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Tamarine Restaurant Review, Palo Alto

Elegant Vietnamese in Palo Alto.

Tamarine Restaurant Review, Palo Alto

Tamarine is a popular Vietnamese contemporary restaurant in downtown Palo Alto on busy University Avenue. They focus on small plates and serve food family style. Tamarine features light, but flavor-intensive culinary delicacies of Vietnam. This place is similar to Slanted Door or Xanh in Mountain View. We find the food pretty accessible with many items for mainstream palates. The owners family runs the more traditional Vietnamese restaurant Vung Tau in San Jose and a more casual spot Tam Tam in Palo Alto. Our last visit was in 2020.

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Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco

Tonys Pizza Napoletana San Francisco exterior decor

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is a popular San Francisco North Beach restaurant from Tony Gemignani, 9 time Champion Pizza Tosser, certified pizziaolo. It first opened in 2009. He also runs a the International School of Pizza next door. He is well qualified to make a great authentic pizza! Also part of his empire, the “to go” oriented Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza and Slice House next door, Slice house at Oracle Park, and Italian Restaurant Capo.

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Iyasare, Berkeley Review

Iyasare Berkeley Exterior

Iyasare is a Japanese Restaurant in the posh Berkeley 4th Street corridor. We were passing by and decided to finally give it a try. Without reservations, we dined at the bar. Pacing was way off, but the food was fabulous. Definitely want to try more next time!  We came back for lunch in Spring 2019 and found the food just as good.

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Dragon Beaux, San Francisco

Fab Chinese in SF.

Dragon Beaux San Francisco Exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Dragon Beaux is a new restaurant from the folks who run our favorite Chinese restaurant, Koi Palace. This location is in the Outer Richmond district and focuses on Dim Sum during lunch and Hot Pot/Cantonese food at dinner.  We came here when it first opened in 2015, and recently returned in the Spring of 2019.

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Che Fico, San Francisco

Chez Fico San Francisco Exterior decor

Great Eats in the City. Why did we dine here? – Che Fico (Kay-Feeco) means what a fig – is a new Jewish Italian restaurant in San Francisco that has garnered a lot of hype. There is a long line queuing up for unreserved tables everyday. It has fallen to 3.5 Yelp stars, but we still wanted to try it out. On our last visit in Winter 2019, there were still lines before it opened!

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birdsong, San Francisco Review

Birdsong San Francisco Exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Birdsong is a nature and heritage inspired restaurant, that is currently focused on the Pacific Northwest region. Its located in AQ’s old spot. Dishes highlight key ingredients from this region; such as cold-water shellfish, wild game, berries and mushrooms. They serve prix fix menus that are not cheap.

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Best Pho in San Francisco

Last Update: November 2019

We are big fans of Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup. Slowly but surely, we have eaten at many of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best Pho restaurants. Here’s our constantly evolving list of the top 10 in search of the Best Pho San Francisco and beyond. Please leave comments with suggestions for other places we should try.

  • Hit List: More San Jose Pho Places – Do you have favorites we should try?

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Napoletana Pizzeria, Mountain View

Napoletana pizzeria Mountain View exterior decor

Napoletana Pizzeria is a new Naples style pizzeria in Mountain View. This unlikely strip mall location (Next to Cost Plus World Market), houses a low key, authentic thin crust Neapolitan pizza place. We first learned about this place from a thread on Chowhound. As the waitress put it, these authentic pizzas cook for about 90 seconds in their 900° wood burning oven. Our last visit was Summer 2019.

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République, Los Angeles

Republique Los Angeles exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – République is similar to Tartine in San Francisco, but they kick it up a notch. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We went for breakfast. There was a short line on a Saturday at 9am, but by 10am, the line was way out the door. Beautiful restaurant full of beautiful people.

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Pho Filet, Rosemead

Pho Fillet Rosemead Exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Far better Pho than San Francisco! The SGV (San Gabriel Valley) is home to some fine Asian cuisine. We passed by Pho Filet on our last trip and ate there in 2018. Only 3.5 stars on Yelp, but way up there in our books.

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Pine and Crane, Los Angeles

Pine and Crane Los Angeles Exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Pine & Crane is a fast casual Taiwanese Chinese restaurant in the hip Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. It has 4.5 stars on Yelp with almost 2000 reviews. We had to see what all the hype was all about.

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Redbird, Los Angeles

Redbird Los Angeles exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Redbird is a trendy restaurant in downtown Los Angeles that was on our short list to try. This is Chef Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser’s flagship restaurant is a follow up to popular Grace and BLD. Historic
former rectory building of Vibiana – the cathedral-turned-event-venue.

