Carolyn Jung

Quail Roulade

Quail Roulade

You may have enjoyed the warm, earthy flavors of  Moroccan cuisine before, but you’ve never experienced the likes of it at the Michelin-starred Aziza in San Francisco, a short drive from the Laurel Inn San Francisco.

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Rose Pistola Restaurant, San Francisco

Rose Pistola Restaurant, San Francisco

 

There’s no denying that North Beach has to be one of San Francisco’s most touristy neighborhoods. But it’s also full of enough charm, vivacity and quality Italian food to continue draw locals as well. That’s one reason why after 15 years Rose Pistola, a short hop from the Hilton San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf, is still going strong. The Ligurian-inspired restaurant recently got a face-lift with a new, softer color scheme in grey, burgundy and brown. The tile floors have been restored and the rich mahogany gleams.

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Oysters Five Ways

Oysters Five Ways

In a decade, the always chic Fifth Floor restaurant in the Hotel Palomar in downtown San Francisco has had an impressive roster of top-tier chefs rotate through. George Morrone, Laurent Gras, Laurent Manrique, Melissa Perello, Jennie Lorenzo, and now, David Bazirgan. Each has put their own stamp on this sumptuous dining room with its soft, white leather chairs; floor-to-ceiling, glass-fronted wine cellar; and terrace herb garden that can be viewed from tables by the windows.

Now comes Massachusetts-native, Bazirgan, who took over this year, following his stint as Executive Chef at Chez Papa Resto in San Francisco, and five years as Chef de Cuisine at No. 9 Park in Boston.

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California halibut

California halibut

You know you’re dining at a hot new place in San Francisco when on a chilly Sunday evening, it’s jam-packed with a well-known socialite at one table and a Euro-fashionista in neon pink fur vest and billboard-screaming sequined jeans at another.

Prospect is not just a place to be seen, though. It’s also a place to dine very, very well.

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It’s never easy replacing a chef who has been with a restaurant since inception, especially one as talented as Nick Balla.

Balla opened the Japanese izakaya-style restaurant, Nombe in San Francisco, but departed at the end of last year — but not before creating quite the impression. Balla, who visits Japan regularly, is such an astute study of traditional Japanese cuisine that his techniques even impressed a group of visiting Japanese chefs at a conference in St. Helena last year.

Balla, who also lived in Budapest for three years, is now at Bar Tartine in San Francisco, where he’s putting his own spin on Eastern European food.

Replacing him at Nombe is Vince Scofield, who most recently cooked for Ebb & Flow in San Francisco. He also was the opening executive chef at Kabuki Kitchen in San Francisco. In addition to Nombe, he’s involved with Darwin Cafe and Taco Libre, both in San Francisco.

Whew! Talk about a lot on his plate. But Scofield is giving it a valiant try at Nombe in the Mission District, a short drive from the Holiday Inn Civic Center San Francisco.

San Francisco

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Fried Chicken at 1300 on Fillmore1300 on Fillmore will transport you to another time, another place.

The glamorous San Francisco supper club greets you like a contemporary Southern belle with attitude from the moment you step inside its massive, heavy doors.

All warm, chocolate brown leather and polished wood, the lounge features a dramatic wall of back-lit black and white photos of the historic Fillmore Jazz District that surrounds the restaurant, a short drive from the Hotel Kabuki San Francisco.

There’s live jazz in the lounge regularly, and even gospel performances during Sunday brunch.

Recently, I was invited to be a guest of the four-year-old restaurant to try Chef David Lawrence’s singular take on Southern specialties. Lawrence owns the restaurant with his wife, Monetta, who greets guests in the dining room as if welcoming them to her own home. He is English-born, of Jamaican heritage, and French-trained — all of which shows on his plates. The food has the comforting quality you want in Southern cooking, but here it’s done up with far more flair and refinement.

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Steelhead trout at Chez Papa Resto

Steelhead trout at Chez Papa Resto

With its pulsating soundtrack, jeweled Murano glass chandeliers, menu covers done up in graffiti-like script, and dimly lit dining room in bold black and orange, Chez Papa Resto in downtown San Francisco is like one of those hip Parisian bistros you stumble upon down a cobblestone side street in Paris.

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Devil's Gulch rabbit rack

Devil's Gulch rabbit rack

Quince, the much-heralded Italian restaurant in the Jackson Square neighborhood of San Francisco, is the kind of place where, on any night of the week, you might find the likes of food cognoscenti Ruth Reichl, and actors, James Spader, Roy Romano and Peter Krause, dining. It’s easy to feel like a glam celebrity at this gorgeous, historic 1907 brick and timber building , even if you’re not one at all– and that’s because Quince treats you with such utmost care that you can’t help feeling a bit special.

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Bun Mee's "Sloppy Bun"

Bun Mee's "Sloppy Bun"

While her friends were scarfing down burgers, Vietnam-born Denise Tran was enjoying banh mi, the bargain-priced sandwich of her homeland made with roast pork, tangy pickled veggies,  and paté stuffed inside a fresh-baked baguette. Now, she’s reincarnating that favorite sandwich with modern twists at her new Bun Mee cafe on upper Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights, a short stroll from the Best Western Tomo in San Francisco.

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Show Dogs Field Roast Vegetarian

Show Dogs Field Roast Vegetarian

Heinz ketchup and Grey Poupon work in a pinch. But to really jazz up your backyard burgers and dogs, pick up some housemade condiments from Show Dogs, the gourmet sausage emporium on Market Street, just a stroll from the Holiday Inn Civic Center San Francisco.

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