Eat Drink Style San Francisco Good Eats #1 - Grease and Organs

After a few months of job hunting, I finally landed something at a bigger and better ad agency. I decided to give myself a week buffer before the mice in my head started rolling the wheels again. My friend DY had moved up to San Francisco to attend art school and her time up there was ending this month. Both of us being foodies, I had to experience the San Francisco restaurant scene, which I had heard so much about. It would be my first taste of delectable food and her last. I love road trips. It’s just you and the iPod. And of course, the Parliament lights. The open road is truly a launch pad for free thinking. Course the only thing on my mind was: What was I going to eat? I left early in the morning and got to San Francisco in 5 hours. How fast? 95ish.

As soon as I arrived, DY and I talked about the places we’d be eating at. Our first stop was Tartine Bakery, a cozy café that sits on a corner of the Mission district, known for their pressed sandwiches and decadent desserts. San Franciscans, occupied by their PowerBooks and pets, filled up the outdoor seats and enjoyed the fresh food and serene environment. A line was formed inside and most of the people were gazing at the sweet treats inside the glass display. We all looked like children in a fish store. DY recommended that we order the Pecorino & Almond Pressed Sandwich filled with stuffed cheese and crushed almonds with olive oil, lemon and sage. I’ve never eaten Croque Monsieur and just liked the sound of it. We paid the cashier and took a number. About 10 minutes later, the food arrived. The Pecorino & Almond sandwich ($7.75) resembled a panini, only way greasier. The outside was coated with butter and olive oil. I swore that I could taste the oil oozing out of the bread as I bit into it. But, boy was it good. All the robust herbs and richness of the Pecorino made this one tasty sandwich. DY and I had to split that one. Next we tried the Ham & Cheese Croque Monsieur ($7.25). This came on a crispy bread stuffed with warm ham and melted cheese. Loved this better than the pressed sandwich because I’m weak when it comes to anything with ham. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking to sit outside on a nice day and enjoy the city. Warning: it gets PACKED on weekends in the morning.

DY’s aunt was an active figure in the SF Asian community. She was responsible for organizing a Chinese New Year party at the City Hall. So we ended up driving her all over SF for FIVE HOURS. I was exhausted. Remember, I just spent 5 hours driving up here in the morning. More hungry, than tired, we were ready to hit our next joint.

DY, her roommate JP and I headed over to Walzwerk for dinner. Also situated in the Mission district, Walzwerk serves some authentic East German cuisine. Sausages, schnitzel, you name it. And of course, a great assortment of beer. Before, my only experience with German food was at the Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake – which I love. I’ll walk in their sober and end up having a friend drive me home. That’s what friends are for.

Walking in, we were greeted by girls with German accents. Fake? I think not. It was a sure sign of authenticity. As we sat on the table, we noticed a small picture frame showcasing the many German beers they served. I felt like something dark, and not my usual Hefeweizen. I can’t remember the name though. Compared to the Red Lion Tavern, the food here was much lighter and crisp tasting. Here’s what we had:

A. Fried Veal Chop with Brussel Sprouts and Sauerkraut - Oh man this was sooooo good. The sweetness of the crisp veal chop was balanced out by the wasabi-like bitterness of the brussel sprouts.
B. Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce - excellent. Didn't care for the sauerkraut because it had a sweet, cinnamon taste to it. Not what I'm used to.
C. Lamb Shanks with Red Wine Sauce - also excellent. I actually envied DY's friend who ordered this. Grrrr.

After Walzwerk, DY and I hit up the Skyy Vodka with some orange juice for a night cap. Turns out that one drink led to another, and we got the munchies. I felt like Mexican food and she knew just the place. We drove down to what I thought resembled Santa Ana. As soon as I got out of the car, I recognized the delicious smell of an outdoor Mexican grill. A man stood behind a sneeze-guarded cart with his bovine delights. Carne asada. Check. Pollo. Check. Carnitas. Check. Brain (sesos) and beef cheek (cachete) tacos. Wait – what? I looked over at DY, who insisted that those were her favorites. All of a sudden I visualized Anthony Bourdain with a nasty smerk on his face. C’mon you little prick. Alright, let’s do it. Ok now, maybe this was easier to digest because I was somewhat buzzed. But seriously, they were damn good. The brain tacos had a light grey color and tasted fatty. The beef cheeks had black lining on some of the pieces of meat, which tasted like thin rubber. I was thinking that they could’ve been part of the lips. The funniest part of the night was actually finding an antique from my younger days - an actual working Street Fighter machine. I couldn't play it of course, because of my careless finger incident.

After a long, but quick drive up north and another five hours of bussing DY’s aunt around SF, I’d say my first day of finding good eats in SF was a very successful one. Day 2 next.

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