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Evvia Restaurant, Palo Alto – A wonderful dining experience!

This weekend, my husband and I went to Evvia for dinner – a Greek inspired restaurant in the heart of the Silicon Valley. We had been to their sister restaurant in San Francisco – Kokkari – a bunch of times and loved it, but we had never tried Evvia before. As we walked down Emerson Street towards the restaurant, I was really excited – if Evvia was anything like Kokkari, I knew we’d be in for a treat. Luckily, they did not disappoint! The warmth of the restaurant was felt as soon as we walked in the door – which is helped by their rustic, wood decor and ambient lighting. Our waiter greeted us immediately, helped us in choosing two excellent wines and made recommendations that were helpful to us (as vegetarians). The service was prompt and efficient, but friendly – we never felt like we were being rushed. And the food was excellent! Below are the pictures from our meal and the dishes we ordered. If you’re ever in Palo Alto, I’d highly recommend checking out Evvia, especially if you like Greek food with a twist. Enjoy the photos!

We started our meal with a Green Lentil Vegetable Soup, garnished with olive oil. Super flavorful, hearty but still light enough that we were able to enjoy the rest of the meal! The restaurant also split the soup into two bowls for us since we were sharing it, which I thought was a nice touch.

We also ordered crispy zucchini cakes, served with cucumber & mint yogurt as an appetizer. They were perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside with the wonderful texture of shredded zucchini on the inside. The yogurt sauce was a perfect cooling accompaniment to the dish. I think this might have been my husband’s favorite meal of the night!

Oh, and did I mention the wine?? We ordered a glass of the Velio, Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie ’08; and a glass of the Alpha Estate, Axia, Amyndeon ’06 (a red wine similar to a Syrah). Both were excellent. Here’s my husband digging into the soup with the wine glasses on our table πŸ™‚

For our entree, we had the herbed ravioli with heirloom cherry tomatoes, pesto, pine nuts & feta. Note – this dish looks small (only 4 pieces of ravioli) – but it’s actually super filling and very flavorful! For one person it’s definitely enough. For two people though… we were still hungry πŸ™‚ So we ordered another dish – The Evvia Pita with caramelized onions, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, myzithra cheese & Greek basil. We really liked the pita – the sweetness of the onions and what tasted like a honey/wheat dough was balanced well with the saltiness of the olives and cheese. This was a great way to end our meal – the pita totally hit the spot and filled us up!

For dessert, we decided to try the Galaktoboureko, which is aΒ traditional phyllo wrapped vanilla bean semolina custard with pistachio ice cream. It sounded a bit odd, but oh my GOD it was AMAZING. The perfect balance of flavors and a really unique dessert! Note – they also have a healthier dessert option which is the homemade Greek yogurt served with dried fruit, walnuts and honey on the side – which I ordered out of curiosity and that was really good too. But if you’re looking for a real DESSERT – try the Galaktoboureko – I promise you’ll love it πŸ™‚

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Perfect Sunday Brunch: French Toast Casserole, Potato Hash & Strawberry Smoothies!

This weekend, I decided to surprise my husband by making brunch from scratch for him. I had never actually cooked brunch before in my life, so I was a little nervous about how it would turn out. But I found a couple great recipes from HungryGirl and EatingWell.com that looked really yummy, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m happy to report that the brunch was a total success!! All of the dishes turned out AMAZINGLY well – my husband LOVED them. And the french toast was a huge hit (thank you HungryGirl!) – my husband said he’s never liked french toast made at home, but he loved this dish. And the smoothies – which was a recipe that I made up – tasted exactly like the In-N-Out Strawberry Shakes, but my recipe was much healthier πŸ™‚ All in all, it was a really fun cooking experience! The recipes (with my notes/modifications) and pictures are below, hope you enjoy them!

