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SF Eat This Now

Marcia Gagliardi

Don't get dazzled only by the latest and greatest. Sometimes the tastiest item in town is no spring chicken. From the new to the old, here’s what you should be eating now.

Five-Spice Quail at Mau
Five-spice chicken is a staple at most Vietnamese restaurants, but this small, crispy five-spice quail is anything but standard. Sweet, almost nutty red meat crackles in your mouth while spicy watercress provides a refreshing green herbal foil.

Loco Moco at Namu Gaji
Hawaii may be a five-hour flight away, but you can get the traditional Loco Moco lunch served San Francisco style in the Mission. Oozy sunny side up egg over a Marin Sun Farm hamburger patty, all smothered with dashi gravy served over a generous mound of rice, will almost make you think you’re on a sunny beach in Maui.

Tonkatsu Ramen Deluxe with Spicy Miso at Waraku
Pleasantly firm and chewy noodles, rich pork broth, and a slight heat from the press-at-the-table raw garlic is cost effective, but it’s the deluxe option for $3—getting you the additional braised pork belly, seaweed, and corn—that makes it worth the trip to Japantown.

Kouign Amann at B.Patisserie
It’s caramelized sugar all folded up in a salty, flaky croissant dough with an ever-so-slightly undercooked custardy center. The new chic bakery B. Patissiere keeps selling out of them, but if you stick around long enough, they usually bring out more from the back—fresh baked, and totally worth the wait (even if they don’t have wi-fi).

Meathead Buckwheat Crêpe with Pork Sausage at Galette 88
The meathead buckwheat galette—with pork sausage, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and crème fraîche—is the move. You don’t need to work the rest of the afternoon anyway, do you?

Fried Chicken at Hard Water
Is this chicken fried in magic? It sure tastes that way. Chef de cuisine Melissa Perfit actually fries it in rice flour, so it’s gluten free. For $18, you get three pieces of incredibly juicy Mary’s chicken, with an exterior that’s light and crispy with a little kick of cayenne, paprika, and garlic powder (plus some pepper jelly on the side).

Pastrami Tartine at Chocolate Lab
The open-faced pastrami tartine at this Dogpatch café is a fun riff on a Reuben: locally made pastrami is draped with house-made Thousand Island aioli, melted cheese, caramelized onions, Napa cabbage, and a swath of grain mustard. It’s a fork-and-knifer (the Firebrand bread is thinly sliced, so don’t try to pick it up), which is the only thing that will slow you down as you completely devour it. Just a heads up: The pastrami is only available every couple weeks, so make sure you call ahead to see if it's on the menu that day.

Caesar Salad at The Roosevelt (2817 24th St.)
Anyone who adored the famed Caesar at Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack should know chef Barry Moore is now doing his thing at the updated Roosevelt Tamale Parlor in the Mission. Each leaf of crisp and cool romaine comes thickly coated in a creamy Caesar dressing made with Italian anchovies, all under a cloud of grated Parmesan. It’s a mountain of garlicky goodness.

Deviled Duck Eggs at 20 Spot
Ah, decisions. Do you want these zingy, silky, mustardy half moons of egg topped with an umami-rich shaving of bottarga, or thin slices of smoked pork? Best to ask for both. Chef Anthony Paone knows how to make a pretty plate, adorning it with blossoms and hot pink curls of pickled onion. It’s the ultimate bar snack.

Garlicky Gambas at Canela
The seared shrimp at this Spanish restaurant in the Castro are bathed in a sauce that will haunt you until every last drop is gone. It’s a deep, smoky sauce made with two types of pimentón, plus garlic, sherry, and lemon—sounds simple, but it will have you dunking your spoon and bread into the bowl like you are possessed. (Wait, you are.)
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