It might be a stretch to call the hearty trappings of Central Europe a palate cleanser, but in a city saturated in Neapolitan pizzas, French bistros (see page 74), and a growing number of izakaya joints, a plate of wiener schnitzel with lingonberry sauce offers a refreshing break.
Not to say this is a complete novelty. For a long time, Suppenküche in Hayes Valley had the hip-with-spätzle market cornered. Walzwerk and Schmidt’s followed suit. But the turning point might have come in January when Leopold’s, a chummy Austrian gasthaus—complete with dark wood wainscoting and egg-yolk yellow walls cluttered just so with mounted deer heads and family portraits—took over the former Antica Trattoria space in Russian Hill. No one’s yet calling for an end to margherita madness, but it does say something about the changing of the guard.
When the planned development of a large housing and retail project in the heart of San Francisco ground to a halt along with the economy, it seemed that the neighborhood would be forever stuck with the fenced-in, gravel-covered lots lining the newly refurbished Octavia Boulevard. But architect Douglas Burnham and his staff at Envelope A+D—the designers of one of the structures that had been put on hold—decided that if they couldn’t reshape the economy, maybe they could reshape the building process. For the in-limbo lots, Envelope A+D designed Proxy, a temporary structure of reskinned shipping containers—their solid metal walls replaced with expansive sheets of glass—that could go up (and be taken down) quickly and inexpensively. Proxy features a rotating roster of vendors, from coffee bars to retail stores to an open-air movie theater.
The restaurant question we get asked more than anything is definitely: "Where should we go for my friend's birthday party?" Generally speaking, the situation involves a party of 10, more than a party of 200, but this restaurant short-list can accomodate a wide scope of food preferences, ambiance and number of people. Since we're of the mindset that hard booze never hurts, we've put a star by the restaurants with a full bar. Go ahead now: Celebrate good times. Common!