There’s certainly no shortage of excellent food to be found in San Francisco and the Bay Area — but there’s plenty worth skipping, too. Luckily for you, Eater editors dine out several times a week (or more) and we’re happy to share the standout dishes we encounter as we go.

Here’s the best of everything the Eater SF team has eaten recently. Check back weekly for more don’t-miss dishes.

June 30

Roast chicken for two at Zuni Cafe

Even though I’m the one who celebrated a handful of all-day cafe openings earlier this spring, I’ll admit it remains somewhat hard to find a great dining option during that awkward slice of the day between lunch and dinner. Thank goodness then that the legendary Zuni Cafe serves nearly straight through from 11 a.m. to close. So, on a warm weekend afternoon, I stepped into the sun-soaked wedge for a classic dining experience: a massive Ceasar salad and the showstopping roast chicken for two. There’s no need for me to wax poetic about this dish, which has been widely praised for being a flawless recipe. But even knowing its reputation I found myself a little in awe of the crackly, golden skin wrapped around such moist meat. The salad, a pleasant mix of bitter greens delicately wilted to preserve their frilly texture, disappeared first, and as we picked away at each piece of chicken, we unearthed more and more of those big, juice-soaked chunks of bread, which balanced a crunchy, savory exterior with the soft sourdough inside. It’s always nice when such a famous dish lives up to its reputation and indeed, even after all these years, the Zuni chicken remains an essential taste of San Francisco. Zuni Cafe, 1658 Market Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Coconut cake at Jo’s Modern Thai

There was a magic transcendent song soaring through my body as I ate my first coconut cake since the saviors at Oakland’s Jo’s Modern Thai bless you with four per order. Coconut cakes are, for me, both tiny packages of inspired flavors — even at their least elevated — and deeply comforting. Mochi plays the same role: There are the high-brow riffs at Third Cousin that stop my heart in delight, but I’m just as giddy to rip open a $2 package of sesame-studded mini mochi at 2 a.m. At this Michelin Guide-recommended restaurant, the coconut cakes are a mystical intersection of elegance and joy. I credit the divinity to the tom kha scallop and shrimp crudo and trout roe. After the first bite of indulgent, ultra-coconut-y texture and flavor, the second act of seafood flavors and textures brace the dish with brininess from the crudo and satisfying pops from the roe. The medley of cilantro, makrut lime, and Thai chili ensures a bright zing of spice is the final note in the mini performance. There’s much more to say about this contemporary restaurant and its beachy back patio — for example, the blue sticky rice dessert is a symphonic triumph — but please do yourself the great pleasure of ordering the coconut cakes. All four in a single order deserve a standing ovation. Jo’s Modern Thai, 3725 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Shokupan at Akikos

Now, I recognize that a lot of things need to go wrong for a toro- and caviar-laced piece of toast to taste terrible, but that still doesn’t make the mastery behind this shokupan at Akikos any less impressive. First off, the base of this bite, the milk bread, was toasted to my ideal crisp-to-fluffy-softness ratio, meaning each bite gave a satisfying crunch before giving way to a pillowy bread interior. The layer of toro, meanwhile, was laid atop the bread, giving the toast a wonderful sushi flavor and texture that melts as you eat it. The flavor was there, yet restrained enough to respect the presence of the generous cylinder of caviar on top, which provided nice bursts of saline and umami. The gold leaf doesn’t add much, flavor-wise, but it adds a nice bit of visual flair against the round, black spheres of caviar. I had to force myself to not eat it too quickly in order to savor each part of the toast, and I mostly succeeded — although now I’m still thinking about it days later. Akikos omakase ($150) is a fairly pricy lunch, but at the same time, it reminds me of one of my favorite movie quotes: “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” Akikos, 430 Folsom Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

June 23

Kurobuta Tonkatsu at Rintaro

With a special occasion on the calendar this week, I snagged a weekend reservation at Rintaro, one of my absolute favorite restaurants in the city, and grinned to be back in the cozy, wood-wrapped space — especially knowing how much effort went into getting it reopened after being damaged by flooding during this winter’s storms. As for ordering, the essence of Sylvan Mishima Brackett’s food is the infusion of Northern California ingredients in the Japanese izakaya menu, so it’s essential to go for what’s in season. But there are also a couple of menu staples I can never bring myself to skip including the yosedofu, a slab of housemade silky tofu you get to dress up with finely shaved green onion, a dusting of ginger, fat shards of katsuobushi, and shoyu. But the star of this visit was the tonkatsu, a thick and juicy pork cutlet breaded in Acme panko and fried to a perfect crisp. It’s an ideal specimen of the classic dish, and the accouterments take things to the next level: a fluffy mountain of cabbage provides texture, while a thick and ultra-savory hatcho miso balances out the nose-clearing heat from a dab of hot mustard that clings to the side of the plate. We devoured the entirety of the dish while it was still, objectively, just a little bit too hot, which if you ask me is an undeniable testament to its appeal. Rintaro, 82 14th Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Vegetarian tofu and shrimp at Lime Tree Kitchen

I finally ate at Lime Tree Kitchen, the subterranean Irving Street restaurant, and the tofu and shrimp entree ordered vegetarian, which is to say sans shrimp, was a heart-warming, belly-filling delight. Basil features front and center, fresh and incorporated lovingly, as does coconut milk to ensure the tofu’s texture shines as the main character. The seemingly-small plate of food did more than expected in filling me up, an ideal respite from the sweeping winds of San Francisco spring. Granted, I started my meal with the flaky, rich martabak — perfect spiced pillows of beef and green onions — and roti pratha, the curry dipping sauce a bottleable and sellable treat that would fly off the shelf at Andronico’s down the road. Still, the tofu-centric medley was the hometown hero of the meal, a kind of flagpole for the appetizers and Thai iced tea to rally around. I felt like Sydney touring Chicago in the new season of The Bear, digging into a sundae at the end of a disappointing day, finding newfound nostalgia in a cheap, simple meal just around the corner. It’s too bad it took me so long to catch up with myself, stopping to smell the flowers — or basil, in this case — like my grandma always told me to back home. Lime Tree Kitchen, 450 Irving Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

