Vega Cafe on Folsom Street, San Francisco
Seeing a fire engine roll to a stop makes me think something not so good is happeinging.  Is there a fire?  Walking up to Vega Cafe on Folsom Street I saw the big red fire engine roll up in front of the cafe.  No problem -- It's reasurring to know that our San Francisco's finest fire fighters appreciate a good cup of Blue Bottle coffee! 
Shanghai Dumpling Shop - Millbrae
Back in April 2011, I wrote about "little dragon buns", xiao long bao and where to find them in San Francisco.  Well, now I'm recommending you drive south near the San Francisco Airport to Millbrae to try the xiao long bao at the Shanghai Dumpling Shop at 455 Broadway in downtown Millbrae.

Definitely worth the drive, they are the best I've had in recent memory.
Sometimes, places just stick in your mind.  For me, Brompton Quarter Cafe is one of them.  I happened upon it after visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  In an old building but with large corner windows, it has a stylish interior with causual dining upstairs and a more formal dining room downstairs. 

I liked their fresh peppermint tea and made a point of going back on our next visit, but alas they were out of peppermint!

PS - Happy Birthday Katie!
Park Chow
Park Chow in the Inner Sunset looks as though it might have been there forever.  Close to UCSF and Golden Gate Park, it has a laid back nostalgic air as though it were a survivor of 1960's.  

The food is mostly straight forward American food with several Asian offerings.  It's been a family favorite for years.  On "warmer" days you can sit comfortably in the front entrance patio or on the roof-top deck.  Both have heaters to fend off the chill.  Prices are modest.  Food is good.

At first glance, you might think this was taken at a winery in the California wine country.  The setting seems bucolic, but the photo was actually taken in the middle of San Francisco at the outdoor cafe of the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park.  The new museum design by the Swiss architectural firm of Herzog and De Meuron is a dramatic change from its previous stogy incarnation.   Its dimpled copper sheathing has weathered now and the museum seems to have settled-in. 

On nice days, the outdoor cafe seating is popular and the dramatic overhang frames the sky and space nicely.  On rainy days you can even park in the underground garage and enter the museum directly without getting wet.
almond cake at Chez TJ
If you know you're going to a Michelin rated restaurant you probably would arrive with high expectations -- fine silverware, china, exquisitely prepared food, and impeccable service. I, however, didn't know about this restaurant so it was a great surprise.   Chez TJ is just off Castro, the main shopping street in downtown Mountain View in a former Victorian house. 

We were welcomed to the table with a glass of champagne or prosecco.  There were two menu options, a four course prix fixe menu as well as a more elaborate tasting menu.  Both had optional wine pairings.  The food was delicious, carefully executed showing classic french techniques  and beautifully presented.  The pace -- perhaps a little too leisurely.  All in all a nice experience and a good option for a special event.  The restaurant is not accessible and will be difficult for people who are not able to manage stairs.  There is  parking available nearby.
Sunday Brunch at Outerlands Cafe - way out in the outer Sunset on Judah Street is a real treat.  There was already a crowd of people waiting for the 10:00 AM opening.  Luckily we made the first seating.  Individually dripped coffee seems to be popular in all the cafes these days and at Outlands, they individually drip a pot of coffee for you using the mid-century modern classic Chemex coffee carafe. 

I'm told there is a relationship between Tartine Bakery and Outerlands and it shows.  Their bread is great and they also sell it by the loaf while supplies last.
la Bicyclette
la Bicyclette Dining Room
la Bicyclette in Carmel is located on the corner of Dolores and 7th Street a block off the main street of Carmel. They noted for their wood ovens where they bake bread and pizza's. They also have a cool hand cranked charcuterie slicing machine that they just got from Italy. The butternut squash pizza with arugula and freshly sliced ham was terrific.

La Boulange - Burlingame
La Boulange is my favorite bakery and I wrote about the Pine Street location last June.  In that blog, I complemented the designers who were able to create an authentic looking "old" French bakery that didn't feel phony.

Walking down Burlingame Avenue in Downtown Burlingame last week, I saw how they do it.  These craftsmen were working quickly for a scheduled grand opening the following week. Notice the overlay painting technique of the exterior blue paint, where the under-painted light orange paint is allowed to peek through occasionally.  After the paint is dry, they apply a paste wax over the surface to protect the paint.  The sign painter was carefully delineating the letters above.  Click the images below to see the sign painter and the waxing of the exterior.  I hope the pastries here are as good a my local Pine Street location!
Gahm Mi Oak Restaurant - NYC
Sul Lang Tang is a Korean soup of beef bones boiled carefully until the stock turns white. Whenever we visit Los Angeles, we always order Sul Lang Tang as San Francisco doesn't seem to have a Korean Restaurant that serves a good one.

Gahm Mi Oak Restaurant in Manhattan's Koreatown on 37th Street near  Broadway -- and right around the corner from the Empire State Building -- serves a superior Sul Lang Tang.  Chris has  declared it perhaps better than our Los Angeles favorite.  The intense beef flavored soup with slices of beef comes steaming hot.  Season it yourself at the table from large bowls of salt and slices of green onions.  This is a dish that isn't easy to attempt at home.  One the surface it is easy, but getting the right flavor and color seems mysterious to me.  When I went by the kitchen, the stove seemed to be a clay- like structure.  They wouldn't let me take a picture so I guess it is their "secret".