A New York critic tastes the best of the Bay Area (and why you should too)
- Last Updated: 4:28 PM, July 4, 2011
- Posted: 4:23 PM, July 4, 2011
We New Yorkers think of our city as the greatest food destination in the country, but San Francisco continues to give us a serious run for our money.
Part of it is simply the freshness of its produce (things like artichokes and strawberries are grown just outside the city limits), while ambitious chefs and artisanal bakers from across the country have been attracted by the city’s moderate climate, scenic beauty, hip neighborhoods, and cheaper restaurant start-up costs.
Either way, a trip here is one of the tastiest in the country, guaranteed. Here are 10 (no, wait, 11) of the best things to eat in the City by the Bay, including a mix of new dishes and some old favorites.
Bread Pudding with Berries @ Tartine Bakery
The baking pan steams behind the counter as the attendant fills your teacup with the quaking mass of bread flooded with rich custard, then she spoons on fresh strawberries, which taste like they’ve been plucked right from the fields. For a couple of extra bucks you can have an entire bowl of Tartine’s wonderful bread pudding — but then you wouldn’t be able to finish it.
GO 600 Guerrero Street, 415/487-2600
Crab Butter @ Swan Oyster Depot
This ancient Nob Hill seafood market has also been serving patrons fresh seafood for the last 99 years, and little has changed. Get there when it opens at 8am and you’ll be able to sit right down at one of the swirling counter stools and order your fill of oysters, urchins, lobsters, seafood salads, and perfect New England clam chowder. One secret item is free if you know to ask for it: the leftover fragments of meat in the crab shell awash in broth, known as “crab butter.”
GO 1517 Polk Street, 415/673-1101
Stuffed Guinea Hen Leg @ Locanda
Every gourmet in San Francisco is about talking Locanda, the latest offshoot of Delfina (more about them, later). Chef Anthony Strong is cooking Roman, and the delicious pastas are just thing for coolish summer evenings. But you’ll be blown away by some of the more ambitious secondi, including a guinea hen leg cut into neat slices so that the herbed filling tumbles out when you touch a fork to it.
GO 557 Valencia Street, 415/863-6800
Salted Caramel Ice Cream @ Bi-Rite Creamery
The location just off Dolores Park couldn’t be more bucolic, but even on rainy days a line forms outside this ice cream store, where the flavors push the envelope. Standard offerings include honey lavender, roasted banana, and toasted coconut, but the tastiest is salted caramel, which zaps its buttery, burnt-sugar flavor with sea salt.