Fatted Calf

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#64- Meatloaf sandwich at Fatted Calf - 7x7's 2012 Top 100
It's part charcuterie/meat shop and part gourmet food store.  You can even buy duck fat here!  They also sell a lot of unique locally made products you won't find in your average Whole Foods, such as bacon toffee and bacon covered sea salt chocolate covered caramels.  Not only do they sell food here, but they also hold classes here about pates, salumi, and butchery (check the website to sign up for classes). 
The meatloaf sandwich is one of the handful of prepared items they do offer for a lunch on the go option.  It's a really popular item here, but I have no idea why.  First of all the sandwich is served cold.  Also, its more of a meatball type sandwich than an actual meatloaf.    I prefer my meatloaf tender and the meatloaf here is a little on the dry side.  Another thing about this sandwich is that its premade so it's sitting out waiting for someone to buy it.  I do like the whole grain mustard they use.  Its very light and mild tasting.  I recommend taking this sandwich back home and heating it up.  It does make it taste a bit better.

When you think meat shop, you think pork right?  Of course ordering the pulled pork sandwich had to be a no brainer.  This sandwich was made to order versus the premade meatloaf sandwich.  The pulled pork had a lot more flavor than the meatloaf sandwich.  A little messy, but its pulled pork, and thats synomous with a good pulled pork sandwich.  Not the greatest pulled pork sandwich, but the meat was flavorful and tender.

Address:                       Fatted Calf    
                                             320 Fell St
                                             San Francisco, CA

Type:                               charcuterie/casual
Popular chomps:   chorizo
                                              meatloaf sandwich
                                              pulled pork sandwich

Chomp worthy:       charcuterie     


Hog & Rocks

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Another gastropub in the city serving charcuterie (hog) and oysters (rocks).  Hog & Rocks also takes a unique approach to the standard bar food.
 Hog & Rocks offers 2 sample plates:  a 3 or 5 meat tasting.  Each of the meats comes with a "topping" that compliments each of the flavors as well as some flatbread.  From left to right: Broadbent (aged 13 months) with Fresno chili syrup, La Quercia Picante (aged 9 months) with pickled grapes, Recla Speck with olives.  I really like how they paired a condiment with each type of meat.  Spain was the only other place I had seen this type of presentation.  Each of these pairings matched the tastes of the meats perfectly.  The La Quercia with the pickled grapes was probably my favorite of the three.  The flatbread was a little too bland and soft for the meats. 
I strayed away from my usual order of kumamoto (almost $4 each here!) and decided to get the Miyagis and test out the $1 oysters, which today was Hood Canals from Washington.  Intense, slightly sweet, with a hit of seaweed flavor.  The Miyagis were super briny, and crisp.  Super delicious, its been awhile since I've had oysters and I forgot how much I love them.

Baked oyster with piquillo butter, ham, and breadcrumbs.  I usually prefer my oysters raw and rarely order baked oysters, but having to go with the theme of the restaurant I found it necessary.  There was way too many breadcrumbs on this oyster.  A tricky little dish, you have to avoid inhaling the breadcrumb for fear of choking.  Think powdered donuts.  Still not a fan of baked oysters.
Herb butter fries with oyster mayo and spicy ketchup.  Oyster mayo sounded interesting, but I wasn't sure how that was incorporated into the mayo.  The mayo was creamy and looked like normal mayo, but tasted a little richer in flavor.  The fries were crispy and tasty. 
A unique twist on potato skins.  These were beef tongue potato skins with gypsy peppers, mornay sauce, and paprika cream.  I really liked this dish.  I thought the beef tongue was cooked really well.
Whisky bbq meatballs with cheddar grits.  This is a popular dish here and I'm not sure why.  There wasn't anything spectacular about it.  It was just meatballs with bbq sauce.  Nothing special and something I think you could make just as good at home.
Duck heart skewers with anchovy and basil puree.  The duck hearts were really juicy.  Almost too tender because they were missing that chewy snap you usually get when you eat hearts.
As if I haven't been eating enough ice cream!  These mini ice cream sandwiches were made with chocolate and white chocolate chip cookies and Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee ice cream.  The cookie was a little too soft and the flavors of everything just seemed to blur together (not in a good way). 

