Calling all "judges" for the annual DG County Fair! Vote for your favorites here!

Where to Eat in: States/Provinces/Countries beginning with C

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

This is a continuation of a fun thread in the Recipes forum. (see http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/681577/)

Post below with your favorite places to eat, and I'll try to keep them indexed up here. If your state/province/country isn't on the list yet, put it down anyway and I'll be happy to add it!

CALIFORNIA
Albany
Mangia Mangia; 755 San Pablo Ave, 94706, (510) 526-9700; Try their exquisite chicken cannelloni

Berkeley/Oakland
Chez Panisse (reservation necessary)
Rivoli (reservation necessary)
Bay Wolf (reservation necessary)

Bishop
Schatt's Bakery

Carmel
Hogs Breath Inn Restaurant

Cottonwood
Cowtown Eatery; Another great place for any meal...lots of food and great prices..

Fontana
King Taco; Attention NASCAR fans! They have absolutely fantastic burritos and are at the California Speedway!

Half Moon Bay
Barbara's Fish Trap

Laguna Beach
Javiers; Just the best Mexican I have ever eaten. No tacos here. Fantastic steaks, amazing marguerita's. Pricey but definitely worth it.

Los Angeles
Canter's Fairfax Bakery; 419 N Fairfax Ave, 90036, (323) 651-2030; It is a famous stomp since the old Hollywood era. The bakery is an old Eastern European style bakery and everything is sold by weight.
Pacific Dining Car - Steaks - not the best part of town, but awesome food, bar, Valet parking.
Philippe's

Merced
Main Street Deli; They carry Raymond's Dutch Crunch Sourdough bread.

Monterey
Vivolo's Chowder House

Moss Landing
Phil's Seafood

Napa/Healdsburg
Ad Hoc (reservation necessary)
Cyrus (reservation necessary)
Mumms Napa(http://mummnapa.com) We visited for champagne tasting. It was a lovely hour sitting and looking out at the Napa Valley. The champagne was great and we got sucked into becoming members. I will say the ride there was very pleasant also. 8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, California


Nevada City
Citronee Bistro (www.citroneebistro.com) FABULOUS food in a quirky small restaurant; choose the intimate tiered seating area below street level. The food is all good, but the best is when you let the chef surprise you with a multiple-course meal of their choosing. You can say if there are ingredient/s you don't like, and they'll go from there. Each item is unique and incredible. There is actually a lot more food than it sounds like, because they add special little tastes between the courses. For instance, once we had a tall shot glass filled with champagne, a tiny ball of lime sorbet, chili flakes and fresh mint. Wild combination, but WONDERFUL! Another between-course taste was a tall shot glass full of the most perfect, sublime potato-leek soup I have ever tasted. You can also have them pour wines they have chosen to suit each course. The owner, chef and wait staff are all great, and they clearly love what they do. My husband and I went there for dinner the night we got married, and have used every possible excuse to do it since!

Newport Beach
Gulfstream; Another great restaurant. I don't know how to describe the style of food but they have steak, seafood, chicken etc. The Trout Dip and the Short Ribs in Honey-Mustard Sauce are the winners here. The menu doesn't change much and I've always had great meals here.
Lavantina's - Pizza. Just great pizza! Cheap at around $6 a pie (which are huge), fast, and always tasty. The best they make is just a plain old cheese pizza.

Northridge
Rosies BBQ, on Tampa near the mall. They have an original buffet with all kinds of breads and cheeses, salads, slaws and the usual salad bar stuff but they have a drawer full of the best BBQ meatballs and chicken and it is very different but good. My friends come down from San Diego to go there. They also have a regular menu.

Pescadero
Duarte's Tavern; 202 Stage Road - Cioppino and artichoke soup and Aunt Emma's pies

Pine Grove
Giant Burgers - The fries are hot-hot and each hamburger is over-sized, made while you wait, and is topped with tomato, onion and lettuce

Plymouth
Taste

Redding
Black Bear Diner - For any of their food...you get lots and it is great...

Redwood City
Fabbro's Restaurant; 2915 El Camino Real, 94061, (650) 368-1491

Sacramento
Cafe Morocco on Alhambra St. The Sumac chicken is to die for.

San Clemente
Croissant French Bakery at 820 S. El Camino Real. Freshest croissants we've ever had...chocolate croissants, marzipan croissants, custard croissants, strudel, everything was wonderful. ( I know 'cause we bought a lot!)

