Where S.F.'s Top Chefs Eat Off-The-Clock

If we were chefs at, say, Beretta, Bar Tartine, the American Grilled Cheese, or Marlowe, we don’t think we’d be looking much further than the surrounding kitchen for some ridiculously tasty grub. However, we also realize that when you’re cooking all day, sometimes you just want to sit back and let someone else do all the work. To find out what some of our favorite chefs (from the aforementioned restaurants) do when they’re in that predicament, we quizzed them on their top spots for getting their chow on, after hours. Trust us: These folks really know what they’re talking about.
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Click through to see their favorite local eateries, after the jump!
Clockwise from top left, courtesy of Nate Pollack and Heidi Gibson, Magnolia Pub & Brewery, Citizen's Band.
Nate Pollack and Heidi Gibson, Chefs and Owners, The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen
Citizen’s Band
“Chef Chris Beerman and Cheryl Burr do upscale, simple American cuisine perhaps better than anyone else in San Francisco, especially in this hip, casual spot. You can't go wrong with the shrimp and grits appetizer. And if it's late, nothing caps a night off better than their burger, done medium rare, topped with a "Sombrero" (applewood smoked bacon, fried egg, caramelized onion, salsa, guacamole, and cheese).”
Citizen’s Band, 1198 Folsom Street (between 7th and 8th streets); 415-556-4901.
Sushi Bistro
“They just opened a second location in the Mission (the original location is in the Richmond District). Always super reliable for incredibly fresh and delicious fish that is elegantly presented and prepared. We always take a staff's recommendation for a bottle of chilled sake, and we love to relax in the ambient environment and groove to the island reggae soundtrack that distinguishes this sushi place's chill setting from all the others. Always order the agedashi tofu, and whichever special sashimi they're serving that evening.”
Sushi Bistro, 2809 24th Street (between York and Bryant streets); 415-282-2001.
Magnolia Pub & Brewery
“This is one of the few, if not the only, places to grab an authentic hand-pulled cask ale pint in San Francisco. We're suckers for their pork chop paired with a seasonal artisanal house brew. Each trip to Magnolia reminds us how cool it is to live in a city with such rich history, especially at a truly unique spot in the Haight-Ashbury ‘hood.”
Magnolia Pub & Brewery, 1398 Haight Street (between Masonic and Central avenues); 415-864-7468.
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Clockwise from top left, courtesy of Jennifer Puccio, Delfina, SPQR. Jennifer Puccio, Chef, Marlowe
Canteen
“I love Dennis Leary's place for brunch. It’s unpretentious, quality food that hits the spot on Sunday mornings. I'm a big fan of the Chupacabra, a Mexican breakfast plate playfully named after a monster. It's filled with tasty chorizo and fresh salsa made with avocado, cucumber, cilantro, and Mexican limes, which pair well with the eggs and beans.”
Canteen, 817 Sutter Street (between Jones and Leavenworth streets); 415-928-8870.
Delfina
“I love heading to the original Delfina in the Mission. It's the quintessential Italian restaurant of San Francisco! My husband and I go there for date-night for fresh, beautiful food that is light enough to sample a variety of dishes without feeling too full. The service is always very warm and welcoming as well.”
Delfina, 3621 18th Street (between Dolores and Guerrero streets); 415-552-4055.
SPQR
"Shelley Lindgren's wine list at this Roman-inspired Fillmore restaurant is always spot-on. When the weather's nice, I like to come by for a crisp glass of white, of which there are always very interesting selections.”
SPQR, 1911 Fillmore Street (between Pine and Bush streets); 415-771-7779.
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Zero Zero
“This is my afterwork spot to unwind! My husband, Ed Puccio, works as a server there, so after a long night in the kitchen, I grab a few folks from Marlowe for a late-night bite. The fontina stuffed arancini with black garlic aioli are great starters, and you can't go wrong with the Margherita pizza here."
Zero Zero, 826 Folsom (between 4th and 5th streets); 415-348-880.
Above, clockwise from left, courtesy of Ruggero Gadaldi, Phil Hamilton, Danny Effron.
Ruggero Gadaldi, Chef and Partner, Beretta, Delarosa, and Pesce
Il Pollaio
“This North Beach institution serves fantastic grilled whole chicken coated in secret spices. In the 14 years I've been going there, I still can't figure out the mix. I swing by and get a takeout meal of one and a half chickens, mixed greens, and fried potato wedges, and it feeds my entire family including my two boys, Giovanni, 14, and Alessandro, 12.”
Il Pollaio, 555 Columbus Avenue (between Green & Stockton streets); 415-362-7727.
Oyaji
"I drop into Oyaji after work (around 11 p.m.) for a healthy dinner when I'm tired of eating meats and cheeses and don't feel like raiding the fridge. It's just a few blocks from my house in the Outer Sunset. A rainbow roll, a couple of unagi rolls, some cold sake, and I call it a night. I learned how to play roshambo (rock-paper-scissors) from chef Hiro. Whoever loses has to buy the other guy a beer.”
Oyaji, 3123 Clement Street (at 32nd Street); 415-379-3604.
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Swensen's Grill & Ice Cream
“This Russian Hill shop has been around since 1948, and it's on the way from one of my restaurants, Pesce, to Beretta in the Mission. At Christmas they make a seasonal rum raisin ice cream that I always order, but my regular flavors are cherry chocolate or the chocolate gelato, which is rich and intense. You can just taste the milk, cream, and eggs."
Swensen's Grill & Ice Cream, 1999 Hyde Street (between Union Street and Warner Place), 415-775-6818.
Above, clockwise from left, courtesy of Nick Balla, Lisa Young, Boulette's Larder. Nick Balla, Executive Chef, Bar Tartine
Mission Chinese Food
“This is an obvious choice. The traditional and interpreted Szechuan/American BBQ food that Danny is making is exactly the stuff restaurant workers want to eat. Full flavors, generous portions, cheap beer, quality ingredients. It all adds up to an industry hang out. I could eat here every day.”
Mission Chinese Food, 2234 Mission Street (between 18th and 19th streets); 415-863-2800.
Lers Ros Thai
“A great Thai restaurant in the Tenderloin, this place serves the stuff that most Thai restaurants want to hide from the masses. Spice, offal, and funky flavors, and again, cheap beer. Fermented sausages, crispy pig ear, a great whole fish served in a giant fish pot. This is a great place to come for lunch with several friends, order too much food, and go to town. Good luck if you have plans after.”
Lers Ros Thai, 730 Larkin Street (between O’Farrell and Ellis streets); 415-931-6917.
Boulette’s Larder
“I suggest going here for lunch and ordering the entire menu, which changes daily. The chefs and owners Amaryll and Lori make the things they like to eat. The best thing I have had in a while is their bagna càuda. These ladies make soul food with amazing ingredients and they often slip Hungarian dishes into the mix. I have had the best executed version of many of my favorites here. Go for a snack if you like, but this is a place to feast.”
Boulette’s Larder, 1 Ferry Building Marketplace (at Market Street); 415-399-1155.
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