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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the SF Chowhound community.


Muffalettas at Murphy’s Deli compare pretty nicely to the genuine article–the ones from Central Grocery in New Orleans, reports KathySK. The bread is replete with toasted sesame seeds; meat and cheese fillings are generous and tasty. If you ask, you can get your fillings toasted for a hot muffaletta. Coarse chopped olive tapenade is a good mix of olives and roasted peppers. dkgoody, though, has a dissenting opinion: he thinks the sandwich tastes too much of olives, and only so-so olives at that.

The bread’s a little on the dry side, but if you leave the sandwich sitting around for a while, the tapenade will soak in and then everything’s groovy.

It’s $6 for a half muffaletta and $10 for a whole one. A half muffaletta is a very filling lunch for one.

Murphy’s Deli [SOMA]
560 Mission St., San Francisco

Board Links: Murphy’s Deli–Home of the Muffaletta

Pupusa Catering Tip

The best bite at last month’s Cinco de Mayo fair in Santa Rosa was a Salvadoran pupusa, reports Melanie Wong. Pupusas are rice and corn cakes, filled with your choice of cheese, beans, meat, and veggie niblets. Evelyn Carolina Linares’ pupusas are perfect, with a delicate crisp exterior and a tender, chewy, almost creamy interior. Throughout the fair, there was a thirty minute wait for her pupusas–and it was, says Melanie, entirely worth the wait.

Linares doesn’t have a restaurant, but she does do catering.

Evelyn Carolina Linares
Phone: 707-575-3832
Mobile: 707-494-5904

Board Links: Pupusas in Santa Rosa by Evelyn Carolina Linares

Sea Salt Is Better Than You’d Expect

Sea Salt Restaurant (mentioned earlier) has a poor reputation among Chowhounds. But several dissent, saying food here is exceptionally good, though expensive.

Robert Lauriston thinks the place is actually a good value, considering the quality of the ingredients and the finenss of execution. He had a bunch of stuff, all good: monkfish liver torchon with sea urchin and caviar ($12), clam chowder with bacon and cream ($9), grilled sardines ($12.50), bacon-wrapped grilled sturgeon ($22), gigantes with tuna confit ($10), broccolini with aleppo pepper ($6). The chowder and tuna-bean salad are about as good as these dishes get.

Veebee says that she’s been surprised by how good Sea Salt is, especially given all the negative feedback. Monkfish liver torchon (without sea urchins) is amazing. Grilled sardines are another favorite–the combination of bright herbs and rich grilled sardines is perfect. She still thinks about it. A lot.

Also excellent: grilled calamari with arugula pesto and gigante beans, a great combination. And a super lobster roll, which is particularly satisfying for brunch.

Sea Salt Restaurant [East Bay]
2512 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley

Board Links: Sea Salt

House of the Rising Clay Pot

House of Clay Pot has expanded into a mini-chain almost overnight. And this is a good thing, as they serve interesting and very well prepared things, reports marlon.

Chicken mushroom clay pot is soft and fragrant. Roasted duck with taro is the best of many versions he’s tried. And General Tsao’s chicken is, suprisingly, truly wonderful. It’s not over-battered or over-fried, and actually has the right amount of spice and sauce. House vegetable goose is good, though served warm (usually it’s cold), and ong choy is well prepared.

Clay pot rice is excellent, too. Be sure to look around your table for cruets of their seasoned, soy-based sauce. Add some to the clay pot rice, then mix it all up. They won’t do it for you, and without the sauce, the clay pot rice will be underflavored.

There may a branch on Irving, as well, but we couldn’t locate it. Stay tuned!

House of Clay Pot Restaurant [Richmond]
5423 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

House of Clay Pot [Richmond]
844 Clement St., San Francisco

Board Links: House of Clay pot

Dago Mary’s – Just Like Rochester in the Seventies

What is Dago Mary’s? It’s part old-school Italian and part old-school Californian. The crowd is largely older, white, and male.

