Monday, June 07, 2010

HFF On The Road: San Francisco, Ca

I love LA. I really do. It's a weird, sprawling, schizophrenic ex-girlfriend of a city. It's a blank page, a blank canvas. It's smog and implants swaddled in a warm Art Deco blanket. It's stupidity of the second-highest order but charming in its own shambling ineptitude. And it just might be the largest city in the developed world utterly devoid of true geniuses. It's not LA's fault, it's just that LA doesn't reward genius. It rewards beauty, sycophancy, and (in rare instances) legitimate talent.

By all of which I mean to say, LA is not San Francisco. San Francisco is proud, brash, arrogant and intellectual. It's frustratingly closed-minded at times and even more frustratingly almost-never-actually-warm. But its citizenry knows how to dress and knows how to eat. San Francisco's culinary world runs circles around that of Los Angeles all the while generally charging a lot less money (even with mandatory health care).

I was back up in my old pretend stomping grounds (I never actually lived in Baghdad by the Bay, preferring to stay instead on the western shore of Alameda County) a few times last month and revisited some of my favorites and also hit up some new spots.

Maverick: Perhaps one of my all time favorite restaurants of all time, Maverick is nothing fancy but does everything right. Doing New American right as the movement was being defined, Maverick does great modern takes on American classics. I visited them twice and they're still going strong. The fried chicken was delicious: crisp, moist and a little spicy, paired with greens and mashed potatoes and the vegetarian pasta dish also rocked. The chicken liver toasts are a must-get appetizer.

Sea Salt: The Berkeley organic/sustainable seafood restaurant hasn't lost its touch either. A whole grip (hyphy) of new brunch items in particular were great: Hangtown Fry (oysters, bacon, eggs), steak and eggs, and some other stuff I can't remember because the website is down and I can't look at the menu. Curses.

Limon Rotisserie: Located in what used to be a grungy part of the Mission but is now spectacularly clean, the Limon Rotisserie is the casual family-dining spin-off of famed Peruvian/Nuevo Latino hot spot Limon. Specializing in killer roast chicken, the Rotisserie also has some of the signature ceviches and sides. Delicious and inexpensive with a great wine list.

Tacolicious: Terrible name, great restaurant even if they do inexplicably sell their tacos by the one or the four. Why by the four? Everyone knows tacos are sold by the three! All the tacos were good, the beer-and-a-shot braised chicken and the potato and chorizo tacos were particular standouts. The other killer dish was the tuna tostada: seared albacore on a crispy tortilla with avocado and chipotle mayo. Fun, busy place for a reasonably priced meal. Sucks that it's in the Marina though.

Elixir: One of SF's OG "mixology" bastions. The cocktails were pretty good (if a bit steep--approaching LA prices) but I was more intrigued by the diverse beer selection and the general dive-y vibe of the place.

Som Bar: This place sucked. If I wanted a shitty club I'd go to SoMa. Is this what happens when Google moves into your neighborhood? A bunch of over-paid under-experienced nerds go out on Saturday nights in douche-y clothes and turn your Chicano tranny bars into sorry excuses for Berkeley sorority invitationals? Fuck that.

Which does bring me to this one "back in my day" moment. Back in my day the Mission was still a little bit scary. And there definitely weren't bars where fucking ass clowns in Banana Republic wearing too much cologne spit game at a bunch of sixes-who-think-they're-tens who need to stay in the fucking Marina District. Or Walnut Creek. Where were the homeless addicts? Where were the true dive bars? Where was my fear of being jumped if I went below Mission St? Gone in a tea bag of Forever 21. Blergh.

Still, great city though. Highly recommended.

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