Fast, Fresh, Flavorful, & Filling Greek at Souvla in Hayes Valley

In an area filled with many fancy, upscale sit-down restaurants, Souvla is a welcome addition to the Hayes Valley neighborhood. With its cheap, high-quality spit-roasted meats served in either sandwich or salad form, excellent selection of Greek wines, and absolutely delicious french fries this casual, yet elegant spot is a real winner.

It’s the kind of place that’s cheap enough for a random weeknight dinner and at the same time sexy enough to work as a great casual date night spot. There is no waiter service, which sort of takes away from the date night vibe, but it’s done so well that I really can’t complain. This place is a real gem.

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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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A Cheap, Homey, Italian Date Night at Da Marcella in Greenwich Village

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Finding under-the-radar, cheap, quality Italian date night spots in NYC ain’t easy. I’ve got a couple places tucked away in my back pocket with delicious, reasonably priced pastas such as Batali’s Otto which I’ve already written about, but it doesn’t always fit the bill. The biggest issue with Otto is that their wine list is on the expensive side which can add up quick on a date. And then there’s Fiat Cafe which is awesome, but not always easy to grab a table at due to its compact size. That’s why I’m happy I’ve found the hidden in plain sight Greenwich Village gem Da Marcella.

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The “Best Damn Crab Cioppino” at Sotto Mare in North Beach
Cioppino & Other Seafood at Sotto Mare in North Beach SF

The “Best Damn Crab Cioppino” at Sotto Mare in North Beach

Cioppino. Say it with me: CHEE-oh-PEE-no. Just as I was, you’re probably wondering what on earth that could be. I really don’t know how it happened, but somehow I had been blissfully unaware of this San Franciscan specialty until a friend insisted we go to Sotto Mare in San Francisco’s Little Italy, North Beach. He had been before and desperately wanted to once again experience the local dish that he’d been dreaming of since he first tasted it a few years prior.

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Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal
Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal

Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal

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Located only one block from Stanford’s the restaurant-lined Palo Alto main drag, University Avenue, you will find an unassuming Italian restaurant called Vero. With its tall, vaulted, wood beamed ceiling, candlelit dining room, and open kitchen, it’s quite an inviting restaurant to spot passing by. Though most guests were dining inside, we opted for one of their outdoor seats to take advantage of the miraculously warm early-March Californian weather.

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Seriously Great Greek near Stanford at Evvia Estiatorio in Palo Alto
Seriously Great Greek near Stanford at Evvia Estiatorio in Palo Alto

Seriously Great Greek near Stanford at Evvia Estiatorio in Palo Alto

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OK, I’ll admit it, I’ve been having a tough time finding great restaurants over these weeks I’ve been spending in Silicon Valley. I’ve found a few gems that I’ll be sharing with you all soon, but it ain’t easy. However, there are a couple densely populated ‘downtowns’ that help when hunting and downtown Palo Alto is one such example.

Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, so there’s an actual restaurant row like you often find in college towns. After asking a local Palo Alto-based friend for dinner advise and receiving a glowing recommendation, we ended up at an upscale Greek restaurant called Evvia Estiatorio. It’s hard to pass on a claim that Evvia is the best restaurant in Palo Alto so our group of six headed there on a Monday evening to check it out for ourselves.

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Great American Comfort Food & the Biggest Burger in NYC at Delicatessen
Great American Comfort Food & the Biggest Burger in NYC at Delicatessen

Great American Comfort Food & the Biggest Burger in NYC at Delicatessen

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Delicatessen is a really interesting place. Located in the heart of Nolita, it’s definitely a scene. You know, the kind of place where the cool people hang out. The ground floor is a nice, spacious, sunlit restaurant known for its classic American comfort foods like mac & cheese and burgers. These qualities also make it a very popular brunch destination. On top of all of this, the basement below Delicatessen is a sort of loungey nightclub that regularly fills up with models and the rest of the cool crowd.

In general I try to avoid popular, sceney places like this, but I’ve found the food and experience at Delicatessen is great every time. They serve really good, quality food in a casual atmosphere without any of the pretension you might expect. They serve nice cocktails, have a good wine list, and serve big, hearty dishes making it a great spot for a date night or a meal out with the family.

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The Guide to BYO Restaurants in NYC

Growing up in New Jersey and going to college in Philly spoiled me. Oh how I love a good BYO restaurant where you don’t have to worry about getting ripped off by insane bottle upcharges. What a shame that there are so few BYOs around NYC.

Though they are far few and between, they do exist and the following is a list of New York City restaurants that allow BYO with no corkage fee. I will caveat that many restaurants in NYC do have some sort of BYO policy with a corkage fee tacked-on if you call and ask specifically, but these listed below are strictly BYO with no corkage fee every day of the week.

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Finding the Best Conch in Turks & Caicos

This vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. As the entire country fell into a below-zero deep freeze, I was headed for some sun and heat in Turks & Caicos with my girlfriend Amy and her family.

Day 1:

We were staying at the beautiful Grace Bay Club, right on the incredible beach in Providenciales, Turk & Caicos. Upon arrival, we immediately hit the gym to preempt the impending bodily destruction. I had two missions on this trip. 1) To return with the tan of a golden god. 2) To eat as much conch – the local shellfish specialty – in as many ways as humanly possible.

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Molecular Gastronomy Magic from Wylie Dufresne at WD~50
Molecular Gastronomy Magic from Wylie Dufresne at WD~50

Molecular Gastronomy Magic from Wylie Dufresne at WD~50

*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that this restaurant is not longer open.

Recently, I wrote about a particularly crazy meal I ate at Los Perros Locos. They delivered a kind of craziness through the sheer brashness of piling as many wacky pedestrian ingredients on top of one another as humanly possible. But, like I’ve said before, there are many kinds of crazy when it comes to food.

To celebrate my 26th birthday, my girlfriend took me to a restaurant that’s been high up on my worldwide to-do list for a long time, WD~50. The restaurant is the brain-child of Wylie Dufresne who established the molecular gastronomy dining scene in NYC. The kind of craziness that Wylie delivers is less like that of a psychopath, but more like that of a mad scientist through his use of complex, technical, processes and methodologies usually reserved for a chemistry lab. Every dish and drink at WD~50 has some sort of complicated twist whereby an ingredient is transformed or presented in a way you’ve probably never experienced before.

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