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photo credit: Mary Lagier

State Bird Provisions image
9.4

State Bird Provisions

American

Fillmore

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightImpressing Out of TownersSpecial OccasionsUnique Dining ExperienceBirthdays
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You probably know someone who loves State Bird Provisions so much they have “quail lover” tattooed across the inside of their finger. Since 2012, the Fillmore restaurant has earned the loyal following equivalent to a feral crowd of Steph Curry fans, and for good reason. A trip here is final-meal-in-the-city worthy, and will probably remain that way for the next twenty decades.

Dinner here leans on sensory overload. Small plates are pushed around the dining room on dim sum-style carts, so all you have to do is point at what looks or smells good—read: everything—and it’s yours. You’ll see Chinese, Italian, Japanese, and Jamaican influences, just to name a few, scattered across these dishes. They’re all pulled off with flair and an easygoing style—think a pair of jet black-tinted dumplings with a tender duck confit filling, and an herby pork belly salad loaded with meat that melts in your mouth like cotton candy. Get as many as can fit on your table.

State Bird Provisions image

photo credit: Mary Lagier

While the small plates are what State Bird Provisions does best, don’t overlook the larger ones, like the eponymous State Bird. This fried quail comes resting atop slow-cooked onions with the subtlest hint of rosemary. And when you bite into the golden-brown skin, you’ll be stunned by the perfect crunch. Your other options include things like a fragrant donabe of brothy beans, and pan-fried corn mochi—this dish, with its expertly-balanced mix of spice and sweetness, will briefly send you into silent reflection. Order at least a couple of these bigger dishes to share—but if you’re wanting to try more, ask about half-portions.

This bustling dining room with the rainbow-checkered walls is exactly where you’ll want to be for birthdays, group reunions, or to impress people who are in SF for the first time. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood here—there’s a buzz in the air that seems to magically materialize when people are this fired up about eating a meal. Luckily, State Bird Provisions’ creativity and all-around excellence show no signs of going anywhere any time soon. And after dinner, you just might be in the market for a new finger tattoo. 

Food Rundown

The menu at State Bird Provisions changes often, but here’s an idea of what you can expect.
State Bird Provisions image

photo credit: Mary Lagier

Hog Island Sweetwater Oysters With Kohlrabi Kraut And Sesame

The oysters are dressed up with a tart kohlrabi kraut and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Get at least one to start the meal off.

Duck Liver Mousse With Almond Financiers

The perfect duck liver mousse quenelle is rich, creamy, and has a sweet aftertaste that reminds us of strawberries. Using the tiny, buttery financiers to wipe up the last bit of it off the plate is non-negotiable.

Black Sesame Duck Confit Dumpling

We could easily fill up on a plate of these black sesame-tinted dumplings alone and leave happy.

Smoked Trout-Allium Chip’n’Dip

Housemade chips, smoked trout, and roe come together to make this the best damn chips and dip ever. The dip is creamy and refreshing, and stopping yourself from ordering another round will be an incredible test of self-restraint.
State Bird Provisions image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Pork Belly “Salad”

If all salads involved huge chunks of melty pork belly and fish sauce vinaigrette, maybe they wouldn’t have such a bad rap. The mountain of fresh herbs on top adds just enough freshness to make it feel like you’re eating a bowl of greens, even though this dish is about 75% meat. Not that we’re complaining.
State Bird Provisions image

photo credit: Mary Lagier

CA State Bird With Provisions

You’re having dinner at State Bird Provisions, so of course you have to order the state bird. There’s a monthly-changing version they call the “Cover Bird,” but you can’t go wrong with the original: a beautifully-fried quail served with lemony slow-cooked onions. It’s crunchy, fragrant, and straight-up gorgeous.
State Bird Provisions image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Corn Mochi

The vegetable used to make the mochi changes—it might be carrot, squash or beets (pictured below), but the version with puréed corn is our favorite. The crispy balls are served with thinly-shaved goat gouda, cilantro, Fresno chiles, and roasted corn kernels on top. You won’t find anything else like it in the city.
State Bird Provisions image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Ice Cream Sandwich

Like most things here, the ice cream flavors used for these sandwiches change often. But whatever’s on the menu will blow your expectations out of the park. Abandon any semblance of table manners and battle it out with your dinner companions for the last piece.

"World Peace" Peanut Muscovado Milk

If you’ve ever wondered what it would taste like to drink liquid Reese’s Pieces, this is it. The perfect cap to a stunner of a meal.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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