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Sea urchin carbonara lo mein Earnest

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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate Last Week

From a decadent pasta dish to za’atar scented flatbread to a beachy breakfast sandwich, Eater editors share their favorite dishes around town

Even with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bay Area remains a thrilling place to eat, yet night after night many of us wind up falling back on the same usual suspects. Fortunately, Eater editors eat out more often than most, and we take seriously our responsibility to steer you toward a better meal. We report all of our most exciting findings on a weekly basis, so check back regularly to find out what you should be eating too.


September 24

Sea Urchin “Carbonara” Lo Mein at Ernest

Sea urchin “carbonara” at Earnest Lauren Saria/Eater SF

There’s a lot to love about Brandon Rice’s pristine corner of the Mission, from the short but thoughtful list of cocktails to the gloriously rich aged beef and bone marrow dumplings. (Consider yourself warned: the Miami Vice Royal is so skillfully balanced it’ll take some serious power of will to not suck it down in a single, sweet gulp.) But the dish that truly had me swooning was Ernest’s unassumingly named lo mein, which is actually a decadent plate of springy noodles bathed in velvety carbonara infused with the gentle, briny kiss of sea urchin. Whether you’re the kind of fine diner who jumps at the sight of uni or someone who feels relatively indifferent about its appeal — I find myself somewhere in the middle depending on the day — it’s impossible not to do a little happy dance over this buttery, smokey plate, dappled with bits of bacon and wisps of Parmesan. — Lauren Saria, editor

The Mana’eesh at Reem’s

My new puppy has me reliving quarantine takeout these days, so on a Saturday night, seeking fresh options, I placed a pickup order from Reem’s. Did I realize it was a Lowrider Cruise Night in the Mission? No, no I did not, but it was a very Mission experience trying to find a parking spot with cars and people bouncing in the streets. Reem’s is an Arab bakery featuring beautiful bread, savory dips, and sweet desserts, the makings of a great snack dinner. Stepping up the window, the mana’eesh was freshly toasted and still warm in the bag, releasing the aroma of fragrant za’atar. We dunked it in smoky babaghanouj and nutty muhamarra, along with a fattoush salad filled with peppery arugula and cherry tomatoes, that would have been enough for a dinner alone. But then there’s baklawa, and who am I to say no to baklawa, especially with those paper-thin phyllo layers and the scent of rosewater. — Becky Duffett, deputy editor

The Breakfast Sandwich at Outerlands

I’ve loved everything about Outerlands since it first opened — back in, wait! whoa! 2009?! The warm bread. The warm people. All that gorgeous wood. The way it feels, fog or shine — morning, noon, and especially night — like a respite from the rest of San Francisco. Outerlands was always everything I always wanted in a restaurant. (Well, except for no epic long wait.) There was one little thing I wished it had, though, that it never did. Only because I knew it would do it well: a breakfast sandwich. But last weekend, starving, walking my pandemic puppy by the beach, I remembered: Outerlands was open! With online ordering — and, omg, a breakfast sandwich. A fried egg, with melted cheddar, arugula, a little aioli — plus bacon and a perfect September tomato — on a pillowy, housemade potato, seed-speckled, brioche bun. Bypassing the line, my order was ready as I rolled up. I took a seat on the driftwood bench, balanced the compostable box on my lap, and devoured the (ouch, $20) breakfast sandwich of my dreams — before my dog did. — Rachel Levin, freelance writer and former Eater SF restaurant critic


September 17

All Things Uni at Robin

Uni sushi at Robin Rachel Levin

Before my husband and I were married, before were dating, before we ever even made out— we were roommates. Roommates who’d go on sushi dates once a week. From Sushi Ran to Sushi Zone, Tekka to Sebo (ah, remember Sebo), we tried them all. Including Robin (me, three times, on Eater’s dime.) It was a tradition we kept up until the pandemic, when we quit raw fish cold turkey. Takeout sushi isn’t the same. All of which is to say: After almost two years of no sushi dates, we wanted to go big, and so we went Robin. Reunited with the truffle-dusted sesame noodles! The foie snow! And all things uni, like that spoonful of a nori chip with a fat tongue of uni draped over wagyu beef, with Asian pear and shallots. It was so good to eat you again, Robin. To pay you, however … just kidding. It’s worth saving our sushi pennies. — Rachel Levin, freelance writer and former Eater SF restaurant critic

Whole Fried Fish at Liholiho Yacht Club

A whole fried fish with cilantro-ginger sauce at Liholiho Yacht Club Lauren Saria

