Tag Archives: local restaurants

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: SF’s Finest Breakfast Destinations

During the week, I never have enough time in the morning to eat. We’ve all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it still doesn’t convince me enough to make time for it.

Despite my week day eating habits may, I love going out on the weekends for breakfast with friends. There is something ridiculously relaxing about eating outside at 10AM with friends on a lazy Sunday morning.

With so many restaurants to choose from, it’s hard to settle on just one. Here are my current top five breakfast spots that will make your morning a bit sunnier, and your stomach a bit happier.

Ella’s (Presido @ California)

This resturant is always packed on the weekends- and for good reason as the food here is great. Ella’s serves up classic American breakfasts with flair and is consistent in their flavors and quality of food. I have a hard time branching away from my usual meal, corned beef hash (10.75), but when I do, the dish is equally as fantastic. The pastries are made daily (try the sticky bun- 3.5) and they have fresh squeezed juices (2.25 for a small) that make your morning complete.

Zazie (Cole @ Carl)

I rarely go to the Cole Valley area but when I do, it’s to go to Zazie’s. I have a penchant for quaint cafés, nd this fits my mold perfectly. Pancakes are a favorite breakfast item along with french toast and this cafe does them both perfectly. The gingerbread pancakes ($6) are topped with pears when they’re in season and lemon curd. They are rich and taste exactly like a piece of gingerbread. The challah french toast ($5) is infused with cinnamon and orange and goes great with a side of bacon (3.5). Zazie’s also has an array of variation on eggs benedict and fabulous scrambles!

Dottie’s True Blue Cafe (Jones @ Geary)

Tucked away in the Tenderloin, this small cafe has accumulated a ton of avid fans over the years. The staff is friendly and the portions are huge. The first time you try this place out, pancakes (6.75 for 2) are the way to go. The batter is infused with ginger and cinnamon and are extremely addicting. They also have a full menu that includes egg dishes (6.25- 8.95), french toast (8.95) and homemade sides.

Brenda’s French Soul Food (Polk @ Eddy)

I was initially introduced to this place by a friend visiting from out of town. Brenda’s has been on my top list for breakfast spots since then.
They serve up warm beignets that come in plain, chocolate and apple ($5-6 for 3) and fabulous entrees. For those who love Southern food, the shrimp and grits ($12) are a must have! Brenda’s also has french toast, omelets and fresh baked goods, including made from scratch cream biscuits!

Mayflower Restaurant (Geary @ 29th Ave)

This restaurant reminds me of Freshman year when my friends and I would go out for dim sum on a random Saturday morning. Although they have a full menu,
it’s great to pick what you want out from the carts that go around. My favorite dishes to this day at any dim sum restaurant are shrimp dumplings (ha gao) and greens with oyster sauce (gai lan).
Mayflower makes them especially tasty. If you’re feeling adventurous with a group of friends, try out the tripe or chicken feet. The prices vary from dish to dish but are very inexpensive.

On A Mission for a Meal? Check Out These Eats

San Francisco has so many great restaurants in different parts of town. Whatever you’re in the mood for, some parts of the city are better than others for your cravings: North Beach has Italian, Clement has Chinese, and the Mission has Mexican food. Look in the nooks and crannies of each of these neighborhoods and you’ll find unique restaurants that stand out. Yes, you can find amazing burritos in the Mission, but try some of these other great restaurants that have nothing to do with tacos or carnitas.

Herbivore (983 Valencia)
Fri & Sat. 9A.M-11P.M.
Prices: $7-$11

I am the furthest thing from a vegan eater, but after coming to this place I found that I really enjoy the food and atmosphere. The staff is really friendly and willing to spend fifteen minutes with you on the menu if you don’t know what to order. There are also a ton of items on their menu that are gluten free!
Favorite Dishes:
Green papaya salad ($7.5)
Spicy rice noodles ($7.5)

Delfina (3621 18th St.)
Hours: Mon- Thurs. 5:30-10P, Fri & Sat 5:30-11P, Sun 5-10P
Prices: $8-$26

I love Pizzeria Delfina but am sometimes craving something more than pizza. Right next door to the pizzeria is a sit down restaurant that has the whole package of an amazing restaurant: great food, fast and friendly service and a prime spot for people watching! It’s a hit or miss with how busy the restaurant can get but is completely worth the wait!
Favorite Dishes:
Tripe alla Florentina ($10)
Hawaiian Ahi ($26)
Spiced Almonds ($3)

Beretta (1199 Valencia)
Hours: Sun-Mon 5:30P.M.-1A.M.
Prices: $6-$26

I love this place! It’s tucked away on Valencia, away from the main hub of restaurants and shops. Although on the corner, I accidentally passed by it when meeting my dad here for dinner one night. Looking from the outside, it is always packed and once inside, you can see why. The small restaurant is cozy. For my 21+ readers, there’s also a full bar that has everything you could possibly want. For the underage crowd, there is a really good ginger beer.

