94133 Travel Guide
Top Chef / Top Chef Travel / Food Travel / California / California Travel / San Francisco / San Francisco Travel / San Francisco Restaurants / → All Tags
As we uphold our weekly tradition of highlighting ex-cheftestants, giving due attention to the poor souls that didn't make it to the Final Three, we arrive at sprightly French chef Mattin Noblia. With a million-watt smile and red neckerchief that we hope he was wearing ironically, Noblia stole our hearts for being so disarmingly sweet...or maybe it was the accent. Either way, Padma and Co. bid Mattin au revoir after he presented a disastrous ceviche that Tom Colicchio found so offensive he actually spit it out. Tragic.
When he's not flashing his boyish grin on national television, Mattin can be found at Iluna Basque, his San Francisco restaurant. As you can guess from its name, the cuisine is inspired by the Basque region, served up on small plates that diners are encouraged to share.
San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood was, half-a-century ago, the epicenter of the beat movement and coffeehouse counterculture. Getting your morning brew at a corporate joint amid all this history would just be shameful.
Instead, sit and have a cup at the first Caffe Trieste, where the likes of Kerouac and Ginsberg would come to wake up, write their mad prose and have caffeinated conversations about morality and life. Opened in 1956 by Giovanni Giotta, aka "Papa Gianni," the cafe was one of the first on the West Coast to serve espresso.
Today it still serves a mean cappuccino in the traditional style and maintains a classic ambiance. The pastries here are also fantastic. Musicians perform regularly at Trieste, and the coffee shop, which now has several locations in the Bay Area, even has its own record label.
You might have to fight for a table, but on sunny days you can easily grab a seat outside or on the steps of the church across the street. If you're inclined to ramble as you sip, don't miss nearby City Lights, a haven of beat literature and make sure to take a stroll through Jack Kerouac Alley.