558 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94111
Dining date: 12/26/16
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.
531 Jackson St
San Francisco, CA 94133
Dining date: 11/23/16
Trestle is the second restaurant from the Stones Throw team. It opened in Jackson Square in last year, serving a rotating prix fixe menu at an extremely reasonable $35. That price tag buys you three courses with the option to have a pasta course for just $10 more. It’s really a deal for San Francisco standards. Furthermore, the pastas came with an optional white truffle supplement for $20. Our party of four ordered two extras (a pasta and a risotto) with white truffles on each.
111 N Los Robles Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
Dining date: 8/28/16 and 9/1/16
Alexander’s Steakhouse opened in Pasadena last year, the first SoCal location for the Bay Area-based chain. It’s a highly regarded steakhouse; the original Cupertino location garnered a Michelin star for three years (2011-2013). I’ve been to the San Francisco location once to celebrate a birthday, but this would be my first two visits to the Pasadena location.
The concept is a traditional steakhouse with a lot of Japanese influences. There’s plenty of beef options, domestic and international, with a full suite of appetizers, side dishes and other steak accompaniments. Dishes like an uni tamago and udon mac and cheese really show off the Japanese flair.
9200 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Dining date: 7/11/16
Boa Steakhouse is part of the Innovative Dining Group, the Socal-based group that includes concepts like Sushi Roku and Katana. There’s three locations of Boa including this one in West Hollywood, Santa Monica and, of all places, Abu Dhabi. I’ve been to this location of Boa once before for a birthday party and had a good meal. Since it was a large party during that visit, everyone had to order off a set menu. This time, we had free reign to order whatever we wanted off the full menu.
Most of the restaurant’s seating is out on its beautiful and expansive patio. It’s a really nice setting on warm evening.
5722 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 7/6/16
Chef Kevin Meehan has been in the Los Angeles dining scene for quite a while, most recently at Patina, Cafe Pinot, and his roving underground dining concept Kali Dining. After developing his version of Californian cuisine for a few years, Kali Restaurant opened last year. Here, Meehan partners up with friend Drew Langley, who came over from Providence where he was wine director.
6476 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
Dining date: 7/2/16
There’s plenty of good restaurants in the Napa Valley, but for me a trip just doesn’t feel complete without a stop at a Thomas Keller establishment. There would be no French Laundry on this brief trip, but a stop here at the more casual Ad Hoc was in order. The restaurant serves a 4-course fixed menu for $52, although there’s regularly a supplemental dish offered as well. Since the menu isn’t published until the morning of the meal, it’s a little bit of a crapshoot depending on what you’re looking for. We lucked out this time as this evening’s menu featured steak – a ribeye to be exact.