The place reminds david kaplan of all the Italian restaurants from his childhood in Rochester, New York, right down to bread dip made of pureed canned chickpeas and canned kidney beans, with olive oil and chopped garlic. It’s very 70’s upstate New York. What’s more, it’s located in an old bordello. “With the odd old-fashioned decor, and big windows looking onto the largely deserted construction site that is Hunter’s Point Shipyard, it felt like a colonial outpost holding on against the coming revolution.”

Spaghetti with meatballs is excellent. Spaghetti is perfectly al dente, and the meatballs are fantastic, well-browned and studded with onion bits and herbs. The sweet oniony insides contrast nicely with the charred meaty exteriors. Linguine with manila clams is also al dente, with a satisfyingly salty, garlicky sauce that’s rich, but doesn’t overpower the clams.

Desserts are forgettable.

Dago Mary’s [Hunter’s Point] 916 Hunter’s Point Shipyard, near Third St. and Evans Ave., San Francisco 415-822-2633 Locator:

Board Links
Dago Mary’s, Hunters Point Shipyard, report

Harshly, I Parley for Parsley. Parse Me.

Why, oh why, is parsley so neglected in our modern world? Its delicate fragrance, its green zippiness, its fresh splendor–we must celebrate parsley more. We declare this The Half-Week of Parsley.

To celebrate Parsley Half-Week, sample the following preparations:

Sea Salt makes grilled sardines with a parsley-intensive salsa verde. It’s excellent; parsley pairs particularly well with oily fish like sardines or mackerel.

Parsley lovers will be pleased by anything with salsa verde at Oliveto and Incanto, reports Robert Lauriston. Try anything with salsa verde on beef.

Look for gremolata, usually made with parsley, lemon zest and olive oil. This sauce also pairs well with beef. Eccolo serves it on their bollito sandwich.

Gilman Grill’s potatoes have parsley, but sydthekid boldly orders them with EXTRA parsley.

Chez Panisse Cafe sometimes makes pizza topped with Italian parsley salad.

Zuzu’s boquerones tapa comes on top of a parsley salad of whole leaves tossed with a garlicky vinaigrette.

Some parting words of parsley wisdom from frontzNskrontz : “I eat the stems! And raw celery! I am very regular!”

Sea Salt Restaurant [East Bay]
2512 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley

Oliveto Cafe & Restaurant [Rockridge]
5655 College Ave., Oakland

Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar [Noe Valley]
1550 Church St., San Francisco

Eccolo Restaurant and Bar [East Bay]
1820 Fourth St., Berkeley

Gilman Grill [East Bay]
1300 4th St., Berkeley

Chez Panisse [East Bay]
1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley

Zuzu [Napa County]
829 Main St., Napa

Fried Chicken Salad?!?!

Bakesale Betty is justly renowned for fried chicken and coleslaw sandwiches. But they also make delicious fried chicken salad, says Morton the Mousse. Fulton chicken breast is butterflied and fried with a crispy batter, and served over house-made coleslaw. It’s a refreshing alternative to their sandwich.

Hot tip: you can always order it, even it it’s not on the menu.

Another tip: right now, they’re serving braised short rib sandwiches instead of their usual braised brisket sandwiches. These short ribs are seasonal, so get ‘em while they’re on. Also: don’t miss Betty’s lamingtons and lemon bars.

Townhouse Bar and Grill sometimes has spicy fried buffalo chicken salad, and it’s pretty good. It’s not on the current menu, but it’ll likely rotate back in soon.

Bakesale Betty [Temescal]

5098 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

Townhouse Bar & Grill [East Bay]

5862 Doyle St., Emeryville

Fried Chicken Salad anyone?
Fried Chicken and Cole Slaw Sandwiches in Oakland

More on Tribu Grill

Chowhounds have descended on that Filipino home-cooking heaven, Tribu Grill, to more fully explore its menu. The newly discovered favorite: crispy pata, a stunning hunk of pork shank, deep fried to crispy perfection. All the Chowhounds who’ve tried it swoon over it.

