Food & Drink

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST GROWTH IN THE YARD

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Back in 1992, inmate counselor Catherine Sneed started pioneering programs for former offenders that eventually led to the implementation of the San Francisco Jail's Garden Project. This in-jail option gives inmates the time and space to plant and tend their own organically grown food gardens at the Jail's San Bruno complex as a healthy add-in to their rehabilitation. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST COMMUTER CRUSTS

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The Mexican-Italian house of Juan Gutierrez opened The Sandwich Place in 1979 when Gutierrez was only 14 years old. A tiny shop that just fits its refrigerator cases full of bevs and counter, the shop sits a stone's throw from the 16th Street BART station in a bustling milieu of commuters, street preachers, and the occasional demonstration or spoken word open mic. In such a space, one would expect strict utilitarianism. But Gutierrez would scoff at such assumptions — quickly, in his exuberantly bilingual manner. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST OUT-THERE GROCERIES

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Houses in the Sunset may be built on dunes, but make no mistake, the neighborhood is no food desert. The flagship of the snacktastic stretch of outer Judah Street (see also: locavore haven Outerlands, beloved Mexican resto Celia's by the Beach) is without a doubt grocery co-op Other Avenues, about to round the bend on year 40 in the western neighborhood. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST PATCHED-UP WATERING HOLE

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Perhaps it is, as the official line of the newly renovated Dogpatch Saloon goes, high time for a 100-year-old bar to undergo a facelift. The bar's new ownership headed by Christopher Barry, the mind behind downtown's 83 Proof, seemed like it had its heart in the right place, but the neighborhood bar's clientele had a right to be worried about the integrity of its comfy watering hole in a rapidly evolving area. Lo and behold: the change was good. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST REASON FOR VEGANS TO BRAVE THE FOG

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Ramen is a staple of many an SF diet — especially in the chilly summer months laced with our trademark fog. But the dish almost always includes meat, or at the very least those so-called vegetarian noodles and veggies are floating in warm fish broth. It can seem particularly rude to dissect each element of the noodle bowl at a traditional spot, causing headaches for servers and hungry vegans alike. Enter Ken Ken Ramen, a popular Mission brick-and-mortar location that started as a pop-up. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST PASTRY ERUPTION

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Certainly, you can visit this Marina bakeshop without ordering Le Marais Bakery's Volcan, but this is foolhardy. On your last island getaway did you dither about in the airport gift shop, fretting over gaudy short-sleeve button-downs and plastic leis, tempting as they may be? Of course not, you went straight to the top of Kilauea and delighted in its heart-racing flows and crispy geological crusts. And so you will, bold one, at Le Marais. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST ESCAPE EN ESPANOL

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Hayes Valley is a neighborhood in constant flux — witness the condo complex that's rising where the Hayes Valley Farm's beehives and veggie rows once stood. Just across Fell Street from this construction is year-old specialty market Nosa Ria (speaking of change, the space was previously a hair salon), selling what its sandwich-board sign dubs "quintessential Spanish foods" — and we dub indubitably delicious. Its list of unique, hard-to-find imports includes grocery staples (cured meats, cheese, olive oils, etc.), wines and sherry, and treats (chocolate! Chupa Chups!). Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST FRIENDS FOREVER BAR

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A cozy bar with unbeatable drink deals, a genre-spanning variety of DJ nights (soul! Classic country! Brazilian! 1950s mod!), undiscovered by the mouth-breathing masses, yet conveniently located just a few meatball-lengths away from the Emmy's Spaghetti Shack? What is this magical establishment? Look no further than the spot so friendly it's named El Amigo — offering late-night drink specials and stocking 40 kinds of tequila. Hi! The joint is owned by the same team behind the ever-popular Emmy's, providing a great perch for drinking away your wait for a table. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST RETRO EGG CREAM

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Did you think egg creams were something you'd only ever experience onscreen in a teens-of-the-1950s movie? Then welcome the sweet, bustling counter here — named for its owner's great-grandmother — which is doing its part to bring retro sippin' to the FiDi lunch masses. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST CULTURED CACAO

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Born of owner Arcelia Gallardo and co-owner Amelia Gonzalez' passion for Latin America's rich pre-Colombian heritage, Casa de Chocolates offers spicy, artisanal iterations of the divine sweet, expertly accented by the flavors of Mesoamerica's traditional food staples. The women's dual interests in the culinary and cultural make for an exciting, informed menu — one can pick up a box of mole, passionfruit, guayaba, and tamarind-filled handmade bon-bons, or leave the realm of cacao entire for a silky pumpkin flan or a chipotle caramel. Read more »