The “Bay of Pigs” Cuban Sandwich @ Best Lil’ Porkhouse, San Rafael

The "Bay of Pigs" Cuban Sandwich @ Best Lil' Porkhouse, San Rafael.
Served with mac and cheese.

The “Bay of Pigs” Cuban Sandwich @ Best Lil’ Porkhouse, San Rafael. Served with mac and cheese.

Two people with normal appetites could probably split the “Bay of Pigs,” pictured above, and leave San Rafael’s Best Lil’ Porkhouse feeling plenty full. It’s an utterly massive sandwich, dense with pork, and although it may not boast as many ingredients as, say, the torta cubana at That’s It Market, the “Bay of Pigs” can certainly match its Mission counterpart pound for pound. BLP’s spin on this classic sandwich is its pulled pork, which accompanies the typical trio of ham, pickles, and melted Swiss. The pulled pork is abundant and delicious; the ham is sliced almost thick enough to be a steak; and the house-made pickles are substantial coins in their own right. Mustard and mayo are standard, and BLP offers four different varieties of house-made barbecue sauce. A side of [… read more …]

Seven Meals I Hope to Eat Again in 2013

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Ramen’s Equal? The Bun Mam Soup @ Bun Mam Soc Trang, East Oakland.

If you’re reading this, then the world hasn’t ended. I, for one, feel relieved. There’s still so much great food to eat out there; I just wasn’t ready for our global unraveling quite yet. So, with the future confidently in mind (at least as much as it can be), I offer a handful of foods that I hope to revisit next year. Although I don’t like to repeat my meals out very often (as just one person, I’m trying to cast my culinary net as wide as possible), some foods prove so memorable, that they inevitably foster cravings. These are the same meals that eventually become my favorites, and they comprise the few times per year that I will eat “off the record,” just for the pure sake of eating, but without any official blog [… read more …]

Torta Cubana @ That’s It Market, Mission District, San Francisco

The Torta Cubana @ That's It Market: Chorizo and Egg, Breaded Beef, Hot Dogs, Bacon, Ham, Queso Fresco, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickled Jalapeño, Guacamole, and enough Mayo to bring it all together.

The Torta Cubana @ That’s It Market: Chorizo and Egg, Breaded Beef, Hot Dogs, Bacon, Ham, Queso Fresco, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickled Jalapeño, Guacamole, and enough Mayo to bring it all together.

A couple summers ago, Anthony Bourdain profiled That’s It Market on “No Reservations,” a culinary endorsement that must have provided an amazing windfall to the tiny corner store (no doubt, the “No Reservations” logo still appears on the market’s menus). Two years later, That’s It continues to earn high marks for its well-known torta cubana, a catch-all sandwich of profound proportions. Being in the mood for this delicious hodge-podge of salt and fat, I drove down to the Mission District on Tuesday afternoon before the Giants-Dodgers game at AT&T Park. The torta cubana pictured above proved to be a fitting pre-game meal, although it did stifle my appetite at the ball park — I could only manage [… read more …]

Pollo a la Brasa @ Limon Rotisserie, Mission District, San Francisco

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Pollo a la Brasa: One of the few rotisserie chickens that can actually compete with fried chicken. The bird is incredible on its own, although the trio of sauces (partially pictured in the upper left) take the dish in additional directions.

I’ve always had terrific meals at Limon Rotisserie in San Francisco. If I actually lived in city limits — and if I wasn’t always trying to visit new and different places — I’d probably eat there every week (I felt the same way about Versailles when I lived in Los Angeles). I’m totally sold at this point, and for me, ordering the addictive chicharron de pollo is usually non-negotiable. However, in the interest of eating something different, I ordered the dishes pictured above and below (please click the photos for a better look).

Sometimes it’s risky to turn your back on your old favorites: Have you ever [… read more …]

Review: The $15 Chef’s Tasting Menu @ Mr. Pollo, The Mission District, San Francisco

A friend recently informed me of Mr. Pollo in the Mission District, although I understand that this restaurant has also been featured on the “Bang for the Buck” episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” (as chef Chris Cosentino’s selection, Episode #3.13). Sorry for the late pass, folks. Given my own first impression, Mr. Pollo is certainly an enigmatic entity, the spirit of quasi-haute cuisine, shoe-horned into a tiny storefront on Mission and 24th, and surrounded by a bevy of taquerias, fast food joints, and one of the Bay Area’s dodgiest BART stations. Aesthetically, Mr. Pollo blends into the neighborhood perfectly, still boasting the sign and the name of the space’s former occupant. However, under the current ownership of chef Manny Torres Gimenez, Mr. Pollo represents the most unlikely culinary oasis.

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Whether or not Mr. Pollo is actually “ready for prime time” — [… read more …]