1. If you’re looking for impressive views of the Bay Bridge and a magnetic atmosphere, head over to the Embarcadero to CHAYA Brasserie. Blending Japanese hospitality with French influences, CHAYA offers an impressive menu of sushi offerings and European dishes. I suggest you start off with the Ahi Tuna & Hamachi Tartare with avocado, picked wasabi, Tobiko fish roe, Arare a type of Japanese cracker that offers a bit of crunch to your taste buds, and jalapeño sweet soy sauce. My Lychee Soju ‘Tini paired perfectly with my appetizer before heading into the best sushi roll I’ve ever had, the Seared Kobe Beef Roll. There are almost no words to explain the sushi experience other than imagining thinly sliced seared Kobe beef drizzled with a bit of spicy aioli over a sushi roll with shrimp tempura, crab and avocado inside.
2. If you’re in the mood to indulge, you MUST check out Espetus Churrascaria, an authentic Brazilian Steakhouse. Chefs cooked up about nine different types of meat for the lunch menu, ranging from Parmesan Crusted Pork Loin, Chicken Hearts, and Homemade Pork Sausage. The gourmet salad bar offers traditional side dishes like couscous and various salads to complement your meal.
3. If you’re in the Embarcadero District and have a yearning for more seafood, head over to Ozumo, an after-work hot spot where all of the executives go to talk shop. If you’re feeling adventurous, go for the Chef’s Tasting Menu and let him lead the way. Our favorite of the evening was the Yaki Tako, grilled baby octopus with radicchio and shungiku (chrysanthemum) pesto.
4. One of my favorite new places to dine in SF is Source, located near the design district. I suggest the Truffle Macaroni & Cheese with four kinds of cheeses topped with truffle oil and agave bread crumbs and heated in a brick oven. The Magic Mushroom Pizza offers some of the crust and tomato sauce I’ve ever eaten.
5. For some serious cocktails, you must drop by one of that nation’s most prized speakeasies, Bourbon and Branch. Plan ahead, get the password, find the place, relax and follow the house rules. The House Favorites are all delicious and chat with the bartender if you’re having trouble deciding on what to sip on.
6. A short walk from Ghirardelli Square, McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant is perched above the Wharf area offers glamorous seafood dishes like Marin Miyagi and Hog Island oysters, Dungeness Crab Legs and Crispy Alaskan Halibut. Go for Sunday Brunch so you can not only take in restaurant favorites like the San Francisco Cioppino, but indulge in a Bloody Mary bar and favorites like the Smoked Salmon Benedict.
7. For the ultimate in power lunches, you can’t go anywhere but the Financial District. Head over to Palio D’ Asti for some seriously savory seafood dishes for Italian-inspired fare. We started with the Gamberi e Cetrioli, wild prawns sautéed in a smoky garlic sauce and served with cucumber salad and couscous. We tried the Spaghetti Neri con Astice Fra Diavola and were pleasantly surprised with the black spaghetti dish with tons of Maine lobster meat and hot and sweet peppers.
8. Caffé Roma by far has the best espresso I’ve ever. Ever. And it’s probably because they roast their coffee and espresso beans in-house using traditional values and avoid burning beans like corporate coffee chains. Drop by for a cappuccino and I promise you can taste the difference.
9. Cinecitta in North Beach is a favorite for authentic thin-crust pizza. The Margarita pizza is always a good and simple choice; their tomato sauce is pretty stellar. And go for the sausage and mushroom for a real taste of Italy.
10. For a small bite and a Spanish-feel, head over to Pisco Latin Lounge for tapas and Argentinean wines. Our favorite tapas of the evening were the Peruvian Chicken Empanadas, Tiger Prawns with White Corn-Goat Cheese Cremè on Maseca Chips and Fish Tacos with Jerked Red Snapper and Mango and Serrano-Tomatillo Salsa.