All posts tagged “san francisco

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Chubby Noodle

Chubby Noodle, with locations in the Marina and in North Beach, is a noodle restaurant with great flavors and a laid-back atmosphere. Their website reads:

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While not a place to take your family from out of town, and sometimes a bit rowdy for date night, it’s perfect to come with a group of friends before starting a night out.

Chubby Noodle offers a dinner menu, complete with sake cocktails, beer, and wine, but also has a $39 (almost) bottomless brunch – 90 mins for 13 menu items and 4 drinks, served dim sum style. While I didn’t have the chance to enjoy their brunch, I’ve dined at both Chubby Noodle locations multiple times for dinner and loved it every time.

Chubby Noodle is enjoyed best if you order a few plates and share amongst your group. While they have full sized dishes such as ramen, there are many items on the menu that are worth trying, but you wouldn’t be able to finish 4 items on your own. Unless you have a bottomless stomach like me.

Some of their popular smaller dishes include the Steamed Pork Buns (above) and the Korean Pork Tacos (below), which are one of my favorite dishes on the menu. They are very rich in flavor (slightly greasy) and have a chili yogurt on top, giving the dish a little heat.

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One of their most popular dishes is the Spicy Garlic Noodles, which aren’t THAT spicy (unless you’re very sensitive to spice) but are pretty heavy on the garlic. Nevertheless, they taste GREAT and should definitely be ordered.

Another great dish is the Curry Lemongrass Vermicelli, which is made with sweet potato noodles, chicken, coconut, red curry, mint, and basil. I loved this dish, as it was a sweet and flavorful curry without the heaviness that comes from eating it with rice. The sweet potato noodles were light and added another level of sweetness to the dish.

This last dish is the Duck Lettuce Wrap, which is only offered on weekends, but SO BOMB. It comes with a HEAPING plate of duck that is rich and juicy and tender and everything you could ask for in a duck, along with a bunch of different fixings for a healthier and lighter meal. The fixings include fresh lettuce and cucumber, which offset the greasiness of the duck, and a chili sauce that is too good to resist.

Other great dishes (not pictured) are the BBQ Pork Fried Rice, Tonkotsu Ramen, and Salt & Pepper Shrimp. Chubby Noodle is definitely a restaurant that serves their dishes on the spicier side, which I love, but may not be for everyone! There are plenty of items that are created without spice, however, so don’t let it deter you. 😋

1310 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

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Samovar Tea Lounge

Samovar Tea Lounge is a great place for brunch, lunch, or a long afternoon tea. Whether you are visiting the the SF MOMA and need to relax your legs, or you’re looking for a loungey place for a quiet afternoon, Samovar Tea Lounge has a large selection of delicious food and exquisite teas.

My favorite dish on the menu is the Salmon & Egg Bowl. It has two scoops of brown rice, cooked salmon, two poached eggs, and a lemon ponzu sauce. It’s simple, healthy, and filling, and reminds me of Japanese comfort food.

My favorite drink at Samovar is the Masala Chai, which has the deep spice taste of real chai (not the overly sweet nonsense from Starbucks).

One of the other dishes I enjoyed is the Duck Scallion Waffle, a savory waffle that made a great brunch meal.

Samovar Tea Lounge has a large selection of sandwiches, like the Tea Smoked Chicken Salad Sandwich, as well as salads and small plates. They also offer a full afternoon tea, complete with the multiple tiered plates, and although they are on the pricier side, include a pot of tea (most teas a la carte are $10+) and a selection of tasty sweets and savory items.

As far as a more classic brunch goes, they also offer toasts, with toppings such as chocolate and sea salt (basically Nutella), peanut butter and banana, avocado, salmon, etc.

While they are delicious, the portions are a bit small for the price. I love Samovar Tea Lounge for a relaxing Sunday afternoon treat, and appreciate their idea of elevated comfort food, a lot of which is based on Japanese home cooking. The great location (in the middle of Yerba Buena Gardens) and the view of the Financial District make this a great spot for a spot of tea. 😉

730 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103

 

 

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Flores

Flores is the classier Mexican brunch that San Francisco has been needing. While there are other contenders like Padrecito in Cole Valley, the Marina district is covered in classic American brunches and was in desperate need of a little spice.

