When a certain kind of restaurant opens in San Francisco, people show up. That's the case at Al's Place, which recently opened deep in the Mission: Wes Anderson acolytes, tech bros, people over 45, people wearing cargo pants in a non-fashion forward way - the gang’s all here. Al's place is drawing the crowds.
What's drawing crowds who don't all have ironic wolf tattoos is the fact that this place looks like it should be in a fancy beach town rather than the middle of the Mission. Or maybe it's the fact that the food is really good and the airy space welcomes you in no matter what part of town you call home.
The schtick of Al’s place is that meats are sides - as in, you can order a side of hangar steak. This could seem cutesy, and we'd probably be less forgiving if almost every single dish we'd had - meat or otherwise - wasn't extremely delicious.
There's a pescetarian slant to the menu, so ideally you hit this place with people who are into the sea meats too. Even though everything is under $20, the plates aren't big and you need to order lots of stuff, so you can end up spending money pretty quick. Every table of assorted humans around us seemed to be enjoying their dinner more than the usual Friday night go-to meal, and the energy carries from table to table in an addictive way.
The plating and delivery is beautiful, so if you get excited about dishes that feature pretty colors and could illustrate a cookbook, you’ll be psyched. Somehow, despite the modern art-style platings, Al's doesn't feel precious. There's a relaxed, friendly, flip flops-on attitude that we, and pretty much anyone, should be able to get behind.
The waiter sold us on these. Brined for 96 hours with a vegan barbecue sauce, served up on a little metal tray prison cafeteria style. The sauce was delightful, but table was mixed on the fries. Some people loved, but we found them a bit too dense and chewy.
The citrus dressing on this guy is amazing, and the herbed avocado puree is super good too. We would like to suggest that all salads be served on top of an avocado base.
The insanely creamy curry gets artfully poured at the table over the cod and grapefruit. Runaway hit of the night.
Ideal al dente pasta with a strong green garlic sauce. We love this.
The asparagus (or whatever vegetable's seasonal) comes straight out of the garden, served up crazy fresh with some quality burrata. Per our server, the vegetables come from “a multitude of farms” so the produce paired with the cheese varies. Who cares what it is, get this for the cheese alone. Also, the fancy take on potato chips is not messing around.
The jowl is basically pork belly, which we can definitely get down with. It’s super rich and buttery, and the combo with the seaweed and anchovies seems batsh*t. But it tastes amazing.