Restaurant Review

Coquettish

Michael Chiarello's new Coqueta seduces with Spanish flavors, intimate setting

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culture@sfbg.com

DINING When you name your restaurant Coqueta, Spanish for "flirt," you're really putting it all out there in terms of your food and atmosphere — playful yet unwavering, open but with a hint of mystery, and definitely attentive. After visiting Coqueta during its opening week, I'm confident celebrity chef Michael Chiarello's new venture will score.Read more »

Spring breakers

Warm weather + fresh and fruitful cocktails = an all-day drinking extravaganza

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culture@sfbg.com

DRINK San Francisco: the best bars, mixologists, and produce — not to mention drinkers — in the country. And once the weather warms up (fingers crossed), can a bloom of excellent fruity cocktails be far behind? In honor of the lengthening sunlight, here's a full day's selection of spring drinks picks.

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Eats everything

The Blob digs into Duarte's Tavern, Kitchen Story, and Limon Rotisserie. Plus: Talbot Cafe's cute school lunches

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The G50: San Francisco's top bars

From splashy dives to upscale classics (and everything in between) — our favorite spots to grab a drink

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Latin highs

A new chef livens up beloved Italian tradition Oliveto, and sexy Gitane intensifies its regional Spanish focus

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Nothing replaces actually experiencing a cuisine served in its place of origin, but regional dinners are one way of traveling vicariously (and, perhaps, with less of a carbon footprint).Read more »

Can Yan noodle?

Martin Yan's M.Y. China and the upscale Hakkasan add to the Chinese scene

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Style-over-substance at popular restaurants grew old in my Los Angeles days. A pretty package matters little if food isn't excellent. In SF, we tend towards the other direction. Thank goodness for places like Gitane, Bix, Foreign Cinema, which manage both — a little style is welcome. With the entry of two new, upscale Chinese restaurants, we get style aplenty. One, the international Hakkasan chain, feels oh-so LA or NY, and the other, M.Y. China, is inside a mall (very Southern California) from famed chef Martin Yan.Read more »

Southpaw

Spiced ribs and dreamy Natchez: the Mission BBQ makes a tasty comeback

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE As I've often bemoaned, finding authentic 'que outside of the Deep South is a rarity. Case in point: Southpaw opened late 2011 on Mission Street, a BBQ oasis of the gourmet kind, brewing its own beers in a couple in-house tanks. Welcoming staff and flaky catfish impressed me early on, but watery sauces and dry ribs and brisket deflated my BBQ dreams.Read more »

A shot of warmth

New cocktail and bite combinations to light up winter nights

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Let's be clear: the Bon Vivants crew's newly opened Trick Dog in the Mission — featuring a cocktail menu modeled after a Pantone swatch book — is the hot food and drink destination of the moment (see my early review on the Pixel Vision blog at SFBG.com). But slipping at the bar at these three restaurants, ranging from elegant to festive, offers some of SF's best cocktails with incredible bites on a long winter's eve.

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Banchan, ramen, and squid innards

Intriguing Asian hotspots Muguboka, Ramen Shop, and Roku arouse the senses

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Authentic Asian cuisine of every category is one of California and the Bay Area's strengths, with constant new openings, including Richmond's mellow Daigo Sushi (www.daigosushi.com) and Szechuan outpost Chili House (www.chilihousesf.com). These three spots stand out for one (or a few) reasons.

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Island breezy

Tasting Jamaican at Back A Yard and Miss Ollie's

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virginia@bayguardian.com

APPETITE Although I'm not an island girl, I crave sorrel — that cinnamon-spiced, rosy-purple juice made from the petals of a sorrel plant — or multi-colored Scotch bonnet peppers, both common in the Caribbean and ideal together, the sorrel cooling off the pepper's scorching heat. One of my closest friends is Jamaican and we've been exploring local Caribbean food for years, despite the lack of abundant local options.Read more »