Saturday, October 3, 2015


I think I've said before, in some version, that even bad pizza is still pretty good. Though occasionally, some place tries to prove me wrong, and not in a good way. Every neighborhood has that little corner spot that has been around forever. The food is just good enough or not so terrible that they don't have a few fans and are a go to when you are too lazy to want to leave your hood or even walk more than a block to get something. Down my way, one of those places is South Beach Cafe. It does variations on Italian food, salads and sandwiches that don't cost too much in the grand scheme of SF things. They also do single serve pizzas which all run about $10. Not bad considering other options. When ordering these, it's best to call ahead as speed is not necessarily their forte. As for the pizzas themselves, well, you know, it's pizza. The crust is thin, but instead of being crispy, it suffers from soggy tip syndrome, which is surprising as they kind of skimp on toppings most times. Also, of all the ones I've had there, the crust never reaches that nice golden brown color. Probably why it always seems to taste just a little under done. The sauce is a bit too sweet for me, thus it's probably good they don't put too much on. And the cheese--there just never seems to be enough. Flavor in general also seems to be lacking. They could really use a kick of something--oregano, garlic, hot sauce? Anything to excite it up a bit. It's not the worst pizza I've ever had, but it is still far from the best or even the okay-ish. I sometimes feel like they could make just a few adjustments with the ingredients and it could be a more than decent pizza. As is, it's more of a--well they were close, I was hungry and I didn't see anything else on the menu I wanted kind of pizza. Not a ringing endorsement, but, when it's 9pm on a Saturday night and your are laying on the couch in your sweats nursing hunger pangs after a long day at work, then beggers can't be choosers as they say. Plus, it will be slightly quicker than delivery at least. To say me and the SO have done that more than once is, well, let's just not talk about it, ok? 

South Beach Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


It's a big wide world of food out there and occasionally I do get outside of the city to run errands or hit up the random (full-sized) Target or you know, a mall. When I do, I try to find one of those out of the way off the beaten path kind of places that locals know, and others totally miss. On one particular joint down South San Francisco way, I stumbled across a small place in a kind of semi-strip mall of other business. It's called Jo Ann's Cafe and as the sun sparkled across it's entrance, I thought, this must be the place for me to eat on this day. The rays of light were like a sign! (or bad camera lighting) But really helpful, considering we missed it and drove past this place once before circling back around. (Take note--the strip of shops it's in is pretty nondescript.)

Sunday, September 27, 2015


I realize I am late to the bakery party, but it's not like I hadn't heard of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. I mean how could one not with it's neon famous sign and cruffins abounding on social media. Still, I hadn't made it over to the Tenderloin to try them out because, well, really, I have no good reason. Though I did find myself in their hood one afternoon and decided to stroll by. This time of day however, is not the time to go as they were pretty much out of everything, literally. Except for a savory thing and this cookie, my choice seemed made. Like I'm going to pass up a cookie! Chocolate chip with sprinkles of sea salt. That is the de rigueur cookie of the moment. As is any thing with sea salt. It's actually a pretty decent size in width and thickness for only $1.75 or was it $2? Either way, a relative bargain against some places in this town. Plus, it was a great cookie, even have probably sat there since that morning. It had a nice crispy outside and the inside was still soft with layers of chocolate between the dough which afforded a bit of chocolate in every bite. Being a salty sweet fan in general the addition of the salt flakes on top just make it better to me. These things are probably amaze balls fresh out of the oven all warm and gooey. Still, as is, it is a winner and I'll rank it in the top 3 of cookies in San Francisco for flavor, size, proportionate chocolate and of course, cost. If they can take the most basic of cookies and make it taste this good I can only imagine what will be in store when I'm able to get my lazy a** up early enough to get over to the Tenderloin and buy an array of yummy baked goods. And really, how often do you hear anyone (me!) say something like that?

