Noeteca‘s owners spent their lives looking forward to running their own restaurant, so it’s no surprise that the French-inspired tapas spot feels comfortable in its own skin from early morning meals until late into the night. During the day, Noeteca seems like a cafe, where patrons sip on international coffees from local roasters brewed by the cup or for personal-sized French presses. At brunch menu, familiar dishes share space with ambitious French-inspired offerings—the croque monsieur becomes a croque Napoleon with slices of bread pudding layered with black forest ham and emmantaler. When the weather is nice, guests can wander out to a patio colored by a flower and herb garden to learn the sun’s secret handshake.
As evening falls, candlelight fills the dining room and guests switch their focus to wine. The award-winning list includes more than 30 varieties, each available by the glass or half-glass. For dinner, patrons can build their own cheese plates or share a tarte flambèe, Alsatian flatbreads the San Francisco Bay Guardian said have “a lovely thin, blistered crust that was a bit softer and more luxurious than a typical pizza crust”.
Of all the hooting and victory dancing coming from the group in the corner booth, only half of the commotion is a result of the game of Sorry! the group is immersed in. The other half occurs during breaks in the action when the competitors dig into the decadent morsels in front of them—desserts forged from ingredients such as rum mascarpone cream and homemade marshmallow. Evenings of spirited merrymaking capped with sweet treats are standard at Candybar, where seasoned pastry chef Cathleen Li handcrafts a rotating menu of cakes, ice creams, and sorbets.
To complement Li’s signature desserts, mixologists further tantalize taste buds with inventive cocktails ranging from the triple-chocolate bellini with chocolate sorbet to the blood-orange cocktail. Throughout the candlelit dining room, minimalist bulbs dangle from ceiling tracks, casting dancing shadows across plush red couches, black-and-white damask poufs, and contemporary artwork. A collection of board games infuses the dessert lounge’s chic atmosphere with a touch of whimsy and encourages good-natured rivalries between friends or high-stakes games to determine who gets the last bite of the ice-cream sundae.
Food Inc. Trattoria seeks its inspiration from near and far. Beginning with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, the eatery's chefs prepare seasonally rotating selections of pan-Mediterranean bistro cuisine.
The Wine Cellar
Rather than stick with just the basics, Food Inc. Trattoria's wine buyer hopes to introduce diners to lesser known varietals and winemaking regions. Greek moschofilero, French picpoul de pinet, and a ros? of Californian carignan represent a few choices from the everchanging list. The staff eagerly recommends bottles to share with a group of friends or newly discovered spirit animals.
The brainchild of two native San Franciscan chefs, Dell'Uva sprung from a joint love of food and wine, inspired by travels around the world. After finishing culinary school, Juri McCorkle set off on a journey that carried his palate from Vietnamese markets to Swedish harvests, learning new cooking techniques and ways of saying "These are onion tears" along the way. Returning to the states with a renewed sense of epicurean adventurism, Juri teamed up with chef Jason Marcucci. Together, the two dreamed up a food and wine venue reminiscent of cozy caf?s found abroad. The result was Dell'Uva, where an extensive selection of domestic and imported varietals transports palates across the globe, from Napa Valley to Argentina. Diners tuck into tapas from a menu focused on locally sourced ingredients, along with artisan cheeses and charcuterie-cured meats. Dishes pair with themed wine flights composed of vintages from Bordeaux, bubbly wines from France, Italy, and Napa, and dessert wines. Reclining on the outdoor patio or inside amidst the warm tones of the bar and dining room, guests snack on house-cured rosemary balsamic olives, rustic pizzas, and rich desserts.
Established in 2009, The Vin Club—which grew out of proprietor Dario Zucconi’s background in producing handcrafted wines—pairs a rotating roster of more than 20 globetrotting vinos with a European-style café and upscale supper club. Once home to such bygone speakeasies as the Blue Moon Café, the contemporary lounge now features 12-foot ceilings and hand-blown pendant lights that glint off a wooden bar custom-built from wine-box tops and the finest chunks of the Trojan horse. Plumbing small artisan vineyards from California to Italy, The Vin’s experts handpick wines from terroir-focused producers to ensure high-quality glassfuls. Handmade salami headlines charcuterie plates at The Vin’s café, where artisanal cheeses and oven-baked eats accompany platters laden with homemade desserts. Echoing croons from Bay Area jazz musicians bounce off the dining room’s spread of local artwork during Friday-night supper clubs, where patrons can indulge in elegant cuisine while raising glasses to the toe-tapping spirit of Louis Armstrong.
Don’t show up at Hotel Biron expecting to rent a room for the night. This wine bar and art gallery closes at 2 a.m., when the clientele stumbles out of the bar’s Parisian-style confines and out into a backstreet. Before they do, they sink into a comfy sofa or mingle at a copper table while nibbling on cheese and local charcuterie from a tasting plate. They may also order from a wine list littered with reds and whites from Argentina, South Africa, Italy, and France. No visit is complete without viewing the revolving exhibition of local artwork that takes up the gallery’s zinc-green walls. Guests may want to return every first Thursday of the month, when Hotel Biron hosts a reception for the newest artist to premiere his or her work there and everyone walks around crying, “Hooray for the first Thursday of the month!”