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Eat + Drink

Get Torched at the Barback Olympics

Bartenders and mixologists have reached new heights of acclaim over the past few years, with countless books and articles elevating the work of fancy cocktail-slingers and dive-bar beer-pourers alike. Yet one key component of a bar's operation remains unsung: the barback. These hardworking folks serve as the prep cooks to the bartender's chef, keeping them in limes, ice, and kegs during the busiest hours-- all while enduring the death stares of waiting patrons who don't realize that they're not allowed to serve them.

First Bite: Bourbon Steak

While you were going about your business last  month, Michael Mina opened two—that's right—two new restaurants in San Francisco. To put this in perspective, these are his 17 and 18th properties—Mina opens restaurants the way some people change hair-dos. How to Drink Like A European

Between Halloween candy, towering pumpkin spice lattes, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, we've got a lot of overeating ahead of us. To ease our stomachs into the holiday season, has some tips on how to drink like a European by sipping on herbal digestives.

Get Out the Vote For Anchor in Wired's Beer Face-Off

Now that we've successfully defended our city's reputation on the baseball diamond, it's time to wage a similar campaign for our hometown beer. Wired magazine has been conducting a beer bracket pitting the nation's best brews against each other, and the sweet sixteen standings have SF-brewed Anchor Steam beer getting pummeled by Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA, made in Delaware. At last viewing, Dogfish had 71 percent of the votes; Anchor received only 29.

Cheap Date: Mr. Pollo

It’s a small space with a faded orange awning that easily blends in with the taquerias along Mission Street. I probably wouldn’t have noticed Mr. Pollo at all if I hadn’t walked by when chef Manny Torres Gimenez (who’s worked in the kitchens of Coi and Quince) was serving a four-course tasting menu in his whites by the window. For $15, Gimenez offers a tour of Venezuelan fare that shows off his butchering skills and eye for what’s best at the market that day.

Locked & Loaded: November Openings

Next week should be a good one for trying new things. Two (two!) exciting new coffee venues will be opening--or should, at least--both of which are continuing to push quality beans out from the center of the city. Contraband Coffee Bar looks like it is finally set to open (we hope), while Ma*Velous, which had an opening party last week, should open as well. 

Maple Syrup Cocktail Recipes from Thad Volger of Bar Agricole

Instead of squirting maple syrup on your pancakes and waffles, try putting a little in the next cocktail you shake up. Our friends at are taking a nod at barkeep extraordinaire Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole, who adds the rich and nutritious sugar to his creations.

Lowering the Bar: 5 Places to Drink for Cheap (or Free) This Week

Each week, we bring you our top picks for the best places to booze on the cheap in SF.

1. Prospect's Happy Hour: The hip new spot from the Boulevard team is now offering a happy hour-- a great way to sample the fare, as well as the concoctions of mixologist extraordinaire Brooke Arthur (formerly of Range). Sip a coca-tea-infused pisco sour, a glass of the draft wine, or a selected beer for $5, and nosh on bites like fried oysters and pig trotter "tots" with aioli for $4-5. (Monday-Friday, 4-6 pm, at Prospect, 300 Spear St., SOMA.)

Eat It: Tartine Bread, DIY Booze and Amanda Hesser

Amanda Hesser in Conversation with Celia Sack
Should you have the scratch to splurge on one food event this week, let it be this one. Amanda Hesser, Times food writer and author of the massive new New York Times Cookbook, will be speaking with Omnivore Books owner Celia Sack on "The Art of Food Writing." Tickets are $100, and Daniel Patterson of Coi will be preparing the snacks. The event will be held on November 7 from 7-9 p.m. at the Women's Building, and you can purchase your tickets right here.

The "Bullish" Amanda Hesser On the NY Times Cookbook, Alice Waters and More

Amanda Hesser, formerly known as Ms. Latte, will now forever be known as the author of the astoundingly comprehensive, 932 page, no-pretty-pictures Essential New York Times Cookbook (W.W. Norton & Co.) which just landed with an enormous thud on my desk. The phenomenal book includes over 1000 recipes, trend charts and dishes through the ages—all which Hesser tested over the six years it took her to complete the book. I already have pages earmarked for future dinners.

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