Omar Mamoon’s list of his favorite things to eat and drink around town including the Patty Melt at Rookies, Pork & Beef Dumplings at Foxsister, and a Traditional Gibson at Gibson. Illustrations by Alyson Thomas.
Patty Melt at Rookies.
Patty melts are—dare I say it?—better than burgers. The version at Rookies, a sandwich pop-up at the Ferry Building Farmers Market from a former 4505 Meats butcher, is superlative. A 6-ounce seared patty of freshly ground grass-fed chuck from Stemple Creek in Tomales is layered with melted aged white cheddar from Farmstead Cheese in Pt. Reyes, grilled sweet onion and housemade “Rookie Sauce” (an atypical yet much welcomed condiment similar to Russian dressing) between two slices of buttered and toasted seeded sourdough from The Midwife and the Baker. It’s the perfect combo. Rookies, One Ferry Building, rookiessf.com.
Patata at Barcino.
There are patatas bravas, and then there is Barcino’s patata, the restaurant’s version of the classic Spanish tapa of fried potatoes topped with spicy tomato sauce and aioli. Instead of dousing fried cubed spuds in sauce and calling it a day, chef Ryan McIlwraith takes it to the next level: he brines a hollowed-out potato “cup,” steams it until fully cooked, freezes it, then deep-fries it to order (the cooking method is a very chef-y, modernist, Blumenthalian technique). Once fried, the potato shell is filled with a spicy tomato-based brava sauce and then topped with charred scallion aioli and charred scallion dust. It’s simultaneously crispy and soft, rich, salty and slightly spicy. Barcino, 399 Grove St., barcinosf.com
Piadina at Giovanni’s.
Pasta isn’t the only thing made fresh daily at the newly opened Giovanni Italian Specialties shop in North Beach. Tony Gemignani is also griddling a special piadina (flatbread sandwich) every day for lunch. My favorite is the Tradizionale, filled with salty prosciutto di Parma, peppery arugula and a creamy, tangy stracchino cheese. When it’s folded, griddled and drizzled with olive oil, salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, the result is a delicious pita/quesadilla (pitadilla? quesapita?) hybrid that makes for ideal picnic fare. Giovanni Italian Specialties, 629 Union St., giovannispecialty.com
Cold Brew Coffee Milkshake at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
There’s something about the act of mindlessly shoveling palmfulls of popcorn in your mouth during a film that is essential to the whole going-out-to-the-movies experience. The perfect complement to Alamo’s own salty-sweet corn in big steel bowls large enough to share between a couple moviegoers, is their cold-brew coffee milkshake made with De La Paz Graceland coffee. It may sound like a strange pairing, but think of it like dipping fries into your milkshake. Note: We’re not advocating for dipping popcorn into your milkshake. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 2550 Mission St., drafthouse.com
Smoked Pork Ribs at International Smoke.
Of all the meats on the menu at International Smoke, the globally inspired restaurant and collaboration between Ayesha Curry and Michael Mina housed in the old RN74 space, the St. Louis Cut Smoked Pork Ribs, American-style, are a must-order. Inspired by Pappy’s in St. Louis, the ribs are first dry-rubbed then smoked until tender and then torched tableside, allowing the sugars in the rub to color and crisp up. Go for happy hour, when you can order by-the-rib for $3.50 per, or just splurge and get the whole rack and call it a meal. International Smoke, 301 Mission St., michaelmina.net
Everything Rolls at Villon.
The Everything Rolls at Villon are … everything. On paper, they are basic sweet housemade Hawaiian rolls topped with a savory everything spice blend, but it’s the accompaniments that make every carb worth it. Four large, hot, fluffy seeded rolls come with sides of house-cultured butter topped with flaky sea salt, not-too-sweet market preserves that change with the season (mine was made with huckleberry, but by the time you read this, yours will likely contain red currant) and a chicken liver mousse covered with a thin layer of fruit gel (also seasonally changing). Taking alternate bites of each while sipping on a cocktail is an ideal start to a meal. Villon, 1100 Market St., properhotel.com
A5 Beef Tartare at Robin. At Robin, the contemporary omakase restaurant on Gough Street, you set the price of the meal with the chef, and from there a menu is tailored to your preferences (the starting point is $79 for the experience and goes up to $179). If there’s one thing that you absolutely need to specify, though, it’s the A5 Beef Tartare. Rich, fatty A5 Wagyu from Hokkaido is chopped, mixed with a bit of togarashi, then topped with Santa Barbara sea urchin. Asian pear and pickled shallots add sweetness and acidity to slice through the richness of it all, and it’s served on a crispy nori chip for a nice oceanic finish. Robin, 620 Gough St., robinsanfrancisco.com
Pork & Beef Dumplings at Foxsister. Chef Brandon Kirksey likes to keep flavors more or less traditional while adding his own twists inspired by time spent in Bay Area kitchens like flour+water and Slanted Door. His addictive pork and beef dumplings, made with wonton-like dough from scratch every day, are filled with ground pork shoulder and beef short rib mixed with sesame oil, soy sauce, potato starch noodles and more. Shaped like tortellini, they are steamed and then pan-fried to order. Foxsister, 3161 24th St., foxsistersf.com
Ground Chicken Curry Patty at Peaches Patties. In Jamaica the patty is like a hamburger in America—you’ll find them everywhere—but they are more similar in shape to an empanada. Shani Jones of Peaches Patties uses her mother’s recipe for making the dough, and the fillings lean towards traditional Jamaican combinations. Her ground chicken curry patty is spiced with imported Jamaican curry powder that includes turmeric, coriander, dried thyme and Scotch Bonnet peppers, which packs a fiery punch! Peaches Patties. 331 Cortland, peachespatties.com
Traditional Gibson at Gibson. Somehow someway it took a restaurant called Gibson in order for me to discover the namesake drink. For the uninitiated, a Gibson is a gin martini that replaces the olive with a pickled onion. The drink’s origin is a bit unclear, but one popular theory claims it was invented at The Bohemian Club in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Bar director Adam Chapman (who most recently managed the beverage program at the Daniel Patterson Group) uses Ford’s Gin, Vya Dry Vermouth from California and onion that’s pickled with vinegar, juniper, coriander, and grains of paradise which are meant to mirror the botanicals in the gin. Chapman’s Gibson is well-balanced and pairs nicelyl with anything from the snacks side of Robin Song’s menu, especially the charred cucumber with whipped uni. Gibson, 111 Mason St., gibsonsf.com
10 Things to Eat Right Now was published in the Winter 2018 issue © 2018 Edible San Francisco. Illustrations © 2018 Alyson Thomas.