San Francisco Scroll down for an excellent post with information about dining out in San Francisco!
Ame (reservation necessary)
Ana Mandara; near Fisherman's Wharf (An expensive but lovely Vietnamese fusion restaurant.)
Aqua (reservation necessary)
Boulevard (reservation necessary) Have gone many times and love it. Very consistent. It is not as pricey as the top tier restaurants but the food was almost as good.
Chapeau (http://bistrochapeau.ypguides.net) a really cute place with good French food and a fun, fun chef. Not very expensive, get reservations. Great service. Can be noisy. Small.
Delfina has GREAT Italian food. Not very expensive, get reservations. A small and very noisy place but the food makes it worth it. It also has the best bread I have ever had in any restaurant, made by Tartine next door. I understand that is one of the best California bakeries. I have it on my list to eat there too. www.delfinasf.com
Fleur de Ly's; 777 Sutter St, 94109, (415) 673-7779 (Reservation necessary. Their sweetbreads are sublime.)
Gary Danko (reservation necessary) Been many times and love it. Going this month with my son who also loves it.
Green's at Fort Mason; on the SF bay, in the Marina neighborhood. (Vegetarian. It'll be an eye-opener, and the views are stunning.)
Hog Island Oysters, in the Ferry Building -
(www.hogislandoysters.com) The oysters can be sitting too long opened I have noticed. We do enjoy sitting outside there though and eating some oysters and drinking a nice bottle of wine as we look out at the bay but if you are really into oysters, take a drive out Hog Island and plan a picnic at their site (The farm.). They have the absolute best oysters there.
Holding Company, Embarcadero Center 2, lunch & dinner. (A sports bar with great food totally hidden from most tourists' sight. See post below for more details!)
Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, Eclipse Cafe; breakfast & lunch. No reservations needed (A hidden gem most people have no idea exists. See post below for more details!)
Jeanty @Jack's (reservation necessary)
Kuleto's in Union Square. They have an exhibition counter where you can watch the chefs in action as you enjoy your dinner. We have been going there for so long that the chefs know us and talk to us while they are working.
Maxfield's at the Palace Hotel on Market Street. (For an "old time" treat that's cheaper than the vaunted Court restaurant with better food.)
Maya (reservation necessary; Gourmet Mexican like you've never had)
Michael Mina (reservation necessary) This is now our favorite SF restaurant since they got their new chef in January. Their house champagne is the best. Yum Yum.
PF Changs The two locations that I know of in the Bay Area are in Walnut Creek in the roadway Plaza area and at Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton off Foothill Rd.
Slanted Door (reservation necessary) Fun to go to, on the wharf. They also have a take out store front in the Ferry Building too which is fun. We get take out dinner here when we go to Hog Island for oysters which is also in the Ferry Building.
Specialty's; no reservations needed (Sandwiches & bakery items at breakfast & lunch. See post below for more details!)

Santa Barbara
La Super Rica on Milpas... (Hole in the wall Mexican food, really good, usually a long line.)
The Original Sambo's; 216 West Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA; (805-965-3269) This is the original Sambo's restaurant. Beachside dining, breakfast and lunch only, 7 am to 2:30 p.m. Great food, good prices and a fantastic view.

San Jose
Habana Cuba Restaurant (www.998cuba.com)

San Marcos
Applebee's They have a wonderful lunch, Mon.-Fri. only, for only $5.99/$6.99. I think the offer is for taking 2 items of your choice from a list, for the above prices. In my opinion the best choices are the Asian Salad and Broccoli Cheese Soup, which are delicious. I would assume the same menu is in effect in all Applebee's everywhere, but not sure.

Santa Monica
Tengu (www.tengu.com) An absolutely unbelievable New Japanese dining experience at the sushi bar. The most unique experience I've had and I think its possibly all about timing, your sushi chef and the fish monger. 3 times in 4 days and it was unique and wonderful each time . Wonderful sake selection. Fresh fish like you would not believe and presentation with absolute exquisite perfection. Very expensive. I LOVED that place. Very high end ala LA but worth it.

Slovang
Peters Bakery (Best Danish Bakery in.... well anywhere....)

Yountville
Ad Hoc, another Thomas Keller restaurant. We were shocked at the home cooked quality ( as in how I cook - poorly) of their food. We were so disappointed.
French Laundry Restaurant; 6640 Washington St, 94599, (707) 944-2380
Redd (www.reddnapavalley.com)
We had been encouraged to try it there since we can't even get French Laundry to answer the phone in 5 years of trying to get in there. We so enjoyed our meal there and it did not break the bank as some of these places can. A very simple but elegant room and the wait staff was excellent.


COLORADO
Aurora
Helga's German Restaurant, 6th and Peoria--great, authentic fare.

Blackhawk
Black Forest Inn - German Hunter style - big portions, home baked breads, fresh butter, German beers on tap.

Colorado Springs
El Taco Rey; 330 E Colorado Ave, 80903, (719) 475-9722
Peppertree Restaurant; 888 Moreno Ave W, 80905, (719) 471-4888 (Try their chutney topped pepper steak.)

Denver
Aurora Summit -Steaks - perfect.
Casa Bonita, at Colfax and Pierce in Denver (for the sheer fun of it (the food isn't noteworthy)-- cliff divers, puppet shows, caricature artist & more for the kids).
The Fort - off I 70 - Bison, Elk, Beef, etc. - Champagne Sunday Brunch

Englewood
Trail Dust Steak House; 7101 S Clinton St, Englewood, CO 80112; (303-790-2420) Family fun and dining in a big red barn. Don't wear your favorite tie... it will be cut off while you eat. There is a two story slide, country music and dancing.

Lakewood
El Tapatio 7301 W Alameda Ave., Lakewood, CO 80226-3211 Phone: (303) 239-9872
My favorite Mexican food. Authentic, good prices, Mariachi band on the weekend.

Thornton
Heaven Dragon,120th and Colorado (SW corner)--Pres. Bush's favorite Chinese takeout!!!
Tafolino's Mexican (2 locations, we go to the one in Thornton at Washington and Malley Drive)--don't forget to order flan!

CONNECTICUT
New Haven
Frank Pepe Pizzeria; 157 Wooster St
Sally's Apizza

CRETE
Rethymno
Gaganis, a very picturesque small place with many tables outside in the summer nights, around the old church. Dinner usually starts at 10 and goes on past midnight. He specializes in one thing, omelette with tomato and/or cheese, or omelette with chips in and/or cheese, wonderful mountainous fresh mixed salads and kebabs in pitta. End of Menu. George serves everybody and his mother cooks everything like she does at home. He is on many printed guides and the locals do not change him for anything.

