Tag Archives: San Francisco

SF: Hayes Valley takes the cake (but I can’t eat it;)

7 Nov


My favorite area in San Francisco is definitely Hayes Valley. I was lucky enough to find an incredible 2 story home to rent for our last month with a castmate. Not only did the house surpass my hopes and expectations, but the area was quaint, hip, delicious, up and coming, and close to the theatre.

Chez Maman West


This restaurant was unbelievable and I barely dipped my foot into their endless pool of a menu. My boyfriend and I came here on a whim before a show and were both shocked by the quality and diversity of the food. There are 2 locations, this being the newest. They also have a Mexican restaurant in SF and include items from that menu here (I absolutely adored that aspect).



Ok…it was SOOOOOO mind-blowingly delectable. I mean put parsley, butter, and garlic on shoe leather, cook it, and I’ll put a ring on it. My boyfriend was insistent on starting with the escargot and I begrudgingly said I’d try a bite. I was hooked and I am hooked. I can’t recommend it enough. It came out piping out, out of the shell, and baked in a trough that made me feel like I was eating a soft pasta rather than a slug. Go eat slugs at Chez Maman and get me one to go! Ok it is made in butter…and so worth every dairy bite


The beau has a fresh rainbow trout over sautéed greens and I ordered the salmon over spinach, minus the creme and potatoes. Instead, I ordered some of the best french fries with garlic aioli I have ever had…and that is saying a lot coming from this french fry addict. I would de happy in a bed of french fries. My mouth is watering just typing about my fried lovers. Let’s view a photo:



Anyway!!! The salmon was perfectly cooked and beautifully hot. Getting my food nice and hot can sometimes override a dish I don’t necessarily care for. Food temperature is an art and extremely important to me when dining out. I used to eat soup with a plastic spoon because I liked it so hot that a silver spoon would burn my lips. Wow, I digress…


The food here was just delectable and I ate there over a hand-full of times. I can’t recommend this place more. It is small so make a reservation or go early and see a movie after. It’s totally worth it! Also, skip the bread they drop at the start of the meal. I sampled, it wasn’t worth it and we sent it away. Some bread is worth wheaty throat…but not this one 😉

Arlequin Cafe and Wine Merchant



This was one of my first stops in the area. I was walking towards it as a Shakespearian play was being done in jeans and tees by a great of thespians, while onlookers sipped their purchased bottle of wine from the wine shop and ate scones and croissants from the cafe. Kinda of incredible. I walked in and feel in love with a salad that put dairy back in my diet for my time there: The Cobb Salad with dill ranch. AHHHH!!!! My favorite cobb I have ever eaten. No joke.


Switching back to french fries for a second, I was feeling the urge one day and ordered a side of french french with my salad. They delivered an entire large plate full of fried potato goodness. And yes, I ate them all and cried a little. Good thick cut fries that make cafes my favorite place to eat them.




This place was super cute and had great coffee and strong lattes (with soy), with yummy whipped scambled eggs and thick roasted rosemary potatoes for the mornings. The afternoons and evenings were filled with a delicious tea selection and cobb salads galore. I did order the roasted chicken one night with roasted carrots and asparagus and it tasted like home cooking. Just pop over next door for some wine to go or to drink there.



I must have tried 4 different bottles of rose in my time in Hayes Valley and each one was beautifully different and under $15 at Arlequin Wine Merchant (attached to the cafe). Some were French and some were local. They also offer a tasting menu to sit out on the patio or out front with a glass of wine and yummy sweater to enjoy the cold SF summer.

The Grove Hayes


If you want Christmas in July, go to THE GROVE HAYES and order the best Chai Latte you have ever had. They use a spiced powder and mix it by hand with milk or soy of your choice. I recommend it served hot as stirred powdered drinks tend to taste a bit chalky.



My first order there was the Berkley bowl with garbs, cucumber, carrots, avocado, tomato, sprouts, onion and a HUGE SLAB OF BREAD. Just throw it out or ask them to hold it or just eat it. I smelled it a good 10 times before I threw it out. It was like I ate it through my nostrils. Gross. The salad was good, but I recommend adding chicken to it instead of their tuna. I love tuna, but here is veered more on the mayo-heavy side. The breakfasts of eggs, chicken sausage, bacon and rosemary hash browns were all delicious…not spectacular but hit the spot.


