For 10 years, Mona Personius worked as a personal chef for Los Angeles's elite, including Annie Potts and Tim Curry, as well as denizens of San Francisco's posh Pacific Heights neighborhood. Wanting both a bigger kitchen for her catering business and a homey space in which to actually witness patrons' enjoyment of her cooking, she opened Mona's Table. A cross between an old-fashioned diner and a chic French bistro, the restaurant serves thick sandwiches, soups, and a different flavor of quiche every morning. Among Mona's signature dishes, the vanilla-brined pork-loin sandwich won a Fearless Fork award from the Alameda Sun in 2007, and locals have gossiped about the corned-beef hash ever since the mayor was seen sharing a cup of coffee with it. Every dish is made from scratch; even the coffee is brewed on a by-order basis. Daily specials are a mystery until guests take a seat in the warm space, but a critic at the East Bay Express shares an insider hint: the "best dishes have a subtle glow … a combination of simple ingredients layered simply together by an innately talented chef."
Boats slowly glide across the blue water of the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, their white sails puffing and billowing in the gentle breeze. Some dock in guest berths reserved for guests of Pasta Pelican. With its windows overlooking the water, this restaurant provides the perfect location for gazing at the passing vessels or shouting at the seagulls for refusing to wax your boat.
Inside, glowing embers flicker from the dining room's stone hearth, lighting the dark wood tables where guests savor classic appetizers or soups, such as the clam chowder. Pastas dressed in rich sauces or tender cuts of veal, chicken, and seafood make up the main course. Each Friday night, live musical performances draw crowds to the dance floor in Pasta Pelican's lounge as bartenders pour glasses from the extensive wine list.
Shawn Shay grew up on the East Coast, feasting upon that region’s sandwiches, which rely heavily on meatballs, steak, and other meats. His future wife, Wendy, was enjoying California-style sandwiches, sprinkled with emerald fistfuls of veggies. In Shay’s Café, the two now combine their culinary passions beneath the eatery’s blue and gold walls, which glow in the natural light from floor-to-ceiling front windows. The light pierces the steam that rises from soups wrought from adventurous ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves, leeks, and fresh asparagus. The menu divides signature sandwiches by coast, with Eastern favorites including philly cheese and Western options laden with pesto, brie, and grilled salmon. Glasses of beer and wine form toasts, plinking occasionally like a xylophone player with only one mallet.
Notes of roasted garlic, pesto, and feta intertwine with fresh pastas, seafood, and veal, launching aromatic dispatches from Zeytini's kitchen. Beneath the steam floating off simmering wine sauces, Mediterranean influences slip onto plates to introduce hummus, meat kebabs, or grilled fezzes. The dining room’s red and gold draperies cinch together against canary-hued walls, and paintings of the Italian countryside preen beneath arched wooden frames. Warm breezes tug at diners lounging beneath periwinkle umbrellas on the outdoor patio, and a clay-tile awning hangs over guests perched at the bar and protects them from Bacchus' efforts to rappel into drinks.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number over 34,000 around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
Time is of the essence at Angel Fish Restaurant. Every season, its chefs change up their selection of small plates. Fresh fish arrive daily. And for one hour during the week, Angel Fish treats its visitors to a combination of early-bird specials and happy hour sake.
On any given day, though, there are some things you can count on. The kitchen produces sushi, sashimi, and complex but comforting entrees such as nabeyaki-udon noodles with clams, chicken, vegetables, and a poached egg beneath a shrimp tempura topping. For each bite, diners can thank Chef Takao Minatoya, who has been experimenting with traditional and contemporary flavors since man started eating fish way back in 1998.