It’s been a good year for Aziza pastry chef Melissa Chou, a 2012 finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef award. When she isn’t tempting diners with lavender panna cotta with walnut cake and malted vanilla ice cream, Chou, who lives three blocks from her childhood home in the Sunset, keeps things simple and savory—for the most part. Here, she names the city's best in food.
Bread: Della Fattoria
The whole-wheat seeded Pullman loaves at the Ferry Building’s Saturday farmers market are can’t-live-without-them goodness. “They cook their bread really nice and dark, so it gets caramellike on the outside and is soft on the interior.”
Kitchen Wares: MARCH
After a makeover late last year, March made its second grand opening as a high-end culinary shop and pantry stocking such wares as Italian knives and ceramics made in California.
Reason to Try Offal: Grilled Tripe at Bar Tartine
“It’s unusual because tripe is either really soft or crunchy. But this has integrity. You can chew on it without it dissolving.” Chou calls it one of the best dishes of the year.
Salad: Duck Confit and Baby Kale at Frances
Making an appearance this spring on Melissa Perello’s seasonal menu was a “spot-on combo” of duck confit tossed with tender baby kale, dates, and crispy fried shallots. “The kale is so bitter, but combined with the fatty duck and sweet dates, it’s very satisfying.”
Happy Hour Bites: Bar Agricole
For chunky, chopped liver on toast, hit the bar at this SoMa restaurant. “The ingredients they use are pristine. They have that Chez Panisse ethos but are making food that is modern.”
Ice Cream: Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous
Beer and chocolate is just one of the distinctive flavor pairings to be had at this creamery. “The cone is perfect. It’s crisp but not heavy, and you can get it warm, which is a great contrast to ice cream.” 415-970-0750
Greasy Spoon: Lam Hoa Thuan
“Their Vietnamese roast pork has really tender flesh, a layer of fat, and beautiful, crisp skin.” It’s simple, salty, and $5. “This is my version of Friday pizza night.” 415-661-1688
Ramen: Izakaya Sozai
The noodles are springy and chewy, and the rest is straightforward: pork-based broth, seaweed, green onions, and a soft-boiled egg. The line? Out the door.
Coffee: Four Barrel
“I love hanging out here—even though I have my own La Pavoni hand-crank espresso machine at home.” Order a cappuccino and a plain kouign amann.
This light-filled breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot is ideal for a sunny day. “I usually get two fried eggs over medium with herbed and fried potatoes. Then I spend the rest of the day in the neighborhood.”
Edited by Lauren Ladoceour. This article was published in 7x7's June issue. Click here to subscribe.