Lots of people came here to use the interest, drink coffee, and enjoy the cabin-like resort feel of the place with the cowhide rugs and thick twig-backed seats. A fun stop for food and a MUST STOP for the Chai Latte. I miss it already.




This place was literally around the corner from my place. It looked so cute and lovely but I never made it here for a bite or a drink. The food options are “snacks” that are mostly cheese or meat plates. It would have been too tempting to sit down here and not indulged in cocktails of gouda and gin.



The menu for food is above and the menu for drinks is above….the bar…written on the large mirror that gives this small space the facade of an intimate speakeasy. I think I have to come back here for this:


And maybe this:


It is a brand new establishment and can only have great components to add to their already booming book-bar.

In closing, there were so many places I loved in this area. Smitten Ice Cream makes hand-home-made futuristic ice-cream right in front of your eyes with liquid nitrogen and love. They only have 3 or 4 flavors at a time that rotate weekly. TCHO dark chocolate, apple strudel, salted-carmel, pumpkin, and mint chip are just a few of their fascinating flavors. Biergarten offers beer, pretzels, and blankets, in their outdoor..yup…you got it…beer garden. It next door to smitten across from a cute little park. Patxi’s Chicago Pizza has a great gluten-free thin crust pizza with endless toppings and sauces. They deliver too!

If you head to Hayes Valley, you have plenty to chose from. You can also pick up some cool travel gear at Flight 001 on Hayes Street as a souvenir to pair with your full, happy belly.

Chez Maman West
401 Gough St (btw Hayes St & Ive St)
Hayes Valley
SF, CA 94102

Arlequin Cafe
384 Hayes St (btw Franklin St & Gough St)
Hayes Valley
SF, CA 94102

The Grove Hayes
301 Hayes St
Hayes Valley
SF, CA 94102

Two Sisters Bar & Books
579 Hayes St (btw Octavia St & Laguna St)
Hayes Valley
SF, CA 94102

Smitten and Biergarten are on Octavia between Hayes St and Fell St.
Paxti’s Pizza in on Hayes just past Octavia St.


SF: A bit of Lower Nob Hill

7 Nov

I was staying in a beautiful one bedroom apartment in lower nob hill for a week while a couple of the company members were on vacation. I was “watching” the place, which in turn lead me to watch lots of Bravo, cook a pan-seared salmon with my lovely mother’s dill roasted potatoes, and make yummy eggs for breakfast. It was a dream to be able to cook again.

Outside of preparing my own meals, I did happen to catch 2 great places for breakfast. My boyfriend came to visit for the weekend and we indulged in some home-cooking from a dear chinese diner-type stop (sounds crazy) and a yummy local coffee-closet that supplied their customers with deliciously roasted beans and daily-changing breakfast eats of 3 or 4 bread toasted, cheese melted, gooey surprises.



As noted above, this place was a good, old-fashioned, tiny diner run by a Chinese family of 3 or 4. They had room for a square counter and 2 tables. Watching the family handwrite the checks, throw the eggs in multiple pans at a time, flip sausages, flap flapjacks, and take orders with speed and silence, made this place incredibly charming in a non-incredibly-charming way.



We ordered (verbatim): “2 Bacon Egg with two eggs & four bacons.” It was everything you would expect it to be: greasy, golden, and gosh-darn delicious. I believe our check for 2 breakfast plates and coffee came to $13. It was a great discovery and happened to be directly across the street. Hip Hip HOORAY!



The same day we indulged in the golden coffee shop, we walked around the neighborhood and found an awesome coffee standish stop, basically the size of a closet. It wasn’t until we walked in that we saw that the interior was reserved for the young hipster chefs and brewers of the beans that gave it the local, fresh, made with love charm.


We each got a delicious dark roast and enjoyed watching the others around us eat stunning pastries and brioche-brie-WHEATY-DAIRY delights. I wish there was a sarcasm button. 🙂



Golden Coffee Shop
901 Sutter Street
Lower Nob Hill
San Francisco, CA 94109

754 Post
Lower Nob Hill
San Francisco, CA 94109

SF: The Delish Mish and Castro

18 Oct

Best Gluten-free Sandwich I’ve ever had was in the Castro? Yes!


