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Food & Drink

I found the best brunch at the Ferry Building, and it’s chilaquiles on a paper plate

A plate of food with eggs, beans, avocado, and bacon, with a bridge and people in the background.
The dish includes totopos (tortilla chips) made from scratch, fried and tossed in a salsa, ripe avocado, scrambled eggs and refried beans. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

This is All Things Consumed, a column by The Standard’s eater-at-large, Omar Mamoon, featuring three great dishes he’s eaten, one thing he’s drunk and one other food product he’s stoked on. 

Chilaquiles plate at Primavera

Among the many great things to eat at the Ferry Building Farmers Market on a Saturday morning are my favorite chilaquiles in existence. Karen Taylor’s Primavera Tamales stand is easy to miss in the back of the market—but just look for the long line of hungry brunchers, and you’ll know you’ve found it. You’ll get a plate piled high with totopos (tortilla chips) made from scratch, fried and tossed in a salsa—sometimes a spicy red tomato habanero, sometimes a brighter, milder verde made from tomatillos. The chips somehow manage to maintain a crispy crunch without ever getting sogged. Use the chips to strategically diversify your bites–sometimes scooping up bright green chunks of ripe avocado, other times buttery soft scrambled eggs and always the best refried beans in SF (the lard is key). Better yet, scoop all of the above.

A plate of food with scrambled eggs, refried beans, cheese-topped enchilada, diced avocado, and sour cream.
Hungry diners line up to get a plate of outstanding chilaquiles at Karen Taylor's Tamale Stand. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

One pro tip is that you can get a half-order of these chilaquiles and boost them with a half-order of any of the other items that happen to be on the menu—namely the crispy beer-battered fish tacos, tamales, flautas or tostadas. Taylor is also behind El Molino Central in Sonoma, where she also serves these chilaquiles on the weekends. So if you’re ever up there wine tasting, you can still get your fix.

💰: $14
📍 One Ferry Building #50, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco

Whole fried squab at Four Kings

I’ve been counting down the days until the opening of Four Kings, the new restaurant from Mister Jiu’s alums Franky Ho and Mike Long and their partners Millie Boonkokua and Lucy Li. This is one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year, and after dining on their powerfully flavorful Cantonese fare on day three of their opening, I can say this much: The hype was well-deserved. I can’t wait to go back.

Located in an old ramen shop in an alleyway under a Kumon learning center in Chinatown, the small restaurant is already packed and difficult to get into, with diners sitting elbow-to-elbow along the wooden bar counter, feasting on Cantonese classics like clay-pot rice and steak chow fun infused with a nice char and smoke taste picked up in the wok. It’s got amazing “wok hei.” 

The deep-fried squab at Four Kings is marinated for 10 days, then lightly hickory smoked and deep-fried before serving. The squab is served whole and comes garnished with chrysanthemum greens
The whole deep-fried squab at Four Kings is marinated for 10 days, then lightly hickory-smoked and deep-fried before serving. | Source: Omar Mamoon for The Standard

But the biggest stunner for me is the deep-fried squab. The time-intensive dish requires 10 days for the tiny birds to be marinated, hung and dried before they’re lightly hickory smoked and deep-fried before serving. The result is a glorious brown and delicious bird whose skin shatters like glass. The squab is served whole–beak, feet and all–and comes garnished with chrysanthemum greens. Squeeze the accompanying lemon wedge on it, dip it into the salt and pepper mixture and go to town. This is one beauty of a bird. 

💰: $45
📍 710 Commercial St., San Francisco

Cubano sandwich at Clandestina

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never been to either Cuba nor Florida, but Chef Lilian Duran’s Clandestina Cocina pop-up gets me one step closer to both. I stumbled upon her Cuban soul food pop-up one Saturday while sipping on some cold, funky pinot gris at Donkey & Goat Winery in Berkeley, where she was in the back patio assembling some serious Cubano sandwiches.

A hand in a black glove holds a meat and cheese sandwich, cut to reveal layers inside.
The cubano at Clandestina is made with a bolillo roll, stuffed with a generous amount of slow-roasted pork rubbed in a traditional mojo marinade heavy on citrus and garlic. | Source: Courtesy Clandestina

Duran’s version of the ham-and-cheese sandwich, which was first made in Tampa, Florida, by Cuban exiles, is a thick, melty, meaty masterpiece. She stuffs a bolillo roll she sources from Mi Tierra Foods in Berkeley with a generous amount of slow-roasted pork rubbed in a traditional mojo marinade heavy on citrus and garlic. She layers on thin cuts of smoky ham, stretchy Swiss cheese and a generous amount of yellow mustard and pickles to provide an acidic contrast to all the meat and cheese.  The entire thing is seared and pressed on the plancha so it gets compact and crispy—a rich and savory behemoth to bite into. You can find Duran every Sunday at the West Oakland Farmers Market and keep an eye on her Instagram to see where else she’ll be throughout the month and when.

💰: $19
📍 West Oakland Farmers Market, 1809 Peralta St., Oakland 

A bottle I’m loving

Golden Sardine in North Beach might be my new favorite wine bar in San Francisco—it’s owned by husband and wife Andrew Paul Nelson and Caitlyn Skye Wild, a poetry-loving couple who host readings on the second floor of their bar. Nelson also loves Riesling and features a fair amount of it on his list. The bottle that turned him on to the varietal, Barrel X by Peter Lauer, is beautifully balanced—not too sweet, not too acidic and super food-friendly. Order this at the tiny bar along with some sausages to snack on, or take it away and pair it with spicy Indian or Thai fare.

🍷 Peter Lauer, 2022 Barrel X Riesling,
💰: $29
📍 Golden Sardine, 362 Columbus Ave., San Francisco

And one more thing I'm stoked on

If you’re a butter freak like me, then the words Le Beurre Bordier will get your arteries pumping. This beloved butter from Brittany is rich, creamy, complex and cultured (literally). I’ve only had it in France and have never seen it in the U.S., until the tiny deli-market Alimentari Aurora in Potrero Hill started carrying it. They get a shipment once or twice a month and have different flavors like seaweed and wild garlic and Kampot pepper—but I just go classic demi-sel (slightly salted).  $10.75 for 4.4 oz.,

Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco-based writer & cookie dough professional. Find him on Instagram.