I love going to San Francisco; not only because it happens to be an ever vibrant hub of fun activities close to our little town of Danville, but also because SFO in a way reminds me of my home city Kolkata. The streets choked with traffic at all hours of the day, drivers honking away at each other as if they intend to clear up the congestion solely by generating higher and higher levels of sound energy, the never ending series of detours and road repairs, the relentless fist fights to find an appropriate parking, the surviving Victorian homes still emanating some old world charm, the proximity to the Bay, streets plastered with banners of upcoming artistic and cultural events, sports mania raging across the city whenever there’s a big game: San Francisco and Kolkata actually have a lot in common. But the greatest similarity I’ve discovered between the two lies in the wide variety of dining options they offer to residents and visitors. Since, earlier I had written about some interesting restaurant options in Kolkata, this time it’s San Fran’s turn:
1. Nopalito (Mexican): This is the one on Broderick. We make it a point to stop by this place whenever we visit the Haight-Ashbury area. It’s easy to find the place and it’s easy to park; if you don’t find parking right in front of the restaurant, you can take your car to the adjacent Fallettis Plaza parking. At lunch time, they get you started with an appetizer of spicy dried garbanzo beans that invariably reminds me of Chana Jor Garam, a popular Indian snack. I love their Seasonal Sangria followed by an Enchiladas de Mole con Pollo (you got to love this unique sauce made out of chiles, chocolates, nuts and cheese) and if I’m still hungry, a Tacos de Pescado al Pastor (I love the way they sear the fish in the tacos with orange, onion and cilantro). Service is great and ambience is lovely.
2. Mifune Don (Japanese): My husband, thanks to his monthly trips to Japan, had fallen in love with Okonomiyaki, the famous “Japanese Pizza” which is not widely available in the Bay Area. After much investigation, we stumbled upon this place in the SFO Japantown. My husband testified their version of okonomiyaki is almost 80% authentic compared to the flavors he gets to taste in Japan. Their chicken Karaages (deep fried boneless chicken) are awesome too. Also, we make it a point to stop by the amazing art stores in Japantown after lunch and have often picked up unique art pieces from there.
3. Bisou French Bistro (French): Bisou means “Kiss” and you can easily identify this restaurant even from a distance, thanks to the pair of pink lips it flaunts on its face. Seating is a bit tight, so we usually reserve a spot before going in. Their Cuisse de Canard Confit a la Truffe (a duck leg dish) and Bar Californien (sea bass cooked with roasted acorn squash) are mind blowing.
4. Dosa (Indian): Although they have multiple branches, we mostly visit the one on Fillmore. Guess why, because it’s located right next to my husband’s favorite aquarium product showroom in the city. Their Mung Masala Dosa (crispy rice and lentil South Indian style crepe) and South Indian Moons (a selected platter of uttapam, the popular South Indian pancakes) are my absolute favorites.
5. Fisherman’s Wharf Chowder and Crab Sidewalk Stands (Californian Seafood) : Creamy clam chowders in bread bowls, crsipy shrimp bites served with hot ketchup, steamed gigantic crabs: it won’t take too much to make you fall in love with this place. With a unique view of the San Francisco Bay, a fun arcade lined with small shops, live music and a bunch of artists exhibiting their creations, this place will infuse the true San Fran spirit in you.