Address:                          Hog & Rocks
                                                3431 19th St.
                                                San Francisco, CA

Type:                                  American/gastropub/casual

Popular chomps:    BBQ meatball
                                                 raw oysters
                                                 chacuterie plate
                                                 beef tongue potato skins
                                                 duck heart skewers 

Chomp worthy:        raw oysters
                                               chacuterie plate
                                               duck heart skewers        


State Bird Provisions

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After a what felt like ages (but really three weeks) wait for a table, I finally got to eat at State Bird Provisions!  Tapas style dishes pushed around on carts, I had to see this for myself.  There is actually a small menu with about 5-6 items you can order from the kitchen.  The rest (10-12 dishes) are brought around on trays and a cart fresh from the kitchen.  I had some doubts about how hot the food would be since it would be circulating the room, but nothing disappointed.  If you are antsy about getting your food, like me, I suggest you try to get the table closest to the kitchen so you get the first pick of the food.  There's nothing worse than seeing and smelling the amazing food coming out on trays and realizing that they will run out before they get to you.

Even though State Bird Provisions is based on the concept of dim sum carts, there is actually only one cart that is being pushed around with mainly cold dishes and the rest are brought around on trays.  I kinda felt sorry for the server, she seemed to have a hard time maneuvering the cart around the aisles.  They should look into the wheels on the Ikea carts.
Originally and at the time of booking this dinner, this duck dumpling dish was on the menu, but that night it didn't appear.  A little upset since it was one of the dishes I was looking forward to, but quickly relieved after it appeared on the first tray.  Duck neck dumpling with au jus.  The au jus was poured on after signaling so it keep the dumpling fresh and not soggy.  Possibly the best dish of the dinner for me, with both a delicious dumpling and the au jus sauce good enough to drink, which I was about to do with my spoon, but it was taken away too quickly!

The dumpling wrapper is a little thicker (similar to a potsticker wrapper) and chewy but it was a nice contrast from the ultra tender meat inside.
I didn't even hear the name and description of this dish when the server brought it by.  All I heard was blah blah blah burrata blah blah.  Buratta anything is a yes please for me!  I think my obsession with burrata is almost as big as the one I have for bone marrow.  This dish is actually a green garlic bread with burrata.  The green garlic bread was more like a fried puffy dough that tasted similar to garlic bread.  Loved this! 

Quinoa with halibut tartare and mayo with togaroshi and spinach and rosemary aioli.  Mixing this seemingly odd combination together results in a pretty delicious bite.  A array of textures and flavors from the smooth tartare to the crunchy quinoa and spicy mayo.

Pork belly kimchee stew with clams.  This dish was like asari (clam) miso soup meets soondubu.  The pork belly was tender and flavorful, but the dish wasn't amazing.  It felt like it was missing the creative wow factors the other dishes had.  Maybe throw in some mini grilled rice balls (onigiri) for some texture and to soak up the flavors of the soup?
The State Bird with Provisions.  Named for the restaurant and actually made with the state bird (quail).  The quail is covered with panko and perfectly fried.  The meat is super juicy and well cooked.  Just be careful with the tiny bones.  You can opt for a half portion or the large portion (this is the large portion).   
Pickled assorted vegetables and smoked egg.  House pickled vegetables seems like a popular item these days on SF menus.  One difference State Bird Provision (SBP) had were the addition of potatoes.  I really liked all the textures this dish had from soft (potato) to crunchy (carrots).  I just wished the egg was more of a soft poached runny egg.
Beef cheek salad with radish and bone marrow dressing.  An item ordered from the menu.  I saw bone marrow so it was a no brainer to order this.  Unfortunately, I must have reinterpreted this dish differently because the dressing didn't taste much like bone marrow at all.  Also, I wasn't a fan of all the sharp flavors from the arugula and the radish.

Kumomotos with a housemade vinigrette.  Probably could have done without this dish, but I felt like I was on a mission to eat every single dish passed around that night (Note on this:  I actually didn't too bad, must have only passed on 4 dishes)
By this point, some of the other dishes were repeating and I had almost given hope that there would be nothing new coming out, but lo and behold three more dishes I had not eaten yet!  Smoked trout with toasted bread and pickled vegetables.  I was expecting slices or pieces of smoked trout, but actualyl it was a smoked trout type mousse on the bottom of the bowl.  I really liked the toasted bread chunks.  The bread is very similar to the bread chunks in Zuni's Roasted Chicken with bread salad.
A bite of avocado, pomelo, and guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon from pig's jowl/cheek).  A slightly citrusy (from the pomelo), buttery (from the avocado), and salty (from the guanciale) all in one bite. 

