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On the Road with Nancy Brown: San Francisco Food Finds

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown gives us a tasty tour of San Francisco.




Prepping oysters at Waterbar Restaurant in San Francisco.

All photos by Nancy D. Brown

What’s better than eating and drinking your way through San Francisco’s food scene? Hard question, but I’ve got one answer: wining and dining with local foodie icons, KCBS radio food chap and host of San Francisco’s Eye on the Bay Liam Mayclem and Dining Around with Gene Burns KGO Executive Producer Joel Riddell.

Mayclem and Riddell played host to a dozen travel writers in town for San Francisco’s Pow Wow International in May, and I was one of the lucky eaters who got to taste my way through the city. We all know San Francisco is brimming with food discoveries from the Embarcadero to the Sunset. But to keep things simple, Mayclem and Riddell shuttled us to a half dozen favorites, from food trucks to some of the hippest restaurants around.

Dollar oysters at Waterbar

“Go horny with $1 oysters at Waterbar,” says Mayclem. “You’ve got to have these oysters.” Pat Kuleto’s Waterbar Restaurant may seem low-profile, but it offers San Francisco ambiance with a view of both the Bay and the skyline as well as $1 oysters served daily from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The restaurant is a great spot for a power lunch or even popping the question to that special someone (there’s a private terrace for that). Oysters, anyone?

Waterbar, 399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco (415) 284-9922, waterbarsf.com, twitter.com/waterbar.

Food truck meets mobile bistro

Working out of a converted taco truck, Chef Laurent Katgely prepares dishes that range from truffle boeuf bourgignon to grilled sweetbread with sherry, all priced under $12. The truck is known as Spencer on the Go, and it’s Chez Spencer Restaurant and Bar’s answer to mobile bistro dining.

The truck gives Laurent an opportunity to bring Chez Spencer cuisine straight to the street, and learn what people in different neighborhoods are hungry for “It’s also a way to expand his business,” notes Mayclem.

Spencer on the Go parks across from Terroir Natural Wine Merchant & Bar on Seventh and Folsom Streets in the SoMa District Wednesdays through Saturdays, and keeps diners posted on specials and locations via Twitter. Chez Spencer Restaurant & Bar, 82 14th Street, San Francisco, (415) 864-2191, chezspencer.nettwitter.com/chezspencergo.

Hipsters discover Twenty Five LuskTwenty Five Lusk serves a mean Mimosa

Located off SoMa’s Townsend Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets, Twenty Five Lusk is where the cool kids congregate. Housed in a 9,800-square-foot former 1917 meatpacking plant, the spacious 120-seat restaurant is focused on seasonal, New American cuisine. From whole roasted Washington King Salmon with summer vegetables to Beeman Ranch Wagyu Cowboy Ribeye and girolle mushrooms, Executive Chef Matthew Dolan keeps the hits coming while hipsters and baby boomers alike sip champagne cocktails in the basement den near ultra-chic steel fireplaces.

Twenty Five Lusk, 25 Lusk Street, San Francisco. (415) 495-5875. www.25lusk.com, twitter.com/twentyfivelusk.

Sushi done right

When sushi connoisseurs say it’s all in the rice, they’re right; there’s an art to creating the perfect sticky rice consistency. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the remodeled Restaurant Anzu’s Executive Chef Philippe Striffeler and Master Sushi Chef Kazuhito Takahashi to learn the art of making the ultimate California roll. Not only was Takahashi patient in putting up with my sticky fingers, covered in rice, I learned that he is one of only 11 Certified Master Sushi Chefs in the United States.While you may not get to make sushi with Chef Takahashi, you can ask questions—starting with the rice—if he’s rolling the artful creations during your visit.
Sushi from Restaurant Anzu in the Nikko Hotel

Restaurant Anzu, Nikko Hotel, 222 Mason Street, San Francisco (415) 394-1111, hotelnikkosf.com.

Boulevard team launches Prospect Restaurant

Opened a little over a year ago, Prospect may not be the newest kid on the block, but it is San Francisco Restaurateur Nancy Oakes’ latest venture into the uber-competitive restaurant ring. You may know Oakes, Pam Mazzola, and Executive Chef Ravi Kapur from their highly acclaimed Boulevard restaurant. Focused on contemporary American cuisine, Oakes gives Chef Kapur an opportunity to demonstrate his culinary chops, offering plenty of appetizers, such as crispy pig trotters or farm fresh heirloom tomatoes, in addition to main courses at the communal table or in the dining room. Save room for fun desserts such as Petit S’mores with house-made marshmallows or caramel popcorn topped with coca nibs and sprinkled with salt.

Prospect Restaurant, 300 Spear Street, San Francisco (415) 247-7770 prospectsf.com, twitter.com/prospectsf.

Kara Haspel Lind serves fresh cupcakes from her Karavan The KaraVan hits San Francisco

With flavors like fleur de sal and sweet s’mores, Kara’s cupcakes aren’t the ones mamma makes. The daughter of a dentist began her love affair with sweets at an early age and turned her passion for pastries into a profitable Bay Area venture. In fact, Chef/Owner Kara Lind won the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars with her s’mores and sticky figgy banana creations, as well as best cupcake in Diablo’s Best of the East Bay issue this year. In addition to several store locations, including downtown Walnut Creek and San Francisco International Airport’s new Terminal 2, look for the chocolate brown retro KaraVan, displaying cupcakes in the window, rolling through the streets of San Francisco (locations are often posted on Twitter).

Kara’s Cupcakes, 1388 North Main Street, Walnut Creek, (925) 933-2222 karascupcakes.com, twitter.com/karascupcakes.

For more food talk with Liam Mayclem and Joel Riddell, watch the video below:


What are your favorite SF food experiences? Tell us with a comment below.


A lifelong resident of Contra Costa County, Nancy D. Brown grew up in Moraga. When she’s not traveling, she lives in Lafayette with her husband and teens. Nancy is the Uptake.com Travel Editor, writes the What a Trip blog, and is a Contra Costa Times Lamorinda Sun columnist. Horse lovers will find her at writinghorseback.com. Follow Nancy on Twitter at twitter.com/nancydbrown.