Boccalone: San Francisco’s Meatiest Haven

Posted by Foodie Buddha on January 19, 2012

boccalone in the san francisco ferry building

In the linguistic sense, I’m pretty sure that boccalone in Italian translates to “big mouth” “a gullible person” in English. In the tangible sense, Boccalone is a ragingly popular San Francisco salumeria (meat store) from Mark Pastore and Chris Cosentino that’s located in the famed San Francisco Ferry Building.  I can assure you the naming of the tiny market was no accident.

Thanks to these two dudes (who also prop up Incanto), Boccalone has become one of San Francisco’s most notable salumerias.  By no means a full-fledged Italian delicatessen, Boccalone is a nationally acclaimed house of cured meats, pig parts, sausages, and similar forms of charcuterie.  This meat swatch of indulgence is complimented with a handful of panini and plenty of take home packages.  The slogan neatly wraps it up: “Tasty Salted Pig Parts.”  That tagline alone was enough to get me in the door … but the lofty reputation alone didn’t hurt.

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The Sentinel: Get Freaky With Their Muffin [San Francisco]

Posted by Foodie Buddha on January 16, 2012

the muffin at the sentinel

Beneath a nondescript blue awning, in a tiny and simply adorned space, sits a little sandwich shop and breakfast stop that publishes one serious MOTHER TRUCKIN MUFFIN.  These housemade muffins come courtesy of The Sentinel, a Dennis Leary [the chefnot the “Asshole”] helmed dispensary in San Francisco’s Financial District.  Take note: it took just one bite of this crusty, intensely fruity breakfast treat to sell me.

When I touched down in San Francisco in mid-September, chef Dennis Leary was not an unknown commodity.  The now mid-30s chef has been kicking out the grub at Canteen restaurant for the better part of the last decade.  To this day, I still haven’t visited Canteen; but, I certainly heard about the place from my home some 2,473 miles away.  Despite that familiarity with Leary, I had no idea of his tiny side project, the aforementioned Sentinel.  Thank to all things holy (and sage advice from my SF hostess), I lucked into a little visit to Muffin Town.

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Tartine Bakery: Morning Glory From A Croissant

Posted by Foodie Buddha on January 15, 2012

tartine san francisco

When I tell you that I’ve had more than a handful of morning meditations about my breakfast at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, take note.  As shocked as you may be to read this, it needs to be written:  Most mornings, when I wake up, food is the farthest thing from my mind.  I’m not much of a breakfast guy and I usually have more stressful matters captive in my thought corral.

Be that as it may, Tartine has rocked that reality like Stockton dropped dimes – that is – with emphatic style.  To put it in less esoteric terms: Tartine Bakery delivered the best croissant I’ve ever had, bar none.  Granted, I’ve never stepped foot in France, but I suspect there are quite a number of folks in this country (and perhaps that one as well) who would agree with these sentiments.

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Mission Chinese: Flirting with Danny Bowien 1

Posted by Foodie Buddha on January 14, 2012

mission chinese food misleading awning

It’s not unreasonable to say that San Francisco’s Mission Chinese is currently the most buzzed about Chinese restaurant in the entire country.  Seriously!  Head cookmeister Danny Bowien has taken a dumpy, otherwise un-notable Chinese eatery, hidden himself in its kitchen, and promptly turned the food world on its head.

Right around the time I dropped in on San Fran, Bon Appetit declared Mission CF the second best new restaurant in the entire country.  By then, New York based Serious Eats had already gone gaga and the NYT had said its piece.  Long after my visit, Bowien himself showed up in Martha’s kitchen.

As is usually the case before an initial restaurant trip, I had not actually read what had already been written of  MCF.  However, by the time I left Atlanta for my West Coast trip, I was well aware of the chatter.  Mission Chinese was hot … and I knew it … and so I waddled in there (literally in fact) as the clock ticked down on my San Francisco stay.

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Bar Bouchon: French Bistro Badassery

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 05, 2011

bouchon sign

The trio of Bouchon restaurants carry a lofty reputation and this is no doubt a testament to the work of the captain of the ship, chef Thomas Keller.  The Los Angeles, or more specifically Beverly Hills, location of Bouchon serves as chef Keller’s single foray into one of the more prestigious dining cities in this country.  It’s at Bouchon Beverly Hills, a two-story homage to French bistro cuisine, that we find Keller’s Bar Bouchon, a two-year-old watering hole on the ground floor of the Bouchon space.

