There are certain accepted rules to constructing maki rolls: They must be round. They generally contain tuna and a handful of vegetables. Chefs at Go Sushi Japanese Restaurant try to throw those precepts out the window and let their imaginations run wild. They build the Arch roll—a deep-fried concoction of spicy tuna and cream cheese—into an actual arch, and they top the Firecracker roll with an explosion of crabmeat and tobiko the color of orange flames. The chefs even have fun naming their creations, such as the Lion King roll, the Black Widow roll, and the George roll, named for the president who famously chopped down his father's cherry tree to make souvenir chopsticks for the Marquis de Lafayette. Underneath the lighted orbs and Japanese lanterns that dangle from the dining-room ceiling, servers also deliver chicken or beef covered in teriyaki sauce or submerged in bowls of noodle soup.
At Dinosaurs Vietnamese Sandwiches, cooks versed in the art of the banh mi sate patron’s cravings for the delicious Vietnamese sandwiches with one of their eight signature creations. Every sandwich begins with a crisp baguette and locally procured toppings—including jalapeno, cilantro, and pickled carrots and daikon—but can be customized with a choice of filling that range from roasted pork and sliced beef to crispy tofu and roasted portobello. The menu also houses a succinct selection of Vietnamese entrees, including a chicken-cabbage salad and shredded pork dusted with roasted rice powder. In addition to munching on a handful of vegan dishes, customers can wash them down with one of four vegan beverages, such as an avocado shake, watermelon litchi, or sustainably raised water.
Just off Highway 1, the petite wooden building with the huge windows, classic neon sign, and flower boxes first resembles a classic beach-town café. But inside, the leafy ferns and potted plants that dominate Pacifica Thai Cuisine's entryway evoke thoughts of Thailand's lush jungles. At the same time, the scents of lemongrass, coconut milk, sweet basil, roasted chilies, and peanut sauce flood diners' senses, giving patrons an overview of the menu before they see a single page or accidentally barge into the kitchen. Curries, pan-fried noodles, seasonal seafood dishes, and barbecued meats fill the menu of faithful renditions of Thailand’s iconic dishes. The restaurant has served a wide customer base for nearly three decades, and Bay Area Vegetarians calls it “probably the most vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurant in Pacifica.” Vegetarian dishes reach beyond meat-free preparations of the standards to encompass thoughtful combinations of vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, tofu, and rich sauces.
The chefs at El Toro Loco craft tacos, burritos, and tostadas, alongside hearty meat and chicken entrees grilled in Peruvian style. The kitchen keeps an eye on their customers' health by using the freshest ingredients available, favoring heart-conscious canola oil, and taking all orders on a doctor’s prescription pad. The menu features Peruvian favorites including deep-fried yucca along with beef anticuchos, a kabob-like dish served alongside potatoes and hot sauce. The Peruvian-leaning menu also includes award-winning tacos and burritos, crammed with fish, beef, chicken, pork, or veggies, which distinguished themselves earlier this year by landing El Toro Loco at the top of the Pacifica Patch's short list of the best local tacos and burritos.
Chef Xana Cook-Milligan peruses local famers’ markets in order to find the freshest seasonal ingredients to use for her menu at Salada Beach Cafe. Regular dishes include a housemade veggie burger, served with ketchup that’s also made in house. Diners also pass around tapas-style small plates, such as skewers loaded with honey-lime chicken or PEI mussels in garlicky white wine sauce. Cook-Milligan’s specials highlight the best market finds, often integrated into housemade pasta dishes or warm veggie salads.
Broccoli, zucchini, clams, and linguica sausage. They’re not the kinds of pizza toppings you find at every Italian restaurant, but at Luigi’s, chefs give each bite of hand-tossed pizza the potential to truly evoke the flavors of Italy. While seated on padded maroon chairs, guests can dig into the eatery’s other specialties such as seafood risotto and eggplant parmigiana, or pasta dishes that include linguini with clams and house-made gnocchi. Guests sipping on glasses of Californian or Italian wine can admire framed artwork of old-country landscapes or glance outside one of the restaurant's many windows in hopes that a vineyard has suddenly sprouted up across the street.