It’s that time of year when it gets dark way too early, the weather takes a turn, and the temperature starts to drop. Instead of studying for finals or writing that dreaded last paper, it is tempting to curl up under a blanket, watch the latest episode of that TV show you forgot existed and down a cup of hot chocolate. Unfortunately, that paper still needs to get done, but afterwards, you can reward yourself by going to one of these great restaurants that are perfect for when the weather starts getting colder.
La Mediterranee (Upper Fillmore)
This cute restaurant is compact, cozy, and has the option of outside dining beneath heaters. Not only are all the employees extremely friendly but the food here comes in huge portions, is inexpensive and is a perfect place to escape from the cold outdoors.
My favorite thing on the menu, by far, is the lunch special ($8.95) that is served from 11AM- 5PM. It comes with three items from a choice of nine, plus a choice of soup, salad, or potato salad. My favorite combination of items is spinach and feta fillo, chicken pomegranate and chicken cilicia fillo. The spinach and feta has a crispy, flaky outside and a creamy, salty filling. The chicken pomegranate is a chicken leg that has been slow cooked in juice, a blend of seasonings and spices until it is so tender that it falls off of the bone. The chicken cilicia fillo is a combination of chicken, cinnamon and raisins and stuffed inside a flaky piece of fillo and dusted with powdered sugar.
Also a good option: chicken kebob ($13.95) with rice pilaf
Chili Pies (Nopa)
Chili Pies is the perfect winter food for me. I love sitting in the warmth of the shop with a piece of their homemade pie, a latte, and a good book. Each pie is made fresh and can be topped with ice cream or frozen yogurt. I also love the fact that the lattes can be made with rice milk! Take a couple of friends to this cute shop and have fun trying a few of the different varieties that change daily! (pie slice $5 a la mode $7)
Also good options: green chili apple pie has a cheddar crust and walnut streusel and comes with ice cream and red chile honey drizzle, individual savory pies ($7-$8 each), hot chocolate ($4.50)
Fattoush (Noe Valley)
I’ve been coming to Fattoush for years. The food is consistently good and the service is warm and hospitable. Snuggled in Noe Valley, it may not be the first choice for those living on campus, but it is definitely worth the trek. Between the squishy cushions, dim lighting and true Middle Eastern flavor, it is one of my top restaurants to go to when it starts to get colder.
My favorite things to get on the menu during lunch are the falafel wrap ($8.95) that comes with potatoes and salad and the starting combination. The falafel is the perfect mix of crunchy outer and soft, flavored inside and compliments the tahini and soft lavash bread perfect. The salad that comes on the side balances out the wrap with a dose of freshness.
The starting combination ($12) comes with babhganouge, rihan (tomato and eggplant in basil sauce), hummus, tabouli and khyar b’laban (yogurt cucumber salad). It is definitely the best way to sample the starters and gives everyone something to try.
Also good on the dinner menu: Beriani with rice ($18), shakshuka ($21)
The Grove (Hayes Valley, Marina, Fillmore)
The Grove is the perfect place to escape the cold. Between the big squishy chairs, the fireplace and the homey feel, I love coming here to study or meet friends. The menu consists of simple, American favorites such as mac and cheese or chicken pot pie (prices vary) as well as many baked goods that are the perfect afternoon snack.
My favorites on the menu are: Coffee ($3-6), cookies ($3-$4), pies (prices vary), vegetarian Chili ($5)
I love San Francisco, but being a SoCal girl sometimes makes the winters unbearable. Fortunately, I have found several places that are the perfect way to escape the foggy, frosty air. Sometimes, it just takes that one restaurant or cafe to feel warm and cozy during the season!