Sisig (chopped pork parts with lots of garlic) is incredible. RWCFoodie could have scarfed the whole plate in about five seconds. Great shrimp gambas, too. Daing na bangus (marinated fried milkfish) is nicely done, with a mild vinegar tang balanced by fried garlic (a balance which is more or less the epitome of Filipino cuisine).

Tribu Grill [Peninsula]
235 El Camino Real, San Bruno

Board Links
Tribu Grill - don’t wake me, I’m in DreamLand

East Bay Philly Cheesesteak Roundup

Hollow Leg has visited every Philly cheesesteak place he can find in the East Bay. And the winner is ... Joe’s Catering, a lunch truck, where $5 gets you the biggest, sloppiest cheesesteak you’ve had in a while, jammed full of meat, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese. Perhaps the meat is sliced a little thicker than on a truly authentic Philly cheesesteak, and perhaps the peppers could be a little softer, but “it seems churlish to complain when you’re getting about half a pound of steak for $5 and it lays the smack on everything else in the area.”

The truck is in front of Creative Technology on the old Alameda Navy Base from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. on weekdays, then elsewhere on the base for lunch all afternoon.

El Senor Burrito already makes tortas, so cheesesteaks apparently seemed a minor stretch. Five bucks gets you a cheesesteak with fries or rings. The latter are repulsive, made from onion paste, not actual onions. But fries are good, and so are the cheesesteaks. It’s a bit bready, but all the elements are there, preparation is right, and the whole thing tastes mighty fine.

Dynamite Cheesesteak gets a big fat “meh…”. Which is to say it’s not bad, nor is it particularly good. It’s dry, undercheesed, and over-breaded. And it’s more expensive. berkeleybob thinks the best cheesesteaks come from Berkeley’s Cheese Steak Shop. It’s about as close to an authentic South Philly cheesesteak as you can find around here. They even fly in bread from Philly. Plus they have Tastykakes.

swillbill agrees that the greasy slop they serve here is freakin’ delicious. But do order the 7 inch, as the 10 incher will hurt you. This place may be a chain, we’re not sure, but it’s the sort of chain a lot of chowhounds believe in. They know what they’re doing, they know what real cheesesteaks taste like, and the volume business lets them fly in the right fixings from Philly. J T advises ordering “double meat”, as the regular cheesesteak is a bit scanty.

Joe’s Catering Lunch Truck [East Bay]
On the old Alameda Navy base
2501 Monarch St. #22, Alameda

El Senor Burrito (at High Street Gas and Food) [Fruitvale]
720 High St., just off 880, Oakland

Dynamite Cheesesteak [East Bay]
1221 Park St., Alameda

Cheese Steak Shop [East Bay]
1054 University Ave at San Pablo, Berkeley

Board Links
East Bay Philly Cheesesteak Roundup

Fine Soup Noodles, Roast Duck

Scarf excellent soup noodles at BBQ and Noodle Garden. For $4.50, you can get soup noodles topped with two barbecued items; for $3.50, you can get sliced fish congee and various other small plates.

Their soup noodles are strong all around, reports Melanie Wong. The carefully skimmed broth is very light, nearly clear, and well-flavored. Noodles are as wiry as a Hong Kong diner would demand, and the iceberg lettuce is just wilted enough to bring out the slight sweetness, but leave some of the crunch. Whoever’s in the kitchen has a good touch; they’re hitting the textures spot on.

Meats are good too, and display the same steady expertise. Roast duck is tender and not too fatty, with nicely browned skin. The meat is well complemented by gentle spicing. Poached free-range chicken is properly red at the bone, and has very good flavor and texture, especially the toothsome plain skin.

BBQ & Noodle Garden [Richmond]
Formerly Wah Win Restaurant
5740 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

Board Links
Soup Noodles @ BBQ & Noodle Garden, SF