Gazozas, a very respectable taverna with the most beautiful terrace in the summer: you can choose to sit under the vine, loaded with red grapes, or under the giant mulberry tree, or by the pythoi with geraniums and hydrangeas. All grilled meats and dairy products and fresh salads. Lefteris, 3rd generation taverner, grills meat to perfection, and wife Katerina looks after the plants and the kitchen, the son is the maitre d'.

Manolis, a small taverna where Manolis(the owner) will bring you the whole menu and you eat it or leave it; unique for its homemade quality, austere Cretan countryside tastes, and of course loose red wine. You start with fresh leaven bread and fresh goat cheese, then huge chips golden fried in olive oil and tossed with rough sea salt, meat balls that are unique, wild greens (horta) which he collects himself from the nearby hills, boiled and served with olive oil and lemon, fried wild mushrooms, and the meat: lamb with stamnaghathi (a kind of taraxacum) in an egg and lemon sauce, or pork with celery, or whatever traditional meat casserole his wife Eleni has cooked. Total tables: 5 in the winter, 10 in the summer.

Rodinos (Nicos), wonderful kebabs in pitta (the old traditional Greek fast food) and all other kinds of grilled meat, salad, and one cooked meal everyday, where the workers usually have lunch - and I love to taste it whenever I can. All in the traditional old cafe surrounding: neon lights, lots of noise, at the end permanent customers (all of them retired and eternally talking about politics), a loud tv for watching the big matches, and all the trimmings.PM

This message was edited Jul 2, 2008 2:27 PM

Fallbrook, CA(Zone 10b)

California...
Schatt's Bakery in Bishop, California...Hwy 395
Main Street Deli, Merced,California Hwy 99
La Super Rica,Milpas St., Santa Barbara California

Rosamond, CA(Zone 8b)

california: cantors bakery on Fairfax in LA. It is a famous stomp since the old hollywood era. The bakery is an old Eastern European style bakery and everything is sold by weight.
King Taco has absolutely fantastic burritos and it is in Fontana at the California Speedway(Nascar fans).
Rosies BBQ it is in Northridge on Tampa near the mall but not in the parking lot of the mall. They have an original buffet with all kinds of breads and cheeses, salads, slaws and the usual salad bar stuff but they have a drawer full of the best bbq meatballs and chicken and it is very different but good. My friends come down from Sandiego to go there. They also have a regular menue.

Caistor, United Kingdom(Zone 8b)

California.........
Black Bear Diner.......Redding, California..for any of their food...you get lots and it is great...
Cowtown Eatery.......Cottonwood, California....another great place for any meal...lots of food and
great prices..
Peters Bakery.........Slovang, California.......best Danish Bakery in.... well anywhere....

Missouri City, TX

California:

Los Angeles:

Pacific Dining Car - Steaks - not the best part of town, but awsome food, bar, Valet parking.

Colorado:

Denver area:

Aurora Summit -Steaks - perfect.

The Fort - off I 70 - Bison, Elk, Beef, etc. - Champagne Sunday Brunch

Black Forest Inn - Blackhawk - German Hunter style - big portions, home baked breads, fresh butter, German beers on tap.



Oakland, CA(Zone 9b)

California, Bay Area:
San Francisco (downtown): Slanted Door, Boulevard, Ame, Fleur de Lys, Gary Danko, Maya (yes, gourmet Mexican like you've never had), One Market
SF out in the Avenues: Aziza (don’t miss dessert!), Chow, Zuni Café.
Berkeley/Oakland: Chez Panisse, Rivoli, Bay Wolf, Meritage at Claremont Hotel, Five
Napa/Healdsburg: Cyrus, French Laundry, Ad Hoc, Barndiva, Auberge du Soleil
Monterey/Carmel: Passionfish, Montrio, Andre's Bouchee (don't miss the sweetbreads!)
(Note: these are very expensive restaurants, and reservations are best made 1-2 weeks IN ADVANCE, particularly on weekends! San Franciscans eat late; it's easier to get in if you eat before 6pm)

For cheaper, interesting food, you’ll need to travel through the city. Be careful, some areas are not very safe at night. Talk to a hotel concierge for the safest way to get to a particular destination. The local paper, SF Chronicle, is the most powerful food critic influence in the area, and every year they put out both a Top 100 and Top 100 Bargain Bites list:
Top 100 restaurants for 2009: http://www.sfgate.com/food/top100/
Bargain Bites/Cheap Eats 2009: http://www.sfgate.com/food/bargains/
Top 100 wines for 2009: http://www.sfgate.com/wine/top100/

On a budget for lunch, no reservations needed:
San Francisco (downtown):
- Specialty's sandwiches & bakery items at breakfast & lunch, local chain locations at: http://www.specialtys.com/Stores.aspx. They make their breads, which are, to put it simply, outstanding. Soft, moist; you could live on this stuff. Just imagine it heated up and drenched in butter! Yumm........

- Holding Company, Embarcadero Center 2, lunch & dinner. A sports bar with great food totally hidden from most tourists' sight. Find Chevy's and across the way, inside the actual EC2 office building, is the Holding Company. Is the food good? Well, good enough that it's survived over 30 years in the same inconspicuous spot, in an area where there's a lot of other good choices for spending your $$, and many other lunch places have come and gone. Figure the odds, and go. You can shop at the Ferry Building and Embarcadero Center bldgs, then eat at HC for lunch.

