- Eat & Drink
- News & Features
- City Life
- The Hamptons
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Orange County
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Silicon Valley
- Washington, D.C.
125 Best Things to Eat
Scott Hocker and Jan Newberry | January 18, 2008
So many tempting possibilities, so little time. In a Bay Area brimming with delicious food, we help you separate the merely good from the omigod!
1 Barbecued Ribs Everett and Jones
There are some damn good ribs being served up at Berkeley's classic barbecue joint. The meat is tender and infused with smoke, and the searing hot sauce won't let your taste buds nap. 1955 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 548-8261, and five other East Bay locations.
2 Little Gems Lettuce Star Route Farms
Sweet, crunchy Little Gems are a current darling of local chefs who like to reveal the inner beauty of the tight green heads by slicing them in half and exposing the pale yellow hearts. At home, you can dress them with olive oil, vinegar, and a shower of fresh chopped chives. Available at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Thursdays and Saturdays, and at the Marin County Civic Center Farmers' Market, Thursdays and Sundays.
3 Pambaso La Torta Loca
A filling of potato and chorizo lightened with lettuce, salsa, and crema is sandwiched between two yeasty slices of white bread and griddled within an inch of its life. Not for the faint of heart, it's best consumed near something sturdy to hold on to. 3419 International Blvd., Oakland, (510) 532-7105.
4 Whipping Cream Straus Family Creamery
Wine geeks like to talk about terroir—the taste that a particular piece of land lends to a finished wine. This is cream with terroir—a wild, grassy flavor that's specific to the hillsides above Tomales Bay where the Straus herd roams. Available at Cowgirl Creamery, the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, and other Bay Area markets; www.strausmilk.com.
5 Mozzarella Delfina
The last thing chef-owner Craig Stoll, our 2000 Critics' Choice rising star chef, does each evening before the crowds fill his busy Mission District restaurant is to make the Mozzarella. Later that night when he serves it, with grilled artichokes and farro, or perhaps roasted gypsy peppers, it's still warm and quivering like jelly. There's simply no fresher cheese in town. 3621 18th St., S.F., (415) 552-4055.
6 Organic Milk Clover
The milk from this Petaluma-based dairy processor has a clean, old-fashioned flavor. Maybe that's because the cows are never exposed to hormones or antibiotics. Available at Oakville Grocery, 715 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, (650) 328-9000, and other Bay Area supermarkets.
7 Boudin Taylor's Sausages
New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin complains that Cajun boudin doesn't get out of the state of Louisiana, but he obviously hasn't visited downtown Oakland's Housewives Market. The spicy pork and rice sausage offered by the folks at Taylor's can go head to head with any boudin found in New Iberia. 907 Washington St., Oakland, (510) 832-6448.
8 Banana Cream Pie Liberty Café
A ‘50s roadside diner specialty blasted into the new millennium. It's made of the standard bananas, custard, and whipped cream, a cautious sprinkling of dark chocolate, and a crust that would either make Granny proud or send her into therapy. 410 Cortland Ave., S.F., (415) 695-8777.
9 Salt-cured Foie Gras and Fig Jam Panini Tartine Bakery
Liz Prueitt, our Critics' Choice pastry chef (see page 80), makes extraordinary pastries, but this voluptuous sandwich, in which she uses the most luxurious of foods as casually as if it were bologna, takes our breath away. 600 Guerrero St., S.F., (415) 487-2600.
10 Sardines Monterey Bay
These tiny fish are the torch-bearers of the sustainable seafood movement: a renewable resource that's yet to be overfished, with an assertive salinity that makes them a favorite of chefs all over the Bay. It's no wonder they have Neptune's stamp of approval as well as ours. Available at Monterey Fish Market, 1582 Hopkins St., Berkeley, (510) 525-5600.
11 Kinako Mochi Benkyo-Do
White bean, red bean, crushed bean, whole bean. This coffee counter-bakery on the edge of Japantown knows its legumes. The kinako-coated rice cakes—the green ones with the ochre top—balance a toasty dusting of roasted soybean flour with a sweet adzuki bean filling, because two beans are always better than one. 1747 Buchanan St., S.F., (415) 922-1244.
12 Chili Dog Pac Bell Park
There are all sorts of weenies at the ballpark, but the chili dog served to the swells up in the club section is the Barry Bonds of the concession stands. Piled high with fresh-made chili and a generous dose of Cheddar, this dog is at the top of its league. 24 Willie Mays Plaza, S.F.
13 Freshly Grated Wasabi Anzu's sushi bar
When master sushi chef Kazuhito Takahashi picks up his grater and pulls a green root from under the counter, sit back and prepare to be dazzled. The hillock of fresh wasabi that he'll deposit on your tray a few moments later will clear your sinuses and bring tears to your eyes. It'll also ruin you forever for the neon-colored paste you've grown used to. Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., S.F., (415) 394-1100.
