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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Enjoy Summer with a "Climate-Controlled Patio Picnic" at Starbelly

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 1:13 PM

  • Blake Young
It's summer in San Francisco and you know what that means — hazy gray mornings, sun-speckled afternoons, and long lazy evenings wrapped in parkas in Golden Gate Park. Let's face it, the City by the Bay wasn't exactly made for twilight summer dining (at least not without a jacket).

Starbelly stands in protest of Karl the Fog, pulling out the heat lamps and putting on the dog (or rather, the pig) with their series of patio picnics, each of which features a whole-roasted Devil's Gulch piglet. They also provide a selection of craft beers ($9 for three 10-ounce pours) and a wide array of sides, so there's no need to show up with a six-pack or a salad.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Starbelly’s Weekday Brunch Menu Has Chilaquiles!

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Lookit them chilaquiles - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Lookit them chilaquiles
For seven years, Starbelly’s back patio has been among the most consistently good outdoor dining options in the Castro (a neighborhood where dining has improved dramatically, but outdoor dining has not). And because a large proportion of the area’s denizens do enjoy a weekday Pimm’s Cup with a slice of cucumber wrapped around the inside of the glass, Starbelly has decided to go seven-days-a-week with a brunch menu that blends California and Mexico in equal proportions.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nextdoor's Free Cheese Offer Sparks Lengthy, Heated Debate

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 11:30 AM

  • From

If you were concerned about the state of San Francisco’s personality becoming diluted and boring, look no further than a Nextdoor post about spoiled cheese from November 14 for assurance that this city is more itself than ever.

It’s a wild ride from start to finish.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Manos Nouveau: A Handcrafted Experience

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 6:00 PM

  • Courtesy of Manos Nouveau
  • Lower level bar

Roughly translated as “new and inventive hands,” Manos Nouveau is a restaurant that lives up to its name. An upscale space with black-clothed tables, a candle-lit ambiance and an intimate feel, it isn’t a location for dinner on the go. Think of it as more of a gallery for the senses — a dining experience that betrays personal touch — from the handprints on the pottery (crafted by creative director-partner Caitlin James) to the pea puree beneath the salmon, to the paintings that line the staircase.

  • Courtesy of Manos Nouveau
Upstairs dining room - COURTESY OF MANOS NOUVEAU
  • Courtesy of Manos Nouveau
  • Upstairs dining room

Opened in January 2015 and relocated from its previous space on 22nd St. and South Van Ness Ave. (current home of Californios), the artistic eatery and event space has fleshed out its offerings, orchestrating an ensemble of artists to be featured on a rotating basis and adding a carefully curated prix fixe to a menu of exotic entrees.

Artists opening - A.K. CARROLL
  • A.K. Carroll
  • Artists opening
Featured artists - A.K. CARROLL
  • A.K. Carroll
  • Featured artists

“The trolleys sold me,” James says as she shows me the view from a large upstairs window. On the other side I see them on the street, stopped at red lights, frozen in time. It is the late-summer celebration of Manos' new artistic season, and the space has been converted to accommodate for guests.

  • A.K. Carroll
  • A. K. Carroll

“Art wasn’t as feasible at the other space,” says James. “Here I can do group shows.”

A slew of featured and forthcoming artists are present that evening, including mixed media pieces, paintings and photography from Deborah KimseyAyesha SamdaniJeffrey Tover, and Sara Moynier. Manos features up to three artists at a time, rotating the work roughly every two months. Some artists create pieces exclusively for the space, a few of which have been added to the restaurant’s collection.

Ahi tartare on aioli sauce with latin peppers, red onion, sea salt, lime and avocado - A.K CARROLL
  • A.K Carroll
  • Ahi tartare on aioli sauce with latin peppers, red onion, sea salt, lime and avocado
Day Boat Scallops with fried yuca, portobellos, chayote, lime, cilantro - A.K. CARROLL
  • A.K. Carroll
  • Day Boat Scallops with fried yuca, portobellos, chayote, lime, cilantro

While James curates the visual aesthetic and atmosphere, chef-owner Manuel Montalban is the artist of culinary creations, with a dinner menu that leans towards Latin America, but evidences a heavy French flair. Montalban likes to bring in flavors from lesser-known portions of Central and South America—adding mango, chayote and latin peppers to a tropical gazpacho, infusing a white wine butter sauce with a spicy hint of the Yucatan, or adding chimole spices from Belize to the rice beneath his seared chilean salmon.

