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Local Intelligence | San Francisco

Joanne Weir on food, wine, and why she loves San Francisco

“I am crazy about travel, food and wine. Put the three together and I’m in heaven.”

San Francisco is a global culinary capital—from its incredibly innovative and diverse restaurant scene led by some of the most creative chefs to its access to fresh, locally sourced ingredients from fruit to fish and wine. So who better to ask about experiencing San Francisco through its food then Essentialist Globalite and renowned chef, Joanne Weir? Here she reveals her ideal Sunday, favorite new chefs, and the city’s best farmer’s markets.

Essentialist: Why San Francisco? How did this California city become your home? What do you love about it?

Joanne Weir: I grew up in New England and right after college, I made my first trip to San Francisco. I immediately fell in love. New England was old and cold and settled in its way but California… I loved the relaxed lifestyle, the food, proximity to the wine country and especially the people. I moved to San Francisco and never looked back.


E: What is one of your favorite San Fran neighborhoods and why?

JW: I love Fillmore. It’s my neighborhood, Lower Pacific Heights. I discovered it on my trip when you could get an apartment for $500.00 which was a lot then. I loved that my neighborhood had a hardware store, a stationary store and a wine bar. Transitional at best, there were only a few restaurants. Now the Fillmore has some of the best in the city. All I need to do is walk 2 blocks and I can have the best Italian, Indian, Vietnamese and modern Middle Eastern. 


E: What is your go-to restaurant for a great, easy meal with friends/family?

JW: I love sitting at the bar at Out the Door which has the best Vietnamese food.  This is my neighborhood go-to! I also love Octavia for the deviled eggs. It’s not your mother’s deviled egg! 


E: Who are some of the up & coming chefs in the city who are making you take notice?  

JW: Oh, there are way too many! I still love some of the old standbys like Ravi Kapur at Liholiho, Mourad at Mourad, Laura and Sayat at Noosh, Kokkari, Melissa Perillo at Octavia, Laurence Jossel at Nopa, and the brand-new Angler. 


E: How would your perfect Sunday in San Francisco unfold?

JW: A perfect Sunday for me would be shopping at the Clement Street farmer’s market and picking up some things for dinner. The afternoon might include a bike ride through the Presidio so I don’t feel guilty about the special Sunday night supper I’m going to cook up. Of course, that includes opening a great bottle of wine.


E: If someone was going to San Francisco and wanted to experience it through its food, what would be a few essential things you would say they had to taste and/or places they have to visit?

JW: Definitely go to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s market on Saturday morning. Not to be missed! Also go to La Taqueria for a delicious grilled burrito, one of their specialties. Of course, a Mexican Negro Modelo is a must to go alongside. Or you can take the ferry over to Sausalito and visit me at Copita, my modern Mexican restaurant. Sit outside, people watch and don’t forget to order some ceviche and cool off with a margarita.


E: What is a favorite farmer’s market or resource for fresh produce and ingredients for you? 

JW: I’m a farmer’s market junkie. I love the Sunday one on Clement Street. Only two blocks long but it’s manageable, excellent produce and always fun! I like the one at Fort Mason on Sunday and on Saturday, the best is at the Ferry Plaza. You can not only buy incredible produce but you can also have a delicious breakfast or lunch from one of the stands. 

E: How has travel inspired your creativity in the kitchen? 

JW: I am crazy about travel, food and wine. Put the three together and I’m in heaven. I rent villas in Italy, Greece, Morocco, Spain and the south of France and like-minded food enthusiasts spend a week with me cooking, going on excursions together visiting restaurants.  It’s my favorite thing that I do. I am always inspired by the outdoor markets, the restaurants and what we learn from the people we meet along the way. The best part is that I learn right along with them. Did I mention that I love my job? 

E: Copita, your Sausalito-based restaurant and tequila bar, serves seasonal Mexican food to rave reviews. Tell us about your attraction to Mexico and its cuisine? 

JW: I have written 16 cookbooks about the Mediterranean and my 17th book was about tequila cocktails and food including tequila. I was on a restaurant friend’s yacht off the coast of Mexico and handed him my book as a little gift. He told me he made the best margaritas. I challenged him by making mine. I won the competition and he asked if I would open a Mexican restaurant with him. I had had two margaritas by then and said yes. Thus, Copita was born!

E: What’s a new destination on your travel radar that you are looking to visit soon?

JW: I’m filming along the Danube on a river ship with AMA Waterways for my next TV series called Plates & Places and I’m beyond excited about seeing this part of the world, one that I’ve never seen before. 

THE WORLD IS waiting

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