Friday, September 25, 2015


A couple years ago I hit up Bacon Bacon's storefront shop to see if the bacon was all it was crisped up to be. I did, however, come away a bit disappointed it wasn't better than I was hoping for. Maybe I put too much pressure on the food under the guise that "everything is better with bacon." Sadly, that is not always the case and because of this, I'd generally just steered clear of the food truck version. Then one day I decided, well, why not try them. They lasted this long, they must be doing something well, right?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


When you want to show out of town guests a fun time, a trip to Napa is always worth the one hour jaunt north. For folks not from here, it has many of the well known name brand wineries that people like and few unknowns to explore and taste. If you are spending the day, it's usually best to stop and eat somewhere in order to soak up all that wine your tasting and sober up a bit before hitting more wineries or heading back to the city. There are a fair number of places along the road through St. Helena, Napa, Calistoga, etc. They range from popular and expensive, to trendy and expensive to just opened and still a little expensive. Such is the nature of Napa Valley. To say that me and the SO have been to Napa many times, is an understatement. Though, strangely enough, we don't often do a sit down restaurant for food when we go. We hit up places like Dean & DeLuca (yes a little pricey too) and just grab and go. This time around we had some relatives in tow and decided to hit up a popular place the SO really likes and one that I've heard about, but never tried, Tra Vigne. It originally became well known due to it's initial association with Michael Chiarello, though he's no longer involved these days. It seemed like a good idea to go all Italian and wine and we were able to secure reservations in advance (always recommended).

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Peet's is my go to coffee/tea shop when I wanna HEARTY iced black tea unsweet. It's a slightly bitter dark brown caffeine kick in the rear when you really need it. They also have a relatively decent selection of pastries that I've perused over the years. I am a big fan of their gingerbread loaf. Whether by choice or just lack of awareness, I never really knew they offered a cinnamon roll. Even though by looking at it you can tell it doesn't have my requisite cream cheese icing, I still decided to get one and give it a try. Baked goods in coffee shops can sometimes be hit or miss due to the fact they get deliveries early in the morning, thus if you hit the place up in the late afternoon, items have been sitting out for awhile. This can lead to things that are not all the moist, drying out even further. Such was the case with this particular roll. If ever an item could use a little heat and some butter, this was definitely it. Maybe if it have the cream cheese instead of the sugared icing, I might have been willing to look a little past it, but sadly, I could not. It does have a nice swirl of cinnamon throughout so you do get the flavor, but not the flaky softness of what the roll really should be. Of course, there is always the distinct possibility that I could get one that tasted fresher, by arriving when they open and getting the first ones they put out. As much as I like a cinnamon roll, even I can't get up that early, ever. Maybe if you are getting a hot chocolate or even a coffee and you want to dip and eat, this could work. As a stand alone enjoy and eat roll, I'm gonna have to take a pass. I'm okay with that though, they've still got the gingerbread loaf as a fall back, along with that tea and a pumpkin bread loaf that also ain't too bad. Thus my hefty dessert sweet tooth will be fine without it. 

