On a recent trip to Northern California here are the highlights (with a couple of lowlights), listed alphabetically.
Pricey but you will get a more than decent meal.
Empanadas that were disappointing. More like an overly dry Cornish pasty.
Best chocolate I’ve come across and that includes France and Belgium. Brownie flight, tiramisu, hot chocolate, frozen chocolate drink. Fantastic trio of Madagascarian, Liberian and Venezuelan cocoa bars. Touch, view, taste all aspects of production.
All super wines in a tasting room that is fun and that has had a lot of money thrown at it. While staff were very pleasant they were hired hands. A strong Burgundy connection.
Excellent wines in an intimate tasting room where you can speak to one of the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable and honest winemakers you’ll ever come across — fascinating listening to Joe.
Charming hippy-hangover joint.
The surprise of the trip. Jawaiian jerk chicken plate (excellent), seaweed salad (excellent); and of the cocktails Dr. Funk (winner), Painkiller (tie), Tropical Itch (tie), Hurricane (loser). Normally a kitschy set-up like this delivers mediocrity but this place is different. A fun place. Pleasant service.
Aguadito de Mariscos to die for. Highly knowledgeable support of small local wineries. Our host was the charming Bryan who long after the restaurant had closed its doors for the night, plied us with wine and of course the conversation flowed as well.
Eggs & excellent British mini-bangers, quesadilla (good). Pleasant service.
Good servings and tasty burritos and chile rellenos.
Skirt steak good, quesadilla (crap). Service a bit confused though not on account of our very pleasant server.
Excellent and cheap spicy pork Korean taco. Pleasant service.
San Francisco institution. Marinated veg, calamari, pizza (fresh spinach & shaved parmesan; shrimp & veg) and excellent wine recommended by owner Agostino who was extremely accommodating in giving us the reserved family table (thanks to our knowledgeable and generous host).
Elegant bar (despite screens) well-placed to people watch in the Castro district.
Unpretentious, intimate and elegant tasting room with low-key winemaker Van in attendance. Van’s rose restored my interest in rosé a style of wine that has been deprecated by schlocky marketing and bad neighborhood restaurant wine stocks. While in tasting room olive oil maker Steve popped in with his terrifically peppery olive oil.
Excellent dim sum. Very pricy.