I read an article today that has been on my mind for a long time. Every since the Food Network came to the Bay Area we have yet to see one of the star chef’s open up a restaurant here. Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Anthony Bourdain [who dislikes San Francisco because of Alice Waters in Berkeley] Mario Batali and the several others don’t want to even bother opening a restaurant here because the competition is too stiff.
Now we do have Wolfgang Puck who opened up Postrio and Roy’s Hawaii Cuisine, but not a single Food Network star has bother with San Francisco. Well I suppose I could include Martin Yan, but he’s no longer a part of the network. I haven’t seen Tyler Florence much lately, but he’s busy with his restaurant here at the moment. Now to me, if you’re going to talk like you’re a world renowned chef you should at least be able to thrown down in Baghdad by the Bay and pull it off. We’ve got some really hefty chefs here already like Michael Mina and Jeremiah Tower who have changed the restaurant industry, but for some reason we scare off the big guns of the media. Had I the money I would travel to one of Bobby Flay’s restaurants with a small camera crew and pull his throw down move with him to get him to come to SF and try his hand in the restaurant business here.
San Francisco, while being seven by seven miles has the largest number of restaurants than any other city in the United States. I was walking around the Embarcadero yesterday and found that there were more places to eat than I remembered. One block alone had six restaurants on one side of the street and these were Subways or McDonalds, but real white linen, sit down restaurants [I’ll still count the Tadich Grill since it’s so good, but no white linen table clothes.]
I like the Food Network and consider myself a bit of a foodie, but not a food blogger. I’ve got more to write about than Mom’s great recipes or the great dishes you can get around town. I watch it at least a couple of nights a week and do have a fondness for Guy Fieri’s Diner’s Drive-in’s and Dives, probably because he’s not afraid of San Francisco. I would love to see some of those Iron Chefs give it a shot in San Francisco, but apparently we scare them off. Could they even handle going up against one of our great food trucks at Off the Grid on a Friday night at Fort Mason? I don’t think so. Could they stand up against the falafel at Sunrise Deli or a shawarma at Yumma’s? I don’t think so.
Bobby Flay, I challenge you and your East Coast Food Network crew to a throw down to open restaurants in San Francisco and see how you fare in our Kitchen Stadium.
There are a lot of reasons to love San Francisco, but I think one of the biggest is the food you can get here. You can travel around the world’s cuisines without leaving this city squeezed into a 7 mile by 7 mile peninsula. An Austrian friend of mine, Karin on her first trip to San Francisco gave me a wicked little smile when I said you can find any kind of food here. “I will offer you a challenge then.” OK, that was a rather Germanic way of putting it, but even though she was born and raised in Austria she’s of Syrian decent.
“Can you get authentic Syrian food?” I stopped for a second. What the hell exactly is Syrian food? I still don’t know for sure, but I imagine it must involve slow cooked tagines of animal parts served in a spicy sauce. Time to google. Yep, we have seven Syrian restaurants in San Francisco. We never got to try one to see how authentic they were, but even so you can still find any kind of food you want here. We of course have the fresh seafood down at the wharf. House of Prime Rib offers up some wonderous slabs of beef, but those are things you expect to find. The Italian food in North Beach is still great and has moved outside of North Beach to possibly permeate the city. Steak houses are a dime a dozen around here. Where you have to go to find some odder, uncommon foods is the local neighborhoods. Want a little tongue with your burrito? Head to the Mission. Chinese food that the squeamish don’t want to ask what’s in the broth of the soup. Head to Chinatown. Middle eastern and Indian food is everywhere from Yumma’s and Sunrise deli in the Sunset District to Saha Arabic Fusion and Shalimar downtown or Kan Zaman in the Haight. We even have a pizza place that rumor has it, imports its water from New York and brought it’s pizza oven from there as well.
In the picture that goes along with this article is one I took that yesterday at a local grocery store in the Sunset District. This is what I expect to see in a grocery store in the Mission District, not the Sunset. As a matter of fact they had almost an entire aisle dedicated to Hispanic ingredients right down to the candles with Jesus and Saint Mary on them.
I can get most countries cuisines without even leaving the Sunset district, although German and French food is getting harder to find, but there’s always Ethiopian food ready at New Eritrea on Irving Street. We have three Hawaiian restaurants within 5 minutes of my house serving up a plate lunch just like the surfers in Hawaii feast on after a morning of surfing, yet not one of them is near the beach. We got food here and you gotta love it. Now I think I’ll run out for some Southern BBQ today.