A co-worker’s birthday brought me and my fellow worker bees to The Hat for a festive lunch. I’ve visited this 63-year-old palace of pastrami twice prior, but didn’t swoon until this time around. Hello, Grilled Cheese with Pastrami!
Now that The Astronomer and I are ten weeks away from welcoming our baby girl into the world, we’ve been thinking a lot about how our dining rituals of showing up without reservations and waiting in long lines will need to be revised quite soon. Not one to miss out on the latest hot spots, I’m hoping that lunchtime outings and dining early will keep me properly in touch with the L.A. restaurant scene with a child in tow.
Which brings me to POT, Roy Choi’s stupendous Koreatown spot that now offers lunch. While snagging a seat at dinnertime can be tough, lunch is a decidedly child-friendly affair with an al fresco dining option. God, I’m starting to sound like a mommy blogger…
The lunchtime menu is slightly abbreviated from the one offered at dinner, with scaled down portions and a few fun additions including Spam banh mi and classic bi bim bap.
The Astronomer and I started our lunchtime feast with an order of the “Stash” ($5), a sweet, salty, and umami-fied party mix of dried squid, peanuts, cashews, beef jerky, potato chips, dried pineapple, seaweed, wasabi peas, dried anchovies, and sesame seeds. I’d be the first in line to buy this stuff if it were bagged and sold by the pound. A killer beginning, for sure.
Before bidding San Francisco farewell, I made one final stop at pastry palace b.Patisserie.
Opened in 2013, this adorable bakery specializing in “modern French style pastries along with American flavors and local influences” is a mecca for the sweets-obsessed. If you’ve got a penchant for perfectly crafted pastries, this spot is most definitely for you.
The brilliant baker behind b. is Belinda Leong. She began her career as a pastry chef at San Francisco’s Restaurant Gary Danko for eight years, followed by two years of staging in Europe. When she returned to the Bay Area, she served as the pastry chef at Los Gatos’ Manresa Restaurant, before striking out on her own with partner and fellow baker Michel Suas to open b.
From the eye-poppingly beautiful display, I managed to whittle my wants to three delights.
On my second night in San Francisco, I tucked into Tosca Cafe for a solo dinner. Even though the bar area was packed with Thursday night revelers, I fortunately landed a table in the main dining room without a wait. The dining gods must’ve been looking after me after the insane wait at Flour + Water the night before. I was seriously grateful.
I wasn’t familiar with Tosca Cafe prior to Chef April Bloomfield (New York’s Spotted Pig, John Dory Oyster Bar, and Breslin) and her business partner Ken Friedman’s gastronomic takeover late last year. But from what I gather from scouring the ‘net, Tosca was a 95-year-old dive bar with killer cocktails and quite the following in its heyday.
Today, the kitchen is as essential as the bar. Chef Bloomfield’s modern Italian-American menu has re-energized the place, bringing in a whole new foodie set but still resonating with regulars.