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 NYC but is a West Coaster at heart. Email: anna.roth @ gmail

Swan’s Market showcases the community of Old Oakland

Unless you’re in Baja, a great fish taco is hard to find. Often they’re over-fried, or the fish is dry, or the tortilla is cold or they suffer from a dozen other small errors that remind you that you’re not on a beach in Mexico, you’re in the foggy throes of a Bay Area summer. The antidote to both the fog and a bad fish taco can be found at Cosecha Cafe, a stand inside Old Oakland’s buzzing food hall, Swan’s Market. On Wednesdays and Thursda

Sage Bakehouse makes Bay Area’s best savory pies

It took nine months for Nicholas Lee to be happy with his pastry recipe. The proprietor of Sage Bakehouse, a savory hand pie stand at the Clement Street Farmers’ Market, knew that the crust, more than filling, makes or breaks a pie. So he spent months testing options, using friends and family as guinea pigs, before settling on a two-pastry combo: On the bottom, he used a short crust, like a regular pie, and on top, a “rough puff,” a variation of puff pastry. Together they give his pies a sturdy

Craftsman and Wolves pays it forward at Bayview shop

A tall man bursts through the front door and makes a beeline for a neon Post-It note stuck to the bakery’s window. He has the unkempt air of a man who’s spent a few nights on the streets, but seems to straighten as he snags the piece of paper and turns to the person behind the pastry counter. “Hey man, can I get a slice of pizza?” I’m standing a few feet away and have paid $3 for the pizza slice that the Post-It represents. It’s a gratifying

7 Mile House: Pork adobo with a side of history

It’s not every day that you get to eat pork adobo in a former stagecoach stop and gambling den while listening to the dulcet tones of a cover band called Groove Objective. But that’s just Saturday night at 7 Mile House, a popular sports bar, Filipino restaurant and music venue on a lonely stretch of Bayshore Boulevard in Brisbane. The restaurant and bar is the only survivor, in its original building, of a string of “mile houses” that once dotted the Peninsula along El Camino Real and offered st

Poke sweeps the Bay Area, but how’s the seafood sourced?

Let me start by saying that I love a poke bowl. These quick meals of raw fish, brown rice and various virtuous toppings are the latest trend in fast casual dining, first sweeping Los Angeles last year, then moving to the rest of the country. The places that purvey them are painted in bright colors, like fro-yo shops, and offer a customizable assembly-line ordering experience, like Chipotle. A half dozen have opened in the Bay Area in the

Nyum Bai pop-up: ‘Soul food for Cambodians’

Nite Yun describes her newish Mission pop-up, Nyum Bai, as “soul food for Cambodians.” The 33-year-old grew up in California, not Cambodia — she was born in a Thai refugee camp to parents who had fled the Khmer Rouge, and the family immigrated to Stockton when she was a little girl. Through food and Nyum Bai (a phrase that translates as “let’s eat”), Yun is trying to reclaim the Cambodia that her parents’ generation remembers fondly: the cuisine, music and culture that flourished in Phnom Penh

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

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

What to eat with your Bay Area craft brew

The chicken strips are juicy and crusty in all the right ways, but there’s something else going on in my mouth. A hit of sugar, white pepper and cumin, then the numbness that comes with Szechuan peppercorns. The sensation is subtle, though a ramekin of ranch dressing is on the side for quick extinguishing. This chicken, a bar favorite in Taiwan, is part of the short menu at the 6-month-old Black Sands Brewery in the Lower Haight. Chef Eric Ehler is mak

Pal’s Take Away makes one-of-a-kind sandwiches

The tuna sandwich develops in your mouth like a Polaroid photo, each taste bringing a new sensation. At first you sense firm, olive-oil-poached albacore; a creaminess from house-made mayo; the satisfying chew of the Firebrand torpedo roll. Another bite reveals briny cornichon, peppery arugula and sweet roasted cherry tomatoes. And finally, the crunch of a potato chip, a punch line to remind you not to take this, or any sandwich, too seriously. I’ve loved a lot of sandwiches in my life, but I ha

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.

Cheesecake worth a detour to Vive La Tarte

New York has dominated the cheesecake game for too long. At least that’s the opinion of husband-and-wife team Arnaud Goethals and Julie Vandermeersch, owners of SoMa newcomer Vive La Tarte. The couple knew that they wanted to include a cheesecake in their bakery case, but the sturdy New York style didn’t jibe with their vision of the Bay Area. After some experimentation, they hit on a secret process to make their organic Sierra Nevada Cheese Co. cream cheese almost as light and fluffy as Karl t

Taste of Jiangnan shows another side of Chinese cuisine

Any discerning food person can probably name at least four regions of France without too much effort. Five varieties of apples. Eight types of cheese. But until fairly recently, even the most food-loving Americans were only eating Chinese food from Canton, Hunan and Szechuan, ignoring the rest of a nation that encompasses 3.7 million miles and 1.3 billion people. That’s evolving in the Bay Area: Now we can try the cuisines of Xi’an and Sh

Eat Up: Yemen Kitchen serves up a taste of home for Yemeni expats

Men come in and out of Yemen Kitchen all day long. Cab drivers. Contractors. Shop owners. Most are Yemeni expats, and they joke around in Arabic with owner Abdul Al Rammah as they drink sweet, strong tea and wait for the food of a country that they can’t return to because of civil war. “Our people feel like they’re home,” Al Rammah says of his tiny, three-table restaurant, which opened in the Tenderloin in June. “They feel like

Chef gets creative (mango mole, anyone?) at Los Moles

In the wrong hands, mango mole would be a disaster. In Lito Saldana’s hands, it is a triumph — a bright, complex sauce with just a hint of fruit and spice. The chef invented the mole, whose 30-plus ingredients include red bell pepper and orange juice, to imitate the flavors of the mangoes coated in chile arbol, salt and lemon juice sold on the street in his native Mexico. Mango is one of seven moles on the menu and the fabulous weekend buf

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

FuseBox in West Oakland fuses best of community, Korean cuisine

The restaurant world may be trending toward menus with less meat and more vegetables, but FuseBox, the tiny, 3-year-old restaurant nestled in West Oakland’s warehouse district, is unapologetic about its animal protein. You’ll want at least one order of the locally famous Korean fried chicken wings, with their light, rice flour crust and thin shellacking of sticky-sweet sauce. Definitely the sliced pig ears, their cartilage rendere

Shakedown: Tenderloin’s unlikely artisanal ice cream shop

Ice cream is not the first, or even 10th, thing that comes to mind when you think about the Tenderloin. But since it may as well be a San Francisco bylaw that new residents can’t be more than a mile from artisanal ice cream at any given moment, the changing ’hood now has Shakedown, an organic ice cream shop on Geary between Larkin and Hyde. Thankfully, there’s nothing precious about it. Shakedown is ice cream for adults, or at least the form of adult children that the city currently breeds. Dai

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;
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