What to Eat at Westfield Center, San Francisco
Shopping in downtown San Francisco is a must during the busy holiday season – the tree! The carolers! – but it can be hard to figure out where to eat. At Westfield Center, just a few blocks away from Union Square, countless levels of shops and two levels of restaurants offer shoppers the chance to take a break and rest weary feet. Upstairs, Under the Dome, a few dishes at sit-down restaurants hit the spot, while at the lower level food court, brave the crowds to snag a coveted table spot near the many fast-casual options.
A day of holiday shopping can be quickly and deliciously interrupted at Cupola Pizzeria. Seasonal salads and appetizers round out a broadly appealing menu of pizza and pasta. Pork meatballs with pine nuts are a gimme but dishes like baby kale salad with ricotta salata and toasted pistachios and persimmon bruschetta with goat cheese and almonds arrive quickly and are deliciously savory. Gluten-free options are available and the gluten-free pizza with mortadella and pistachios is worth every carb-loaded bite. A Bellini (or two) is a must for lunch with the ladies while kids will love the fresh lemonade blended with mango or strawberry.
At TAP 415, shoppers can revive themselves in as little as 20 minutes or their along-for-the-ride companions can hang out there for the duration of a football game (i.e. all day). The food mostly sticks to the cannon of classics that are familiar to anyone who has tailgated outside a stadium or attended a Super Bowl party. Beef burgers and bratwurst, beer and cheese soup and mains like chicken schnitzel and grilled albacore tuna are hearty menu staples. By looks alone, the braised beef slider would not shock anyone. Served big – one slider with a small salad is more than enough for a meal –the meat, is lush from hours of slow-roasting with just a hint of heat. Crunchy and subtly sweet, a portion of cornmeal battered onion rings arrived piping hot in a thick stack. They made a nice partner for the smoky, vodka-laced oyster shooter.
Tall bar stools with seat backs are comfortable enough to invite lingering if not lounging and a chance to view one of the many TVs that line the large room. A carafe of sangria or a house cocktail like the Campari and rye-infused Mulberry Street turn any hour into Happy Hour.
At Chef Martin Yan’s expansive, darkly lit spot, the hand-pulled noodles are a huge draw and are not to be missed. Try them in the noodle soup with beef and bok choy. Although the local Dungeness crab season is in peril, the good fortune crab clay pot with onions and shallots lets the delicate flavor of crab shine through and successfully walks the line between sweet and savory. M.Y. China’s dim sum is some of the best in the city and the dim sum collection (shiu mai, har gow, steamed bbq pork bao, multi grain rice, seafood dumpling, and farmer’s dumplings) is reason enough to make a visit to Westfield a priority this holiday season.
Sate your hunger for crustaceans on soft bread at Lobster ME where the lobster is served on sticks, in buns, sandwiches and soups. Instead of the sounds of the ocean smashing into rocks and fresh salt air, the Concourse offers sounds of shoppers shouting greetings to each other and the smells of cooking grease and the nearby BART station. But once a lobster roll from Lobster ME is in your hands, you will be instantly transported to Maine. Served on a long stick, the lobsicle was perfectly cooked and seasoned with just a bit of seasoned salt. The classic Maine lobster roll arrives with a soft bun and not too much mayonnaise. But the Golden Gate roll, swirled in miso-sesame sauce and topped with toasted nori, melded coastal California with coastal Maine most harmoniously.
There is nothing quite like spicy-salty, meat-laden broth and noodles to revive weary spirits. Char-grilled beef ramen’s chewy, not overcooked noodles and similarly prepared beef were the top choice at this Japanese chain with many Bay Area locations.
Proteins and greens in big portions are the name of the game at Buckhorn Grill. Salads span global flavors with mixed success – Cabo Chop and traditional Caesar are straight-forward while the Yik Yak crossed Mexican and Asian concepts in a bland way – but a green salad topped with tri-tip hit the spot.