photo credit: Mary Lagier
Some things are better when they play a supporting role. You don’t really want to listen to an entire playlist of drum solos, Will & Grace wouldn’t have worked with just Jack, and you’d be pretty weirded out if you were served jam by itself at a diner. But that same jam on a biscuit saves breakfast and “In The Air Tonight” is a classic because of the drums.
The same goes for True Laurel, a cocktail bar in the Mission that also serves good small plates. If this was the only place you went on a given night, you’d feel like something was missing, but when it’s just one stop out of many, it can help to take it over the top.
photo credit: Mary Lagier
True Laurel is around the corner from some great restaurants, like Farmhouse Kitchen and Flour + Water, so coming here before or after dinner for drinks is easy. The space itself is pretty ideal for that reason, too. It’s not that big, so even if it’s crowded, you can order a cocktail or ask about the drink list without having to yell and use hand signals, but it’s also not so small that you’ll overhear the people behind you talking about vintage lamps or getting into beekeeping.
The drink menu at True Laurel isn’t something you’ll want to ignore, like you would the seatbelt demonstration when you’re on a plane. You’ll see unique ingredients like sage buds and pine tips making up the kind of cocktails that you’ll want to drink slowly and pay attention to, instead of kicking back quickly in the name of having something to do with your hands.
They serve food here too, but we wouldn’t recommend going to True Laurel for a full meal. There are things like bar nuts and oysters if you need a snack, or larger dishes, like a patty melt, in case you’re still hungry after having dinner elsewhere. But the real reason you come here is to get a good drink in a cool space with someone you like. And just like Phil Collins’ drum solos, a stop at True Laurel will help make your night a little more noteworthy.
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These are why you’re here. The cocktail list changes from time to time depending on which ingredients are in season, but whatever you get, it’ll be one of the better cocktails you’ve had in a while.
Charred Octopus Tostada
The best of the smaller items. The octopus is cold, but cooked well, and the sweet pepper romesco goes great with it. Be careful if you’re splitting this with someone, as breaking the tortilla in two could cause some shrapnel to fly.
Cacio E Pepe Chicharrones
A cool idea in concept, but these are really just pork skins dusted with grated cheese and pepper. The parts don’t really come together and as much as we love chicharrones, we’d pass on these.
Grilled Summer Squash
This comes with sungold tomatoes, blossom ranch, and bottarga crumbs. If you’re super into crudites, get this.
Dry-Aged Pork Roast
The best thing on the menu. The country ham and scallop XO sauce is dangerously good and if you want something more substantial, this is the move.
Good, but small. A true bar bite, but we guarantee you’ll want more than just this.
TL Patty Melt
A really good patty melt. No further comment.
Crispy Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms
This is basically a play on chips and dip, but the mushrooms are kind of greasy and the fancy onion dip won’t blow you away.