Chef Accarrino Shares San Francisco Favorites
After graduating from the CIA in New York and working for top tier chefs around the country (including Thomas Keller at Per Se and Tom Colicchio at Craft Los Angeles), chef Matthew Accarrino moved to San Francisco in 2009 to take over the SPQR kitchen. At the intimate Fillmore neighborhood restaurant, Accarrino takes traditional, rustic Italian recipes and reinvigorates them with modern techniques and fresh, directly-sourced California ingredients. The expertly-crafted handmade pastas are the hallmark of his unique brand of Italian cuisine—think smoked fettuccine with quail egg, bacon and sea urchin, and burnt flour campanelle with hot smoked salmon and fava beans. The James Beard nominee was a Food & Wine “Best New Chef” in 2014 and has steered the restaurant to Michelin-star status for the past three years. Below, chef Accarrino shares a few of his top picks for San Francisco, from the best spice shop to the only croissants worthy of waiting in line.
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Spice Ace is a tiny, but most incredible, spice shop right near SPQR. The owner Olivia Dillan has the best quality spices and they make unique house blends with all kinds of themes, like Pacific Heights (my neighborhood). I love to cook at home with these spices.
Spice Ace / 1821 Steiner Street, San Francisco, CA 94115 / 415.885.3038
Credit: Eric Wolfinger
I hate lines and never want to wait in them, but I would consider it for a Tartine Bakery croissant. They are what I measure all others against.
Tartine Bakery / 600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110 / 415.487.2600
This sister restaurant to Slanted Door is around the corner from SPQR. The food is always good, inexpensive, and really tasty. It’s my go-to for a quick bite or business meeting during the week. I always order the steamed buns, daikon rice cake and rice porridge.
Out the Door / 2232 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94115 / 415.923.9575
Credit: Daren Le
The banh mi at Saigon Sandwich is simple and well done. It’s not in the best neighborhood, but it’s delicious, inexpensive and worth the trip.
Saigon Sandwich / 560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102 / 415.474.5698
Hotel Zelos is centrally located downtown. Run by local chef Dave Bazirgan, the restaurant and bar, Dirty Habit, has delicious takes on bar food and great drinks.
Hotel Zelos / 12 Fourth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 / 415.348.1111
The Best Way to Spend a Saturday Afternoon in San Francisco
Riding your bike through the Presidio and possibly over the Golden Gate Bridge—good luck with navigating all the folks on the bridge—and into the Marin Headlands. I train there a few mornings a week on my bicycle; I do the same hills over and over—there are quiet roads and trails over there and all the abandoned bunkers are an interesting window into how the coast was protected in the past. I always appreciate the view on the way out and back as I go over the bridge.
One Attraction You Shouldn’t Miss
Credit: Gary Yost
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on a Saturday morning—I mostly work with farmers directly for the restaurant and don’t often have time to navigate the chaos of a Saturday market—but as a visitor, it’s a great way to see the produce we have here, visit all the shops, and taste some great food.
About Matthew Accarrino
Matthew Accarrino is the nationally recognized chef of SPQR in San Francisco, CA. Born in the Midwest and raised on the east coast, he moved west to California in 2007. His unique culinary style draws inspiration from his Italian heritage, personal experiences, and classical training with some of America’s best chefs, coupled with his embrace of the bounty of opportunities that California ingredients present. With a strong belief in direct sourcing, Accarrino endeavors to play a role in the growing and development of many of his ingredients. The result is an intensely personal cuisine that is both technically polished and soulful; and which has garnered praise from publications such as Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Saveur, San Francisco Chronicle, 7X7 and San Francisco magazine. Under his direction, the restaurant was recognized with a Michelin star in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 guides. Accarrino has been nominated four times by the James Beard Foundation for “Best Chef: West.” FOOD & WINE named him a “Best New Chef” in 2014 and FOOD & WINE readers named him a “People’s Best Chef California” in 2013. Accarrino co-authored and released his first book, published by Ten Speed Press, SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine, in October 2012.