- The downtown area has salad bars galore. They're all pretty good. They'll always offer pasta and tuna salads as well as sushi; everything is sold by the pound. Grab a container, go through the line and load up, then pay. Fast and easy.

- For an "old time" treat that's cheaper than the vaunted Garden Court restaurant with better food, go to Maxfield's at the Palace Hotel on Market Street. This grand old building survived the '06 earthquake. Peek inside the Court (which at one time was the horse-drawn carriage entrance but is now a gorgeous space filled with light from the stained glass, made by the now-defunct local SF Glass Works that was a competitor to Louis Comfort Tiffany); but order the perfectly made hamburger on brioche bun at Maxfield's. You can admire the incredibly intricate mosaic tile floor, which is pretty much the last of its kind around here, and the fabulous wood paneling, another local detail long gone from most places. It's not a cheap burger, but they make it exactly the way you like it, the brioche is decadently delicious with the beef, and the old fashioned ambiance makes it worthwhile.

- If you shop, you can eat: the SF Centre, where Nordstrom & Bloomingdale hold sway, has a huge food court and many restaurants of different price levels. On Union Square, both Macy's and Neiman-Marcus have restaurants.

- Believe it or not, there's no longer great Chinese food in San Francisco. Most wealthy, and even middle-class, Chinese long ago moved out of the city to the suburbs. Anybody who tells you different, either knows the owners or is only familiar with the tired stand-bys of restaurant Chinese food. You can try 'dim sum' for lunchtime (the original small plates idea from the Cantonese) at Yank Sing in the Rincon Center - expensive, but the best left in town. If you want to spend a fortune for a Chinese banquet dinner, Tommy Toy's is barely acceptable if you pick the signature pre fixe, six courses, so you can finally try that banquet standby, Peking Duck; but the other food is dismal. Nowadays the inspirational spark is more Southeast Asian and better found at other restaurants. Don't expect great Japanese food, either, although it's adequate. The big Japanese population has always been in Los Angeles, where the sushi is half the price and twice as interesting.

- Try something different -- this is a town where you can eat Moroccan food with your fingers, Turkish home cooking or find out that Ethiopians can indeed cook mean Italian food (it was an Italian protectorate for decades until Haile Selassie made Eritrea part of Ethiopia again). Peruvian food is big too.

- Vegetarianism is a big thing here. All restaurants offer at least one vegetarian dish in each course. Vegan is a little harder to find but there's a number of them around the Bay Area. If you think vegetarian and high-end cuisine don't mix, make a reservation at Millenium on Geary Blvd. (Union Square) or Green's at Fort Mason (on the SF bay, in the Marina neighborhood). It'll be an eye-opener, even for carnivore-lovers.

Food culture is a passion out here. Everyday people know the names of at least six famous local chefs who are NOT on TV. The Ferry Building, now reborn as a high-end food market (they might be inspired by Seattle's Pike Place but the prices are definitely Neiman-Marcus) has shops offering tastings of everything from caviar to tea or cheese. Visit Recciuti for an expensive but luscious taste of Dark Chocolate Heaven with anything they sell. The Mushroom Store will not only sell you dried matsutake, they offer three different kinds of porcini -- each grown in a different country, and smelling exotically different from one another. There's an excellent wine store, and an oyster bar so you can slurp fresh raw local oysters, shelled before your eyes.

The open-air Saturday farmer's market here (behind the Ferry Building) is a mobhouse, full of sights and sounds and the (in good weather) glorious SF Bay in the background. Stand in line for raw oysters from Half Moon Bay, Acme Bakery bread (artisan breads and cheeses are Very Big Things here), grilled local sausages, French Roast coffee from Peet's that will stand your hair on end, exotic fruits and vegetables used by our many ethnic groups. You can walk it off along the Embarcadero, all the way to Pier 39.

Restaurants in the "tourist area" -- defined as Pier 39 to Fisherman's Wharf/Cannery/Ghirardelli -- are not great but adequate for a one-time meal hit. The only good restaurant is Ana Mandara, an expensive but lovely Vietnamese fusion restaurant with actor Don Johnson (remember him?) as one of the investors; but the food's better at Slanted Door as the locals know, which makes Slanted Door a lot harder to get into than Ana Mandara.

Be aware that SF is a walking town and taxis are hard to find, expensive and they DO NOT CRUISE. Program in the local cab company #s into your cell, or ask the hostess or maitre d' to call for you. At commute times you will wait a while to get a cab. If you are downtown, go to one of the big hotels; that's where the cabs line up. Take public transportation if at all possible. Parking is difficult, if not impossible, in San Francisco. In September 2006 there was an actual murder over parking in the city; "parking rage" is very common here. Parking garages are expensive but the best alternative if you absolutely must drive. One-way streets will make getting to an address VERY difficult at times; be prepared to pay $$ for valet parking.


This message was edited Aug 8, 2010 10:13 AM

Burlingame, CA(Zone 9a)

California:

Laguna Beach - Javiers - Just the best Mexican I have ever eaten. No tacos here. Fantastic steaks, amazing marguerita's. Pricey but definitely worth it.

Newport Beach - Gulfstream - Another great restaurant. I don't know how to describe the style of food but they have steak, seafood, chicken etc. The Trout Dip and the Short Ribs in Honey-Mustard Sauce are the winners here. The menu doesn't change much and I've always had great meals here.

Newport Beach - Lavantina's - Pizza. Just great pizza! Cheap at around $6 a pie (which are huge), fast, and always tasty. The best they make is just a plain old cheese pizza.

