GROUPON GUIDE TO SAN FRANCISCO

Casey Thompson Cooks a Mean Pig Face at Aveline and The European BY: MISADVENTURES WITH ANDI | 7.22.2014

Most Top Chef finalists launch their restaurant careers right after their time on television ends. Not Casey Thompson—she spent seven years after season three traveling, all the while thinking hard about what she wanted in a venue. She met farmers, built relationships, and finally opened Aveline (plus its cocktail bar sibling, The European) in June.




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Five Spots for Inventive Sushi in the Bay Area
Sushi is not hard to come by in San Francisco, but so much variety means that finding the perfect sushi spot can be a challenge. Here are our picks for the five freshest, most innovative sushi restaurants in the Bay Area.
Wine Tasting in San Francisco
It isn’t necessary to leave San Francisco to go wine tasting à la wine country. Besides the many wine bars prevalent in the city, there are actual wine tasting rooms, including one that witnessed the birth of California’s original winemaking spot: SoMa.
Candy Crush: Sweet Shops Around San Francisco
San Francisco has more than its share of gourmet chocolates and bonbons these days, but sometimes one gets a hankering for some true candy: licorice, lollipops, jellybeans, candy bars. The wonderful thing about San Francisco is that it has places to satisfy every kind of sweet tooth, from old fashioned retro shops selling the nostalgic candy of childhood to gorgeous little boutiques carrying handpicked sweeties from around the world. Below are some of the best ways to indulge your inner Willy Wonka in the city.
Restaurants with a View
San Francisco is a city with many different vantage points: between the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the various eclectic neighborhoods - there are so many sights to take in!
San Francisco's Ultimate Juice Guide
Spring has sprung and summer is just around the corner.  The changing of the seasons is the perfect time to be thinking about a juice cleanse; it’s spring cleaning for your body!  Whether you want to shed a few of those extra winter pounds or detoxify from your overindulgent spring break, the city’s juice shops have you covered. There is no shortage of really great spots in San Francisco, and in some areas, like the Financial District there is literally one on every block.
North Beach Restaurants to Try
North Beach, also known as San Francisco’s Little Italy, has managed to walk the fine line between a hot touristy spot and an area beloved by native San Franciscans. And with it’s high density of authentic ristorantes, cafes, and Old World delicatessens, it’s a prime foodie spot as well!
Best Restaurants for Dining with Large Groups
Dining out in groups larger than four can be tricky business in San Francisco. Wait times can be excruciatingly long, harried wait staff often find large groups to be a pain and many restaurants simply make no effort to seat a big gathering together at all. But the pleasures of a long, leisurely dinner full of catching up with old friends are not to be underestimated. And while reservations well ahead of time are never out of place, some of the city’s best restaurants welcome spontaneity – even in large groups.
Dining in the Mission
The mission district in San Francisco is an eclectic hub of dining spots, markets, and culture. Boasting some of the best weather in the city due to SF’s “microclimates” - the mission is one of the most comfortable places to walk around and explore the various restaurants.
Get Your Oyster On
Oysters are ubiquitous at San Francisco restaurants.  The City's Pacific setting makes it one of the best places to imbibe on several different types of bi-valves, whether they are harvested locally from Drake’s or Tomales Bays or flown in from the East Coast or Canada.  Oysters typically cost about $3 each at fine dining establishments, but there are deals to be had where they can go for as little as $1 per shellfish.  Below are our favorite locales to shoot up a dozen or more.  Since we’re BarFlys, we’ve highlighted the places that also have a full bar to take in a cocktail or two while slurping on the briny snacks.
Local Food Finds Hidden in San Francisco's Ferry Building
The Ferry Building in San Francisco is an iconic landmark filled with delicious bites to eat. Over 40 shops, large and small, celebrate food in all its forms -- offering everything from artisan cheeses and freshly baked bread to just-caught fish and seafood. New merchants are constantly joining the band of bakeries, casual eateries, prepared food sellers, miniature grocery stores, and specialty shops.
Asian Desserts in SF: Where to Find Unique Treats in the City
San Francisco loves its sweets – from croissants to cupcakes to ice cream to macarons, there’s a shop to satisfy any sweet tooth. However, there’s a whole series of cafes and bakeries out in the Richmond and Sunset districts, on the west end of the city, that serve a variety of Asian desserts unfamiliar to much of the San Francisco population. Many of these desserts are popular in their countries of origin, and have been brought over by immigrants hungry for a taste of home. For your next dessert try something a little different – you might find a new favorite!
