Best of Best of 2008 Part III: Food and Drink

This is the third installment of My Best of the Best Of, where you get the lowdown on both the readers’ and editors’ picks in last week’s SF Weekly. See the introduction here.

Food & Drink

Best Restaurant: Sauce (SF Weekly Readers (R))
Yes, delicious.

Best New Restaurant: SPQR (R & 7×7 Magazine(7))
Also the pick of 7×7. Noted, let’s go. Oops, let’s put our name on the hour-plus wait list, and then go.

Best Hidden Restaurant: Cafe Gratitude (SF Weekly Editors(W))
I only recently heard of this ridiculousness. Apparently if you don’t order the dish by name (click on menu image below to be horrified), your server corrects you and literally makes you say it. Its like bad therapy. Look, I’m sure the organic, free-range hippie food is delicious, but the pretension that comes along with it seems a bit much. From their website:

“Our food is prepared with love. We invite you to step inside and enjoy being someone that chooses: loving your life, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful every day, and experiencing being provided for. Have fun and enjoy being nourished. Welcome to CafĂ© Gratitude!”

I want a restaurant, not a soapbox. For the record, the best hidden restaurant in San Francisco is The Brazen Head. Give me a spot straight out of 1945 with real, American food and character over this Berkeley transplant any day.

Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Greens (R)
See? It’s completely possible to have a veggie, organic place without being so silly. One of my favorites.

Best Seafood Restaurant: Weird Fish (R)
Perhaps the best affordable seafood restaurant, but the best is still Aqua. Yes, I’ve blown my rent there, and yes, it was worth it.

Best Thai Restaurant: Osha (R)
If this is the place on Post and Leavenworth that blares horrific techno then it’s a batshit crazy choice. Best Thai is Lemongrass on Polk.

Best Late-Night Eats: Sparky’s (R)
I think this one wins because it’s almost the only late-night eats in the City, though I recently found out that while they’d deliver cheeseburgers to my old apartment on Sutter Street, they won’t go to M.’s place in North Beach. Boo to that.

Best Romantic Restaurant: House of Prime Rib (R)
They do have fancy new signage! Romantic? Ehn.. maybe, if your date is over the age of 72. But props for not voting Fleur de Lys.

Best Italian Restaurant: Pasta Pomodoro (R) / Sodini’s Green Valley Restaurant (old-style), Perbacco (high-end) (W)
Weekly readers, come on. Pasta Pomodoro, a mid-level chain about one notch above Bucca di Beppo is your choice? Another harbinger of the shitty economy. But really no excuse, because Sodini’s, as the Weekly suggests, is affordable and stupid good.

Best Ethiopian Restaurant: Axum
It’s the only one I know of, so I’ll agree. However, once upon a time there were two Axums (one on lower Haight and one in Polk Gulch that had a full bar and live (good) jazz and was in a pre-earthquake building. Sadly, deux is now gone.

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant: Kokkari
I think Kokkari should also win for Best Restaurant To Dine If You Could Only Choose One For The Rest Of Your Life.

Best Burger: Burgermeister / Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers, Acme Chophouse, Balboa Cafe, Kezar Bar and Restaurant, In-N-Out
I think it’s rude that the readers only get to vote for one best, and the Weekly editors get five. Out of all these, Pearl’s is tops. And you just can’t put In-N-Out on the list. Come on. EVERYONE loves In-N-Out. It’s a chain. It’s easy to find. Trust me, dearests, Pearl’s. So. Good.

Best Desserts: Tartine / Farina Focaccia & Cucina Italiana (fancy), Yoshi’s Japanese Restaurant (fancy)
The best dessert I’ve had in the City has always been at Aqua. They may not be known for it, but I’d go there just for dessert (and then perhaps leave without maxing another card).

Best Dim Sum: Yank Sing (R) / Gold Mountain (W)
I’m partial to City View, which is still kinda in Chinatown-ish.

Best Sushi: Ebisu (R) / Hamano (W) (neighborhood), Umami (W) (fancy)
The best sushi in the city, hands down no contest, is Sanraku on Sutter and Taylor.

