Drawing inspiration and flavors from Chinese cuisine, Uncle Chen Restaurant's chefs dedicate themselves to crafting a menu accessible to virtually any palate or diet. Crispy duck, shredded pork, and tender beef highlight a fair portion of the menu, but the pages also include more than 28 vegetarian-friendly entrees with tofu, vegetables, or housemade rice noodles in the same selection of aromatic sauces. Many of the meals incorporate onion, ginger, or mushrooms for their distinctive and savory flavors, but the chefs can also forge entrees with fiery doses of chili peppers.
The dining room embraces a calm, understated atmosphere with its neutral tones and framed pieces of parchment with Chinese characters. Wall stencils of budding tree branches add a naturalistic touch to the serene ambiance, and a handful of verdant plants provides the restaurant with a hyper-local supply of homemade oxygen.
A m?lange of glowing press surrounds Source's vegan and vegetarian menu, which chefs craft with compassion for all life forms amid purified air and shimmering light shows. The eatery feeds the senses and uplifts down-on-their-luck rainbows with waterfall sounds and soothing ambient music. An enormous stone dragon's head draws attention to brick-oven-fired pizzas cloaked adventurously in house-made mozzarella, truffle oil, and guacamole. As cool waves of filtered air carry snippets of happy chatter, ionically filtered water serves as a building block for organic veggie burgers, raw salads, and sandwiches on freshly baked bread. Raw agave nectar leaps into beverages to kick sugar to the curb and allow patrons to enjoy natural sweetness without stealing beekeepers' thermoses. A tent over the outdoor patio admits sun on warm days and releases sated sighs to soar up into the sky.
Maharani, named for the Sanskrit word for "empress," brings authentic Indian cuisine to San Francisco with a menu of savory selections from the subcontinent. Begin your Bollywood banquet with a side of garlic naan ($2.50), a traditional Indian bread, topped with garlic and cilantro to get palates prepared for Maharani's most popular dish—chicken tikka masala ($14.75), which is first covered in a fire-safe blanket of spices and then fire-roasted. Spare poultry and spear sheep with the seekh kebab ($13.95), featuring skewered minced lamb bedecked in herbs and spices, or avoid carnivorous desires altogether with the saag paneer ($8.95), offering spinach cooked in a blend of herbs and spices that pleases the biceps of sailor men everywhere. Maharani diners can wash down their dinners with a selection of wine and beer as thirst quenching as the world's largest democracy.
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You can thank Sri Chinmoy for Ananda Fuara’s menu of wholesome vegetarian cuisine. The spiritual master taught vegetarian principles that the restaurant puts into practice by preparing crispy samosas, spicy dal, and a signature neatloaf made from grains, eggs, ricotta cheese, and tofu.
A Slice of History: In 2007, the New York Times summed up Greens and its accomplishments, saying it was "the restaurant that brought vegetarian food out from sprout-infested health food stores and established it as a cuisine in America."
Who's Cooking: Executive Chef Annie Somerville, an icon in vegetarian cooking. She arrived at Greens in 1981, and to this day, works closely with local purveyors to keep the restaurant's pantries stocked.
Green Gulch Farm: Located in Marin County, this residential Zen community was established along with Greens in 1979. It supplies the restaurant with seasonal produce year-round.
When to Go: Time your visit around dusk—that way, when you get those seats by the window, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and the sun setting through its arches. Boom, double points.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Pick up chef Somerville's award-winning cookbook Field of Greens, a collection of nearly 300 recipes that include everything from Greens' famous pizzas to its addictive breads.