People here are very proud of their restaurants – it’s a point of “city” pride. And to be fair, there are a number of very good restaurants in San Francisco, especially when compared to most of the rest of the country (not New York of course, but we’ll get to that in a moment). There’s a big push for fresh and local ingredients (which is good) and decent selection to keep you discovering new places for a few months.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that there are two overarching problems with the vast majority of San Francisco eating establishments:
1) Bad Lighting. I have come to the conclusion that restaurant owners here are so damn proud of their food that they feel compelled to use 600 watt light bulbs and targeted spotlights to shine full force on their glorious creations. Even most “romantic” restaurants are so bright that you never need to pull a candle over (or use the light from your cell phone) to read a menu. It’s just not right.
2) The Elusive $12 entree. While there are plenty of more expensive restaurants (i.e. $25+ entrees) and the “city” is lousy with good (and cheap!) taquerias (where you can eat well for $6), it’s difficult to find the yummy $12-$14 entree. Especially if you also want a good environment. Sometimes you just want to go out and grab a good easy dinner, like Three of Cups, Old Devil Moon, Bread in New York, Cafe Moto in Williamsburg, or roughly a billion other places in the surrounding area.
It’s just not that easy here.
BUT, I have found a few great places that have managed to capture the spirit, lighting and pricing of a great, comfortable and intimate New York-style neighborhood restaurant. They’re out there, but they not the easiest to find. Periodically, I will profile these restaurants (starting with the first entry on Monday), providing a guide of my favorite and will maintain links in a new blogroll header (to the right) called “Weird Restaurants“.
Bon Apetite. And don’t forget your sunglasses.