Restaurant Review

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 »

Sudachi

The way to cook, or not
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paulr@sfbg.com

Trends fade, except when they don't — and then you have hip. Sushi is hip food; its appeal to the cognoscenti is perennial. Tapas (a.k.a. small plates, little plates, or shareable plates) have been a trend for quite a number of years now and have assumed all sorts of ethnic guises while their claim to permanence has strengthened. At Sudachi, a new restaurant on Sutter Street at the edge of a still-sketchy run of Polk Street, the tapas appear in Asian guise: Eurasian fusion on a small scale. Read more »

Jang Soo BBQ

Tongs: a study in indispensability
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paulr@sfbg.com

You won't find kimchee mousse on the menu at Jang Soo BBQ, but that's not a criticism, since you probably won't find it on any menu in town. Korean cooking, despite its many charms — could it be the most winning of the spicy cuisines? — has so far resisted the dressing-up that has given a Cali-French gloss to food traditions from around the globe. If you're eating Korean food here, you're almost certainly in a traditional Korean barbecue joint, with a grill (charcoal or gas, lighted or not) in the middle of your table. Read more »

Mission Beach Cafe

Beach boys
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By Paul Reidinger

paulr@sfbg.com

Pending the results of the next big earthquake, the Mission remains beachless, unless we count rooftops and the southwest corner of Dolores Park. No summertime water there, other than from the lawn sprinklers, but plenty of ephebes in Speedos for your voyeuristic pleasure. Maybe we shouldn't fixate on water, anyway. Read more »

Farina Focaccia and Cucina Italiana

The watch zone
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paulr@sfbg.com

Imagine a restaurant situated inside a bottle of sparkling water, and you will have a working sense of Farina Focaccia and Cucina Italiana, the latest entry along 18th Street's burgeoning food row in the Mistro. The Italians, in their inimitable way, refer to sparkling water as con gas, and Farina is an Italian restaurant — a Ligurian-influenced restaurant, to be precise, which means it's not quite a head-on rival to Delfina, a few steps away. Read more »