Civic Center is probably not the first destination on your Bay Area fine-dining list.
But talk to Chef Manish Tyagi, the man behind modern Indian haven August (1) Five, and your opinion may waver.
Today, he recommends the six must-hit spots in his neighborhood, from two kinds of donuts (mini, beignet) to best-in-class omakase to our favorite date bar in town.
Eat, drink and do-nuts.
“Brenda’s French Soul Food is actually the soul of San Francisco. Brenda's is fantastic for brunch, especially if you're craving Southern comfort food (and mimosas). You can't go wrong with any of their beignets, but if you had to choose, go for the crawfish. Otherwise, get the flight to sample all of them. If time allowed, I could eat at Brenda's every morning.”
“Souvla was recommended to me by a close friend and has been my favorite lunch place ever since. Seating is limited, but the line moves quickly, and if you can't find a seat, take your meal to go and enjoy it in the park nearby. If I can find a seat, I always sit right in front of the rotating poultry. I like the concept here of a super simple menu starting you with four options (pork, chicken, lamb or veggie) and the choice of pita or salad. Sides are à la carte and wine is just red, rosé, white or bubbles.”
“One of my favorite newer restaurants in the Civic Center area is Corridor. This all-day restaurant is the perfect place to get expertly crafted coffee, a quick morning bite or a snack. They serve a variety of delicious pastries, and homemade breakfast and lunch items to-go throughout the day.”
“I am a huge fan of Japanese food, and my dream came true when Robin opened just a few blocks away from my restaurant. I've had plenty of omakase, and Robin is up there with best of them, in terms of both food and atmosphere. You have to go in knowing what to expect: it's not going to be traditional, and that's perfectly okay. Chef Adam [Tortosa] is putting his own expression of sushi out there and you should listen. The service is great, and Adam is a very friendly chef. I love their uni, toro and wagyu representation, and I love their care for ingredients.”
Drinks: Fig & Thistle
“Fig & Thistle is my go-to wine bar. The ambience is chic yet comfortable — you can have a conversation without having to shout; I like that it's less rowdy and hectic than elsewhere on Hayes. The staff is really attentive and quick! They do have some light bite options, which is good when you're enjoying multiple glasses of vino. Wines are reasonably priced, and pours are generous.” [Editor’s note: When we mentioned “our favorite date bar in town,” this is what we meant.]
“I have two children — a girl and boy — and like all kids, they love everything sweet. Hookt is the perfect midday snack as they offer mini-donuts. Rather than eat a full-sized donut, you get to explore a variety of flavors. My favorite flavors are the cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar. To top it off, they also have a bottle of chocolate sauce that you can drizzle over the top of your donuts.”