Author Timothy Ferriss Decodes The San Francisco And NYC Restaurant Scenes
His tips for tacos, Lebanese and how to splurge
Last week we spoke with best-selling author and self-help guru Timothy Ferriss — the guy behind books like the 4-Hour Body and the newly released 4-Hour Chef. “I am very qualified to write a book on teaching, but I have zero background in cooking, which in many ways makes me the perfect person to write a book for novices,” he says. “When I pick up a cookbook and it says, ‘first, blanch this…’ I don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Neither do most people, truth be told, which is why The 4-Hour Chef is such a different kind of read. There are lessons on the basics like knife skills, searing steaks and boiling eggs — all designed with some of the over 1,000 photos, charts and illustrations sprinkled within the 672-page behemoth. It all has a very dot.com feel to it, as if Mark Bittman suddenly wrote for Buzzfeed instead of The New York Times.
Ferriss also has some wisdom about dining out at restaurants, especially some sage advice on how to receive VIP treatment without over-tipping and other out-of-pocket activities. And how did he come to these conclusions? It turns out Ferriss is a big restaurant-head, particularly in his San Francisco hometown (he’s also an investor in restaurants and other establishments, including Blue Bottle Coffee). We asked him about his favorite places.
The Mission Street Food is great, but it’s always very, very packed. If it’s a special night, I’ll go to Saison. If I still want slightly higher end but a little more casual, I’ll go to Central Kitchen, which is by the same guys who did flour + water. Full disclosure, I am an investor in that restaurant, but that was after eating at flour + water almost every night after my gym session for months and months. If it’s a Saturday at 2 a.m. and I’ve had a few drinks – my cheat day – I’ll go to El Farolito. It’s a taco place in the Mission and they have the best super suiza quesadilla, which blows my mind. I really like Firefly for a smaller, NoCal experience. It’s very, very seasonal fare and less intimidating. Get the brussels sprouts. Kokkari is also fantastic and my favorite Greek restaurant in the city by far. And in general, for the restaurants that I recommend, do the tasting menu if you can make a night of it. You are simply going to get the best out of these chefs if you can do that.
Hearth is a winner. It’s not necessarily underrated, but the executive chef Marco Canora just isn’t much of a showman and doesn’t get as much attention as he should. Also go to ilili. It’s a Lebanese place, and order their mustard greens, which are just amazing. I knew I had to go there when I had a Lebanese taxi driver insist on it. When the culinary indigenous go to a restaurant like that, you know it has to be good. Sunday brunch at Riverpark is a must. The Mangalitsa boar is amazing. And I can’t leave out ABC Kitchen [read our interview with executive chef Dan Kluger]. If I go there, I’ll just order every appetizer on the menu and go on a miniature tour.
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