The Best Things We Ate This Week

A running list of the best dishes we’ve had recently.
The Best Things We Ate This Week image

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

Welcome to The Best Things We Ate This Week. This guide is filled with all the dishes you need to have on your table, whether you’re dining out at a new San Francisco hot spot or a tried-and-true gem. Go forth, scroll through, and use this for reference the next time you’re deciding where to eat.


photo credit: Melissa Zink



$$$$Perfect For:LunchSerious Take-Out Operation
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Dish: Meatball pork bánh mì

We’re no professional demographers, but we’re pretty sure Little Saigon in the Tenderloin has the city’s highest population of knockout bánh mì in such a tiny radius. The crown jewel of the neighborhood is Saigon Sandwich—and on a recent revisit, we were won over by the xiu mai sandwich. The slightly sweet pork meatball would fall right apart if it weren’t held together by the crisp roll, and all of the fixings, like carrots, daikon, and a swath of mayo, are fresh as ever. It’ll also only run you $5, if you weren’t already convinced to get here for your next on-the-go lunch. 

Dish: Fusilli in spicy vodka tomato with green chile sausage

The fusilli at Pasta Supply Co in the Richmond hit us with expertly cooked al dente pasta and a creamy vodka sauce that wasn’t too heavy and packed just a little bit of spice. Adding the green chile sausage into the mix took it to the next level—the fattiness from the sausage and the tanginess from the green chile makes this pasta richer and one of the more interesting choices on this excellent menu. Ordering here is a bit of a confusing experience—you put in an order with the staff at the front door before you’re led to a table—but getting past the initial puzzle is more than worth it for this casual weeknight dinner.

Dish: Mumu combo

Huddling around your own personal pot at Mumu Hot Pot is the best way we’ve found to stave off our seasonal depression. The casual Parkmerced spot gives you your own mini vat of bubbling soup, so you don’t have to spend the meal reaching across the table to snag a floating fish ball. The Mumu combo is the way to go—at $68 for two people, this meat-centric feast comes with your choice of thinly shaved, high-quality meats like wagyu beef toro or pork collar, and a ton of sides like fresh housemade ramen and a platter of leafy vegetables. Don’t forget to go hard at the chili and peanut-heavy sauce bar.

Dish: El Jefe taco with carne asada en chile de arbol

The El Jefe taco at Zona Rosa in the Castro is the most traditional taco on the menu, which is exactly why it's great. You can choose from any of the seven protein options, like carnitas and carne asada, but get the carne asada en chile de arbol for a spicy mess that will slather your mouth with slow-cooked red salsa and a generous amount of lime juice. Each is topped with just cilantro, onion, lime, and salsa, allowing you to appreciate the diced carne asada’s tenderness, and the tortilla is served piping hot—just as it should be. You should get about three (or four if you’re hungry).

Dish: Paper masala dosa

The two-foot paper masala dosa at Udupi Palace is a certified head-turner. The crisp, buttery showstopper is bigger than the plate it comes on—it’s so long it could be wielded as a baseball bat (though we prefer to just eat it), and you’ll have to pick your jaw up off the floor before tearing into it. It’s a must-order at this entirely vegetarian Indian spot in the Mission—the spiced potatoes that ride shotgun are warm and comforting, and we like to use the dosa to sop up any extra saag paneer or chana masala. 

photo credit: Brit Finnegan

Dish: New Orleans style beignets with powdered sugar

These pillowy beignets are fried to a texture akin to a $600 boutique down comforter, doused in enough powdered sugar to leave you with a mustache, and served with a tart raspberry jam that we wish we could bottle up and take home with us. The rest of the menu at this Southern spot in Mission-Bernal has some hits, like the creamy country-fried steak, but we’d be more than content to just keep coming back for these bites of beignet bliss each and every weekend.

Dish: Poc chuc

The poc chuc at this Yucatecan spot in the Mission fills a plate as big as a laptop, and it’s a staple of any order at this half-restaurant, half-karaoke destination. The pork is charred and citrusy, chunks of grilled onion lend a nice crunch, and the beans that come on the side pack an intensely savory punch that matches the rest of the dish. Wrapping everything up in one of their thick, beautifully blistered tortillas is also mandatory. 

photo credit: Ricky Rodriguez



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Dish: Slow-poached jidori egg yolk with fermented potato bread

This jidori egg yolk in a mushroom broth at this Hayes Valley spot is probably the most umami thing we’ve had—ever. The rich brown broth is dripping with flavor that we can only describe as the best form of earthy. The egg is soft and tender and breaks apart at the lightest touch, and while the fermented potato bread can lean on the tougher side, we don't mind because this broth is the perfect dipping vessel. The rest of the $225 seafood-focused 20-course tasting menu at Kiln is equally as exciting, and it’s the only way to try this dish, so you’d better make a reservation soon before they change their menu and this broth is gone forever. 

