There is No Better Part of a Great Dish Than That First Bite
Written By: Andrew Steinhauser and Michelle Slieff
Photographed By: Lena Kwang
What is our definition of the “best bite?” It’s that perfect balance of flavors, combining acidity, sweetness, salt, heat and a touch of zing to create that best-thing-you’ve-ever-tasted-in-your-life occasion. It’s that moment when you’re posting a picture to Instagram, so people believe what you’re talking about when you tell them how amazing it was. It can also be the inaudible sound of pleasure exhaled after that initial taste — that visceral juncture where you take a second to really appreciate all the hard work and attention to detail that went into creating the dish of which you just took the best bite ever.
There is no better part of a great dish than that first bite. Whether you are a veteran foodie with a super refined palate or you’re just really hungry, there is nothing quite like that initial burst of flavor exploding onto your taste buds. If a dish is done right, this can be a euphoric experience that will leave not only your mouth watering, but your head swimming. We who are lucky enough to live in SF are truly spoiled by the mass of fantastic restaurants packed into our wonderful city. No matter what you are craving, there is most likely a world-class option within walking distance. With so many amazing bites to be had, we have decided take on the task of directing you to some of the best the city has to offer, no matter what kind of mood you are in.
1525 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
415.673.1294 | www.theprogress-sf.com
Located between Geary and O’Farrell, Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski bring us The Progress. The State Bird Provisions team is serving exciting, forward-thinking family-style meals for your next large party experience. Take your time as you dine with loved ones and catch up with long-winded stories. When you leave, you’ll have added a story about some of the best bites you can get in San Francisco. Not only can you expect concisely executed dishes, but also a warm cozy ambiance and a progressive cocktail menu (those looking for classics, they have you covered as well). Book the balcony table and make sure you all tend to agree with the same dining choices. Enjoy items like the Halibut Tartare with turnips and Creme Fraiche. Or perhaps you’re more in the mood for shaved romanesco herbs and pig fries. Whichever route you take, try and end up at the guava buttermilk sherbet. If I were you, I would arrive early, so you have some time to check out their impressive bar scene. The Mezzanine is a great drink to start your evening. Be warned: you might just get so wrapped up in your cocktail and the lingering smell of the food that you don’t leave the bar. From there, you can order smaller scale items and mix and match to create your own experience. This might also be beneficial if your reservation is two weeks out and you just can’t wait to taste a bite before then.
Native Knowledge: The Mezzanine is a tribute to the location’s former life as the Progress Theater, back in 1911.
3416 19th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.874.9921 | www.lazybearsf.com
Located in San Francisco’s Mission District, Lazy Bear offers a modern American prix-fixe menu of 12-18 courses made with meticulously sourced, fresh ingredients. The menu changes monthly and sometimes daily, but dining experiences always start with cocktails and snacks upstairs next to a retro fireplace and leather banquettes. Sample dishes from the menu include Onion Consomme, Squab Foie Gras and Sticky Toffee Pudding. Sommelier Conor Carroll drives the restaurant’s wine program and focuses on less common varietals. Naturally, we highly suggest bumping up your experience by adding a beverage pairing. Wine as well as an occasional cocktail, beer and sake is available to celebrate the food. They even have a full-time Barista on staff to bring an impressive coffee and tea program to the table as well. The restaurant has a rustic yet modern feel featuring a sleek open kitchen. Lazy Bear reservations are available exclusively through pre-paid tickets, so make sure you plan in advance. Stay in the know and sign up for the Lazy Bear mailing list to receive information about when tickets will be released.
Native Knowledge: The Lazy Bear started out as an underground pop-up restaurant.
178 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107
415.828.7990 | www.saisonsf.com
If it is New American/California cuisine you happen to be craving, and only the best will do, look no further than Saison. Located near the ballpark in Soma, Saison provides one of the finest dining experiences you will find in the entire country, let alone the city. From the beautiful ambiance to the impeccable service, to the unbelievable food, Saison truly is a one of a kind dining establishment. They are more than deserving of their coveted three Michelin star rating, one of only 12 restaurants in the entire country. Head Chef Josh Skenes says that their philosophy is simply to provide people with “good food, ” but what you get at Saison is so much more than that. Dining here is less of a meal and more of an amazing journey of wonderful flavors. The dishes that are dreamt up here are one of a kind, almost all of which are cooked, smoked or kissed with the timeless technique of a wood burning fire. The menu is extremely diverse and changes every day. Our favorite bite was of their extremely fresh Bulgarian caviar blended in-house and served over smoked Swordfish belly. The textures and flavors blend perfectly and are so smooth and rich that there are no words to describe how breathtaking this dish really is. As we left the restaurant, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had just eaten the most delicious single bite of my entire life.
Native Knowledge: Make a reservation as far ahead in advance as you can, as this place is kind of a big deal.
2367 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114
415.556.6200 | www.bisousf.com
The French are known for their world-renown cuisine, but sometimes getting a great French meal can be both an intimidating and expensive experience. Luckily for us, there is Bisou Bistronomy. Located right near the Castro Muni stop, co-owner and head chef, Nick Ronan, serves up amazing updated takes on classic French favorites. Chef Ronan pairs them up with a fun, social atmosphere that is very down to earth both in environment and price tag. On any given night when he is not in the kitchen working his magic, Chef can be found socializing with his regulars with a glass of wine in hand and a big smile on his face. Although he is certainly very popular, it is the food that is the true star of Bisou. While we have yet to find anything on the menu that is less than stellar, our favorite bite was that of the Boeuf Bourguignon. These beef cheeks are marinated for 24 hours and cooked absolutely perfectly to the point of falling apart with only the slightest of prodding with your fork. The baby carrots, button mushrooms, and mashed potatoes are all super fresh and come directly from Bisou’s private farm in Pope Valley where they grow all their own sustainable organic veggies. The red wine sauce is so good I wanted to order a pint glass of it and chug it. Combine all of these wonderful elements together along with beautiful presentation and you get a dish that is pretty life changing.
Native Knowledge: Start with a cup of their ridiculously good French Onion soup. Enjoy melted Gruyere out the wazoo. Yum!
4058 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
415.801.5392 | www.besosf.com
If you happen to be in more of a tapas kind of mood, just a short stroll from Bisou you will find Beso Bistronomia. Another brainchild of Chef Ronan’s, Beso follows his same philosophy of updated dishes and super fresh ingredients with a Spanish twist. Located in the heart of the Castro under the famous Castro Country Club, you’d never know that this beautifully decorated space once served as a parking garage. The unique open-air environment is perfect for sharing Sangria and a solid selection of classic tapas dishes with friends on a nice day. Speaking of sharing, we recommend their famous Paella, which many locals boast as being the best in the city. It would be in your best interest to bring at least one friend along, as this dish is served in a huge cast iron skillet and is stacked to the roof with fresh shrimp, baby squid, monkfish, clams and mussels all resting on a bed of baked bomba rice in a lobster broth. Go ahead and wipe the drool off of your keyboard and go experience this amazing dish for yourself.
Native Knowledge: Beso also serves up a killer brunch, and with pitchers of both Sangria and Cava Mimosas, getting drunk before noon never tasted so good!