If your idea of Australian cuisine goes no further than Outback Steakhouse, then it's time to widen your horizons, starting at SOMA's South Food & Wine Bar (330 Townsend #101 at Fourth St.) With its eclectic, Asian-influenced Australian cuisine and warm ambience, it's a great spot to watch the rain fall over a few glasses of wine. Helmed by Australian restaurateur Luke Mangan with chef Nicole Ferguson, South shines with its grilled quail, courgettes, basil, pine nuts, and currants as well as a refreshing take on Bay of Islands snapper, dished up with curried lentils and coriander yogurt. But do yourself a huge favor and save room for the real stars of the menu: the desserts. Called "genius" by SF Weekly's Meredith Brody, Luke's licorice parfait with lime syrup is already an early candidate for best dessert of 2008, and considering we're just a week into the new year, that's a recommendation worth taking. For more call 974-5599 or visit www.southfwb.com.
Slap on your best literary face and soak up the astonishing cross-section of written-wordies happily (and often drunkenly) performing their works under the Writers With Drinks banner at the Make-Out Room (3225 22nd St. at Mission). Armed with enough bawdy jokes to make even the stuffiest academic blush, ringmaster Charlie Anders sets the dynamic tone for this long-running reading series, which attracts some of the best and brightest names in the local literary scene. After this, you'll never accuse writers of being brooding recluses again. This week: Novelist Aimee Bender (The Girl in the Flammable Skirt) and Ariel Gore (How To Become A Famous Writer Before You're Dead). This Saturday, Jan. 12, 7:00 p.m. $3-$5 sliding scale. Fore more call 647-2888 or visit www.writerswithdrinks.com.
Head into the depths of the Mission this Friday for drinks and dancing — in that order — at two of the best spots in town, starting with newbie Coffee Bar (1890 Bryant at Mariposa). With an impressive assortment of wines by the glass and fancy-schmancy small plates to nibble on, you'll be blissed out and ready to shake that booty in no time. If a caffeinated buzz is more your style, don't miss their namesake java — locally-roasted beans fresh-brewed by the cup and espresso to die for. For more information, call 551-8100 or visit www.coffeebar-usa.com. A few blocks away you'll find Mighty (119 Utah at Alameda). Dubbing itself the gem at the grand intersection of the SOMA, Mission, and Potrero Hill neighborhoods — otherwise known as SOMISSPO — Mighty lives up to its name: housed in an enormous 7,000-square-foot former brick warehouse with three (count em'!) bars and an art gallery, the club routinely hosts world-class DJs who lay down some of the baddest beats and most eclectic dance mixes in town. This Friday check out the Slide Into Capricorn party, $15 at the door. Bonus: Capricorns get in free all night. For more call 762-0151 or visit www.mighty119.com.
If small plates and tapas are the culinary trend du jour, the Chinese have had the market cornered for years with the small dish favorites known as dim sum. The Tenderloin's Dim Sum Bar (620 O'Farrell) is one of the best in town, not only for its affordable and tantalizing spread of traditional dumpling dishes and baos (meat- or veggie-filled buns), but also for its long hours. The kitchen stays open until 1:00 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday — perfect for post-bar noshing. Fore more call 839-7366.
It's time again to make the rounds of new joints sprouting up across San Francisco, starting in SOMA at the aptly named comfort food spot The Cravery (829 Mission at Fourth St.), whose tag line pretty much says it all: "Gourmet handheld pot pies." For more, call 882-7300 or visit www.thecraverysf.com. Belgian beer devotees La Trappe (800 Greenwich at Columbus) boast traditional Belgian fare — think mussels and frites — but more importantly beer, lots and lots of beer. For more visit www.latrappesf.com.