Spend a month in San Francisco and you'll start thinking of life in terms of startup pitches. Soulcycle? It's spinning meets clubbing. Sunday afternoon in Dolores Park? Picnicking meets sloppy brunch. The Marina? Murray Hill for rich techies.
Alta CA? Nopa meets Zuni. Or at least trying to be, and getting pretty close.
Lest you think we're being negative by defining Alta as a mash-up, those are two of our favorite restaurants, ever. And, like any good remix, Alta brings some new elements to the table that its forbears lacked.
First, the room. Alta's location and glassy windows can't help but make us think of Zuni, the OG of Market Street. That said, the two-story wall of illuminated classy liquor bottles notches up the atmosphere, especially at night, and the central bar is a great option for drinking, or drinking and eating.
Second, the food. You can't bring a menu of American/Californian food at reasonable prices, anchored by a burger and some big pork dishes, serving till 2 a.m., and not make us think a little bit of Nopa. It's like adding piano interludes to a rap song post-"Dark Fantasy." But that doesn't mean the food isn't delicious, and the Hebrew slant (pastrami, bialys) appeals to our quarter-Jewish heritage. The cocktails are also pretty solid, although we've had better success with the standard choices over the especially "barrel-aged" options.
So is the mash-up as good as the originals? No, but it's aiming high, and we respect that. If Alta hangs around and keeps getting better, other restaurants might someday be sampling from their game.
We still haven't had a bad deviled egg at a restaurant in SF, and Alta keeps the streak alive.
Beef Tendon Puffs
These look like exploded potato chips/chicharones. They are cool as a science project and taste all right, but not a must-order.
It ain't Katz's (it is "house-brined", and served as charcuterie), but if you've got a hankering, go for it.
Like a filled-in bagel with some nice onion/poppy flavor. Could go for this as your bread course.
A warm wheat porridge with tasty 'shrooms on top. Would be perfect on a cold windy day in SF.
They threw an egg on a pig's foot. This is the era we live in, people. It's solid but we vote for the shoulder.
They threw clams on a pig's shoulder! Better than the previous combo - the salty clam flavor works surprisingly well with the pork. A nice, hearty dish.
Chickpea and Oxtail Fritters
A cool dish but be forewarned - you're paying for like 6 bites of food (3 chickpea, 3 oxtail). They are good bites. The oxtail explodes in your mouth. If you're into that, get it. But compared to the awesome value plays on this menu (burger, bialys, deviled eggs), it may not be worth it.
A good burger with cheese and bacon. The key is their aioli, or whatever it is they spread on the bun. We give it a strong thumbs up. Given that this place is open late, could definitely hit this as a classy after-midnight snack.
On the one hand, we respect the audacity of just throwing some fancy toppings on soft-serve and calling it a day. On the other hand, the soft-serve itself is not that special. But, back on the first hand, the toppings are excellent. Rocky road with marshmallow, walnuts, and malt balls? Mint chip with a chocolate shell? F*ck it, these desserts are awesome.