The Menu:

1) Fuji Apple French Toast Casserole

2) Potato & Onion Hash Browns

3) Strawberry Smoothies

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Fuji Apple French Toast Casserole

Notes: This is an amazing recipe for a super low calorie, fiber filled, and really flavorful french toast. Most recipes like this one would run you 500+ calories for 1-2 slices of french toast, but this recipe gives you a HUGE portion (4 inch by 4 inch casserole square) for only 200 calories! The only considerations here are – a lot of the ingredients in this recipe are somewhat processed (e.g. you’re not using real butter, sugar, syrup, etc.) So if that weirds you out a little, I wouldn’t recommend this recipe. I usually try to stick to whole foods without 30 ingredients per item, but once in a while I’m ok with trying a recipe that calls for more processed ingredients if it saves on calories and still has some good nutritional value (fiber, protein, etc.). Just my two cents before I give you the recipe πŸ™‚

Ingredients

  • 8 slices light bread (40 – 45 calories each with around 2g fiber per slice), cut into cubes. I used Sara Lee 45 Calories Delightful 100% Whole Wheat bread with honey (link here)
  • 4 oz. fat-free cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 medium apple (preferably Fuji), peeled and diced
  • 1 1/4 cups light vanilla soymilk
  • 1 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (likeΒ Egg Beaters Original)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar-free pancake syrup
  • 2 tbsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread (likeΒ Brummel & Brown), melted
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 no-calorie sweetener packet (like Splenda), or more to taste. 1 packet made the french toast sweet enough for us.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Place bread cubes evenly along the bottom of the dish.
  3. Sprinkle diced apple evenly over the bread.
  4. In a medium-large bowl, combine all other ingredients (cream cheese, soymilk, egg substitute, syrup, butter, cinnamon, and sweetener). If you like your French toast really sweet, add an extra packet of sweetener. Using a handheld electric mixer set to medium speed, mix until lump-free and smooth. Pour mixture over the bread and apple.
  5. Make sure bread is soaked in the liquid mixture. If needed, toss lightly to coat.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until egg mixture is pretty firm and cooked through. Note – mine took about 50 min. (Be sure not to overcook, as bread may burn.) Let cool slightly and cut into quarters. If you like, serve with additional syrup for dipping. Dig in!

Nutritional Info

Makes 4 servings – One serving = One 4inch by 4inch square

Calories: ~200

Fat: 4.25g

Fiber: 6g

Protein: 16.5g

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Potato and Onion Hash Browns

Note: I modified most of this recipe, so my notes are below in purple text. This recipe was also a HUGE hit with my husband. He said he’d actually want this at a restaurant (and he always thinks hash browns at restaurants are the best)!

Ingredients

  • 3 medium russet potatoes, (1 pound total), peeled and cut into quarters (Note: I used 1 lb of baby red potatoes and left the skins on for added fiber)
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (I used a red onion because I like the flavor and color)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch paprika (I omitted this)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (I actually used 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary because I love the flavors of rosemary with potatoes)

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold, lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and boil until potatoes are just tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and cool. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes. (You should have 2 cups of cubed potatoes.)
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sautΓ© until they are limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to sautΓ© until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. (Lower heat slightly if pan becomes too hot.) Season with salt, pepper and paprika (if you use paprika). Stir in parsley or rosemary and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (for 1 serving)

Makes 4 servings

Calories: ~120

Fat: 2g

Protein: 3g

Fiber: 2g

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Strawberry Smoothies

Notes: This recipe is SUPER easy. Only 4 ingredients, and you can make it in like 2 minutes. A great breakfast on its own, or as an accompaniment to any brunch!

Ingredients

  • 8 Frozen whole strawberries (Trader Joe’s has great organic frozen strawberries)
  • 3 oz low-fat vanilla yogurt (I used Trader Joe’s organic vanilla yogurt – 140 calories for 6 oz)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup 1% milk, or soy milk, or Unsweetened almond breeze
  • 1-2 packets Splenda sweetner

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until combined, creamy and smooth. You can also use a hand blender for this – it’s a lot easier for cleanup (that’s what I used and it turned out great)

Overall, it was a super satisfying, really healthy brunch – definitely felt like we were in a restaurant. Below are the final products all combined – can’t wait to make it again!


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New Product Find: Food Should Taste Good Chips!

