Eat This Town: San Francisco

By Trevor Felch

ALX goes the steakhouse-inspired route
After a short run as ALX Gastropub, the energetic SoMa sibling to Alexander’s Steakhouse is switching gears. Now called ALX by Alexander’s Steakhouse, it also gets some slight changes to chef Jessie Lugo’s menu via a smoked Wagyu brisket slider with coleslaw and Santa Barbara uni (yes, uni and Wagyu together!), and a section devoted to Wagyu cuts. Wagyu never comes cheap, of course, but the chance to enjoy the exquisite meat won’t break the bank as much as at Alexander’s steakhouse (or the many other upscale spots). The playful side of Lugo’s cooking that made the gastropub style so appealing is still present in ALX 2.0 with the likes of chevre-stuffed tater tots, beer can chicken, and a Dungeness crab salad and tomato coulis “martini” with lobster chips for dipping.
Neighborhood: SoMa MAP

Mardi Gras continues at Tratto
One of Union Square’s top Italian restaurants, Tratto, is reminding the Bay Area to “Let Mardi Gras continue!” all March long with two special NOLA-themed drinks. Instagrammers will adore the edible beads that top the Diamante Cane, (prepared tableside) which is a variation of the gin-based Bijou that replaces the usual vermouth with Cocchi Americano and Luxardo Bitter Bianco, and swaps the customary green Chartreuse for yellow Chartreuse. The Uragano Sluragano makes a dramatic improvement to Bourbon Street’s syrupy Hurricanes with the addition of a float made of two amaros, two types of rum as the cocktail base, and a good balance of passion fruit purée, orange juice and house-made grenadine, for just the right fruity intensity.
Neighborhood: Union Square MAP

Guesthouse’s Luck of the Irish Coffee
Here are two St. Patrick’s Day secrets that the North Bay leprechaun may have been hiding from the rest of the Bay Area: One of the region’s most impressive new restaurants is in a quiet Marin County town (Kentfield!) and Guesthouse co-owner/bartender Dustin Sullivan snuck a stellar Irish coffee onto the dessert menu when it opened. With a certain holiday coming up on March 17, it’s time for this dessert/coffee/cocktail to be discovered. Featuring Irish whiskey, Peet’s coffee, brown sugar, and a topping of house-made whipped cream, the $11 creation is every bit as special as the iconic Buena Vista one (maybe even improved!).
Neighborhood: Kentfield MAP

Chocolate Paradise Returns
Get ready chocoholics of the Bay Area—the 13th Annual San Francisco International Chocolate Salon comes back to the city on Saturday, March 30. From 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., it’s all chocolate, all day with presentations and demos from chocolatiers, chefs, and cookbook authors. Numerous chocolate artisans will offer their chocolate creations in various forms in tastings that are all included with entry. Local chocolatiers like Alexander’s Patisserie, and national ones like La Chatelaine from Montana, will be on hand for the event, too, which is located at the San Francisco County Fair Building’s Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Tickets are $20 in advance online or $30 at the door.
Neighborhood: Inner Sunset MAP

Poggio Trattoria

Tuesday nights in Sausalito
Each Tuesday night through the end of March, Sausalito’s upscale-rustic Italian-Californian favorite, Poggio, is offering a $35 per person Tuesday Night Supper that begins with a four to six various antipasti, followed by the main event of stinco di agnello, and concludes with lemon mousse. It’s a fantastic deal for chef Benjamin Balesteri’s consistently enjoyable cuisine, plus a terrific excuse to head to the beautiful bay front Marin town and make a random weeknight seem like a mini staycation.
Neighborhood: Sausalito MAP

Noosh opens on Fillmore
The Fillmore shopping corridor of Lower Pac Heights is hardly known for bargains. Luckily for local diners and diners all over the Bay Area, one of the region’s most exciting longtime pop-ups (Istanbul Modern SF) just had a soft opening of their brick-and-mortar full-time restaurant in the neighborhood. The partners at Noosh, which include Co-Founder John Litz and Co-Founder and Chefs Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz, are bringing an elevated dining experience in a fine-casual setting. Husband and wife duo, Chefs Laura and Sayat, are bringing a compelling Eastern Mediterranean fare served in a stylish, energetic space, but also skip the pomp and circumstance of a traditional dining experience allowing guests to order with an ambassador at the door via a handheld tablet all before setting foot in the dining room. This opens a tab and allows for any orders to be fired immediately, which guests will receive within minutes of being seated. Once guests order, Noosh ambassadors will seat the party at a table. Throughout the visit, guests do not have one server but instead multiple ambassadors are available from who, guests can order at any time. Kebabs and irresistible spreads with wood-fired pita are a great way to start, then move onto “chubby pita” sandwiches filled with the likes of hummus, eggplant, falafel, and egg in the “sabich”, or Turkish flat breads that might be topped with housemade pork soujuk and babaganoosh. The beverage program, created by Andrew Meltzer (USBG’s 2016 World Class U.S. Bartender of the Year), will offer classic cocktails tweaked with creative elements like banana for a gimlet or lemon brine in a martini is a destination in its own right. Best of all, prices are definitely not typical Pacific Heights stratospheric with most dishes ranging from $15 or under.
Neighborhood: Lower Pacific Heights MAP

Toast to Ayala’s Martini Hour
Martini lovers alert: It’s time to sneak out of work or wind down weekend shopping a little early, and head to Union Square’s outstanding late 2018 newcomer, Ayala. The restaurant is best known for outstanding fish and seafood dishes—headlined by an outrageously delicious Cioppino Verde—but the bar program is no mere supporting cast, as star bartender Julian Cox (Tartine Manufactory) is the wizard behind the cocktails menu. Cox offers three martini variations for $9 during Martini Hour daily between 4 and 5:30 pm. There is a Castelvetrano "washed" Martini that adds manzanilla sherry to the usual gin and dry vermouth, the restaurant’s signature rendition—actually based off the unique frozen CapRock gin—and the Inverse Gibson, which sports Cocchi Americano, cherry bark, aquavit, and onion with the customary gin. Pair any of the fantastic trio with some bites created for the martinis like $3 each yuzu kosho baked oysters.
Neighborhood: Union Square MAP

Michael Mina debuts weekday bar bites
The entry fee of a sit-down dinner in Michael Mina’s dining room is $195 for the six-course affair. Fortunately, you can instead head to the bar Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. to get a casual taste of executive chef Raj Dixit’s terrific spice-driven, Middle Eastern–inspired cooking. The newly launched bar bites menu has plates like a beef rip cap kebab with tangerine labneh ($23) and a croquette-like salt cod kromeski with ancho chile, preserved lemon, and black garlic ($13) that could pretty much pass for a dinner if you get two or three. To go with these and other tempting bites, get yourself an early evening cocktail from lead bartender Anthony Attanasio. Several new creations include the vodka-based Lost in Eden, sporting green Chartreuse, mandarinquat syrup, yuzu, and kaffir lime leaf.
Neighborhood: FiDi MAP

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