www.walkscore.com recently rated San Francisco as the second most walkable city in the US, and indeed, a car is largely an expensive impediment for an enterprising tourist. Put on a decent pair of shoes or fill up a Clipper Card, and suddenly The City by the Bay is your oyster instead of a nightmare of one-way streets and shockingly-priced parking. And from Femme de Joie’s point of view, a big bonus is that on foot, you’ll find some culinary treats you’d otherwise drive right by.
A food blogger named Chili Bill steered M. de Joie and Amico del Signore to Rhea’s Deli in the Mission District. It doesn’t look particularly enticing from the street – basically a convenience store with liquor and a small sandwich counter. You’d never know that Rhea’s makes sandwiches so good it’ll bring tears to your eyes, and not just from the spicy sauces.
Marinated rib-eye in soy sauce, garlic, ginger, honey & spices served on Acme organic roll, choice of cheese, chili garlic sauce, house pickled red onions & Jalapenos, grilled onions, fresh red onions, iceberg lettuce & garlic aioli, $8.45
You might think with this many ingredients that this would be a muddled mess of tastes, but au contraire, mon frere, this is one of the most creative combinations on an Acme roll out there. Each ingredient is fresh (all sandwiches are made to order and you’d better be prepared to stand in line) and adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the whole. Just when the spicy rib steak and Jalapenos start to overwhelm you, the watery crunch of iceberg lettuce cools off the palate. Grilled and fresh onions contrast in texture and sweet/hot flavors. The whole thing is held together on an Acme roll – any ordinary supermarket sandwich roll would fall apart long before the final bite.
Boar’s Head medium rare roast beef, Vermont cheddar, pepper jack, avocado, champagne vinegar pickled jalapenos, tomatoes, pickles, baby arugula, garlic aioli, Boar’s Head Delicatessen Mustard served on Acme organic sweet roll, $7.95
For another kind of kick, this roast-beef-and-cheddar looks and sounds like an ordinary cold submarine. But the roasty taste of arugula and buttery-textured avocado, plus those elegant champagne vinegar pickled Jalapenos, send this sandwich off in a much more sophisticated direction than you can get at a chain sandwich shop.
The counterman advised us that although they didn’t serve beer, we could get one from the cold case and drink it with our lunch, provided we kept it wrapped in a brown paper bag (we stuck with non-alcoholic drinks, but that’s good to know for future reference). Also for future reference, Rhea may soon be opening a second location at 20th and Brannan.
As we wandered up Market near Castro, we came across a space-age carnival barker who proclaimed that FREE FOOD was being given away nearby. Rhea’s was still sticking to our ribs but we don’t turn down free food.
It turned out to the the Dos Equis Mobile Food Academy Food Truck, who were serving up samples of Filipino food .
Itlog na Maalat – pickled duck egg with fresh heirloom tomato and salad
Adidas – Braised chicken feet, with lime and rice
The pickled duck egg tasted like a salty hard-boiled egg (from a duck that had been fed a controlled diet – no fish) and was on a sweetly-dressed tomato. We asked what chicken feet tasted like; the counterman said, “Like really, really fatty bacon.” Seeing nothing at all wrong with that, we gave it a try, and found that to be accurate. Chicken bacon. The bones and toenails were removed, making it essentially a gluttonous pile of fatty smoky meat, with lime to cut the richness. Chicken foot bacon: the next big thing in breakfast foods.
Late in the afternoon, the dogs were starting to bark and we needed a place to sit down and recoup. That was when we stumbled into Pause Wine Bar – which at that moment was active as a pop-up juice bar, operated by Sow SF. A glass of juice seemed like a wiser choice at that moment than a drink, so we ordered a red juice and an orange juice (there is also a green juice).
Carrots, oranges, bell peppers and ginger
Beets, carrots, oranges, apples and ginger
Both juices were mildly but not cloyingly sweet, with each ingredient’s distinct taste shining through. Not just a glass of juice, as owners Luisa and Derek explained, but a complex blending of compatible flavors from locally sourced organic and heirloom produce. Naturally, this kind of quality isn’t cheap: each 8-ounce glass cost $7.00. But to put this in perspective: a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice from a place like the Brown Bruin will set you back that much – or, for that matter, a glass of wine at Pulse, had we opted for that.
No matter whether you’re staying at Fisherman’s Wharf or CouchSurfing, there’s a lot of food to be discovered in San Francisco, but leave the car parked and save your money and sanity.
Rhea’s Deli, 800 Valencia at 19th, San Francisco. (415) 282-5255 Open daily 11:30 AM – 5:00 PM. About six seats. Take BART to 16th Street or 24th Street, or Muni 14, 14L, 33, or 49. Menu here.
http://www.mostinterestingacademy.com/ for details about Dos Equis Mobile Food Truck and a lot more.
Sow SF, currently operating a pop-up juice bar on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays at Pause Wine Bar, 1666 Market Street at Gough, San Francisco. (415) 637-7343
BART Van Ness Station, or Muni 6, 9, 9L, 47, 49, 71, 71L, F.
Femme de Joie’s first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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