I have lived in beautiful San Francisco for 5 months and now feel like I want to give something back to my SF friends. I have eaten some amazing things since moving to this city by the bay and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. San Francisco, my favorite city: where the women are strong and the men are pretty…and the food is life changing.
#1 Strawberry Earl Grey Donut from Dynamo Donuts. I am normally a girl that doesn’t like donuts, they make me unbelievably thirsty and since I don’t drink coffee or milk I am out of luck. It’s as bad as a cop working the night shift without his cream filled fried dough friend. Thankfully, that is not the caliber of doughnuts that Dynamo serves up. This place is cool as hell. They post their daily donuts on their Twitter page, you order outside and then you can come inside and eat up. The Chocolate Spice donut gets a lot of attention but it is not the one on my taste bud radar. The best donut I have had here is the Strawberry Earl Grey donut, apparently it is not in the regular rotation because I don’t know anyone else that had it, but it is absolutely perfect. I am fruit girl that loves Earl Grey tea so much that I plan on naming my firstborn son Grey. (To which my mother says, “But everyone will call him gay” and I respond, “Pssh, I should be so lucky!”) If this special donut isn’t available, then I like the Apple Bacon and the Banana Dulce de Leche, but really you can’t wrong at this place. All of the donuts will cream your hole!
#2 Dim Sum at Hong Kong Lounge. It is strange because everyone seems to think of San Francisco and Dim Sum together and yet finding a good dim sum place seems to be everyone’s mission. There is the all-famous round-eye place known as Yang Sing, which I have yet to try. In fact, I haven’t tried a lot of dim sum places, but for now Hong Kong Lounge is my dim sum place. You get a (raffle) ticket and have to wait a minimum of an hour for a table and you are then escorted into the large banquet room for quite a feast. There are no carts so boo on that but I do love all of their shrimp dumplings. It is clear as the dumpling itself that the pork filled dumplings play second fiddle to the stuffed plump huge pieces of shrimp.
#3 Falafel at Old Jerusalem Cafe. Alright, let’s talk balls…the falafel at Old Jerusalem Cafe are as scrumptious as can be. The shape of these babies resemble a mini bran muffin and yet the taste reminds you that this is a damn well-seasoned falafel. When I first ordered them I was getting it to go and by the time I arrived at home there were several balls missing from the bag and I was in delight with the flavor that these little balls packed. I made myself save some for a salad the following day and I was quite impressed. One of my dates told me that you can order these little guys stuffed, now that is something that I would like to try, but for now the unfilled ones do the trick quite nicely.
#4 Pho broth at Pho Hyunh Hiep 2. Pho is something I take very seriously, before moving to San Francisco it was Golden Deli in San Gabriel that had my heart. Moving to San Francisco meant that I needed to find a new pho go to place. Even though I always forget the name when I recommend this place, Pho Huynh Hiep 2, I can use the simpler name and call it Kevin’s Noodle House. Apparently this place has a few locations but it is the spot on Irving that does it for me. They are surrounded by several other pho joints but this one serves up my kind of broth with the hint of anise, cardamon, and cinnamon without being too overpowering.
#5 Shabu Shabu at Shabu House. Speaking of broth, shabu broth bores most people to death because of the lack of flavor. Shabu House brings something quite exciting with their spicy miso broth. Despite being a fairly lazy person in most aspects of my life, I love Do It Yourself kinds of meals. I like to crack crab, tear pizza, peel artichoke petals, and pull my nuts in two. Therefore, getting my own pot in front of me to cook my meal was quite exciting and the broth actually has a nice kick.
#6 Fried Rice Ball Salad at Champa Garden. Okay, this dish isn’t in San Francisco. It is across the bay in Oakland, but it is so unbelievably delicious that it had to be included. Champa Garden is not in the best neighborhood but step inside and you are lucky if you can find an open table in this small restaurant. The fried rice ball salad has crispy rice, preserved pork, limes, cilantro, and a variety of herbs and lettuce to wrap this salad up. The pork makes this salad but it is a refreshing flavorful package that makes this the most awesome salad ever. Plus, I like to pretend to sound gangsta and say that I am a Champa, it is an upgrade from calling myself a Food Baller.
#7 Chicken-Fried Rabbit at Comstock Saloon. I have already exhausted every innuendo and pun to express my love for rabbit but it is truly one of my favorite meats. The chicken fried rabbit at Comstock Saloon was one of my first dishes after moving here. I was catching up with an old friend that I hadn’t seen since high school and was sipping a whiskey cocktail. The fried batter on the delicate meat and the chili vinegar sauce was the topper on this night. Comstock Saloon is so effing cool and this dish along with the rabbit toast and the celery salad is a fantastic classic cocktail companion.
#8 Cioppino at Tadich Grill. For the last several months I have been writing for SF Weekly’s SFoodie and after I read their list SFoodie’s 92 best dishes in San Francisco I knew I needed to try their #1, which was Tadich Grill’s cioppino. I am a cioppino lover and my favorite restaurant version is at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing, that is my fish stew standard. A few months ago, I was having a perfect San Francisco day, I was driving (remember I only moved from LA 5 months ago) the weather was sunny and breezy and as I was driving down a hill, I spotted Tadich on my left. Again, I am still very LA so I called them from my car and asked if I could get cioppino to go. They are very San Francisco and said that I can’t call in my order but I can park right in front in the white zone and order at the bar. (I don’t want to jinx it but I have never gotten a parking ticket since moving here, I have parked in front of driveways and had expired metters but they aren’t as pesky about parking here, maybe that’s becaus eI am the only driving fool.) Anyway, walking in, I completely stepped back in time. It wasn’t in a themey way, it was just Tadich. I actually would have loved to eat it there but I had other places to go and sun to soak in before the fog rolled in. I was a little shocked by the price, over $30 for a bowl. However, it was a mighty big bowl that did not skimp on seafood in the slightest. When I had the first bite it was clear to me that I now live in San Francisco and this is my kind of food. You break a tough piece of classic SF sourdough and you dunk away. The sweet crab and the plump scallops melt in your mouth and this is truly a San Franicisco treat. My colleague, Jonathan Kauffman, at SF Weekly said it way better in the beginning and end of his article,
“Admit it: Every time you walk into Tadich Grill you fall back in love with San Francisco….We love the cioppino at Tadich not just because it’s a great dish but because it is ours.”
San Francisco, I officially love you, thank you for feeding me so damn well!