Jessica Battilana’s 10 things to eat right now including the savory porridge at Outerlands, the rueben taco at 20th Century Cafe and the chilled squid ink noodles at Octavia.
Coconut Cream Pie Frozen Yogurt, Easy Breezy I’ve always been vocal about my dislike for frozen yogurt and the creations people make at the choose-your-own-adventure yogurt bars, moored down by a hodge-podge of toppings that include Gummi Bears and crushed Oreos. I’m eating crow now, though, and crow tastes like the coconut cream pie frozen yogurt at Easy Breezy. Made with a rich Straus yogurt base, flecked with bits of toasted coconut, it’s as luscious as ice cream and just as irresistible. 4028 24th St., 718 Irving St. or 4092 18th St. easybreezy.com
Savory Porridge at Outerlands
Savory porridge served in an earthenware vessel may be one of the lasting legacies of Bay Area dining, circa 2015. It’s ubiquity does not diminish its appeal, when done right, and it’s an especially fitting breakfast at Outerlands, which is located in the part of town where it’s almost always gray and cold. The quinoa is cooked in an umami-rich mushroom broth and served just slightly soupy, with cooked greens and slivers of shitake mushrooms mixed in. You’d be right to add an egg; its runny yolk melds irresistibly with grain and greens. 4001 Judah St., 415-661-6140
Esquites at Nopalito
I wait all year for the first Dungeness of the season, the first tiny strawberries from Swanton Berry Farm. And it’s not officially summer in my mind until I’ve eaten my first bowl of esquites at Nopalito. The toasted local sweet yellow corn is bound by a righteous mixture of kefir crema, lime juice and salty, aged cotija cheese, thwacked with the gentle heat of red chile hot sauce. For corn to the second power, spoon some of the esquites onto a fresh corn tortilla, fold and eat.
306 Broderick St., 415-535-3969, and 1224 9th Ave., 415-233-9966 nopalitosf.com
Buñuelos at Aatxe
I was never so hot at math, but I know enough to know that the 54 gins and 22 tonics on the Aatxe menu mean that I could sip a gin-and-tonic a day for a very long time and never have the same drink twice. That’d be reason enough to log some serious time at the handsome Market Street newcomer, but then there’s Ryan Pollnow’s tapas, smart snacks that satisfy a drinker’s need for sustenance but are salty and piquant enough to require a second cocktail. The pintxos, charcuterie and small plates change from time to time, but the buñuelos are stalwarts. The magnificent fritters flavored, variously, with smoked trout, mussels, salmon or salt cod are fluffy and greaseless, meant to be swabbed through the horseradish-seaweed aioli beneath.
2174 Market St., 415-471-2977 aatxesf.com
Pozole Verde at El Pípila
A Guanajuato-style chicken stew might not seem like an appropriate dish for summer. But Guadalupe Guerrero’s tangy pozole verde, which derives its verdant color and tang from the ample amount of tomatillos in the stew’s base, is just the right thing to eat on the mild-yet-gloomy days that characterize July and August in San Francisco. Bits of bacon and rounds of hominy bob in the broth alongside shredded chicken; further gussy it up, if you’d like, with shredded cabbage, minced white onion and a generous squeeze of lime juice.
El Pípila at The Hall, 1028 Market St.,
Reuben Taco at 20th Century Café
You should, by all means, go to 20th Century Café for Michelle Polzine’s crackly streudel, for a properly proportioned chewy bagel with smoked salmon, or a slice of her poppyseed mohnkuchen. They’re mainstays of her little “grand” café, and they are all awesome. The reuben tacos are not like anything else she serves, except that they too are awesome. “It started as a joke,” says Polzine, who took the ingredients from the reuben sandwich on the menu—sauerkraut, pastrami, Gruyère cheese and Russian dressing—and piled it on a La Palma corn tortilla so that she, being gluten-intolerant, could eat some semblance of the sandwich. A delicious enough experiment to repeat, and just gimmicky enough to draw a crowd, they’re now available Wednesday through Fridays, from 5 p.m. 198 Gough St., 415-621-2380
Chilled Squid Ink Noodles at Octavia
If my Instagram feed is any indication, every single person I know who has been to Octavia has eaten the chilled squid ink noodles, an inky tangle that calls to mind Medusa’s mop. The flavor of squid ink hints at both earth and sea, a characteristic that’s amplified here by another bass note: a shaving of bottarga, salty pressed tuna roe. High notes are introduced by a drizzle of lemon oil and a dusting of brilliant Marash pepper. Like so much of Chef Melissa Perello’s food, it’s a dish that lodges itself firmly in your mind, casting a spell.
1701 Octavia St. 415-408-7507,
Wood Oven Wednesdays at Marla Bakery
Before too long, everyone is going to find out about Marla Bakery’s Wednesday night wood oven dinners. They’re going to crowd the bright space, spill out onto the back patio and into the garden. So go now. Go for the salads, like the ersatz tabbouleh, with blue lake beans and snow peas, radishes and purslane, herbs and preserved kumquat vinaigrette. Go for the blistered flatbreads. Or go for lush main courses, like the roast chicken, which sits atop fingerling potatoes and sautéed greens, a charred corn relish heaped on top, and gives Zuni Café a run for its money.
3619 Balboa St., 415-742-4379 marlabakery.com
Burger du Nord at Café du Nord
Since I usually am in bed by 10pm, I will likely never avail myself of the half-priced Champagne and dollar oysters served every night after midnight at the newly revitalized Café du Nord, a historic Market Street bar and music venue that was recently revitalized by the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group and the Bon Vivants (they’re also behind Aatxe—they’ve been busy lately). But I will spend plenty of time eating burgers in the subterranean space. The patty, made with a blend of top round, chuck and short rib from Marin Sun Farms (plus some dry-aged ribeye fat cap), is perfectly salted, draped in cheddar cheese and enhanced by not-so-secret sauce and housemade pickles. A cone of stubby, thick fries tastes—imagine that—like freshly cooked potatoes, a classic lily-gilding that’s always in style.
2174 Market St., 415-471-2969 cafedunord.com
Egg Frittata Breakfast Sandwich, Craftsman & Wolves
The New York–style egg on a roll, the runny-yolk diner-style pile-up on buttered rye—when it comes to breakfast sandwiches I love them all. But Craftsman & Wolves’ option is vying for supremacy. Built on a housemade English muffin, it comprises an impossibly juicy round of frittata, engineered so it fits on the muffin just right. It’s studded with 4505 Meats’ ham, laced with cooked greens and enriched with cheddar cheese. A slathering of sriracha butter doesn’t hurt.
746 Valencia St., 415-913-7713
10 Things to Eat Right Now was published in the Summer 2015 issue. © 2015 Edible San Francisco. All illustrations © 2015 Alyson Thomas.