June 14, 2010

HLFD in SF: Bites of San Francisco

As you can tell from our travels, we organize our trips around food!  Before we fly out, we research to find where the locals are eating (many of these bites were suggested on this list).  So far, most of our other posted San Fran adventures have been on the "high" side for HLFD.  But now, we look at the "low" or cheap eats side of SF and hope you enjoy our pictorial list of notable bites (with a miss or two).
Latte + Cappuccino = Gibraltar ($3.75 at Blue Bottle Coffee). Light and airy from the foam, but you can still taste the rich coffee.  (Blue Bottle Coffee is located in the Ferry Plaza Marketplace)  
It's-It Cappuccino Ice Cream Sandwich ($3.25 at Safeway):  Coffee ice cream sandwiched by 2 oatmeal cookies, covered in a thin chocolate layer.  The It's-It ice cream sandwich itself has been a nostalgic local favorite since 1928.  We love this (relatively) newer flavor that still retains the original's charm. (The closest Safeway to us was the one at 145 Jackson St btwn Davis and Front Sts. near the Embarcadero).
 Chasu Ramen ($10.50 or $11.50 after tax) from Katana-Ya:  BBQ pork with noodles in a miso broth.  For me, this was one of the misses on the list.  I thought the broth was incredibly salty and for the price, I would have rather paid a bit more ($16) for the Momofuku ramen (with pork belly, pork shoulder, and a poached egg) at Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC.  (Katana-Ya is located at 430 Geary St at Mason St)
Frjtz fries ($4.75 large incl 2 dips) is SF's version of NYC's Pomme Frites.  The decor is sleek and trendy, but the fries are thick, crisp, and down-to-earth.  We chose a Moroccan lemon saffron aioli dip (subtle) as well as the Artichoke white truffle ketchup (nice truffle taste, our favorite of the two dips).  Since we were already in the Mission District, we were glad we stopped in but probably would not went out of our way to nosh here.  (Frjtz is located at 590 Valencia St in the Mission District).
Scream Sorbet ($5 for 2 scoops):  Freshest tasting sorbet made with local, organic ingredients found at farmers markets. We were so happy to see this table at the Ferry Plaza Marketplace Thursday farmers market!  After sampling 6 of their flavors, we went for scoops of the Snap Pea (a unique love-it-or-hate-it flavor that I happened to love) and Hazelnut Chocolate flavors (a crowd pleaser).  (We found Scream Sorbet at the Thursday farmer's market outside the Ferry Plaza Marketplace).
Porchetta Sandwich ($8.50 from Roli Roti):  The rows of turning rotisserie chicken will grab your attention, but the lines are for this street vendor's porchetta sandwich.  This mouth-watering sandwich is worth the wait (happily we did not wait long as we got to the Ferry Building early to beat the lunch-time crowd).  Sandwiched in between ciabatta bread are juicy slices of free range pork loin that were slow roasted for a few hours.  The crispy skin on the pork has the right crunchy bite (unlike others that hurt our teeth) and the caramelized onions and freshly dressed arugula added to the sandwich's rich flavor.  (Roli Roti is found at the Thursday and Saturday farmer's market outside the Ferry Plaza Marketplace).
Soup Dumplings at Shanghai Dumpling King:  We ordered the Shanghai steamed dumplings ($5.50/10 pieces) and the Hung Zhou Crab and Pork steamed dumplings ($8.95/8 pieces).  Both had a good amount of meat, but needed more soup.  These weren't the best Shanghai dumplings (xiao long bao) we've ever had, but getting 10 dumplings for $5.50 is a pretty good deal.  (added bonus:  Head down the street to see/feel/hear/smell the Pacific Ocean!) (Shanghai Dumpling King is located at 3319 Balboa St in the Outer Richmond area).
Craft beer at Toronado Pub: Dark, grundgy, and a little smelly, this is definitely a dive bar (not a place to impress a first date!), but it also has the best craft beer list at the cheapest prices.  We went when it was not busy on a lazy Thursday afternoon, so the often-mentioned not-so-helpful staff was not an issue.

My husband enjoyed pints of Pliny the Elder ($4, quite possibly the best Imperial IPA made, always great when fresh), Russian River Consecration ($3 special, usually $4; quite possibly his new favorite beer.  It's a dark Belgian-style ale fermented with currants and aged in Cabernet barrels, so it's like a wild ale or sour beer but so smooth and easy to drink because it has some age on it before it's released), and The Lost Abbey The Angel's Share ($3 special, usually $4;  a bourbon barrel-aged American strong ale that's hard to find on the East Coast.  It was a meal in itself) (added bonus:  You can bring in a sausage next door from Rosamunde Sausage Grill) (Toronado Pub is located at 547 Haight St in the Lower Haight area)
Egg Custard Tart ($1.15 from Golden Gate Bakery):  Out of all of the bites on this list, this was my absolute favorite!  I love egg custard tarts, and this version is the best.  You must eat it while it is piping hot to allow for the very thick custard to melt in your mouth. The custard is light and subtly sweet while the crust is very flaky.  It's a good thing we only ventured to the bakery on our last day or else I would have been here every single day to get an egg tart fix!  (We mistakenly stood outside the bakery eating the egg tarts which prompted people to keep asking us if we were in line.  Apparently, there's usually a line for this place, which we saw later at 6pm on a Saturday, but there was no line when we went earlier at 1pm that afternoon).  (Golden Gate Bakery is located at 1029 Grant Ave btwn Pacific Ave and Jackson St in Chinatown).

Other bites of note were the Maccarona with Ricotta Salata (not pictured) that my hubby enjoyed during his business dinner at A16 as well as a couple of items we've had before:  the Scotch Egg from Wexler's and the Chicharrones from 4505 Meats.


  1. Yummy eats here! The egg custard tarts look especially tempting!

  2. FUN! I had my first Chinese egg custard tart a couple of weeks ago. Really yummy.

  3. Great roundup Andrea - so many yummy bites! Printed out for future reference!

  4. Thanks...Toronado was really fun. And Pliny the Elder was a very bold beer not to be taken lightly. Especially good, also was the sausage place next door that you can smuggle in.


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