14 Fava Bean Falafel Baraka
God bless the prep cooks who spend their hours shelling favas at Potrero Hill's newest tapas bar to make these lovely fritters. Their flavor is that of spring, salted and fried. 288 Connecticut St., S.F., (415) 255-0370.
15 Blue Cheese Flan Jojo
There's always a trio of salads on the menu at this tiny Piedmont Avenue bistro. Just what they may be is up to the chef, but keep your fingers crossed that this elegant custard made from Point Reyes blue cheese accompanies them. 3859 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, (510) 985-3003.
16 Scotchmallows See's
No overkill here, just a chewy layer of caramel resting on a cushion of pillowy marshmallow, the two enveloped by a gloss of dark chocolate. At all See's stores; www.sees.com.
17 Cashews Morrow's Nut House
Union Square's 65-year-old sliver of a nut shop roasts its cashews in coconut oil, giving them a to-the-core flavor enhancement and a bronze hue just this side of burnished copper. The ideal fuel for an afternoon of window shopping. 111 Geary St., S.F., (415) 362-7969.
18 Radishes with Anchovy Butter The Girl & the Fig
The crisp heirloom radishes come in a rainbow of colors, their bitter edge offset by a briny swipe through the anchovy butter and a dunk in the mound of coarse sea salt. A country French cliché, sure, but with good reason. 110 W. Spain St., Sonoma, (707) 938-3634; 222 Weller St., Oetaluma, (707) 769-0123.
19 Mojito Luna Park
The speed at which you bang back these mint-muddled cocktails is inversely proportionate to how painful the wait for a table is at the Valencia corridor's perpetually packed hot spot. 694 Valencia St., S.F., (415) 553-8584.
20 Duck Salad Kim Huong
The discolored photo on the wall of this downtown San Jose dive doesn't do its signature dish justice. Cabbage and cilantro buoy up slices
of tender duck, the lot doused with nuoc cham—that tart and sweet Vietnamese dressing with a kick. 301 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose,
21 Miner's Lettuce Golden Gate Park
Think Twiggy sporting an Easter bonnet. This weed has a skinny stalk and an enormous cap and grows all over Golden Gate Park, but choose your roughage wisely. Too close to Fulton or Lincoln and it'll be saturated with gas fumes. Too near a romping beagle and, well, you get the idea.
22 Wild Fennel
You can find head-high stalks of Foeniculum vulgare sprouting up all around the Bay—in empty lots and alongside hiking trails. Chop the feathery fronds to season fresh fish or pork. Its vibrant, deep flavor puts the timid domesticated variety to shame—plus it's free for the taking.
23 Stinging Nettles Mariquita Farm
The cultivated variety of these delectable greens that Andy Griffin and Julia Wiley grow on their farm in Watsonville have a milder sting than the kind found in the wild. Local chefs have fallen in love with their richer-than-spinach flavor. Available springtime through the fall at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Saturdays.
24 English Peas Iacopi Farm
Proximity to the Pacific's cool ocean breezes makes this Half Moon Bay farm's tender peas a sweet harbinger of spring. Available at the Redwood City Farmers' Market, Saturdays, and at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
25 Bread Salad Jardinière
The staff of life goes uptown in this meticulously assembled dish. A slab of Crescenza cheese hides under a wiry mound of dressed mesclun, baby artichokes, and hand-torn chunks of Acme Bread's Italian loaf. 300 Grove St., S.F., (415) 861-5555.
26 Stuffed Piquillo Peppers Piperade
These brilliant red beauties announce Gerald Hirigoyen's Basque heritage to diners at Piperade. Some days our Critics' Choice best chef fills them with salt cod, others he turns to goat cheese to temper the peppers' sweet and gentle heat. 1015 Battery St., S.F., (415) 391-2555.
27 Relleno Negro LolTun
A Yucatecan take on turkey soup that's light-years beyond Thanksgiving leftovers, with shredded turkey adrift in a bowl of blackened chili broth. 2341 Folsom St., S.F., (415) 401-8857.
28 Cornmeal Pancakes Meal Ticket
A batter laced with fine-grained cornmeal gives these fruit-topped flapjacks true grit. 1235 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 526-6325.
29 Saba Takara
Mackerel has its detractors; its mouth feel is intense, and it's not exactly lean. At Japantown's Takara, a quick spin under the broiler purges the fillet of excess fat and proves that all this underdog of the sea needs is a little TLC. 22 Peace Plaza, Ste. 202, S.F., (415) 921-2000.
30 Tabbouleh Gyro King
The cooks at this Civic Center Turkish spot know that bulgur should be added with a light hand. In their convincing take on the Middle Eastern classic, it's all about the parsley. 25 Grove St., S.F., (415) 621-8313.
