San Francisco doesn’t have a lot of party restaurants, and we’re pretty cool with that—most of those places use excess pageantry to distract you from the less-than-average food and overpriced “house cocktails” mostly made of sugar. But if you have a friend visiting from out of town or you’re planning a big, celebratory group dinner, you also don’t want to end up at a place where the salad dressing might be the most exciting part of the night. Farmhouse Kitchen in the Mission is a good middle ground—they serve great Thai food in a colorful, lively space that doesn’t distract from the meal, it adds to the experience.
At first glance, Farmhouse looks like it was ripped out of an Olympics opening ceremony. There are bright lights and music, homemade dance videos are played around the restaurant on projectors and iPads, and the staff is wearing everything from floral shirts to boxing shorts, depending on the night. When there’s a birthday—there’s always at least one—you’ll be legitimately startled by each sudden rendition of “Happy Birthday” before wanting to join in. It’s the kind of controlled chaos that makes you want to look around, but even with all of this going on, you’re still able to focus on the people you’re with and the food you’re passing around the table.
photo credit: Krescent Carasso
Just like the servers’ tropical shirts, the menu has a lot going on. There’s a mix of pad Thai and khao soi, kobe beef jerky, grilled salmon in a banana leaf, and more. Of the starters, we like the sai oua pork sausage, which sounds heavy, but the ginger it comes with makes it surprisingly light. For larger plates, go with the Flintstone-sized panang neua short rib, or the boneless fried chicken with yellow curry, which is some of the best we’ve had in the city.
Farmhouse Kitchen isn’t the kind of party restaurant where you go to hold a giant liquor bottle over your head while “How Deep Is Your Love” blasts over any semblance of a conversation you might be having. But when you’re tired of eating at super calm restaurants where you feel no shame in checking your email or getting a few Bumble swipes in, Farmhouse is a good spot to go for an actual experience, whether you’re sharing it with coworkers or a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
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“Sai Oua” Northern Thai Sausage
Really good pork sausage made great from the ginger and peanuts it’s served with. You’ll wish that your local grocery store sold this.
Mieng Kum Kung
These fried tiger prawns are served with a mix of lime, onion, ginger, coconut, and peanuts with a tamarind sauce. It’s good, but not totally necessary. The mixture underneath is similar to the herbal rice salad, and with just three pieces per order, someone could get left out.
Great balance of spice and flavor. It’s refreshing and at the same time, you’ll want to put your face in front of a fire hose. Get this.
Herbal Rice Salad
The only leafy green in this salad is the mint on top, but if more salads were like this, we’d get way more excited for them. Split it with a few people.
Khao Soi Nuea
Not always on the menu, but if it is, make sure the khao soi is on your table. Slow-cooked short rib and egg noodles in yellow curry paste and coconut milk that you won’t be able to eat fast enough. Plus, the Grandmothers Sauce they serve it with makes Sriracha look like child’s play—we’d sneak it out if we could.
Grilled River Prawns Pad Thai
Despite a lot of things on the menu being very spicy, this was not. It’s a pretty standard pad Thai and the grilled prawns on top are great, but a little messy to eat.
What a short rib. Falls off the bone and is smothered in panang curry. If you’re a carnivore, have at it.
Hat Yai Fried Chicken
Order the fried chicken. We don’t care if you have an allegiance to a different style of fried chicken, this is really good and comes with roti, yellow curry, and rice.
Panang Curry With Chicken
A solid panang curry, and if everything else wasn’t so good, we’d recommend this more highly. But the rest of the menu is that good.