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SPQR Restaurant Review, San Francisco

SPQR Restaurant Review, San Francisco

SPQR is an Italian osteria, located in Pacific Heights, that serves wine and more casual food than their popular sister restaurant A16 in the Marina district. According to Wikipedia, “SPQR is an initialism from a Latin phrase, Senatus Populusque Romanus (“The Senate and the People of Rome” or “The Senate and Roman People”), referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic”. Executive Chef, Matthew Accarrino, prepares “sophisticated, yet soulful, Italian cuisine using the best local ingredients, traditional and modern cooking techniques delivered in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.” Our last visit for take-out

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Gooyi Gooyi Restaurant, Santa Clara

Gooyi Gooyi Restaurant Review, Santa Clara

Why did we dine here? – Gooyi Gooyi is an authentic Korean restaurant in Santa Clara’s Koreatown. We’ve found some of the best Korean joints down here plus our neighbor recommends this restaurant, so we had to give it a try.  We got take out from them in 2020 during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

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Bellota, San Francisco

Bellota San Francisco exterior decor

Great Spanish Seafood. Why did we dine here? – Bellota (Acorn in Spanish), a new Spanish restaurant, is part of The Absinthe Group. This is a beautiful restaurant in the building that houses Air BnB. Be sure to visit the bathroom, you will see the impressive atrium.  We have eaten both lunch and dinner here.

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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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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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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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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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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


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, 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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Zachary’s Chicago Pizza, Oakland – Berkeley

Zacharys Pizza Oakland 2

Zachary’s Chicago Pizza is a popular pizza restaurant in the San Francisco East Bay that serves Chicago style pizza. They have been packing them in for over thirty years. They serve select individual slices (Sausage, Pepperoni, Vegetarian) and whole pizzas, both thin and stuffed (thick) crust. The thick crust has filling between the layers. They also have half-baked pies and gluten free pies for sale. Our last visit was in Fall 2018.

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La Viga, Redwood City

La Viga Redwood City exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Wonderful food at great prices. La Viga derives from the massive central seafood market in Mexico City where our chef Manuel Martinez (Left Bank, Reposado) comes from. They focus food with local sustainable ingredients and draw a huge crowd. This restaurant has a high 4.5 rating on Yelp from almost 1000 reviewers. A friend tipped us off.

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AVEO Table + Bar, Dana Point

AVEO Table Bar Sunday Brunch Buffet Dana Point Ocean View

Best Sunday Brunch Buffet in California!
AVEO Table + Bar is a restaurant inside the beautiful Monarch Beach Resort at Dana Point, in Southern California’s Orange County. The restaurant was full of well dressed OC folks along with some cool guys wearing shorts. They serve a top notch Sunday Brunch Buffet, and Mediterranean focused normal a la carte during the rest of the week.

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Sushi Maruyama, San Mateo

Sushi Maruyama San Mateo exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Sushi Maruyama is the latest Japanese spot to give this corner a go. They are not related to the last place. The last 2 came and went over the years. This Japanese restaurant joins a ton of others on virtually every block of downtown San Mateo. The town is now home to some top spots including Wakuriya, Sushi Sam, and Sushi Yoshizumi.

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Andes Cafe, San Mateo

Andes Cafe San Mateo exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – One of those hidden local gems. Andes Cafe is a small Peruvian restaurant on a non descript stretch of El Camino Real in San Mateo. A friend tipped us off that their food was legit, so we had to give it a try. One of us recently returned from Peru, so it was a good time to compare this restaurant to the real deal.

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