and menu can remain little changed for months or even years. Read more »

Parea Wine Bar and Cafe

Gather round ....
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paulr@sfbg.com

Just when you thought that Valencia Street couldn't possibly support another restaurant, you blinked, or sneezed, or took a cell phone call from someone who'd dialed the wrong number, and kazaam! — you looked up to see another restaurant. Read more »

Palmetto Restaurant and Lounge

House of glass
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paulr@sfbg.com

Let us now parse famous streets — in particular, Chestnut and Union streets, those parallel avenues and venues of Marina culture, so near to yet far from each other. As someone who cannot be said to be a habitué of either promenade, I speak with the authority of the outworlder, the sporadic visitor whose perceptions are freshened by infrequency. Therefore: Chestnut Street seems to me to be peopled by post-collegiate sorts in their 20s, while Union Street, a few blocks up the hill, strikes me as more thirtysomething country. Read more »

Elisa's Cafe and L's Caffe

One F or two?
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paulr@sfbg.com

No matter how you prefer to spell café — or caffe, or even cafe — you probably have a favorite one. Haunting a particular café is a prerogative of city dwelling, and in a coffee-involved city like ours, the possible forums for such socially acceptable loitering are vast, even including places that don't have espresso machines. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Cafés, you see, don't have to be about coffee, really, though most serve it in some form and some serve it in many forms. Read more »