Anna Roth

Anna's a recovering restaurant critic whose award-winning writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Best Food Writing 2014 & 2017, Lucky Peach, SF Weekly, Civil Eats and more. She's the author of West Coast Road Eats, a culinary guidebook. She currently lives in Seattle. Email: anna.roth @ gmail

The Ball-Shaped Bleakness of IKEA’s Gravy-Smothered Köttbullar

Or you can do what I did during a few depressed months last winter following a big move, and eat naked Ikea meatballs straight from the oven for dinner every night. Eaten this way, they weren’t exactly the picture of Pinterest-worthy domestic tranquility, just curiously dense spheres of pulverized protein. But pleasure wasn’t why I was performing this grim ritual night after night. I’d moved 3,000 miles, in part, to build a life that looked a little more like the vision Ikea presented in its catalog and showrooms. Instead I was running on fumes.

Roxie Food Center serves sandwiches, community near Balboa Park

They line up all day long. Concrete contractors and nurses, mail carriers and police officers, students and new moms, a whole Richard Scarry book’s worth of people hungry for sandwiches from Roxie Food Center. The men behind the counter know almost everyone. Simon, Peter and Tony Tannous have been running this Mission Terrace corner store in one iteration or another since they bought the building in 1975. The brothers’ prowess with meat, cheese and bread is well documented in San Francisco sand

Troubling View From the Oasis: California's Abundance May Be a Mirage

The rains came, finally, on the 26th of February. Rain fell on the grapevines of Napa and the grassland of Marin, on the almond trees and tomato fields of the Central Valley, on the strawberries and lettuce rows of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Runoff gushed down dry gullies, sluiced through drainage culverts, filled up thirsty lakes and reservoirs. Farmers watched with relief as their dusty soil turned to mud and hoped that the long drought was finally coming to an end. The rainstorm was greeted d

Austerity Measures: A Restaurant Critic's Week on Food Stamps

The marshmallow was the best thing I'd eaten in days, a soft, white, silky hit of pure sugar that went straight to all the pleasure centers in my brain. Four days earlier, I wouldn't have believed that a puff of corn syrup could bring me so much happiness. I was participating in the Hunger Challenge, an initiative put on by the San Francisco and Marin Food Bank to raise awareness about poverty and food insecurity in the Bay Area. For five days, 150 participants and I — chefs, journalists, and r

Analysis | It’s called ‘heartbreak’ because the pain is physical, not just emotional

The pain started on the way down the mountain, a dull ache in my chest that became more acute as the miles accumulated. The morning had been a blur of hungover goodbyes as a three-day camping wedding of close friends came to an end in Northern California. It wasn’t until I was in the quiet safety of a friend’s car that I allowed myself to feel the effects of my conversation with my date the night before. He had told me he wasn’t interested in trying a relationship. Remembering it made the pain

Stranded!: Set Adrift with Dinner on Fisherman's Wharf's Floating Restaurant

"So, where are you folks from?" the Hawaiian-shirted skipper asks when he unlocks the gate to the dock on Pier 39 that leads to your dinner destination. You fight your resentment at being mistaken for a tourist as you board a small ferry already occupied by several out-of-towners. After all, why else would you descend into the beating heart of Fisherman's Wharf for dinner on a Thursday night? Soon the ferry backs away from the dock and begins its five-minute jaunt across the marina to the kitsch

Welcome to the agrihood: Farm-to-tableau living in Davis

A girl runs through a wheat field, her long blonde hair streaming behind her. A happy couple shops for apricots at the farmers’ market. A line of kids eats corn on a front porch, smiling cutely as the camera pans over them. Throughout it all, a voice-over espouses the virtues of local eating, sustainability and environmental stewardship. “This is not a nostalgic dream, it’s the immediate future,” the voice intones. “Life tastes better her

Is ‘Master of None’ the New ‘Sex and the City’?