Denver Metro Area, CO(Zone 5a)

Colorado:
Heaven Dragon (Denver/Thornton) 120th and Colorado (SW corner)--Pres. Bush's favorite Chinese takeout!!!
Helga's German Restaurant (Denver/Aurora) 6th and Peoria--great, authentic fare.
Tafolino's Mexican (2 locations, we go to the one in Thornton at Washington and Malley Drive)--don't forget to order flan!

and for the sheer fun of it (the food isn't noteworthy)--Casa Bonita at Colfax and Pierce in Denver (cliff divers, puppet shows, caricature artist & more for the kids).

Livermore, CA(Zone 9a)

My DH and I love to drive to San Francisco to eat at Kuleto's in Union Square. They have an exhibition counter where you can watch the chefs in action as you enjoy your dinner. We have been going there for so long that the chefs know us and talk to us while they are working.

For lighter fair we love to go to PF Changs. The two locations that I know of in the Bay Area are in Walnut Creek in the Broadway Plaza area and at Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton off Foothill Rd.

Fallbrook, CA(Zone 10b)

We've passed this place for a couple of years and finally stopped yesterday....wow.....Croissant French Bakery in San Clemente at 820 S. El Camino Real. Freshest croissants we've ever had...chocolate croissants, marzipan croissants, custard croissants,streudel, everything was wonderful. ( I know 'cause we bought a lot!) I also expected them to be pricey and I don't know if it was just this one day, but everything was 3 for $3.75...and these were large. It's our new favorite place and right on our way every time we head up the coast.
Sherry

Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

mtnmama: is Little Pepina's still over in North Denver? My mom and I used to go there when I was a kid (back before the Earth's crust cooled), and the food was great. My favorite was the "bowtie soup".

Logansport, IN(Zone 5a)

CALIFORNIA - Santa Barbara

This is the original Sambo's restaurant. Beachside dining, breakfast and lunch only, 7 am to 2:30 p.m. Great food, good prices and a fantastic view.

The Original Sambo's
216 West Cabrillo Blvd
Santa Barbara, CA
805-965-3269

Logansport, IN(Zone 5a)

COLORADO - Englewood

Family fun and dining in a big red barn. Don't wear your favorite tie... it will be cut off while you eat. There is a two story slide, country music and dancing.

Trail Dust Steak House
7101 S Clinton St
Englewood, CO 80112
303-790-2420

North Tazewell, VA

Virginia: CUZS, Route 460 Pounding Mill, Virginia. (276) 964-9014 Great food. Not open all year. Love their big juicy steaks.

North Carolina: Barbecue Center, 900 North Main Street, Lexington, NC. (336) 248-4633. After I eat, if I can hold it, I have one of their gigantic banana splits.

This message was edited Jul 28, 2007 8:19 AM

Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

Monterey/Pacific Grove CA: Vivolo's Chowder House

Moss Landing, CA: Phil's Seafood

Northern California, CA(Zone 9b)

I have to reread this thread. What a fun thread. My husband and I love to go out and eat.

Ame - went once and it was good
Ana Mandara - went twice and it was good.
Aqua - I need to go!
Boulevard - - have gone many times and love it. Very consistent. It is not as pricey as the top tier restaurants but the food was almost as good.

Fleur de Ly's - Been twice and both times it was not worth the price.

Gary Danko - been many times and love it. Going this month with my son who also loves it.

Michael Mina - is now our favorite SF restaurant since they got their new chef in January. Their house champagne is the best. Yum Yum.

Slanted Door fun to got to for on the wharf. They also have a take out store front in the Ferry Building too which is fun. We get take out dinner here when we go to Hog Island for oysters which is also in the Ferry Building.

Hog Island Oysters, the Ferry Building -
http://www.hogislandoysters.com/v2/template1.php?pageId=0&sessionID=CZi4WMMvZPQo9a7S
the oysters can be sitting too long opened I have noticed. We do enjoy sitting outside there though and eating some oysters and drinking a nice bottle of wine as we look out at the bay but if you are really into oysters, take a drive out Hog Island and plan a picnic at their site (The farm.). They have the absolute best oysters there.
http://www.hogislandoysters.com/v2/template1.php?pageId=1&sessionID=CZi4WMMvZPQo9a7S

Chapeau http://bistrochapeau.ypguides.net/ a really cute place with good French food and a fun, fun chef. Not very expensive, get reservations. Great service. Can be noisy. Small.

Delfina has GREAT Italian food. Not very expensive, get reservations. A small and very noisy place but the food makes it worth it. It also has the best bread I have ever had in any restaurant, made by Tartine next door. I understand that is one of the best California bakeries. I have it on my list to eat there too. http://www.delfinasf.com/


I will add more later. We go out all the time. We eat way too much, way too often. We are foodies of the most piggish order.

Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

I'll add this one to the San Jose California list: Habana Cuba Restaurant
http://www.998cuba.com/

San Marcos, CA

San Marcos, Calif. We are surrounded by wonderful restaurants in this area, but I would especially like to mention Applebee's. They have a wonderful lunch, Mon.-Fri. only, for only $5.99/$6.99. I think the offer is for taking 2 items of your choice from a list, for the above prices. In my opinion the best choices are the Asian Salad and Broccoli Cheese Soup, which are delicious. I would assume the same menu is in effect in all Applebee's everywhere, but not sure.