Friday, September 18, 2015


After a brief respite I'm back to finish off Bar Tartine. Our parade of plates is continuing and while they are shareable, I'll note that the portion sizes are really more tapas style with regular sized entree prices on a few. That's why sometimes it can be like a minefield of what to get, what not to get and not getting too much while still making sure you are trying a variety of the offerings. Yeah, enough to make ones head spin. Usually that's when it is good to have two or more people with you to try stuff and consequently, help split the bill. So on we go.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Bar Tartine is one of those places that seemed to hit the ground running, garnering favorable notices from the get go. Originally an offshoot of Tartine, it broke away and has become it's own creation with unique dishes of Eastern European flare, made from local products. I had seen it's rise in popularity, but for whatever myriad of reasons, had never really made my way over to try them out. I'm not a restaurant bandwagon jumper-oner and was just kind of eh, someday. I usually like things to settle down and have places get in the groove with all the kinks worked out. Plus, if they can last 5 or so years like they have, then they might stick around a bit and be worth trying. I met up with Ms. O and her BF and we journeyed to hipster land (The Mission) to see if all the fuss lived up to all the hype.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Lunch in this town can be a minefield of $10 sandwiches, $12 salads or ye' old fast food. Finding something filling and moderately healthy that won't break the wallet can be a challenge. Particularly in the SOMA neighborhood which is full of tech offices and such. Sure there are tasty places to try, but many are on the pricey side for lunch options. Every now and then you stumble across a place that's only been in your peripheral scope of "I should try that someday." One place is Ozone, sort of a Thai restaurant slash sports bar hybrid with a giant outdoor patio that fills up with Giants fans on game days.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Oh Safeway, what have you wrought? A few years back I recounted my sad love affair with the cinnamon rolls from the Church and Market Safeway in particular. The one Safeway I'm near never even carried or made them. And like time and the seasons, seems they have seen fit to make changes to my beloved and go with the bigger is better route. It started a couple months ago that these baby's head size cinnamon rolls came into being and the other ones seemed to mysteriously disappear. I resisted the urge to try this new size as I was saddened that they pandered to baseball fans and America's obsession with supersizing. One evening I found myself at the Potrero Hill Safeway and in a moment of weakness and indecision, I bought one to see if they were any different than my normal sized delights. Like an obsessive, I probably took longer than necessary in selecting the one that I thought felt heaviest and looked like it had the most icing. All this of course under the bemused rolled eyes of the SO, who left me there to ponder my choice while they completed the shopping list.Are they any good? Basic answer--sort of. Simce these are bigger and thus thicker in the middle it will take longer to bake, making the outside more a dark golden brown instead of the standard yellowish golden brown. This extra baking can lead to a little dryness along the outer edges as well. Taste wise, it is the same, a plus, meaning they haven't altered the recipe. Same goes for the cream cheese icing, it still has that lovely small tang of lemon and creamy texture that is both thick and fluffy at the same time. The biggest issue becomes having enough icing on these mammoth things to cover up the inherent dryness you would encounter while consuming.  Because it is so big, while I could gluttonously eat this in one sitting, I didn't quite that much of a sugar shock and was able to actually stretch it over 4 servings/days. I will say, heating these up briefly in the microwave does help somewhat (as does a little butter--DON'T EVEN ASK!) but just like 20 seconds, otherwise the icing will turn to liquid. Final thought--it's not terrible, but it is just a bit much and slightly over cooked. Plus as I've seen at several locations, many have more of a light coat of icing as opposed to enough to offset any baking issues (see photo below). If you can see the roll below the icing, it's not enough! And if your are parsing it over several days, it runs the risk of getting stale as fresh baked goods are want to do. While I'm bummed my regular size has gone to baked goods heaven, it's probably for the best considering what a calorie and sugar bomb it is. These days, stuff like this just settles around the mid-section which can be costly. I'm already spending enough money on food in this town, I don't want to have to get a whole new wardrobe too! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Food start-ups have become as prevalent in the Bay Area as, well, start-ups in general. Every time I turn around there seems to be a new food delivery system promising--quickest, local chefs, bestest, easiest, organic, whatever to try and get noticed in an ever burgeoning and crowded market. Being into food like I am, I'm always up to try them out and see if they can live up to their hype. Though I try to keep my expectations in check and eyebrow raised to all their prodigious pronouncements. Bento (it's really only an app) is one that started several months ago and has expanded rapidly. The idea was intriguing enough that I decided to try them out several times to see how things went.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


I'm in Berkeley and hanging around 4th Street, but not in any creepy way. I'm just killing time before a meet up and my stomach is needing a little pick me up. It's a hot day and there are lots of people out and many of the places are quite crowded. I'm searching for a little light sweet bite when I cruise by Bette's Oceanview Diner. I've heard of the place as it has a good rep even though it got featured on that Food Network show with that loud white haired guy who shall not be named. I don't get to 4th Street often in all the years I've lived here, but I few times I feel like I've wanted to try the diner but the wait to get in was off putting. This time I'm not looking for a whole meal and decide to hit up their to go side and see what's shaking. Their case has an array of cookies, cupcakes, pastries and other assorted sweets for me to choose from. I settled on this little lemon cake with sugared icing. It's a cute little pound cake thing with a very distinct lemon tang. The cake is moist, lemony and a little refreshing on this hot day. While I'm not this biggest fan of this sugared kind of icing, on this particular type of cake it works well to balance sweet and sour. Though I do caution, for some it may be too sweet, depends on your comfort level. And from about the middle up, this cake is really good. From the middle down is where  the problem occurs. There is a severe wetness that seems to have trickled down towards the bottom making is soggy, mushy, overly sweet mess. When I picked this up to eat, a large swath of the bottom actually stuck to the parchment and came off the cake. It's like they  brushed on some liquid sugar to keep it moist or something, but it has had the opposite affect and made too wet and oddly enough for me, inedible. This literally becomes a halfsies review then, the top half I liked, the bottom half, not so much. Thus I half recommend. Wouldn't keep me from trying Bette's again, but I'd veer myself toward something else to find a more complete result. 

