Food & Drink

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 »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST LUNCH PARTY IN THE USA

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Perish all lunchtime thoughts of those tea-sipping, watercress sandwich-prone Windsors across the pond — in America, our royalty slurps down such delights as fried peanut butter and banana sandos. But, if you're the worldly sort and prefer a slightly more elegant take on Elvis-inspired cuisine, point your pink Cadillac toward the Lunchpad. At this daytime sandwich pop-up inside new Hayes Valley wine bar Noir Lounge, one can king oneself with an "Almost Elvis," Nutella and banana on pain de mie (with an add-bacon option, natch). Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST MISSION BAR YOU HAVEN'T HEARD OF (YET)

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Don't let the pious name fool you (behold its slogan: "The Holiest Place to Fall from Grace"). Follow Mission Street all the way up, past Safeway, past Spicy Bite, practically above the fog, to the beacon of neon at the top of the hill. At St. Mary's Pub you'll find an unpretentious watering hole with obliterating drink specials, plus some of the tastiest Bloody Marys around. If that ain't enough to lure you there, lend your ears to the bar's impeccable clutch of tunes that makes boozin' even more enjoyable. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST PALETA CLEANSER

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So you've just gobbled down an incredible meal at Nopalito that began with a heaping bowl of melted-cheese-covered tortilla chips, followed by carnitas and several bites of your tablemate's chicken mole. You sipped multiple mezcal-laced cocktails (try the Killer Bee). You are officially stuffed. But when the server comes around asking if you want dessert, there's only one answer: yes, yes you want in on Nopalito's housemade popsicles. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST POPPED-UP BOTTLES

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You know what this place could use? Some no-frills, open-to-all wine tasting. Enter Mugsy Wine Bar, a pop-up most often spotted at El Rio that knows how to class up a place without bringing down the mood, aided by sips from local vintners. The Mugsy tasting notes: "a wine bar with an emphasis on women, urban, and people of color winemakers" with a mouth-feel of "all-around enjoyment." And this pop-up is pop-cultured. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST WORMWOOD WARLOCKS

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There aren't many in the craft-spirit making movement who can boast of having a US Navy nuclear engineer as a master distiller. The story goes: Lance Winters came to St. George Spirits and presented founder Jörg Rupf with a homemade batch of whiskey in lieu of resume. He got the job, and under his watch, St. George churned out its single malt whiskey and a line of gins. In 2007, it became the first in the nation to legally release a wormwood liqueur, and continues to be well known for its excellent Absinthe Verte. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST SURPRISE SANDWICHES

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"Pastries for lunch?" Your friends might scoff, but oh, what a surprise they're in for upon entering this hidden gem tucked between office buildings and business folks. "Banh mi!," they will exclaim, and although there will not be streamers or confetti to complement their shocked expressions, these little sandwiches will do the delighting in both taste and value. Muffins Muffins, tucked innocuously off Second Street, serves up delicious, made-to-order banh mi for as little as five bucks. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST BURMESE BRUNCH BRUSSELS SPROUTS

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The wait line to get into excellent Inner Richmond Burmese restaurant Burma Superstar is legendary — so legendary that most of us stopped considering it as a dinner option. So when, a few years ago, the owners announced they would be opening a "little sister" down the block named B Star Bar, we rejoiced. B Star Bar kept some of Burma Superstar's favorites, like the lauded tea leaf salad, but it specialized in innovative Asian comfort food twists. Read more »

Best of the Bay 2013: BEST BARLEYWINE BLAST

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Although it's been absorbed to an extent by SF Beer Week, Toronado's annual Barleywine Festival has been around much longer (20 years as of last February), and it eschews the exuberant trappings of most of its festival kin to focus strictly on what's most essential — the booze. As strong as wine but brewed as a beer, barleywines fall beyond stouts, doppelbocks, and tripels on the strong beer spectrum, and are best savored slowly and with a degree of reverence, which Toronado facilitates with generous, inexpensive sample pours of over 50 varieties from around the world. Read more »