Teppanyaki chefs twirl their knives and ignite towers of flame while cooking meals tableside inside Hana Japan Steak & Seafood. They slice new york steaks, chicken, and salmon and toss scallops onto the grill alongside chopped veggies and mounds of rice, all without ruffling their tomato-red toques. Each hibachi dinner comes with a shrimp appetizer, a bowl of soup, and a salad with organic Hana dressing imported from the organic part of Japan.
As a youngster, Latif Lamnaouar learned classic Moroccan dishes by watching and helping his mother in the kitchen. After moving to America, the homesick Latif started cooking those meals himself, a process that reduced his homesickness and propelled his culinary aspirations. He now crafts Moroccan specialties at Lateeva's Cafe, from veggie sandwiches with eggplant and split pea hummus spread to lemon chicken paninis with pesto and spinach.
Before noon, Latif assembles plenty of breakfast treats, too, including wraps chock-full of eggs, hash browns, salsa, and a choice of turkey sausage or turkey bacon. Complement feasts with coffee drinks or the apple juice, strawberry, and tamarind blend of the Road to Casablanca smoothie, named for its resemblance to Humphrey Bogart's naturally fruity scent.
Beyond the endless string of cluttered theme restaurants and deafening din of crowded mega-chains there is Hillstone, a long-time San Francisco waterfront spot that promises competence in lieu of flash. While technically part of a larger corporate string of eateries, this place is anything but a franchise. Instead, it’s more of a power lunch spot, serving hearty American fare with international touches, like ordering the filet mignon from the waitress and a margarita from the bar. Live jazz bumps up the ambiance inside the wood-studded space, and a few café tables outside make for a more relaxing experience. While the waits can be long and the prices somewhat high, Hillstone does have street and nearby garage parking – and a limited no corkage fee policy.
Hungry Hunter embellishes plates with congenial cuts of meat and more while enticing diners with its lounge-like atmosphere. The lunch menu encourages patrons to ignite a lazy appetite with the mini slider appetizer, a single shot of bite-sized burger or barbecue pulled pork ($3) or troubleshoot a bland blind date with an appetizer sampler that balances spicy prawns, potato skins, and calamari ($11). The hearty, slow-roasted signature prime rib is massaged with Hungry Hunter's house seasoning blend ($16.50 for an 8 oz.), and the vegetable pasta—with asparagus, english peas, roasted onions, and a chunky tomato sauce—is draped in a dusting of pecorino cheese ($11.50).
Founder and chef Rebecca A. Bernstein operates Cioccolata di Vino with the belief that her delectable desserts and enticing antipasti taste particularly divine in a laid-back, warm setting that resembles a hammock made of cocoons. The soft lighting envelops patrons in a gracious embrace, where it's perfectly acceptable to stop by just for the blissful dessert menu. Choco-hounds flock to the succulent molten lava cake ($6.95), where a moist, spongy coating covers a warm liquid chocolate, generating a cocoa magma stream down Mt. Esophagus. Candy up your kisser with the award-winning, gooey chocolate-chip cookies (three for $3.95), which arrive packed with rich Callebaut Belgian chocolate and slivers of pecan. The light but feisty lemon tart ($6.95) is crowned with a fresh whipped cream, while the rich gelati and sorbetti ($4.95) rotate their flavors daily and their buckskin capes fortnightly.