It’s summer, but strangely cool weather across the Bay area means that the beaches (and bikinis) aren’t beckoning. So diets be darned! Let’s go to cold, foggy San Francisco, and eat whatever we want. We’ll comfort ourselves, not just with comfort food, but with the gorgeous, greasy -and yes, perhaps just a little bit trailer trash – grub we really crave.
Baby Blues BBQ, 3149 Mission St., San Francisco, babybluessf.com.
“Blue Devil,” the customer says, and the server raises an eyebrow. The customer nods in confirmation, and lines up a stack of wet naps on the rough, recycled marble tabletop.
Though all of Baby Blue’s plates are large, the Devil is nearly insane. A combo of any four meats plus three sides and a big slab of cornbread, it’s no skimpy tasting plate, but full portions of dry rubbed ‘cue. At $34.50, it’s a near economic miracle, too – bless the doggie bag, she knows that even after she’s eaten her fill tonight, she can easily make two more meals out of this single platter.
Hardly anyone leaves Baby Blues without a to-go box. Folks pour in for mouthwatering morsels, done in a hybrid of Texas, Memphis and Carolina-style cooking. Ribs are smoked for 5-6 hours, pork and brisket are slow braised for 10-12 hours, and the results melt in your mouth.
Catfish? Of course. Po’ boys are oh boy, and the pulled pork sandwich is out of this world, served on a great buttery bun under a pile of peppery cole slaw that’s all the better when you splash it with house made apple cider-sweet chile vinegar.
You know you’re in junk food heaven with names like “suicide king” (beef, pork or shrimp on cornbread under a slop of cotija and slaw), or what’s known as “crack-n-cheese” (a 4-way blend of gooey and chewy), to wash down with Kool-Aid.
Recipes can be a little different – brisket is pulled wet instead of dry sliced, corn bread is like dark cake imbued with lots of garlic and spices, and the super spicy Triple X sauce is a blend of three fruits and sweet chiles. There’s also a delectable burger that’s stuffed with bleu cheese and maple bacon, left to rest overnight so the flavors soak in, then grilled and slathered with a chunky, sweet-fiery ligonberry mustard.
Eclectic is most often excellent, and for a down home finish, try the homemade banana pudding stabbed with vanilla wafers. Mmm, baby.
Farmerbrown, 25 Mason St., San Francisco, 415-409-3276
What’s so great about Sundays, when we’re slumming it with down home comfort eats? At Farmer Brown, it’s Sunday dinner, and Sunday brunch. And actually, brunch is available on Saturdays, too, making the entire weekend a good excuse for a feel-good pig-out.
Really, there’s no slumming here. The concept is southern cooking, but made with farm-fresh ingredients and thoughtful recipes. Still, brunch feels like we’re getting away with something:
1. It’s all you can eat.
2. There’s live jazz on Sundays, from groups like the Bayonics.
3. It’s just $16.50.
4. You get fried chicken, fresh biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, specialties like vegan gumbo, and selections from the regular, rockin’ menu. There are also Bloody Marys and bottomless mimosas.
5. Did we mention, it’s all you can eat, and it’s only $16.50?
If you’ve been cut off from civilization for the last five years, Farmer Brown is wild and wonderful neo-soul food, meaning you can tuck into a pork chop, but it’s house cured, and served with broccoli di cicco, tart cranberry jam, and bourbon poached pear. Ingredients are mostly organic and sustainable, and preparation is updated for modern sophisticated palates (shrimp and grits, for example, are spicy Cajun style, doctored with Parmesan, tomato salsa and Tennessee stone ground grits).
Chef-owner Jay Foster and co-owner Deanna Sison go for industrial chic in decor, and keep the eats in a similar groovy groove: they dress the crispy cornmeal catfish with candied yams, green tomato, pickled onion and fresh Romano beans, while the best killer beverage might be the Pineapple Dark and Stormy, of house made Jamaican ginger beer, pineapple rum, nutmeg and fresh lime juice.
Tip: If we’re going to stuff on comfort food, we might as well ride in comfort, too. Pure Luxury Transportation is the perfect chauffer for a ride to and from the City.
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