Duck liver mousse with cornbread.  Another seemingly popular dish all over the city.  Up until SBP, my favorite version of a liver mousse was at Frances, but SBP's version is even more delicious and creative.  SBP has dishes that keep you palette interested and wondering what's next.  Mini cornbread muffins with duck liver?  Who would have ever though?!  Loved the pairing of the sweetness of the mini cornbreads with the creamy, rich mousse.
It didn't occur to me until dessert that the dishes had a large asian influence.  The black pepper bao looked like the Chinese Pinapple bun pastry, but inside was very similar to the fluffy texture of the Chinese egg puffs.  The lemon curd with almonds gave the dish a tart flavor.  I didn't love or hate this dish, it was just different.

Sesame cracker with clementines and cocoa jam.  Again, very similar to a Chinese dessert.  The cracker reminded me of the black sesame pudding you can get at dim sum restaurants.  The cocoa jam was more like a chocolate pudding.  Again, just different, but not lick-your-plate-clean good.

Address:                         State Bird Provisions
                                               1529 Fillmore St.
                                               San Francisco, CA

Type:                                 tapas/American/casual

Popular chomps:   Ca state bird provisions
                                               duck dumplings
                                               green garlic bread with burrata
                                               fluke tartare
                                               beef cheek w/ bone marrow viniagrette                               

Chomp worthy:       Ca state bird provisions
                                              duck dumplings
                                              green garlic bread with burrata
                                              fluke tartare
                                              duck liver mousse with cornbread biscuits         


Saigon Sandwich

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I'm originally from the East Bay and lived in San Jose for a couple years and I've had quite a bit of banh mis in my life.  Saigon sandwich is one of the popular spots in San Francisco for banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches).  It's probably the only place I've actually had to stand in a line and wait for banh mi.  Their menu only consists of a handful of sandwiches:  roast chicken, roast pork, meatball (pork), pate, tofu, steam pork & roast pork combination, jamon, and special combination (pate, roast pork, jamon).  I used to be a huge fan of this place.  The bread is always warm and toasted fresh with an amazing crispiness to it.  The fluffy bread used to soak up all the flavors of the sandwich so well.  BUT, after the remodel I must be the only one who thinks that they changed up the bread.  Its a lot more dense and flat tasting.  Also, the bread seems to have a slightly sweet taste to it.  The bread was what made this place.  Looking for a new banh mi spot in the city is on my to do list.  For right now, I'll have to go to Oakland or San Jose to satisfy my banh mi cravings.
I love special combination.  I get it at almost every banh mi spot.  Saigon sandwich's pate is quite good and very creamy. Also, they love to stuff the banh mi here with loads of vegetables.  The pickled vegetables here are a little sweeter than I usually like (I like it to be a little tangy), but they are still very crunchy and fresh tasting.  A minus for the jalapenos not being spicy.
#22- Roast pork sandwich at Saigon Sandwich - 7x7's 2012 Top 100
The roast pork here is really popular.  Its thinly sliced here versus the chunkier slices you see at other banh  mi spots.  I'm really not a fan of the roast pork here.  I find it a little bland compared to others I've had before.  The meat is really soft and tender, though.

updated - Working my way through the 2012 7x7's SF big eat 100 things
Address:                         Saigon Sandwich
                                               560 Larkin St.
                                               San Francisco,  CA

Type:                                 Vietnamese/sandwiches/casual

Popular chomps:   grilled pork sandwich
                                               grilled chicken sandwich

Chomp worthy:         nothing       


Tacos Los Gemelos

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Redwood city is full of taquerias and taco trucks (similar to Fruitvale/International in Oakland.)  Middlefield Street reminds me of Mexico without the little kids asking you to buy gum.  It's lined with taquerias that still cost $1.00 for a taco!    With over 50 Mexican temptations for cheap eats all within a 15 minute driving radius, how could I not say challenge accepted? 

From top left, clockwise: Al pastor, carne asada, birria, chorizo
I have a standard order of tacos whenever I'm trying someplace new:  carne asada, carnitas, and al pastor.  Sometimes if they have it I'll order birria, tripe, or lengua.  This taqueria surprisingly did have birria so I did had that into the mix.  $1 tacos here! 
At first glance, I did notice that the tacos are single tortilla only.  This is pretty upsetting for me since I prefer 2 tortillas with a slightly longer griddle.  These corn tortillas were really thin and kinda floppy.  All the meats were pretty tasteless except for the birria.  Really flavorful and tender I would actually come back for a birria plate. 
Address:                        Los Gemelos
                                              2855 Middlefield Rd.
                                              Redwood City, CA

Type:                                Mexican/casual

Popular chomps:   birria
                                               carne asada tacos 

