San Francisco Pizza's owner and executive chef Silvio Barbosa Jr. has spent more than a decade perfecting his recipes for hand-spun pizzas and freshly prepared pasta, salads, and sandwiches. His menu is anchored by more than 25 specialty pizzas festooned with both traditional toppings such as pepperoni, basil, and sausage and more surprising fixings such as pine nuts, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and hearts of palm. Diners can also dig into pasta dishes and sandwiches accented with freshly grilled veal, seafood, and poultry to silence the loud hunger pangs drowning out the tiny angels perched on their shoulders.
Not far from the bustle of Oakland's financial district, Ma Me House maintains a serene environment where piping-hot tea and bowls of steaming pho noodle soup stand on tables side by side. Light filters through a canopy of wooden rafters, bathing black tables and dark, hardwood floors in warm afternoon sun or the strobe lights that activate whenever there's an eclipse. In the kitchen, cooks craft coconut-milk curries and tofu-vermicelli dishes, drawing on the culinary traditions of Vietnam's Binh Thuan region.
At 475 Café, skilled chefs and friendly servers dish out mouthwatering meals of classic American diner fare and Mediterranean eats. Tasty omelets and toasty bagels greet the sunrise during breakfast feasts, while dishes of roasted eggplant, hummus, and falafel sing savory praises to the Greek god of lunch. Satisfying slices of deli meat pile upon a wholesome assortment of breads, and hot meals of home-cooked classics such as meat loaf and roasted chicken plate juicy cuts of meat with fresh, colorful veggies. In addition to serving up palate-pleasing Mediterranean and American diner delights, 475 Café accompanies edibles with fruity smoothies, an array of flavorful coffee beverages, and answers to sudoku puzzles.
A steady and familiar sizzle keeps the kitchen moving at Quick Bite. As the fryer puts the finishing touches on the chicken and seafood specialties, the kitchen crew assembles sides such as potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, and hush puppies. Quick Bite's most popular dishes include whole chicken wings and popcorn chicken, as well as catfish, snapper, and sole. The fish can be ordered alone, as a combo with chicken wings, or on a roll as the Fast Eddie sandwich. Fried prawns, breaded oysters, and breaded scallops are also available to complete one's daily requirement of items in the food pyramid's underwater base.
Ayalnesh Chanialew learned the art of Ethiopian cooking through observation. She first watched cooking techniques and styles in Ethiopia, where she was born. As a child, she frequently traveled to different countries with her father, an ambassador. Through her travels, she learned to adapt her palate and cooking style to incorporate those of different cultures. This knack for adaptation shines in her cooking, whether she is substituting herb-infused olive oil for the traditional butter in her restaurant's dishes or making chips out of Ethiopian flatbread for a new textural experience.
At Sheba Dining, guests feast on both vegan entrees and meat, ranging from lean beef and sautéed lamb to raw ahi tuna, all seasoned with signature spices such as ginger, cardamom, and chili. After testing out her injera chips on customers, Ayalnesh began packaging and selling them as a commercial snack, which are now sold at health-food stores including Whole Foods. Her desire to promote Ethiopian cuisine has led Ayalnesh to expand her commercial exploits to sauces and dips, including a spicy red-lentil sauce made from those lentils that fail their anger-management-therapy course.
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 produce from Durst Organic Farms and organic lettuce from Earthbound Farm, 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.
When it first opened in 1979, La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill was a simple taqueria in Los Angeles. Its open kitchen gave patrons a front-row seat to watch chefs transform fresh ingredients into bold, memorable Mexican dishes. Today, the original concept has evolved into a booming franchise, but each location works on the same principle: add a modern twist to classic Mexican food. Chefs continue to work in an open-kitchen environment where they concoct seven types of homemade salsas—laced with ingredients such as fire-roasted roma tomatoes, cilantro and garlic, and even mango—to complement carne asada tacos, los cabos shrimp burritos, and hefty bowls packed with chicken, fire-roasted veggies, and plenty of cheese. The kitchen crew also assembles large breakfasts of eggs and chorizo as well as huevos rancheros for early risers and paperboys who demand a tip in the form of eggs.