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When Ryan Farr launched 4505 Meats in 2009, he very quickly found a following for his excellent bacon-filled hot dogs, both in his online store and at a stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market.
The opening of this chic cocktail den went a long way toward helping Haight Street shed its hippie image. The bar is the focus, with inspired drinks such as the Promissory Note, made with tequila, ginger liqueur, honey and a dash of absinthe. But the bar food is also excellent: beef tongue sliders topped with fried green tomato pickles and horseradish aioli.
Chef Traci Des Jardins, owner of powerhouse Cal-French restaurant Jardinière, looks to her Mexican-born grandmother for inspiration at this tiny place, which specializes in Mexican street foods like carnitas tacos and aguas frescas as well as homey dishes like spicy meatball soup.
Now a mini chain, brothers Joel and Duncan Gott’s original diner on Highway 29 in Napa Valley gained fame for its outrageously good burgers made with Niman Ranch beef, hand-scooped milk shakes and cool retro-styling.
Anyone can order the off-the-menu Epoisses burger with onion jam and arugula. Sommelier Matt Straus recommends it with vin jaune, an unusual oxidized white wine from the Jura region of France. “Because of the subtle, funky cheese in our burger, the jury seems to be out as to whether it's best with red or white," says Straus.
Until recently, the only way to get almond wood–smoked kurobuta pork belly from Sneaky's was by delivery. Now Sneaky's has a permanent home at Hayes Valley's Rebel bar, and that superrich pork belly and Carolina-style pulled pork are served nightly until 10 p.m.
Heidi Gibson was an engineer with a degree from MIT. Then she won the national Grilled Cheese Invitational and opened this shop in the city's multimedia gulch. Tech geeks come for well-constructed sandwiches like the Mousetrap, with cheddar, havarti and Monterey Jack on artisanal sourdough.
“Eating a big Reuben at New York City’s Carnegie Deli at age 11 was a pivotal moment for me,” recalls chef Dennis Leary. At his counter in a former cigar shop, Leary personally assembles all eight sandwiches on the letter-board menu, from marinated yellowtail with avocado and fennel to his very own Reuben on focaccia.
The excellent ice cream shop blends local Straus Family Creamery products into amazing flavors like honey-lavender, balsamic-strawberry and salted caramel. Almost everything is made from scratch, including the marshmallows for the Rocky Road.