Dutch Pancake from Outerlands
This much-ballyhooed restaurant is best (and most affordable) during lunch or brunch, where you should stick with an all-carb diet. Sandwiches and toasty tartines come on homemade sourdough wheat, and they also sell a limited number of loaves. But the best treat is reserved for Sundays, when the restaurant serves its Dutch Pancake ($10). A puffy rim drizzled with maple syrup, perched above an eggy crater that’s riddled with smoky, salty bacon. You can also swap the bacon for fresh fruit if you're feeling more virtuous, but either way, add a scoop of housemade ricotta for $2.50.
Getting a Seat at Outerlands
Advertised waits can be two hours on the weekend, but don't let that deter you. If you stick around, you’ll likely get seated much faster. Many people put their names on the wait list and then wander away and don't come back. For instant service, you can order your brunch to-go and take it to the lovely parklet just outside the restaurant.
The Girlfriend from Trouble Coffee Company
This teeny coffee temple can be intimidating. On the weekends, the staff doesn’t have time to answer questions about its cryptic menu like, "What's a depth charge?” (drip coffee) or “the fanny pack?” (americano with steamed milk) or a “build your own damn house?” (drip coffee, cinnamon toast, and a whole young coconut). To make things easier, don’t bother requesting substitutions like lowfat or nonfat milk (they don’t believe in it) or decaf (they don’t have it) or extra anything (they won’t do it). “We make it one way, but I think you’re going to love it,” the barista said to a customer who requested a “short cappuccino.” Chances are, you will.
They take coffee and tea equally seriously, brewing their own blend of beans and sourcing loose leaf tea varieties. Take the The Girlfriend ($4.50), for example. It’s a lavender and earl grey latte so named because “it’s high maintenance but so comforting.” And, I would add, subtle. Lavender can often be overwhelming, but here its floweriness is tempered with a smidge of honey, steamed milk that’s been infused with a drip of vanilla, and earl grey tea. The bitterness of the earl grey intensifies the longer you let the tea bag steep.
Toast from Trouble Coffee Company
If you could encapsulate Sunday morning into a single food, it would be Trouble’s cinnamon toast ($3.50). Everyone here just calls it “toast,” even though you can also get it with butter and Nutella or peanut butter and honey. They use hefty slices of chewy brioche, expressly made for them by Just For You in the Dogpatch. The bread pops out of the toaster streaked in gold, brown, and black, and then gets slapped with softened butter and a flurry of cinnamon mixed with a little sugar. When the barista bellows in a baritone “toooooast,” the butter has already melted into the bread and the cinnamon has begun melting into the butter. Take it outside to the parklet where everyone else is nibbling theirs.
Sweet Potato Steak Fries from The Pizza Place on Noriega
The pizza here is solid—a thin and well-crisped crust that stays that way because the toppings are delicately applied—but the sweet potato fries ($8) are sensational. Blistered skin crackles around each yellow boat, daring you to peel it off and eat it plain. The inside tastes like mashed sweet potatoes with just enough salt to obviate condiments. Use the accompanying cup of Ranch to dip your carrots and celery, but ignore the buffalo sauce, which tastes like straight Tabasco. Settle in at a red and white checkered oilcloth table, or join the locals at the bar in front of the TV.
BLT from Devil's Teeth Baking Company
Everyone has a favorite at this all-American bake shop. If you share a palate with Paula Deen, go with the cinnamon roll ($4), each layer obscenely rich in a cloak of caramel. If you like beignets ($1/each), join the fan club that waits in line on Sunday mornings. Each beignet is fried to-order, plopped in a bag of powdered sugar, and shaken like a rattle. Eat them quickly before they lose their crunch.
I, however, cannot pass up the BLT ($5). You can get it on a tender (though not flaky) biscuit whose butteriness complements the thatch of thick bacon, or on homemade sourdough. Mayo and mustard play their bit parts well, enhancing rather than overpowering the tower of mixed greens, tomato and pork. Pay $.75 extra for a scattering of half-moons of avocado.
Ice Cream from Polly Ann Ice Cream
Should you go with Bumpy Freeway (Rocky Road) or Star Wars (mint ice cream with marshmallow)? Spin the massive ice cream wheel to let fate decide. Beware that you have to go with whichever option the marker lands on or the one that’s immediately to the right or left. They’re serious about it. I didn’t like my spin, and they wouldn’t let me order something else. Asian flavors are the specialty here, like floral jasmine made with whole tea leaves, intense white sesame with peanuts or Reese’s, and mild taro. The staff is generous with samples, so taste the gamut. They even have durian, which is so stinky it’s quarantined in a back room so that it doesn’t pollute the other ice creams. Try it if you’re in the mood to lick a sweet, sweaty foot. ($2.95 for a single)
Polly Ann:3138 Noriega Street, San Francisco, CA 94122(map); 415-664-2472
Cocktail Soju from Toyose
Come to play at this pseudo-secret Korean spot located inside the owners’ garage. They've decorated it with giant logs wrapped in heavy rope that suspend from the ceiling and rattan mats that hang in front of booths to give them an illusion of privacy. The greasy food doesn’t start tasting good until you’ve emptied your first bottle of hot pink strawberry soju ($11). Go with kiwi for round two—both are vibrant with fresh fruits.
By then, you’ll have destroyed the complimentary bowl of popcorn and should order platters of chewy sweet potato noodles with stir-fried vegetables and fried chicken that’s reliably crunchy (though not spicy as the menu advertises). The party stays pumping until 2 a.m., with plenty of patrons sponging their alcohol with hot pots swimming with ramen noodles, Spam, and Vienna sausages. Waits can last more than an hour, but they do take reservations. A word to the wise: show up on time. The waitresses don’t tolerate pleasantries or tardiness.
Toyose:3814 Noriega, San Francisco, CA 94122(map); 415-731-0232