Recently, I was contacted by the wonderful team at Food Should Taste Good – asking if I’d try their chips and write up a review. After checking out their website and reading about their company – I was intrigued, and agreed to try a sampling of 5 flavors (they have 11 total): Cheddar, Blue Corn, Sweet Potato, Chocolate, and Multi Grain. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect (especially from the Chocolate flavored chip!), but I have to say – after me and my husband tried the chips, we were both very impressed. The chips really live up to the company’s motto: they all taste really GOOD πŸ™‚ And the best part about them – they are super healthy! I’m always on the lookout for healthy product finds, and these chips are probably the healthiest chips I’ve ever come across!

Here are the stats:

Serving size: 9-12 HUGE chips. Seriously – each chip is like a large cracker – even if you broke them all in half, youd end up with good sized chips (so you could even say that you get 18-24 half sized chips in one serving!)

Calories: 140 per serving

Fiber: 3-4g!

Protein: 2-3g

The other great thing about these chips is you can pronounce ALL the ingredients. Each ingredient list is pretty short too – and they use great power-foods like quinoa, flax seeds, stone ground corn, high oleic sunflower oil, etc. Their chips are gluten-free, kosher, lactose free, trans fat free, low in sodium, cholesterol free, not genetically modified, contain no MSG, and have no preservatives! You’d think – with a list like that, that the chips would end up tasting like cardboard. Trust me – that is NOT the case. They are super crispy, have a wonderful nutty flavor, and for the varieties like Chocolate or Sweet Potato – the chips contain a nice subtle essence of those ingredients – enough to taste, but not too much that it overpowers the flavor. Food Should Taste Good has also come up with a bunch of accompaniments to their flavor varieties on their website, from Artichoke Spinach Dip with Multigrain, to a Fresh Fruit Salsa with Sweet Potato.

Out of the flavors they sent me, I have to say the Cheddar and Multi Grain are my favorites – but I haven’t tried all of them so there could be even more amazing ones out there! I really commend this company for helping to promote healthy foods but in a very tasty, flavorful way. My husband (who is very particular about what chips he likes) – loved these as well – so these aren’t just for the health nuts out there (like me πŸ™‚ ). If these are available at your local grocery store, I’d definitely recommend checking them out! Thanks Food Should Taste Good – great job on making an amazing product!

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Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco – A Culinary Adventure!

Millennium Restaurant has always been one of my favorite places to eat in San Francisco – it’s an upscale, gourmet, all-vegan restaurant with unique, creative dishes and a menu that constantly changes. I have never ordered the same thing twice there – which makes it an even more fun place to eat πŸ™‚ What I also love about them is they’re committed to using healthy, organic, fresh, seasonal ingredients and turning them into beautiful dishes that are as exciting to the eye as they are to your tastebuds! I would bet that even meat lovers would enjoy this restaurant. Last night, we went there for my husband’s birthday – and it certainly did not disappoint!

Below is a sampling of what we ordered, and pictures from our culinary adventure – hope you enjoy them!

Appetizers

We started with an Indian Spiced Red Lentil Soup infused with warm spices and a dash of coconut milk on top. It was a great way to start off the meal – reminded me a little bit of Indian Daal and Sambar mixed – with a Thai fusion twist. Both warming and simple, it was a perfect balance to the cold SF weather outside.

We also ordered the Black Bean Torte made with a whole wheat tortilla, caramelized plantains, smoky black bean puree, pumpkin-habanero papazul, cashew sour cream, and strawberry salsa. The torte just melts in your mouth as soon as you bite into it – with the flavors of the plantains and black bean puree seamlessly melding together. The salsa and papazul add a spicy kick, adding an element of surprise to every bite.

Entrees

We were really excited, and ordered four entrees from the menu. Luckily, we were so hungry and they were so tasty that we finished all of them! First up… the Indian Spiced Potato Cake with cardamom scented grilled eggplant puree, chestnut lima bean coconut saag, tamarind-tomato chutney, pickled fennel and a cherry tomato salad. In the picture below, you can see that the cherry tomato salad is on top of the potato cake. They also added a “pakora” on the side – which is like a vegetable fritter. The tomato chutney added a nice sweet and spicy flavor to the dish, and the saag was cooling against the spiciness of the potato cake.

