The commercial strip in Cole Valley only lasts for a couple of
blocks. Here's what you'll find:
Eos (901 Cole; 566-3063), at the corner of Cole and Carl, is an incredible gem.
This restaurant is all about the
food -- the Asian-fusion food here is simply excellent, and
the presentation is incredible. Desserts are particularly
good (the bananamisu is a classic). Eos was founded by Arnold Wong ,
whose family used to own Ashbury Market on
the corner of Ashbury and Frederick. The food isn't cheap,
but it's worth it. The wine bar next door (under the same
management) also serves the same food from the same kitchen, which is good to know if you're trying to get in without a reservation.
Kezar Bar and Restaurant (900 Cole; 681-7678) is one of the hidden secrets of Cole Valley. You don't go for the interior decoration, and just why they have two TV's going nonstop with no volume is a bit of a mystery, but the food is great and reasonably priced. Check out the four or five daily specials, and if none of them strike your
fancy, the cheeseburger with fries will definitely hit the spot. Kezar has a great selection of microbrews, and the young crowd is fun and unpretentious. The black and white framed photos on the wall are pictures of the neighborhood from the turn of the century.
Zazie , a Provencal bistro (941 Cole; 564-5332) named after Louis Malle's french film of the same name, is also a favorite of mine. Catherine Opoix, the French-born owner (she's the one with the blond hair and the nice smile) is delightful. I like the Salade Nicoise, but for breakfast get the buttermilk pancakes with real maple syrup.
For such a small neighborhood, it's kind of funny that we have two Japanese restaurants. Grandeho's Kamekyo is the newest one. It's everything you could want in a sushi restaurant -- great food, clean, great atmosphere, and Yoko, the owner and sushi chef is fun and outgoing (for fun, ask him to use his imagination and create something for you -- see what you get). But to be branded a true Cole Valley insider, go to Hama Ko Sushi at 100 Carl Street -- there's no sign, they don't advertise -- you wouldn't even know it's a restaurant by the exterior. But the food is authentic (sushi only), Pamela Unterman gave it a good review, and the owners treat you like family once they get to know you.
Cole Hardware is considered by many to be the best hardware store in the City. The employees seem to have all worked there for years, and Rick Karp, the owner, has kind of a "Ben and Jerry's" approach to running a business. If you don't know what I mean, get on Cole Hardware's mailing list.
Say Cheese (856 Cole Street; 665-5020) is an epicure's delight. If you're into food, this long-time Cole Valley fixture is a must.
There are two good wine shops in the neighborhood. You'd never know that the corner grocery at 17th and Cole actually has a fantastic wine selection in the back room, but the owner is a wine fanatic and is incredibly helpful. Val de Cole on the strip is also good.