For many of us, the shutdown of restaurant dining rooms has meant a newfound dependance on our own home cooking skills — and, perhaps, some truly sorry meals. Back before the coronavirus shutdown, any chilihead could have told you that one of secrets to dining out successfully is to always ask if a restaurant has a housemade hot sauce — and, as it turns out, many of those local restaurants are now selling bottles of those delicious hot sauces to their takeout and delivery customers. What better way, then, to support local restaurants while adding a bit of heat and flavor to your home cooking?
Here are ten Bay Area spots — from SF and Oakland down to San Jose — that are here to ensure that you don’t have to suffer bland food even while you’re sheltering in place:
The Mission District supper club’s housemade hot sauce is one of the items on offer through the Lazy Bear Camp Commissary, the breakfast, lunch, and pantry operation that the restaurant is running during the shelter in place. Chef David Barzelay says the sauce, which you can buy for $9 a bottle, is a vinegar-based, Tabasco-style hot sauce made with local Fresno chiles that get fermented for at least a year, then lightly sweetened with Marshall’s Farm honey at the end. It’s the same hot sauce Lazy Bear uses for the whipped scrambled eggs dish that starts its tasting menu. 3416 19th Street, 415-874-9921
One of the Mission district’s classic burrito joints might be even better known for its roasted tomato salsa, which is so popular that you can buy it at Whole Foods or Safeway. For those trying to avoid the supermarket lines, you can also buy direct from the source — online or, even better, direct from the taqueria, where they keep jars of fresh salsa in the fridge that’s a step up from the retail version. 3409 24th Street, 415-970-8815
The Cal-Mexican institution isn’t currently selling jars of its housemade salsa, though chef Gonzalo Guzman says regulars who ask for it when picking up their takeout orders sometimes get lucky, if the restaurant happened to have some on hand. Bottles of Nopalito-branded hot sauce, however — “like Tabasco but spicier,” Guzman says — are available at Falletti Foods, the grocery store next door, and sometimes at other local markets like Bi-Rite when the chef has time to make and bottle enough of the stuff. The sauce is particularly good with soups, Guzman says, or, in true Mexican style, on cut fruit with a squeeze of lime. 306 Broderick Street, 415-437-0303
Though it isn’t officially listed on its takeout menu, the East Coast-inspired deli almost always has bottles of its excellent housemade hot sauce available for purchase for $9 a bottle. The restaurant cycles through different varieties — according to a staffer who answered the phone last week, the jalapeño hot sauce is the one currently in the rotation. Buy your hot sauce directly at the restaurant, or, if you call Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m.–3 p.m., have a bottle delivered by bike messenger. 1058 Folsom Street, 415-552-7687
Chef Azalina Eusope dry-roasts and pulverizes seven different kinds of chile peppers to make the Malaysian sambal that she uses to add heat to all the spicy dishes she serves at the restaurant. Apply the dark-red paste with caution, as the stuff will set your mouth on fire if you eat even a small amount of it on its own — but used in moderation, the sambal adds a complex, fruity heat to any stir-fry or noodle dish. Order via email at firstname.lastname@example.org — $10 for a 6-ounce jar —and pick up at the restaurant. 1355 Market Street, 415-660-2020
Known for its Southern and Caribbean style cooking, this Bernal Heights restaurant is also known for its excellent housemade hot sauces, available in red jalapeño or habanero versions, for pickup, delivery, or direct mail order. Both sauces have roughly the consistency of Cholula, a staffer who answered the phone late last week explained, and differ mainly in their degree of heat. 65 29th Street, 415-695-7800
The Mission District arepa specialist is now selling bottles of its signature orange, habanero-based Pica’Pun hot sauce (along with other housemade hot sauce varieties) — it’s good with arepas, but also with any kind of stew or braise. Order online for pickup or delivery. 401 Valencia Street, 415-400-5453
The 20-plus-year San Jose taco icon’s creamy orange sauce is the stuff of legends and, of course, it makes for a delicious and nostalgic taco condiment for anyone who grew up on the stuff. You can buy a bottle of the orange sauce at any La Vic’s location — $6 for a 12-ounce bottle. 140 E. San Carlos Street, San Jose (and four other locations), 408-298-5335
The most underrated item at East Bay’s best Middle Eastern deli is what they call the Turkish salad, a garlicky red pepper spread that’s closer to a salsa or dip than what most people might typically think of when they hear the word “salad.” No matter — the reddish orange condiment, which is thickened with ground walnuts and has only a little bit of chile heat, makes everything you eat it with exponentially more delicious: roast chicken, a lamb chop, a wedge of pita bread. Order online or via any of the delivery apps. 3045 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, 510-655-5111
The specialty shop closed its Berkeley storefront years ago, but it still ships a highly curated selection of hot sauces from around the world out of its East Bay warehouse, including dozens that are made in the Bay Area — say, the cult favorite Palo Alto Firefighters pepper sauce, which is made by an actual retired firefighter and goes great on tacos, or any of several award-winning sauces from Hayward-based Lucky Dog.