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Best of the Bay: Food + Drink

Not-Chicken Sandwich

Despite the fact that this rotisserie joint’s name is Roostertail, the star on the menu isn’t made from a bird, but rather from a cow. Between an Acme torpedo roll, heaping succulent slices of brisket are countered with sweet onion marmalade, bitter arugula, and a swipe of mustard. Don’t be a chicken. Get it. 1963 Sutter St., 415-776-6783, roostertailsf.com —S.D.

Brain Food

Michelle Pusateri of Nana Joes Granola has taken the ubiquitous breakfast cereal and made it stand out from the bulk bin crowd. Don’t miss her Tony’s Trail Mix, named after her late father, either. Full of pistachios, cranberries, almonds, coconut, chocolate chunks, pumpkin seeds, and oat clusters, it’s good for both body and soul: Proceeds from it go to brain cancer research. Available at FallettI FoodS, 308 Broderick St., 415-626-4400, or Go to nanajoes.com —S.D.

Refreshing Break from Top Chef

Leave it to Bay area filmmakers to create a food TV show with more substance than the usual suspects wherein a celebrity chef cooks from a mystery basket. Food Forward, an inspiring documentary series about how we eat in america, delves into subject matters like Manhattan rooftop farms, urban apiaries, and revolutionary growers such as abeni Ramsey of Oakland’s dig deep Farms, who aims to bring fresh, affordable produce to the inner city. The 13-part series launched this april and is running on PBS’s website and affiliated networks. pbs.org/foodforward—Jenna A. Scatena

Winery With Edge

If a star architect, a designer, a vintner, and a chef had a love child, it would be Ram’s Gate. The winery has an open-air tasting barn that embraces its rustic roots while maintaining some urban sensibility. Here, you’re more apt to sip your pinot amid contemporary art than throw a bachelorette party (tasting suites are set aside for such occasions). during the summer, try the pond-side picnic made by chef Jason Rose, formerly of delfina. afterward, stop in at the fireside lounge, which invites you to linger. 28700 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, 707-721- 8700, ramsgatewinery.com —J.A.S.

Under-the-Radar Pasta

In this city, certain Italian restaurants (starting with the letters F and W, for instance) get the big pasta love, while others shine more quietly. One of the latter spots is three-year-old 54 Mint, where chef adam Weisell, formerly of Mario Batali’s Lupa and Il Buco in new york, took over the kitchen last year. Our favorite pasta is the spaghetti ai ricci di mare, or sea urchin spaghetti. Rich and unctuous and infused with garlic, chili flakes, and lemon, this simple, traditional Sicilian dish tastes like pasta tossed with the butter of the sea. Since it’s on the menu only when the sea urchin is in from Santa Barbara or Mendocino, call ahead. 16 Mint Plaza, 415-542-5100, 54mint.com —S.D.

Cheesy Education

The Cheese School of San Francisco was bought and overhauled last year by a couple of the most dynamic cheeseheads in the country: daphne Zepos and kiri Fisher. a variety of classes—from serious stuff like Exploring the Biology of Cheese to lighter fare such as The Perfect Picnic—are on offer, though if you snag a space in any class taught by Zepos, you’ll be captivated by her romantic, greek accent–inflected stories of her favorite artisans who make magic out of milk. 2155 powell St., 415-346-7530, cheeseschoolsf.com —S.D.

Much Needed Booze Bill

Stupid laws are tolerable when they’re not enforced, but when authorities started cracking down on enterprising bartenders who merely wanted to tinker with spirits— seasoning gin with bay leaves or spicing up some bourbon—bar owners and drinkers became exasperated. So Senate Bill 32, which passed last fall, was a welcome and long-overdue revision to an antiquated beverage law. It makes cocktails like Wo Hing general Store’s Mi amante, concocted with strawberry infused mescal, as legal as they are good. —Jordan Mackay

Neighborhood Wine Shop

Trader Joe’s may be cheap and Whole Foods convenient, but Noe Valley Wine Merchants illustrates the virtues of going small when buying wine. Opened by wine retail genius Jim Mead in March, this intimate shop is strong in Italian wine and burgundy. Mead also has great craft and Belgian beers, plus a small spirits collection that even geeks will love. 3821 24th St., 415-374-7249 —J.M.

Best In Theory

The doughnut burger. Yes, we love doughnuts, bacon, beef, and cheese. But all of them together? That’s what Straw, in Hayes Valley, is offering in one insane package called the Ringmaster, with two whole glazed doughnuts serving as the bun. Watch out for cardiac arrest—especially if you order the double-double. 203 Octavia Blvd., 415-431-3663, StrawSF.Com —Alyssa Jaffer 

 

READERS’ POLL: THE CLASSICS

Italian - Firenze by Night
French - Chapeau and La Folie (tie)
Taqueria - La Taqueria
Bakery - Tartine
Coffee Shop - Philz Coffee
Pizza - North Beach Pizza
Chinese - Mission Chinese
Deli - Molinari
Grocery Store - Whole Foods
Weekend Brunch - Home Plate
Winery - Mondavi
Late-Night Bite - Nopa
Food Blog - Eater SF

 

OTHER BEST OF THE BAY PICKS:

CULTURE

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