XO butter escargot from Four Kings

You may feel one way or another about escargot, but I think we can all agree that a good sauce can make anything exceptional, no matter what it’s slathered on. The XO butter sauce of this dish hit certain umami notes that I hadn’t noticed I’d neglected: bursts of salt and butteriness and spice. It solidified that perhaps I should ask more questions about who’s behind this pop-up, especially when taken in alongside the also legit mapo spaghetti. If you are looking to do a meal with Four Kings, I’ll say to reconsider overlooking the Mouthwatering — bone-crushingly in season — Tomato, if it’s on an upcoming menu. It’s elegantly simple, at least in comparison to the inelegant note I wrote myself about the dish while eating it, which merely reads, “cold, juicy, and refreshing (like a watermelon is, on summer days).” The only way I can translate that now, via this unwieldy watermelon sensation description, is to say the tomato is perhaps a savory, summertime version of this analogy. Anyways, order it as a palate cleanser. Trust me. Four Kings, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

June 16

Special #1 at Eddie’s Cafe

I’m pretty sure the diner gods were smiling down on me. Why? Because on my very first visit to Eddie’s Cafe, that tiny restaurant on the busy corner of Divisadero and Fulton streets, I plopped down into a swiveling stool, and of all the mismatched mugs the sever could have placed in front of me and filled with bitter, black coffee, I got this perfect specimen: a firetruck red vessel with the diner’s own name printed on the side. It felt like a warm welcome, just for me. I ordered the Special #1, a generous combo that includes one egg (over easy, please), two strips of bacon, and two pancakes for the remarkably affordable price of $11.95. There were no frills, just the kind of simple, familiar food that fuels both your body and soul with a dose of nostalgia — even if you’ve never been to this, specific, restaurant before. I broke the golden yolk and let it spill into the double stack of spongey pancakes, which I slathered in butter and ate between bites of salty cured pork. Cradling my mug, I took in the collection of kitsch climbing up the back bar including all those mugs, a roster of bobbleheads, and a decorative plate from Knott’s Berry Farm, and thought there was no other place I’d rather be. Eddie’s Cafe, 800 Divisadero Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Kare kare at Cafe Colma

The thing about revisiting a restaurant you haven’t frequented in a number of years — say, before the pandemic — is a worry that perhaps you’ve given the food a glow of nostalgia. That possibility was certainly on my mind as I drove up to Lucky Chances Casino to research Cafe Colma, a diner I visited both in the wee hours of the night with friends and in the daytime with my Filipino family. But when I tucked into a bowl of kare kare, it was good in that way the food you grew up with can be: nostalgic, yes, but also comforting and, in my case, something I didn’t know I needed or was missing. Peanut sauce serves as the foundation of this Filipino stew filled with tender oxtail and tripe, alongside green beans and eggplant. Eaten over steamed white rice, the deep, slightly sweet sauce, and the curry ingredients play against the intense umami flavor of bagoong, or agamang. The fermented shrimp paste cuts through the richness to inject a bit of salinity into each spoonful, while the vegetables give it a bit of lift. As I took bites and looked around the dining room, I remembered late nights in these same booths. The food at Cafe Colma is still solid as ever, and it’s reassuring this restaurant is still there for me, at any time of day. Cafe Colma, 1700 Hillside Boulevard, Colma

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

June 9

Hawaiian pie at Pizza Supreme Being

Back again with a recommendation from my hometown: this week, it’s a slice shop — though perhaps calling it a “shop” is a bit generous. Pizza Supreme Being has already been called out by KQED as “a welcome portal into a Sacramento scene.” Found on 14th Street in the shadow of the stately capitol building, it really isn’t much more than a walk-up window with a smattering of tables outside. But the simplicity of the setup belies the attention to detail behind the pies. Get there early (or so I’m told) to avoid lines and snag a square slice of pepperoni, onto which the curly cups of sausage will be stacked so high and thick you’ll scarcely be able to see the dough underneath. It’s a great slice, but my favorite was the Hawaiian — and that says a lot since I usually fall squarely into the no-pineapple-on-pizza camp. Here owner Ben Roberts approaches the classic combo of ham and fruit with a bit of finesse using thin pyramids of pineapple (not those godforsaken chunks from a can) to undercut the richness of not Canadian bacon but cubes of meaty SPAM, a beloved breakfast staple in my family. Slices of jalapeno contribute a smoldering spice to every bit with the result being a Hawaiian slice that skewers neither too sweet nor too meaty. A remarkable feat. Pizza Supreme Being, 1425 14th Street, Ste C, Sacramento

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Mexican chocolate ice cream with Kuali salsa macha from De La Creamery

I’ve been a fan of De La Creamery ever since the first pint I brought home last year, and even though I gave the brand the briefest of shoutouts then, it’s time that I give them the flowers they deserve. It’s been a treat to see owner Stephanie De La Cruz making her pop-up rounds throughout the East Bay, but on our last few run-ins, her ice cream has been the MVP of my visits. This cup of Mexican chocolate ice cream (along with the addition of Kuali salsa macha) caused me to stop for a moment to savor the rich, creamy flavor of the chocolate against the spice and crunch of the salsa macha. De La Cruz is great at balancing flavors, and this scoop didn’t have the feel of Too Much Chocolate that other large-scale ice cream brands often have. She also excels at sorbets, as she proved when I spotted her at another event, and a scoop of the pineapple really saved me from the doldrums of line-waiting in the heat. De La Creamery now has a regularly scheduled pop-up on Sundays at Tacos Oscar in Oakland, and honestly, tacos and ice cream sound like the combo everyone needs this summer. De La Creamery, Oakland.