Northern California, CA(Zone 9b)

Oh imapigeon, I can't wait to try your Cuban restaurant. I have never eaten at one before. I have always wanted to try a Cuban sandwich. I wonder if I can get Sue (Calif_Sue) to go with me during a day of nursery hopping!

We got back from weekend in Yountville. We went to Redd which was excellent.
http://www.reddnapavalley.com/

We had been encouraged to try it there since we can't even get French Laundry to answer the phone in 5 years of trying to get in there. We so enjoyed our meal there and it did not break the bank as some of these places can. A very simple but elegant room and the wait staff was excellent. The next night we went next door to Ad Hoc, another Thomas Keller restaurant. We were shocked at the home cooked quality ( as in how I cook - poorly) of their food. They served a tri tip which was so tough I could not swallow it. And cow corn, way past the tender stage. They were touting their homemade mozzarella balls (made fresh for each customer we were told) and I have got to say they were tough too. I again was shocked at the quality. For dessert, ice cream sundaes like you would have at home, nothing special. We were so disappointed. And shocked Thomas Keller would let food like that be served under his name. It is a one menu place so if you do not like what they have, too bad. I think it was $45 a person with the wine extra. It was not worth the $45.

Another fun thing we did was go to the Mumms Napa
http://mummnapa.com/
for champagne tasting. It was a lovely hour sitting and looking out at the Napa Valley. The champagne was great and we got sucked into becoming members. I will say the ride there was very pleasant also.

Thumbnail by Kell
Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

Kell, Habana has the Cuban sandwich on their lunch menu. I haven't had them there, but their lechon (the marinated, slow-roasted pork that is one of the ingredients) is to die.

If you and Sue decide to come down this-a-way for a nursery crawl, let me know and maybe we can meet for a mini-RU! FYI, Monterey Bay Master Gardeners are having their annual tour of 6 gardens and a plant sale in Santa Cruz area on Sat 9/8. Let me know if you're interested, and I'll forward you the details.

Northern California, CA(Zone 9b)

Oh shoot, I am interested! I am going to LA to a begonia convention for the week and think I am coming back that Friday so it may not be possible. But sure let me know and I will hold on to the info.

I will let you know if we go there. I have another friend in the area I do nurseries with too and I maybe will go with her. Habana sounds so good.

Here is a picture of looking out over the water to the Bay bridge from the Ferry Building. A fun place to visit!!! Referred to in my Post #3853549

Thumbnail by Kell
Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

Let's see if I can save this scanned doc here...yep---looks like it works if I save it as a jpeg file!

Thumbnail by imapigeon
Phoenix, AZ

http://www.tengu.com/
On Ocean in Santa Monica. An absolutely unbelievable New Japanese dining experience at the sushi bar. The most unique experience I've had and I think its possibly all about timing, your sushi chef and the fish monger. 3 times in 4 days and it was unique and wonderful each time . Wonderful sake selection. Fresh fish like you would not believe and presentation with absolute exquiste perfection. Very expensive. I LOVED that place. Very high end ala LA but worth it.

Northern California, CA(Zone 9b)

Oh I love sushi, Aguane. I now want to go to Santa Monica!!

Thanks Imapigeon. I will go to their website to see where the sale is and where to get tickets the day of the sale.

Denver, CO(Zone 5b)

El Tapatio 7301 W Alameda Ave., Lakewood, CO 80226-3211 Phone: (303) 239-9872

My favorite Mexican food. Authentic, good prices, Mariachi band on the weekend.

Sacramento, CA

Northern California:

Nevada City
Citronee Bistro
http://www.citroneebistro.com/index.html

FABULOUS food in a quirky small restaurant; choose the intimate tiered seating area below street level. The food is all good, but the best is when you let the chef suprise you with a multiple-course meal of their choosing. You can say if there are ingredient/s you don't like, and they'll go from there. Each item is unique and incredible. There is actually a lot more food than it sounds like, because they add special little tastes between the courses. For instance, once we had a tell shot glass filled with champagne, a tiny ball of lime sorbet, chili flakes and fresh mint. Wild combination, but WONDERFUL! Another between-course taste was a tall shot glass full of the most perfect, sublime potato-leek soup I have ever tasted.

You can also have them pour wines they have chosen to suit each course.

The owner, chef and wait staff are all great, and they clearly love what they do. My husband and I went there for dinner the night we got married, and have used every possible excuse to do it since!

Oakland, CA(Zone 9b)

LA - the Burbank/Glendale area, near Griffith Park: Canele - an incredible French neighborhood bistro that serves dinner and weekend brunch. Both were outstanding and very reasonable (by our pricey CA standards, that is!). Don't miss the duck hash with fried duck egg and pecan sticky bun at brunch.

SF, Richmond district (within easy driving distance of Golden Gate Park and Legion of Honor museum) - Aziza. Nuevo-Moroccan food that is absolutely marvelous, inspired and creative. Chef/owner Mourad Lahlou and pastry chef Melissa Chou are an inventive pair. Be sure to order plenty of appetizers; entrees are small-sized but beautifully done. Wines are well-chosen to go with the food, too. Street parking is difficult; get there early to snag a space in the small 20-car city lot on Geary between 21st & 22nd Ave's., a few doors away from the restaurant.

Phoenix, AZ

Amazing to look back and see that many of the restaurants I listed have closed... ;-((

Denver, CO(Zone 5b)

imapigeon: I live in North Denver. Little Pepina's closed a year or so ago. I don't know what's in the space now.
The area is starting to get quite trendy, so if it hasn't been torn down and turned into lofts already, something will probably take it's place soon. We have so many good Mexican restaurants to choose from in the neighborhood though.

