Top Notch Greek Way Off The Beaten Path at Orexi in the West Portal

After a full rush-hour traffic-filled hour and fifteen minute drive from Sunnyvale to San Francisco, I learned that the apartment I was driving into the city to see had fallen through. I was in a part of San Francisco that I knew nothing about and had no reason to suffer through more traffic to go deeper into San Francisco proper. So, I pulled off the highway and pulled up my trusty mobile resource, Foursquare to what else — find a solid meal nearby.

I soon learned that I was in the quaint SF outskirts in a neighborhood known as West Portal and was presented with a really highly-rated Greek restaurant called Orexi topping my personalized recommendations. Perfect, Greek it’ll be. Despite the crappy drive/apartment-hunt situation, I was determined to turn these lemons into lemonade, or shall we say grapes into fine Greek wine.

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Hangover Cure: Korean & American Fusion Breakfast at Han’s Coffee Shop in the Tendernob

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Locals always have the best food tips. One drunken night out the town in San Francisco, I ended up chatting with a 10-year SF resident at a bar and it became abundantly clear that I was gonna be pretty hungover the next morning. After informing her that I was staying in the Union Square area, she told me that I absolutely must go to Han’s in the morning to cure my hangover.

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Fútbol & Foreign Food Truck Frenzy at SoMa StrEat Food

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If you’re looking to watch the World Cup in San Francisco you’ve certainly got plenty of options. In my mind, the most obvious two would be at home if you want to watch alone or at a sports bar if you want to watch in public. But if you’re looking for something a little different and also want a variety of unique food options and even more importantly want to be outdoors, read on!

In the shadow of both a highway and a gigantic Costco, in a remote corner of town that could barely still be called SoMa, there’s a really incredible place worth trekking to called SoMa StrEat Food. It’s a large, triangular outdoor lot that draws plenty of young, hip yuppies for food, drink, and various forms of entertainment.

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Epic Organic Hot Dogs & Sausages Reign Supreme at Underdog in the Inner Sunset

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What would the Fourth of July be without hot dogs? I’d say NOTHING. Yeah sure, you could eat a hamburger or a steak or something, but for me there’s nothing more essential than a grilled hot dog or sausage on a bun to celebrate America. If you live in San Francisco and you want the very best, you better take a trek out to the remote Inner Sunset neighborhood to get your fill at Underdog.

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Really Unusual Burmese Soup & Salad at Burma Superstar in the Richmond

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I don’t think I’m unearthing any secrets with this one. This famed Burmese restaurant in the Richmond has been featured on the Food Network numerous times and is reputed for having constant lines out the door. Somehow, when I showed up at 12:30 on a Sunday, a time when I assumed the restaurant would be at peak capacity, it in fact had no line. I was seated at a two-top on my own immediately. Amazing.

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Quality Cocktails & Seriously Delicious Smokey Bar Food at The European in Union Square

*Editor’s Note 1/30/15: This bar used to have a food menu, but now serves only cocktails

This is San Francisco’s hot new opening. Near Union Square, at the Warwick Hotel, on the cusp of the truly sketchy Tenderloin neighborhood, famed and well-loved Top Chef contestant Casey Thompson has opened a gourmet restaurant named Aveline and an accompanying cocktail bar called The European.

I happened to be staying in a hotel in the neighborhood and stopped by on the opening Friday night. When I arrived at around 9:15 PM it was still a relatively quiet and empty bar, but it wasn’t long before it filled out with the who’s who of the San Francisco dining scene. I was able to secure myself a seat at the truly sexy bar and ordered myself a cocktail while I looked over the bar menu.

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Awesome, My Mouth Went Numb at Lers Ros Thai in SF

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I might be a little sadistic when it comes to spicy foods. I love consuming them, but I also love watching my friends squirm eating them. Among the many spicy cuisines out there, I’m particularly fond of authentically hot Thai food, although my body usually disagrees with that decision within a few hours of the meal.

In NYC, I’ve often found it hard to find Thai restaurants outside of Queens that will take a white guy seriously with regards to flavors and spice levels. I often find myself let down by the mild and watered down dishes served to me and if I really want it made right, I have to be very insistent that I know what I’m getting myself into. This is definitely not the case at the San Francisco mini-chain Lers Ros Thai. Everything on their menu is very authentically prepared, spice level included.

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Fancy, Futuristic Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream at Smitten in Hayes Valley

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As a youngster growing up in New Jersey I frequently visited Six Flags during the summer. In between lines and massive roller coaster rides, our trips always required a refreshing pit-stop at Dippin’ Dots, the ice cream of the future. These little vendor carts served a unique treat of little ice cream pebbles produced by liquid nitrogen flash-freezing. I’d often wondered why this interesting technique wasn’t more common since the people seem to love it and it didn’t seem that difficult to do.

Well I don’t need to wonder about that any more. While exploring San Francisco, I stumbled across an outdoor shanty in the middle of a park in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, where Smitten is making ice cream to order using this very technique.

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Excellent, Made-To-Order Cream Puffs at Beard Papa’s in SF
Made To-Order Cream Puffs at Beard Papa’s in SF

Excellent, Made-To-Order Cream Puffs at Beard Papa’s in SF

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Frequent WinstonWanders readers may notice I don’t eat sweets very often. I don’t know what it is about them, but I’m just not drawn to sweet foods very much, so you should realize that it’s a particularly special occasion when I do find sweets that I love.

Right across from the Museum of Modern Art in the Union Square area of San Francisco, there’s a small, but hard to miss shop with bright yellow signage covered in friendly doodley illustrations. This shop, called Beard Papa’s, specializes in none other than cream puffs which are individually filled with cream to order.

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Snappy Sausage Sandwiches at Rosamunde & Killer Craft Beer Next Door at Toronado in SF
Sausage Sandwiches at Rosamunde & Killer Craft Beer at Toronado in SF

Snappy Sausage Sandwiches at Rosamunde & Killer Craft Beer Next Door at Toronado in SF

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What could be more perfect than the combination of beer and sausage? It’s an old-as-time classic pairing, but I think I’ve found the solution to this basically unanswerable question. How about gourmet game meat sausages eaten with a ridiculously good craft draft beer?

In the Lower Haight neighborhood of San Francisco there is a spot where you can have the best of both worlds, together. Butted literally right up against each other are Rosamunde Sausage Grill and a bar called Toronado. It’s a fairly well known fact that you can order sausages at Rosamunde and bring them right next door to eat in Toronado and this was precisely the plan. Ultimately though, it was pretty packed in Toronado, so we just ate our links in the sausage shop before heading right next door for some brews after.

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