In Focus: New Tsing Tao Restaurant
Specialty: authentic Chinese food made with local produce
Must-try dishes: honey-walnut shrimp, mongolian beef, and the vegetarian hot-and-sour soup
Best way to sample several things: Order one of the house dinners for two, which include appetizers, soup, rice, and two entrees to split.
What customers rave about (besides the food): the generously portioned lunch specials and the fast service
Minimum order required for delivery: $15
Traditional Italian Cuisine | Wood-Fired Pizzas | Italian and Californian Wines | Gluten-Free Pastas
Appetizer: clams sautéed in garlic and white wine with crostini
Soup: housemade minestrone prepared daily
Entree: grilled teres major steak in a balsamic-vinegar sauce
What to Drink: Pick a bottle from a wine list with more than 100 vintages from Italy, California, Argentina, and Chile.
Where to Sit: Grab a booth facing the front wall of windows in the cozy, canary-yellow dining room.
While You’re Waiting
Bask in the aromas of prosciutto and pepperoni wafting out of the wood-fired pizza oven.
Dip complimentary bread into olive oil.
Gluten-free pasta is available upon request.
Despite the classiness of the low lights and wine bottles, feel free to wear your jeans.
While You’re in the Neighborhood: After dinner, head across the street for a game of pool and a discussion on the merits of Epicureanism at the Philosophers Club (824 Ulloa Street).
Located in the San Francisco area of San Francisco, Squat & Gobble Cafe serves creperie-style items that are sure to satisfy any stomach.
The whole family can enjoy a meal at this restaurant with its kid-friendly fare.
Bask in the sun and enjoy a fresh meal outside at Squat & Gobble Cafe.
Wifi is on the house at Squat & Gobble Cafe, so bring along your tablet or laptop.
Dining out isn't your only option here — pickup is available, too.
At Squat & Gobble Cafe, you can find ample parking that is readily available any time of day.
Squat & Gobble Cafe offers safe bike parking outside.
Your tab at Squat & Gobble Cafe will usually run to about $30 per guest.
You won't want to miss these amazing crepes at Squat & Gobble Cafe. Stop in today!
Bookworms will be thrilled when they walk through the doors at Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco. This bookstore is filled with fabulous reads.
Sit back and enjoy a new e-book this season. Choose from their wide variety of titles like e-books.
Pass the time with a new and affordable book from here, such as, and enjoy the endless excitement of a good read.
Park your car in one of their many available spaces.
So let go of your daily worries and pick up a new book to get lost in at Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco.
Four Things to Know About Roti Indian Bistro
Established in 2005, Roti Indian Bistro coaxes visitors into its warm, inviting space at two different locations: San Francisco and San Mateo. Inside both, diners enjoy a culinary tour through India while feasting upon lunch and dinner specialties. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you stop by:
The food is considered modern Indian. That means curries are lighter and spices are less intense, but dishes don't lose the therapeutic qualities of traditional Indian cuisine.
Tandoor ovens are heavily relied upon. Though these mesquite-fired clay structures can't win "Employee of the Month" honors, they put in their fair share of work churning out roasted meats and fresh breads—including the addictive goat-cheese naan.
Garam masala is made in house from Roti’s own special blend of toasted spices.
Try cooking the restaurant's dishes at home. Recipes for some of the most popular dishes are posted on the bistro's website, including one for customer favorite, chicken tikka masala.
In Focus: Submarine Center
Specialty: sub sandwiches
Number of sandwich sizes available: 3
Most closely guarded secret: the recipe for the house secret sauce
Most iconic sandwich: the Atomic Submarine with hot pastrami, turkey, corned-beef brisket, cheese, and hot peppers
Best use of bread for something besides a sandwich: as the base of the restaurant’s open-faced “pizzas”
Best way to make friends at a potluck: Bring one of Submarine Center’s 25-inch party subs.
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. As the result of so much careful planning, the restaurant truly embodies Casey’s vision, both in the space and on the plate.
One key part of that vision? Pigs. Casey loves to use almost every part of them, including the head. In honor of Aveline’s recent launch, we asked her about her fondness for pork, her cooking philosophy, and some of her go-to spots in San Francisco.
GROUPON: One ingredient that crops up on the menus at Aveline and The European is pork. Specifically, pork from the pig’s head—pork jowl, pig cheek, pig ear. What do you like about this ingredient?
CASEY THOMPSON: In general, I love any animal that tastes good from head to toe! As a chef, it’s really beneficial for me to use different parts of an animal that might otherwise be underutilized. It keeps costs down and provides guests with the opportunity to try things they may not otherwise try.
There is a lot more marbling in these parts than you might think, and there are a variety of different textures in specific parts like the ear.
G: Do you think that pig face is trending right now?
CT: I don't know. I try not to pay too much attention to what’s “trendy.” I just want to make food that tastes good, and if it means using parts of an animal that are unfamiliar to most people and [then] educating people about them, I’m happy to do so.
G: If someone hasn't tried any part of the pig’s head, where should they start?
CT: I think a good place to start is with pig cheek—it’s rich and it braises perfectly! Confiting a pig cheek [at home] is easy. The most difficult part is probably finding the product, but your local butcher can help with that.
G: Are there other pig dishes in San Francisco that you like?
CT: The pork at Kokkari is unreal, and Namu Gaji does a pretty impressive job too!
