Boasting more than 2,000 brands of wine, Vineyard Gate provides an Eden for oenophiles as well as an ideal place for tannin tenderfoots to cover acres of unexplored fertility. Venerable vino aficionados help pick out wine that pairs perfectly with each client's palate and lifetime supply of space meals. Vineyard's selection spans both the far ends of the Earth and the budget: for less than $30, sample the crisp, fruity 2007 Sacha Lichine VDP blanc ($9) or the 2006 Waterbrook cabernet sauvignon, with hints of ripe cherry and currant ($21). This Groupon can also go toward a splurge on more swanky spirits such as the 2004 Château de la Tour Clos Vougeot Grand Cru Burgundy, an elegant elixir with a mouth-coating finish ($106). Vineyard also offers a variety of sparkling wines, roses, champagnes, and half-bottles for the more temperate tippler.
Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop sits amid the bustle of downtown Millbrae’s shops and restaurants, its green wooden sign luring hungry pedestrians with the promise of gourmet sandwiches. Inside, chefs rise to expectations, layering thick slices of bread and crunchy rolls with deli meats, cheeses, and unexpected ingredients such as cranberry sauce, pesto, and marinara sauce. An arsenal of specialty sandwiches stands at the ready with attention-grabbing names such as Baby Hawk (pastrami, bacon, and swiss) or Tony Soprano (salami, ham, mortadella, and provolone), in lieu of lackluster titles such as “ham sub” or “some bread with some stuff in it."
At Nubi Yogurt, customers decorate blends of self-serve frozen yogurt with seasonal fruit slices and slivers of chopped-up candy. Georgia-peach- or pineapple-flavored yogurt waits for a complimentary showering of kiwi slices and mocha beads, while café-latte yogurt perks up customers with caffeinating chunks of Snickers or Kit-Kat. Most of the shops’ smooth, sinful flavors are fat-free, and are made with live-cultured probiotics that can help improve digestion. Each Nubi location boasts a bright, contemporary atmosphere with wireless internet, satellite radio tunes, and sleek tables polished enough to admire your new fro-yo moustache in.
The epicurean alchemists at Medallion Steakhouse start with organic produce, and grass- and corn-fed beef and chicken raised on local farms and transform them into fine, innovative dishes. Specialists tend the raw oyster bar, where guests sidle up to string necklaces of pearls from varieties such as Fanny Bay, Marin Miyagi, and Kumamoto oysters. With their appetites roused, diners then settle down into oversize booths padded with plush pillows to dig into farm-fresh entrees. Smells of sizzling 14-ounce grass-fed steaks and roasted chicken breasts from Petaluma Farms swirl through the air between the restaurant’s exposed-brick wall hung with red-and-white-framed mirrors. A wall of white birch tree trunks and soft sounds of a waterfall's trickle keep diners comforted as they linger for a forkful of hazelnut dark-chocolate mousse and sips of spirits such as a 20-year-old tawny port and Godiva white-chocolate liqueur.
Every day, San Francisco Soup Company’s chefs craft crunchy salads and approximately 12 soups from scratch, keeping an eye on sustainability and seasonality. Both salads and soups showcase organic and locally sourced ingredients such as cage-free eggs from Glaum Egg Ranch and organic milk from Clover Stornetta, and soups cast tendrils of steam from biodegradable containers. San Francisco Soup Company’s commitment to conscious dining extends to the nutritional realms: each recipe comes with nutrition stats, and the menu even designates which soups are gluten-, meat- and dairy-free, and which soup spoons best shield noses from affectionate pinches.
Over the last five years, the chefs at Barracuda Japanese Restaurant have continually tinkered with their sushi, teriyaki, and noodle dishes, customizing the menu to fit each Barracuda location’s neighborhood and clientele. Using fresh fish and fruit sourced locally and sustainably whenever possible, the team crafts more than a dozen specialty rolls, including the Japanese Cowboy Roll, which matches crabmeat with mango, avocado, and thinly sliced Kobe beef. Staples such as chicken teriyaki rest side by side with more intricately prepared eats including pan-seared rib eye with mashed potatoes. Lit from underneath, the dining room’s dim orange walls surround potted plants and wooden tables that can accommodate groups of all sizes.