It seems a shame not to capture and share some of our collective intelligence about good places to eat and drink. I’m jotting down some initial notes and places not to forget to review, obviously there’s quite a bit more to add. And hopefully there always will be!
Rione XIII. Ethan Stowell’s new place on 15th. Superb. We had a beautiful snack here of a rather special prosecco, carciofi alla judea, and suppli al telefono. The micro-counter on the sidewalk outside reminds me of the sidewalk parks San Francisco has begun putting in, e.g. right outside Four Barrel. 15th is looking up.
Monsoon, 615 19th Avenue East. This is a place we’re very lucky to have so close to home, tucked away in the leafy part of Capitol Hill. Posh Vietnamese, strong on French influences and with a winning focus on high-quality ingredients (painted hills beef, mad hatcher eggs, etc.). The interior is minimal and attractive; open kitchen behind the bar. Prices are quite reasonable, but this is very much not a Chinatown dive; date night works here. Open every day for dinner, and now for lunch as well. On weekends there’s a lovely brunch, at which one can get dim sum (pieces ordered individually though, there’s not nearly enough volume here for the cart approach), broken rice bowls, banh xeo crêpes, or western things like eggs benedict and waffles, are very finely prepared. Faves: catfish hot pot, green papaya salad, egg dishes, all the dim sum. Pretty much everything is good here.
Vios. Owned by the cheerful, gastronomical and community-minded Thomas Soukakos, this is another local gem. Greek food, again with an emphasis on simplicity and fine ingredients. Pleasant interior, with a place in the back for kids to play, and nominally a “market” counter in the front, though market prices are well north of Greek islandish. For lunch, it’s hard to beat the lamb souvlaki sandwich, loaded with oven-roasted tomatoes, yogurt and parsley. At dinner, a glass of retsina and a pikilia plate to share would be a good start.
Anchovies & Olives. This has become perhaps our favorite place, because: it’s somehow light, in that one can go early or late or on a whim and feel instantly accommodated. The menu is short and sweet, and changes often. The dishes are interesting and might include things like, for instance, a little slab of grilled mackerel with the skin charred, the flesh succulent, on a bed of chorizo and wild mushrooms or some other such umami-intensive thing. The wines by the glass are very good. There’s a painting on the wall they should change. But otherwise the environment is appealing, dark and casual; the waitstaff hip and pierced, but not overly.
Café Lago. Need to confirm versus Serious Pie, but probably the most expensive pizza in Seattle. Worth it: very fine traditional crust, correct ingredients, nicely blackened buboes, more on the crisp side than Tutta Bella’s. There’s a purity about the dishes here; nothing has more ingredients than needed. The Caesar salad is dead simple and very good. The lasagna is perfect— nothing but fine handmade pasta, ricotta, and béchamel in multiple layers, and a perfectly textured seedless red sauce on top. Wine: the rubio san polo goes well. Also: the Arancia Salata, made with Aperol, Vodka and roasted orange, is delicious.
Osteria La Spiga
Boat Street Café
Volunteer Park Café
Pike Street Fish Fry. The fish and chip and friends are very good here. Also, the pulled pork sandwich is revelatory.
Malay Satay Hut
Agua Verde Paddle Club. Decent Gringo Mex with high quality ingredients. There’s often a long line, but in the summer you can rent out a kayak before a late dinner.
Carta de Oaxaca
Staple & Fancy
How to Cook a Wolf. My other co-favorite of Ethan Stowell’s, with Anchovies & Olives.
Grand Central Bakery
Columbia City Bakery
Honoré. I thought we’d never supplant Besalu for the coffee and pastry during the kids’ parkour class. But this place has done it. Shorter lines, astounding quiche, beautiful berry-filled danishes and excellent canelles.
Ballard pizza place next to Honore.
Tartine. Excellent bread and pastries.
Bourbon & Branch (anti saloon league, speakeasy) http://www.yelp.com/biz/bourbon-and-branch-san-francisco
Mission Chinese Food
Burma Super Star
Farallon. Not sure on looking, possibly douchy.