Oakland, CA(Zone 9b)

Monterey/Carmel March 2010:

Just finished 3 days of eating and walking, then eating some more!

The best:
Parker-Lusseau Patisserie
3 locations in Monterey: 539 Hartnell St., 731 Munras Ave., Ryan Ranch @40 Ragsdale Drive.
www.parker-lusseaupastries.com
Phenomenal, rich, luscious pastries. Divine croissants that even Parisiens swoon over. Light, ethereal quiches that redeem this tired old stand-by. If you stop anywhere in Monterey, do NOT miss stopping in at least one store. Preferably multiple times!

Montrio Bistro
414 Calle Principal, Monterey. Website: www.montrio.com
Exciting bistro food from Chef Tony Baker. Lovely bldg, fabulous waitstaff. Not everything's a winner, but it's all skillfully done and creatively executed. When they hit, they hit big. Great small plates menu and kitchen is happy to split portions for two - we tried a seafood risotto made Spanish style that was absolutely incredible.

Bistro Moulin
867 Wave St., Monterey Website: www.bistromoulin.com
Looking for a non-tourist restaurant with excellent French food one block from the Monterey Aquarium? Look no further than this tiny modest bistro with six tables in one small room and five more in a second room equally small next door. This is NOT where you take little children. This is where you and your spouse come to splurge on amazing French bistro fare and a glass (or two) of excellent wine. Even a tourist will feel like a local here. The fact that you'll feel this way in the midst of the tawdry souvenir shops along Cannery Row makes this place even sweeter. Inexpensive lunch entrees but dinner is more expensive (but the size of dinner entrees is very large to make up for it). Service can be slow, they are staffed thinly but everyone's friendly.

Andre’s Bouchée Bistro and Wine Bar
Mission & Ocean, Carmel-by-the-Sea Website: http://www.andresbouchee.com
Extremely expensive, even for Carmel. Service amateurish. But Andre Lemaire is one heckuva classic French chef, even if not Cordon Bleu-trained. His sweetbreads blew away every other version we have ever had, anywhere, anyplace. Sommelier is a little over-aggressive but knows his wines very well. C'est magnifique!

Culinary Center of Monterey
625 Cannery Row, Monterey Website: www.culinarycenterofmonterey.com
We had no idea there was a cooking school in Monterey. Bet you didn't either? They serve lunch every Thurs/Fri. Sometimes they have enough students to muster for dinner on Thurs/Fri as well, but you shold call and ask first. Large, lovely dining room, spectacular open-air patio with four tables looking over the little beach next to the Spindrift Inn and the view across the Bay to Santa Cruz. For a mere $10/person we got a choice of 11 different types of soup - as much or as little as we liked, any kind, unlimited refills - and a basket of mixed breads. You'll be served by one of the students who cooked your meal, BTW.

The Chart House
444 Cannery Row, Monterey Website: www.chart-house.com
This is one of the classic old 'stand-bys' in Monterey. It is part of an upscale corporate chain nationwide; okay food, nice surroundings, very good service, but don't expect the creative individuality of Montrio or Andre's Bouchee. If you pick carefully through the menu you can dine fairly well, and this is the type of place you can take "meat and potatoes" relatives who are leery of foods they can't recognize anyway. CH bakes its own breads, which are very good. The bacon-dressed chopped spinach salad is excellent and big enough for 3 people to share as a starter. The vaunted Crab-Mango-Avocado stack is also quite large, a substantial appetizer. After that, stick to the prime rib and skip any seafood. It's better elsewhere. Desserts are the usual boring over-sweet Cheesecake Factory types.

Skip entirely: Forge in the Forest, Carmel. This had to be one of the worst restaurants we have ever eaten at in five decades. The food was terrible, awful bar food; maybe if you were very drunk (this is a serious drinking bar) it would be tolerable. It's a real shame, because they have hands-down the nicest outdoor patio seating area in the entire area.

Oakland, CA(Zone 9b)

I d-mailed Marylyn to ask her to update some of my recommendations which she had summarized in her original post, at the very top. However, I haven't heard from her and no changes have been made.

I'll summarize my changes here as of Dec 2010. They are alphabetical by city and then by restaurant name:

CALIFORNIA:
Albany (East Bay):
1) Nix on Mangia Mangia - has gone seriously downhill

Berkeley (East Bay):
1) Chez Panisse (note: Café only) – did NOT like our recent 12/2010 dinner. Food was skillfully prepared, but everything was boring and uncreative, as if nobody really cares any longer. The four restaurants listed below offered us much superior dining. Was very surprised at how uninteresting this meal was.
2) FIVE, Hotel Shattuck – stylish, high quality comfort food with outstanding waitstaff
3) Gather – Flexitarian, don’t miss the vegan ‘charcuterie’ which even carnivores will enjoy. The specials don’t seem as good as the menu’s roast chicken and pizza, however.
4) La Note – Noisy and crowded, but excellent traditional French favorites and massive CA salads
5) Riva Cucina – deleted off our list. Cost-cutting has taken a terrible toll on the quality. You're better off going to Cafe Rouge or Zut!, both on Fourth St.

Healdsburg:
1) Cyrus – Loved our first dinner years ago, but went recently (Oct 2010) and wasn’t entirely pleased. It’s now very fusion – owner Douglas Keane is hot on Japanese food – so you’re paying a lot of $$$$ for a tiny piece of pork teriyaki on an overdecorated plate. But the bread rolls are terrific, possibly the best in the US...and slathered with that housemade goat butter, are worth the carb loading. But who’s making those weird, oversugared desserts?