Best Japanese Restaurant: Kyoto Sushi

Best Pizza: Little Star / Arinell Pizza
I’m still a fan of last year’s winner, Escape From New York pizza, and I recently lifted my boycott on Pizza Orgasmica.

Best Ice Cream: Bi-Rite Creamery / La Copa Loca
Um…Swensen’s?

Best Frozen Yogurt Place: Jubili / Caffe Ambrosia
Or, the bodega at the corner of Union and Fillmore.

Best Indian Restaurant: Pakwan
This place is a Tenderloin superdive. Best food, best service, and they now deliver. I suggest take-away/delivery because the “restaurant” itself is.. well, who knows (?) you might find it entertaining.

Best Teahouse: Samovar
I’m an espresso girl, but this place makes everyone feel, so, sexy.

Best Barbecue: Memphis Minnie’s (R) / Shanghai House (W)
I have to amend this category to American BBQ, because that’s what we do best. And Memphis Minnie’s is The Spot. Even my Dallas friends would agree. They have REAL barbecue sauce. And if you don’t know what that is, you’re already lost.

Best Chinese: House of Nanking (R)
Mmmkay, srsly? WTF? OMG. And I’m spent. How on earth can “San Francisco’s Worst Kept Secret” continue to win in this category. Readers, have you even had Chinese food anywhere else? You can get the server brutality at a number of different places, you know.

Best Tapas/Small Plates: Cha Cha Cha
Was recently here with M. and friend and gave it a big thumbs up, though you do have to wait forever for a table. Definitely make reservations. The other best small plates in the city is Pesce on Polk.

Best Coffeehouse: Ritual Roasters / Cup of Blues
There really are so many. I’m partial to either the French or Italian leaning spots. La Boulange de Polk makes a great espresso and there’s outdoor seating where you can smoke. I need to smoke. Coffee and cigarettes. That’s the agreement. My other spot is Cafe Grecco. Better people watching here, especially in the evening. And now it’s a cop-spot? Interesting.

Best Farmers’ Market: Ferry Building
No joke.

Best Pickup Bar: R Bar
The popularity of this nasty place I will never understand. They probably like it that way. I know I do. I’m not sure who you’re trying to pick up here, but I can guarantee they come with more than the usual few caveats. Fair warning.

Best Smoking Bar: Amber / Amber
Long live Amber.

Best Steak House: Ruth’s Chris
I still don’t understand why nobody’s found out about it yet.. yes, Bobquivari’s (Bobo’s) is in a weird in-between neighboorhood (Lombard and Franklin), but these people know how a steak should be aged and for how long and then how to cook it. The filet is absolutely perfect. I don’t even think they ask you “how you want it” because no one should ever eat a filet that’s not–at the most–medium rare.

Best Fish Taco: El Metate
I’m still a sucker for Nick’s Crisy Tacos. Yes, it’s filled with yuppies, and no, it’s not “real Mexican” but the Fish Taco makes me feel like everything in the world is going to be a-okay.

Best Prix-Fixe: Canteen, Globe, Le Zinc, Educated Palate Restaurant (all W)
Hooray for Canteen. This teeny tiny kooky place was fabulous when it was Titanic, and it’s even better as Canteen. Everyone is cool (in the friendly way). Makes me happy joy. Oh, and before we get all grumpy and pointy about the beyond-pretentious name of the restaurant “Educated Palate”, keep in mind that it’s located within the City College of San Francisco. So, it’s a little pun. Haha. Get it? Hm.

Best Candy Shops: Fiona’s Sweetshoppe (W & 7), Chocolate Covered (W), Candy Store (W), Shaws San Francisco (W)
Fiona’s Sweetshoppe is so expensive. It’s just too much. The tackier Z. Cioccoloto’s in North Beach has the same, important whatever-you-want, and for much less (though it’s still expensive too because everything in the whole goddamn city is expensive).

Best Cake: I Dream of Cake (artful), Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop (general), Kara’s Cupcakes (cupcakes)
The best cake I’ve ever had came from La Miette at the Ferry Building. However, I’ve yet to see a problem that couldn’t be fixed with Kara’s Cupcakes (and she delivers larger orders because she’s a badass).

Best Macaroon: Italian French Baking Co.
Also, La Miette.

Next up: Shopping & Services

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