Skip to main content
Food & Drink

A new soul food joint in the Fillmore is serving the city’s best fried chicken

Minnie Bell's comes to roost in the Fillmore District. Plus, a savory Chinese pocket pie and a pricey burrito are deemed worthy.

Fried chicken and cornbread in a basket with checkered paper; collard greens visible in the background.
A four-piece meal of fried chicken is served with sides of brown butter cornbread, braised greens and mac and cheese at Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement. | Source: Morgan Ellis/The Standard

This is All Things Consumed, a weekly column by The Standard’s eater-at-large, Omar Mamoon, featuring three great dishes he’s eaten, one thing he’s imbibed and one tasty item he’s stoked on.

Rosemary fried chicken at Minnie Bell's Soul Movement

For six years, I’ve had to brave the Bay Bridge to get my hands on my favorite fried chicken. It comes from chef Fernay McPherson, a La Cocina alum who has been slinging her powerfully delicious soul food out of a kiosk named after her great-aunt Minnie and grandmother Lillie Bell inside the Emeryville Public Market. But as of last week, San Francisco can now lay claim to the best fried chicken in the Bay. McPherson finally opened up her very own brick-and-mortar right here in the neighborhood that she grew up in—the Fillmore District.

Crispy fried chicken pieces beside cornbread in a basket with checkered paper liner.
Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement in the Fillmore has raised the fried chicken bar. | Source: Morgan Ellis/The Standard

There’s something special about the way McPherson prepares her fowl. She marinates the chicken in hot sauce and some secret spices before she dredges it in flour studded with specs of rosemary that perfume the bird with herbal notes. Fried up, it’s hot, juicy and ridiculously crispy. A four-piece fried chicken plate comes with a square of brown-butter cornbread and two small sides. Of these, I like the mac and cheese, which contains eggs, adding richness and binding the noodles and cheese like a homespun casserole. 

💰 $35, 4 pieces and 2 sides
📍1375 Fillmore St., San Francisco

Carne asada grilled cheese burrito at La Vaca Birria

I had to try the most controversial burrito in town: The massive, meaty, foil-wrapped missile being shot out of Ricardo Lopez’s La Vaca Birria in the heart of the Mission. The carne asada grilled cheese super burrito, which was $11 a couple years back, has doubled in price and, of course, there is a heated, milelong debate about it on Reddit. But hear me out—the attention to detail paid to this delicious monster makes it worth the investment.

Steak burrito
The carne asada grilled cheese burrito at La Vaca Birria in the Mission may be the most controversial burrito in San Francisco. | Source: Omar Mamoon for The Standard

To create this masterpiece, Lopez takes a flour tortilla and brushes it with rendered beef fat before throwing it on the plancha and sprinkling it with rich mozzarella (yes, mozzarella). This is all flipped so that the cheese gets melty and golden brown before it’s topped with rice, refried beans and an ample amount of guac. But arguably the most important part of this creation is the carne asada, which is grilled over mesquite. How many burrito joints can claim that? I like to pair it with their roasted salsa verde for an extra campfire boost. Another practical thing to note: Weighing in at almost 2 pounds, this beast can feed two, so bring a friend.

💰 $22
📍2962 24th St., San Francisco

Chives pancake at Today Food

Walking down Kearny Street the other day, I spotted a flour-dusted woman in a restaurant window rolling out dough—always a promising sign that something delicious is happening inside. The newly opened divey little dumpling shop on Kearny features a small menu of handmade potstickers, dumplings, soup dumplings and, yes, pancakes. 

Two golden-brown fried dumplings on a paper plate with a side of dipping sauce.
Like a Chinese hot pocket, Today Food's jiucai hezi are filled with scrambled egg and garlic chives. | Source: Omar Mamoon for The Standard

However, this is not the kind of flaky Chinese scallion pancake you might be imagining. What is called a pancake on the menu is really a jiucai hezi, a little, savory moon-shaped pocket pie that originates from Shandong and is typically eaten during the Chinese New Year. You can find these at other restaurants in the city, like Old Mandarin Islamic, whose rendition is stuffed with glass noodles. But the version at Today Food features a thinner dough and is filled with an abundance of bright green and garlicky chopped Chinese chives mixed with fluffy scrambled eggs before it is pan-fried until crispy. Dip this all into a mix of soy, vinegar and chile sauce, and you have a perfect snack. 

💰 $12
📍601 Kearny St., San Francisco

A drink I’m loving: Petite arvine at Ernest Vineyards

There are over 10,000 wine grape varieties, but some you encounter on repeat. One I hadn’t tried until recently is petite arvine, a white grape that originates from Switzerland and thrives in cool-climate regions, like Mendocino, where Ernest Vineyards, the 12-year-old wine-family-owned winery started by Erin Brooks, sources its grapes for its Edaphos label. Pale in color with aromas of green apple and honey, it still has “legs,” or a slightly viscous texture, when you give it a swirl.

💰 $36/bottle
📍Available at Decant SF, 1168 Folsom St., San Francisco

And one more thing I'm stoked on: Dry-aged ground beef from Olivier’s

When I have the luxury of cooking at home, I head to Olivier’s Butchery in the Dogpatch. They supply meat for top-tier SF restaurants like Ernest, Cotogna and Rich Table. I’m obsessed with their 45-day dry-aged beef made from a mix of ground chuck with an 80:20 fat ratio that cooks up with a nice funk. They come pre-formed in thick ½-pound patties, conveniently vacuum-packed. I keep a few in my freezer at all times, so that when I have a craving, I can grill myself a burger that’s as good as any high-end joint. 

💰 $15/pound
📍 Available at Olivier’s Butchery, 1192 Illinois St., San Francisco

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