31 Sweet Potato Pie Memphis Minnie's BBQ Joint
No one seems to believe that this garishly decorated Lower Haight spot has some of the best barbecue in the city. Not only that, but its sweet potato pie is an exemplary rendition—smooth, eggy, and smacking of that multipurpose tuber. 576 Haight St., S.F., (415) 864-7675.
32 Pani Puri Chaat Café
Your first reaction is likely to be "What exactly do I do with this?" Tap the top of the miniature puri. Dump in some chickpeas and potatoes. Season at will with the tamarind (the brown one) and mint (the green one) chutneys. Bask in your mastery of Indian Snack Food 101. 3954 Mowry Ave., Fremont, (510) 796-3408.
33 Laksa Hulu House
Mindfulness is the name of the game at the Buddhist-run Hulu House in the Inner Sunset. The laksa, a tangle of rice noodles and multiple permutations of tofu in a chili-spiked coconut broth, demands your undivided attention. 754 Kirkham St., S.F., (415) 682-0826.
34 Minced Pork and Cuttlefish Claypot Utopia Cafe
Strands of Chinese broccoli and a patty of pork and cuttlefish top a mountain of rice that's cooked in a traditional claypot. The burnt rice at the edges of the pot gives diners at one of Chinatown's top restaurants something to fight over. 139 Waverly Place, S.F., (415) 956-2902.
35 Rhubarb Charlotte Masse's Pastries
The strawberry and fraise des bois might seduce you, but this pastry turns on the rhubarb filling at its core, a tart foil to the surrounding layers of Bavarian cream and golden sponge cake. 1469 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 649-1004.
36 Caldo Verde Grubstake
This all-night Polk Gulch diner's Portuguese soup melds linguiça, a potato-
thickened broth, and the owners' homegrown kale into a hearty whole that's far greater than the sum of its rustic parts. 1525 Pine St., S.F., (415) 673-8268.
37 Napa Cabbage Kimchee Woori Food Market
As tempting as the lesser-known varieties of kimchee, such as turnip and cucumber, might be, don't pass up the top-of-the-line Napa cabbage version. It's juicy, crisp, and spicy as all get out. 1528 Fillmore St., S.F., (415) 673-9888.
38 Beef Rendang Bamboo Village
A long, slow simmer in coconut milk laced with kaffir lime and lemongrass leaves wedges of beef fork-tender. It's Mom's pot roast—if she happens to be from Indonesia. 3015 Geary Blvd., S.F., (415) 751-8006.
39 Lardo Niman Ranch Meats
If you eat butter, you have no right to turn up your nose at rendered pork fat, which has less cholesterol and the same number of calories as its creamy counterpart. Bill Niman's version of this Italian condiment is laced with herbs and sea salt. Try a thin sheet on a toasted baguette, and discover what you've been missing. Available at Trag's Market, 303 Baldwin Ave., San Mateo, (650) 347-7021; www.nimanranch.com.
40 Coppa di Testa Oliveto
Like so many other things, headcheese sounds much more appetizing when you say it in Italian. Paul Bertolli's housemade rendition tastes like clear, pure pork essence—in the chef's own words, it's "one of the most exalted products of the pig." 5655 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 547-5356.
41 House-cured Bacon Manka's Inverness Lodge
At Manka's, a salad of frisée with figs is just an excuse to eat bacon—an imposing, house-cured rectangle an inch thick, which shreds under your fork into smoky, juicy bliss. Manka's thinks nothing of following it up with slices of pork tenderloin—our kind of place. 30 Callendar Way, Inverness, (415) 669-1034.
42 Pork Belly Fifth Floor
Pork belly is all the rage now, but few versions compare to the one prepared by San Francisco's 2002 Critics' Choice best chef, Laurent Gras. The Ducasse-trained cook slowly poaches the meat to a velvet-like texture, tops it with a seared sheet of the rind that's as crisp as dry leaves, and just before serving, ladles on a swoon-inducing black truffle jus. Hotel Palomar, 12 Fourth St., S.F., (415) 348-1555.
43 Bolillos King's Bakery
When the thought of yet another loaf of artisan bread makes you yawn, perk up. This bakery in the Mission churns out a twice-daily batch of warm, commercially leavened white-flour rolls that could go head-to-head with the best levain. 2846 Mission St., S.F., (415) 282-4550.
44 Gravenstein Cider Pomo Tierra Ranch
The folks at this Mendocino collective have been making cider for more than 30 years. The taste of their organic, unpasteurized cider is remarkably similar to the sensation of biting into a crisp, cold apple. Available at the Berkeley Farmers' Market, Tuesdays and Saturdays.
45 House-smoked Salmon Bi-Rite Market
Found at the Mission District's premier grocery, it's delicate and as smooth as silk and wants only a smear of butter and a slice of rye toast. 3639 18th St., S.F., (415) 241-9760.
