Monday, April 19, 2010


Last Friday I told you about all of the great shopping there is to do in The Marina area of SF. Today, I want to fill you in on where to eat if you find yourself in this part of San Francisco. Again, The Marina is known for it's young beautiful crowd, and the restaurants go along with that theme...they are hip, trendy, and they have great food. Some of the restaurants in The Marina will remind you of some of the best restaurants in New York City!

Mamacita- Mexican Tacolicious...need I say more? You know the saying "When in as the Romans do?" Well the same goes for California...when in Cali, eat Mexican food! If you happen to be in The Marina, then the place to go for awesome Mexican cuisine is Mamacita.

The food is fresh, the drinks are fabulous, and the atmosphere is is very cool. Be aware that it's a small place so it may be hard to get a reservation, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. But, the good news is is that they save over half of their tables for walk-ins every night, so you might have to wait, but at least you won't be turned away. I went with my friends Louisa and Elaine on a Friday night (around 9pm), and we couldn't get a reservation, so we went to the bar and had to wait no more than 15 minutes. While we waited, we ordered their chips and guacamole...some of the best I have ever had! It was so creamy and light with just the right amount of chunky texture. Wash it all down with one of their Pomegranate Margaritas (pomegranate tequila and fresh squeezed lime juice) or a Guava Mojito (classic mojito with cruzan guava rum). For main course we had the Carnitas Especial, which is a sizzling platter of crispy pork “confit” (1/2 lb) with a 7-layer “queso fundido” dip and fresh tortillas. The pork was perfectly crunchy on the outside, but nice and juicy on the inside.We also ordered the Mayacoba, which is seared ahi tuna “tacos” that comes with a persimmon-apple pico de gallo, chayote and aguamiel in jicama wraps. This dish was so nice, light and refreshing. The tuna was just slightly cooked on the outside and pretty much raw on the inside- just like tuna tacos should be. The sweetness of the pico de gallo complimented the fish perfectly, and the wraps were so thin, that it was almost like eating sushi. Delicious!!! The other dish we tried was the Pollo Taqueria- crispy chicken tacos with “cascabel” chile salsa, queso oaxaca, shredded lettuce and refried beans. The shell on these tacos is like eating a tortilla chip (nice and crunchy), so be careful you don't loose everything that's in the taco when you are eating it. If you do don't worry, just grab your me, you won't want to leave an ounce of this dish behind on your plate. Finally, for dessert we had their flan. As someone who grew up eating my grandmother's homemade flan, I have to be honest and say this one did not come close. The consistency is more like a cheesecake than of a light and airy traditional flan. I would skip out on ordering this if I go back, but that's just my opinion. My friends Louisa and Elaine really enjoyed it!California Wine Merchant- A great wine bar to head to for a before dinner drink, or afterwards because they have a great night scene as well. They specialize in California Wine and carry many small production, hard-to-find California Wines.