I rolled the dice walking in at Liholiho Yacht Club on Friday night and was rewarded with two seats at a front bar with a great view of 18th Street. I started with the Notorious P.O.G., a simple but satisfying blend of tequila and fruit juices, inspired by those bright pink cans you’ll find just about everywhere in Hawai’i. Which I associate primarily with lazy summer breakfasts at my aunt’s house in Honolulu, usually an extravagant spread of sweet bread, fresh fruit, eggs, and Portuguese sausage serenaded by her pet parakeets singing happily in the next room. Recalling the boisterous late-night family gatherings of those summers, I couldn’t resist ordering the signature whole fried local fish — I’ll never forget the time an uncle showed up with two 5-gallon plastic buckets teeming with tilapia to throw on the grill. Liholiho’s was infinitely more elegant: delicate and flaky white fish flavored with coconut and turmeric and expertly fried, sporting a thin but crispy coat of batter. A side of punchy cilantro-ginger sauce provided pungent pop. Paradise found. — Lauren Saria, editor

The Holy Trinity at Horn Barbecue

Meats at Horn Barbecue Becky Duffett

Does anyone really need a recommendation to go to Horn Barbecue at this point? Eater readers know what’s up, and have been waiting in long lines for Matt Horn’s smoky, succulent barbecue for oh so many months. But let’s be honest — Horn is worth the hype, and by far, the best thing I ate this week was a meaty late lunch on the back patio. We racked up the holy trinity of barbecue: brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, threw in a hot link for luck, and rounded it out with mac and cheese, grandma’s potatoes, creamy slaw, and banana pudding. The meats were sweet, smoky, and fall-apart tender, the kind of labor intensive, long-stoked barbecue that is so hard to come by in the bay. A few hot tips: Go on a weekday, go at off hours, and still be prepared to chill in line for half an hour or so. But order big and hoard leftovers. — Becky Duffett, deputy editor


September 9

Pad Priking Hed at Nari

Fried mushrooms in curry paste and stir-fried skirt steak at Nari Lauren Saria

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks of dining, which means picking a single standout dish — normally something to look forward to — now feels a little unfeasible. There was that longorous dinner at Mourad with flawless service; fluffy couscous infused with the irresistible richness of brown butter; and a gorgeous wreath of roe, tomatoes, and salmon gently kissed with applewood smoke. And what about that B. Patisserie kouign amann with its flaky, crackly, sugary exterior and devastatingly fluffy interior? (Turns out I ate that one so fast I didn’t take time to get a photo.) In any case, I’ve landed on the fragrant pad priking hed at Nari, which was just one of a tableful of great dishes enjoyed there. A mango salad packed pickly, pungent heat but these maitake mushrooms and green beans were fried to a resounding crisp and delivered a measured and very pleasant level of spice — the kind that levels your lips a little tingly, but just enough to keep you diving back in for more. — Lauren Saria, editor

Heritage Pork Chop at Luna

Pork chop at Luna Becky Duffett

Certain people really love pork chops, and seek them out across town, from the fan favorite at Nopa, to that deep belly cut from Cockscomb (RIP). There’s a new contender at Luna, where the chef is coming from Wayfare Tavern, and knows his steaks and chops. It’s a heritage pork chop, still on the bone, cut an inch thick, and generously brined. With a good hard sear on the outside, a steak knife slices down into juicy, sweet, and salty meat. And it’s reclined on a cloud of creamy polenta floating on a glossy pool of masala jus, so you’ll want to swipe hard before every bite. It’s also worth noting that Luna has a solid list of $12 cocktails, and who doesn’t love the rare $12 cocktail in San Francisco? A seat inside would give you a view of the new jewel-toned interiors, but if you’re meeting a friend who’s understandably worried about delta, the parklet is still fun, even with the mariachi bands and occasional truck trundling by on Valencia. — Becky Duffett, deputy editor

Burger Dog from Hot Dog Bills

Burger dog from Hot Dog Bills Rachel Levin

I’m not a golfer, and yet — even though I don’t own a (required) collared shirt — I went golfing, at the 160-year-old Olympic Club. On its Par 3 course — which is kind of like glorified, much-harder, mini-golf, except with sweeping views of the Pacific and Fort Funston’s hand gilders in lieu of a faux windmill or Transamerica replica. Golf, schmolf. The real reason I went was to try the storied, trademarked, Burger Dog — from Hot Dog Bills, a family-owned snack shack since 1950. Made with ground chuck and sirloin, the Burger Dog is shaped, yes, like a hot dog (albeit one that’s been run-over by a golf cart), and griddled-to-order with melted American cheese, pickles, and sautéed onions on a soft warm bun. Bill Clinton has had a Burger Dog. Obama has had a Burger Dog. And you, too, can have a Burger Dog, if you golf. Or ever get back to the Chase Center, which got a Hot Dog Bills of its own. Or: just make your own. Aided, if you like, by the (very unnecessary) Burger Dog mold for 25 bucks. — Rachel Levin, freelance writer and former Eater SF restaurant critic

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