Next up, the Peach and Pecan Glazed Tempeh with a peach & molasses glaze, a seared white corn grits cake, roasted green chile cashew cheese, seared broccoli rapini, a peach-ginger chutney, and pickled okra. I’m not usually a fan of tempeh, but this one was amazing! It had a very earthy and nutty quality – and the texture was absolutely perfect against the creaminess of the white corn grits cake.

Then we moved on to the Roasted Corn Masa Cake with pozole, caramelized fennel, pinquito beans, tomato confit and exotic mushrooms. It was served with seared kale, mole negro and an avocado-jicama relish. This one might have been my favorite of the night, just because of the strong, bold mexican flavors incorporated with such unique ingredients! The hominy in the pozole was excellent, and the beans were so cute and tiny! I’m also a big fan of avocado so no surprise that I loved the relish πŸ™‚ And given that I’m a health nut, I was estatic to see kale incorporated into this dish!

Lastly, we had the Sesame Seed Crusted Tofu in yellow coconut curry with roasted corn, Japanese eggplant, bok choy, squash, Bhutanese red rice, stone fruit and chile de arbol sambal. It was served with a Thai basil cucumber salad. This was a great light and airy dish – the Thai and Asian inspired flavors binded the dish together, and the tofu was super flavorful and had great texture!

After all this – you can imagine – we were stuffed! But in a very good way πŸ™‚ We also had amazing wine to pair with our meals, and finished off the night with one dessert shared by all – a caramel torte served with a coffee flavored sorbet – which was the perfect way to end the night! Needless to say, this was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in a long time – I think Millennium might have even outdone themselves from the last time I ate there – which is definitely a feat! My husband walked out of the restaurant happy, relaxed and very full – it was the perfect birthday dinner πŸ™‚

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My Top 10 Healthy Snacks

I often get asked what kinds of foods I eat in order to maintain my weight. A lot of those questions are about snacking – especially for those of us who have desk jobs and without-fail, get the “munchies” around 3 or 4pm! So I thought I’d put together a list of my top 10 healthy snacks – those that I eat on a regular basis that are filling, tasty but still healthy and low in calories. My general rule for snacking is I try to eat whole foods – so I stay away from most packaged goods if I can help it. But I am including a few of my favorite packaged goodies in the list below for those emergency situations! πŸ™‚ Hope this is helpful to all of you!

Top 10 Healthy Snacks

1) FRUIT! Fruit is an awesome snack – and it’s available year round! Most fruits are high in fiber, sweet, tasty, and filling. In the Fall, I go for Fuji Apples, Grapes and Bosc Pears (but any Pear will do!). In the Winter, I go for Oranges (I love blood oranges), Apples, Tangerines, Bananas (but be careful – one banana can have up to 130 calories). Spring and Summer are awesome, because there are so many options! My favorites for Spring/Summer are: Apricots, Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Grapes, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Stone Fruits like Peaches, Plums, Nectarines, Pluots (which is a Plum/Apricot hybrid that is usually sweeter than a Plum).

2) Raw Veggies with Hummus (or other healthy ) Dip: Carrot sticks, celery sticks, Raw broccoli, etc are all good options. I like to eat them with 2-3 Tbsp Hummus. But you can also eat them with Laughing cow cheese, or fat free dressing (~25-35 calories per serving).

3) Non-Fat Yogurt with 1/4 cup Fiber One or All Bran Cereal: This is a great snack and very filling. The yogurt gives you lots of protein and the fiber one has (of course) fiber, and is only about 30 calories for 1/4 cup! I like Fage 0% Greek Yogurt – which is only 90 calories but packs over 10g protein! You can sweeten the yogurt with a bit of splenda or sugar free preserves, or honey (but don’t go overboard with the honey – 1 Tbsp has about 60 calories!). By the way – one trap a lot of people fall into is topping their yogurt with Granola. Granola (though it sounds healthy) is actually FULL of sugar and calories. 1/4 cup can have up to 100-150 calories!

4) Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds: Yeah, yeah, I know these are kind of a dessert. But dark chocolate (make sure you get the kind that’s like 70% cacao) is full of antioxidants, and almonds are full of fiber and protein! These also satisfy a sweet tooth really well πŸ™‚ Just make sure you read the label and don’t take more than 100-150 calories (which is probably about 4-7 almonds depending on their size)

5) Nuts and Dried Fruit: The key here, is to make sure the nuts you buy are just that – nuts. The package should have one ingredient (maybe two if they roast the nuts with salt). My favorites are Almonds, Walnuts and Cashews. The same rule applies for dried fruit – there shouldn’t be any added sugars or oils on the packaging. I like raisins, dried blueberries and dried cranberries. The one trap people fall into with nuts and dried fruit is they take too much – and end up eating like 500 calories. 1/4 cup of almonds is about 150-170 calories (applicable for most nuts). So I’d aim for about 2 Tbsp nuts and 2 Tbsp dried fruits. That should be filling enough to hold you over until your next meal! πŸ™‚

6) 100 Calorie Packs: So this is one of my packaged snacks on the list – 100 calorie packs! These are great because they are already portioned out – and it feels like you’re eating a lot when you get to finish the bag. The other great thing is – they come in like 1,000 different varieties now. They even have 100 calorie pack hostess cupcakes! So pick your favorite, and enjoy!

7) 1 Slice of Oroweat Double Fiber Bread (toasted) with 1 Garlic Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge: The great thing about this bread, is it has like 7g fiber and only 70 calories per slice! The Laughing cow cheese wedges are only 30 calories per wedge, and one is more than enough to spread over a slice of bread. I like to toast the bread so it’s crispy, and spread on the cheese while the bread is hot so the cheese gets nice and melty πŸ™‚ 100 calories and a great snack!

8 ) Pretzels, PopChips, All Bran Fiber Crackers (only take about 100 calories worth – for the Fiber Crackers, that’s about 10 of them): This is a good snack if you want something crispy, salty, but you don’t want to eat a bag of potato chips. By the way – PopChips taste a lot like potato chips but are much healthier! These are also all good packaged snack options when you’re on the run.

9) Tea and a 2/3 cup of Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal: When I’m sort of hungry, but not really hungry – I’ll usually make myself a nice cup of hot tea (black tea with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, splenda, and 1/4 cup of nonfat milk is my favorite). If I want something to munch on, I’ll take a handful of Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal – and depending on how big a handful I take – that’ll end up being ~50 calories.

10) Protein Bars: My favorites are Clif Bars, Lara Bars, and Luna Bars. They all have > 4g fiber; about ~200 calories; and at least 5-6g protein. My favorite flavors for Clif are: Chocolate Peanut, Chocolate Brownie, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Oatmeal Raisin. My favorite Lara Bar flavors are Cashew Cookie and Peanut Butter Cookie. My favorite Luna Bar Flavors are Nutz over Chocolate, S’mores, Caramel Nut Brownie.

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Healthy Spicy Tomato, Bean, Veggie Soup!

Tonight I made a recipe I found on CookingChannel.com’s website – courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis. For anyone that doesn’t watch Food Network – she is awesome! She has great recipes and is super fun to watch on TV πŸ™‚ Anyway, so I found her recipe for a Spicy Tomato Soup and thought it would make a great dinner this evening. I made a few modifications, and it turned out AMAZINGLY well! My husband even said “I wish my stomach was bigger so I could eat more of this soup!”

I topped the soup with a sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese, and served it with whole wheat toast spread with Laughing Cow Light Garlic & Herb Cheese. It was a huge hit, a great balanced meal, had a wonderful spicy flavor, and was super easy to make. The modified recipe is below, and the original is here. Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (NOTE – I only used 1 Tbsp and it was totally enough. You don’t need the extra 2 Tbsp!)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped (I used a red onion)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (I added this because I had a red pepper left over, and it gave a great crunch and flavor to the soup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I actually used about 3 cloves of garlic)
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce (recommended: San Marzano brand) (Instead of marinara sauce, I used a 28oz jar of crushed tomatoes with Italian spices – gave the soup an amazing flavor)
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta) (I used whole wheat shell pasta for added fiber)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat
  2. Add the carrots, red pepper, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. I let the veggies saute a bit longer, like 5-10 min on medium heat. Gave them a great crunch but still were cooked through.
  3. Add the jar of marinara sauce (crushed tomatoes for me), broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes. I simmered it for a bit longer, maybe 15-20 min. Ladle into bowls, top with parmesan cheese, and serve (with garlic bread or my laughing cow cheese toast above!)

