Niners fans are still processing the team’s devastating loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at the Jan. 29 NFC Championship Game. The bitter defeat—which stung far more than many that have come before—robbed San Francisco’s storied NFL franchise of a chance to compete in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Even though you won’t be able to watch the red and gold on the field this weekend, anyone with access to a kitchen and the requisite ingredients can participate in that other sacred Super Bowl tradition: food.
We reached out to a handful of star Bay Area chefs and asked them what they would be preparing for the big game. Whether you’re hosting a Super Bowl party or propped up on your couch solo—keeping tabs on every down or only in it for the commercials—here are a few delicious dishes to enjoy this Sunday.
Marshall Reid | Acopio
Acopio, an upscale Mexican restaurant on San Jose's east side, is run by the same family that first opened it in 1981, though the place has been completely reimagined since a fire gutted it nearly a decade ago.
“We reopened with a more elegant concept,” said Marshall Reid, executive chef at Acopio. The restaurant’s signature dish: mole de pato, which includes chile-cured duck confit, masa cake and seasonal mole sauce with vegetables.
Reid will be cooking a tried-and-true classic for Super Bowl Sunday—wings—but with his own haute cuisine flair.
“Football Sunday isn’t complete without wings,” said Reid, “and I don’t think anyone makes them better than I do.” He was generous enough to share the recipe with us.
To make Reid’s signature chipotle-coriander spiced wings, start with a rub made of equal parts of the two spices. Coat three-jointed wings with the mixture after seasoning them with salt and pepper and then roast at 425° for 20-30 minutes on a baking sheet topped with a wire metal rack.
Let the wings cool to room temperature and then finish them—either in a 350° deep fryer for a few minutes or in a super hot oven or air fryer.
“The secret to crispy skin is cooking them twice,” said Reid.
You can prepare your wings ahead of time and then finish them off before your guests arrive, tossing them in a habanero or buffalo sauce—accompanied by the requisite blue cheese, of course.
Reid’s other tips for a successful Super Bowl gathering? Plenty of cold beverages, a big spread of food and a potluck-style affair in which everyone brings something. Let’s just hope someone signs up to make those chipotle-coriander wings.
Michele McQueen | Town Fare
Chef and Owner of Town Fare in the Oakland Museum of Art Michele McQueen has plenty of excellent tips and tricks for hosting your own Super Bowl gathering—plus her own signature dip.
“It’s my take on a spinach dip,” McQueen said. “A cheesy collard green dip.” Lucky for us, she shared her recipe on Instagram.
McQueen pointed out the importance of having all the flavors: cheesy, salty, sweet, savory. “You want to cover all the bases, and this is a dip that’s rich and creamy.”
“Then you have to have a wing,” McQueen said. Her secret is to marinate wings overnight in the juice from jarred jalapeños (you’ll probably be picking up some of those to make your nachos, so you will likely have it on hand). The briny juice tenderizes the meat and gives it the perfect spice.
McQueen also likes to set up a popcorn bar with customized flavors (Town Fare has a killer kettle corn). “People love to have things they can put their hands into and grab,” she said.
You can do the same with a cocktail bar, setting up a station for make-your-own mules (think Moscow, Kentucky, Mexican) and bloody marys. It’s a good idea to space the stations around the house, so food or drink is never far away.
Make-your-own stations and bars are interactive, fun and light—just like the big game itself. They’re also easy, which gives more time for the host to enjoy themselves, which is key. “You don’t want to wear yourself out,” McQueen said.
Dana Younkin | Boulevard
Dana Younkin, executive chef at San Francisco’s Boulevard restaurant, got turned on to tinned fish after a recent trip to Portugal. She says it is an ideal snack for football watching.
“I don’t like to cook for the Super Bowl,” Younkin said. “I like to kick back and watch the game.”
That’s why she suggests crafting a curated spread of tinned fish, crackers and crudites with sauces—and she recommends the Noe Valley seafood store Billingsgate for picking up that fish in tins.
Another of Younkin’s secrets? Gourmet popcorn. It’s easy to prepare at home—toss some freshly popped kernels in olio nuovo (that’s the first press of olive oil that’s particularly delicious and a vibrant bright green), parmesan and nutritional yeast.
Younkin prefers snacks that are on the lighter side for football watching, like celery sticks and endive spears with triple crème cheese and truffles. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it. The other nice thing about simple snacks is that you can have them ready to go before your guests arrive.
“I like to have things on hand you prepare ahead of time, like braises and chilis,” Younkin said. Less time cooking, after all, means more time watching the game and hanging with your friends.
Wes Rowe | Gambit
Wes Rowe, the brains behind WesBurger 'N' More and the multi-award-winner of the Standard Deviant chili cook-off, has a new culinary project—a Central and Eastern European lounge with a menu that highlights the cuisine of that region (yes, there are pierogi on the menu).
Rowe was up to his elbows in deli meat making Italian hoagies, one of his favorite menu items at Gambit, when he spoke with The Standard. That's exactly what he recommends you prepare for your Super Bowl party: A giant sandwich.
“There’s a hoagie renaissance happening in the city,” Rowe said. “You can make your own with seven layers and call it the Seven Hills Hoagie.”
It’s a simple process, according to Rowe. Pick up some 2-foot long french rolls or baguettes (plan four to six inches per person), soften them up in the oven for a couple minutes, scrape out some of the bread innards.
“We love Panorama bakery, but if you can't find that, Acme or Semifreddi will work,” Rowe said.
Slather the inside with a shallot dressing and add four slices of provolone for every eight inches of bread. Fill the inside with three of your favorite very thinly sliced meats (he recommends mortadella, salami and Spanish chorizo and telling the deli counter to set the slicer to .5), budgeting four ounces of mortadella and one ounce each of salami and chorizo for every eight inches.
Throw in a few piquillo peppers, a generous amount of lightly dressed arugula and cut into four-inch sections.
“It’s just assembly,” Rowe said. “Those are my favorite things to make for Super Bowl, so day of you’re just drinking beer.”
Serve your friends on Sunday or enjoy someone else making it for you—Gambit launches lunch service on Feb. 14, serving 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Glen Schwartz | Maybeck’s
Glen Schwartz used to cook at the popular (and now shuttered) Lower Pacific Heights’ restaurant Baker and Banker. But these day’s, he is chef de cuisine at Maybeck’s in the Marina. Maybeck’s recently underwent a complete overhaul of its menu and is now serving a seven-course tasting menu of elevated eats.
“There’s a lot of creative freedom there,” said Schwartz.
But Schwartz’s favorite thing to cook for the Super Bowl is much more down-to-earth: Wings. He plans on making 40 pounds of them—half of them smoked, half of them baked—when he joins his family to watch the big game this year.
Schwartz’s main piece of advice? Advance planning.
“Heavy prep, easy execution,” Schwartz said.
While not everyone will have a smoker, Schwartz recommends baking wings in a convection oven to get the skin crispy. He’s also planning on a taco bar, pizzas and spinach dip.
“You want more than just snacks when you’re drinking.”
But there is a snack of Schwartz’s you may want to try at home: chips with crème fraîche and caviar.
“That’s if you want to go all bougie with it,” Schwartz said.
Julie Zigoris can be reached at [email protected]