Taking up a large, open air space on Union St., Flores offers fresh, homemade masa tortillas, fresh cocktails, and great dishes.

The front of the restaurant features their large bar, with cute palm frond shaped fans, a colorful tile floor, and lounge seats. Above the bar is a kitchen, a large community table, and an expansive area of tables fills the back.

One of the highlights of Flores is the decor, with intricate lighting fixtures and lamps, as well as the ornately designed walls, full of vibrant colors and patterns.

As we were there for brunch (they serve lunch and dinner as well), we ordered their specialty coffee drinks, which were a combination of horchata – mexican hot chocolate – iced coffee with cinnamon on top. It was DELICIOUS. It’s sweet, but also has the coffee kick required for mornings.

Below is the Mango appetizer, fresh mango and jicama sprinkled with habanero, chili, and lime. This is a twist on a classic Mexican snack, and it was a great appetizer for our brunch. I love spice, but it was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy (my friend hates spice and ate it just fine!).

One of the dishes we ordered was the Flores Ranchero, which has 2 baked eggs, tomato-bean stew, tortilla, cheese, pico de gallo, and avocado. The other dish is the Huarache, which was a spinach and cheese tortilla, carnitas, sunny eggs, lettuce, spicy onion,  and queso fresco. Both were hearty and delicious, with big portions and big flavors. All of their tortillas are made in house and are only corn (so gluten-free!) and are thick, warm, and soft.

For a city that has so much brunch competition, Flores did us right in its great menu options, drinks, and affordable prices. The space is also fairly large, so I would recommend it if you hate waiting in lines and paying $20 a dish!

2030 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

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Aina

Aina took SF by storm at the beginning of the year as it seemingly appeared out of thin air. Located in the Dogpatch, Aina serves modern Hawaiian cuisine for brunch and dinner. Their brunch, which can be followed at @ainabrunch, is what put this small eatery on the SF food map.

The space is small, so be prepared to wait – I went on a Friday around 11AM and still waited over an hour. However, the restaurant is bright and hip, lined with wood and small plants, and the fun attire of the staff – Hawaiian shirts – adds to the tropical charm of Aina.

Their two most well known (aka most Instagrammed) dishes are the Malasadas, Portuguese doughnuts filled with guava custard, and the Kalbi Loco Moco, pictured below.

The food was incredibly flavorful and full of beautiful colors. The meat was tender and the eggs were cooked to perfection. I ordered the Kalua Pork Belly, which came with two poached eggs on rice and asparagus.

The highlight of our meal, since we picked a savory appetizer over the Malasadas, was the Breakfast Potatoes, which had aioli and furikake drizzled on them. The potatoes were perfect for breakfast and had a great mixture of sweet from the aioli with tang and spice from the furikake.

Aina was great, although it was a bit on the pricier side (for small portions) and the wait was longer than I had anticipated. I can’t imagine how long the wait would be on the weekends, but it’s definitely worth the visit if you are able to go early or have a lot of time to brunch!

900 22nd St
San Francisco, CA 94107

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State Bird Provisions

State Bird Provisions is another San Francisco restaurant that is notorious for its insane wait times. Restaurant go-ers must make a reservation 3 months in advance, with every slot filling up as soon as its available online. The trick is to line up before 5pm and wait 30 mins until it opens to be the first seated.

State Bird has a Michelin Star, and is one of the most sought after restaurants in SF. The best way to describe their cuisine, which a hostess stated during my visit, is “Californian cuisine served dim sum style.”

While the space itself isn’t that large, the servers bring around dishes on trays and carts, allowing customers to grab the plates they desire rather than ordering everything off of a menu. While they still have certain items on the menu, such as larger entrees, the charm of State Bird is to be able to eat what you see. Each tray comes around with a price tag, but be careful – it can add up quick.

