An Extraordinary, Ultra-seasonal, Japanese-inspired Tasting Menu in Wine Country

What:

Single Thread @ST_Farms Newly opened and it's already been awarded the San Francisco Chronicle's highest honor — four out of four stars by critic Michael Bauer. I don't always share my food opinions with Bauer, but when it comes to the level of brilliance and care coming out of Single Thread, it's hard to disagree.

Where:

Downtown Healdsburg 131 North Street Healdsburg, CA 95448 [wpgmza id="302"]

When:

Despite its high-end concept and rather expensive price point, they do manage to keep the entire experience quite approachable and not stuffy, unlike many other tasting menus at this price point. Still, you'll definitely want to save this one for a VERY special occasion based on cost alone. A 10-course tasting menus costs $255 per person (which comes to around $295 with tip included) and the wine pairing add-on costs $155. We visited Single Thread to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary with a bang.

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This Cozy, Neighborhood Cocktail Bar is Perfect at Any Time of Day

What:

Two Sister's Bar and Books @2sistersbar The best cocktail spot in Hayes Valley also just so happens to serve up incredibly delicious bar bites.

Where:

Hayes Valley 579 Hayes St. San Francisco, CA 94102 [wpgmza id="259"]

When:

Perfect for whenever you need a quiet bar and a great cocktail. It's an ideal date night spot, works really well for brunch as well, and is excellent for solo dining/drinking too. Their happy hour is also an excellent deal. Don't miss out on that extra special value Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 pm and Saturday or Sunday from 1 to 4 pm where you can snag $3 draft beers, $5 house wines, a $5 happy hour cocktails, or a $5 happy hour snack.

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Lord Stanley Brings Super-Restrained Scandinavian Style to Russian Hill

What:

Lord Stanley @Lordstanley_SF You can file this one under 'I just don't get it.' Despite the fact that Bauer and most SF reviewers absolutely adore this trendy Nordic date spot, I just can't seem to understand the effusive outpouring of positivity.

Where:

Russian Hill / Polk Gulch 2065 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 [wpgmza id="269"]

When:

It's definitely suited for an elegant date night, but don't expect extraordinarily exciting flavors.

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SF’s Perpetual Hot Spot Has Turned Dim Sum on Its Head

What:

State Bird Provisions @StateBirdSF This restaurant hardly needs an introduction. One of SF's hardest tables to land. Theyare famed for the way they embrace the dim sum system to serve creative New-Californian cuisine.

Who:

The married chef-oweners, Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza, have both earned themselves a James Beard award as Best Chefs: West in 2015 for the restaurant among many other accolades.

Where:

At the intersection of Japantown, Lower Pac Heights, and the Western Addition (aka NoPa) 1529 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA 94115 [wpgmza id="287"]

When:

Perfect for a special occasion splurge or super-impressive date night dinner.

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Impressive Cocktails and Fine Dining Small Plates with Filipino Flair

What:

1760 @1760SF A well-regarded, two-year-old, high-end restaurant that focuses on globally inspired tapas style small plates.

Who:

New Chef, Carl Foronda, has overhauled the restaurant's entire menu with dishes that include influences from his Filipino heritage.

Where:

Lower Nob Hill On Polk Street 1760 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 [wpgmza id="285"]

When:

Perfect for a date night or dinner with your parents.

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Mike Winston’s Best Meals of 2015

Yes, I know this year-end list is beyond belated. Actually, I'm probably over a month late. Normally, I'm not one to make these kinds of excuses, but my life has been pretty hectic lately. As you may or may not know, I'm getting married in a couple of months, so my time has recently come at an extreme premium and I haven't been able to commit as much attention as I'd like to this little publication obsession. With that being said, over the next couple of months, I'll be playing around with post style and formatting a bit in an attempt to find new ways to rapidly pump out awesome food articles with fewer publishing limitations on my end. Please feel free to give me feedback on the new content — I'm planning to review this little experiment in a few months and we can take it from there.

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Experimental Meat-tastic Creations at Chris Cosentino’s Cockscomb

Break out the confetti and champagne!! It's a perfect ten! Chef Chris Cosentino knows exactly how to work his way into that soft spot in my heart. All it took was a few of his crazy, funky, zany, inventive, and downright delicious over-the-top meat-filled culinary creations. Yes, that's right — I'm giving this place my first and only flawless 10/10 review, so buckle up for a long one as I explain why I'm so obsessed. You may know of Chris from his many stints on food TV, but I've found myself uncontrollably drawn to him because he cooks only the kind of food that he wants to eat. With his cooking, there's no remorse for pushing people's palettes to the edge of fear. Fear? Yeah, most of his food utilizes all of the delicious miscellaneous organs and obscure cuts of meat that many other chefs won't even dare to work with that most people don't ordinarily choose to consume — frequently involving complete nose-to-tail dishes. Fortunately for me, I share his love for well-prepared organ meats.

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Your Next Date Night Should Involve SF’s Very Best Burger

I love that we live in a time where the modest and familiar burger is treated with the same skill and care as a seared duck breast or other fancy-sounding entrée. These impressive creations are no longer haphazardly assembled by slapping together unwanted scraps and trimmings and are no longer regarded just as greasy pub food. These burgers come a pedigree. Brilliant chefs now utilize custom butcher blends of meat and have truly mastered the art of balancing and enhancing those bold, rich, cheesy flavors while still retaining the burger's undeniably attractive gutbomb essence. These cherished burgers have now become a highlighted menu staple at most high-end restaurants and while many claim to serve the best in San Francisco, I think the title belongs safely to the one I've had at Stones Throw.

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Get Lost in Time at a Bizarre Backroads Diner near Paso Robles

On the long drive between Paso Robles and San Francisco, there's not a whole lot of viable places to stop at for a good meal on the road. The 101 is the most efficient route, but it'll still take approximately three hours from start to finish. Before embarking on the drive back from the wonderfully quaint wine town of Paso Robles, we knew wanted to grab a quick meal close to town before really hitting the road. A brief bit of online exploration led me to a place that showed potential for a quick meal. Just a 10-minute drive north of downtown Paso Robles, just off of the 101, there's a dusty little nothing town called San Miguel. In this practically non-existent town, I read about a place with a 4-star Yelp rating that included many stories characterized by its local charm. We had high hopes that The County Diner, a lonely eatery in this desolate trapped-in-time town, would serve as a great place to get a quick and filling breakfast before we headed towards home.

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