Clean Plate Club: Bay Area

We understand that time is the most valuable thing for everyone — especially you! And after time, its food. Life is too short for a bad bowl of soup. We firmly believe that each meal is an opportunity for bliss, hence we have done the hard work for you in selecting the best “fill in the blank” dining options. We work with local food editors up and down the coast, to compiles our “Best of” roundups.  

Who’s we? Please meet our California Clean Plate Club, in no particular order. 

And if we missed our favorite, please email us

Spud Hilton

After 20 years as a full-time travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, I realize there are two things I love about food. First, eating something new or foreign is a great way to get out of your comfort zone, which is the point of traveling and experiencing other places. And second, local food is the easiest way to explore another culture — not everyone loves art or music, but everybody has to eat. It doesn’t matter if it’s halfway around the world or down the street, there are always great dishes to try, and I love sharing those places when I find them.

Kasia Pawlowska

A Californian by way of Poland, I’ve spent the past 13 years living and eating in the birthplace of snobby ice cream flavors and (potentially) the martini — San Francisco. Whether it’s wood-fired Neapolitan pizza from a no-reservations-hour-long-wait spot, seasonal ankimo at 10-seat sushi bar, $2 take-out har gow, or a new chip at the bodega, selecting food is one of the most thrilling and important decisions of my day. Hence when I’ve traveled for work or pleasure, I study up on where I will spend my two precious resources, time and money. I believe that we can all eat really well regardless of budget and that an expensive meal isn’t always a good one. I love uncovering hidden gems tucked away in strip malls, and am a bit of a heat seeker, so you can catch me slapping on the wasabi and splashing on the Crystal house sauce on just about anything.

Sabrina Tuton-Filson

There are few things that get me like the crunch of freshly baked sourdough pizza, the sizzle of onions in oil, or a well-balanced hearty salad. I’m known for adding a pinch of fleur de sel to just about everything — open-faced toasts to smoothies to ice cream — and have a proclivity for fitting nearly every meal into a mason jar. In true SF-native form, I spend generous amounts of time ogling farmer’s market stands and talking about new veggie varietals I just learned how to cook. When I’m not perusing the aisles for cooking inspiration, I’m on the lookout for the best vegetarian, dairy-free and seafood dishes that restaurants offer — because yes, cheese-less pizzas (*gasp*) and dairy-free ice cream can be delicious. As a former dairy fiend, I’m here to spread the word.

Sabrina Tuton-Filson_author headshot
Mimi Towle Pizza Hacker

Mimi Towle

Growing up in a restaurant family on Oahu, with a cattle ranch on the Big Island, food was always front and center, which is probably why, like many it’s my love language.  Bring me fresh dim sum and you’ve won my heart. It’s that easy. I’ve been lucky to live in the East Bay, San Francisco, and Marin County and have lots of friends in the South Bay. In each town I’ve lived in, I’ve made it a priority to discover the best noodles (Asian and Italian) sushi, tacos, falafel, curries (+ naan) and pizza I can drink with a punch-in-the-face glass of red wine. I’m not picky what I eat and aim for local, sustainable, organic, a.k.a. ‘regenerative’ is the word du jour!  Cheers to all of our local restauranteurs work so hard to keep us coming back for more!  (That’s me on the right enjoying a pie from Pizza Hacker) 

Jeanne Cooper

After many years of reporting on trends in the state and visiting friends, my husband Ian Hersey and I have moved to the Big Island, a.k.a. Hawaii Island. If you check my Instagram account, you’ll see cute puppies (I foster) and tasty treats. Getting a photo of me with the meals was not as easy. Luckily, Ian often has a camera in hand during Happy Hour.

Matt Poole-Clean Plate Club-Headshot

Matthew Poole

Matthew has authored more than two dozen travel guides to California, Hawaii, and abroad. Before becoming a full-time travel writer and photographer, he worked as an English tutor in Prague, a ski instructor in the Swiss Alps, and a scuba instructor in Maui and Thailand. His writing and photography clients include Frommer’s, HarperCollins Publishers, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan Publishing, Penguin Books, and Berlitz Publishing Co. Matthew’s expertise is on California travel, and he’s the author of four Frommer’s travel guides to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and California.

Mark C. Anderson

A writer, photographer, editor and explorer based in both Bay Areas. He brakes his bicycle for fresh seafood tacos at places like Pescadero (local abalone tacos!) in Carmel, Sea Harvest in Moss Landing (local rockfish tacos!) and the vegan tacos at Flaco’s in Berkeley (the spicy house salsa is legit AF). His work has appeared in the San Francisco ChronicleBest American Food Writing and Edible Monterey Bay, where he’s lead columnist and contributing editor. He also appears weekly on KRML Radio.

Paula Phommounivong

Growing up as a Lao American, I’ve been blessed with my parents’ Southeast Asian cooking all my life. So, I love anything with fish sauce, garlic, and chili pepper! I can genuinely say food is the way to my heart. I don’t recall ever being a picky eater as a child — if it looked edible, I’d eat it. I believe trying new dishes is the best way to learn about a culture and its people. Since moving to the Bay Area, I’ve been hunting for the cheapest eats, well-loved regional staples, and trendy TikTok foods. When I’m not cooking, I’m probably out ordering chili-oil soaked liang pi noodles, chirashi bowl, or sopes de cabeza for dinner. Whether you are searching for a place to dine in or order takeout, I hope you find what you’re looking for on our website. Bon appétit!

Scroll to Top