For La Strada's owners, Martino and Adriano, food lies at the heart of their business and their friendship. They first met while working various Italian restaurants in North Beach and immediately hit it off. Through the years, they'd daydream about opening their own restaurant, until one day a vacant restaurant space changed everything. After taking a look inside, they decided to take the plunge?and the first La Strada location was on its way to opening.
Their first restaurant flourished and soon they opened a second location right next to City Hall. This time, they outfitted the new dining room with fireplace seating, Italian archways, and murals of rolling Tuscan countryside. But they didn't change the one thing that made their first restaurant successful: the food. At both locations, they continue to serve their classic Italian eats, such as skewers of salmon, scallops, and veggies in a white wine garlic sauce and tender veal stuffed with prosciutto, sage, olives, and mozzarella.
Souley Vegan's proprietor Tamearra Dyson uses techniques she learned from her family in Louisiana to subvert that idea that healthy, vegan eating lacks flavor. She dredges tofu in a southern-style batter that mimics fried catfish and fashions a menu that appeals to meat-eaters and vegans alike. Tofu also gets dressed in BBQ sauce in burgers and tossed in sweet and sour and green peppers. Tamearra and her kitchen staff put a vegan spin on a roster of Southern classics, such as potato salad with black olives following a family recipe three generations old, as well as mashed potatoes drenched in vegan gravy made like her mom did. The eatery's mac and cheese made with yeast-based, non-dairy cheese earned it accolades from the East Bay Express, which said that it "is so perfect a substitute to its dairy-based kin that it leaves the eater convinced it?s the real thing," while also bestowing Souley Vegan with "Best of East Bay" awards for the past five years. USA Today has also recognized the eatery as among ten great places for soul food in the country.
Brightly painted walls and block-style prints of blues musicians lend a cozy Southern atmosphere to the restaurant, where diners gather around color-splashed tables or cluster on picnic style benches as they share family-style meals or play License Plate Bingo for the last piece of fried okra.
In the past, Brendan Eliason's oenophilia has landed him gigs at David Coffaro Winery in Dry Creek and Va de Vi Bistro & Wine Bar in Walnut Creek. These days, he mans Periscope Cellars, which stocks an impressive selection of Californian wines. Available by the bottle or from up to 10 taps, the tasting room showcases everything from pinot noirs and zinfandels to mulled wine in winter.
Pours pair perfectly with gourmet bites from the surrounding Swan’s Market; Rosamunde Sausage Grill, for instance, is just steps away. Of course, Periscope's libations are also available to go in refillable 500ml bottles or unlimited handfuls.
Catch the Puff Truck: Pacific Puffs’ mobile food truck makes stops at corporate events, private parties, and street corners throughout the city. It also regularly attends Off the Grid events throughout the Bay Area. Keep up with the online calendar and Twitter.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Enjoy a fine meal at Gamine French Bistro (2223 Union Street).
After: Grab your pals and a dozen puffs and head to Marina Green Park to nibble on them while watching the boats come in.
San Francisco Fire Engine Tours & Adventures’ sparkling 1950's Mack Fire Engine carries passengers on themed adventures that combine the excitement of racing toward a fire with the fun of outwitting time. From the vantage point of the "Big Red Shiny Mack Fire Engine," guests catch views of the Bay Area while pretending to be important pieces of firefighting equipment. Tours run year round, and the crew outfits patrons with authentic fire gear to keep them warm while they explore the city on one of the themed tours. Winery tours cruise to Treasure Island, where guests enjoy tastes of signature varietals, while the Golden Gate bridge tour begins in Fisherman's Wharf before heading across the iconic bridge, through the village of Sausalito. Holiday-lights tours capture some of the city's most festive and decorated locations, and Halloween tours creep through Historic Presidio where ghosts are rumored to vacation.
Hot Spud's chef and owner Cemil combines the convenience of fast food with the taste of gourmet cuisine, stuffing piping-hot potatoes to the skin with fresh and organic fillings. Baked to perfection in an imported King Edward convection oven, each 12-ounce potato attains a fluffy interior and evenly browned exterior reminiscent of the Doughboy after spring break. Dungeness crab and lemon beurre blanc sauce tower atop the Wharf—the restaurant's signature spud—while other creations include toppings and sauces such as grilled shrimp, chipotle tartar and alfredo. Cemil creates salads and soups with local and organic products when possible, and–in addition to gluten free items such as brownies and cheesecakes–he incorporates Idaho's state flower, the sweet potato, into desserts. Customers lounge in a sleek, modern dining area with tall picture windows and an interior wall covered in bright, multicolored panels.