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Little Star Pizza – Blue Line Pizza, San Francisco

Little Star Pizza is a popular pizza place with 2 locations in San Francisco and 1 in Albany. We visited the Divisadero location and ordered deep dish pizza. It took about 30 minutes to get our pizza. They have gone on to open several locations in the Bay Area.

Blue Line Pizza is their name for sister locations from Burlingame southwards. We have tried their Burlingame location in the Summer of 2020. The menu is very similar.

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Delfina Review, San Francisco

Delfina San Francisco Exterior Decor

Since 1998, Delfina, a bustling neighborhood Italian trattoria has been packing them in. The menu changes daily and they use organic produce and sustain-ably raised meats and fish whenever possible. It is a popular place that requires advanced booking for a reservation or showing up at 530pm for a table at the counter or bar. Our last visit was in the summer of 2019 where we found it as busy as ever.

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China Village, Belmont

China Village, Belmont

China Village Seafood Restaurant is a Chinese restaurant in Belmont, California just off the Highway 101 Ralston Exit. They have been around since 1996, serving dim sum during both lunch and dinner, as well as standard Cantonese Chinese cuisine.

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Bestia, Los Angeles

Bestia Los Angeles Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – A big LA scene with impressive Italian food. Bestia (Italian for Beast) bubbled to the top of the possibilities when planning our LA must hit list. 4.5 stars on Yelp, recommended on the annual Jonathan Gold List, what more could you ask? We knew going into this that Bestia would be loud and exhibit a major LA scene. Last visit in Summer 2019.

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Begoni Bistro, San Francisco

Begoni Bistro San Francisco Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – Begoni Bistro is a modern, good looking Chinese restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It is not old and dingy like some of its neighbors. We were tipped off about this spot a while ago and finally got a chance in 2018.

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Lazy Bear, San Francisco

Lazy Bear San Francisco exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Lazy Bear bills itself as “A modern American dinner Party”. Since 2014 they have been hosting 2 seating of a single prix fixe Tasting Menu served to guests on a long communal table. They started as an underground pop-up, gained traction, scored one Michelin star and have established themselves as more than a gimmick.

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Forest Buffet Harrahs Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe

Forest Buffet Harrahs Lake Tahoe Exterior Decor

Foodnut has a thing for high end buffets.. The Forest Buffet at Harrahs Lake Tahoe has been in existence for decades and is practically a Lake Tahoe institution. We remember coming here as kids and have returned to see how this buffet compares to the best around, especially after a long day of biking. Our last visit was in the summer of 2018.

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Taverna, Palo Alto

Taverna Palo Alto exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Taverna is a recently opened Greek restaurant in Palo Alto by some alumni of nearby Evvia restaurant. They brought in a Chef from Village Pub to execute their dream. We had good experiences at Evvia so we decided to give this less formal place a try.

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Chapeau!, San Francisco

Chapeau San Francisco Exterior Decor

One of our favorite San Francisco restaurants.. Chapeau! is a French Bistro located in the San Francisco Richmond district in the middle of the Clement Street shopping district. At one time, they had two locations, but later wisely consolidated into this one location. Chapeau! SF opened in 1996 and means hat or wow in French.

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Spruce Review, San Francisco

Spruce San Francisco Exterior Decor

Elegant old school favorite. Why did we dine here? – Spruce is a popular American restaurant in San Francisco’s upper crust Laurel Heights neighborhood. This restaurant has one Michelin star and has been packed ever since it opened. This is our fourth visit, with our last meal here several years ago. The chef Mark Sullivan also oversees Village Pub in Woodside. We recently had one of the best duck dishes there, in a long time. Our last Visit was in 2018.

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Vesta, Redwood City

Vesta Redwood City exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Top Italian on the Peninsula! Vesta is a California Italian restaurant in downtown Redwood City. They tried to support local and organic suppliers. It has an extremely high 4.5 stars on Yelp and was mentioned in San Francisco magazine as having great pizza. These two facts were enough to pique our interest. We finally got a chance to try them at the end of 2013 and returned in 2019.

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Evvia Estiatorio, Palo Alto

Evvia Palo Alto Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – Evvia is the sister restaurant of popular Kokkari in San Francisco. Our last visit here was over 10 years ago, so it was time for a refresher. Reservations are not easy to come by at this small restaurant, just off University Avenue.