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

June 2

Almond Meyer lemon ricotta cake from Fiorella Sunset

It’s official: I’m in a dessert phase. I’m also in a tahini phase, but that’s a whole other thing. The Fiorella Sunset outpost, with its majestic upper patio and delectably teeny secret bar Nonnina, delivered on both fronts. Upon first forkful, this ricotta cake brought me right back to that delicate after-dinner finesse. The huckleberry compote was just warm enough, along with the cake itself, to give the gelato a meltiness that combined with the reduced berries in a harmonious, sugary medley. It might be the toasted pinenuts that give the dessert such an eyebrow-raising kick and satisfies that savory, sesame-adjacent flavor profile I’ve been craving. Growing up, I always looked forward to my nonni’s pound cake — obviously a sweet dessert, but not overly so. No, this cake is not vegan, but it is both vegetarian and gluten-free. For the allergen sensitive, the wheatless cacio e pepe is a buttery, gourmand’s delight, and the chilled asparagus was a simple highlight, too. But as I continue on my confectionary quest, I’m majorly glad for Fiorella’s education. The scoop of soft gelato mingles with the firmness of the cake — lacquered in pinenuts — making this generous portion a lesson in textural balance, too. Fiorella Sunset, 1240 9th Ave, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Grade School Breakfast from the Color Dinner

It’s difficult to know what to expect when attending a dinner based on color — other than, well, something colorful coming out of the kitchen — but in the hands of chef Heena Patel of Besharam and Kristina Liedags Compton of Hilda & Jesse, the theme became a masterful whirlwind of dishes. The Color Dinner was filled with new takes on dishes served at both restaurants, as well as off-menu items. I loved the drunken pani puri, spring vegetable rasols, aloo tiki, and malai kofta, but the one that eked past the others is the Grade School Breakfast, a cinnamon French toast stick topped in fig leaf maple, served with a strawberry compote and strawberry peppercorn ice cream. The French toast stick had a nice crunch to the exterior and a soft crumb interior, punctuated with a lovely, not-too-sweet fig syrup — and I mean that as a compliment of the highest order. I’m also a sucker for season-perfect strawberries and freshly-made ice cream, not to mention the addition of color-appropriate pink peppercorns to serve as a flavor contrast and visual boost. The dessert hit the right notes to end a dinner filled with great conversation and just-as-great dishes, and luckily, a version of the breakfast can be found at Hilda & Jesse regularly, as well as the pani puri and malai kofta at Besharam.

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Shio ramen at Shoki’s Ramen, Gyoza & Koji

About a month ago, Shoki’s Ramen reopened, and if you had any worries about the long-running Sacramento shop being as good as ever, let me assure you: there’s nothing to fear. In keeping with tradition, it’s a bit tricky to get a seat (the restaurant’s small spaces have always made squeezing in somewhat difficult) but if you keep a close eye on Instagram you may be able to snag a same-day reservation as I did on a recent weekday. That's how I found myself staring down a bowl of Shoki’s shio ramen, a deep pool of nutty broth laden with not one but three different kinds of meat including a thick, marbled slab of succulent Rancho Llano Seco pork. Full disclosure: I’ve been eating at Shoki’s since I was a teenager so this particular dish comes with a heady side of nostalgia. But in any case, this remains my favorite bowl of ramen, period. It’s quite specific to this place, and I adore the delicate but powerfully salty flavor — a nice departure from all those decadent bowls of tonkotsu — and the dance of the Celtic sea salt, pepper, garlic, and sesame across every bite. The springy noodles bounce like tennis balls, and these days, if you order your bowl with “The Works,” you get a slurpy onsen egg that gets a quick bath in housemade dashi to dump into your soup. The care and attention to detail given to every bowl at this family-run restaurant simply cannot be overstated so all I’ll say in closing is: Shoki, I’m so glad to have you back. Shoki’s Ramen, Gyoza, and Koji, 2530 21st Street, Sacramento

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

May 26

Sweet and sour quail at Tenderheart

Back in the fall, when Tenderheart debuted inside the new LINE SF hotel just off Market Street, chef Joe Hou made an early prediction that the sweet and sour quail would become a menu staple. So when I finally popped into the lobby restaurant for dinner, pulling up a stool to the bar on an early weeknight evening, I obviously ordered the dish. These days, the set includes crunchy little sheets of fermented pineapple, which offered a nice palate-cleansing pop between bites of bird. And what a bird it was. If the goal here is to offer a refined version of the familiar, saucy dish then I’d consider this a success. Each piece of fried poultry sported a delicately crispy shell gently enrobed in a sticky sweet and sour sauce. The sauce, applied with the correct amount of restraint, didn’t overpower the dark meat — slippery, succulent, and just a little bit gamey, in a good way — which I happily separated from all those tiny little bones. I didn’t expect to plow through the whole pile of meat, and yet, I did, happily licking the sauce off my fingers as I went. Tenderheart at the LINE SF, 970 Market Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Blueberry wheat-free frittah thang from Johnny Doughnuts

