Ballpark Eats: The Outta Here Cheesesteak @ AT&T Park

Seedy character.

Seedy character: The Cheesesteak Sandwich @ Outta Here Cheesesteaks, AT&T Park.

I’m not ready to give up on the San Francisco Giants just yet, but I have given up on my chances of visiting AT&T Park for another ballgame this year. Even if the Giants can somehow survive the Reds, there’s little chance that playoff tickets will fall into my hands. So before the 2012 baseball season draws to an end, I have to mention the Outta Here Cheesesteak, pictured above, that I enjoyed a couple weeks ago. The sandwich is pretty good by ballpark standards, but maybe not as noteworthy or unique as the one across the way at Crazy Crab’z, which neatly captures an essence of San Francisco. Then again, I’ll bet Outta Here is still as good as any cheesesteak sold at a Phillies home game. Just a hunch.

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Chicken & Waffle @ Auntie April's Soul Food, Hunters Point, SF

Don't get me wrong, I'll take a little more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a little more.

Ever since the San Francisco Giants found a new home outside of Candlestick Park, I haven’t had much reason to journey down to Hunters Point anymore. But chicken and waffles is motivation enough to make the trek, and I was interested to follow up on a tip that I had heard about Auntie April’s Chicken n’ Waffles. The waffle, compared to the one I most recently tasted at the Brown Sugar Kitchen, didn’t have the same character or panache, but that said, it did arrive hot and well-buttered. It was still tasty, just not crispy or especially memorable. The fried chicken, on the other hand, was incredibly good, crispy to the last bite, even after I slathered it liberally with hot sauce. It’s some of the best fried chicken in the city. The kicker, however, was that the entire [… read more …]

Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles, San Francisco

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The 1/4 chicken and two waffles @ Gussie’s, San Francisco (this combo would be known as ‘Scoe’s Special #1 at Roscoe’s in Los Angeles).

When I was producing talk radio back in my early days in Los Angeles, a stop at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles became a weekly Sunday night ritual. Having Roscoe’s as a late-night dining option was truly a godsend, especially since their Pico-La Brea location was midway between K-Town (home of the KLSX studios) and the Los Angeles Westside (where I lived for more than 10 years). Having visited Roscoe’s well over 100 times in my life, I’ll always remember that restaurant as the very model of consistency — always perfect — with devastating fried chicken. The waffles at Roscoe’s were also brilliant, totally by the book, served with the right kind of whipped butter, and accompanied with warm maple syrup.

Since I’ve relocated to [… read more …]

Scoop: Brenda Buenviaje to open a Po-Boy Shop in the Fillmore

Coming soon to the Fillmore District…

I’ve got a few interesting news stories to break in the next couple weeks, as I patiently wait for more details on a couple of items. But for now, I’ll reveal one of my better scoops: I have a very trusted inside source who has mentioned to me that Brenda Buenviaje — the chef and namesake behind San Francisco’s beloved Brenda’s French Soul Food — will be opening a sandwich/po-boy spot in the Fillmore District. I’m told that the timeline for the new venture is set for the next six months or so, and that the new restaurant will feature a bar that offers beer and wine. If I can get any additional insight as to what else might be on the menu, or a specific name for the restaurant, or a specific locale, I’ll be sure to let you [… read more …]

Bay Area Ramen: Six Lunch Options in San Francisco & Berkeley

katanaya

Tonkotsu Garlic Ramen, with Pork Belly @ Miki Restaurant, San Francisco.

Ramen is terribly misunderstood by most Americans, and it’s not really our fault. For the majority of us, myself included, our introduction to ramen occurred via the Asian aisle of our local chain supermarket. Those ubiquitous packets of Nissin Top Ramen, embraced by college students everywhere, have comprised the complete ramen experience for most Americans. What a shame. A brick of dried noodles, accompanied by a silver packet of MSG-fueled seasonings. But the infamous 19¢ dinner, always located on very the bottom shelf at the market, far below the soy sauce and the canned water chestnuts, is all that’s ever been available to most of us (and if you consumed as much Top Ramen as I did in college, you may still even remember which “flavor” corresponds with each colored packet). Who would’ve ever known that ramen, [… read more …]

The Slim Joe Burger @ Mama’s on Washington Square

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The Slim Joe Burger @ Mama’s on Washington Square, San Francisco

I’m working on an extensive ramen piece, which is why I haven’t posted in a while. Along the way, I forgot to share this picture of the Slim Joe Burger from Mama’s on Washington Square, where I enjoyed a late lunch a couple weeks ago, after a mediocre-yet-encouraging round of 18 at Presidio. For me, the Slim Joe is about as good a hamburger as you could expect from a place where everything on the menu is well-prepared and delicious.

