sushi ondo
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Sushi Ondo (San Francisco, CA)

Sushi Ondo is part of a wave of San Francisco restaurants doing more reasonably-priced omakase meals (~$100). While I haven’t found anything quite like Sugarfish around here, I have been interested in what kind of quality / value these restaurants can offer. Sushi Ondo opened in 2019 and is part of a group of restaurants that includes Sushi Hon, Barnzu, Sushi Hakko and Izakaya Hon.

black cod @ SingleThread
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SingleThread (Healdsburg, CA)

SingleThread is one of the up-and-coming fine dining restaurants in the greater Bay Area. Opened at the end of 2016, it has garnered two Michelin stars, 4 stars from the SF Chronicle and was recently named a ‘One to Watch’ by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants team. Chef Kyle Connaughton and wife Katina run this restaurant, which is part of the inn and farm that they also operate. The cuisine here is a blend of Japanese and Californian; tickets were $295 each, gratuity-inclusive.

truffle duck @ hakkasan
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Hakkasan (San Francisco, CA)

Hakkasan San Francisco opened at the end of 2012, but I didn’t have a chance to visit until this most recent SF trip. I’ve dined at Hakkasan’s Las Vegas and now-closed Beverly Hills locations a couple of times and have enjoyed my prior meals. I was interested to see how the SF location’s upscale Chinese food would compare.

Our party of four ordered a handful of prior favorite dishes, along with a few new ones.

short rib at mourad
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Mourad (San Francisco, CA)

Mourad opened at the beginning of 2015, Mourad Lahlou’s follow up to Michelin-starred Aziza. Like Aziza, Mourad has also garnered a Michelin star for its Moroccan cuisine albeit in much more glamorous digs. The SoMa location features a large, open dining room and very high celings – it’s a beautiful space.

The impetus for this dinner was my grandmother’s birthday. An eight course tasting menu is available ($155) but we went the a la carte route for our party of six. Ordering a la carte allowed us to order a couple of the large format family-style plates that the restaurant has become known for.

sourdough dumpling tsar nicolai caviar, seaweeds
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Lazy Bear (San Francisco, CA)

Lazy Bear is one of San Francisco’s most unique dining experiences. The restaurant began as an underground supper club in chef David Barzelay’s home; it was wildly successful and became one of the toughest seats in town. The success led to this brick-and-mortar location in 2014. Two Michelin stars later, the restaurant is still going strong.

The evening begins with cocktail hour on the second floor mezzanine. Guests are invited to mingle, sip on a cocktail, and enjoy a few small bites. After cocktail hour, dinner shifts downstairs where there are two large 40-seat communal tables. An open kitchen anchors one end of the tables, providing a close look at the food as it’s being prepared.

crab leg, innards jelly, almond milk meadowood
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The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena, CA)

I’ve been to the Restaurant at Meadowood once, seven years ago, and had a great meal. Since then, the restaurant has garned a third Michelin star (it had two at the time) and undergone a renovation, although Executive Chef Christopher Kostow is still at the helm. I’ve been wanting to return for some time and finally had a chance over the MLK Day holiday weekend.

Whereas an a la carte menu was available the last time I was here, the dining room menu is now tasting menu-only. $275 (before 20% service and tax) pays for about a dozen courses.

fried chicken wayfare tavern
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Wayfare Tavern (San Francisco, CA)

Each year, my cousins, brother and I take our grandmother out for a birthday meal. The timing is convenient as her birthday is around Christmas, so everyone is typically in town (except for my brother this year). Due to timing and scheduling we weren’t able to do a dinner, but were able to have a lunch the day after Christmas. Options were a bit limited for lunch on the 26th, but luckily Wayfare Tavern had room for the five of us.

Tyler Florence’s financial district restaurant has been going strong since opening in 2010. I’ve been here once, for lunch, and still remember the fried chicken and salmon I had that meal. We ordered both of those dishes again, as well as a bunch of others, for this post-Christmas lunch.

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