The finance bros have arrived. With their button-down shirts and conversations about investment strategy, they seem different than the arty, laid-back crowd that usually hangs out at the Four Horsemen, the natural wine bar on Grand Street. The Brooklyn bar’s part-owner, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, has always given the place an extra sheen of coolness, but it seems to be attracting a new demographic these days, at least on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s been felt by longtime regular

Bay Area’s love affair with the great American doughnut shop

Of the thousands of restaurant social media accounts in San Francisco, my favorite might be the one operated by Bob’s Donuts, that 24-hour Polk Street institution that has been around for generations. At @whatsfreshest on Twitter and @bobsdonuts on Instagram, the Bob’s crew showcases what can only be called doughnut porn: photos and videos of apple fritters bobbing in palm oil, just-fried dough getting a glossy coating of chocolate, and squiggles of jelly being applied to a rack of buttermilk ra

Geneva Steak: Portal to a bygone San Francisco

Geneva Steak House doesn’t look like much from the street. Tinted windows and a faded sign promising steak, kebabs and chicken dinners easily get lost in the hustle of the crowds, corner stores and check-cashing joints at the busy intersection of Geneva and Mission. Inside, the long, narrow restaurant doesn’t promise much more. It’s dressed like a steak house, with red booths, mirrored walls and mid-century lanterns, but there’s a weariness in the air. The lights in the back half are often off;

The Middle Sunset’s vibrant food scene captures a slice of San Francisco

On Sunday mornings, the mid-Sunset’s Irving Street is alive. Asian grandmothers with bulging shopping bags negotiate for the best seafood at Sunset Super; restaurant owners rinse down front sidewalks as they prepare to open for lunch; and neighbors line up out the door for roast duck and pork at Lam Hoa Thuan and bubble tea at T-Pumps. Outside of Uncle Benny’s doughnut shop, home to the ’hood’s finest apple fritter, an elderly man plays familiar tunes on the ehru, a Chinese stringed instrument.

Thoughts Style Cuisine Showroom: Style over sustenance

It’s hard to know what to make of SoMa’s new Thoughts Style Cuisine Showroom. The restaurant’s co-owner, a 24-year-old Academy of Art graduate, opened it because she thought it could be cool to have a place where you can wear sunglasses indoors. It is blindingly white for this purpose. The menu features a fusion of Thai and Italian food, which translates to dishes like tom yum risotto and tom kha khai ravioli. “Way to take two cuisines I love and ruin them both,” my friend says when I tell her a

Quick-casual quinoa at Eatsa: No human contact required

The people behind me in line at Eatsa are pretty sure the kitchen is manned by robots. At least, the one who has eaten here before is trying to persuade his Millennial companions that automatons are making the restaurant’s organic quinoa bowls and Brussels sprout chips. The word “Orwellian” comes up — ironic, considering the tech-company badges dangling from their button-downs — but mostly the group’s consensus is that culinary robots sound cool, especially if the quinoa bowls are as good as ad

Gin makes a grand revival in the Bay Area

It looks like just another Hawaiian shirt — a common-enough wardrobe choice for Martin Cate, proprietor of tiki bar extraordinaire Smuggler’s Cove and a well-known expert on rum. But when you look more closely, you realize that in place of a tiki shirt’s pineapples and palm trees, Cate’s custom-made print features juniper berries, citrus, star anise, coriander, all-spice and nutmeg — the botanicals particular to gin. The shirt is an apt way for the rum lover to signal his transition to another

There Will Be Bread: The Newest Development in Food Culture Is Also the Oldest

You're here, so you're probably a foodie (whether you like it or not). You've read everything there is to know about local sourcing and seasonal menus and the advantages of grass-fed beef. You've endured the rolling eyes of friends who can't believe the prices you're willing to pay for bacon, pickled vegetables, egg nog. You're not alone. But even you may find yourself wondering if things have perhaps gone a bit too far if we're now talking about artisanal flour. It's made from wheat, after all

Take a chance on Lucky Chances’ 24-hour Cafe Colma

The security guard sweeps by our table at 2 a.m. and takes away our mostly empty bottle of cheap sparkling wine without a word. We hadn’t realized it was that late, but we’re not mad, just amused, as the security guard’s multitasking has become a recurring theme (we’ve also seen him act as host, buser and waiter). The dining room is staffed with nearly a dozen busy waitresses in starched white blouses and green and red vests, but they’re no match for the crazy Friday-night rush at Cafe Colma.
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