Sebastopol:
1) K&L Bistro - a better meal than Cyrus and one third the price. Just a casual, modest French bistro, but they care about what they present and the evening's special of that old fav, Crepes Suzette, was spectacular, the best version we've ever had in 45 yrs of dining out.

Sonoma:
1) Depot Hotel Restaurant: Just off the Square, away from the zillions of tourists, is this charming little Cal-Italian restaurant. Eat by the tiny pool outdoor when the weather's nice, and it's an idyllic setting for that perfectly deep-fried burrata and amazing pork tenderloin salad.
2) La Salette – Brazilian-Portugese food offers a terrific feijoada in a charming atmosphere. Don’t miss the caldo verde soup if they have it.

Penngrove (between Santa Rosa and Petaluma):
1) Yanni's Sausage Grill - Blink and you'll miss it! Very tiny storefront but great housemade Greek sausages (7 kinds that Yanni has invented himself) and explosive 'Greek chili' that my DH is delirious about. There are 4 seats - yes, just 4 - so plan to take it to go and eat elsewhere. You can buy his frozen sausages packaged to go.

Lafayette (East Bay, Contra Costa County):
1) Artisan – Wins over La Note/Berkeley by a nose. Upscale, quieter, with a great wine list and amazing French-inspired cooking that’s almost as good as Andre’s Bouchee/Carmel.

Monterey:
To add to our previous winners of Andre’s Bouchee, Montrio, and Bistro Moulin, we add:
1) Passionfish – sustainable fish only are offered, as well as a couple of good meat dishes. The excellent cooking and good service are a bargain. Note when we went, they did not offer coffee, only specialty teas.

Napa:
1) Auberge du Soleil (actually Rutherford), especially if you can get a patio table, is a superb place to lunch although very expensive
2) Bottega (actually Yountville), Michael Chiarello’s restaurant is reflective of the man, generous and welcoming. You feel as if he’s actually cooking for you, which is rare from a celebrity chef who isn't actually doing the cooking.
3) Bouchon (also Yountville), the only easy way to eat Thomas Keller's food (owner of French Laundry, Per Se, Ad Hoc, and several others). Fun decor, great service and wonderful food.

Oakland:
Finally our home town is coming into its own! Some of the winners are:
1) Barlata – Spanish tapas as good as any in San Francisco. No reservations so go early.
2) Bocanova – better for dinner than lunch, but creative Latin American fusion
3) Montclair Bistro – quiet, serene dining room with rich French sauces and perfect waitstaff
4) Pican – upscale Southern with generous portions of comfort food, but surprisingly, SR24 down the street makes better fried chicken
5) Pizziaolo – no reservations jam it up at peak times, but they make an excellent gourmet pizza
6) SR24 – The best fried chicken in Oakland, but you have to put up with rock-hard seats and an enthusiastic but very amateur waitstaff. Great food, though.
7) Wood Tavern – Solid, excellent bistro food.
8) Bakesale Betty - Open for breakfast and lunch in two modest locations, and the chicken pot pie is amazing. Lines are out the door so be prepared, they can sell out early.

Pleasanton:
1) Wente Winery – it’s way out of town, and you’re likely to miss it the first time. But hidden in that drab industrial compound is a charming dining room surrounded by gardens, with the most incredible smoked pork chop you have ever tasted. Tender as butter and incredibly juicy!

San Francisco:
Note: Aqua and Jeanty at Jack's, in my previous post, are now closed.
Not recommended: Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, Eclipse Cafe, has gone downhill.
Not recommended: Michael Mina moved his namesake restaurant to the old Aqua space, and the prices are stratospheric, the food much less so. Some of it was good, but some of it was oversalted. Pretentious and there are better restaurants.

Always check the SFChronicle's annual "100 Best Restaurants" list at http://www.sfgate.com/food/top100/.
New additions to our list:
1) One Market – under Chef Mark Dommen, a carnivore’s delight, but don't miss the amazing smoked trout appetizer.
2) Perbacco – Terrific Piedmontese small plates with top notch service. Not quite to Boulevard’s faultless consistency, but very close.
3) Prospect, Boulevard's sister restaurant, is our new love. Noisier and larger, but the food is terrific, even better than Boulevard. Don't miss the veal chop if it's on the menu, absolutely amazing. You can eat lightly at either Prospect or Boulevard with salad and a fish entree, but if you're hungry the carnivore dishes are what's best. The quail starter was phenomenal, the first time in 40 yrs I've had quail that was juicy and delicate, perfectly cooked.

This message was edited Sep 1, 2011 8:45 AM

Hemet, CA(Zone 9b)

Must not miss Phillipe's in L.A. Think it's on Alameda diagonal across from Union station. Very, very best french dip sandwiches of all verities. Pickles beets to die for been there 60 plus years. A must go to place in downtown L.A.

Mint Hill, NC(Zone 7a)

Conneticut:

The Inn at Woodstock Hill, Woodstock Reservations needed

Still River Cafe, Eastford Reservations needed

The Harvest, Pomfret reservations

The Vanilla Bean, Pomfret

The Court House, Putnam

Phylis's Bakery, Putam
Not necessarily a restaurant but she makes the most devine pastries they are not to be missed

Frank Pepe, New Haven

Todd English's Tuscany at The Moheghan Casino


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