46 Veggie Squares Athithi
Three kinds of bean flour and a marbling of spinach leaves make for a protein-dense finger food that's easy on the wallet—an order of two costs only three dollars. 2525 Dwight Way, Berkeley, (510) 647-5100.
47 Risotto with Meyer Lemon Confit, Parmesan, and Maine Lobster Auberge du Soleil
Critics' Choice rising star chef Richard Reddington created such a hit with this dish that he sometimes has to take it off the menu just to prod regulars into trying something else. Pair it with a big, fat Chardonnay, even if you're not the type. 180 Rutherford Hill Rd., Rutherford, (707) 967-3111.
48 Handmade Tofu Minako
Once every blue moon, chef and co-owner Yoko Kondo gets a notion to make her pristine tofu. When she does, pray you're in line for dinner. 2154 Mission St., S.F., (415) 864-1888.
49 Boba Tapioca Express
The boba fad is old news—everybody's sucked down a tapioca pearl by now. That's why it's so refreshing to pop by this chain's Newark location, where the flavor permutations are endless (how about a honey and egg jelly juice?) and the tapioca is blessed with a smooth-chewy texture a Gummi Bear could only dream about. 39185 Cedar Blvd., Newark, (510) 713-8618.
50 Salt-baked Chicken Mon Kiang
Let us now praise salt. A thick coating of sodium chloride locks in the juiciness of this Hakka-style baked chicken, while doing double-duty as a flavor enhancer. A dipping sauce of garlic, ginger, and oil doesn't hurt either. 683 Broadway, S.F., (415) 421-2015.
51 Baleadas El Paisa
A splash of soda water is added to the batter of these made-to-order Honduran flour tortillas, stuffed with beans and everything from chorizo to avocado. That extra effervescence makes for a downright sparkling appetizer. 3322 Mission St., S.F., (415) 550-0557.
52 Rum Cake Caffè 817
Every other day, 90-year-old Ann Rosenbaum arrives at Sandro Rossi's downtown Oakland café to bake a cake. She soaks it in just enough rum to flavor the cake without overwhelming its buttery richness. It's the only dessert on the menu, but then, it's the only one you need. 817 Washington St., Oakland, (510) 271-7965.
53 Fried Whiting Your Community Restaurant
The room for error is enormous when frying fish, but the folks at this Bayview corner store have it down to a science. Every piece of whiting they serve is a testament to their craft. 5149 Third St., S.F., (415) 822-4359.
54 Potato Puffs Grégoire
Countless potato lovers are torn between their allegiance to mashed and fried. At his Gourmet Ghetto takeout shop, Grégoire Jacquet (pictured) solves the problem by combining the best of both. Mashed potatoes are mixed with an egg batter and fried to a crisp-coated cloud. Pure heaven for spud lovers of every stripe. 2109 Cedar St., Berkeley, (510) 883-1893.
55 Fried Eggs Deglazed with Balsamic Vinegar Foreign Cinema
If torn between the chicken and the egg, there's no debate—these eggs fried in olive oil and finished with balsamic vinegar definitely come first.
2534 Mission St., S.F., (415) 648-7600.
56 Potato Chips La Palma Mexicatessen
This Latin American market has earned a citywide reputation for its hand-patted tortillas, but its house-fried chips packed with a packet of Tapatío hot sauce have inspired a fervent following of their own. 2884 24th St., S.F., (415) 647-1500.
57 Licuado de Fresa El Paisano Market
Poor Jamba Juice. If everyone found out about the strawberry smoothies—touched with cinnamon and fortified with a whole egg—at this Mexican food market far off the beaten path in industrial Redwood City, their cutesy empire might just come crashing down. 2856 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City, (650) 365-8240.
58 English-cut Prime Rib House of Prime Rib
The only decisions you need to make at House of Prime Rib are whether you like olives or onions in your martini and how you want your prime rib sliced. When the big silver trolley comes your way, ask for the English cut. The extra thin slices have the beefiest flavor. 1906 Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 885-4605.
59 Shaking Beef The Slanted Door
Filet mignon, seared and seasoned with light and dark soy, mirin, and rice vinegar, is the star attraction in Charles Phan's dressed-up version of this classic Vietnamese stir-fry. 100 Brannan St., S.F., (415) 861-8032.
60 Lengua La Corneta
This big Mission Street taqueria is so bright and clean you might mistake it for a chain, but the meats here are as soulful as those at any Oaxacan market stall. As rich and tender as custard, the beef tongue makes for one of the finest tacos in town. 2731 Mission St., S.F., (415) 643-7001.
61 Whole Fried Chicken Arcadia
After more than a decade of cooking fish at his four-star restaurant, Aqua, Michael Mina (see page 84) is now determined to prove that he can reach the same heights with a bird. At his new Arcadia, Mina buys chickens from Amish farmers in Indiana, cures them in salt, and fries them whole and unbattered in a vat of bubbling duck fat. 100 W. San Carlos St., San Jose, (408) 278-4555.
