October 9, 2009

San Francisco Favorites – Part Five

More new and old favorites around the city...

Weekend brunch is one of my favorite meals of the week and in San Francisco Zazie is a great place for all things breakfast-like. Whenever we go here we always get a gingerbread pancake to share. A pancake is not my normal choice on the menu for breakfast or brunch, but these are perfect. The gingerbread one is light with lots of ginger and served with poached pears and lemon curd. The egg scrambles and benedict dishes are also excellent and come with tasty home-fries (or salad) and toast. Zazie also has good coffee and hot chocolate. This is a place where you have to come, put your name on a list, and wait your turn for a table. So, come on a nice day, be patient, and you will be rewarded!

Now, I want to talk about a couple new favorite restaurants of mine. First, Charanga, a small and cozy cafe in the Mission featuring the cuisines of Costa Rica, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Walking into the restaurant you become immersed in Latin American culture with lively music, bright colored walls, and great paintings and photographs adorning the walls. The staff is excellent and friendly. But, the best part is the food. I have traveled to the Caribbean and Latin America many and have always loved the flavors of that region. I ordered tostones (green plantains), a bread and tomato salad, and the mushrooms. Everything was fabulous! The tostones, which is what I was most excited about, were crispy and served with black beans and majo verde. My husband had lechon asado (Cuban-style roast pork) and loved it. For wine, we ordered the La Posta Bondarda which was excellent. Charanga earned an instant spot on my list of favorite restaurants!
Gitane is a recent addition to Claude Lane in downtown San Francisco. The interior is hip, elegant, and sexy – very east coast cool. When we arrived the hostess led us past the narrow bar area and upstairs to the dining room. The atmosphere and design throughout the restaurant is very chic and consistent. We sat at a corner table which was great. The staff was very friendly and attentive.
And the food was spectacular! For an appetizer I ordered espinaca salad and my husband had the chipirones calamari. My salad was great with baby spinach, caramelized almonds, and manchego cheese with a very tasty vinaigrette. Then for the main entree I got the vegetable tagine which was amazing – sweet and savory and served with fluffy couscous! Jonathan ate the solomillo (grilled natural pork tenderloin and braised pork belly) which he thoroughly enjoyed. For wine, we brought our own bottle and our waiter was very accommodating. Now, let's talk about dessert. We ordered the fondant au chocolate, which I would have described as more of a flour-less chocolate cake. It was excellent, but not exactly what we had expected. Once we got over my initial disappointment, we enjoyed completely enjoyed the dish. Overall it was a wonderful meal. Gitane is a perfect place for a date and I look forward to returning soon!

This is the fifth blog post I have dedicated to my favorite places (mostly food-related) in San Francisco. Here are the links to my past favorites posts:

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