Ike’s Place (which just recently moved across the street from it’s original location) is the hippest, funniest, delicious, most popular sandwich stop in all of SF—and my personal favorite in the sandwich books. I had heard about this place from friends and was weary until I saw that they have homemade GF BREAD, from their own kitchen! Dreams do come true.

When I went there, there were no tables, just chairs to sit and wait until your order was called. You can see the hip youngsters making each sandwich fresh in the back. If you have a severe allergy to gluten or dairy, they ask if you would like the counters cleaned and wiped down to ensure that your sandwich isn’t compromised by cross contamination. That’s customer satisfaction at it’s finest, right?

Each sandwich comes with your choice of Dirty Potato Chips (salt and vinegar are my favorite, though these are made with a dairy “binder,” which they informed me of after removing the cheese from my order. Impressive.) A large selection of old fashion sodas, juices, and water are also available for purchase.


I tend to be a “Plain-Jane” when it comes to sandwiches, but it never disappoints. I ordered a Turkey Sandwich with crispy bacon (when in Rome), tomato, lettuce, avocado, and their secret, special dirty sauce (a homemade garlic aioli with a little kick). Along with all of their other options, this sandwich had a CRAZY NAME that I can’t even remember. I think it was named after a street or a baseball player. I told them what I was craving and they responded with “Oh yes, we have that and it’s called the “McGruber Slam Dunk”‘…or something like that 😉 They have over 80 sandwiches listed on there website and plus handfuls more that the “in the know” cashiers and frequenters can recite upon request.

Some of their sandwiches cracked me up:

The BackStabber: Halal chix, marinated artichoke, CAESAR dressing, provolone
Hot Date For Hire: slices of rib-eye and jalapeños
[Name Of The Girl I’m Dating]: Halal chix, honey mustard, avo, pepperjack
Jessica Rabbit: vegan breaded chix, stuffed jalapeños, franks red-hot, ranch OUCH!
Vegan Pilgrim: vegan breaded chix, cranberry sauce, sriracha, soy cheese
Vegan Sometimes I’m Vegan: grilled mushrooms, artichoke hearts, soy cheese

Check out Ike’s Place by foot, car, or muni– but expect a line every time. You can call ahead and wait in a different line to pick up your already made order. Wait or no wait, it’s worth it so don’t wait and hurry up and eat here already! 😉



This restaurante was by far the most exciting find during my stay. Thanks to a referral from my fellow vegan cast-mate, my dietary restrictions and Los Angeleno demands for delicious mexican food were met and exceeded! The menu is organic, vegan, and non-GMO producing. Dishes are served with fresh vegetables like kale, butternut squash, plantains, and mushrooms, along with toppings of fresh cashew cheese, pepitas, guacamole, salsas, beautiful black beans, and more. Their stoneground heirloom masa tamales are fantastic! All their dishes are made in house, such as their incredibly conceptualized quesadilla with butternut squash, caramelized onions, cashew cheese, and pumpkin seed salsa wrapped in a freshly made corn tortilla.



My favorite were their 3 tacos (choosing from 4 options). I picked the sauteed garlic mushrooms, grilled zucchini, and wilted, sauteed kale with cashew cheese and a side of guacamole. It was everything I hoped it would be: fresh, delicious, and full of flavor. They provide every plate with their own duo of salsas (a mild verde and red chipotle) and accompany almost every main dish with a side of their phenomenal black beans. Probably the best black beans I’ve ever had, aside from my own that I make 😉

THE BEST MARGARITA I HAVE EVER SIPPED (and I mean SIPPED slowly to make it last!):


It seems that I am repeating myself often with the phrase “best thing I’ve ever….” Yet it is TRUE! This is the freshest, most succulent, and artificially-absent tasting margarita I have ever ordered at a restaurant! They are prepared with house-made syrups, fresh agave, and soju (a korean liquor similar to vodka– made from rice). It is the perfect pairing to a perfect meal. If you don’t mind a pack of crowded hipsters in a sketchy area in the mission, enjoy or DISFRUTA!



I literally stumbled across this market while walking from Gracias Madre to the muni stop by Dolores Park. I didn’t put two and two together until I saw their famous ice cream flavors stacked in pints in their modest freezer section.




