It took two years — or about 100 years in pandemic time — for Varidda Voraakom and her husband to get their new restaurant open. But now, their homage to casual and comfortable dining, Cauliflower, has arrived on 16th Street in the Mission. The lowkey all-day restaurant is right across the street from Kilowatt Bar, up the block from Dalva, and down the way from Lers Ros Thai — which is no coincidence. Tom Narupon Silargorn, chef and owner behind the local Thai restaurant mini-chain with three outposts around San Francisco, got together with Voraakom’s husband and Steve K. Tavanit (who is also the cook at Cauliflower) to open this new restaurant. “This restaurant came from a group of friends,” Voraakom says.
The restaurant opened on September 9 and foot traffic has already brought diners in, the part-owner says. The Cauliflower menu offers both straightforward and French-inspired fare including Dungeness crab cake salad with roulade, sea bass crusted with prosciutto, lamb with rosemary jus, and, the restaurant’s namesake, cauliflower steak with wild rice pilaf and beurre nantais sauce. Breakfast is a major part of the appeal — though stiff competition comes from Pork Store Cafe’s second location, just across the street. French toast, omelets, eggs benedicts, and sides including Billionaire’s bacon are all on the menu. Voraakom says the idea is to do homestyle cooking really well before potentially expanding into special menus and different offerings.
The hope for the business is to offer some of that pre-pandemic ease and sense of neighborhood familiarity. To bring a bit of that flair, local artists will hang their work above the tables — to begin, Nick di Tomasso is taking residency with vibrant paintings on the wall. In any case, for denizens of the Mission it’s well known that the 16th Street block between Guerrero and Valencia Streets is a dynamo of dependable restaurants and bars, including Pakwan, Delirium, Laughing Monk, and now newcomer Arepas. “This location has a lot of appeal to the community,” Voraakom says. “We wanted an area with a strong sense of neighborhood. And the Mission is one of the lovely neighborhoods that has that.”
Cauliflower is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. at 3147 16th Street.