Asian Inspired Brunch at Kitchen Door in the Napa Oxbow Market

Here’s the thing about Napa. It’s pretty freaking expensive everywhere. Between the wineries and their extra pricey tastings and the extremely high-end eateries, it’s pretty easy to burn through a lot of cash quickly in Napa. Even if you actually want a meal on the cheaper side, it’s not so easy to find anything that’s actually good so it takes a bit more digging and information than most places and you’re still likely to end up disappointed. But, I do actually know of some great meals that can be had in Napa for less than an arm and a leg and I’m happy to share this info with you.

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The Incredible Burmese at Rangoon Ruby has Finally Arrived on Polk

I’m so excited, it’s finally here. I’ll keep this short, but the brand new location of my all-time favorite Silicon Valley restaurant Rangoon Ruby, has opened a sister location a block from my SF apartment. In a space that used to be a lackluster sushi spot called Sushi Rock, my beloved Palo Alto Burmese favorite has planted roots. From the moment Sushi Rock had shuttered, I was aware because the place is actually in directly eye line from my apartment window. I anxiously awaited something new and interesting to come and take over the space. And I was over-the-moon elated when I saw a Coming Soon banner indicating that it would be a location of the exact place I missed most after transitioning from Palo Alto to SF.

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Get Your Korean Fried Chicken on at Bon Chon in Sunnyvale

I think most New Yorkers have heard of (and had their fair share of) Bon Chon Chicken. After originating in New Jersey and expanding to NYC and truly blowing up with hype and mega-popularity, this mini-chain has now spread its reach across the US and around the world. There’s even two locations out on the West Coast near me in the Bay Area – one not far from my office in Sunnyvale. Since lunch options in Sunnyvale are so scarce, I’ve found myself stopping in whenever the urge for a satisfyingly deep-fried lunch strikes.

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Vibrant, Authentic, & Upscale Thai at Kin Khao in Union Sq.

Kin Khao is a restaurant that’s been on the tip of everybody’s tongue from the moment it opened just over a year ago. Nearly everybody loves Thai food, but there is just something totally unique about the twists that Kin Khao interweaves to these regional classics that gets people buzzing. It’s been written up in nearly every Bay Area publication – Hell, it’s even been written up in the New York Times by Mark Bittman and was included as #6 on Alan Richman’s 25 Most Outstanding Restaurants of 2015 in GQ. What could it be about this Thai spot that makes it so damned special?

I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that both the chef and owner of Kin Khao have a pretty impressive food industry pedigree. Chef Mike Gaines spent a good chunk of time working at David Kinch’s famed molecular gastronomy hot spot Manresa and the owner and restauranteur behind Kin Khao is a famed Bay Area food blogger named Pim Techamuanvivit whose passion for her Thai heritage guides the restaurant’s concept. She also happens to be dating famed and celebrated Chef David Kinch who I’m sure has some tangential effect on the place. Yet somehow, with all of these compelling reasons to check this place out laid out in front of me, this was still only the first time I had gotten the chance to visit.

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A Massive Meatball Masterpiece at Viking’s Giant Subs in Cow Hollow

With a name like Vikings Giant Subs, I was ready to be utterly blown away by massive sandwich portions. This sub shop has with a very positive reputation that it’s built over the past 15 years and I was excited to figure out if it could fill the Meatball Parm void moving from NYC to SF left in my life. On a daily basis, I find myself missing New York’s Alleva and their absolutely perfect Meatball Parm so I’ve been on a constant hunt for its replacement.

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Beer & Empanadas – That’s What Woods Polk Station Does!

I’d argue that beer is almost always better when consumed along with food. It just pairs so well with anything and everything… but especially toasty, crispy things. One late evening while I was drinking with a few friends on Polk Street, we stopped in to a nearly unmarked bar called Woods Polk Station that I had heard good things about so that we could fill our bellies full of bubbly beer goodness and some tasty late-night munchies.

The place was quite small and had a ski resort mountain lodge vibe with its fake flickering fireplace displayed on the TV overhead, quiet, laid-back vibe, and simple wooden bar slanging gorgeous goblets of craft draft beer. It’s cozy and quiet and I think it’s quite a nice option when you’re looking to escape the general craziness of Polk Street with a few glasses of beer.

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Date Night with Fancy, Open-Faced Sandwiches at Tartinery in Nolita

I’d never thought to go to Tartinery in Nolita before, but I’ll be damned if that place wasn’t an absolutely perfect spot for an impressive first date. You wouldn’t know it from the street, but inside the understated exterior of this restaurant there’s an incredibly sexy, well-thought-out, subterranean dining room with large vaulted ceilings with exposed brick walls accented by lots of black iron and flickering candle lights. It’s a really incredible space and if you’re looking to put the vibe in the air, this place is perfect for that.

The menu is also great for two people getting to know each other. It features a vast array of French-inspired open-faced sandwiches known as tartines. And there’s a wide selection of very accessible toppings offered – so you know that picky eater Tinder first date is going to be able to find something they can eat – yes, even vegetarians.

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Off-Menu Offal Loaded Soup at Zen Yai in the Tenderloin

Offal-lovers, are you listening? Boy, have I got a dish for you.

If you’re like me, you probably really enjoy eating freaking unusual dishes. This dish I’ve got is definitely going to interest you. In the The Tenderloin, only a block or two from the other outstanding Thai restaurants I’ve already written about like Lers Ros Thai and Sai Jai Thai, I’ve found another place worth venturing through this crackhead-infested neighborhood to. This place is called Zen Yai and they have an off-menu dish I had been meaning to try that drew me in for a visit one morning.

You’d probably never even know to order this dish unless you had the ability read Thai or enjoy scraping the internet for food finds as much as I do. I can’t read Thai, but I did get word of this crazy dish somewhere and knew I had to see what all the fuss was about. I can’t even remember where I first heard about the dish, but one hungover day I was in the mood for soup and wanted to try something particularly funky and interesting. To be honest, I didn’t really even know anything about what I was ordering myself except that it involved plenty of offal. I was ready for the gastronomic adventure.

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