Candles nestled in chandeliers cast a flickering glow upon saffron-colored walls, exposed stonework, and iron accents. The light dimly illuminates the white tablecloths on the main dining floor and the overlooking mezzanine level, helping weave the aura of otherworldliness that Mythos's name suggests. Amid this visual backdrop, the aromas of West Coast and Mediterranean spices and sauces dance, hinting at the local seafood and produce that the chefs use in their menu. Taking advantage of the local bounty, the grill masters turn their eyes toward the culinary aesthetic of Greece as they braise lamb shanks, flame bathe house-ground burgers and 6-ounce skirt steaks, and sauté vegan plates.
Against a wall of windows, bartenders and stewards pair dishes with handpicked Northern Californian and Greek wines as well as 11 ouzos. They also mix cocktails from eclectic ingredients, such as vegetables pickled in-house and imported pomegranate juice, so diners don’t have to add Mediterranean authenticity by sifting their drinks through a Greek flag.
New Orleans is a city that lingers in the heart long after you leave. Chef Edwin Caba spent 18 years running restaurants in various cities, but it was the cuisine of New Orleans that stayed with him. In 1996, he helped to open CreoLa Bistro, where as executive chef he helms a menu of Cajun and Creole cuisine using seafood that comes in directly from the Louisiana gulf.
Piacere Restaurant's chef, Miriam Russel-Wadleigh, is dedicated to using only local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible. She's so dedicated, in fact, that in 2008 she posed the Farmer's Market Challenge—an open invitation for guests to bring two or more ingredients from local farmers' markets, which she transformed into custom two-course meals. But even when she isn't working her creative muscles, Miriam relies on locally grown produce and fresh meats. She combines these in iron skillets and a wood-burning oven to create dishes whose scope goes well beyond the local, often leaning into Southern Italy: lemon-marinated fish, mint-rubbed lamb steaks, and pizzas topped with wild-boar salami.
This freshness and international outlook extends beyond the food, drifting into the bar's handcrafted cocktails, which are made with all-natural ingredients, as well as selections from more than 2,000 bottles of rare varietals and boutique wines. These concoctions are best sipped on the sidewalk patio along the restaurant's blond-wood and cream-colored facade, where guests can fill up mason jars with fresh air for later.
Piacere's local focus encompasses the community as well as its foodstuffs. The restaurant uses its penchant for food and drink to benefit local charities such as the Ronald McDonald House and the American Liver Foundation. At one point, the restaurant even donated proceeds from three school-themed cocktails to the San Carlos Education Foundation.
Since 1987, the folks at Izzy’s Steaks & Chops have been grilling up the steaks and chops that they see as an integral part of Americana, along with freshly caught local seafood that’s never frozen. All of their corn-fed Black Angus beef is humanely raised at Creekstone Farms, which is dedicated to beef free of hormones and antibiotics. The chefs transform those premium meats into their signature new york sirloin steaks, aged a minimum of 21 days, as well as cuts of slow-roasted prime rib and filet mignon medallions au poivre with pepper cream sauce. Double-cut pork gets a boost from spiced pear, and a lime-chive sauce adds tang to peppered swordfish. Each meal comes with a choice of two sides, such as creamed spinach, the chefs’ signature potatoes au gratin, and french fries cut in the kitchen.
House desserts such as new york cheesecake and key-lime pie conclude meals or quiet whining choruses of sweet teeth. Wine, cocktails, and draft beers encourage diners to linger in the cozy space, and during brunch—served only at the San Francisco location—the bartenders mix up cocktails such as peach bellinis or gaelic coffee with irish whiskey.
If you've been meaning to visit Hawaii but your car won't fit in the catapult, pay a visit to Noelani's, where the island experience is in full swing. Orchid-crowned tropical cocktails and flower-laden servers fill the bar and lounge, whose patio seating and constant stream of live music bolster the already festive atmosphere. At brunch, lunch, and dinner, chefs plate artful interpretations of pan-Asian and Hawaiian cuisine, their delicate balance of flavors manifesting as slow-roasted Kalua pig quesadillas, guava-marinated skirt steak, and macadamia-crusted mahi mahi. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays welcome guitar and ukulele players who infuse the relaxed room with traditional and modern island music.
The Van's has earned the admiration of diners and drinkers since 1947, though its historic teahouse structure dates even farther back?to 1915 when constructed to house a portion of the Japanese Exhibition at the Panama Pacific International Exposition. The restaurant's dining rooms offer panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and close-ups of crisp white linens, complemented by rich, ethnic-inspired eats and select wines. The restaurant's bar area boasts the original wallpaper from 1915, as well as historic photographs showing the Peninsula.