Southern in San Francisco: Fried Chicken and Whiskey
There are plenty of restaurants in the City serving great fried chicken, but very few offer a full bar with a decent whiskey selection.  Sure, beer pairs well, but we believe that whiskey is a better choice to imbibe with the crispy poultry.  After all, it is the other Southern staple and is a lot less filling.  Whiskey’s higher alcoholic content also helps to cut down the fat.  A natural pairing together, fried chicken can also help ward off the hangovers from too much whiskey.  Don’t believe us?  Try it yourself at one of these places.
Top 5 Foodie Spots in Hayes Valley
Hayes Valley has traditionally been an area known for boutique shopping, but is now emerging as a top foodie spot in San Francisco. Just a short walk from City Hall, Hayes Valley has a more small-town feel with a hipster-vibe than the sprawl of downtown. You can easily spend the afternoon here enjoying a good meal, window shopping, and drinking at outdoor beer gardens without having to push through the crowds or climb steep hills.
Chinatown Foodie Tour
Chinatown is a San Francisco institution. The interesting thing about Chinatown is that there are actually two different Chinatowns -- one belongs to the locals, and the other is more for the tourists. The Main Street for tourists is Grant Avenue, which is more about kitschy trinkets than authentic cuisine. It's definitely a spot to stop by, but moving onto the next block, Stockton St, can be much more rewarding.
The Mission is Turning Japanese
The San Francisco Peninsula and South Bay, with their strong Japanese populations, have long had a multitude of sushi and izakaya (small plates) restaurants; but the last two years have brought even more Japanese eateries to San Francisco.  Many serve traditional Japanese plates such as edamame, kushiyaki (skewered grilled items), karaage (marinated fried chicken) and udon or ramen soups along with sushi and sashimi. The Mission already has its share: Minako, Blowfish, Cha-Ya (vegetarian), Nihon Whiskey Lounge, Ken Ken Ramen and Nombe, to name a few. But the three newcomers below have made this neighborhood a destination for an authentic Japanese dining experience.  Is the Mission turning Japanese?  We really think so.
For the Love of Cheese: Best Cheese Shops in San Francisco
Beyond the occasional vegan or lactose-intolerant eater, San Francisco is more or less united in its adoration of cheese. Whether an ordinary cheddar slice to melt atop an omelet or an artisanal offering meant to be paired with wine and charcuterie, the city has a hankering for the stuff, with plenty of quality cheese shops for cheeseheads to pick their favorites.
Sinfully Delicious: Chocolate Desserts in San Francisco
Chocolate in all its different forms, from bars to bonbons to ice cream, is not hard to find in San Francisco. This includes the city’s restaurants, where a myriad of clever, creative, and just plain indulgent chocolate desserts challenge anyone’s willpower. No basic brownies or fudge cake; here are the most unforgettable chocolate desserts the city has to offer.
Restaurant Spotlight: Fine-Dining, Vegan-Style at Millennium
San Francisco has a large variety of vegan restaurant options, and many restaurants that aren't 100% vegan will offer one or two vegan dishes on the menu.
Find Your Inner Baker: Great Baking Classes in the City
San Francisco has more than its fair share of fantastic bakeries, but it’s also a great place to brush up on your pastry skills – and learn from some of the city’s most talented pastry chefs. From professional cooking schools to intimate private classes, there’s every style – and subject – to suit your interests.
Eating the Embarcadero
The Embarcadero is San Francisco's eastern waterfront along the bay.  Derived from the Spanish word embarcar (to embark), it dates from the early 1900s as the center of trade and transport, and served as a Pacific logistics center during World War II.  The construction of the Bay Bridge rapidly reduced the use of the ferries and ports, leading to construction of the Embarcadero Freeway in the 1960s.  For three decades the double-decker eyesore separated the waterfront from the rest of the City. It was permanently torn down in 1991 after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake deemed it unsafe.
Best High-End Mexican Restaurants
Fairly or not, Mexican food is married in the public imagination to inexpensive taquerias and hangover cures. Thankfully, the Bay Area’s large Latino population means that upscale Mexican dining is increasingly varied and plentiful, with enough options to satisfy even high-end diners.