There’s no doubt I would have gotten a seat at Bouchon if my whirlwind schedule had permitted such indulgences.  Circumstances being otherwise, I gladly took up a spot at Bar Bouchon during happy hour in the midst of one gorgeous September afternoon.  Despite its role as the fire starter to one of the most gluttonous nights ever, I lived to tell the tale.

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Roscoe’s: Chicken + Waffles = Nap 2

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 04, 2011

roscoe's signage

If a person was to ask you to explain the definitive dish at the institution of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, your response might read something like this:

Chicken and waffles: noun – 1) a deleterious combination of crunchy waffles and crisped chicken skin, met in the middle by juicy, intensely seasoned chicken meat under an onslaught of airy, melted butter and slathered in a bath of hot sauce, gravy, and maple syrup. 2) death on a plate.

One of the oldest symbols of inbred fusion cooking, an order of chicken and waffles is, for better or worse, a staple of Southern food and an expose of its soulful influences.  While it is most oft-identified with the Deep South, where places like Gladys Knight’s rule the roost, the Los Angeles based Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n Waffles, might be the most famous purveyor anywhere.

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The Bowery: LA’s Best Burger?

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 04, 2011

the bowery burger

Named after a once seedy section of Manhattan, The Bowery offers a taste of New York City to those who call Los Angeles home.  Occasionally identified as the purveyor of LA’s best burger, The Bowery also attracts a good number of out of town visitors, as was the case with yours truly during my West coast trip.

The Bowery can most easily be identified as a gastro pub, a byname they embrace by self-proclaiming the title of LA’s first such establishment.  A NYC inspired white subway tile exterior with a small patio serves as The Bowery’s call to arms.  Inside, those white tiles are supplanted by jet black ones as a handful of two-tops form a banquette; in a space dominated by the bar, The Bowery’s interior is packed tightly.  To round out the ambiance, a chalkboard drink menu is located near the front, displaying The Bowery’s repertoire of adult beverages.  It’s a simple setting that sets the stage for a not so straightforward menu.

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Matsuhisa: The Restaurant That Started It All

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 03, 2011

matsuhisa beverly hills

My last meal in Los Angeles was a lunch at Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills.  Before I headed north to the bay of San Francisco, I wanted to sneak into this widely regarded sushi bar, the first jewel in the crown of famed sushimonger Nobu Matsuhisa.  Nobuyuki-san, perhaps the first celebrity sushi chef, has an empire that stretches several continents and a multitude of restaurants.  But it was this little spot on the edge of Beverly Hills where he first rose to worldwide acclaim.

Nowadays, Nobu-san no longer ambles behind the bar at Matsuhisa, instead leaving these day-to-day activities to people like chef Yoshi, a congenial and talented man who hails from Hiroshima’s countryside.  With a lofty reputation, I am sad to say that my single meal at Matsuhisa, while completely pleasant, did not quite qualify amongst the best I’ve indulged in of this Japanese art form.

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Wurstkuche: Umlaut Inspired Sausages 2

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 03, 2011


There’s something incredibly LA about Wurstküche, which is German for sausage kitchen.  Situated in a revitalized section of Downtown Los Angeles, Wurstküche’s neighborhood has become gentrified in so much as its residents all live in true loft spaces, its many working artists breath life into every corner of its intermingled warehouses, and its visitors are there, at least in part, to see where “real art” is made.

This sausage house is the restaurant realization of Joseph Pitruzzelli and Tyler Wilson.  For Wurstküche, like so many other popular LA eateries, something magical must have happened during this most recent Year of the Rat.  Several of the restaurants I visited during my 2011 West Coast hoedown opened in 2008, Wurstküche included.

In the three-years since, this young duo has built a cash money machine that churns through customers seemingly as fast as their sausage makers churn through rattlesnake.  Obsessively popular, it’s a place whose food did not impress, regardless of how many people say otherwise with their wallets.

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Snacking At Gjelina Los Angeles

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 03, 2011

gjelina logo

Since its unveiling in 2008, seemingly every major food writer in LA has hit Gjelina; thus, it became a spot to explore during my recent West Coast adventure.  A wonderfully popular restaurant in the Los Angeles suburb of Venice, Gjelina runs under the direction of executive chef (and co-owner) Travis Letts.

Ultimately, Gjelina’s popularity is derived from the food, which is widely reported to be something of a godsend to the tongue.  Meanwhile, it’s supposed that you’ll often find persons on top of persons no matter what the time of day.  Consequently, I’d like to emphasize that if you’re not careful, you’ll miss the aesthetic pleasures that Gjelina has to offer.  In a restaurant that’s sure to be bustling during your meal, where something transcendent is supposed to show up on your table, it would be easy to miss the comforts that the space offers your eye (although not your ears).

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