Pan seared chilean salmon chimole - A.K. CARROLL
  • A.K. Carroll
  • Pan seared chilean salmon chimole

The $50 three-course prix fixe (available Tuesday-Thursday) offers six apertivos, ranging from ahi tartare to Latin French onion soup, four platos de fondo, including fresh fish and prawns and Manos’ famed chicken cordon bleu, and four desserts from which to choose. Drink pairing isn’t provided, but can easily be suggested from a hand-selected list of over two dozen wines (most of which are available by the glass).

Sweet plantain lucuma mousse
  • Sweet plantain lucuma mousse

Though the entrees are plated with savvy and style, it is in his dessert that Montalban most showcases his artistic talents. A sweet lucuma mousse is wrapped in sheet of plantain, topped with strawberries and decorated with an fragile nest of cartelized sugar. It is the delicacy of the details, a hand-crafted experience from beginning to end.

Manos Nouveau: 3970 17th St, 415-872-5507.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Old School SF: Orphan Andy’s

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 at 3:00 PM

  • Ali Wunderman
The Castro may have one of the highest churn rates when it comes to restaurants, but one staple that has stuck around since the seventies is good ol’ Orphan Andy’s.

You can find this diner right on Jane Warner Plaza, once a famous gathering place for nudists, and now just a reliable place to catch the F-Market. On the weekends there’s typically a good-sized crowd waiting for a table inside, but since it’s open 24 hours, you can get your Orphan Andy’s fill any day of the week.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Checking in on Ovok, the Former SliderBar

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2015 at 5:00 PM

  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • The Club Med

It’s pretty tough to be a corner restaurant in the Castro. Home and Leticia’s both departed, and their buildings became condos. Zapata’s is next on the chopping block. Hecho ran into some trouble over its birth name of Bandidos. The spot that currently houses Gyro Xpress on 18th and Castro streets has had some turnover, and the space that was once home to Bagdad Café (and later became SliderBar, which closed several times because of vermin) is now Ovok Brunchery and Burgeria.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Makli Misses the Mark for Dim Sum

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Makli, at 15th and Sanchez streets. - ERIC S. BURKETT
  • Eric S. Burkett
  • Makli, at 15th and Sanchez streets.

One of the drawbacks to writing about restaurant openings is that we often catch them while they're still trying to find their groove. A good reviewer gives a restaurant a few months to get it together and then visits a few times to really get a solid feel for, not only the food, but the overall atmosphere of the place. When we're simply reporting on the opening of a new restaurant, however, many of those details are overlooked even though what we write is tantamount to a review.

I noticed Makli, a new Chinese restaurant in the former location of Daimaru Sushi, at 15th and Sanchez streets while walking to synagogue with the family last Friday (The more nostalgic among us will wistfully remember that site as the location of the long gone bar, The Jackhammer). We stopped and looked at the menu which, besides being lengthy, promised dim sum. Any promise of dim sum is worth following up on, I believe, and the tantalizing expectation of good dim sum close to home even more so.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

A.G. Ferrari's Castro Location Closing Tomorrow

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 11:30 AM

  • A.G. Ferrari

Well, this is sad. Hoodline is reporting that A.G. Ferrari, the 96-year-old specialty grocer and sandwich shop with six locations in San Francisco and the East Bay, is closing its Castro Street location. It’s been there since 1998 and added a wine bar only last year.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cafe du Nord's Renovation Is Spectacular

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 4:30 PM


We really need to put in a good word for Café du Nord, the renovation for which was a little scary in our current climate of ceaseless closures. The Swedish American Hall’s basement venue was long overdue for a tummy tuck and brow lift, as the place was looking sadder than the Verdi Club’s bar and almost as dated as the pre-reno General’s Residence at Fort Mason.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Manos Nouveau Is the Castro's Most Upscale Brunch

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 2:30 PM

Grilled salmon - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Grilled salmon

After taking over the space that Pica Pica vacated last year, Manos Nouveau in the Castro has quickly established itself as one of the better higher-end establishments in a neighborhood that’s been on a sustained rampage with better dining options over the last two years. Chef Gualberto Nic Camara and Sous Chef Francisco Morales churn out consistently excellent Central and South American food prepared with French techniques, and they manage to do so in a weird location next to a gas station on a quasi-dead-end block that sees a precipitous drop-off in foot traffic from nearby Castro and Market Streets.

And now there’s brunch.

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    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"