Best Places to Slurp Up Ramen
In spite of ramen’s minimalism, the pursuit of a perfect steamy bowl of noodles in San Francisco is nearly limitless. Many San Franciscans will insist that you have to leave the city to truly find the best ramen, but that would mean overlooking a number of hidden gems nearby. Remember: slurping is mandatory.
Best Places for (Dolores Park) Picnic Supplies
There’s nothing better than packing up supplies for a picnic in Dolores Park. The San Francisco green space is the perfect summer setting for an afternoon meal, complete with some of the city’s best bites, all contained in one basket. Here’s where to pick up your much-needed picnic supplies nearby.
Best Places for a Warm Drink in SF
When walking around San Francisco in the winter, the urge for a cozy place to sit and a warming drink are undeniable. Here are some of the more unique places to sit, relax, have that warm drink in an equally warm ambiance in SF.
A Sampling of Some of SF's Best Burgers
While most people think of San Franciscans as pretty healthy, we do like our burgers. Luckily there are options to satisfy just about any kind of craving.
The Sweet Chill: The Best Ice Cream Shops in San Francisco
Unlike other places where ice cream is a summer treat, San Francisco is an it’s-always-ice-cream-weather town. San Francisco residents aren’t eating ice cream to cool down, but because there’s some seriously delicious artisan ice cream being made locally in little shops all around the city. Here are my picks:
San Francisco's Top Salted Caramel Treats
Ooey-gooey salty goodness. Salted caramel, like bacon, will not die as a food trend.  This buttery confection keeps chefs, bakers and dessert makers inspired to try new creations.  If this is good news to you, then here are a few spots to get your salted caramel fix in San Francisco.
Fine Dining Fab Five in the Mission
The Mission district is one of San Francisco’s premier dining destinations.  Original occupant The Slanted Door has long moved away, but Delfina and Foreign Cinema have plenty of company today.  Just how popular is dining in the Mission district?  In the fall of 2012 it was reported that 1000 restaurant seats were added in a three-block area by 16 restaurant openings in an eighteen-month period.
Landmark Dishes From San Francisco Legends
As the air in San Francisco gets a little crisper, the fog starts rolling in a bit thicker and the lights of the Embarcadero buildings begin to twinkle as evening approaches, you know the holidays are on their way. And there is nothing like the approach of the holiday season to make one nostalgic. It is the perfect time to get retro with some of the city's time-honored classics, after all, these dishes are classics for a reason.
5 Year Round Farmers Markets
Buying, preparing, and eating produce from the farmers' market is nutritious, supports the local and organic movement, and is good for the environment. But it also alleviates the mundane weekly grocery store run to a much more enjoyable experience. The farmers' market is a place for discovery, for meeting and conversing with farmers, and for tasting things to tickle your tastebuds.
5 Must Try Vegetarian Restaurants in SF
As a Vegetarian, it can often be challenging to find upscale, flavorful, hearty, vegetarian-friendly restaurants when dining out. Many restaurants in San Francisco have a handful of vegetarian appetizers and entrees, but there are a few restaurants really raising the bar for vegetarian cuisine.
Best Bakeries by the Bay
San Francisco’s lively culinary scene includes a delectable sweet side as well. The city is enjoying a wave of exciting and original pastry shops opened by inventive, talented bakers and pastry chefs. There’s no need to settle for a regular old cookie or a second-rate muffin when you have your choice of bakeries offering cakes, tarts, and other pastries you haven’t even imagined, perfectly turned out and dangerously delicious. Below, some of the best and most creative bakeries in the city.
San Francisco, A City for Chocoholics
San Francisco has always been synonymous with chocolate, from iconic Ghirardelli Square to Scharffen Berger’s gourmet bars. The chocolate scene has grown tremendously in the last few years, and there are more local chocolatiers and chocolate makers in the city than ever. From handmade chocolate bars to perfectly decorated bonbons, the variety of chocolate available is deliciously tempting.  Below are my picks for some of the most delectable chocolate in the city.
Top Five Restaurants with a View in San Francisco
With upwards of 50 hills, San Fran is the second-hilliest city in the world (just behind La Paz, Bolivia). And that's not to mention the surrounding, sparkling waters of the bay. Many top area restaurants were designed to take full advantage of the city's picturesque topography. Here are our five favorite spots for soaking up the scenery while you dine.
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