“Who needs a horror movie when we live in 2020?” some might ask, and if it were any other weekend, we’d get it. But Saturday is still Halloween, and since we’re not supposed to go out, why not stay home with some great takeout and a scary movie? Better yet, how about pairing your meal thematically with the film? Now, this won’t work for everything; obviously, if your tastes lean to cannibalism-themed cinema, this plan should not be attempted. But for everyone else, I’ve pulled together a list of classic horror films and the classic San Francisco dishes that go with them the best... for reasons that might not be apparent at the beginning of the movie, but you’ll get it by the end.
Warning: As all of these are horror movies, they contain disturbing and triggering content by design. If you’re having a tough time these days, this might not be the weekend to dive into gory fare. Use your best judgement.
The Lost Boys and garlic noodles from PPQ Dungeness Island
I’ve always thought it was weird that of all the vampire “rules” honored in this Santa Cruz-shot teen dreamboat nightmare, the one about vampires not eating food was ignored. In a crucial scene, the gang of extremely ‘80s vamps load up on Chinese takeout, seemingly gorging themselves on plain white rice and unseasoned noodles that take on an unexpected aspect. (Please note that to much of the world, eating bugs is no big deal.) PPQ is Vietnamese, not Chinese; but not only do they serve some of the best garlic noodles in town, but theirs, I’d argue, look the most delightfully wormiest. You can order takeout at PPQ here, and The Lost Boys is $3.99 to rent on Amazon, among other outlets.
The Fly (1986) and a ribeye from Izzy’s Steakhouse
The Fly is one of the greatest love stories of all time, and the interplay between stars Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis (at the time, actual romantic partners) crackles like the best rom-com. Then, of course, things go wrong. But before they do, Goldblum makes Davis a steak... a steak that warns that teleportation might not be all that it’s cracked up to be. To balance the body horror that’s to come, I suggest Izzy’s bone-in ribeye, which is enough of a splurge that it’s well-suited to sharing with someone you love. You can order takeout or delivery from Izzy’s here, and The Fly’s free for Hulu subscribers, among other platforms.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and an Impossible burger from Violet’s Tavern
There are lots of iterations of Jack Finnery’s 1955 Mill Valley-set novel The Body Snatchers, but my pick is of course 1978’s, which takes you one a tour of the free-wheeling San Francisco of the day. There’s something so scary about how normal things feel as you look at familiar sights like Alamo Square, even as they’re being taken over by almost but not quite believable copies of the San Franciscans that were there just a few days before. I can’t think of a better Body Snatchers pairing than an Impossible burger, nor a better take than the one at Violet’s, which is dressed with cheddar and slow-cooked onions. Better yet, order one for the omnivore in your group, and see if they can tell the difference between that burger and a traditional one. If they can’t, you know what to do. You can order takeout from Violet’s here, and Amazon Prime and Hulu are two destinations to stream the film for no extra fee.
Beetlejuice and a shrimp cocktail from Swan Oyster Depot
Thanks to Eater SF reporter Becky Duffett for reminding me that not everyone enjoys deep dark scares and gore the way I do — but Beetlejuice still works, even for a monster like me. That’s because Katherine O’Hara’s Delia Deetz is Moira Rose but with standard pronunciation (the less said about the actor who plays her husband, the better), and Winona Ryder’s Lydia spawned a thousand Hot Topic shoppers. Obviously, a shrimp cocktail is the only choice to accompany this film, and Swan’s is unparalleled. They don’t have a website, but you can call (415) 673-1101 during business hours (they close around 1:30 p.m.) for takeout; just remember they’re cash only. Beetlejuice is available on Peacock, which currently offers a free seven-day trial.
Get Out and a tea party from Son & Garden
If a simple clinking spoon in a cup of tea sends Get Out’s protagonist to the Sunken Place, where might one go if Son & Garden’s over-the-top tea party is in the mix? I’m loath to say too much about Jordan Peele’s nearly-perfect horror film, because if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for a treat. On the way home from the sweet Tenderloin cafe, stop by the corner store for some Froot Loops and milk to accompany the most chilling scene of the film. Don’t worry, you’ll know it when you see it. Call Son & Garden at (415) 913-7404 to order the Secret Garden Tea Set, and catch Get Out on Vudu for $3.99 or as a $3.99 rental on Amazon.
From Dusk Till Dawn and tacos from Taqueria Los Mayas
This film from director Robert Rodriguez (with a script from Quentin Tarantino, who co-stars) suggests that just south of the U.S. border, an ancient race of vampires lures travelers to a roadside bar called the Titty Twister, then routinely massacres them. One of those vampires is played by Salma Hayek, who does not appear to have aged since the film was released in 1996, so maybe she actually is a vampire? This is from back when George Clooney was fun, which is a nice time in cinematic history to remember. The Richmond District’s Taqueria Los Mayas is no Titty Twister, but its interior art depicts Mesoamerican pyramids that the film’s vamps would appreciate — and its panuchos (Yucatecan-style crispy tacos) would definitely have been on the TT’s menu. Order pickup here, and rent From Dusk Till Dawn for $3.99 on Amazon Prime.
Candyman and Chicago-style pizza from Capo’s
It’s so hacky to say that a city is an additional character in a TV show or movie (example: “New York is the fifth character in Sex and the City”), but Chicago is really Tony Todd’s co-star in this 1992 movie about a vengeful force that menaces the city’s then-infamous Cabrini Green housing projects. That’s why a Chicago-style pie, which in SF is best done by pizza legend Tony Gemignani’s Capo’s, is the only way to fly. Order your pizza for takeout here, and rent the film for $3.99 on Amazon Prime.
Hereditary and Schweizer nusstorte from Hahdough
The nut-filled cake in Hereditary is perhaps the most important dish on this entire list, as it opens the door to an unspeakable litany of horrors. Who knew a cake could be so dreadfully loaded? This film, which might as well be an advertisement for cropped linen pants as much as it could be for EpiPens, is arguably the most disturbing one of this scary lot, which is why it should be paired with a sweet and delightful entry like the hazelnut cake from German bakery Hahdough. Place your cake order here. Folks with an SFPL library card can stream Hereditary for free on Kanopy, while those who don’t can find it on Amazon Prime.