Spring asparagus has come and gone and tomatoes are almost ready to hit the markets. Right now, though, is the best time of the year when it comes to produce in the Bay Area. It's prime stone fruit season, with cherries and peaches everywhere. Chefs and diners can't get enough of plums and apricots, pluots and apriums. We're enjoying nectaplums in sorbet, Bing cherries in punch, and peaches as curry. It reminds us of why peak-of-summer ripe stone fruits are such a joy to eat. Check out these 10 stone fruit dishes that make the most of the fruit's short season.
Peach pizza at Za Pizza
Peach pie is a familiar summer treat, but a slice of the peach pie at Russian Hill’s tiny pizzeria probably isn’t the sugary dessert with a lattice crust that you were imagining. This one is a Thursday-only pizza served during the short summer peach season, and it comes topped with Canadian bacon, fresh basil, and juicy morsels of O’Henry yellow peaches. It's available for a handful of weeks and just one day a week during that span, so you need to really plan accordingly. It's worth the schedule strategy and will make you wonder why more pizzas don't involve peak season fruit.
1919 Hyde St.; 415-771-3100
Summer salad at Sutro's
Summer is particularly magical at the 19th century-era Cliff House’s two restaurants — the more formal Sutro’s and the casual bistro-bar — even if the summer fog hasn't lifted yet. Of course if you’re fortunate enough to dine during a crystal-clear sunset, it's the perfect backdrop for chef de cuisine Ralph Bergin's stone fruit salad, which not only uses the seasonal produce (changes depending on what he finds each day) but also adds another important summer fruit: figs. On a watercress base, the salad is tied together with pistachios, feta cheese mousse pipetted in the shape of a chocolate kiss, and lightly dressed with another century-old San Francisco classic: Green Goddess dressing. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, this type of only-in-SF moment doesn’t get old.
1090 Point Lobos Ave.; 415-386-3330
Summer stone fruit salad at The Keystone
The vibrant colors of stone fruits really set off a dish. After months of bananas and pears, your Instagram feed will light up with the bright purple hues of plums and blazing orange of apricots. Texas native Banks White is having enormous fun at the Moscone Center area restaurant combining barbecue and other Southern staples with his love of Southeast Asia’s spices and cooking techniques (call it a new Southern-Southeast Asia cuisine?). Right now the chef offers a gorgeous Technicolor stone fruit salad with goat cheese, a vibrant Southeast Asian jolt from mint-coriander yogurt, and the Southern nod of pecan praline.
68 Fourth St.; 415-777-1200
Grilled peaches at The Girl & the Fig
Don’t worry, the Sonoma Plaza classic’s namesake fruit appears in many forms this time of year (like in the knockout chocolate salted fig caramel trifle). For stone fruit, however, the dish to know combines the best of the season with a meat that is, well, at its peak any season: bacon. The flavors mirror the same sweet-salty sensation of salted caramel or bacon and maple syrup. Yet everything in this composition that works as a starter salad or side rises to even more impressive heights thanks to the way the drizzle of barrel aged balsamic vinegar, almonds, housemade ricotta, bacon salt, bacon strips, and those bursting-with-juice lightly charred peaches play off each other. This is good life, sun-filled wine country eating at its best.
110 West Spain St., Sonoma; 707-933-3000
Pisco cherry punch at Novela
The literary-themed SoMa bar is the city’s number one address to know for punch, by virtue of being one of the first bars in the city to serve punch on tap and to make high-quality punch concoctions that leave the unbalanced version at your high school prom far behind. This summer, fend off the heat (and the fog) with Novela's pisco-based punch (not to be confused with the classic pisco punch cocktail made with pineapple gum syrup) made with tart cherry liqueur and macerated Bing cherries, chamomile tea and lemon juice.
662 Mission St.; 415-896-6500
Summer stone fruits at Black Sands Brewery
Yes, San Francisco’s most underrated brewery-restaurant (it’s too creative to merely be called a brewpub) does the comfort trio of burger, hot wings and fried chicken sandwich exceedingly well. But regulars know that what sets the Lower Haight establishment apart is its clever seasonal plates, like the current stone fruit dish inspired by Thailand's vibrant vegetable and fruit-forward salads. The stone fruits join raw red onions, shallots, peanuts, and a spicy lime vinaigrette, finished with a smear of coconut jam. It's spicy, funky, salty, umami-heavy — and vegan since the vinaigrette swaps the customary fish sauce for Maggi seasoning. Pair the salad with Black Sands' Smash IPA for an ideal summer meal.
701 Haight St.; 415-534-5194
Nectaplum sorbet at Lord Stanley
Hybrid stone fruits like apriums and pluots are familiar sights on menus and at farmer’s markets this time of year. But we’re not at all accustomed to seeing nectaplums — a cross of nectarines and plums! Chef-owners Carrie and Rupert Blease use Tenbrink Farms nectaplums for a sorbet that gets topped with the bright splash of sparkling Lambrusco. The dish is on the tasting menu and is served right before the chocolate-based finale. Stone fruit-seekers also have a duo of excellent peach dishes to enjoy: confit foie gras with peach jelly and compressed peaches to spread on fennel pain de mie bread on the tasting menu, and grilled peaches teamed with a Lillet jelly and slivered castelvetrano olives on the a la carte menu.
2065 Polk St.; 415-872-5512
Stone fruit curry with black lime cod at Al's Place
The Outer Mission hot spot's chef-owner Aaron London lived in Bangkok years ago and wanted to recapture the taste of the multi-dimensional, many-ingredient curry paste recipes he learned there, but with such special Bay Area produce around, he swaps coconut milk for stone fruit. The curry still channels similar sweetness and creamy texture, with much more freshness thanks to the peaches. The presentation involves black lime-dusted cod, plums, pluots, nectarines, plum jam, blueberries, green beans, and several herbs and flowers from the restaurant's biodynamic garden in a bowl, with the peach curry broth poured on tableside. Behold the Fourth of July fireworks version of a stone fruit dish.
1499 Valencia St.; 415-416-6136
Plum and marigold composition at Sons & Daughters
As the savory-to-sweet bridge in chef-owners Matt McNamara and Teague Moriarty's current tasting menu, plums show up twice in a complex, refreshing, and downright unique intermezzo. The focus is an egg yolk- and cream-based marigold flower parfait. That is accompanied by a duo of plum components: as a scoop of sorbet and as poached slices of the stone fruit with vanilla. Ready for the summer carnival addition? A caramel corn crumble and marigold-dusted popcorn add visual beauty from two amusement park staple snacks. This is a dish that perfectly ties together high-level cooking with childhood memories.
708 Bush St.; 415-391-8311
I Am Not a Crook at Trick Dog
It's summer and it's also election season, with the latter being the theme for the dozen drinks on the menu at the always packed Mission cocktail destination. White peach juice and garam masala are combined for a refreshing yet snappy syrup that works wonders with tequila, lime juice and a splash of soda. This is, honestly (wink, wink), a brilliant cocktail with Trick Dog's trademark creativity. You'll wish you could bring a pitcher of the drink to sip on a front porch. The drinks are available until January.
3010 20th St.; 415-471-2999