Although I wouldn’t designate this burger as a signature item at Mama’s (the Monte Cristo forever holds that title), I wouldn’t ever discourage anyone from ordering the Slim Joe, either. Quite simply, if you want a good and honest burger, this is that. Incidentally, the key to any sourdough sandwich is the bread: Use a baguette that [… read more …]

The Grilled Sourdough Crab Sandwich @ Crazy Crab’z, AT&T Park

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$16 at the ballpark.

I used to call myself a “long-suffering” San Francisco Giants fan — until 2010, when the team won the World Series, and I then promised myself that I would never again disparage the Giants, at least not in that sort of fatalistic manner. I’ve made good on that promise so far, and even though the 2011 campaign was a bit disappointing, especially from a defending-world-champions perspective, the memory of the 2010 honeymoon still lingers fresh in my mind (and besides, the 49ers’ improbable run last year really helped to ease the pain of the Giants missing the playoffs). But as a Giants fan, I endured many lean years growing up — the Candlestick Years — years that I shall never forget: I was at Game 3 of the World Series in 1989 when the earthquake struck, and I’d be a liar if I said [… read more …]

The Tonkatsu Sandwich @ Nojo Restaurant, San Francisco

Tonkastu Sandwich

The Tonkastu Sandwich. Although I always chuckle at crustless bread, this is one serious sandwich. The pork cutlet is perfectly crispy, with great balance provided by an Asian-style slaw and spicy ponzu mayo. One of the good ones.

Nojo has been on my radar for quite some time now, ever since I was hipped to this restaurant by my good buddy Dirk, a former chef-colleague who now lives and works in San Francisco. The menu at Nojo certainly looked intriguing, and ever since Dirk had mentioned this place to me, the restaurant had definitely been garnering some great buzz online. Still, the trouble with dinner-only restaurants, at least for me, is that great food pictures are nearly impossible to obtain, especially during the wintertime, when daylight is so fleeting. Personally, I can’t even bring myself to run a cell phone pic on these pages, and certainly not any [… read more …]

The Sunny Side Burger @ Roam Artisan Burgers, San Francisco

Suunyside burger with a bacon add-on.

Roam’s Sunny Side Burger with a bacon add-on. Yes, there’s a delicious grass-fed beef patty in there; it’s just obscured by the fixings.

For my palate, the burger options at Roam can easily be distilled down to two distinct choices: either (a) the delicious Sunny Side Burger, which features a fried egg, or (b) the equally tempting Heritage Burger, which features apple wood-smoked bacon. Yes, there are also some other, more subtle differences between the two burgers, such as different cheeses, different condiments, and different leafy greens. But let’s face it, these types of subtleties don’t carry nearly the same weight as the bacon versus egg debate. Of course, I’ve never really been the type to settle when it comes to food, and ultimately, I knew that I would either have to (a) add an egg to the Heritage Burger, or (b) add some bacon to the Sunny [… read more …]

Photo Purge: Scenes from the California Bay Area and Beyond

Gateway Market, Emeryville: Adorned with a fantastic mural alongside its parking lot, the Gateway Market is tough to miss on San Pablo Blvd. The artwork has a definite graffiti vibe, but the details are fantastic. Luckily, it hasn't been tagged over. The "W" in Gateway is pictured above (each letter has its own theme). Click on the photo to reveal all of the great flourishes.

Most of these pictures have never appeared on this site, although a couple did appear a few years ago, long before I sharpened my photo-editing skills. Many readers have emailed me about my approach to photography, and I must confess, my only real secret is to simply seek the best lighting possible. Truthfully, I’ve never had any formal photography training, but I did develop an eye for proper lighting while I was working (briefly, almost 15 years ago) as a grip in Los [… read more …]