When you live in the Castro, finding solidly good food gives you the same kind of thrill that a Chowhounder experiences when sniffing out some rarified regional specialty. Currently my go-to's include Anchor Oyster, Castro Tarts for almond croissants, Thai Chef for green curry, Reveille for salads and more, Marcella's for a slice, and now, Gyro Xpress. It's no great shakes in regards to ambiance, but the new corner spot offers everything I need for a quick lunch: The lentil soup? Delicious. The hummus and baba ganoush? Ditto. The chicken plate is solid, as is the lamb burger with feta. I'll be back. —S.D.
I’m not a coffee drinker, so I have zero stake in the perpetual whose-third-wave-coffee-is-best debate. I am, however, more than happy to pass judgment on anything that falls in the hot chocolate camp, particularly when it’s as good as the stuff I sucked down at Blue Bottle a couple of evenings ago. I’d been walking around in wet shoes all day and sitting in an office with the approximate temperature of a meat locker, so perhaps I was more susceptible than usual to the hot chocolate’s powers of persuasion, but damn if it wasn’t the most satisfying thing I’d tasted all day. Blue Bottle uses TCHO dark chocolate, which yields a bittersweet cup; some might find it a little too bitter, but I like my chocolate on the slightly ornery side. The milk was frothy, the barista art suitably whimsical—seriously, are San Franciscans at this point capable of drinking a hot beverage lacking dairy-rendered decoration?—and the flavor deep and rich. The perfect foil, in other words, for a relentlessly soggy day. —R.F.M.
As someone who grew up in Baton Rouge, LA, I'm often hit with deep cravings for things like fried shrimp po'boys. And when the cravings hit, they must be satisfied. Which is why I dragged my entire family out to try Queen's Louisiana Po-boy Cafe out in the Bayview the other day. There's nothing special about the space, which has a bit of a fast food feel to it, but the po'boy was done just right, starting with the requisite Gambino's French bread. The gumbo was mighty tasty too. —S.D.
Can you love something despite feeling dissatisfied by it? That’s what I found myself asking this weekend at the 20th Century Café. The bagel and lox I’d ordered was gorgeous, the smoked salmon embellished with fuchsia strands of pickled shallot, minute tufts of dill, and a scattering of black nigella seeds. It was possibly the most strenuously art-directed bagel and lox I have ever eaten, almost more befitting of a photo spread than anything as pedestrian as lunch. It was also, not incidentally, delicious, from the crusty-chewy bagel coated in nigella seeds to the silky cream cheese to the pliant slices of fish. But at $11, the portion-to-price ratio seems a bit steep; the bagel and amount of fish on top of it was the paltry side, and wasn't particularly filling. Given that the chief mandate of a bagel and lox—to say nothing of most Eastern European Jewish food—is to be filling, this was a bit of a disappointment. On the plus side, it was the prettiest thing I’ve eaten all week, and also left plenty of room for the monster chocolate chip cookie I got at Craftsman & Wolves later that afternoon. —R.F.M.
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