Dish: Pelmeni

It could be 50 degrees and misting and we’d still find a way to Cinderella Bakery & Cafe’s parklet for a much better-than-average lunch, especially if it means getting to polish off a plate of their pelmeni. The plump little meat pockets, which come in orders of 20, have a perfectly cooked pork and beef filling and chewy wrappers (we prefer them dry, but you can also order them in broth on extra-cold days). Smear a generous dollop of sour cream on each and pop them like candy. 

Dish: 3 Quesabirrias + Consomé

The quesabirria at La Vaca Birria in the Mission is the new standard for San Francisco birria. Thick pieces of halal birria that fall apart almost instantly are piled high inside a crunchy tortilla. The Oaxacan cheese is melted until it forms a sliver of crust that adds to the savoriness and fattiness. The red and green salsas, while not spicy, are smoky, and the consomé is dark and rich (a.k.a. the perfect dipping companion). Make sure to squeeze some lime before taking a euphoric bite of these crispy, melty tacos.

Dish: Tataki - Meatball

The world revolves around chicken at Yakitori Edomasa. It’s the only meat on the menu at this Japantown restaurant, which first opened in 1924 in Tokyo and has now moved to SF. The $30 set menu includes a meatball that’ll lodge itself in your fowl-loving brain. The flat-ish, circular stunner is soft enough to cut through with a single chopstick and gets a wonderfully zippy bite from a smear of fresh wasabi. And it arrives soaking in a light tare that you’ll want to drink like soup (go ahead, we won’t judge).

Dish: V.I.P. milk tea (Hong Kong-style) and pineapple buns

The Hong Kong-style milk tea at VIP Coffee & Cake Shop in Chinatown is the best you’ll find in the city. This version is thick, creamy, and sweet with an intense black tea taste that will wake you right up if you're not used to it. You can get this hot or cold (but getting a piping hot mug of this liquid gold is our favorite way to go) and pair it with one, two, or maybe even three plump pineapple buns. The buns are soft on the inside, crispy on the top, and most importantly feed a primal lust for a warm pastry that pairs excellently with the rich milk tea.

Dish: Mini pan fried pork bun

The pan fried pork buns from this casual Chinese restaurant in the Sunset are the size of a dollar coin—they’re adorable and delicious. The crisp bottoms are golden-brown, and the juicy pork filling packs a big punch despite the dumplings’ small dimensions. We’d rent out a place on the block just so we could easily order them as an afternoon snack any day. 

Dish: Hatch, New Mexico green chili burger

The green chili burger at this Dogpatch breakfast spot is a strong candidate for our best burgers list. It’s a monstrosity and arrives on the table open-faced with the green chili coating the burger, sloppy joe-style. The messiness and size make eating the entire thing feel like an impossible feat. But once you accept that your hands will get dirty, this burger will hook you. The meat is juicy and the bun is fluffy, but they play second fiddle to the zingy hatch chili sauce—its kick immediately wakes the tongue up. Sign us up for a loyalty card, we’ll be back for this soon.

Dish: Sautéed clams with pepper and black bean sauce

At this casual Cantonese spot in Chinatown, every table is filled with a spread of dishes from the ocean. There are wiggly tofu hunks topped with fish cake, salt and pepper prawns, and steamed fish buried under a pile of bean sprouts. The showstopper is the clams with pepper and black bean sauce. More gravy-like, the sauce is thicker than a down quilt, and the right touch of sweetness balances out the brininess of the clams. Using rice to eat up any leftover sauce is always a good idea. But we prefer to just slurp it back by the spoonful. 

Dish: Focaccia di recco

The focaccia di recco is the best thing on the menu of mostly solid Italian dishes at Corzetti in Union Square. It’s a thin flatbread with a snappy crust, and stuffed with creamy crescenza cheese. Adding mortadella is optional, but you should absolutely do it—the paper-thin slices lend a nice saltiness to every bite. Next time you’re in the area looking at cable cars and fancy boots, come here to snag a seat at the shiny bar and delve into this bread, preferably with a negroni present. 

Dish: Whole oak coal roasted mackerel 

The whole mackerel roasted over oak coals at Barberio Osteria in the Mission is perfectly charred on the outside and juicy within. It’s a flaky masterpiece, surrounded by salsa verde, Calabrian chiles, green olives, onion, herbs, and a charred lemon. Squeeze the lemon, coat it in salsa verde, and chase your forkful with a Calabrian chile for the ideal acidic, herbal, and spicy bite. The other great news is that you can choose from three different fish options, depending on your group size and appetite: mackerel (1-2 people), petrale sole (3-5 people), and chili pepper rockfish (2-4 people).

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