Affordable Southern soul food is something the Tenderloin can't get enough of, as the popularity of Brenda's and Soul Groove can attest. The newest Southern player to arrive north of Market: Rusty's Southern, the pet project of longtime Suppenkuche bar manager Rusty Olson and his wife Cody. The couple took over and completely revamped the former 750 Cafe space for their cheerful mom-and-pop operation, which boasts 65 seats and a short-and-sweet menu of Southern classics inspired by Rusty's Carolina upbringing.
Naturally, pulled pork figures strongly, with red cabbage slaw, hush puppies, and a choice of either North Carolina vinegar or South Carolina mustard sauce. There's fried chicken brined in sweet tea, bourbon-marinated bavette steak, and Brunswick stew on offer as well. Olson poached chef Francis Rubio from Suppenkuche's sister spot Biergarten, where he had a cult following for his Wednesdays-only burger, topped with whiskey cheddar, remoulade, and all the fixings. It's back on the menu here, in extremely limited quantities: Rubio is only making a dozen each night. Here's the full menu.
Olson's Suppenkuche suds credentials have come in handy in curating a tight local beer list, with offerings from Firestone Walker, Almanac, Fort Point, and Headlands, as well as Goose Island's coveted Bourbon County Stout on draft. He's also got a small wine selection, emphasizing affordable options. There's a special menu of bar bites to go with the drinks, including hot chicken sliders, oysters, and a fried shrimp and okra basket. And if that wasn't enough Southern hospitality, Rusty's also has a charitable component: the Olsons host regular dinners for their upstairs neighbors, City Hope Community Center, which aims to build community for locals who've recently been released from jail or rehab. In the next few weeks, the Olsons will launch a vocational program in basic cooking skills for City Hope's clients, to help them potentially find work in the restaurant industry.
Hours for Rusty's are Tuesday-Saturday, 5-10:30 pm; brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 am-2:30 pm. If things go well, the Olsons hope to add lunch service in a few months.