More Munchies in The Marina:
Abigail's: California-French food that's supposed to be excellent!
Ace Wasabi: Hip, loud, young and hot: Ace's does have decent sushi for a reasonable price, but the flavor of the place will either keep you coming back or drive you fast and far away. Alegrias: Tapas like tortilla espanola, sauteed spinach and baked goat cheese are fabulous. Wonderful flan.
Andale Taqueria: Don't let the "taqueria" fool you; this restaurant serves up clean, fresh, and healthy Mexican food.
Baker Street Bistro: Great prices for excellently prepared, classically inspired French fare.
Barney's Hamburgers: What first strikes the eye in this eatery is the lineup of Best Burger awards from a variety of sources. Barney's sets the mood with a comfortable wood decor, or there is an outdoor garden.
Betelnut: This self-described "pan-Asian tapas" restaurant is bursting with atmosphere and flavor. Giant fans swoosh back and forth from the ceiling while waiters carrying trays of towering tropical cocktails nudge their way around customers in the usually packed bar. While it may be an impossible to get same-day reservations, Betelnut does take walk-ins. The minced chicken with lettuce cups, spareribs, crispy calamari and towering tropical cocktails are worth planning ahead for or waiting in line for.
Bistro Aix: Local Marina dwellers head to this understated, calming bistro for its fresh food and list of 150 wines, mostly French and Spanish. The chef uses simple ingredients and offers organic daily specials. The menu takes on several international flavors, including a thin-crust pizza, several pastas, and duck confit. Aix is open only for dinner.
Bistro Yoffi: The food, by all accounts, is yummy California fare with Mediterranean accents, but it's Bistro Yoffi's charming ambiance that will bring first-timers back for more. This small, skinny bistro, decorated primarily with dozens of lush potted plants and colorful Tuscan village-style accents, is quaintly romantic.
Bombay Curry House: This is the first Indian restaurant in the Marina. The tiny space (40 seats) is open for lunch and dinner daily. The menu features traditional Indian favorites, with entrees generally under $10, and the most expensive item -- rack of lamb -- at $14.95.
Brazen Head: An English pub atmosphere offering a mostly American menu.
Cafe Organic Lettus: California cuisine with global touches, like Asian-inspired mango chicken lettuce cups with chile-tamarind sauce, or Mediterranean-style butter bean bruschetta. They also have made-to-order salads, and breakfast is served all day and includes great choices like lemon-ricotta pancakes and French toast. You must order at the counter and servers will bring the food to your table.
Cafe Maritime: Evoking a New England seafood shack with hammered galvanized steel covering the tables, a boat-shaped wooden bar and a wave-like, silvery divider, Cafe Maritime offers seasonal catches like soft shell crab and Copper River King salmon. Appetizers include grilled calamari with smoked tomato sauce and lime-spiked creme fraiche, and grilled sardines served over white bean sauce and a tart salsa verde. Alaskan halibut and Oregon Bay shrimp linguine are among the entrees. Hand-cut Kennebec fries, finer than even shoestring fries, accompany the lobster roll and hanger steak. Desserts include coconut cream pie, a hot fudge sundae and root beer float.
City Tavern: Stick to simple favorites like fried calamari with remoulade dipping sauce and crispy pizzas at this inviting pub/restaurant.
Cozmos Corner Bar & Grill: Since its opening in November 2001, Cozmos has steadily built a reputation as a Marina hangout. The brick walls and large center bar give Cozmos a casual feel. Though entrees change daily, some past specialties have included rare seared ahi with a sticky rice cake and stir fried Chinese long beans and wasabi aioli.
D Den: Great Thai dishes, including good larb ped, salmon yang and panang gung.
Dragon Well: This tiny, airy pan-Asian food joint offers a small selection of healthy, flavorful dishes at moderate prices.
E'Angelo: Old-fashioned Italian dishes haven't changed and neither has the small, crowded dining room. Good veal Parmigiana, pasta carbonara, and pizza. Fast, efficient service.
Emporio Rulli Gran Caffe: Stop in to this Northern Italian-influenced cafe for a quick breakfast or house made panini, soups and salads. The cafe offers a large selection of homemade Italian gelato and pastries, such as cassata, a traditional ricotta cheesecake. A wine bar serves Italian wines, small plates and dinner until 10 p.m. During holiday time, make sure to order their Pane Tone- supposed to be the best other than the ones you find in Italy!
Enoshima: The sushi chefs can get quite creative at Enoshima, offering nearly 60 types of rolls. Creations include volcano make -- spicy tuna with jalapeno and tobiko -- as well as the New York roll -- shrimp, cream cheese, and avocado.