Chomp worthy:        birria


Turtle Tower

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Turtle Tower is one of the few restaurants in the Bay Area that serves up Northern style pho, where their claim to fame is their Pho Ga (chicken soup).  The other being in Oakland at Huong Que Cafe (check out my review HERE).  Turtle Tower is one of my to go spots when I'm looking for a nice hot bowl of soup.  They have three locations in the city, but the Tenderloin is the original location and the best one.   
There's usually a small line outside of the Tenderloin location on the weekends, but it goes pretty fast because there's a hidden back room in the alley.  Or if you don't want to wait, after 1p on the weekends is the time to go.
#41- Pho Ga - 7x7's 2012 Top 100
The soup is made with organic chicken that gives it its clean, fresh taste.  Another notable difference between this and Southern pho are the noodles. The noodles are thin, flat rice noodles (similar to Chinese style "ho fun"noodles) versus the smaller, round noodles.  Also, the only additives they give you are jalapenos and lemon.  I love the jalapenos they give you and usually ask for extra and dump them into the hot soup right away to spice up the broth. 

Address:                          Turtle Tower
                                                631 Larkin St.
                                                San Francisco, CA  

Type:                                  Vietnamese/casual

Popular chomps:    Pho Ga - #9 (chicken soup)

Chomp worthy:         Pho Ga    


Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream

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#34 - Secret Breakfast - 7x7's 2012 Top 100
 With crazy, daring, and innovative ice cream flavors, Humphrey Slocombe offers a more "adult" take on ice cream.  From flavors like Jesus Juice (red wine & cola) and Thai Chili sorbet, Humphrey Slocombe makes ice cream eating a fun and exciting experience.  I usually rotate my ice cream needs between here and Bi-Rite, but the Humphrey Slocombe's location makes it a bit of a trek for me, especially when I'm feeling lazy.  Their secret breakfast flavor is my favorite (and most popular) flavor here.  The bourbon and cornflakes makes it an unlikely, but delicious combination. 

Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee made with Blue Bottle coffee has the most amazing creamy texture with a very rich coffee flavor.  I've had a couple adventurous runs with Humphrey Slocombe.  I've tried salt and pepper ice cream, which tastes exactly like eating cold salt and pepper - not for the faint of heart.

Address:                          Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream
                                                 2790 Harrison St.
                                                 San Francisco, CA

Type:                                   dessert/ice cream/casual

Popular chomps:       secret breakfast
                                                  Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee

Chomp worthy:          secret breakfast
                                                 Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee


Batter Up

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 Up until this, the best corndog I've ever had was at the State Fair.  I can't belive that no one has ever thought of this.  A mix and match customizable corndog.  It's so genius.  Batter Up has nothing, but yummy praises from me, even though I did have to trek a little far for this snack.  It's definitely worth it. 

You have your choice of 2 ("double play") or 3 ("triple play") types of meats: from Polish sausage to Louisiana Hot Link and even some vegetarian tofu options.  You can even add some cheese in the mix.  I had both "the freak", a set combo of 1/3 turkey with basil & sundried tomatoes, 1/3 pepperjack cheese, and 1/3 chicken apple, and a customized triple play. At 3.75 each, they are a "steal". (pun intended)
A closer up disection of the personalized triple play: Louisiana hot link, smoked bartwurst, and smoke polish (left to right).  If you have room for dessert, batter up fries up desserts too:  twinkes, oreos, twix, snickers and reese's cup.

Address:                         Batter Up
                                               888 Geneva Ave.
                                               San Francisco, CA

Type:                                 American/casual

Popular chomps:   the freak
                                              Louisian hot link
                                              the big Barry
                                              fried twinkies
                                              fried oreos

Chomp worthy:      Louisiana hot link


Bun Bo Hue An Nam

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I came here searching for some Hue food, specifically bun bo hue and banh beo, but sadly they don't serve banh beo anymore.  Why is it so hard to get a decent bowl of bun bo hue?  You would think being in San Jose and a restaurant named after the soup would produce an halfway decent bowl of bun bo hue.  Bun Bo Hue An Nam served me the worst bun bo hue I've had in my life.  Not only was the broth lacking any flavor, but there was zero spiciness at all.  The soup isn't even red from the chilis!  Even after asking for a dishful of chili paste I had to give up on this bowl and deem it a failure.  Although for the more adventurous, this place does sell ox penis with the bun bo hue.  I may eat guinea pig, but I kinda draw the line at that. 
I do, however, like the individual bowl of herbs and veggies for the soup.

