A fine dining darling is releasing its first-ever cookbook, and you need it in your kitchen

The Foreign Cinema Cookbook
Courtesy of Foreign Cinema

Foreign Cinema has been on the forefront of San Francisco’s dining scene since opening in 1999, before the city’s Mission district was the hip enclave it is today. Tucked into an unassuming space surrounded by decades-old taquerias and a growing crop of destination eateries, the restaurant welcomes local devotees and curious tourists to its romantic string-lit courtyard, where international films project onto the patio side wall, and knowledgeable staff present seasonal specialties and house favorites inspired by the cuisines of North Africa, the Mediterranean, and California.

Nearly two decades later, owners and chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark have penned their own cookbook, sharing their medley of delicious, if unexpected, dishes with grateful San Franciscans and the rest of the world. The 125-recipe cookbook, which hits stores tomorrow, features brunch highlights, sensory-scintillating hors d’oeuvres, and unforgettable main courses, like the signature curry fried chicken drizzled with spiced honey. There’s also a foreword by local culinary legend and food activist, Alice Waters.

While the husband-wife team were trained in longtime Bay Area establishments like Zuni Cafe and Waters’ own Chez Panisse, they’ve imbued Foreign Cinema with a spirit all their own. It’s still tough to get a reservation! The buzz has continued for so long due to the restaurant’s perfect balancing act of the necessities for a modern classic: a menu that marries transcontinental flavors; a standard of excellence on all counts; and an intimate ambiance that inspires an appreciation for beauty in the most unlikely of places. Bay Area fans and faraway foodies alike can now make Foreign Cinema magic at home, cookbook in hand.

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