San Francisco is arguably the best city in the world for foodies. There truly is something for any culinary dream you may have and the cherry on top is it is all fresh and most likely grown, foraged, raised or caught from within 20 miles of the city. I have been to very few places more than once because there is simply too much to try and so much of it is exceptional. Lucky for me I found my culinary soul mate when I moved here and besides the fact that she is really wrong about not liking eggs, we pretty much have the same exact taste in food (pun intended). At the risk of sounding uber dorky we have started our own food club of sorts and every few weeks we pick a new spot around the city to investigate. It’s led to some real winners like you read about HERE and HERE but last Friday our foodie date night was one for the books. We both left the night with full hearts and (too) full tummies.
Remember when I told you about Samovar Tea Lounge? Well they have several locations in San Francisco and the one in the Mission could not be more different than the one I frequent in Hayes Valley. It is sleek with a museum like quality and a hand crafted/hipster/totally San Francisco vibe. Their homemade chai is their specialty and they keep four large copper pots brewing on the range. Needless to say it smells like spicy, cozy goodness the moment you walk in. A must visit if in the Mission area.
Samovar Tea Lounge
411 Valencia Street
San Francisco, 94103
After tea we walked to a small wine bar called 20 Spot. The plates (even their larger plates) were all pretty small because they don’t have a full kitchen. Excuse me, what? Yes, you heard me right…they don’t have a kitchen. Apparently this is a thing in SF right now. Smaller bars like 20 Spot are making due with a few burners in the back and managing to put out some pretty impressive dishes. We definitely were happy with ours, the salmon crudo and clams.
3565 20th Street, between Mission & Valencia
San Francisco, CA
As we finished our wine we agreed we weren’t quite full and needed something more. I had seen a pop-up taco stand of some sort a few weeks back and we decided to go scope it out. It was about 7:15 and the window wasn’t open. Assuming we missed it we curiously pressed our noses to the glass and were delighted to see a big pot of beans and someone moving around in the back, our hope was restored. We ended up catching the attention of one of the guys inside and he let us know the window opened at 7:30. Completely unaware of the luck we were having we walked next door to Tartine Bakery to take advantage of the one time ever there wasn’t a line and buy some dessert, a Sugar Plum Frangipane Tart and a slice of Tres Leches Cake. Back outside we stood against a wall to wait and low and behold a line started forming behind us. We started chatting with one of our fellow line dwellers and as he filled us in we realized we had struck gold.
A couple of the bakers from Tartine asked the owner if they could do this pop-up for awhile (basically until they are over it) using one of the windows in the Tartine bread kitchen. After they finish their shift in the early afternoon they make all the goodies for the pop-up called, Loqu. You can’t find anything about it anywhere online but trust me when I say it was absolutely mind blowing. They make a huge pot of beans and offer one protein for the night. Your only options given are regular (no cheese or beans, aka the wrong choice) or primo (with cheese and beans, the only right choice) and corn or flour tortillas. This night the protein happened to be carne asada. They make everything fresh (even the tortillas) to order and once they run out they close the window. Our new buddy told us they usually sell out within 30-45 minutes and people in line are forced to try another day.
In this moment I can honestly say I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. We walked right up to the counter, ordered 2 primos and watched as they made each tortilla to order, patting it flat and lightly frying it before melting on the cheese and topping with perfection. They also offered wet and dry salsa and radishes to cut the heat at the counter. We took our bundles of joy over to one of the tables at Tartine and asked our new friends from line to join us, one of whom happened to be a baker at Tartine (I was majorly crushing!). I was so blissed out after the best taco of my life followed by heavenly Tartine sweets that I completely forgot to snap any pics of dessert. Sorry, I was in my happy place.
So, there you have it. The longest blog post ever and a night that will go down in history as one of the best foodie nights of my life. If you happen to be in the Mission on a Friday night, it is absolutely worth hanging around the window between Tartine and Delfina Pizzeria and starting the line.
Loqu, completey unmarked pop-up
In the window between Tartine and Pizzeria Delfina
Line starts forming around 7:15, window opens at 7:30
Closes when they run out of food