In May, our calendars started to fill up and we found ourselves having more and more of a love-hate relationship with the idea of socializing (we’ll get through this). We also ate a lot. From giant hoagies to Spanish tapas, here are the 7 best things we ate during the entire month.
Smoked chicken smørrebrød
Kantine is a Scandinavian cafe on Market Street that makes pastries, porridges, soups, and sandwiches. Stepping inside the well-lit, airy space will make you want to pull up a wooden chair, read a book over a latte or a cinnamon knot, and stay awhile (they’re open for outdoor dining). Get a smørrebrød (open-faced sandwich), which are a well-executed lesson in the art of layering. One version we got in May: A slice of hearty, house-made sprouted rye bread, a bed of greens, a creamy, smoked-chicken and crème fraîche salad packed with mushrooms and herbs, wafer-thin slices of radishes, and crunchy dehydrated chicken skin that shatters in your mouth with each bite.
Coffee crunch cake & steamed custard buns
The longest operating bakery in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Eastern Bakery has graced the city since 1924. The cash-only spot is a local favorite, especially for its very popular signature coffee crunch cake: soft yellow sponge cake topped with toffee bits and mocha cream. During Mid-Autumn Festival (or any time of year, really), pick up a lotus-paste mooncake or three - while many bakeries import their mooncakes, Eastern makes them fresh in-house, and the sweet filling is gooey and thick. In fact, you can expect a generous amount of filling in most of the baked goods here, from the steamed custard buns to the winter melon cakes. The bakers do not skimp.
This small, 12-seat sushi counter in NoPa is the epitome of somewhere you file away for a special occasion. And now, Ju-Ni is serving a 12-course omakase experience out on a newly built outdoor sushi bar and heated parklet. Every four people will have their own sushi chef, and still get course after course of handrolls, sushi, and soup, and optional add-ons like bafun uni. And while this place is expensive ($147 a person), it’s worth the trouble for some of the best sushi in San Francisco.
Patatas bravas, bacalao croquetas, crispy mushroom skewers
Red Window is a new Spanish restaurant in North Beach that recently made it onto our Hit List thanks to fantastic tapas and low-proof cocktails like spritzes and sangrias. It’s also the perfect spot to “Meet Up With People For Exactly 1 Hour So You Can Go Home & Be Alone Again.“ Grab a seat on their expansive outdoor parklet with a friend, and discuss the dogs they recently fostered over crispy patatas bravas, mushroom skewers, and jamón Ibérico.
Hat yai fried chicken
In May, we thought a lot about the return of in-person birthday celebrations. And one spot we love is Farmhouse Thai. It’s a celebration restaurant in every sense of the word. There are colorful streamers and floral motifs everywhere. But none of that takes away from the food, which is something to raise a glass to in itself. The hat yai fried chicken with roti, yellow curry, and blue rice are a trio of perfection, the panang neua short ribs fall off the bone, and the papaya salad has a nice kick. Long story short, this Mission spot is fantastic - and coming here if you want to have a great time is always a good idea.
All the cold appetizers
Last month, SF Staff Writer Julia Chen revisited her family-favorite restaurant Little Shanghai in San Mateo. “We always start our meal off with a few of these, like the smoked fish, drunken chicken, bean curd with ma lan tou, salted duck, and fried puff bean curd with black mushroom,” she wrote in her most recent feature. “They’re light and refreshing, and the perfect balance of salty and sweet.”
Italian American hoagie
The wine bar in the Outer Sunset is home to another one of our favorite new sandwiches in the city: the Italian American hoagie, an arm-length behemoth filled with mortadella, salami, mozzarella, onion, arugula, parmesan, and a swath of ’nduja mayo. It’s also a great one-stop shop if you’re trying to set up a picnic at Golden Gate Park for the day. While you’re there, pick up a bottle of wine, a side of spicy garlic cheese dip, and chocolate chip cookies.