An overlooked corner of the Mission District is about to get a colorful splash of color and a scent of yeast wafting down the sidewalk. Nine years ago, then-bartender Xan Devoss started a sourdough bread CSA of sorts wherein she arranged pickups of her four-grain loaves at Life on Haight Street. Now, her business Fox and Lion Bread will open the doors to a new location on 18th and Capp streets. She previously shared kitchen space in the Bayview for seven years, but Devoss says that location was always too small. This will be her first location dedicated solely to Fox and Lion. Her drive for a better loaf of bread — in her case using a natural pre-ferment levain — has grown the business from a pickup operation to a space all its own. “You can have a baker on every corner,” Devoss says. “And each one will taste completely different. My bread and my philosophy is a vehicle for connection in the city.”
Her menu at the upcoming location will feature many of her now-classics including bagels, pizzas, an expanded salad menu, and sandwiches, in addition to the loaves. She’s aiming for menu items to cost around $10, the idea being to cater to blue-collar workers in the area, with add-ons like bacon or extra cheese for menu items that could hit closer to a $20 price point. Her loaves, for that matter, are about $7. From the beginning, she wanted her bread to focus on grains and the sourdough starter; she uses a French technique, opting away from a liquid, cold starter like the bread at, say, Tartine. Devoss prefers to keep her starter warm and active, the natural approach often called a levain rather than a starter (though both are technically preferments). People love Tartine’s more open crumb, Devoss says, but it’s not her favorite. Unlike common methods taught in the city, like those at the San Francisco Baking Institute, Devoss was inspired by a more natural approach. She’s sourcing her grains from Early Bird Farms in the Sierra Foothills, a producer focused on regenerative farming and soil health. Her hope is to keep making bread that a family can use on a daily basis, bread that keeps the jelly on the slice.
The space boasts a fire engine red counter and a coffee bar along its big windows, perfect for slurping an espresso. In this case, that’d be East Bay roaster Proyecto Diaz. Devoss and the Oaxaquenero coffee roaster started their businesses around the same time and stayed in touch through the years. She tapped muralist and painter Pablito to work his magic, a portrait of a girl surrounded by California poppies wrapping the corner of the business. She passed final inspections on March 15, getting her all set for the Wednesday, March 29 opening. She’s also returning to her regular installation at Foodwise’s Mission Mercado on 22nd Street as of March 16, her fourth year selling baked goods with the nonprofit. Meanwhile, she’s still doing that bread pick-up on Haight Street, all these years later. Still, the Haight-Ashbury local is finding ways to decompress and breathe between each step. “It’s a whirlwind,” Devoss says. “It’s an exciting time. But it’s also a lot.”
Fox and Lion Bread (3350 18th Street) debuts on Wednesday, March 29 with projected hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.