Feast

Appetite: More Upper highs and Valley loves

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In this week's Appetite column in the paper, I ran down my picks for the best spots to eat a quality meal (without the expense of other areas) in the Upper Haight and Cole Valley region. Below are more of my favorites from my home 'hood, including picks for coffee, brunch, and cocktails -- including delicious sangria, a cheese gem, and a woeful tale of a hot dog scramble to avoid.

COFFEE: Coffee has long been rough in the Haight. Until Haight Street Market opened a Blue Bottle kiosk in their store, one couldn't get a proper cup. While appealing cafes like Reverie boast a welcome back patio, and the La Boulange chain on Cole serves substantial pastries, none offers a cappuccino or espresso to satisfy coffee snobs. But just in the last week or so, there's a quiet coffee revolution afoot with two new cafes. Flywheel Coffee Roasters looks like a hipster Mission coffee spot with a handful of laptops and industrial-stark interior. Though they aren't going the foam art/microfoam route at this point and they have not begun roasting their own beans in-house as they plan to, initial cups are promising. The other new spot is Stanza in the Coco Luxe space. They'll be doing coffee cuppings on the first Thursday of each month (7pm) and have their coffee roasted by Augies in Southern California. They DO have foam art and proper cappuccinos. A welcome neighborhood addition.

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FEAST: 9 meat-free marvels

Vegetarian sandwiches take over the world

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culture@sfbg.com

The sandwich, like the wheel, is an timeless invention that keeps us rolling. But if you be a vegetable lover, or just someone who fantasizes about two pieces of bread cradling things other than animal carcass, you must plan ahead — or risk finding yourself stuck with a woefully dull cheese and lettuce number. Lucky for us, here in the Bay we celebrate all sandwich orientations — some with brassy beets, others laced with sweet and spicy barbeque sauce, all ample reasons to raise our veggie flags high as we chow down.

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FEAST: 8 intriguing entrees

Breakfast and dinner are great times for a change

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virginia@sfbg.com

Forget that gourmet mac 'n' cheese, leave behind another night of Neapolitan pizza — it's time to consider a meal that has yet to be repeated all over town. Here are a few that have really turned my head of late.

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FEAST: 5 gourmet gross-outs

"Say what?" menu items that are weird in a good way 

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diane@sfbg.com

From the design world to the fashion world, there are things that go and things that don't go (yes, you — guy in the striped shirt and madras Bermuda shorts ensemble; and you too, street scrounger hauling off that hideous oversized floral-pattern couch). But the truth is, these principles remain fixed only until some genius comes along and voila! isn't everyone on the runway looking sharp in stripes and madras? And doesn't that flower-power couch look great with that Marimekko wallpaper?Read more »

FEAST: 7 brunch cocktails

Why be sober when you can sparkle?

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FEAST: 10 contemporary kitchen essentials

All you need to shift your cooking from serviceable to superb

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By now, you (hopefully) know the basic building blocks of good eating: fresh, in-season vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and — for the carnivorous set — lean, unprocessed meat and fish. Awesome. But unless you're an adherent of the new Paleo diet fad, which mimics the eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, it's going to take a bit more to transform this no-frills foundation into something you'd want to sit down to. Here are a few kitchen essentials that can quickly shift your cooking from serviceable to superb. (Emily Appelbaum)

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FEAST: 6 best breakfast bets

Up before noon? The Guardian counsels eating

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SF: a brunch town if ever there was one. The life of the alternative journalist is such that we're rarely awake at sunrise, wondering from where the hell our next hangtown fry will materialize. But there are times when it behooves one to dine at 8 a.m. on a weekday (occasions that usually correspond to the appearance of a mother or father). Set that alarm, sweetie: here's where you'll find Guardian staff dragging to before a big day.

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FEAST: Distilled genius

From carrot liqueur to the best in absinthe, a tour of the city's new tipples

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It's a thrilling time in Bay Area spirits. The same players who've made us proud in years past continue to reinvent themselves, while newcomers add flavor — literally — to the scene. In visits to four local distilleries, I came away inspired by their inventiveness and skill. And while none of the spirits I tasted use extracts or flavorings (like many of their big-brand counterparts), they do manage to fit in countless pounds of local, unexpected fruits, even natural herbs.Read more »

FEAST: 6 hot C-cups

Hot action! A mug of these hot chocolates will set you down the right sleigh path

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A funny thing happened on the way to adulthood: hot chocolate became interesting. Remembered by most Americans as the insipid, lukewarm, desiccated powder-based drink of ice rinks (often dispensed from a machine that simultaneously squirts water and dark matter into your cup), 21st century big-kid hot chocolate has heat, depth, spice, richness, variety. It is, in short, both hot and chocolate. And let's not forget innovations in topping technology. Read more »

FEAST: 5 far-out sammies

Find the creme of the crusts at these neighborhood delis

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We SFers have such an abundance of cafés and restaurants to choose from that it's easy to get panicky — Where am I? I haven't seen a restaurant in feet! I'm hungry! What will I eeeaat? — when we stray a few blocks outside a foodie greenbelt. At times like these, don't close your eyes, click your ruby slippers together, and repeat, "There's no place like the Valencia corridor ... " Because if you do, you'll miss some of the best unsung and out-of-the-way sandwich places the city has to offer. Read more »