Eat Like a Local: 11 Global Food Experiences in San Francisco
Kathryn Flouton loves all things edible. An industry executive for the last 15 years, her passion for food is rooted in her childhood. “Growing up in Cleveland, my mom and grandmom were both amazing cooks and bakers. In fact, my mom had a catering business, and her clients would hire me and my friend to clean up. We were oh-so-cleverly called The Kitchen Kousins. We traveled a lot as a family growing up and would explore different countries, cultures and cuisines. Good food was always a part of our every day.”
After years of living in Boston and New York, Kathryn and her husband Mike moved to San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood in 2013 with their toddler son. “This move is by far the tastiest. We’ve fallen in love with the variety of flavors and quality of ingredients readily available everywhere in this city. The proximity to the source has lots to do with this.
Living here has given the term ‘eat locally’ true meaning.” As a local, Kathryn has embarked on some serious culinary adventures. “I've visited everything from romaine fields in Salinas, aka ‘the salad bowl of America,’ to almond farms in the hot Central Valley. I also recently handpicked nine pounds of organic strawberries at a farm down the coast off Highway 1. Those berries would not have made it in a truck or a clamshell. In San Francisco, there is a quality and integrity you can enjoy. That happens when the produce isn’t bounced in the back of a truck thousands of miles across country because the item isn’t picked earlier to be able to endure that journey.”
Whether her family decides to dine in or out, Kathryn and Mike are experts at finding fresh, delicious options for every craving. “In regards to food, the city offers a bit of everything you could possibly want from all corners of the world,” she explains. Here is her round-up of locally based international dining destinations.
Piqueo's (830 Cortland Ave)
“Warm and friendly place for Peruvian tapas. I love the traditional plates, like ceviche and chicharrones, and the entrées are generous. Peruvian food actually is at its core a fusion of Latin, European, Asian and beyond, so dishes like the Pork Adobo feel a little Asian. Simply delicious! Mike starts with the sangria and I order an Albariño, and we order a bit of everything.”
Red Hill Station (803 Cortland Ave)
“New American takes on standards like Carbonara—his is with maple bacon. Aside from the bacon, the menu is actually geared toward the seafood lover. I like to start with a dozen fresh West Coast oysters and go from there. The setting is stylish and everything is super fresh and interesting.”
Front Porch (65 29th St.)
Sure, everyone loves fried chicken, but it’s hard to find crispy, savory, Southern-fried chicken that is consistently good-and never soggy or under spicedevery time. In this city, Front Porch is where you’ll find it.”
House of Nanking (919 Kearny St.)
“Touristy and a classic, but worth it for that West Coast Chinese-American flavor we all love. This is authentic to the core, from the cozy interior, quick service and delicious favorites, like potstickers and egg rolls done right. ”
Plaj (333 Fulton St.)
“Located inside a tiny 48-room hotel, Inn at the Opera. Scandinvia meets California at Plaj. Possibly the best burrata salad and brown bread you've ever tasted; always leave room for dessert and order the crème brûlée or the princess cake."
State Bird Provisions (1529 Fillmore St.)
“A new take on dim sum service; the staff encourages you to order lots of tapas-sized dishes from the menu and to share everything among friends. Worth waiting in line to get a table at this James Beard Award Winner, because let’s face it, there's no way you're getting a reservation. ”
Zuni (1658 Market St.)
“Zuni’s has been around since 1979, so this is as classic as it gets. The menu offers a variety of dishes that change frequently. You must get the roasted chicken, which is what every local in San Francisco will also tell you. Expect a whole bird, freshly roasted in their brick oven and served over an excellent panzanella salad.”
ABV (3174 16th St.)
“ABV has gained a true local following for the excellent cocktail menu that features every spirit and combination you can imagine. I personally love the bar bites, all of which are served on compostable plates without utensils— true finger foods! Don’t miss the kimchi fritters.”
Ichi Sushi (3282 Mission St.)
“The most Japan-like experience and freshest quality I’ve ever had, outside of Tokyo. Don’t think you’re walking into a classically dark Japanese joint—this place is bright and modern, with a really cool mural about how to eat sushi. Bet you didn’t know you’re supposed to hold sushi rice side up so that the fish hits your tongue first. Now you do!”
Namu Gaji (499 Dolores St.)
“Tradition meets innovation at this Korean restaurant. Mike and I will order something spicy like the stewed oxtail dish. The Kids’ menu is just as interesting, so our son can enjoy soba noodles or a rice plate with seaweed. We love the intimate Dolores Street venue, but there is a sister location at the Ferry Building."
Yank Sing (49 Stevenson St.)
“If you’re craving the full dim sum experience complete with little bamboo baskets of dumplings on carts, you must come to Yank Sing. While there are many places in San Francisco for dim sum, what makes Yank Sing my pick is the clean interior, the quality and wide array of choices, and the friendly service.” www.yanksing.com
Photo via Plaj.