62 Vodka Hangar One
Alameda's own distillery makes some extraordinarily smooth spirits. Its vodkas infused with fresh fruit have a natural flavor that's rarely found in flavored vodka, and the plain one is a purist's delight. (510) 769-1601; www.stgeorgespirits.com.
63 Raspberries Lucero Farms
The ruby-hued berries from this farm in Gilroy are often no bigger than your thumbnail, with a flavor that's deeply sweet and just tart enough. Available at the Palo Alto Farmers' Market, Saturdays, as well as other area farmers' markets.
64 Cocoa Nibs Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker
These crunchy bits of chocolate bean are the essence of chocolate. Think of them as chocolate chips gone to finishing school. 914 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, (510) 981-4050; www.scharffenberger.com.
65 Purified Water Incanto
"If you care about wine, how could you not care about water?" That's the attitude of our Critics' Choice wine director, Claudio Villani. At Incanto, in Noe Valley, they've done away with the bottled-water scam and offer instead purified Hetch Hetchy, still or sparkling, absolutely free, the way that water was meant to be. 1550 Church St., S.F., (415) 641-4500.
66 Kaddo Helmand
North Beach's landmark Afghani restaurant works marvels with pumpkin, baking it slowly and topping the golden wedges with yogurt and a tangy tomato-beef sauce. 430 Broadway, S.F., (415) 362-0641.
67 Coffee and Donuts The French Laundry
Thomas Keller's classic pairing of frozen espresso custard and hot cinnamon-sugar-crusted doughnut holes remains one of the chef's most memorable and wittiest creations. 6640 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 944-2380.
68 Pimentos de Padron Happy Quail Farms
David Winsberg imports the seeds for the miniature peppers from Spain and grows them on his farm in East Palo Alto. Fry these babies whole in hot olive oil until the skin is blistered and beginning to blacken, then douse them with salt. Serve ‘em hot with a glass of cold sherry and you can cancel your trip to Barcelona. Available at the Ferry plaza Farmers' Market, Tuesdays and Saturdays.
69 Champagne Vinegar O Olive Oil
Unlike the syrupy balsamic vinegars that have been hogging the limelight for the past few years, delicate champagne vinegar adds a subtle acidity that brings out the flavor of a salad without overwhelming it. www.ooliveoil.com.
70 Cubano Acme Chophouse
It's not easy to find a decent Cubano outside of Miami or New York, but Thom Fox and his crew at the ballpark's sustainable steak house have done their homework. Their ham, Swiss cheese, and fresh pork combo pressed between two slices of buttered bread would find fans even in Havana. 24 Willie Mays Plaza, S.F., (415) 644-0240.
71 Thumbelina Carrots Heirloom Organics
While you may not think of carrots as having a scent, these little beauties are packed with so much carrot flavor that you can smell it. Available at the ferry plaza farmers' market, tuesdays and saturdays.
72 Nougat Arlequin
This little Hayes Valley takeout shop run by the folks at Absinthe is full of unexpected treasures. One of the best is the not-too-sweet pistachio-studded cubes of nougat. 384 Hayes St., S.F., (415) 626-1211.
73 Pork and Kimchee Soup Seoul Gom Tang
Imagine sweet-and-sour soup, upgraded and reworked Korean-style. It's served in a roiling cauldron with chunks of meat and chewy rice cakes. But it's the pungent kimchee—enough to cover a cabbage patch—that gives the dish its memorable character. 3801 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, (510) 597-9989.
74 Dry Vermouth Vya
Andrew and Laurel Quady make this vermouth from a base of columbard and orange muscat infused with 15 botanicals including citrus rind, lavender, sage, alfalfa, and linden. Add a splash to your next martini or enjoy it on the rocks. www.vya.com.
75 Manti A La Turca
These Lilliputian beef tortellini make Geary and Larkin the place to be on Sundays. Napped with yogurt, butter, and puckery sumac, they're available only one day a week. And you thought the Turkish expats came here for the scene. 869 Geary St., S.F., (415) 345-1011.
76 Sour Cherry Vareniki Cinderella Bakery and Café
A Russian riff on cherries and cream that pairs sour cherry dumplings, afloat in a pool of their own tangy juice, with as much sour cream as you can handle. 436 Balboa St., S.F., (415) 751-9690.
77 Xiao Long Bao Su Hong
In a stunning reversal, familiar soup and dumplings is transformed into soup in dumplings. A thin casing is wrapped around a scalding-hot filling of crab, pork, and broth. It's the most satisfying first-degree burn your mouth will ever experience. 4101 El Camino Way, Palo Alto, (650) 493-3836.
78 French Fries César
Few people who dine at this crowded tapas bar next door to Chez Panisse forgo an order of the signature fries, salty and scented with rosemary and sage. The kitchen wisely serves them on a huge platter that's almost always emptied shortly after it lands on the table. 1515 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 883-0222.