This San Francisco original gives sweets lovers with celiac reason to rejoice. Johnny Doughnuts, in its stunning new cafe in Pac Heights, let me time travel to before my diagnosis in 2004 with its gluten-free doughnut, this iteration stuffed with juicy blueberries. The goofily-named Frittah Thang — to imply its resemblance to a fritter while sporting an old fashioned doughnut-like texture — comes coated in a well-made vanilla glaze. This pastry is hardy, more durable and bodied than a pink box-esque doughnut that may run on the airier side. This dessert-adjacent creation is hefty, too: It won’t fit in your hand, requiring just the right amount of bites, making each bite feel worth each penny spent. Chomping into this Y-shaped pastry was the correct choice on a late afternoon on California Street. Alongside the shop’s Equator Coffee in the morning, or as a post-Roam Burger delight, the Frittah Thang is as San Francisco a doughnut choice as a drunken Bob’s order at 1 in the morning. Johnny Doughnuts, 2404 California Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Roasty bones at Shuggie’s Trash Pie + Natural Wine

Roasted bone marrow isn’t an item I regularly eat at restaurants, but sometimes there’s a tempting version on a menu that begs to be ordered — and then knocks it out of the park. The Roasty Bones at Shuggie’s is just such a version, which arrives in a large-format plate that definitely requires sharing (as such, it is placed under the “For the Table” portion of the menu). Two canoe-like marrow bones arrived at my table adorned in a smattering of leafy greens and a layer of “Szechuan butter,” all ready to be smoothed onto pieces of sesame flatbread. Thanks to the addition of the butter, the unctuous marrow took on a mala kick, giving the item a delightful, numb and spicy taste to it that lingers on the lips. It is a rich dish, to be sure, but it’s worth sharing with friends if the mood strikes, as it gives a new appreciation for a humble ingredient. Shuggie’s Trash Pie + Natural Wine, 3349 23rd Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

May 19

Anchovy toast at the Anchovy Bar

There’s never a bad time to pull up a seat at the Anchovy Bar, but if you’re looking for a good excuse, here’s a great one: it’s anchovy season, baby. From April to October the restaurant pulls shimmering little fish out of local waters and tediously cleans and prepares them to the delight of anyone with an affinity for the tiny delicacies. And hear me out — even if you think you don’t like anchovies, it’s worth giving these ones a try because they may just change your mind. Such was the case at a recent dinner, where the restaurant’s spring-time version of anchovy toast perfectly demonstrated that fresh, local anchovies have little in common with the salty things you pluck out of a tin. These silvery fish, done boquerones-style, were butter-soft and so inherently rich and fatty that they absolutely sang after being gently pickled in lime juice. Smashed peas and mint kept things rooted in the season, and the thick, sturdy slice of sesame-seeded bread gave each bite a solid earthy foundation. Each bite balanced on the edge between salty and just the right amount of tart. If you’re wise, swim over there to taste them yourself sometime soon. The Anchovy Bar, 1740 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Jerk shrimp taco from the Vegan Hood Chefs

The Vegan Hood Chefs are well-known for bringing plant-based cuisine to their home turf of the Bayview, but venturing into a Mexican food-only menu at their food truck on the Embarcadero is new territory. The guac is chunky and plentiful, the Black Sheep-fake-lamb taco is rich and sumptuous, and the fried chicken taco is a crowning achievement of semi-healthful indulgence. But it’s the bright and multi-textural jerk shrimp taco that takes the allergen-friendly cake. Pineapple as a taco topper is a joy and works as a knowing introduction to the meatless shrimp and slaw below. Cabbage offers the rough crunch this dish needs, while the shrimp’s softness is well met by the streams of pineapple juice, dribbling to your pinched hand below. Relying on konjac — also known as snake palm or elephant yam — that old-school ick associated with vegan shrimp is weeded out well in advance. The $10 taco is large, which is terrific considering how much I loved the tangy pickled radish and jerk sauce. The Vegan Hood Chefs are rotating back to Spark Social next, so, if looking for even a bite of the good life, keep those peepers plastered to the Black-owned business’ Instagram. Vegan Hood Chefs, popping up next at Spark Social on Wednesdays, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Grilled squid at Sfizio

Okay, yes, Sfizio is mostly about pasta, and also yes, said pastas are very very good. But in a recent visit to the restaurant, I found myself continually thinking about the grilled squid starter that kicked off my dinner. The reason why I was so taken with the dish is that — much like everything at Sfizio — it’s a well-prepared item that takes a few ingredients and really makes them sing. Grilled squid shines against the dark salsa negra, while tender, blackened green onions play next to crisp bites of green purslane. The dish combined elements that reminded me of different cuisines; the squid gives elements of the Mediterranean sea, while the green onions reminded me of Asian stir-fries, and the salsa negra conjured thoughts of Mexico. Yet, somehow despite those varied backgrounds, it all came together in a way that had me pushing the last bits of purslane through the sauce pondering the combination. And the fact that it’s a very budget-friendly $10 dish is just the cherry on top. Of course, order all the pasta you can at Sfizio, but if the grilled squid is also on the menu, I highly suggest you make room for that as well. Sfizio, 6099 Claremont Avenue, Oakland

