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Returning hound; what's opened in the past year or so that I shouldn't miss?

I left SF for the east coast a year and a half ago, and will be returning soon for a brief visit. I'm having a terrible time trying to decide which of my old haunts I should try to squeeze into this trip and was thinking that maybe I should just try somewhere new instead of trying to relive old glories.

Are there any not-to-be-missed places that have opened in the past year or so in SF or the East Bay? I just did a search hoping to find one of Prabhakar Ragde's yearly trip reports, but it doesn't look like he did one last year.

FWIW, before I left, I think the most recently-opened places that I really loved were Perbacco, Olivia (which I know has closed), and that Burmese deli across the street from the Federal Building.

Thanks!
berkelelybob

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  1. Time flies, and it's hard to remember what opened when! Since you're in Berkeley, had you had a chance to try Wood Tavern? For sure new in Berkeley is Corso by the Rivoli folks. If you like Italian, you might want to try SPQR in San Francisco, and if you hadn't gotten to La Ciccia before you left, you should put that on your list as well.

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    La Ciccia
    291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

    Wood Tavern
    6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

    SPQR
    1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

    Corso
    1788 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      It's been a pretty slow year. Prabhakar apparently was here last summer
      though his literary output was more understated than in the past:
      http://www.chow.com/profile/21643

      The Zax people have finally gotten their new place, Sidebar, opened over on the lake in
      Oakland. I haven't been and only a couple of reports here. You could be a pioneer!

      There was a bit of excitement about a year ago when the Lalime's empire seemed to
      be readying a wood-fired pizza place next door to Sea Salt. Did anything ever come
      of that? Been a while since I've been down that way.

      Corso and the Franklin Square Wine Bar have been my personal favorite newcomers.

      Oh yeah, was Riva Cucina here when you left? Pleasant Italian in an odd location.

      -----
      Riva Cucina
      800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

      Franklin Square Wine Bar
      2212 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

      Corso
      1788 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

      Sidebar
      542 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA

      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

        Oh, speaking of Uptown, there's Flora, from the Dona Tomas folks.

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        Flora
        1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Oh, speaking of Uptown, there's a new part of town called "Uptown".

          Roughly the triangle bounded by Telegraph, Broadway, and West Grand in
          (formerly) "downtown" Oakland. It's got that interesting balance of trendy bars,
          redevelopment funding, danger, architectural heritage, condos, artists, and
          new restaurants that often precedes a full-on trend.

          Flora is the centerpiece, Luka's was the trailblazer, Franklin Square with it's
          tables set out on the square could have been boxed up and shipped in from
          the european city of your choice. Plus some interesting outliers like the Mua
          Lounge a bit to the north and it's diametrical opposite Rico's Diner a bit south.

          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

            and of course, it is flourishing now that I left my job at a building next to the triangle....even five years ago, that area was mostly a Chow no-persons land....

        2. re: Chuckles the Clone

          Work appears to be progressing on the Krikorian's Falanghina but they weren't open last time I was by there.

      2. Boccalone Salumi has opened a retail spot in the Ferry Building if you want to pick up some tasty pig parts to take home too.

        www.boccalone.com

        3 Replies
        1. Thanks for the recs, Ruth. It's SO much easier to do a search when you have the names.

          And pork butter! That sounds great. I'm probably not going to be able to resist stopping by Hog Island at the Ferry Building, so I'll definitely check out Boccalone while I'm there.

          1. re: berkeleybob

            I'll put in a plug for Bellanico, in the Glenview. Great neighborhood "real" Italian place

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            Bellanico
            4238 Park Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602

            1. re: Bryan Gros

              A few doors down from Bellancio is Marzano, which I've been to (or gotten takeout from) a few times now, and have had great food each time.

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              Marzano
              4214 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602

        2. Camino is probably this brightest new star in the last year.

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          Camino
          3917 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610

          2 Replies
          1. re: Paul H

            Second on that, best new restaurant in years, though not to everyone's taste.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Yeah, definitely not to mine, I had one of the most expensive bad meals in years at Camino.

          2. How ironic -- here I am trolling the board for interesting finds in preparation for a July visit, and I find berkeleybob looking for my posts for the same purpose. (I had more disappointments than successes last summer, hence my just tacking comments onto existing posts rather than doing a big new one.)

