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Edibile San Francisco

Tripe and Squid Salad at Liholiho Yacht Club

Leave it to Ravi Kapur to make what could be a hard sell—a salad of guts and squid—very, very easy. Batons of tripe are fried until crunchy, as appealing as a French fry, then paired with tender rounds of squid. The supporting actors—red cabbage, roasted peanuts, mint, fried shallots and a dressing thrumming with lime juice and umami-rich fish sauce—push the salad east, into irresistible territory.

871 Sutter Street  | (415) 440-5446 |

Pecorino Roti with Truffled Buttermilk at The Progress

Sometime between the squab with salted chile sauce and the porcini and Mt. Tam cheese dumplings, if you’ve ordered well, a plate holding a swirl of gossamer roti bread will arrive, one of six courses you can choose for the table for a set price of $65 per person. The menu changes frequently according to the laser-sharp instincts of chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, but that flaky bread, luxuriating in a puddle of black-truffled buttermilk, at once tangy and earthy, is a happy constant.

1525 Fillmore Street | (415) 673-1294 |

Lamb Tibs at Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen

For those who think Ethiopian food comprises only vegetable wots, the discovery of a class of dishes known as tibs—sautéed meat and onions, spiced with jalapeños and rosemary—is a happy one. The lamb version at Tadu is tops: tender cubes of lamb leg, deeply caramelized sweet onions and a lingering heat from the whole chiles. Bonus: the injera beneath, which acts as a sponge for the meat juices.

484 Ellis Street | (415) 409-6649 |

Moo Yang at Hawker Fare

Eschewing the rice bowls that dominate the menu at Hawker Fare’s Oakland location, chef James Syhabout is swinging for the fences with the menu at the San Francisco location of his Thai restaurant. The Isaan-style dishes are funky, spicy, assertive—no coconut milk security blankets here. The food is so vibrant it’s practically got a pulse. One of the most satisfying dishes is moo yang, thin-cut bone-in pork chops that are charred in all the right places, satisfyingly chewy and accompanied by a dipping sauce heavy on nam pla and chiles.

680 Valencia Street | (415) 400-5699 |

Chicken for Two at Mourad

As befits its downtown location and chef Mourad Lahlou’s starry aspirations, many of the dishes on the menu at Mourad are complicated creations featuring dollops and whorls, seasonal ingredients mightily transformed. Then there’s the chicken for two, from the La’Acha section of the menu. The burnished-skinned bird comes on a ceramic platter the size of a tire, topped with filaments of preserved lemon and smashed Castelvetrano olives, accompanied by all the trimmings: green and red chermoula, harissa, housemade couscous doused in an outrageous amount of brown butter that I could eat every day, and an assortment of seasonal vegetables—maybe kale with translucent rounds of kumquat, or cabbage braised to silky perfection.

140 New Montgomery Street #1 | (415) 660-2500  |

Panelle Sandwich at Merigan Sub Shop

On a menu that includes chicken Parmesan and Italian subs, the panelle sandwich at Merigan Sub Shop is as quiet as a whisper. But you’re wrong if you think it’s nothing more than a vegetarian concession. Chickpea fritters, tomato conserva, fresh ricotta olive salad and arugula are piled onto a plush length of Pinkie’s bread, a magnificent example of the soothing powers of starch-on-starch.

636 Second Street  | (415) 536-2991  |

Neighbor Bake-house’s Everything Croissant

In the last few years, everything has turned up everywhere. That blend of spices and salt, once a bagel topping alone, went prime time, spotted on tasting menus, in pasta and on potato chips. One more (delicious) way to ride the trend wave: an everything croissant from Neighbor Bakehouse. The laminated spiral—a crackly, buttery delight—has a shower of everything spice and a core
of cream cheese to help you forget that San Francisco’s not a bagel town.

2343 3rd Street, Suite 100 |

Sloppy Lil’ P at Juhu Beach Club

A few years back, when Preeti Mistry was still searching for her restaurant location, she held pop-ups in a SoMa convenience store, which is where I first fell for her Sloppy Lil’ P, or pav bhaji, a rich, spicy vegetable mash served on plush, buttery slider-size buns, a carbohydrate-loaded street food par excellence. That dish followed her to Temescal, where she ended up opening her restaurant, Juhu Beach Club. Now it has returned to San Francisco once more, part of the menu at her weekly (Thursday) stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. It’s the bun—housemade, baked daily—that makes the pav, whether you opt for the vegetarian or meaty versions.

CUESA Thursday Farmers Market, Ferry Building | (510) 652-7350 |

Asparagus Pizza at Gioia Pizzeria

There are some people—even some people I live with—who are satisfied with a once-weekly serving of asparagus. But when it comes into season, I could eat it every day. One way to get the daily dose: Gioia’s asparagus pizza, a vibrant ode to spring in pie form, topped with spring onions, red mustard greens and crumbles of feta, a salty foil for the sweet spears.

2240 Polk Street | (415) 359-0971 |

The Vegan Hippie at Bi-Rite Market

I have the same feeling ordering this sandwich—that is, the physical act of saying its name out loud—that I once had at Café Gratitude, trying to straight-facedly ask for the “I Am Grounded”: mild embarrassment. But I’ll suffer the humiliation again because the combination of crisp matchsticks of fried sweet potato, a generous smear of green onion aioli, thick slices of avocado, and a lemony tangle of dressed pea shoots, stacked on Josey Baker’s seeded bread, is a righteous lunch that just happens to be vegan.

550 Divisadero Street and 3639 18th Street | (415) 551-7900

Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...