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

May 12

Pork mapo tofu at China Live

I return to mapo tofu again and again thanks to its reliable, comforting nature and was recently enchanted when I tucked into the punchy and spicy pork-topped rendition at George Chen’s China Live. The dish holds onto the soft, almost unctuous nature of the saucy entree, a go-to for fans of Sichuan cuisine. But where many iterations feature tofu, beef, or vegetables, this Broadway restaurant opts for minced pork. The level of spice is by no means tremendous, but a peppery sizzle kept me hounding the meal like a thirsty wanderer who’d just come upon a rushing creek. I couldn’t help myself returning for more, spreading spoonfuls over steamed rice that soaked up the symphonic combination of spices. This particular version might be my favorite mapo tofu in the Bay Area, and while I’m no expert I’ve been lucky to try my hand at many a scintillating tofu dish. Oakland’s Huangcheng Market offers a sweeping serving, but I think it’s the raw density of spice and flavor, coupled with the richness of the pork, that makes China Live’s naturally gluten-free mapo tofu a highlight. Finding a seat at the popular restaurant may be a challenge, but once you do don’t be a fool: order the mapo tofu. China Live, 644 Broadway, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Seasonal asparagus salad from Maison Nico

I claim to be a “self-acknowledged salad hater,” mostly because I’m terrible at making my own. But since it’s spring, California’s produce is calling out, and in making my way over to Maison Nico in North Beach I found myself wanting to try the seasonal salad. While the pate en croute, terrines, and viennoiserie are generally the draw, it was this asparagus-smoked salmon salad that really put a springtime pep in my step. The asparagus was cooked so its shaved stems gave a nice, tender snap and were paired with cubed bits of smoked salmon topped with zested lemon peel, along with crisp croutons and some mixed greens and herbs. The dressing felt akin to a Hollandaise and after calling the cafe the next day I found it to be French mousseline, similar to a Hollandaise but lighter and more, well, mousse-y. Nico’s version folds herbs into the sauce, and the mousseline served as a lovely, creamy counterpoint to the asparagus and salmon. The salad felt both light and bright from the verdant greens, yet rich and indulgent from the salmon and mousseline. Together it combined in a way that felt just right for this spring moment. Maison Nico, 710 Montgomery Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Quesadilla azul at Bombera

Chef Dominica Rice-Cisneros delivers a powerful menu of upscale Mexican fare at her Dimond District restaurant Bombera, an airy space embellished with stunning floral arrangements and flanked by a spacious light-strung patio out front. You can’t skip some of the menu staples, including the River Dog Farm carrots that arrive buried under a heap of spicy salsa macha made with almonds and Black chili. Nor the charred beet, a single, blackened specimen cut in half and dressed in an explosive combination of lime and chile. But part of the magic here comes from the masa, which Rice-Cisneros nixtamalizes in-house using heirloom blue corn sourced from Masienda. It stars in supple but sturdy tortillas, tender tamales, and the triangular empanada pictured here — but the real move is to order the quesadilla with both roasted yams and braised pork. The buttery Oaxaca cheese melts into fat chunks of root vegetables and shards of crispy meat for bites that swing from sweet to salty in perfect measure. Even amid a sea of worthwhile plates, this quesadilla stopped me in my tracks, an unexpectedly delicious and well-balanced bite. Bombera, 3459 Champion Street in Oakland

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

May 5

Vietnamese coffee from Lily

To some, praising the coffee at an upscale restaurant might seem like gushing over comfortable seats at the NBA playoffs. But I’ve eaten at Lily on Clement Street a few times and have to say chef Robert Lam’s sleeper hit is the delightfully-dense and subtly-sweet Vietnamese coffee. Coffee snobs discuss the various reasons why a drink does or doesn’t work, but body and balance are two key determining factors in the making of any signature drink. At Lily, the Vietnamese coffee’s familiar thick body is just so, not too thin but not milkshake-ish with its use of condensed milk. A smattering of ice gives the drink a pleasant perspiration to quench the thirst generated by Lam’s salty battered prawns and fries. Plus, a round, fatty profile runs through the beverage thanks to duck egg crema. San Francisco is a city run red with coffee cocktails and innovative coffee drinks: Think Buena Vista’s Irish Coffee and Blue Bottle’s sort-of-not-that-pioneering Gibraltar. Though Lily and Lam are recognized for $72 fried rice and jackfruit pizza served with gilded scissors, the Richmond District favorite ought to be given respect for its contribution to the coffee game. Lily, 225 Clement Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Everything croughie from D.R.E.A.M. Doughnuts

I write about the pop-ups I’ve been tracking throughout the Bay Area on a semi-regular basis, so I was excited to read an email from a reader suggesting pop-ups worth checking out. The new-to-me D.R.E.A.M Doughnuts turned up in the East Bay on a recent Sunday, and on the occasion of my sister’s birthday, I brought her a box of doughnuts and other goodies, while also picking up a few treats for myself. Everything was delicious, but what stuck out was this “Everything” Croughie — a muffin-shaped croissant. This savory pastry came filled with cream cheese, smoked salmon, chives, and dill, plus a sprinkling of everything spice that stuck to the croissant dough. The croughie had a nice shatter to it, and the cream cheese filling was just the right texture, not too cold or solid from a night in the fridge, with pieces of smoked salmon in every bite. The flavors played nicely together in that classic way that cream cheese and smoked salmon do, made altogether greater in its croissant-muffin home. As a secondary mention, D.R.E.A.M. also offers a wild longanisa Danish, complete with a mini pipette filled with cane vinegar. Some might think vinegar is a strange addition, or perhaps unnecessary, but the acid helps cut the richness of the longanisa and takes the flavors to another level. Both savory items were delicious and inventive, and well worth tracking down. D.R.E.A.M. Doughnuts, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Bodega Bay black cod at Lazy Bear

