Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the SF Chowhound community.
BBQ Man Café, while not wonderful, has improved since it opened. Now it’s a totally reasonable option for getting a barbecue fix, says David Sloo. Pulled pork, however, is moist and exceptionally tender–clearly slow-cooked with gobs of attention. Brisket is also tender and makes an excellent sandwich–it’s probably the best thing there. Pork ribs are dull–not dry, but not anything special. Skip the boring coleslaw and go for the tasty, satisfying beans–whole, rich-maroon kidney beans cooked with fresh red pepper. And watch out for the sauce. If you don’t ask for it on the side, they’ll pour a whole lake of the sweet, mildly spicy, utterly undistinguished barbecue sauce over your meat.
BBQ Man Café [Peninsula]
555 Willow Road, Menlo Park
BBQ Man Cafe in Menlo Park.
gordon wing recommends the delicious boudin blanc sausage from Taylor’s Sausage. The traditional New Orleans-style boudin blanc is stuffed with pork and lots of rice; this version is very savory and juicy, not at all greasy. It comes in hot and mild versions, so take your pick. It’s a snack available all over New Orleans–you peel back the casings, squeeze out the filling, and enjoy. (The casing is rather chewy, so most folks don’t eat it.)
Taylor’s Sausage [Downtown]
907 Washington St., Oakland
Boudin Blanc–Taylor’s Sausage
Egg foo young is one of those dishes that was largely popularized in a bygone time, but is still comforting. Countless American housewives through the ages have tried their hand at it, only to have it dubbed “egg foo yuck” by their culinarily backward children. But for tasty, old-school egg foo young, you need to find a tasty, old-school Chinese American restaurant, like Gim’s. Gim’s is definitely old school, says Ruth Lafler, who gets her egg foo young fix there–three thick, heavy patties are served smothered in brown gravy with a side of rice. In fact, she hesitates to recommend the place to someone who likes real Chinese food–it is what it is: cheap, old-fashioned, gloppy Chinese-American comfort food. Enjoy.
Gim’s Chinese Kitchen [East Bay]
2322 Lincoln Ave., Alameda
Egg Foo Young
Best Taste is prime chowhounding grounds. They serve excellent, sophisticated food for very low prices, says grocerytrekker, including a very refined soup of black chicken, ginseng, and jujubes ($1.99). This soup is full of medicinal ingredients–in English, the soup is sometimes called “Chinese penicillin.” Frog and mushroom porridge features half a dozen big chunks of frog legs, shiitake mushrooms, and tasty congee ($4.50). Lots of frog leg options are available. Pork kidney stir-fried with ginger and scallions ($6.50) is quite mild and tender, without the ureal tinge present in most kidney dishes. And the wor wonton ($5.50) is excellent, if that’s your thing. “I watched the young ladies making those wontons, so I suspected they would be good. And they were,” says grocerytrekker.
Best Taste Restaurant [Chinatown]
814 Franklin St., Oakland
Black chicken & frog legs at ‘Best Taste’ Chinese, Franklin Street between 8th and 9th, downtown Oakland
Aussie meat pies recreated for American palates often consist of tough crusts stuffed with ingredients that are too good for you, says Tabetai yo. But the pies at Kearny Street Handheld Pies are authentic and delicious. Spicy eggplant pie with olives and tomatoes is excellent. Basque beef pie is nicely spicy, filled with pleasantly soft meat. It’s not an Aussie-style pie, but it’s quite good nonetheless. The whole wheat crust is tender and delicate. Two pies cost $5.75 and are enough for a meal for a normal person.
Kearny Street Pie Company [Financial District]
307 Kearny Street, San Francisco
Kearny St Handheld Pies
Jess Leber loves Bluebottle coffee, but prefers coffee roasted by a guy named Wayne.
You acquire this coffee by searching on Craigslist (try terms like “coffee,” “bean,” and “roast”) and e-mailing the guy your coffee needs. He then roasts it to your specifications. The procedure for acquiring it is a bit weird–you slide your money through a mail slot, and Wayne has your coffee waiting for you in a box outside. “Last time, I found myself humming ‘Waiting For The Man’ by the Velvet Underground,” says Jess Leber.
Wayne the Passionate Coffee Roaster
contact through Craigslist
That Coffee Guy in Rockridge
East Bay coffee to rival Blue Bottle
The food at Cerrito Speakeasy Theater is two levels above other theaters in quality and one level below in price, making it a very chowish place, says EdwardAdams. Enormous nachos are topped with real stuff, not fluorescent orange cheese product like in other theaters. Grilled beef sandwiches (“Zombie Cow”) and slices of chocolate cake are tasty, and everything is served on real plates, not paper. Even the popcorn comes in a real bowl. rworange notes that you can also buy bottled and draft beer like Trumer Pils, and wine like Ile la Forge viognier, so you can feel like you’re in a real speakeasy.
Cerrito Speakeasy Theater [East Bay]
10070 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito
Cerrito Speakeasy Theater
Seoul Gom Tang makes excellent Korean soups, specializing in oxtail soup. The amount of care taken in making the broth is clear from the taste. However, there’s a newcomer in the Korean soup department–Seen Chon House, with an even more stripped-down menu than Seoul Gom Tang. Seen Chon House only makes soups, and the specialization results in an extremely refined broth. Try the wul sul (beef tongue) soup and you won’t be disappointed. al88 also thinks they have some of the best napa cabbage kimchi around. Feel free to toss some kimchi into your soup for a little spice–but it’s not the kind of soup to dump half a cup of chili paste into.
Seen Chon House Restaurant [South Bay]
1066 Kiely Blvd., Santa Clara
Seoul Gom Tang [South Bay]
3028 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
Sean Chon House
For every need, there is an appropriate fondue restaurant. Robert Lauriston faintly praises Fondue Fred as “fine for the low price.” They even serve all-you-can-eat cheesecake–after the fondue. “I can’t believe I ate that in college,” says Glencora.
On a more sophisticated note, anna loves the fondue at the Matterhorn, and The Dive likes the fondue at Cav, served with bread, apples, and walnuts.
And MSK admits (with a measure of embarrassment) that chain restaurant the Melting Pot in Marin is completely enjoyable. Kids love it, and even though the menu lists prices per person, you may order one massive serving for two to share. Enjoy!
Fondue Fred [East Bay]
2556 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley
Matterhorn Restaurant [Russian Hill]
2323 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
Cav Wine Bar [Hayes Valley]
1666 Market St., San Francisco
The Melting Pot [Marin County]
125 E. Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Larkspur
The Melting Pot [South Bay]
72 S. 1st St., San Jose
Fond o’ Fondue
jimzk initially suffered from feelings of shock and betrayal upon discovering that the luscious, perfectly-spiced baba ganoush at Haig’s Deli comes out of a can–at least, the foundation of eggplant puree does. That may be part of what gives the baba ganoush its unquestionable authenticity–the cans do come from Lebanon, and are of a very good brand. And, of course, the kitchen at Haig’s dresses up the canned base with their own spices. rworange notes that people love the clam chowder at Swan’s, even though it comes out of a can–it’s all about how the restaurant doctors it up. “There’s stuff lovingly made from scratch that is tasteless,” she says.
Haig’s Delicacies [Richmond]
642 Clement St., San Francisco
The inconvenient truth about Haig’s Deli