Address:                       Bun Bo Hue An Nam
                                             740 Story Rd.
                                             Ste 3
                                             San Jose, CA
Type:                              Vietnamese/soup/casual

Popular chomps:  bun bo hue

Chomp worthy:       nothing


Four Barrel Coffee

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Four Barrel Coffee is one of the many specialty coffee spots in San Francisco.  I find the drip coffee is a little sweeter ("grassy" tasting), and lighter than Ritual Roasters.  One of the differences between Four Barrel and the other coffee spots in San Francisco is the parklet.  Possibly one of the better parklets in the city.
Kouign Amann - #97 on 2012 7x7 SF's Top 100 Eats
First there was the croissant, then the morning bun, now the newest fad of French pastry to have with your coffee is the kouign amann.  Kouign Amann is pronounced "kween-a-mon".  This flaky pastry has layers of buttery dough and sprinkled sugar.  "Kouign" meaning cake and "Amann" meaning butter.    The kouign amann at Four Barrel is delicious. Its slightly dense bottom gives it a satisfying chewy texture.  A perfect combination the kouign amann has the fluffiness of a croissant plus the sweetness of a morning bun. 

Address:                          Four Barrel Coffee
                                                375 Valencia St.
                                                San Francisco, CA
Type:                                  coffee/casual

Popular chomps:    donuts (from Dynamo)
                                     kouign amann       

Chomp worthy:          kouign amann          


Venga Empanadas

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Venga Empanadas is a small shop that sells both meat and vegetarian empanadas.  I've often walked by this shop, but for some reason I always thought it said vegan empanadas.  Being in San Francisco, I wouldn't have been surprised if it was vegan.  Anyways, you can either eat them there or get them to go.  If you get them to go you have the option of getting them heated up or cold.  I suggest getting them heated up and snacking on the empanadas while walking around the Mission.
Argentine beef empanadas - #33 on 2012 7x7 SF's Top 100 Eats
I'm used to seeing and eating empanadas with a more flakey crust.  Venga's is a thicker, doughey crust that keeps its shape intact while chomping into these meat filled pockets.  The Argentine beef empanadas were filled with ground beef, onions, red bell peppers, and hard boiled egg.  I didn't see any hard boiled egg in my empanada, but the filling was really flavorful.  The peppers gave the empanada a slight sweetness.
The spicy beef empanada filled with slow cooked ribs in hot chile sauce with chipotle peppers.  Definitely not spicy at all.  After eating the Argentine beef empanada first, this one seemed a little bland.  

updated - Working my way through the 2012 7x7's SF big eat 100 things

Address:                          Venga Empanadas
                                                443 Valencia St.
                                                San Francisco, CA  
Type:                                  Argentinian/Latin/casual

Popular chomps:      Argentine beef empanadas

Chomp worthy:           Argentine beef empanadas


Beast and The Hare

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I've been meaning to try out Beast and The Hare for a while now.  The menu looks so fun and the dishes remind me of a lot of dishes I've had in New York - a more innovative take on American style gastropub food.
Beast and The Hare's creative take on poutine.  Instead of regular gravy and curd, they use lamb neck gravy and melted gruyere.  I was really excited to see this dish in San Francisco. I'm a fan of poutine and its pretty hard to find in San Francisco.  I wouldn't call it poutine, but the lamb neck was tender and delicious.  The fries stayed crispy to the last bite.

Of course, I have to order bone marrow if it makes an appearance on a menu.  Here, the bone marrow is more of a simple presentation with just an herb salsa and lots of bread, almost too much actually.  I wasn't a fan of this, even though I love bone marrow.  Its too plain for me here.  I prefer Alembic's bone marrow. ( check it out HERE)
Melt-in-your-mouth so tender stewed rabbit and bacon over polenta.  The polenta was so creamy it made me wonder if it was actually mashed potatoes.  There was a liquid layer, not sure if it was supposed to be the gravy/"stew" part, but it seemed too oily for me to partake. 

A cute version of fried chicken and "waffles" with a johnnycake instead of the waffle.  The fried chicken was overall a little sweet for me and lacked that crunch you pine for in a satisfying fried chicken.  Ad Hoc's is still the best I've had! (see post HERE )
Salted caramel creme brulee.  I was expecting something rich and creamy like custard, but its a little thick and heavy.
Beignets with orange caramel sauce a la mode.  The beignets were a little on the heavy, dense side and not at all like fluffy pillows of air, but they were tasty, especially when dunked in the orange carmel sauce with a litlte bit of ice cream.  

Address:                         Beast and The Hare
                                               1001 Guerrero St.
                                               San Francisco, CA

Type:                                  American/casual

Popular chomps:    house charcuterie
                                                bone marrow
                                                stewed rabbit
                                                fried chicken
                                    beignets with orange caramel sauce

Chomp worthy:         poutine
                                                stewed rabbit