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Shanghai Flavor Shop, Sunnyvale

Shanghai Flavor Shop Sunnyvale Exterior

Shanghai Flavor Shop is an inexpensive restaurant in a second rate strip mall. This diamond in the rough is located in sleepy Sunnyvale, and specializes in Shanghainese Chinese cuisine. To the right of this restaurant is the popular Indian Buffet: Sankranti

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Californios, San Francisco

Californios San Francisco exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Californios is a Two Michelin Star (in 2017) Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, the highest rating of its type in the US. We were intrigued and hesitated to come here, but finally succumbed to all the positive accolades and were glad we did. ($177 for Mexican food?!) Chef Val M. Cantu crafts cuisine of the highest regard, having moved up from a popup years ago. Open the really heavy door and you will enter this fairly small restuarant. It almost seems like it should be twice the size, and a little less dark – hard edged.

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LV Mar, Redwood City

LV Mar, Redwood City
Photo Courtesy LV Mar

Why did we dine here? – LV Mar is a Latin focus restaurant in downtown Redwood City that serves Elevated Latin tapas, platters & cocktails in a modern, comfortably upscale dining room and sidewalk patio. They also run the nearby La Viga, which is a more casual. We had a good experience at La Viga, so it was natural for us to try this restaurant. Last visit was for dinner in 2018

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Parks BBQ, Los Angeles

Parks BBQ Los Angeles exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Parks BBQ has been packing in the crowds for a long time. Nice decor with a bar upstairs. Celeb pix line the entranceway. The diners came from all races unlike some of the more hardcore places, making this a nice place for new Korean BBQ fans to eat at. Last visit Summer 2019.

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Rave Burger Restaurant Review, San Mateo

Better burgers!

Rave Burger San Mateo Exterior Decor

Rave Burger is a burger joint that opened October 2008 in downtown San Mateo. We were walking by and decided to give it a try to see how it rated. The provide sit down service in addition to to go food.  They serve hamburgers, vegan burgers, hot dogs, and salads and a lots more now.  We have been to Rave Burger several times over the years with our last visit in 2019.

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Pizzeria Delfina, San Francisco – Burlingame

Delicious Italian around the Bay. Pizzeria Delfina is the lower cost more casual eatery next to top rated Delfina. They do not take reservations and focus on ‘Neapolitan inspired’, thin crust pizzas and Antipasti. Delfina does not serve pizza. They use local, seasonal ingredients and have a lots of wines by the glass.  There are 2 location in San Francisco – Mission and Pacific Heights. In 2018 we dined several times at the Burlingame location.

Pizzeria Delfina San Francisco Interior

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Din Tai Fung, Santa Clara

Din Tai Fung Santa Clara exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Din Tai Fung is a popular Xiao Long Bao (It means small bamboo steamer bun in Chinese) – Shanghai Steamed Soup dumpling restaurant with locations in Bellevue, Seattle, Southern California, Taiwan, Japan, China, Indonesia, Macau, Singapore, and several other countries. Few Chinese dishes generate so much obsession. Think of it like a quest to find the best burger or pizza. We have been to this location several times. Last visit was in 2019.

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Din Tai Fung, Arcadia, CA

Din Tai Fung Arcadia exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Din Tai Fung is a popular Xiao Long Bao (small bamboo steamer bun in Chinese) – Shanghai Steamed dumpling restaurant with locations in Bellevue, Los Angeles, Taipei, Japan, China, Singapore, and several other countries. We have dined at the location in Shanghai’s touristy Xintiandi, Bellevue, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The Los Angeles location is in Arcadia with Yelp reviews unfortunately indicating it is a step down from the ones abroad, although some say it is better than the original in Taiwan.

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China Village Restaurant, Albany

China Village Albany Exterior Decor

China Village is a Chinese restaurant featured on the KQED public television program Check Please back in 2008. They specialize in Szechuan (Sichuan) Chinese food but serve other styles of Chinese Food. China Village is in the 2010 Michelin Guide as a listed restaurant. We were nearby and finally had an excuse to visit. Our last visit was in the summer of 2018, after they re-opened in July 2013 and remodeled the restaurant after a fire.

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J. Zhou Oriental Cuisine

J Zhou Tustin exterior decor

J. Zhou in Tustin, Orange County, California is an upscale Chinese Cantonese restaurant in The District Mall. After a meal you can hit Whole Foods or the mall next door! The restaurant has been here since 2014.

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Sichuan Impression, Tustin

Great Sichuan Spicy food in the OC.

Sichuan Impression Tustin exterior decor

Sichuan Impression in Tustin, Orange County is the second outpost of the spicy restaurant, the others are in Alhambra and Los Angeles. We at in the LA one near UCLA in 2019. This location is located in a plain jane strip mall near Highway 5. It was recommended to us as probably the top Sichuan restaurant in the OC. Also checkout our review of nearby J Zhou, Tustin for dim sum.

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