What can't Tyler Florence do?
In the rare moments that the chef of Miller & Lux, Wayfare Tavern, and Union Square's new sister cafes Miller & Lux Provisions isn't in the kitchen, he's moonlighting as a TV host, a podcast host, a cookbook author, and even a filmmaker.
"When you love what you do, it doesn't feel like work," says Florence of his superhuman stamina—but it's hard not to be impressed.
In addition to recently opening a new outpost of Miller & Lux at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on Hawaii's Big Island, Florence is currently filming The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network, his 17th season as host, and putting the finishing touches on his latest cookbook, American Grill, due out this May.
Despite all those balls in the air, Florence's San Francisco restaurants remain his most important work. "You'll often find me in the kitchen at Wayfare, serving pastries at Miller & Lux Provisions, or deboning Dover sole tableside at Miller & Lux," he says.
We caught up with the chef, who lives in Marin County with his wife and kids, to ask what's in his Bay, from his go-to local coffee roaster to his favorite place for a family day trip.
"Postscript has "a fantastic coffee program and a great food menu," says Florence.(Courtesy of @postscriptcollective)
What’s your preferred place for brunch or coffee?
Our close friends recently opened a really wonderful coffee shop and café in Jackson Square called Postscript (499 Jackson St.) They have a fantastic coffee program and a great food menu that’s more fleshed out than what you’d typically see at a coffee shop. They roast their own beans onsite, and it’s so delicious that we created a special coffee blend with them that we serve at our Union Square cafés, Miller & Lux Provisions. I love the idea of our coffee beans being roasted locally in San Francisco.
What is your go-to neighborhood spot for food or drinks?
Without question, our neighborhood spot is Marin Joe's (1585 Casa Buena Dr., Corte Madera). We love an old standby, and between the untouched design, solid food, and slightly surly service, it has all that old classic charm. My wife was born and raised in Marin, so this place has held a special place in our family for decades. Plus, my father-in-law, Larry Moss, often plays in the piano bar. We love to sit and listen with martinis in hand (Shirley Temples for the kids) and a Joe’s Special on the table.
Where’s your favorite place to take out of town visitors?
I spend so much time at my restaurant, Miller & Lux in the Chase Center (1 Warriors Way, Mission Bay), that I’ve now had the privilege to go to a lot of Warriors games there. Honestly, there’s no better way for a visitor to get a taste of the spirit of San Francisco; it’s the most fun. Taking friends or family who have never seen the Warriors play—or even to go to a Giants game down the street—is always a huge hit.
"It’s hard to pick [a favorite Northern California day trip] but I would say Stinson Beach if I’m spending time with the family," says Florence.(Courtesy of @pohily)
What’s your favorite Northern California day trip?
It’s hard to pick one—the Bay Area has great day trips in every direction—but I would say Stinson Beach if I’m spending time with the family, making sure to stop at the Parkside (43 Arenal Ave., Stinson Beach) for brunch or lunch and some of their homemade bread and pesto to bring home, followed by a good beach day. Or, if I’m taking some time to unplug solo, I’ll hop on my motorcycle and ride out to West Marin for some oysters at Hog Island (20215 Shoreline Hwy, Marshall) or just a scenic ride along the coast. It’s an instant stress reliever.
What California hotel or resort keeps you coming back?
I love The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay (1 Miramontes Point Rd.). I don’t always think to go south for a day trip since I live in Marin, but when I want to head in that direction, it’s the perfect getaway. The location right on the coast is stunning. On the way home we’ll stop and have bowls of chowder, grab fish at the seafood market, and shop on Main Street in Half Moon Bay—my wife loves Garden Apothecary (601 Main St.) for plants, homemade skincare, and gifts.
What Bay Area–made item can you not live without?
There is so much talent here, and an incredible selection of artisan and handcrafted products, food, and beverages that blow everything else out of the water. I might be biased, but I’ve traveled all over and it’s hard to beat most of the things I can get in my own backyard. I love our local farmers markets, bread from Josey Baker, and my favorite simple dessert—soft serve with olive oil and sea salt from Restaurant Picco in Larkspur (320 Magnolia Ave.).
What Bay Area shop do you love to visit?
I’m so excited because my absolute favorite men’s clothing brand, Sunspel, just opened their first California retail store at Marin Country Mart (1001 Larkspur Landing Cir., Larkspur). It’s an English company and I’ve been ordering their clothes for years, so I’m thrilled that it’s finally shopable locally. And the Mart is just a great place to spend the day regardless—there are tons of good shops and restaurants there.
What’s your favorite date night spot?
We love the classics, so I’d probably say Gary Danko (800 North Pt., Fisherman’s Wharf), Chez Panisse (1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley), or Zuni Café (1658 Market St., Hayes Valley), all of which are as good today as they were when we first moved back to the Bay Area in 2007.
Do you have a beloved venue for live entertainment?
It’s so rare that I get to take a night off and go see a show, but I love comedy and live music, so I make sure to sneak it in. Sometimes on my way home from the restaurant, I’ll make an impromptu stop at Cobb's Comedy Club (915 Columbus Ave., Russian Hill) to see the last set of the night.