Woodhouse Fish Co.
1914 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
Dining date: 12/27/13
Known for its fresh seafood, Woodhouse Fish Co. has been a long-time popular option in San Francisco. Two locations exist, in the Castro and in Pacific Heights; I’ve passed by the Pacific Heights location numerous times to see some good-sized crowds waiting for a table at the walk-in-only restaurant. Sometimes you just want to scarf down some fried seafood and a lobster roll, right? I knew that Woodhouse Fish Co. would come in handy exactly for that craving. Coincidentally, it happened on my last evening in San Francisco during this recent holiday trip.
The menu is pretty simple and straightforward, resembling a New England seafood shack mixed with California influences. Three types of clam chowder, fried clams, crabcakes, crab and lobster rolls, fish & chips, fish tacos and cioppino are some of the options. Prices are reasonable, particularly for San Francisco standards. Getting there around 5:45, our wait for a table of four on this Friday evening was about 45 minutes.
560 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
Dining date: 12/26/13
Nopa opened almost eight years ago but continues to be one of the more popular restaurants in San Francisco. That was never more evident than in my last visit; attemps to get a reservation weeks in advance weren’t successful and we ended up waiting just about 3.5 hours for a walk-in table of 6 (5:30pm-9pm).
The occasion for this dinner was a birthday meal for grandma; my cousins and I took her out. My one previous meal here was with this same group, a late night meal two years ago after a dinner at Marlowe. We overstuffed ourselves that night and weren’t able to fully appreciate the second-dinner; this return visit was in the works for a while.
Nopa’s most notable dish has to be its pork chop; in-line with that, all six of us ordered that as our entree. However, we still diversified things a bit with additional appetizers and desserts.
230 California St
San Francisco, CA 94111
Dining date: 12/23/13
Perbacco has been open for some time now (2006) but this was my first visit. For a number of years, I kept hearing good things about the restaurant but it never quite made it high enough on the list to actually go. On my most recent trip up to San Francisco for the holidays, I finally made the trip to the popular Italian restaurant. I’m glad I did.
Perbacco strives for a balance between traditional Italian and modern influences. No pizza here, but the menu is made up of a good number of salumi, appetizers, pastas and main courses. Between my mother, brother and I (dad was working late), we ordered a couple of appetizers but honed in on the pastas and mains.
490 Pacific St
San Francisco, CA 94133
Dining date: 12/3/13
Cotogna opened just over three years ago, the next-door sibling to two Michelin-starred Quince. Cotogna’s food is a comfortable, rustic Italian style differing from Quince’s more modern, refined Italian. The commitment to quality and strong execution is shared at both places; they even share a kitchen.
I’ve been once to Cotogna almost three years ago but figured it was time for a revisit. For lunch, the restaurant offers a reasonable three-course prix fixe menu for $24; my mom ordered that while my cousin and I opted for a la carte options.
431 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108
Dining date: 12/2/13
I’ve always found San Francisco to have a surprisingly lackluster Japanese food scene, made very noticeable once I moved to Los Angeles. Comparing some of the most oft-eaten Japanese foods like sushi and ramen – SF hasn’t really had any noteworthy standouts. However, I do think it’s been catching up in recent years.
One example is Akiko’s, a restaurant that’s been around for almost 20 years but just underwent an ownership and chef change. My mom’s been following the restaurant closely ever since a stellar Michael Bauer review in September. The food’s more serious and passionate now and features a pretty extensive menu. Typically I feel like the jack-of-all-trades Japanese restaurants lack focus on any one particular item but Akiko’s seems to be able to handle it. Fried foods, grilled foods, noodles, rice bowls and a vast sushi/sashimi selection make up the menu. My mom went with the a la carte option while my dad and I opted for the omakase priced in an $80-100 range (with a few supplements). The $10 corkage was pretty sweet.
Keiko à Nob Hill
1250 Jones St
San Francisco, CA 94109
Dining date: 12/1/13
My dad’s mentioned Keiko à Nob Hill a number of times in the past as a potential restaurant, but we didn’t try it until this most recent trip to celebrate some November birthdays. Chef Keiko Takahashi and partner Seigo Takei opened the restaurant at the end of 2011; while there hasn’t been a ton of buzz surrounding the place, it has garnered a Michelin star in the last couple of guides.
Located in the ritzy Nob Hill neighborhood and in the old location of the venerable Charles Nob Hill restaurant, it looks and feels very expensive. Especially with their tasting-menu only and fusion French/Japanese fine dining. However, its 6-7 course menu is priced at a not-unreasonable $95 a head and comes with some of the best service I’ve had in any restaurant recently.