One of the most gaping holes in San Francisco's restaurant world is in the Greek/Mediterranean category. Souvla, which opened Tuesday in the old Sebo space in Hayes Valley, is hoping to help fill it. For those of you that feel a restaurant is only as good as it is "authentic," you'll be happy to know that owner Charles Bililies has enough thick, dark hair on his head to unquestionably verify his Greek-American status. Meanwhile, his pita sammies—filled with your choice of spit-roasted meat (I liked the lamb the most, but I'm a lover of lamb), plus harissa yogurt, fennel-citrus salad, pickled red onions, and feta cheese—are thoughtfully San Francisco. I ordered my sandwich "Greek-style" (which means your french fries are tucked in the pita), chased with a tumbler of red wine. Ypérochos! —S.D.
Last Sunday I biked to the Outer Sunset to check out Andytown Coffee Roasters, one of the newest additions to the city’s ever-growing cache of high-quality, impeccably appointed coffee shops. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I am a fan of pretty much any pastry that can be served with a cup of coffee, particularly if it’s anything like those I tried at Andytown. Both their Irish soda scone and cornmeal strawberry muffin were fantastic, particularly when slathered with butter, but it was the scone that really got me. It avoided every single pitfall that mars the vast majority of the scone population—where most are excessively sweet and have the mouthfeel of a loofah mitt, Andytown’s has a crunchy crust that yields to a tender, fluffy crumb riddled with currents; most of the sweetness comes from the turbinado sugar scattered over the crust. Eating it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, one I hope to repeat in the very near future. As a bonus, the space is gorgeous—it’s got the whitewashed, high-ceiling, rustic cathedral-of-coffee look down pat, but in a good way—and the owners, a married couple (he’s originally from the Belfast suburb of Andersonstown, which is the shop’s namesake) seem charming and lovely. —R.F.M.
Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a diehard Asia-o-phile. Which means that I'm easily excitable when it comes to things of the Chinese sort, particularly things with dumplings and noodles. Jonathan Kauffman of Tasting Table tipped me off to Terra Cotta Warrior (2555 Judah St. near 30th Ave., 415-681-3288), a new Shaanxi restaurant way, way out on Judah. I've been dreaming of it since. The soups are fantastic and done with surprising finesse, especially the Qishan minced pork noodles with a slick of chile oil afloat on a deceptively delicate broth. Another soup made with lamb dumplings was equally good. Don't miss the cold cucumbers, smashed and tossed with garlic. Date food it's not, but it's the perfect foil.—S.D.
Of the many wonderful dishes I ate at Alta a few days ago, the cracked wheat porridge with hen of the woods mushrooms and baby turnips remains stubbornly lodged in the part of my brain dedicated to intense longing. It’s like risotto made in collaboration between Eastern European peasants, woodland fairy sprites, and a stick of butter. Rich, earthy, and savory, it’s so satisfying that your mouth will instruct you to keep eating it long after your stomach has begged you to stop. —R.F.M.
Have feedback? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Sara Deseran at email@example.com
Email Rebecca Flint Marx at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag
Follow Sara Deseran on Twitter @SaraDeseran
Follow Rebecca Flint Marx at @EdibleComplex