79 Atlantic Cod Cheeks B44
San Francisco's 2001 rising star chef, Daniel Olivella, seasons these plump nuggets of cod with garlic, parsley, and chili flakes and douses them with sherry—a must-order for anyone who visits his lively Catalan-flavored café. 44 Belden St., S.F., (415) 986-6287.
80 Meyer Lemon Rosemary Bread Della Fattoria
The Weber family is passionate about baking bread. Their extraordinary campagne serves as the base for this loaf seasoned with local Meyer lemons and shellacked with Sonoma olive oil. Available at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Tuesdays and Saturdays.
81 Apple Cider Vinegar Bates and Schmitt
Cider made from organic apples from the Schmitt family's Boonville apple farm is aged in oak casks to give it a crisp, sharp flavor, just like the fruit it's made from. Available at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Saturdays.
82 Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit The Farmhouse Inn
Out on this farm, good things happen when rabbits multiply. Chef Steve Litke's signature dish is a delicious threesome: rack, confit, and prosciutto-wrapped loin, delivered in a whole grain-mustard sauce. 7871 River Rd., Forestville, (707) 887-3300.
83 Duck Legs Liberty Ducks
These lucky ducks live in open pens in the hills west of Petaluma, where they grow up fat and full of flavor. You can find them mentioned by name on the menus at Chez Panisse and Auberge du Soleil, or pick them up at Keller's Market to prepare at home. Keller's Market, 1320 Main St., St. Helena, (707) 963-2114.
84 Rice Cake Soup Shanghai Dumpling
Way out in the Avenues, the swirling fog bank is no match for the clear flavors of this warming soup, thick with bok choy, minced pork, and chewy rice cakes. 3319 Balboa St., S.F., (415) 387-2088.
85 Berliner Weisse Walzwerk
And you thought green beer was Irish. This slightly sweet and very, very green traditional East German beer cocktail made with hefeweizen and a nonalcoholic herbal elixir called Woodruff goes down easy. Have one alongside a hearty helping of apple-and-bacon-stuffed chicken breast and garlic mashed potatoes. 381 South Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 551-7181.
86 Onion Soup Manresa
The French have their onion soup, and they can keep it as long as David Kinch is cooking his. Sweet onions blended with brioche make the cloud-colored base. There's a poached egg suspended in it like the sun, and a sliver of Manchego cheese on top provides the silver lining. 320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, (408) 354-4330.
87 Grilled Endigia Zazu
The vegetable's unusual. The dish is unique. Duskie Estes takes what looks like a cross between radicchio and endive and turns it into something better than the two combined. Brushed with saba (syrup made from the grapes used in balsamic vinegar), then laid out bruschetta-style on toast, the endigia holds on lightly to its bitter heart, but something's just starting to sweeten its soul. 3535 Guerneville Rd., Santa Rosa, (707) 523-4814.
88 Passionfruit Creamsicle Market
Your childhood friend the Creamsicle escaped from the ice-cream truck and made his way to culinary school. Then he shed the stick and swirled himself into a fluted glass, where housemade vanilla ice cream mingles with
passion fruit sorbet. 1347 Main St., St. Helena, (707) 963-3799.
89 20-year Pu-erh Imperial Tea Court
Dark and loamy, this aged brew is a grounding complement to the melodious chirping of the songbirds that punctuates Chinatown's Imperial Tea Court's serene environs each Saturday morning. 1411 Powell St., S.F., (415) 788-6080.
90 Box Lunch Desirée
If the handful of tables at Anne Gingrass's Presidio hideaway are taken, don't furrow your brow. Spring for the three-part box lunch, especially when stuffed with a chicken-asparagus salad sandwich, mesclun with herbed baby artichokes, and cranberry apricot cookies. 39 Mesa St., Ste. 108, S.F., (415) 561-2336.
91 Abalone Jai Yun
Irrefutable evidence that there's more to Chinese food than cornstarch and chilies. At Chinatown's revered Jai Yun, the abalone is delicate and quietly briny, like that first whiff of salt air as you near the ocean. 923 Pacific Ave., S.F., (415) 981-7438.
92 "New" Tartare of Ahi Tuna Aqua
When Laurent Manrique took over the kitchen at this Financial District institution, he knew better than to mess with the signature tuna tartare. The original remains on the menu alongside the French chef's interpretation of the dish. Instead of sesame oil and Scotch bonnet chili, the "new" tartare is seasoned with lemon confit and a spicy Moroccan harissa. 252 California St., S.F., (415) 956-9662.
93 Fig Newtons Downtown Bakery
An oversized homage to the lunch-box favorite, these cookies boast a filling of Sonoma-grown figs and a handmade flavor that the original could never hope to match. 308A Center St., Healdsburg, (707) 431-2719, and the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Thursdays and Saturdays.
