CHOW Tour
Two CHOW editors on a caloric extravaganza exploring innovation, novelty, and deliciousness. rss
See Where We've Eaten!

Pork Belly Croque and Good Vibes

In San Francisco's Bernal Heights you can walk down Cortland Avenue, the main drag, and kinda trick yourself into thinking you are walking Main Street in a small town. Despite the neighborhoody, family vibe, it still feels a little bohemian, like maybe the dude going by pushing a stroller has a Burning Man art car parked in his garage.

An Bun

Yuzu-Sage Bun

Croque Monsieur

The low-key vibe translated right into Sandbox Bakery, a small store in a dark-blue corner building. It could be one of those excessively quaint places full of pink cake stands holding picture-perfect pastries, but that doesn't seem to be its thing—there's a riveted metal counter, some urban-looking art, and a few pretty touches like swirly glass coffee filter holders in a rack to make drip coffee by the cup.

While they have a number of traditional French pastries, we were there to check out owner Mutsumi Takehara’s fusion pastries. Her an bun was a challah-style bread filled with sweet red bean paste, which dissolved easily into the bread as you ate it and had a texture that wasn’t gummy. Shiny, bitter-sweet yuzu marmalade and whole sage leaves were baked onto super fluffy, buttery brioches.

There were also some sandwiches on top of the bakery case: A particularly good pork belly croque monsieur was served room temp, with a crunchy cape of cheese covering it and chopped, tender bits of pork belly and a sheet of nori inside.

There's no seating, other than a bench and a few chairs just outside the door. We snagged the chairs, sat in the sun, and ate out of paper bags, watching the kids, dogs, families, and someone on the corner in a hippied-out ground-length robe talking to a friend.