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Sara Deseran and Josh Sens | Photo: Courtesy of The Thomas | November 21, 2012
Four new restaurants to try this month.
This true neighborhood spot, which opened in October, might not turn out food as polished as some of the hood’s heavier hitters, but it makes for a friendly night out. The menu delves into the Cal-Med safe zone, from a shaved salad heaped with shavings of fennel and apples and a confetti-sprinkle of barley to crosshatched grilled salmon with a mild charmoula. Even better is the roasted organic chicken with romesco, bitter chicories, and golden raisins. There’s no hard booze here. For your nightcap, head to Lone Palm across the street. 1000 Guerrero St. (at 22nd St.), 415-374-7479
Lai Hong Lounge (Chinatown)
Good dim sum has been hard to find in Chinatown. But ever since Lai Hong Lounge replaced Lichee Garden in August, its tables have been packed with a mostly Chinese clientele getting drunk on tea and dumplings. Beyond the 20 steamer baskets full of the usual suspects, sticky rice with bits of sausage and bacon is a must, as are the little pucks of savory salt-and-pepper pi-pa tofu. Connoisseurs of chicken feet will be happy with their order. Much scarier is a dish of coffee pork ribs served with what could very well be Cool Whip. Expect a wait for a table. 1416 Powell St. (near Broadway St.), 415-397-2290
The Thomas (Napa)
Shuttered for nearly 40 years, this former boardinghouse has been reborn, with its old bar, Fagiani’s, on the ground floor and a restaurant with a raw bar occupying the two stories above. The menu moves from teetering seafood towers to contemporary musings (grilled pork chop with quince aioli; wild mushroom mousse in a Martha Stewart–worthy mason jar) that, like the setting, seem aimed at invoking past-meets-present moments: gold rush–era California, gone gourmet. 813 Main St. (near 3rd St.), 707- 226-7821
Borgo Italia (Oakland)
A café by morning, a restaurant by night, this endearing Oakland newbie forgoes hipster fashion in favor of timeless Italian cooking in a dining room done up like Nonna’s country kitchen. Paul Ferrari of A.G. Ferrari is a financial backer, but Borgo’s biggest assets are Italian-born chefs Fabio Dalle Vacche and Franco Camboli. They turn out a range of casalinga staples, from gnocchi with pesto to veal saltimbocca and traditional pastries (the cream-filled ciambella is a must), whose appeal is as simple as the wicker chianti bottles that define the decor. 499 9th St. (at Washington St.), 510-251-1008
Originally published in the December 2012 issue of San Francisco.