94 Alfajores Destino
The Nuevo Latino explosion has brought a new appreciation of this classic South American treat. At his popular Castro restaurant, James Schenk relies on an old family recipe to make his tender butter cookies sandwiched with a rich dulce de leche. 1815 Market St., S.F., (415) 552-4451.
95 Aunt Mabel's Kookie Brittle Arizmendi Bakery
Square and crunchy, like the staff at the cooperative bakery in the Inner Sunset, this almond and chocolate-chip bar cookie leaves Mrs. Fields' chew toys in the capitalist dust. 1331 Ninth Ave., S.F., (415) 566-3117.
96 Beef Curry Turnovers Golden Gate Bakery
Chinatown's always-busy bakery gives a nod to the knish with this flaky pastry filled with saucy ground beef and corn shot through with curry. 1029 Grant Ave., S.F., (415) 781-2627.
97 Chicha Morada El Perol
A Peruvian thirst slaker that combines fruit, spice, and purple corn. That's right, purple corn. Don't let the Kool-Aid-like appearance dissuade you; purple corn makes for a damn delicious beverage. 2590 Mission St., S.F., (415) 550-8582.
98 Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale North Coast Brewing Company
A copper-red pale ale from Fort Bragg, it flaunts long lace and a good head, with the aroma of high-quality hops, malt, and citrus filling the glass. A perfect, balanced marriage of bitter and sweet. Available at local markets, including Trader Joe's.
99 Cheese Pizza Arinell
You can easily spot the ex-New Yorkers here; they're the ones who fold their slices before eating what they know is the best East Coast-style pizza this side of the Holland Tunnel. 2119 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 841-4035; 509 Valencia St., S.F., (415) 255-1303.
100 Pozole La Quinta
Menudo may be touted as the hangover cure-all, but La Quinta's brick-red stew of hominy and on-the-bone pork could wrest that title away. A squeeze of lime, a handful of chopped onions, and one too many Coronas the night before is all you'll need to put this pozole to the test. 2425 Mission St., S.F., (415) 647-9000.
101 Midnight Moon Cypress Grove
A smooth, buttery, and ever-so-slightly caramely addition to Cypress Grove's pantheon of goat's milk cheeses. It'll get your goat like nothing else. Available at Oakville Grocery, 715 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, (650) 328-9000, and other Bay Area cheese shops.
102 Black and Tan Fentons Creamery
Oakland's beloved ice-cream parlor has risen from the ashes of a devastating fire, and the famous Black and Tan is back. Featuring vanilla and toasted almond ice creams layered with caramel, fudge sauce topped with whipped cream, and, of course, a cherry, it's a timeless classic. 4226 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, (510) 658-7000.
103 Unagi Wappa Meshi Maki
Fresh eel, peas, and squares of sweet egg omelet crown a hill of rice, all of which finish cooking in a pine steamer that suffuses the dish with a subtle aroma. 1825 Post St., S.F., (415) 921-5215.
104 Jammers Lola's
Way up on Solano Avenue, this storefront bakery turns out pizzas, roast chickens, cakes, and these sweet buttermilk biscuits topped with Lola's homemade apricot jam. 1585 Solano Ave., Berkeley, (510) 558-8600.
105 White Asparagus with Black Truffle Emulsion Chez Spencer
Slate gray on stark white makes for a striking presentation. It also makes a pretty stunning flavor combination. 82 14th St., S.F., (415) 864-2191.
106 Tepache La Casita Chilanga
Sure, beer goes dandy with Mexican food, but why not a fermented fruit beverage? The guys at La Casita Chilanga cut up fresh pineapple, let it sit for three days, throw in some spice, and transform it into a funky, sweet thirst quencher to complement their spectacular tortas. 2928 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City, (650) 568-0351; 761 El Camino Real, Redwood City, (650) 364-2808.
107 Kalua Pig Tita's Hale ‘Aina
A simple plate of pork that's been cooked for hours in a wrapping of ti leaves, tossed with crisp-tender cabbage. Think New England boiled dinner takes a Hawaiian vacation. 3870 17th St., S.F., (415) 626-2477.
108 La Botanique À Côté
Wine and spirits buyer Jeff Berlin likes to stock the bar at this always jamming Rockridge spot with exotic French spirits. Bartender Mike Moreno transforms them into some of the most exciting cocktails around. Their new La Botanique, made from four French aperitifs including the peach-infused Rin Quin Quin, strikes a surprisingly light note. 5748 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 655-6469.
109 Veal Blanquette Angèle
Napa's riverside bistro tackles a tricky French classic of veal cubes in beurre blanc and cream, lightly thickened with a flour-based roux and served with a side of rice pilaf. 540 Main St., Napa, (707) 252-8115.