The majority of items being carried around on trays and on the carts were small bites and appetizers, like the Trout Dip with homemade potato chips above.

Another small bite was the soup dumpling, which albeit it’s large size, was a great texture but lacked strong flavor. Below are the Hog Island Oysters with Kohlrabi Kraut and sesame seeds. The oysters were great but the Kohlrabi Kraut was an interesting topping to a fresh oyster.

Below is the ‘Croque Madam,’ with duck ham and cheddar atop a whole grain pancake. While the duck was great, the portions were a bit small. This item was on the menu.

Some of the other small dishes we enjoyed were the Pork Belly and Sausage.

Below are the Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce and Black Garlic. These were very flavorful, and I wish there were more in one serving!

Below is the Duck Confit Fried Rice, also ordered from the menu, which might be the best dish we had. The dish was hearty, the duck was cooked well, and there were a multitude of different flavors and tastes, from the furikake to the fried onions and the tender mushrooms.

For dessert, we ordered the Cream Puff with blueberry compote and the Almond ‘Ice Cream’ Macaron Sandwich, with almond ice cream, nuts, and cherry. The ice cream sandwich, along with the Duck Confit Fried Rice, were the highlights of the meal.

The best part about State Bird Provisions is the fact that you can see the options first and grab whatever you want to eat, and the menu is always changing. The family style plates are great for sharing, and the surprise of what’s coming out of the kitchen next keeps the meal fun and interesting. While the dishes were all great, they didn’t seem to follow much of a theme, and there didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason between the courses. I’m glad I came, but Liholiho still holds the #1 spot!

1529 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115

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Liholiho Yacht Club

Liholiho Yacht Club may have been the peak of my food adventures. Yes, it was THAT good. Nothing can beat it. (Yet?)

Liholiho is another restaurant that is largely famous because of Instagram. However, unlike Media Noche, Liholiho not only serves food that is (almost) too attractive to eat, it tastes f****** BOMB.

The space is larger than I expected, with a completely open floor plan. The kitchen sits in the center, and underneath the restaurant is its sister bar (with food), Louie’s Gen-Gen Room. The restaurant has wait times up to 3 hours (even on a week night!) and reservations can only be made a month in advance and fill up right away, so I would recommend making a res for a random night and going for it! Otherwise, line-up at 5pm and you’ll most likely be seated in the first round.

Liholiho offers a multitude of Hawaiian/Chinese/Indian fusion dishes, from small appetizer size bites to larger entrees with meats and fish. I had done a bit of research before my first meal here, and ordered the Tuna Poke and Beef Tongue Bao to start, as well as a fruity, tropical cocktail.

The Tuna Poke, served on a nori cracker with sesame oil and radish, was phenomenal. It was a generous serving of fresh tuna, and was a light snack before we dove into heavier foods. Get it.

The Beef Tongue Bao, however, might’ve changed my life. I might have an unhealthy obsession with bao (Chairman!!!!), but this bao was unlike anything I’ve tasted. I love beef tongue, and this one was tender, juicy, and there was SO much. It was wrapped up in the soft, warm poppy-seed bao bun like a little cloud, and topped with kimchi and cucumber. It was sweet, it was sour, it was juicy, it was HEAVEN. Get it. Twice.

After the smaller plates, we ordered a couple of medium sized plates.

*Disclaimer: these photos are from two different times, I did not eat all of this in one sitting. Although I probably could have.

Below is the Tuna Belly Misoyaki, with apricot, raddichio, and radish. It was good, sweet, and cooked well, but it didn’t stand out. Especially not after that Beef Tongue Bao.

Next is the Fried Rice with Bay Shrimp, Spam, and Abalone mushrooms. Although I was looking for the Spam & Rice bowl that is one of the highest Instagrammed dishes in SF, I didn’t realize it was off-menu (hint hint) and ordered this thinking it was the same. The shrimp fried rice, however, was REALLY good. I would order this again, as it was topped plentiful with shrimp and had a *tiny* kick.

