Take a breather from back to school shopping and schlepping and explore comfort food from other regions and cultures–it's one of the best ways to really dig in around the Bay Area.
At Alegio Chocolate, one of the most charming food personalities I’ve met (ever) is a man named Panos Panagos, who happily greets and eats with guests, and often can be found guiding them through the ins and outs of making and tasting chocolate. I have never seen his energy flag–maybe there’s something to Panagos’s noted daily consumption of fine dark chocolate, from nibs to bars. Panagos and his equally friendly partner Robbin Everson are expanding their passionate pursuit of chocolate with their second store, now open in Palo Alto. And it's not just a store–there's also a factory. Alegio is one of the few places you can pick up chocolate bars from Enric Rovira (a Barcelona chocolate artist) and Claudio Corallo—no vanilla or soy lecithin is used, which leads to a purer and more concentrated chocolate experience. For those who have toured TCHO in San Francisco and the now-shuttered Scharffen Berger chocolate facilities in Berkeley, Alegio has something of a sweet fix: there are tours available for a nominal fee. Panagos advises calling at least one week in advance to set up a tour. 522 Bryant St., Palo Alto 650-324-4500.
For filling Filipino fare that is easy on the wallet, look no further than the newly opened Plaza Rizal in Daly City. Here, classic dishes start with lumpia then venture to silog, which comes with fried eggs, garlic rice, tomato, and cucumber. Plan on draping that napkin over your shirt like a bib before digging in here. Their homemade beef burger silog boasts nicely formed and flavored patties with mushroom gravy, a sauce which definitely suits the typically foggy weather for this area. The same mushroom gravy gets a starring role with the sizzling plate portion of the menu, where the most expensive dish is $11—most dishes on the restaurant’s menu are in the $6 range. Pancit is another reasonable choice, with the Miki Bihon plate of fresh flour noodles and rice stick noodles with chicken, pork, shrimp, and chinese sausage, all wrapped in banana leaves to keep things tender. 950 King Drive, Daly City.