Lately I've been noticing restaurants stepping up their online game, telling their stories through substantive blogs that educate and entertain readers. It's exhilarating: I may not be able to dine on Alex Stupak's seven salsas at New York's Empellón Cocina, but the restaurant's tumblr brims with recipes, stories about Mexican cuisine, and videos so I can learn salsa making from Stupak himself. The blog for Seattle's The Whale Wins **pops with gorgeous photographs, paeans to foods like Hama Hama oysters and roast chicken, and even reimagined lyrics for songs like Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" (which includes a couplet about former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni). But my favorite is the blog of San Francisco's **Nopa. Its videos and podcasts celebrate the food producers who make the place thrive, with content ranging from a treatise on the plight of honeybees to discussions with people like James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee. It shows how a restaurant can weave itself into a community and invite anybody, anywhere into the fold.
Paolo Lucchesi is a staff reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.