The Three Faces of Frances
Daily Changing Menu
The food at Frances changes daily. It reflects what chef Melissa Perello gathers from local markets, farms, and purveyors with whom she's developed personal relationships. Because of this ever-changing nature, the menu here is truly simple—it's broken into only four categories: appetizers, entrees, sides, and bouchées (small, tapas-style plates). In the past, the entree section has listed everything from Monterey black cod to chicken roulade with brown-butter vinaigrette.
House Wine by the Ounce
Frances' beverage director, Paul Einbund, blends all of the restaurant's house wines at a nearby winery before bringing them over in kegs and serving them on tap. The staff then delivers them to tables in elegant 16- or 20-ounce carafes, which are marked in 2-ounce increments so diners only pay for what they drink. A word of warning: don't get too attached to any one house wine, as Paul's blends change frequently to complement the menu and season.
Functional, Intimate Space
Tucked away in a residential slice of Castro, Frances squeezes every bit it can out of the space it occupies. Less than 50 seats are available, and most are on a bench that runs along the outer wall. There's also a 10-seat countertop in the bar section that’s available on a first-come, first-served basis. To separate these two areas, a partition, which doubles as a functioning wine rack, divides the restaurant down the middle. Such limited space means that the largest party Frances can typically accommodate is four.
A coffeehouse that doesn’t serve espresso? Yes, it exists—and it’s pretty popular, to boot. Philz Coffee specializes in one thing: blended coffee that’s sold by the bag or served made-to-order. A classic Philz brew is made one cup at a time—in a manner similar to a pour-over—with cream, sugar, and fresh mint on top. Many consider it to be the perfect cup of coffee, and it’s all thanks to years of dedication behind the scenes.
Phil Jaber, the founder of Philz, percolated on how to make the perfect cup for more than 25 years before turning his Mission grocery store into a coffeehouse in 2003. Since then, his company has grown into more than a dozen locations that produce 30+ unique coffee blends, each one combining up to seven different beans sourced from all over the world. Despite the company’s rapid growth, Phil and his son Jacob, who acts as CEO, take their role as a neighborhood coffeehouse very seriously. In an effort to create a welcoming, relaxed environment, they makes a point to hire friendly baristas who are as passionate about coffee as they are. Philz is also committed to being green, offering a discount for bringing in a mugs and giving away coffee grinds, which customers might use to nourish their gardens or rub all over their body to create a convincing Swamp Thing costume.
At Philz, each coffee blend is given a name that encapsulates its taste, Phil’s vision, and the process by which he created it. For instance, the very first Philz blend, Tesora, is named for the Italian word meaning “treasure.” A medium roast with a toasty and nutty aroma, Tesora—which took Phil seven years to develop—is what Philz employees recommend to first-timers. The easy-to-drink brew finishes clean and smooth, and, like most of Philz blends, it has a very low acidity level. This prevents stomachaches commonly associated with drinking coffee and shotgunning lemons.
Bisou: A User’s Guide
California-Inspired French Cuisine | Bistronomy | Weekend Brunch | Selective Wine List
Appetizer: kobe steak tartare with shallots, parsley, cornichons, and quail egg
Entree: soufflé with market vegetables, served with french fries on the side
Dessert: Gimme S’more—bittersweet-chocolate custard, crumbled graham crackers, stout-and-cocoa-nib marshmallow, and vanilla ice cream
Cocktail: the Sparker—Hangar 1 vodka, Green Chartreuse, salted bourbon caramel, and rosemary-infused oil, all topped with espresso beans
When To Go: Sip wines and pace yourself through the sumptuous dinner menu on a Friday evening; the atmosphere then is more relaxed and conversation-friendly compared to the fever pitch of the popular weekend brunch.
If you do plan on checking out the weekend brunch, first be sure to make a reservation, then order the bottomless mimosas or bloody marys—they’re only $15 a pop.
Much of Bisou’s produce is sourced from Napa Kitchen Garden, an organic farm in Pope Valley that provides exclusively to Bisou Group restaurants.
Bistronomy: locally grown, organic ingredients served with style amid a casual, convivial environment.
Cornichon: French for "gherkin," these small, tart pickles traditionally accompany pâté and other French dishes.
While You’re in the Neighborhood: Before or after your meal, head around the corner to the Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street), a historic movie house built in 1922. It screens classic and recent releases, and the owners host singalongs to the likes of Grease and Frozen and occasionally fire up a Wurlitzer organ before the show.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Whip up authentic French bistro dishes at home with guidance from the chef’s cookbook, Nick Ronan: The Kissing Chef.
Treat your luscious locks to a hydrating and stylish upgrade from John Brody Salon in San Francisco.
This salon is your one-stop-shop for all of your hair needs.
Be sure to set up an appointment before arriving at this salon. No walk-ins accepted.
Short on cash? No problem. John Brody Salon happily accepts all major credit cards.
Drivers can find a space for their wheels on the street at the salon's Market St business.
Snip, style, and color your glamorous new look into reality at John Brody Salon.
You won't be able to beat the prices and selection of food at The Cafe's superb grocery store in San Francisco.
Find a shorter path to dinner when you take control of your prep time by investing in frozen foods.
Packed with plenty of "good" fat, fish of your choosing are on hand.
When you're in the mood to bake, remember to add a dash of extra sweetness. It will make your creations come alive like never before.
Cereal in the morning, cereal in the evening, or cereal at suppertime. With the selection here, you'll want to eat cereal anytime.
Who's hungry? A frozen entree will fool anyone's palate, so why waste time cooking up a storm?
A little here, a little there, you can never have enough vinegar and oil. Used in almost every recipe, these liquids will come in handy.
When you need a quick side dish to go with your main course, pick up some canned good options from here.
Enjoy a small, bite-sized snack from The Cafe and cure your hunger pains.
Yogurt, cheese, milk? Do some or all of these sound great to you? Be a dairy fan and purchase some dairy products. They will keep you happy and healthy.
Whether you prefer wheat or white bread, The Cafe serves up a large selection of freshly-baked breads.
Get your noodle on! The Cafe has some of the best and affordable noodle and pasta options in the area.
Stay healthy on the regular with the produce available here. It's super fresh and can be used with any meal.
Ready for a change? Switch up your weekly meal selections with some bold spices and seasonings from here.
Make sure you always have a variety of beverages on hand, especially during the warmer months. This drink is sure to take care of business.
Whether you're a double shot of espresso or a jasmine tea, this place has you covered.
When the heat gets the best of you, water is more important than ever. Cool off no matter where you are with a bottle from The Cafe.
For fresh and tender meat that slides right off the bone, head on over here and browse the latest selection of meats.
Guests take to street parking at The Cafe's Market Street spot.
So make The Cafe in San Francisco your one-stop shop for everything you need to stock up your kitchen.
In Focus: H Cafe
Claim to fame: H Cafe was one of the first internet cafes in San Francisco.
Food: pastries and freshly made sandwiches
Drinks: fair-trade organic coffee
Amenities: free WiFi and outdoor seating
Regulars rave about these: the affordable prices and friendly owner
Best animal-related boast: “internet so fast it would make a hare cry”