By Emma Krasov. Photography by Yuri Krasov
Donning masks, and huddled together in their shorts and Ts in San Francisco’s signature chilly summer, random tourists in family groups and couples are here, at the Fisherman’s Wharf, on the Embarcadero, in the Mission, and across the Bay, in Oakland—braving the COVID-19 scare, carrying hand sanitizer, looking for empty seats at the outdoor restaurants to get their fill of our trademark dishes.
Meeting the growing demand, there’s a supply of the San Francisco Bay Area fare–healthy in more than one sense. Local restaurants deliver not just excellently executed popular treats, but also make diners happy by taking and enforcing all the reassuring safety measures from social distancing to constant surface cleaning to equipping their staff with personal protection gear.
Boudin Bakery, the iconic sourdough bread institution and the oldest continually operating business in San Francisco, has opened its new outdoor dining experience, the Boudin Summer Grill & Crab Fest, a waterfront popup at Fisherman’s Wharf, featuring our incomparable sweet meaty Dungeness crab cooked all possible ways, and a substantial menu of mouth-watering foods prepared in the company’s new wood-fired pizza oven by the Executive Chef Misael Reyes and his hard-working team.
Seated under bright red umbrellas, far apart and separated from the street by potted cypress plants, guests indulge in fresh crab, sourdough crust pizzas, pork barbeque ribs in housemade sauce, salmon and chicken sandwiches and plates, heirloom tomato panzanella salad, and classic hamburgers, complemented by specialty cocktails, wine, beer, craft cocktails and the eatery’s legendary clam chowder in sourdough bread.
The pet-friendly open air restaurant provides water bowls for pooches.
The Boudin Summer Grill & Crab Fest is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Saturday to 10 p.m.) and is located at 160 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133. Call (415) 351-5561 or visit http://www.bistroboudin.com/ and http://www.bistroboudin.com/summer-grill-crab-fest/
On the other side of the Bay, on the waterfront of Oakland, The Kitchen at Rocky’s Market in the up-and-coming Brooklyn Basin neighborhood serves an array of dishes prepared with fresh organic ingredients from its own upscale specialty market in the historic 9th Avenue Terminal Building.
In her delicious cuisine, chef/co-owner Corinne Kinczel uses locally-sourced organic produce, artisanal products from local brands, and delivers breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus to the new spacious outdoor patio that seats 75 and offers unobscured views of gorgeous sail boats gliding right past the restaurant tables.
The menu is changing seasonally, with the ebb and flow of local farmers’ organic crops, but while the summer lasts, try some amazing treats, like Poached Asparagus Salad with roasted wild mushrooms, preserved Meyer lemon vinaigrette, shaved Midnight Moon cheese from Cypress Grove creamery, and mixed greens, or Grilled Summer Corn Salad with baby heirloom tomatoes, arugula, basil vinaigrette and housemade bacon. For pure decadence, add to it grilled smoked paprika prawns topped with salsa verde.
The finger-licking Half Roasted Herb Chicken with chimichurri and grilled lemon is only rivaled by the fork-tender house-smoked Sticky Baby Back Ribs—both dishes rather suitable for the patio dining in this open-air, yet cozy, fully covered and heated space.
A fun dessert of fresh berries and freshly baked cookies rounds up a great meal. The market, and therefore the restaurant carries a vast selection of craft beer, local and international wines, hard cider and sake.
Should you wisely decide to shop at Rocky’s Market, take a moment to marvel at the modernist-style mural, based on a 1930s photo of the 9th Avenue Terminal interior. It was commissioned by the owners Corinne Kinczel and Brady Bellis, and as a result of still competition, designed by Vincent Truong, an eleventh-grader from the Oakland School for the Arts.
The Kitchen at Rocky’s Market is open daily for breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is located at 1440 Leimert Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602. Call (510) 482-2474 or visit https://rockysmarket.com/rockys-brooklyn-basin
Curio in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission district is a happy place on the newly car-free stretch of Valencia Street, designated specifically for the restaurant row’s outdoor seating. With extensive open air real estate of 3000 sq. ft. and three different areas for spaced out tables and benches marked with yellow tape for clear distancing guidelines the restaurant accommodates around 100 guests on the sidewalk, in a covered patio, also allocated for the nightly life music performances, and a back patio decorated with potted plants, music posters and string lights.
A comprehensive list of craft cocktails, developed by Patricia Gums, Director of Restaurant Operations and Event Sales and Kylie Durrett, Lead Bartender, is wonderfully paired with a shareable menu of Bites & Greens and Sandwiches created by the Consulting Chef Jason Raffin and Chef Nick Peters.
Try spicy-smooth Chupacabra cocktail made with tequila, mezcal, passion fruit, lime, habanero, curacao, yellow chartreuse, grapefruit bitters, and cinnamon. If you crave something punchy and citrusy (as opposed to sweet and cloying) with the characteristic smokiness of mezcal and sour-sweet notes of passion fruit—this is a drink for you.
Equally enticing is Sphinx (bourbon, Arkansas black applejack, pear liqueur, Swedish Punsch, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters), but hey, all other colorful tasty drinks are also curiously inventive and deeply satisfying, like a tropical rum-based Banshee, bright tequila-based Jackelope, or vodka-grapefruit-raspberry-mint-lime-seltzer-peach-aperitif—truly poetic Mermaid.
Order a box of Curio Jacks—a signature treat of roasted nuts, seeds, and salted caramel popcorn, easily consumed while waiting for your plates, delivered by the efficient servers smiling behind their masks.
Dungeness Crab Stuffed Mushrooms is an easy winner on the starters menu, a crunchy delight especially enjoyable with the above-mentioned cocktails.
Coca-cola Braised Ribs are a standout on the menu, available in two styles, American and Vietnamese—the latter marinated with preserved orange nuoc cham sauce and Vietnamese seven spice and served with fresh herbs and pickled carrots.
The American Burger on a toasted potato chip sesame bun with the housemade Curio sauce is served with a side of lettuce, red onion and pickles.
Smoked Pork Sandwich can be additionally aided by Katsu Sharp Cheddar and a side of Cruciferous Kimchi, a house-pickled delight.
No matter what drinks and food you order, the good time is guaranteed at this unique San-Francisco bar/eatery, creative in its cuisine and bar fare as well as in its approach to the constantly changing circumstances of our current pandemic-influenced reality.
Curio is open Wednesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., on Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. then 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is located next to The Chapel, the Mission’s most prominent performance venue at 775 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110. Call (415) 551-7306 or visit https://curiobarsf.com/