Fifth Floor. Pricey but interesting Ferran Adrià kind of situation near the SF studio.
Gitane. Indulgent tapas of the broiled bacon-wrapped-date sort in a little alley, same neighborhood.
Zero Zero. Pizza and pasta, quite good.
Bar Agricole [pic]. The restaurant is so beautiful that it’s hard to focus on the food. The food’s good. The drinks are good. The space is a sort of Swedish designer’s dream. Clean wood, wood-textured cement, perfectly shaped glasses and decanters, a sense of modernist lifestyle geometry that makes one feel that one is simultaneously inhabiting the decade of Fallingwater and the 21st century utopia wrongly prefigured by Fallingwater.
Coffee bar. Very pleasant environment in which to hang out with the laptop and hack for an afternoon. Acceptable espresso (though not on par with the best in SF). Soups and sandwiches. Some power outlets, and some tables “laptop-free”.
Piccino [pic]. Little coffeeshop in the Dogpatch; also now sporting an adjacent place to sit down for pizza, wine, salads. Undergoing some kind of major expansion now, scaling up to a larger restaurant. The tiny mostly standing-room bar is still best, I think. Very fine espresso and cappuccino, served in crudely formed raku cups whose glazed and scored surfaces feel good on the fingers. Blue Bottle beans. Limited but good selection of small baked things as well.
Ritual [pic]. Among the best SF coffeeshops, I think on par with Four Barrel. Excellent croissants and attractive space.
Blue Bottle. The classic place for a beautiful cappuccino in the traditional size. The wait may be long, and the baristi are insensitive to line length– perhaps even shear-thickening as it lengthens. Also: lovely for breakfast. Only 2–3 things, but good ones.
Four Barrel. An excellent third wave coffeeshop. Much of the deep, warehouse-like space is devoted to roasting and other coffee machinery; the front, where you sit or stand at the bar, is furnished cleanly and minimally—except a hairily tangled hanging rope light, and four boar heads mounted on the wall. The menu is short and rigorous; for example, only plain croissants, but good ones. The unexpected “boar head element” is an affogato made with stout-flavored gelato, which is pfg.
Bouche. This was a lovely surprise find near the Microsoft offices on Market Street. Not particularly noticeable from the outside, quite hip on the inside with vertical space, raw materials and a taxidermied Boar’s head, serving dinner until late (i.e. 12:35am on a Monday, which is when I showed up after the late flight in from Seattle). I had a lovely glass of Peche Abuse red blend, a corn soup done very creatively with a foamy emulsion and a temperature gradient from hot around the rim to a small icy dollop of sorbet in the center, and a couple of other small dishes, all delicious. I left very happy. The waitstaff were friendly French expats, and the chef (Guillaume from Provence) sported the Einsteinian “afro of genius”, deserved it turns out.
Gather. Good for brunch.
Strada. Decent coffee, excellent work environment (plugs and WiFi outside).
Victoria’s Espresso. The only fully acceptable coffee in Aspen, and good for salady quichey things as well.
Jeni’s ice cream.
Voltage Coffee & Art. Good espresso near MIT and enough barista tattoos to look familiar from the Seattle perspective.
Belly bar. Noisy and hip basement bar on Kendall Square with a few communal high tables. Nice short wine list, good salumi and ciccheti, and fondue if you reserve ahead. The lamb polpette were delicious.
Dumpling Cafe Inc. This place in Chinatown had credible and yummy soup dumplings. (Listed on the menu as “mini juicy buns”, either pork or pork + crab. The pork-only are the way to go.)
Avec. Probably favorite place in Chicago for now.
Girl and the goat
Batali place on Waverly
Batali place on Thompson
Mamoun. Cheap and ever awesome falafel in the East Village open til after midnight; try the excellent smoky chicken kebab in pita with a dollop of babaganoush.