Beautiful bouquets of flowers line the front doors that open to a lovely array of organic, local produce, herbs, and meats. Along the right wall is an inexpensive, moderately priced wines selection. I was listening to a saleswoman explaining in great detail what the customer would enjoy in addition to her love of chardonnay. I may not have recognized a single wine displayed, which is always exciting.


It was so refreshing to see a local market on the skirts of the quite cement-enclosed, destitute Mission where Gracias Madre sat. It truly warmed my heart with my love of local businesses. The surrounding blocks were booming with quaint and modern eateries, shops, and art. The mission was incredibly eclectic and extremely versatile with every corner turned.

Ike’s Place
3489 16th St (btw Dehon & Sanchez)
SF, CA 94114

Gracias Madre
2211 Mission St (btw 19th & 18th)
SF, CA 94110

Bi-Rite Market
3639 18th St (btw Guerrero & Oakwood)
SF, CA 94110

SF: “Heart of the City” in Union Square

15 Oct


During my first two weeks in SF, I was staying at the company hotel downtown. Between instant oatmeal and shoving tiny cartons of perishables in my stocked mini-fridge, I would dread walking out the door– only to see a Chipotle and Cheesecake Factory as my closest options. Thankfully, we had this to look forward to during the week, which made me want to cook more than ever.


“The Heart of the City” Farmers Market in Union Square, just steps away from City Hall, was our pre-show stop every Wednesday and Sunday! It was in a relatively bad area (near the not-so-tender-Tenderloin) but it bore delicious fruit and fresh piping hot meals for shoppers, passerbys, a lucky homeless chap, or a hungry cast and crew.



Roli Roti serves up some of the best rotisserie chicken I’ve ever eaten. The natural juices of the skewered whole chickens drip onto golden rosemary potatoes, creating a unified pairing that satisfies with moisture and sensational simple seasons.



Whether its the pinch of natural sea salt, the $6 price tag, or the swiftness of the catering duo, this place is delightful– down to the perfectly packed truck/chicken cooker/restaurant on wheels that it is. This is definitely high on my list of downtown SF places to lunch. I believe they are only at the market on Wednesdays and not Sundays.



The Crepe Escape was a place I consistently “houdini-ed.” Wheaty, dairy throat would not hold out on a double-show Wednesday. BUT the entire cast raved about this market staple. Not only did they create homemade, right out of grandma’s kitchen, savory and sweet crepes, but they appreciated our show’s business so much that they gave us a discounted price AND sent us a going away brittle bark on our last Sunday. According to everyone who tried it, they didn’t need to charm us since their delectable dishes were charming enough on their own.



The standouts were the cinnamon sugar crepe, the pesto-tomato-mozzarella crepe, and the nutella crepe with strawberries and caramelized bananas. I still salivate remembering their intoxicating aroma in the hallways of our dressing rooms. The people knew how to run a business with quality food as quality people. If only they offered a GF buckwheat crepe……



Last but not least, was the legendary Kettlepop that could be eaten in one sitting or last the entire week (if you were frugal ;). This kettlecorn was popped fresh right in front of you and available in 3 different sizes. The balance of salty and sweet was truly on the nose…my nose…yummm. The best kettlecorn I’ve ever had, hands down. Gluten/dairy free and calorie rich!!!!! The appeal is the freshness. Even if it was sold in-store, I don’t think it would have the delicious taste that makes it so satisfying.


“Heart of the City” Farmer’s Market
United Nations Plaza
Market btw 7th and 8th
San Francisco, CA 94102
Open Wed and Sun 7am-5pm

“If you’re going to San Francisco….”

15 Oct


I am in agreement with Mr. Twain. My coldest winter was summer in San Francisco. Thus, paving the way for eating lots of cozy, comfort foods! I had the luxury (though it seemed like a hassle at the time) to live in 3 parts of SF during our 7 week sit down at the Orpheum Theatre. Union Square (tourist and crazies), Lower Nob Hill (spread out, but decent), and Hayes Valley (perfection). In between enjoying the fresh fruit and food of their looms, I also found great spots in the nearby Mission and Castro (plus a killer lunch spot in Napa). My food posts for this city will be separated by location with my favorites from each. Let the nor-cal-tummy-rumbling begin. Hell-a yeah!!!!!!!