Something new today: I decided a while ago I wanted to do quick little posts featuring local spots I’ve been checking out in San Francisco. I often get questions about where to go and what to do here in the city, and while you can see a lot of my favorites over here, I also wanted to showcase some of the newer spots we’ve been discovering since moving back this past spring. Whether you live here or are planning a visit, my aim is to feature new-to-us places that will take you off the beaten path!
First up: probably one of the more random dining experiences I’ve had, but one that I hope takes off. I discovered Stem Kitchen & Garden when looking for a place to meet up with Zoe for lunch recently. It’s a little south of me, in the growing Mission Bay neighborhood, where there are a lot of new office buildings and the burgeoning UCSF campus, but not much to speak of in terms of dining options. Stem is really the first sit-down spot in this area that I’m aware of, and it has a cool concept to boot.
The Concept: Don’t let its location in an office park fool you — well, okay, that part is kind of funny, but stay with me. The restaurant grows much of its own produce right in the courtyard garden, and boasts a gorgeous view straight across to the East Bay. There are a couple fire pits, and even a bocce ball court (methinks they built the outdoor area with happy hours and Giants baseball fans in mind — the stadium is 3 MUNI stops away, or about a 20 minute walk).
I’ve been a couple times now for lunch, and really enjoy sitting outside on the patio. At night, I’m sure the setting is magical, with the glow of the sunset on the water and the bistro lights illuminated up above. Add a glass of wine and a fire pit and what’s not to love?
The Eats: The menu focuses on a lot of California/Mediterranean-inspired grub, with plenty of vegetarian options. My fave so far has been the harissa spiced chicken with kale caesar (so typical), as well as the corn velouté — a soup that tastes like sweet, liquid corn (it’s delicious, like the essence of summer!). At lunch, they have a bunch of combo options that let you pair half a sandwich with the seasonal soup of your choice.
Go If: If you live or work in the neighborhood or nearby (Potrero, Dog Patch, southern SoMa), it’s a great lunch/dinner option, though be advised, the vibe is pretty mellow since the neighborhood is still developing. If you’re in the area for a Giants game, it’d be a great spot to grab a beer and a healthy bite to eat in an environment that couldn’t be more different than the madness of the bars and restaurants along Townsend St. and King St. before games!
Stem Kitchen & Garden
499 Illinois St.
Happy Hour M-Th, 3-6pm