Friday, August 28, 2015


"It's just another Pleasant Valley Sunday," and in case you are too young, that is from a Monkee's song. Don't know them? Well, I highly recommend Googling them. If you are a pop music fan, you can thank me later. But back to Sunday and we are hitting up our favorite spot the SOMA StrEat Food Park for some food in the sun. There are a couple of places me and the SO haven't tried yet and we zero in on some Korean fare at the Bobcha SF truck.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Next to the Golden Gate Bridge and Pier 39, the gates of Chinatown are one of the most tourist visited (clogged) places in San Francisco. Thus, what better place to open a French themed bistro! No seriously, this placed opened 10 years ago just across the street to offer up "old world charm with modern flair." Of course I'm talking about Cafe de la Presse, a French bistro and bar trying to bring a little Europe to visitors and locals alike.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Seems Diet Pepsi wanted to get on the no unhealthy chemicals bandwagon and changed out their aspartame to sucralose. It's debut, however, seems to have gotten off to a rocky start as you can see here, here, here, here and well, pretty much anywhere you look. I was pretty much raised on diet soda. My mother was in perpetual diet mode and we always had Tab around the house (sparkly bottle and pink cans and all) then Diet Coke and so on. I've been an avid drinker for decades now (and no, I do not want to hear any debates about healthy/unhealthy, this is my one vice I ain't giving up). I usually vacillate between Diet Mt. Dew (again no judging!), Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi and such. Usually, it's a what's on sale thing. Anyway, I was intrigued to try this new version to see what my taste buds did or did not enjoy about this new iteration. Sucralose is basically Splenda, a sweetner I've used regular in tea over the years. I think it works better than Sweet-n-Low, that saccharine is just a bit too much for me these days (my Tab years notwithstanding). As for this "new" Diet Pepsi, I don't hate it like those other folks, but it does taste different. To me it tastes less sweet than the previous version and for the most part I'm okay with that. Some folks have said there is a chemically aftertaste and I just sort of roll my eyes as that since all diet soda sort of has an aftertaste, it's unavoidable. The trick is to find the one you'll get used to and I think folks will get used to this after awhile. This version is closer to just cola flavored soda water as opposed to the regular version of a non-diet Pepsi, and that is kind of the issue I think for people, they want a diet version that tastes exactly like the real sugar thing and sadly, you are never going to get it. Fake sweetners will never taste just like sugar no matter how many agave plant derivatives they find. It will always be kind of off and a tad chemically. I mean come on, they were created in labs, what were you expecting? In the long run, I think this will be fine, I'm not going to rank this up there with say New Coke or Crystal Pepsi and say it's a disaster. Is it different, yes, but not so much that it tastes like a new drink altogether. I mean, when you get right down to it, it is just a glass of liquid chemicals and if that doesn't make you stop drinking it then I think you can get beyond the new sucralose addition. 

Friday, August 21, 2015


The festival ran for 2 days but, like the troopers we are, me and the SO plowed through this in 4 hours. Yes, we tried to pace ourselves and since some of the spots we hit had lines, that helped slow things down. And as the day wore on, more people came and many hung out inside the giant warehouse, where a bunch of the vendors were located, in order to escape the heat. Sometimes maneuvering around folks (and their dogs, kids, strollers, etc.) could be a challenge. But we soldiered on and I bring part two of all the things we ate on that fateful day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


