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Best places to watch your food being cooked?

I'm always fascinated with being able to peer into kitchens and watch my food being prepared.

I've been to Chez Maman and Canteen, both which let you sit on bar stools overlooking an open kitchen.

I've also heard of Quince's chef's table, where the table is actually in the middle of the kitchen.

Where are other places you can have this kind of insight/experience?

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  1. Korean BBQ, but you are cooking it yourself.

    If you get a table near the kitchen, you can see them cook at Myth.

    1. Depending upon where you are sitting, A16 is an option.

      1. The two best examples of this are at opposite ends of the spectrum: both Boulevard and Original Joe's have counters facing an open kitchen. Both are so close it's almost impossible not to have a conversation with the cooks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Paul H

          Second the Boulevard comments - one of my favorite places to watch the chefs and food in action.

        2. The counter at Brandy Ho's is great for this--especially the left side, where you can see the finished dishes before they are taken to the tables.

          1. Dottie's True Blue Cafe counter seating gives you a great view of the show - the cook/chef is very good at multi tasking.

            1. The bar at A16 is great for food watching. Found myself timing the pizza guy - 3 minutes start to finish!

              I have eaten at the Chef's table at Quince. The cooking takes place in another kitchen, so what you see is mostly desserts and salads being plated. Great dinner anyway.

              1. Alexander's Steakhouse down in Cupertino has a dining table right in the open kitchen and several private rooms that have views of the cooking area. They also give tours occassionally if you ask, and sometimes even when you don't.

                1. Rose Pistola has a counter where you can watch the cooks. I think that place has improved some so it's worth a shot.

                  Rose Pistola
                  532 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133-2802

                  1. Out the Back Door in the SF Westfield Mall. They have a huge window where you can watch the kitchen "wokking" it up.

                      1. re: NoeMan

                        Could you please say more about Tennessee Grill? The owner of Burmese & American Larkin Express deli owns the place and I know little about it.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          I just wrote a review: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/436687

                          I believe it use to be owned by Chormoros, and of course someone from Tennessee way back when.

                            1. re: ML8000

                              Thanks a bunch for posting (and adding that link). I bust out laughing to see it within minutes of my wondering about it.

                              Tennessee Grill
                              1128 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

                            2. re: Melanie Wong

                              It's a classic short-order-cook, greasy spoon (in a good way), breakfast place for me. I love watching how these guys keep track of everything, joke around with each other, the waitresses and counter customers and yet never burn the eggs or break them after throwing them in the air to flip them over. They always seem to have everything timed perfectly.

                              The only other thing I have there is a patty melt which is the ultimate hangover cure for me.

                              The place is aging and I like it that way, but many might cringe at the conditions. The cooktops have no knobs. All the surfaces are well seasoned with years of grease, etc., etc.

                              1. re: NoeMan

                                Short ordering cooking seems to be a dying art. Glad it's still alive here.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I think a short order cook could be the ultimate 'foodie' (even though most would cringe at the connection to this overused/overblown term).

                          1. At Tu Lan you can sit at the counter and you're pretty much in the kitchen. Or
                            even better if you sit in the tiny room upstairs it can be just you and grandpa
                            prepping 200lbs of chicken on the table next to you.

                            1. Nopa, if you can get one of the half-dozen counter stools that look into the kitchen vs. into the bar. This restaurant has an amazing choreography of wood grilling, flame grilling, sauteing, plate prep all happing within a few feet of each other right before your eyes.

                              1. Ate at the Chef's table at One Market. LOTS of fun! There were 5 of us. Table is in the kitchen. They do sampler menu, so you get to try 4-5 dishes in tasting portions, each chef comes over and explains how the dish is prepared. You also get to help cook one dish, my mom got to toss a few mussels, it was a blast. Food was excellent, but the experince was priceless.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: misterchinn

                                  At One Market you can also, without a reservation you can always eat at the Chef's counter near the open kitchen. There are 6 seats there. There is a Chocolate menu featured in September for all you chocoholics out there.

                                2. Mooses over at North Beach has a small are where you can watch.

                                  1652 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                  1. Not fine dining but Homemade Cafe in Berkeley.

                                    1. Well, over here in NC there are the usual chains. Not sure if they exist on the left coast or not - Carraba's Italian for example. But that's not why I am in here at the moment - Gordon, been back to Brookline recently? Any trips back east? Give me a jingle on the back channel, it's too long since we caught up ...

                                      - Mark

                                      1. My favorite is the bar upstairs at Oliveto, right in front of the wood oven.

                                        1. For a casual option I really like Pizzeria Delfina. The kitchen is really friendly even though they are working at a quick pace. Always been happy to answer my questions.