If you read this series regularly, then you may already know I’m an absolute sucker for a broth course. And so, once again, I’m here to dump praising on a tasting menu course that featured a hot bowl of broth. In this case, the dish at Lazy Bear, the two-Michelin-star restaurant in the Mission, starred a pristine piece of black cod pulled out of the cold waters of Bodega Bay, just about an hour and a half north of San Francisco. And because it’s spring, it swam in a shallow pool of silky smooth beurre blanc and arrived adorned with delicate spring greens and sea lettuce. This half of the course — with its verdant and vegetal notes and piquant alliums — made me yearn for the warmer weather that’s been teasing us all month. Then the balancing act on display when the server poured a steaming seafood broth into a wooden mug took things over the top. While the cod was light, fresh, and clean, the broth exuded warmth and depth thanks to the infusion of ingredients including umami-rich dehydrated scallops. The juxtaposition mirrored this week’s wild weather: at one moment bursting with all the potential of spring and then suddenly, suddenly stuck in the cozy comforts of the colder season. Lazy Bear, 3416 19th Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

April 28

Chopped cheese sandwich at Horn Barbecue Trailer

I’ll start by saying I’m no chopped cheese expert, so I’ll decline to comment on the authenticity of this specimen. But despite a lack of intimate knowledge about the New York-born sandwich, I feel zero hesitation about recommending this dish to others purely based on the fact that it was damn delicious. To try it, you’ll want to skip the line inside the Horn Barbecue dining room and roam out back to the patio, where pitmaster Matt Horn has parked his food truck and is using it as an R+D kitchen of sorts. The menu includes a handful of items not available inside the restaurant including a smash burger (and no, it’s not the same burger that’ll be on the menu at the upcoming Matty’s Old Fashioned, the chef shares) and this take on a chopped cheese. Horn admits it’s not true to tradition, describing it more as a chopped cheese-Philly cheesesteak hybrid made with brisket trimmings that get cooked in beef tallow and butter along with both American and provolone cheeses, caramelized onions, and Horn sauce. It all gets stuffed into a long roll and wrapped in brown paper, which will inevitably get soaked in juicy runoff. Each bite is pure beefy decadence. It’s less about balance and more about leaning into the extremely smoky, cheesy-ness of it all, with each bite sending your brain into a salty, savory tizzy. Horn Barbecue, 2534 Mandela Parkway, Oakland

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Tofu fajitas from Boogaloo’s

There’s a corner restaurant in the Mission District — it used to be a pharmacy — that’s the full-stop people’s champion of the breakfast game in San Francisco. No drum roll needed: It’s Boogaloo’s, and, no, not the bizarre online thing. The diner’s tofu fajitas do the lion’s share of the alluring on their own — though elegies and sonnets could be written for the $2.50 bottomless coffee or the mountainous Temple-O-Spuds. What other breakfast entree in San Francisco, which is naturally both gluten-free and vegan, comes with a side of sticky and sweet plantains? The balance in the dish is like a stilt walker doing the splits on the tippy top of Salesforce Tower. Beans and rice are the OG complex protein source for loads of Indigenous communities in the Americas and at Boogaloo’s they’re as delectable as the fajitas themselves. But those fajitas, with their scintillating peppers and onions joined by well-seared tofu, provide the ideal crisp to bracket tofu’s well-known softness — and are as divine as kingdom come. The meaty tomatoes work like a dab of pico de gallo incorporated into the medley. Perhaps the most important highlight on this breakfast’s long list of wonders is the enormous portion. The side salad, with those aforementioned plantains, comes on a separate plate for god’s sake. For any diner lovers in San Francisco, Boogaloo’s can’t be missed. And for those hoping to reach the true summit of the city’s breakfast game, one must try the tofu fajitas. Boogaloo’s, 3296 22nd Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Hung tao yee foo won ton soup from Gourmet Carousel

After writing about the unexpected comeback of Gourmet Carousel — as well as the outstanding reviews the restaurant has received over the years — I was excited to settle in for lunch at the Lower Pac Heights restaurant this week to try a number of the classic dishes. The heavily recommended pot stickers were excellent, with crisp bottoms and excellent filling, but what really captured my attention was the hung tao yee foo wonton soup. The owners recommended I try it, and it was just such a lovely, comforting, and rich soup made with egg whites, peas, and bits of imitation crab meat offset against beautifully fried and stuffed wontons. It’s best to have the soup as soon as possible, to retain that golden-fried crispness of the wontons, but to be quite honest, it remained delicious a day later after being reheated. Despite the wontons having gone soft in their soup bath, the stuffing remained a delight and made me thankful I took the excess home with me after lunch. I regret to say this is my first time trying this soup, but I know I’ll be seeking it out in the future. Gourmet Carousel, 1559 Franklin Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

April 21

Lo mein with green garlic at Ernest

Due to an extremely, unbelievably long delay on the part of some dining companions who had to fight Bay Bridge traffic to make it to dinner, our meal at Ernest was unfortunately a bit rushed. But that didn’t stop the kitchen from firing off an impressive four-course spread when we went for the Let The Kitchen Cook For You option on a recent weekend evening. It’s a fantastic way to see almost the whole menu — from hits like the round of sushi rice crowned with luminous ikura to sticky grilled lamb ribs that tumble from the bone at the softest touch. But, for me, the highlight was the bowl of lo mein, a tangle of bouncy egg noodles lathered in an abundance of spring alliums. The bite of the green garlic countered the savory shredded Parmesan cheese for a dish that felt like a refreshing celebration of this warm season. And ok, also I loved the soft serve sundae: an impressively tall, tower of vanilla soft serve enrobed in a chocolate shell with bits of hazelnuts. It took me back to summertime as a kid, blissfully lapping an ice cream cone. And who doesn’t want to relive that? Ernest, 1890 Bryant Street, Suite 100, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Tortilla española from Caldero