110 Iced Coffee Blue Bottle Coffee
Dump that Frappuccino and taste just how good a cold cup of coffee can be. Coffee geek James Freeman makes a cold-steeped concentrate of his signature Bella Donavan roast and rehydrates the brew the next day with Straus Creamery's whole milk to keep the flavor rich. (510) 653-3394. Available at the Berkeley Farmers' Market, Tuesdays and Saturdays.
111 Peach Popsicles Frog Hollow Farm
Everyone knows about Frog Hollow's incredible peaches. The frozen version of the famed organic fruit tastes like summer on a stick. Available at the Berkeley and Ferry Plaza Farmers' Markets, Tuesdays and Saturdays.
112 Gianduja Gelato Tango Gelato
Just about every one of the 25 flavors offered at this Italian-by-way-of-Argentina ice-cream shop is a treat, but the blend of chocolate and hazelnuts will propel your tongue into orbit and send shivers down your spine. 2015 Fillmore St., S.F., (415) 346-3692.
113 Limone Sorbetto Mondo Gelato
Lemonade and ice cream are classic heat squelchers, so it's no surprise that an icy-smooth sorbet that blends the two will have you skipping down the sidewalk like a four-year-old. 2106 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 883-1568.
114 Adriatic Figs Knoll Farms
Rick and Kristie Knoll are rock stars in the world of local farmers' markets. Their faithful fans crowd their colorful stand each week but become even more clamorous once the supersweet Adriatic figs with their strawberry-pink hearts come into season. Available at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Saturdays.
115 Chicharrones La Gallinita
The huge fried pork skins at this old-style Mission butcher shop are stacked high on top of the meat counter. With a rich pork flavor and impossibly light, crisp texture, they're like potato chips gone to hog heaven. 2989 24th St., S.F., (415) 826-8880.
116 Sourdough White Rye Bread Garden
While other Berkeley bakeries grab all the glory, this shop across from the Claremont Hotel quietly but consistently produces some of the region's best loaves. Its sourdough rye—"our salesclerks' favorite bread!"—is a ham sandwich's best friend. 2912 Domingo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 548-3122.
117 Ginger Cake Chow
The hyper-gingery cake, accessorized with a spot-on combination of pumpkin ice cream and caramel sauce, blessedly never leaves the menu. 215 Church St., S.F., (415) 552-2469; 53 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, (925) 962-2469.
118 Pancetta-Wrapped Frog Legs with Sunchoke Garlic Purée, Potato, Lentils, and Parsley Sauce Gary Danko
You rarely find frog's legs on menus these days, but San Francisco's 2000 Critics' Choice best chef hasn't forgotten why they're a classic. The pancetta helps keep the meat moist. Propped on a smoky pond of sunchokes and lentils, this frog definitely deserves a kiss. 800 North Point, S.F., (415) 749-2060.
119 Cannelés Bay Bread
Pascal Rigo's chain of bakeries first introduced these Bordeaux-style cakes to the Bay Area, and though they're much imitated now, Rigo's eggy, vanilla-scented cakes remain the benchmark for all the followers. 2325 Pine St., S.F., (415) 440-0356.
120 Glariffee Swiss Hotel
Doing double duty as either an early morning hair-of-the-dog or late-night pick-me-up, this high-octane chilled Irish coffee is as caffeinated as a triple espresso and as saucy as a Long Island Iced Tea. 18 W. Spain St., Sonoma, (707) 938-2884.
121 Jungle Curry Ruen Pair
Thai curry does not automatically equal Day-Glo coconut milk confections. Chicken and fresh peppercorn stalks poke out of Ruen Pair's jungle curry, an intoxicating stew that radiates vegetal heat instead of saccharine sweet. 1045 San Pablo Ave., Albany, (510) 528-2375.
122 Iddly Dasaprakash
The flying saucer shape of these dainty rice and lentil cakes, just screaming for a dunk of fiery sambar, is probably no coincidence—they're otherworldly. 2636 Homestead Rd., Santa Clara, (408) 246-8292.
123 Lamb Napa Valley Lamb Company
It's time to remove the wool from your eyes, for not all lamb is created equal. A hybrid of two strains bred for the table centuries ago, Watson lambs grow sweet and tender on a diet of mother's milk and burr clover, as they roam the hills of Carneros and St. Helena. (707) 942-6957.
124 Apple Shake Udupi Palace
When the sambar and rasam at Udupi Palace spark a four-alarm fire in your mouth, stop eyeing the fire extinguisher and order this icy frappé of apple and milk. 5988 New Park Mall Rd., Newark, (510) 794-8400.
125 Hamburger Zuni Café
Judy Rodgers seasons fresh chuck with sea salt a day before she grinds the meat to ensure a moist and tender burger. The rosemary focaccia that stands in for the bun and those wonderful pickles make this hamburger the one by which all others are measured. 1658 Market St., S.F., (415) 552-2522.