            So I'll kick this thread back to the top and renew the request: what's new and exciting since August '08? Berkeley and environs, and SF, mostly, though I'll go out of my way for something fabulous. (With luck, I can write more this year, though it would help if there were more "downhill reports", also, to warn me away from old favourites gone rancid.) --PR

            16 Replies
            1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

              Lots of new stuff in Oakland:

              Marzano
              Bellonica
              Mua
              Sidebar
              Pican

              Chai Thai Noodles (former Thai House Express chef)

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Adesso on Piedmont Ave in Oakland.

                1. re: macadam

                  I'm the only one in the family who drinks wine, and one daughter is now a vegetarian, so Adesso is probably out, much as I enjoyed Dopo in the past.

              2. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                I really, really like Pican, Flora, and Adesso. Am planning to go to Commis ASAP, as well as Lush Gelato. Also like Aunt Mary's Cafe for brunch.

                Liked Bellanico, Marzano and Mua ok, but don't feel compelled to go back to any of them. Was unimpressed by Sidebar.

                1. re: daveena

                  I owe the Mua people a lot for Café Pastorale, but after reading reports and reviews, it sounds as if I'd be better off revisiting Soizic, which I haven't been to in several years.

                  1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                    not sure why you think so; I've only seen lukewarm and mixed reviews on Soizic lately (I may be one of those: said it might be good for a group, but it isn't somewhere I would choose as a destination by any means).

                    Have you tried the Korean places in Oakland? Lots of options, my current favorite is Sura. Tofu stew for the vegetarian...great panchan selection

                    I also had a very nice lunch fairly recently at the relatively new Beijing Restaurant in San Francisco; lots of positive reports on the board

                    I also thought that Jayakarta, which is fairly new, did an excellent job with vegetarian dishes, especially the spicy eggplant:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/630875

                    -----
                    Jayakarta Restaurant
                    2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                    Sura
                    4869 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                    Beijing Restaurant
                    1801 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94112

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      Soizic: Just nostalgia on my part. I wasn't crazy about my last visit. Mua doesn't have Pastorale/Soizic's chef, and it sounds as if the concept needs time to work itself out.

                      Korean: not since being underwhelmed by Sahn Maru. Sura looks positive. Tofu stew may not have vegetarian broth. My wife and I really like Korean food, but my dear offspring has had difficulty in recent restaurant visits. Still, with 17 banchan, maybe there will be some choices...

                      Jayakarta was a revelation two summers ago, not as exciting last summer. We'll probably still go back, as good Indonesian is rare.

                      1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                        good point about the tofu stew; I don't tend to pay close attention to such things; they are very helpful and friendly, might be worth a call...I do know that a lot of the best panchan are definitely veggie.

                    2. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                      adding a link for Soizic also...

                      -----
                      Jayakarta Restaurant
                      2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                      Soizic Restaurant
                      300 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

                      Sura
                      4869 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                      Beijing Restaurant
                      1801 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94112

                    1. re: Paul H

                      Commis certainly seems to be the current "only open five minutes and already everyone's talking about it" place. I haven't been so I can't say anything useful but I've got a reservation for mid-next-week. Because I'm like that with herds.

                      Anyway, if you do go I would seriously suggest a stop by Adesso up the street for a little tipple before dinner. It's exactly the sort of place for that. Belly the whole family up to the bar, if it's before 7 grab a couple of the free (!) rice balls and mini sandwich things from the sideboard, order one of their delicious sweet-bitter-fortified-campari-like mixed drinks, and revel in the civilization of it all.

                      Bar Lata on Telegraph in Temescal is a pretty decent tapas place. While, yeah, tapas ho hum, what they're doing right is making the best tortilla de patatas I've ever had outside Spain. Maybe if you decide to go to Pizzaiolo or the new edition of Burma Superstar that's over there and you find yourself on the end of a 90 minute waiting list, head over to Bar Lata for a little pre-dinner snack.

                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                        I'll have to hit Barlata in memory of great meals at the early B44 (they still quote me on their Web page, heh). I was not that impressed with my visit last summer to the old edition of Burma Superstar (because Troya was closed). It's clear I'll have to research Uptown Oakland...

                        1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                          Have you been to Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen? Worth a trip into SF for a weekday lunch.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            We tend to drive into the City, so I have less experience with the Tenderloin than I should. But Pagan sounds interesting...?

                            1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                              Street parking's easy at Larkin Express. If you want the best Burmese, go there.

                              -----
                              Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
                              452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                    2. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                      Camino is wonderful. I've had two incredible meals there in the past month. Just don't go with picky eaters, the menu is the size of a matchbook (though everything on it is fabulous.) They are very veg friendly, though.