Man, there are so few greater joys in life than the airy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside Iberian triumph that is a Spanish tortilla. And San Francisco’s finest iteration might be at Caldero, a brand new pop-up from Victoria Lozano of Andina’s father. The first thing to note is the slice of tortilla is double or triple the size of anything I’ve seen at bars in Spain, and much bigger than at fellow Mission District Spanish joint Esperento, where eight smaller tortillas arrive circling a ramekin of aioli. Served at Buddy the Bar on a warm evening, the piping hot titan boasted a generous dollop of aioli on top with a smattering of paprika. The sauce delivered a big punch of garlic, and by big I mean tremendous. But by no means was the garlic overwhelming, instead, the flavor allowed for a kind of trickle-down effect for the quiche’s profile — the potato and egg could be bland in other preparations of the dish, but not so in Caldero’s riff. Sometimes to my embarrassment I truly enjoy large and in-charge servings; Walter Green of the now-defunct Lucky Peach once wrote people love huge piles of food. There’s something about the Ben & Jerry’s-esque portion of this tortilla, matched by the clever and punchy spices woven throughout, that enrapture and enthrall any fans of this Spanish bar food. And for any nonbelievers, Caldero’s rendition ought to convert. Caldero, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Lychee rose garden stone from Craftsman and Wolves

I’ve written before about how Berkeley Bowl sells some of the best pastries in town, but when a fellow East Bay-dwelling food editor informs you that your shared favorite store now sells pastries from Craftsman and Wolves, it’s best to just make up a reason to go. And so I found myself scanning the glass pastry case at Berkeley Bowl West, and I spied this beautiful number. It’s gorgeous, of course, as is everything that comes out of the Craftsman and Wolves kitchen, with a violet-and-gold leaf encased under a clear glace top, decorating the face of a smooth and rounded “garden stone.” The lychee flavor of the mousse was lovely and delicate, not at all cloyingly sweet or over-the-top, which lychee can tend to be in the wrong hands. The softness of the mousse plays against the almond dentelle base with each bite, creating a nice juxtaposition of textures and tastes. The dentelle itself isn’t overly sweet either, and thankfully isn’t tooth-shatteringly crisp; instead, it broke nicely apart with each scoop but provided a good crunch to each bite. It’s a perfect post-grocery store reward for braving the crowds at Berkeley Bowl. Craftsman and Wolves at Berkeley Bowl West, 920 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

April 14

Konkan crab curry from Copra

When it comes to the hot new spot in town, it doesn’t get much hotter than chef Srijith Gopinathan’s Copra, the Fillmore restaurant he opened with business partner and design genius Ayesha Thapar late last month. It’s an airy, cavernous space spangled with macrame hangings and trailing plants, and the creamy color palette makes an appropriately mild backdrop for the vibrant flavors shining on the plate. The menu specifically dives into the tart, pungent, and spicy flavors of Gopinathan’s home state of Kerala in southwestern India and the chutney palette makes an easy start. The condiments seesaw from cool coconut to a ghost chile selection that rumbles with warm heat and then back into the subtle sweetness of gooseberries. To amp things up to the next level, however, you’ll want the extra-napkins-required Konkan crab curry, a dish Gopinathan says is a specialty of Southern India. Fishing squat crab legs out of a bowl of crimson curry makes for messy work, but it’s worth it to ride the waves of caramelized coconut, tart tamarind, and sharp shallots. You scoop the curry and chunks of crab up with pieces of lacy egg appam, a paper-thin pancake made with fermented rice batter that cradles a golden egg yolk inside. If you’re looking to shock your palate, there’s plenty of opportunity here. These are not subtle flavors intended to tease and beguile; this was a meal made of bold statements and uncompromising spice. Copra, 1700 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

The Redwood Fire & Fog from Merchant Roots

Merchant Roots’ chef-owner Ryan Shelton grew up in San Jose and is no stranger to NorCal’s magical plant life. That’s why at his Fillmore Street restaurant, the cook — who demonstrates just how smart he is with this latest rotating menu — decided to zoom in on plants and, specifically, trees. The introductory dish comes after the team applies a generous lathering of flame to a stuffed fungus. The first course then arrives on a slab of lacquered wood beneath an alchemical glass jar, swirling Redwood smoke encased like a mythical apparition. Once the shadow clears, a morel mushroom stuffed with chestnut and charred in Redwood oil remains, blanketed in marigold leaf. The first bite reveals the sumptuous power of the forest floor — the nutty, thick flavor and texture of fungus and nuts offering an oft-overlooked punch of flavor. I took a bit of the mushroom remnants on a ride along the dish to sweep up the last bits of peppery marigold. Chestnut, with a woody and mellow flavor profile, offers notes of roasted Christmas treats or oily, crackling Japanese supermarket snacks. In any case, Merchant Root’s menu really didn’t miss: all 11 courses were vegan, gluten-free, and highly inventive — a gold-leafed acorn, a gingerbread house that descended from the ceiling, a clever and sugary mini caramel apple for a second dessert. Even our Tintin-tattooed sommelier was refreshing, exercising talent and knowledge while staying approachable and kind. The “Great Trees” themed menu is over, sad to say, but Shelton and his team are sure to crack out a menu of winners with the upcoming London 1814 menu. Merchant Roots, 1365 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Pork belly pinakbet from Abaca