Torrisi Italian Specialties. This place looks very special and has come with high praise from trusted friends. Unfortunately, I think getting a reservation is difficult.
Telepan. Anne and Michael rec.
Per Se. Must try it.
WD~50. Also must try it.
Nice Matin. Brunch standby near the Natural History Museum.
Cafe Lalo. Cute and good for brunch or frittata type stuff anytime of day, also a huge dessert menu and absinthey drinks at night.
Al contadino sotto le stelle
Cera 23. Recommendation from Ilya.
Commerç 24. Also from Ilya.
The Punter, 3 Pound Hill. Cambridge is a very beautiful little town. And it turns out that, notwithstanding being in England, it does have an excellent place to eat: The Punter. A pub with lovely modern food made from high quality ingredients, and the usual supply of artisanal warm beer or whatever they call it.
Place with Blaine
Yo’Ezer Wine Bar
Margaret Tayar. This is the place under the big blue metal fish visible from the Jaffa clocktower. Opening hours seem somewhat erratic, and the temperamental eponymous Margaret’s “high prices” for this kind of food annoy many locals. (For a non-Israeli, this means little, as the food is delicious Yemenite stuff, you won’t be coming here every day, and if this restaurant were anyplace else in the world its prices would be unremarkable. The fine-ness of the preparation is also a step above ordinary Yemenite holes-in-the-wall.)
Suzanne Dellal. Lovely breakfasts in the cafe with ample patio and outdoor seating near the dance school.
Barbunia and Barbunia, the bar. The bar, across the street from the main restaurant at 162 Ben Yehuda, is better.
Container is a cool place in Jaffa, right on the water opposite the piers. Good drinks, good food, and a beautiful raw industrial space true to its name.
Ido says (May 2012): “If you have the time, go to Berti (ברטי)– King George 86 TLV”. This seems like advice worth following.
Ishay says: try the truffle pizza at the Basta, in/next to the Carmel market.
Recommendations from Michelle:
Rabin Square area (all are within walking distance from one another):
1. The ‘Brasserie’ — a very popular place, good food. Recommended dishes: bone marrow with toast, chicken consomme, endive salad with champagne vinaigrette (good for a nice lunch). Bakery next door belongs to them and has excellent coffee and pastries.
2. Bookworm or ‘Tolaat Sfarim’ — right across the square from the Brasserie, an excellent bookstore cafe. They have wonderful meal-salads and good coffee, and everyone who is someone in the intelectual life of Tel Aviv sits there. Also a very pro Palestinian place.
3. ‘Cardinal Chocolate’ A Chocolatier — delicious chocolates way beyond anything anyone over here makes... Don’t miss the sour cherry pralines.
Yehuda Halevi/ Lilenblum area:
1. ‘Joz Veloz’ — the hipster hangout. Arrive early, there is a line. Food has been excellent or nothing much in waves, no idea what is happening now, but I am going there when in Israel, just to feel the beat of the city which I so miss here. Correct Adress is: Yehuda Halevi 51. There is an iron gate at the side of an ugly residential building, through the gate to your right, in a converted insurance office.
2. ‘Katit’ Extra fancy local fusion. The chef, Meir Adoni, is a whiz in desserts and sweets, I ate there once and loved it, hope it is still the same ;-)
3. North Abraxas — this place is supposed to be incredible, don’t miss it (and tell us how it was...). The chef, Eyal Shani, is a genius, and it is also supposed to have excellent music.
4. The trendiest, hippest place in town is called ‘The Basta’. It is in the corner of one of the streets of the Karmel market — on Hashomer st. No. 4. I am totally planning on visiting it, it is supposed to be out of this world delicious (the above applies here as well about telling us how it was).
5. And of course, ‘Herbert samuel’, Very easy to find, delicious and very easy to enjoy. if this list is too confusing, go there only– it’s the closest there is to a sure thing.