Favorite dishes:
Butternut squash soup ($6)
Broccoli rabe, pancetta and mozzerella pizza ($12)
Osso Bucco ($16)

Mission Chinese (2234 Mission)
Hours: 11:30- 3P.M., 5-10:30P.M. Closed Wednesdays
Prices: $7-$13

I generally dislike going to restaurants that spring out of nowhere and are extremely hyped up. Don’t get me wrong, I love hot tips on where to eat, but am generally disappointed after so much anticipation. I never really had a dying urge to try this place but an episode of Anthony Bourdain: The Layover finally lured me in. The dishes here are flavorful and made to order; they even have hand pulled noodles.

Favorite Dishes:
Thrice Cooked Bacon ($11)- can be made vegan
Chilled Buckwheat noodles ($7)

The Mission District has amazing food that ranges from Asian Fusion to Vegan/Gluten Free. Even though it may be your usual stop for a burrito, make sure you try what else the neighborhood has to offer.

Tips on How to Survive the Late-Night Munchies

Being in college means two huge things in the food world: functioning on coffee, and eating during super late hours at night. Sadly San Francisco is not New York, where everything is open until two in the morning. What’s a college kid to do in times of late night munchies?

There are plenty of places in the City that will satisfy your late night snack attacks, study sessions and Wi-Fi needs. Most places close up early, but keep your eyes opens and you might just find a new favorite place to chow down at 2AM.
Of course there’s always the twenty-four hour Safeways, but sometimes that’s not enough. Here are a few good places to go when the late night cravings commence:

Blue Danube
(Clement Street between 4th and 5th) Hours: Mon-Thurs, Sun. 7A-10P Fri & Sat 7AM-11PM
This cute café/ coffee shop is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee or a small bite to eat. There is plenty of comfortable seating and space to study. My only complaint about this place is that you have to pay for Wi-Fi, but still, it’s open later than most cafés.

(Divisadero between Fell and Hayes)Hours: Mon-Fri 6P- 1A, Sat & Sun 11A – 1A
This place is a bit on the expensive side, but is completely worth it. The atmosphere is really laid back and the food is amazing. My favorite late night snacks are the spicy chickpeas ($3) or the fish and chips ($4). They also have a full dinner menu if you want to get something more substantial.

The Grove
(Various locations)
Hours: Open until 11:30PM
I’ve mentioned several times before that I love this place. The seating is really relaxed and there are comfy couches everywhere. It’s easy to come here late, grab a seat, and get a snack, dessert or just a plain cup of coffee. There is a required purchase for Wi-Fi access (for every $5 you get 30 minutes).

Mel’s Drive-In
(Various Locations)
Hours: Open until at least 1AM
For all your late night, greasy diner fare, Mel’s is the place to go. They have your standard burgers and milkshakes, as well as “fancier options”, such as the turkey sliders topped with goat cheese and arugula. There are several locations spread out in the City and are all open late.

El Farolito
(Mission between 23rd and 24th)
Hours: Mon-Thurs, Sun 10A-3A Fri & Sat 10A- 4A
Honestly, I love this place. Not only can you find me stumbling into El Farolito on any given Saturday at 3A, but the people who work there are really friendly and make your food fast. The portions are huge and extremely inexpensive. Get a burrito and agua fresca and finish your night right.

An Average Pizza Place Worth Celebrating

A restaurant is always flavored by the event that brings you there. A date, a breakup, a special occasion- the experience impacts the way you feel about the restaurant, be it from the pleasant additions of a good one or the added salt from tears at a bad one.

My experience at Pizza Orgasmica came about when I decided to throw a surprise party for a dear friend a few weeks ago and was hopelessly lost trying to find a suitable restaurant for the resident picky eater in our group. I settled on pizza, because you can’t go wrong with that, and chose the provocatively named pizza place on the recommendation of yet another friend.

The night of the party I arrived with my friend who, caught completely by surprise, was met by 15 of her own friends in a space that was absolutely perfect for our party. Though the Embarcadero location of the restaurant has many tables, they had specifically marked off two of the large picnic-table style tables, with spacious tabletops for all the pizzas and bench-style seating so that we could all slide in and seat as many at a table as we liked- which was perfect when they brought out a pizza with birthday candles in it and we all had to squeeze in to help sing.

The pizza itself was almost too good for words- even though the birthday girl was almost 45 minutes late to her own party, the restaurant timed the pizzas so that they arrived to the tables just as we finished getting settled. Pizza Orgasmica offers several “party packages,” and I went ahead and ordered the “Wild Thing” pizza sampler for us. It included 6 large pizzas and easily fed the 20 people in our party, and we still had almost half a pizza to take home afterwards! The “Wild Thing” came with one cheese pizza, a pepperoni pizza, a vegetarian pizza, another with sausage and mushrooms, another with chicken and garlic, and the last pizza was our choice of one of the “Orgasmica Special” pizzas- assorted gourmet pizzas that are unique to their restaurant only. I chose the “Inspiration Point” pizza, which was topped with tomato sauce, pesto chicken, spinach, mozzarella cheese and their house-made pesto, and it was unlike any pizza I’ve ever had before. The mozzarella was the perfect accompaniment to their delicious pesto-covered chicken, and the spinach added just the right amount of freshness to an otherwise heavy combination of cheese, olive oil, and thick pizza crust.