It’s been heartening to see a number of restaurants collaborating with guest chefs, from Nisei’s Third Culture series to Ramen Shop’s commitment to hosting off-hour pop-ups like Egg Pals and Molly’s Refresher. Thursday night I was fortunate to try Abaca’s Kolaborasyon series, this time starring chef Mark Singson of Vancouver who offered new takes on classic Filipino dishes. It’s sometimes hard to take a cuisine with built-in ideas of how dishes should look and taste and branch out in clear and concise ways — but this dinner pulled it off. Each dish was a clear expression of Filipino flavors but deployed in technical and heartfelt ways. There were plenty of highlights, including grilled little gems with a salted egg ranch dressing and a fresh, spring vegetable take on munggo guisado. But what continues to stick with me is the pork belly pinakbet, traditionally a vegetable stew inflected with strips of pork belly and shrimp paste, which delivers funky-in-a-good-way undertones. I wasn’t always a fan of this dish growing up, but as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the ways in which the flavors play off each other, chunks of kalabasa squash with bits of bacon and shrimp, the crunch of long beans, and soft bits of eggplant nestled in. This version turned all that on its head, while still managing those pillar flavors. The pork belly was front and center, wrapped in a leaf with a prawn on top, and squid ink jus created an impossibly black and umami-packed sauce at the base of the dish. The dish also came with a fried shrimp head, not typical to pinakbet, which added a nice crisp element. It got my head spinning in a good way, thinking of ways I’d like to play with Filipino cuisine in my own kitchen — and it’s a sign of a good meal if it’s inspiring, which I can certainly say this one was. Abacá, 2700 Jones Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

April 7

The Bernie at Donut Savant

Unfortunate news for all the bakery farm stands I frequented throughout Vermont and Massachusetts while attending college in the Pioneer Valley. While bucolic as bucolic gets, particularly during autumn, I’m afraid those spots couldn’t hold a candle to the maple donut I recently enjoyed in Oakland. A longtime pal and I snagged a variety box from Donut Savant the other day and while the cron’ts were indeed flaky and moist, the Bernie stood out to me. In fact, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Inflated with luscious vanilla pastry cream and glossed with a salted maple frosting, this donut defied all odds and preconceived notions — it could not have been lighter, nor could it have been more flavorful due to the perfect amount of flaky sea salt studding its crown. Donut Savant, 3000 38th Avenue, Allendale, Oakland

– Nat Belkov, Eater design director

Ko’ko’ wings at Prubechu

To be clear, it’s always a good season for enjoying a meal on the spacious patio at Prubechu, San Francisco’s Chamorro dining destination — likely the only Guamanian restaurant in the city. But after months of rainy weekends, a sunny afternoon sent me running to the Mission District restaurant for a Pacific Island-inspired lunch that felt just perfect to usher in spring. I always start with the gulf shrimp kelaguen, a chunky, citrusy mix of shrimp, tomatoes, peppers, and coconut, meant to be scooped up with warm sheets of coconut and scallion flatbread called titayas. But of all the starters, it’s the ko’ko’ wings that set my mouthwatering as soon as they hit the table. These dry-spiced wings come encased in a secret spice blend that sings with tartness and salt, just begging to be amped up with a spoonful of the restaurant’s lemon fina’denne’. The Chomorro dipping sauce combines acidic vinegar, more citrus, and an abundance of scallions for a bite that’s vibrant across all flavor axes. With a glass of chilled red wine, bursting with juicy red cranberries, this meal felt almost as invigorating as a beachy getaway. Prubechu, 2224 Mission Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Caprese chocolate cake from Poesia Cafe

Few desserts are preceded at the table by their warm, floating aroma, but the Caprese cake is one such delight, a nutty, sugary flourless chocolate cake at the Castro’s Poesia Cafe on 18th Street. Straight from the toque of Naples-born pastry chef Giovanni Liguoro, this cake isn’t likely what comes to mind when a San Franciscan hears “caprese.” But it’s time to refresh that mental browser. Little bits of hazelnut play alongside earthy almond flour allowing each bite to flourish as a combination of the complementary textures. Plus, every triangle comes dressed in white; the powdered sugar lightens the flavor to ensure it doesn’t bury a diner in weighty overindulgence. This recipe lands in the Bay via longboat from the Isle of Capri and is one of the first and best gluten-free cakes the Italians whipped up. The crumb on this cake might be the star — so many gluten-free cakes end up too gummy or dry. This airy and bright cafe’s rendition keeps a firm edge with just the right give, allowing for a soft but toothsome slice. My nonna made cakes like these for me when I was diagnosed with celiac, wrapping them in tin foil and mailing them to the various cities I lived in on the West Coast. Sorry, Nonz, but Liguoro’s miraculous work of simultaneity — crumbly and chewy, sweet, and subtle — is giving you a run for your money. Poesia Cafe, 4076 18th Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Salty Feelings from Bar Iris

I always find myself attracted to the names of dishes or drinks since, as a writer, I enjoy some good wordplay. And had I known this drink was called Salty Feelings, I would have ordered it for sure, but instead, it was the intriguing description from the Bar Iris bartender that won me over. He explained it as a spirit-forward, savory drink that incorporates vodka, gin, fino sherry, and vermouth. Most cocktails tend to lean citrusy, bitter, or sweet, so my ears perk up at the mention of a drink that tilts savory first. I watched as the bartender poured it into a beautiful, tulip-shaped, stemmed sherry glass before delicately placing a single piece of ogo seaweed inside, where it floated like an underwater scene. On the first sip, I was hit with the mix of spirits — indeed, it is spirit-forward — but with a bit of brininess and salinity that washes over you at the end of each sip. Like the nerd I am, I kept sipping and pausing, trying to figure out why and how these flavors work together, but never came up with anything solid. It just does, I guess, or perhaps it’s something a cocktail amateur like myself will have to ponder further. In any case, I only found out the entirely perfect name later when looking at the menu, and while Salty Feelings does evoke the spirit of the drink, I have nothing but warm feelings for this cocktail and the technique behind it. Bar Iris, 2310 Polk Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

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