Here, I redeemed myself. Look at how beautiful this is. I’m drooling. I never would’ve ordered spam before (especially in a restaurant), and have only ever tried it once in my life. However, Liholiho makes their own spam, and the (I think) Sriracha-Mayo drizzle, the pickled cucumbers, and the shower of furikake made this dish incredibly delicious.

This is a MUST when going to Liholiho (’cause if you don’t Instagram it, did you even go?).

One of two entrees we tried (one different occasions!) features the Whole Maine Lobster with preserved black bean sauce. A bit messy, but it was juicy and great! However, we were between the lobster and the next dish…

… which is honestly one of the best things we’ve ever eaten. This is the Grilled Short Rib with mushrooms, served next to the Escargot- Bone Marrow- Twice Baked Potato. It sounds like a mouthful and a weird mish-mash of ingredients but holy s***. The bone marrow potato goodness had escargot under the layers of baked potato and cheese, which melted in your mouth. The grilled short rib, which was topped with chimichurri sauce, was cooked so perfectly, and was so MOIST (I said it!), flavorful, tender, and everything you could ever want from beef.

This next part is crucial.

This first dessert was a chocolate thing with some ice cream and caramel. It was good but not memorable (clearly). It’s also off the menu now so it doesn’t matter.

THIS:

The grand finale of Liholiho Yacht club: the Baked Hawaii. It’s a Hawaiian spinoff from the Baked Alaska, which is an ice cream cake topped with a meringue, and usually torched with some sort of alcohol drizzle. The Baked Hawaii is a caramelized pineapple ice cream surrounded by a hive of ‘vanilla chiffon,’ a.k.a. marshmallow fluff, on top of a shortbread-y type cookie/cake thing (I have no idea but it’s good) and little pineapple chunks. Best dessert I’ve ever had. I love pineapple, ice cream, caramel, and marshmallow. You really can’t go wrong here.

Although it’s difficult to make a commitment for dinner a month in advance, this one is WORTH IT. I’m even making it easy for you and telling you exactly what to order so there’s no excuse. AND giving you the reservation link.

871 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109

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Media Noche

I know I’m a little late to the game but nevertheless, I finally made it to Media Noche in May. Media Noche is a Cuban fast-casual spot in the Mission, right by Boba Guys. The menu offers Cubanos, salads, and rice bowls, and the decorations are very cute and festive (and I hate to call it this, but very Instagrammable).

The decor is very colorful, with pastel hues of mint and light pink, and the space is bright and airy, with indoor and outdoor seating.

We ordered the El Cubano (roasted pork shoulder, smoked ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard), as well as the Lechón Asado (the roasted pork shoulder rice bowl).

The Cubano was flavorful, with the crispy, buttery bread and the sweet and savory flavors of the meats, pickles, and mustard. However, for the price ($12.50), it was a small sandwich, and could’ve used a side dish or salad of some sort. Or just bigger portions.

The Lechón Asado, which came with black beans, rice, and coconut slaw, was a decent portion and tasted good, however for a whopping $16.50, the meat was fairly dry, and there was nothing spectacular about the dish.

I was disappointed that they had run out of the Café con Leche Moon Bar (coffee ice cream dipped in dark chocolate), because the Mi Abuela Favorita, which was guava cheesecake ice cream dipped in dark chocolate, was OK (and I love guava!), but I think the coffee flavor would’ve gone better with the dark chocolate.

Media Noche was a bit of a disappointment. It was incredibly hyped up, and while the spot is incredibly cute and the food is decent (don’t forget to check out the bathroom, with the banana wallpaper!), I would recommend going for a happy hour glass of wine and a Moon Bar (preferably the coffee one). Maybe it’s just me and maybe I don’t appreciate Cuban cuisine as much as I should, but for the $$$, I would skip this one.

These walls are insufferably cute though, so I’m still a happy camper 🙃.

3465 19th St
San Francisco, CA 94110