All of the pizzas we ordered were absolutely delicious, but my favorite of the evening was the chicken and garlic- I was lucky enough to snag the last remaining slice, and it was so worth almost being stabbed by a competing friend with a fork. The chicken was crispy (such a good textural addition to an otherwise mushy pizza!) from being cooked in the pizza oven, and the chunks of garlic were roasted to an almost sugary sweetness. It appealed to my palate perfectly, and I was disappointed that I had already eaten the last slice.

Though I’ll be honest and tell you I didn’t eat an entire slice of every type, (I tried at least a bite of each!) I didn’t need to taste them all to see on my companions’ faces that the food was delicious. There’s a moment that sometimes happens where a group of people fall silent at a meal because the food is so tasty, and that is exactly what happened when we all took our first bites- a feat that’s particularly impressive, considering it takes an awful lot to get such a large group of girls to ever be so completely quiet. Fear not though, the party recovered quickly when the birthday girl quipped that she “never thought pizza so be so ‘Orgasmica-tastic’!”
Pizza Orgasmica seemed to be a relatively inexpensive dinner option, with our “Wild Thing” package costing $117, coming out to around $12 per person, plus tip. Another visit a week later with a much smaller party revealed that the place is a touch more expensive when you’re ordering individually, with my garlic and chicken (it was so good I couldn’t resist having it again, and this time I didn’t have to share!) costing me $17.52, plus tip.

Realistically, celebrating with my friends probably would have made any meal fantastic regardless of the food, but we got lucky and found a place where the food is fantastic, even if you’re celebrating nothing at all.

UNICEF to Provide Clean Water For Impoverished Countries

Professors, students and groups like AIESEC, KUSF, ITS and University Ministry are coming together to publicize and contribute to UNICEF’s 2009 Tap Project, which is calling for USF students to sign up and volunteer with the organization.

According to a press release from UNICEF, the Tap Project is a nationwide grassroots initiative currently in its third year. The goal of this program is to get restaurants to encourage patrons to donate $1 or more for tap water, which is normally free, during World Water Week, which lasts from Mar. 22-28. These donations will fund UNICEF programs to provide people in developing nations with access to clean drinking water, a resource that is taken for granted in the United States but the lack of which causes severe problems for third-world countries.

“Every day there are millions affected,” said Dillon Ramos, senior business administration major at USF and San Francisco regional coordinator for the Tap Project.

Over 4,200 children die each day from waterborne and sanitation-related illnesses, such as malaria and diarrheal diseases. Also, Ramos said, “It even goes as far as affecting education in countries, when a child must skip out on school every day to spend half their day fetching water in hazardous areas.”

With the Tap Project, UNICEF attempts to reduce the number of deaths due to water-related diseases to zero. One dollar donated at a restaurant, said Ramos, can supply a single child with enough safe drinking to last for 40 days. And if enough people and restaurants get involved with the program, these small donations can add up, dollar upon dollar, to make a significant impact on the lives of impoverished children.

To aid this effort, Ramos said, student volunteers have three duties: to recruit restaurants to the project, support them once they sign on, and promote the Tap Project among friends and have them eat at the restaurants involved with the cause.

Members of AIESEC will be joining forces with UNICEF, said Ivana Rosas, USF junior and president of the local chapter of AIESEC.

“We decided to collaborate with the Tap Project because it helps raise awareness about water issues and how people, anywhere in the U.S. and basically in the global North, should learn to appreciate our clean water systems,” said Rosas. “As AIESEC members we like to not only discuss such global issues, but if we get the opportunity to act in a positive manner then we won’t hesitate to do so. That’s a very important part of being a leader, and that’s one of AIESEC’s goals—to develop leadership skills and one’s potential.”

Aside from leadership skills, Ramos said there are several other reasons for students like himself to participate in this program. For one thing, it isn’t time-consuming or hard to do.

“This project is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity,” said Ramos. “You already go to restaurants, you already drink water. The duty of a volunteer is simple.”

Rosas agreed. “It’s easy. You can spread the word and make it a campus-wide thing.” Besides, she said, “You go out to eat and flirt with the servers anyway, and this’d be a good conversation starter.”

Through work with UNICEF, otherwise uninvolved students have the opportunity step out of their bubble of inaction and work towards social change.

“They can actively make a difference somewhere all the way across the world,” said Rosas.

The Tap Project supplies the tools of this change: “Students are given the most current information on the world water crisis, and become knowledgeable about the global situation,” said Ramos.

As for Ramos himself, he says he is one student who has found his experience at UNICEF to be definitely worth the effort.

“I got involved with UNICEF doing what every broke college student does, searching for a job,” he said. “I thought at the time that I could at least be volunteering a little while I searched for a real job to pay the bills, but I’m still here today and don’t regret a thing.”

To volunteer for the Tap Project, students must register at www.tapproject.org. Ramos encourages volunteers to attend the Tap Project’s training session if at all possible. This event takes place at San Francisco State University on Feb. 21, and more information on the location and time of the training will be mailed to volunteers after registration.