G: Aside from cooking with pig parts, you’re also an advocate for sustainability and the environment. Where does that passion come from?
CT: I have a job that impacts the environment, and as such, I have a duty to make sure that my staff and I do all we can not to add to the overwhelming issues we’re already facing.
I am also a firm believer in good husbandry. All animals deserve to live a good life, especially if they are giving us theirs for nourishment. It’s our responsibility as humans to recognize that.
G: Some of your dishes have original ingredients with a cool, earthy vibe. I’m talking about the "ham snow" and "chicory soil" on Aveline’s menu. Can you tell us more about these?
CT: Environmental elements in a dish add interesting flavors. The chicory soil contains nori, breadcrumbs, candied cashews, and chicory—all pretty earthy, you’re right. Now, the ham snow is highly technical stuff: we freeze ham, grate it over cold amberjack, and call it snow!
G: You’re also creating the menu over at The European, your bar-and-lounge project with Adam Wilson. It seems like the snacks have more of an updated comfort-food feel. Is The European the other side of Aveline's coin?
It absolutely is! There is a secret kid side to me with that menu and, really, it’s us having fun. I do think we have the best burger—it is so good. I want people to use both spaces! Come and eat at The European!
G: To close out, can you share some of your favorite San Francisco spots to grab a bite?
For coffee: Réveille Coffee Co.
For breakfast (and guilty, greasy pleasures): San Jalisco
For lunch and dinner: Kokkari, Kin Khao
For after-hours drinks and eats: Rye, Tradition, Le Colonial
For outdoor dining: The Ferry Building, Slanted Door, Cavallo Point, Coqueta
This interview has been condensed and edited. Photos courtesy of Casey Thompson. The European photo by Andi Fisher.
When you live in a city with so much scenery, eating inside can feel a bit stifling. Here are five beautiful restaurant patios in San Francisco that allow you to order in the great outdoors.
Mission Rock Resort (817 Terry Francois Blvd.)
The restaurant group that owns South Park staples MoMo’s, Pedro’s Cantina, and Pete’s Tavern overhauled Mission Rock Resort in late 2012. Now, it’s a bayside escape with plenty of deck seating, calming ocean views, and easy parking. Try bites from the raw bar or fried seafood for lunch, brunch, or happy hour.
Foreign Cinema (2534 Mission St.)
The most popular tables at this Mission stalwart are in the romantic covered patio. In the evening, artsy or retro flicks are projected on the patio wall while sound can be played through drive-in–style speakers at each table. The movies, however, are a secondary draw compared to the Californian-Mediterranean food.
Waterbar (399 The Embarcadero S)
Waterbar is a perennial Top 100 restaurant, so you can bet on some memorable seafood with views of the bay, the Bay Bridge, and the Bay Lights—not to mention $1.25 oysters every day before 5:30 pm.
Bar Agricole (355 11th St.)
Opened by a collective of the city’s best bartenders and sommeliers, Bar Agricole is led by master drink maker Thad Vogler. Unsurprisingly, its cocktails are just as good as its seasonal food. The space’s award-winning design features plenty of redwood, concrete, and glass, plus a spacious patio that’s covered and heated during the winter months.
Biergarten (424 Octavia St.)
Biergarten takes its name literally—its only seating is outdoors, where all of its Bavarian-style street food is served from shipping containers converted into a kitchen and bar. Brews can be ordered by the half- or full-liter, but considering the long lines, it’s best to get the larger of the two before you squeeze into one of the communal picnic tables.
Photos courtesy of Mission Rock Resort, Foreign Cinema, Waterbar, and Bar Agricole; Biergarten photo courtesy of BarFlySF.
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.
1. Cha-Ya (762 Valencia St.)
Vegetarian sushi anyone? While that may sound like an oxymoron, Cha-Ya is redefining what sushi means, veggie- and vegan-style. It’s cash-only here, and the wait can be long, but the food is inventive and the service is great. Even meat eaters should enjoy the Cha-Ya Roll: tempura-battered asparagus, avocado, yam, and carrot with Cha-Ya’s special sauce.
2. Minako Organic Japanese Restaurant (2154 Mission St.)
Never tried fried “veggie eel” before? This place has you covered, and it accommodates most dietary restrictions. There’s a vegan menu, a gluten-free menu, animal-product-free tempura, and sushi made with brown rice.
3. Roka Akor (801 Montgomery St.)
The presentation at Roka Akor is out of this world: sushi served on a landscape of salt rocks, ice, bamboo boxes, and light (that’s right, your sushi plate will glow). The tasting menu is a must-try and incorporates a wide range of different fish.
4. Tsunami Sushi Panhandle (1306 Fulton St.)
Tusnami’s classic california rolls are half off during happy hour, but the restaurant is most famous for its combination rolls. Try the Mama San with tempura shrimp and spicy tuna or the Magic Mushroom roll with salmon, snow crab, and enoki mushrooms. Also, consider adding some zing to your meal with sake or wine.
5. Akiko’s Restaurant (431 Bush St.)
Located in Union Square, Akiko’s serves up superfresh sushi—the menu changes daily based on the availability of ingredients. The kitchen focuses on serving sustainable, organic, seasonal, and local fish at high-end prices. The omakase menu will run up to $100 per person, but for sushi die-hards, it’s worth it. If you’re not feeling fish, there are non-sushi items on the menu, too, including teriyaki meats and udon soups.