Odds & Ends we mentioned:
- ‘Old timer’s’ cool cafe in TLV = ‘Cafe mersand’ — Ben Yehuda 70
- Jerusalem — ‘Rashel’s Sandwich’ No. 17 Beit-Lechem Rd. — take the daily special (Tunisian food, all freshly cooked there, delicious!!)
Corte Sconta. On Calle del Pestrin, in Castello. It’s worth taking a long walk to dine here. A bit pricey, like Da Fiore; and I think equally great. The meal begins with a long and creative tasting menu of seafoods; the challenge is to still be able to keep going by the time you get to the part you actually ordered.
Ae Oche. In San Polo, off a “local” quiet square on the Zattere vaporetto stop. Widely regarded as the best pizza in Venice.
La Zucca. Near Ae Oche, this place is very nice, and a little more inventive than the usual Venetian standards, while still firmly grounded in tradition.
Tonolo. In the San Polo quarter across a bridge behind the Scuola San Rocco. The fiamma, a choux pastry filled with marsala cream, is pretty much the best thing I’ve ever tasted. But everything here is good. Cappuccino comes in lovely little blue porcelain cups. Don’t get there too late in the morning as their pastries sell out.
Da Fiore. As far as I know the only place in Venice with a Michelin star. We had a wonderful meal here, both haute and with a welcome element of earthiness. The house-made prosecco is delicious. This was the first place I tried crudo, sashimi-style fish in olive oil, and probably still the best.
Ai Do Mori. Near the Rialto bridge, hidden away on the Calle Do Mori in San Polo. One goes here for an “ombra”, a glass of white wine in the afternoon and some cicheti (little bites at the bar, a bit like tapas or pintxos).
100 Maneiras. This place is (Adrienne assures) amazing.
Rubro Avenida “had a beautiful interior and was delicious. recommended.”
Campu Latinu is the fancier of two restaurants in the picturesque village of Lama (population 176 in 2008 according to Wikipedia— an inland hamlet perched on a steep mountainside about halfway between Ile Rousse and Bastia). The setting is beautiful and atmospheric, with outdoor seating on a stone terrace under fig trees and climbing vines overlooking the valley. As dusk comes in, around 9 o’clock, layers of mountainous silhouette rise softly out of the clouds on the far side in purple bands. One of the traditional dishes served by Campu Latinu, a sort of beef pot pie with juniper berries in the stew, was a standout.
Café de la Place. Place Pascal Paoli, up to the castle, with its wonderful panoramic viewpoints, is recommended. At Café de la Place on this square we had a very good handmade pasta dish with sanglier, which are the wild pigs living on the island.
U Paglia Orba, in Corte. We had a very nice meal here. The place is focused on high-quality regional cooking. The proprietor was kind and attentive to the kids, and the bill was very reasonable.
Emile’s on the waterfront in Calvi is a Michelin-starred place with a second-story balcony. It’s white tablecloth (what Michelin place isn’t?), but not excessively formal. The meal was very good, and the wines excellent.
M*. We had a very nice upscale lunch on the water at Saint-Florent, but I’m now unable to find the name of the restaurant, which is quite frustrating. It began with an “M”, and one accessed it by walking down a somewhat hidden ramp off the main square. The langouste in lemon butter sauce here made it clear what all the fuss was about. This place also served delicious stuffed sardines, in which brocciu was deployed to better effect than in the ubiquitous cannelloni.
Rendezvous au Marche. A simple place run by a dude who loves his meat, and loves to cook. Classic and delicious.
Lou Pescadou Chez Julien.
Helene Darroze. Birthday lunch for Adrienne here– delicious and delicate, impeccable service without obnoxiousness.
Saran is a very good fish restaurant in Zemun, a town on the banks of the Danube which has been engulfed by Belgrade (though it still retains a very local character). The freshwater fish is best, as this is local and fresh.
Stara Koliba, also on the river, looks promising. Reservations needed.
Vuk, which means Wolf, is a very old-school place in the old city. The food was good and kept coming. Meat, meat, meat! This is best enjoyed on the outdoor patio.