For La Strada's owners, Martino and Adriano, food lies at the heart of their business and their friendship. They first met while working various Italian restaurants in North Beach and immediately hit it off. Through the years, they'd daydream about opening their own restaurant, until one day a vacant restaurant space changed everything. After taking a look inside, they decided to take the plunge?and the first La Strada location was on its way to opening.
Their first restaurant flourished and soon they opened a second location right next to City Hall. This time, they outfitted the new dining room with fireplace seating, Italian archways, and murals of rolling Tuscan countryside. But they didn't change the one thing that made their first restaurant successful: the food. At both locations, they continue to serve their classic Italian eats, such as skewers of salmon, scallops, and veggies in a white wine garlic sauce and tender veal stuffed with prosciutto, sage, olives, and mozzarella.
Big Jim?s BBQ entrances diners with a menu of tempting contemporary and barbecue cuisine arranged by chef Jim Modesitt. Like the annual westward migration of wood-smoking grills, the sauce-slathered bill of fare unites gourmet California treats with rustic southern cooking traditions, pairing juicy pulled pork, chicken, ribs, and brisket with hearty risottos, traditional cornbreads and beans, assorted cheeses, and crostinis. As clients sup on the tasty bounty or enroll in courses to learn the dark arts of cookcraft from the kitchen?s professional chefs and caterers, rich flavors and aromas lavish the nose and palate with a sensory celebration of fine food.
The chefs at Falafel Hut man steaming pans to forge a wide range of pita-swaddled sandwiches and hearty entrees, which lead to contented sighs across the dining room and open patio. In lieu of water wings, diners strap beef and lamb shawarma ($8.95) to each arm and dabble in a pool of cucumber sauce. The restaurant's namesake falafel parades onto pita or lavash bread before donning hummus, hot sauce, and fistfuls of crisp veggies ($6.95), and diners drive up napkin demand with two chicken kebabs and rice ($14.95). Pistachio baklava ($2.50) washed down with dark Turkish coffee ($3.50) serves as a mealtime encore more pleasant than a dinner-bell rendition of "Freebird."
This 100% Latino-owned business uses 100% organic flour and 100% natural ingredients to assemble sweet and savory empanadas with a multilingual blend of Caribbean, Latin American, and Californian points of view. Herbivores and herbivoyeurs can delight their senses in the flavors of mushrooms with brie, onions, and spices ($45 per dozen), while their meat-minded brethren can tear into a savory, roasted chicken poblano with onion, poblano chile, red bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, and spices ($45 per dozen). To keep the taste buds on the other side of your tongue from rebelling and making everything taste like burnt hair, keep them happy with the apple-cinnamon-with-chocolate empanada infused with Turbinado sugar ($30 per dozen). These fresh and healthy treats come in both meal and cocktail size. As with square dancing, mixing and matching fillings is encouraged, as are odd-numbered orders.
Back to Earth’s retreats couple outdoor adventure with relaxation, letting nature lovers and city slickers alike flee urban landscapes in favor of mind-body rebuilding. Escape the ironic graffiti of urban-transit systems and explore California's undeveloped stretch of coastline, beginning in Shelter Cove, on the self-centering qigong retreat. Participants spend four days and three nights hiking, camping on the beach, and practicing qigong, honing forms and meditations to boost inner wellness. In between activities, the staff prepares organic meals to elevate body and mind and refuel energy stores depleted from asking the mountains hypothetical questions.
Chef Eileen Evans has always seen the value in local ingredients: some of her fondest childhood memories were cooking fresh vegetables from the family garden with her papa, mother, and sister. After training in the prestigious culinary program at the Colorado Institute of Art, she gained the tools to translate her passion for food into a career crafting gourmet meals. As the owner of What's Cookin?, she travels throughout the East Bay to feed individuals and large groups with her unique cuisine. Her interactive cooking classes teach students the basics with customized international recipes and all necessary ingredients, including the dash of love.
An international flavor also pervades her catering services, which feature entrees and sides as diverse as Indian chicken tikka masala, Hawaiian-style slow-roasted pork, and Proven?al-style snapper. Chef Evans prepares spreads for both formal and informal gatherings of all sizes, from weddings to luncheons.