In the Outer Richmond, a restaurant to return to.
As a food writer, everyone automatically assumes that I’ve got an encyclopedic knowledge of every restaurant in town. But guess what, folks—there are a lot of restaurants in San Francisco. For a city of 800,00-ish (if you believe the small population sign posted at the city limits) there are nearly 4,000 eateries. So while I may have eaten at more than most, I’m not even close to all. Some are places I’ll probably never go to, but others have been on my list for a long time. I know we all have these lists (my neighbor frequently brings his actual, physical list by so we can cross-check), and Aziza finally reached the top of mine.
Since it has been foggy all across the city (even in the Banana Belt where I reside) I didn’t mind bundling up and heading to the Outer Richmond. Aziza is a large but cozy restaurant, and the five of us snuggled into out high-backed banquette quite nicely, thank you. We briefly considered the tasting menu (a family-style spread that’s $49 a person and requires the participation of the whole kitchen) but then opted for à la carte, since there were so many dishes we wanted to try. Looking at my receipt from last night, I’d say we did a great job working our way through the Moroccan-inflected menu: We tried a beautiful beet salad with a goat cheese mousse, tiny lamb kefta (little spiced meatballs) skewered with pearl onions and grapes, served over a shredded cucumber salad, giant lima beans with manouri cheese, spicy lamb sausage with a feta dip—and then moved on to dinner.
B’steeya, that classic dish of spiced, minced meat within a phyllo crust, dusted with confectionary sugar and cinnamon and rich with walnuts, was among the delicious entrées, and we couldn’t resist the earthy squab, served with a tangle of wild mushrooms. The couscous Aziza (the couscous is made by hand in-house) made that stuff in a box seem like bird food—it comes flanked by more spicy lamb sausage, Hoffman Farms chicken, prawns and stewed lamb. There was more, each dish delicious and unusual, and still plenty of things that we didn’t try this first time around. And I haven’t even talked about the cocktails, like the kumquat, which combined muddled kumquats with vodka, cognac, mint and a splash of soda. Though it isn’t a new spot, Aziza is a restaurant to quickly move to the top of your list. But with the discovery of yet another new favorite that I can’t wait to return to, how am I going to get to the next place I need to try?