Gatip Classic Thai Cuisine: For those who like their Thai food spicy and authentic, Gatip is the place to go. The Thai iced tea that is out of this world, as is the sticky rice!
Grove Cafe: Ah, the Grove, a breath of fresh air on busy Chestnut Street. Tasty salads and a great selection of teas, light pastries and snacks make this a relaxing way to start the day, grab a light lunch or enjoy a sober happy hour.
Home: Standard American can never go wrong here.
Home Plate: Take a number and wait your turn for homey breakfasts that include scones, buttermilk pancakes and homemade granola.
Isa: French-inspired cuisine varies from truffled risotto with mushroom fricassee and reggiano to potato wrapped sea bass with brown butter, capers, lemon and parsley, all at reasonable entree prices. Three course prix fix options are available.
Izzy's Steakhouse: This is just the kind of old-school steakhouse where you might have bumped into DiMaggio in his day. Stiff cocktails, red studded-leather booths, quality steaks, robust red wines and a mouthwatering selection of side dishes all make up Izzy's.
Liverpool Lil's: If it's fish-and-chips you're seeking, you've found the place! Enjoy along with a pint (or two) of beer!
Mezes: Really cute Greek restaurant that has many wonderful dishes meant to share, including fried cheese and moussaka.
Naked Fish: The tech feel at this sushi spot permeates in its decor as well as background music. Even more hip is the selection of creative sushi rolls including the Cherry Blossom Roll with salmon Hamachi, scallion topped with garlic spicy tuna and pesto, and the Red Caterpillar Roll, filled with spicy and seared tuna and a honey glaze.
Osome Sushi: Locals often rate Osome as one of the best sushi restaurants in the city!
Pacific Catch: Delicious fish and shrimp tacos, salmon salads and hot fish sandwiches go perfectly with the sweet potato fries at this Marina seafood spot. Try the wasabi bowl, filled with seasoned sushi rice, cold vegetables and a hot piece of grilled ahi or salmon.
Parma Ristorante : This neighborhood Italian eatery offers great lasagna!
Perry's: Serving since 1969, Perry's has become an institution on Union Street. The New York-style bar and grill is known for its burgers, though it also serves a variety of soups and salads and comfort food entrees, such as Perry's meatloaf, and fried chicken. The lobsters, which arrive every Wednesday and Saturday, are a Perry's institution.
PlumpJack Cafe: The California cuisine at PlumpJack is varied enough to appeal to many tastes. Entrees include grilled local king salmon with fig leaves and pan roasted petite chicken. For a lighter meal, the artisan cheeseboard with any of PlumpJack's renowned wines fits the bill.
Pluto's: Known for its fast and consistently fresh salads and grilled meats, Pluto's is a clean, bright order-at-the-counter-style restaurant that is always packed. The grilled turkey breast or flank steak, served over your custom-built salad (try the Caesar -- it's amazing) will make your mouth water and your wallet sing. Add a yummy side of mashers or spicy curly fries and you've got a substantial meal for under $10.
Rose's Cafe: This classic light Italian bistro is wonderfully located right at the edge of the Union Street shopping area; once inside, you'll feel like you are a world away. The varied dinner menu makes it difficult to settle on one dish, but it's hard to go wrong. Rose's also serves up a mean Sunday brunch, but be prepared to wait, as it's no secret!
Saji Sushi and Japanese Restaurant: Over the past 30 years, Saji has been rolling sushi for the local crowd. Specialty rolls have a local twist, including the 49ers roll with avocado salmon, and salmon on the outside. The San Francisco is a take on the basic California roll with fresh water eel on the outside. Prices are very reasonable.
Sushi Chardonnay: This low-key eatery offers unique special rolls, including the Chardonnay roll with strawberry, apple, mango, and melon on the outside. All the regular sushi rolls are offered as well. The $20 all you can eat sushi deal is a popular option. The restaurant also has an extensive sake list.
Thai Noodle House: This late-night Asian-style diner serves a lot of food for little money. Good Thai white pasta and calamari.
Three Seasons: Regulars gush about this casual Vietnamese bistro with fresh, reasonable fare and super-friendly waitstaff. If you plan to go on a weekend, it's best to make reservations a few days in advance.
Tichada: Friendly service and pretty decor. Some delicious Thai dishes, especially curries, while other dishes seem ordinary.
Yoshida-Ya: Go here to cook your own chicken, meat, seafood, and vegetables on a small hibachi at your table.
Zao Noodle Bar: Bringing together Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, Zao is a quick, comfortable, and inexpensive option for Marina dining.

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