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My Favorite Restaurants in San Francisco

Recently, one of my girlfriends was visiting SF, and she immediately asked me to recommend a few of my favorite restaurants for her to visit while she was here. I LOVE the food in San Francisco – every ethnicity, every flavor, every style (casual to super upscale) is available within a 2-5 mile radius for your eating pleasure! And of course there’s the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building (and the Ferry Building itself) which are amazing finds for locally grown, fresh fruits and veggies, and all kinds of inventive dishes from small artisan restaurants. The list I sent to my friend is below – obviously this isn’t comprehensive of ALL of my favorites in SF, but these are the ones that we visit the most often πŸ™‚

Hope it’s helpful!

Favorite Restaurants in San Francisco

Colibri (http://www.colibrimexicanbistro.com/)

Amazing Mexican food with tons of veggie options. Their guacamole is made fresh, table side – so you can customize it to your specific tastes. A great assortment of salads and other Mexican dishes with an inventive twist. Tons of drinks, and happy hour too! On some nights they even have live music which just adds to the ambiance of this restaurant.

Kokkari (http://www.kokkari.com/home/)

Upscale mediterranean food, amazing ambience, tons of flavor. Their small plates are great, as is their sweet pea & feta ravioli! Good for groups and even for a special date night.

Greens (http://www.greensrestaurant.com/)

Upscale, all vegetarian. BUT – I promise meat eaters won’t be dissatisfied with this restaurant! With a local menu that changes daily, the food at Greens is warming, tickles your tastebuds, and is a culinary adventure to experience. Set on the marina, the views from the restaurant at night are beautiful, as is the rustic decor inside the restaurant itself.

A16 (http://www.a16sf.com/)

Fun, Italian restaurant in the Marina; also has a wine bar with a very extensive wine list. Their pizzas here are a must have – they have an incredible list of toppings, and the dough is made fresh onsite. Feels like you’ve stepped into little Italy in SF.

Mama’s (http://www.mamas-sf.com/)

The best breakfast and brunch in SF, hands down. Mama’s has something for everyone – from their French Toasts made with a variety of house baked breads, to their “low fat breakfast specials” that taste great, Mama’s definitely will not disappoint! Be prepared to wait in line – especially if you go on a weekend – but I promise, it’s worth the wait πŸ™‚

Dosa (http://www.dosasf.com/)

Indian food, located in the Mission. True to its name, Dosa serves up traditional South Indian fare but has a variety of fusion options that taste great too – like their Organic Aspargus Soup made with shallots, leeks, spring onions, coconut milk and lemon zest. Or their Fiery Fruit Salad dressed with lemon juice, mint, cayenne and ginger. You’ll experience South India in a new way at this restaurant, and since its in the Mission you’re guaranteed a great crowd and ambiance.

Gracias Madre (http://www.gracias-madre.com/web/menu.php)

Mexican food, located in the Mission. But this Mexican food is different than anything you’ve tasted before! Their food is 100% organic and vegan, and their menu changes because it’s based on seasonal ingredients. Their tortillas and tamales are handmade from organic heirloom corn, some of which is grown by them on their own farm! I’d highly recommend trying this place – even meat eaters will love it!

Local Mission Eatery (http://www.localmissioneatery.com/)

A true SF staple, local in every way, with great food and a community feel. They even have cooking labs and allow patrons to stand at their open kitchen and observe them making your meal! Dinners are events, at a shared kitchen and table. Every dinner is a unique, four-course, set menu at a very reasonable price. (Vegetarians can be accommodated ahead of time). The food is local, hyper-seasonal, homemade and refined. Definitely an experience to try if you’re ever in SF!

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