No Ordinary Food Court

about_photo_grid.jpg Courtesy of www.wichcraftnyc.com

You’re probably wondering why on earth I would write about a food court, but the term “food court” really doesn’t do this place justice. It’s not like any other stereotypical one you’ve seen in the standard American mall. Thankfully, there’s no Sbarro, Panda Express, or Hot Dog on a Stick anywhere in sight.

A couple of weeks ago I stayed at the Hotel Palomar in San Francisco for a few days (great boutique hotel with exceptional service, btw). That meant being right next door to the San Francisco Shopping Centre (!) and an endless source of meal options in their famous food court and supermarket, Whole Foods knockoff, Bristol Farms.

I’ll list out only the places I tried.

WICHCRAFT – Fans of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” are familiar with this restaurant chain’s owner, Tom Coliccio. Unfortunately, this place falls into the typical celebrity chef trap: all style, no substance and overpriced. It bugs the crap outta me that the food here was fresh, conceptually inventive, the elements were individually good, but the result was less than memorable. Head to this next joint for a better soup and sandwich…

SAN FRANCISCO SOUP COMPANY – This chain makes delicious homemade soups that are consistantly good and made with top notch ingredients. It’s the best soup you’ll have, and I’ve been to four of their locations in the Bay Area. The Tomato Bisque, Turkey Chili, Tortilla Soup, and New England Clam Chowder are all exceptionally good, along with their Spinach Salad. They have about five regular soups, but also have quite a good selection of specials that change daily.

CATCH ISLE – I loved my first dish here so much that I went for a return visit. I tried the Linguini and Clams (I know, at a food court!) and was wonderfully surprised. It was comperable to a higher end joint and I’d definitely have it again. The flavors were clean, fresh, and came together nicely. Service was consistantly nice too, which helps. I had the Fish and Chips on another visit and a mixed green salad. It was good, but not great. My search for decent fish and chips in the Bay Area continues…

BUCKHORN GRILL – I love this place because they know how to treat a good piece of angus beef! It’s always cooked perfectly, marinated and flavored well, and surprisingly juicy. Order anything with the tri tip beef and you’ll be good to go.

PASTA MOTO – They had a real pizza oven and some tasty roasted veggies. And the Margherita Pizza was pretty tasty for a food court (but it’s no Pizzeria Delfina, of course). But on average…it was average. The weakest meal next to Wichcraft I had here.

ANDALE – There are various locations of this small Mexican chain in the Bay Area. They do a cross between Mexican street food items with a more Californian spin on preparation. I love the Shrimp Fajitas.

BEARD PAPA – You know how I feel about this place… Go!

There are many other restaurants here, including “Out the Door,” by the owner of “Slanted Door” (again, overpriced and overhyped), and some other more standard choices. But all in all, this food court has better options than some higher end restaurants I can think of. All this variety, affordability, and you get some good food to boot.

The Food Court @ The Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre – 805 Market Street, S.F. – 415.512.6776

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