Restaurants that capture the soul of a neighborhoodThe Chronicle 2001
Florio embodies the spirit of Pacific Heights
An idea worth sharing from a reader:
I would first like to thank you for a restaurant recommendation you provided me about 2 years ago when I was looking for a good place to eat in my former neighborhood, the Castro. You suggested Anchor Oyster Bar and I absolutely loved it: quaint, clean, good food, an all around good time. I have since moved to South Beach and little places like Anchor Oyster Bar are hard to find. I would love to know more suggestions of a favorite neighborhood restaurant for each district in the city, one that is a local hangout with good food and good people.
Some restaurants simply reside in neighborhoods; others become a part of the fabric. Anchor is an important anchor of the Castro, having been in business in the same location more than 30 years. Waiters know the customers; many singles come in for a solo lunch at the counter and chat up the familiar waiters. Plus, the seafood is fresh and reasonably priced.
Many neighborhoods have places that fulfill this important role, and if you live in the Mission there are too many to list. I’d appreciate everyone’s help in detailing the restaurants in your neighborhoods that sustain the stomach as well as the soul.
Here are a few to get us started; in the coming weeks I’ll try to spotlight more of these restaurants.
Russian Hill — Frascati: When you walk into this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, you feel like you’re in a club of people lucky enough to live on Russian Hill. The interior is cramped, but the food prepared by Michael Paulik is superb — including such things as grilled sardines, roast chicken with a lemon-oregano jus and blueberry peach cobbler.
Pacific Heights — Florio: Every time I walk into this Fillmore brasserie, I see familiar faces. With its straightforward menu of such things as steak frites, the menu satisfies a wide variety of tastes. The bar in front is welcoming and the handsome interior in the rear has become the neighborhood salon.
North of the Panhandle — Nopa: Just over three years old, Nopa has helped to draw focus on a lesser-known neighborhood. While it has become a nationwide destination due to loads of positive publicity, it still captures the feel of the area. The busy bar and communal table always draw crowds, and so does Laurence Jossel’s food, which includes one of the best pork chops in the city.
Potrero Hill — Slow Club: It’s actually in kind of a no man’s land between Potrero Hill and the Mission, which in the dot-com boom was dubbed Multimedia Gulch. It’s 18 years old, but Slow Club’s chic, industrial interior still resonates as does the straightforward food.
Rockridge — Wood Tavern: Rich and Rebekah Wood, who formerly owned Frascati, decided to open nearer where they lived, and they’ve created a restaurant that stradles the Oakland/Berkeley border and is claimed by both sides. I’d move there just for the “Wicked Good” seafood stew and the Manhattans.
I was stumped trying to think of restaurants that embody my neighborhoods, the Castro and the Mission. But Bauer pretty much nails it. Anchor Oyster Bar is fantastic and it’s one of the few restaurants in the Castro that actually feels like a neighborhood institution. Let’s face it, people don’t come to the ‘Stro to eat. It’s more of a bar neighborhood than a foodie destination. As for the Mission, it’s characterized by the best Mexican food in the City. Pick any of those joints and you’re good. You can’t pick just one.
I thought he nailed the other neighborhoods though.