The San Francisco Street Food Festival was this past weekend in their new digs at Pier 70. It's a fundraiser for La Cocina, an incubator kitchen for low income entrepreneurs to help them cultivate new food start-ups. They've done the festival for a number of years now and eventually outgrew their Mission location and managed to snag the much larger are in Dogpatch. I'd not been before because, well, honestly, I don't know why. This year I made up my mind to just go and even bought two tickets for me and the SO, which turned out to be an excellent idea. Having the tix let us get in earlier AND we didn't have to stand in the general-get in free-line. A real boon on this particularly hot day. Of course, it also meant we had $100 worth of food to eat, so challenge accepted! Beyond the heat, we were jazzed up to eat up and boy did we. I will say I was surprised at how many of the booths and trucks I was not only familiar with, but had also eaten at. Funny how that happens. Needless to say, even with all the been there eaten that places, there were still plenty to go around and because of that, this is just one of two wrap ups I'm doing to cover all the dishes. And yes, we ate (and drank) a lot. Whatever, don't judge. I'm not gonna do deep reviews of what we got, just little bites of the bits we had.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Last week I was unimpressed with my chocolate croissant stack from Craftsman and Wolves and said I'd have a better one this week and here it is--a strawberry rhubarb crumble muffin with cream cheese filling. This did not suffer the dryness of the croissant. It was a nicely dense and moist muffin with a lovely toasted oatmeal like crumble on top. There were notes of the strawberry throughout without being overly sweet and the cream cheese filling was also on the less sweet side, which was nice for a change. It was almost like this was a mini breakfast with fruit, oatmeal and dollop of cream cheese. Just a few bites to get through the whole thing, but filling and satisfying for both a hint of sweet and little bit of fiber to get your day started. I know filling is all the rage in muffins, cruffins, cronuts and whatever else comes down pike, but here it's not an overkill, more of a creamy addition to an already tasty little cake muffin thingy. Think of it as a sweet compliment to their famous "rebel within"--which is basically their version of a scotch egg. Or just think of it as a breakfast cupcake (seriously--has anybody in town done that? Oh wait, yes they have, sort of, at La Luna. I think they call the San Francisco Bay-con.), either way, you can't go wrong. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Flour + Water is one of those places that burst onto the scene in 2009 with some great notices in a neighborhood that wasn't necessarily the best place to go and dine at a fancy restaurant. Five years and that restaurant is still doing well (it's hard to sometimes get a reservations) and the neighborhood is pretty much ground zero for the locals versus techies gentrification wars that permeate San Francisco. (That's my political coverage for today--so now back to the food) I hadn't had a chance, a desire, a thought to get all the war over to that hood and try them out but they had been on my radar as a place to try eventually. Opportunity knocked one day as my friend Ms. K snagged some seats on a weeknight and was looking for some dinner chatter so I took her up on her offer and hopped on the #12 Folsom to get over there. (Ugh, a long bus ride and story for another time!)

Sunday, August 9, 2015


I recently had relatives in town for a visit and took down the Valencia Street stroll, and Mission, to get a taste of the old and new that was going on in the neighborhood. While on the walk we hit up a few food places to snack along the way and keep our energy up. They wanted something sweet so Craftsman and Wolves came to mind as a little different variation on a bakery to try. I hadn't been here in awhile and was interested to see what's new since they had seemingly taken off since my initial review of them back in 2012! First up was something of the relatives choosing that looked unique--the chocolate croissant stack. Flaky layers of buttery dough with intermittent layers of chocolate. Yes, basically a square chocolate croissant. The got the chocolatey flavor going on quite well and you do get it in pretty much every bite. It's not too sweet either, even with that dusting of powdered sugar. I think the one drawback for us was it erred on the side of dry. Flaky croissant pastry dough does run that fine line of being seemingly dry yet not so much that the buttery-ness of it all compensates for it. Here it seemed they just stepped over that line and the butter and chocolate couldn't quite make up for it. It's possible this particular batch was slightly overcooked, who knows. Either way, we were not over impressed with this effort. The square shape seems to be the only thing really unique about this. The rest was just kind of everyday and crumbly. Maybe that's why the suggest some latte with it. Like an upsell and a cover up to off set the dry. Oh well, while Craftsmen didn't impress the relatives much with this, I still think they do some tasty treats and next week I'll offer up something I did have and enjoy there.