Dinner in San Francisco: nice-casual, PoC-owned, sharable
May 9, 2018 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Where should my partner and I go for dinner in San Francisco next week? Last time we were in town, our nice dinner was at Kin Khao, which we liked a lot. We prefer sharable plates when eating out, and don't want to go anywhere super formal. I would love to support a restaurant owned/chef'd by a person of color, or at least not go to a Mexican or Asian restaurant helmed by a white person.

We'll be staying in SoMa and probably we're most likely to go someplace either within walking distance or in the Mission District. Feel free to pitch anything though.
posted by silby to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
This may be TOO casual, but my favorite place to eat in the Mission is Udupi Palace. It's so delicious and works well for sharing.
posted by lunasol at 1:50 PM on May 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Maybe Farmerbrown? POC-owned soul food place just off Market that supports Black farmers in California. It's funky and nice, not fancy. Food is good (it's not, like, the very best soul food I've ever had but it's good and the menu is appealing). Meals are not geared toward family-style but are definitely shareable.

Another idea might be Dosa in the Mission.

These are not, like, destination restaurants in SF, but they are good options.
posted by vunder at 2:29 PM on May 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

What about Cala?
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 2:47 PM on May 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Mozzeria is in the Mission and has great Italian and pizza and is owned/run by a deaf PoC couple. All the servers and cooks are deaf, as well.
posted by un petit cadeau at 3:03 PM on May 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Kin Khao hits that perfect center of your preferences in a way that's hard to match. Dosa is definitely fun and pretty good. The Slanted Door (very high end Vietnamese in the Ferry Building) is indeed helmed by Asians, but perhaps a little too obvious and/or touristy? You could do one of the serious dim sum places (Ton Kiang? Yank Sing?), although again those aren't in the Mission area. Limon (upper end Peruvian) is in the Mission, appears to still be run by the Castillo family, and in addition to the rotisserie chicken, they have a lovely ceviche menu. Farther out, there are great Izakaya places in Japantown, which offer fun options for sharing.

Larry and Angela Tse helm the House - they are American but of Chinese descent. It has good Asian-American fusion food, and used to be a staple "nice night out" choice for Asian/Asian-Am people coming up to SF from the peninsula.

If you are carnivores, Espetus is a hell of a good Brazilian churrascaria (the best one we've found in the States) and is very much a special event place.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 4:59 PM on May 9, 2018

I would still recommend Mission Chinese. If you don’t know about all that you can watch the episode with Danny Bowien on Mind of a Chef, or any number of articles etc; their story is pretty well known. It’s pretty casual, and for something fancier you could go to their new spot The Perennial, which is focused on climate change issues. I found the food to be far better than the idiot reviews on yelp would suggest, but yeah it’s a concept restaurant for sure.
posted by danny the boy at 5:45 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Liholiho yacht club is fucking delicious, chef is of Indian descent, born in Hawaii.
posted by danny the boy at 5:54 PM on May 9, 2018

Ler Ros near 16th St. station. Their menu in-house is more extensive and includes more interesting Thai dishes than on their website. Not formal at all, and the chef/owner is Tom Narupon Silargorn.
posted by extramundane at 6:58 PM on May 9, 2018

I like so many of the suggestions already in this thread. Cala is fantastic, and I'd highly recommend it if you can make it work.

One other idea: Kaya. It's on Market near 10th/Polk and it's a fairly new modern Jamaican restaurant, run by Nigel Jones (profiled here in
The Last Black Chefs of San Francisco
). I, er, have not actually eaten there yet, but have heard good things.
posted by zachlipton at 8:27 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

How about Ethiopian food? It's so delicious!

Cafe Ethiopia was always my favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the city. Everything is served on one giant plate it the middle of the table. It's super-casual. I'm almost positive it's run by a POC - I've never seen anyone working there who wasn't.
posted by bendy at 2:37 AM on May 10, 2018

Not sure if it fits location-wise (fits other requirements ) but I was just in San Fran Saturday and had delicious dim sum at Lai Hong Lounge in Chinatown (and I have lots of experience with Chinese food to judge). Not exactly sure how their dinners would be, but maybe something to keep in mind).
posted by bearette at 5:16 AM on May 10, 2018

I really liked Hazel.
The chicken was incredibly good, it's got great cocktails & food, but not fancy, and it's black-owned. It's also near SoMa.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:45 PM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hazel is good (it's on the same block as Kaya). I just want to tell you that every time I've been in there in the evening, it's been rather loud (there are pool tables and shuffleboard), there are a lot of TVs, and a decent portion of the seating is long high communal tables. I like it there, but I don't know if those things are pluses or minuses for the kind of evening you're looking to have this time.

Like BlueBlueElectricBlue said, Kin Khao hits a sweet spot of preferences between being a casual almost-neighborhood-dining-but-for-getting-a-table-and-budget place and innovative "destination" food that's a bit hard to match. I feel like Cala (bit more destination) and Dosa (are closest there.

And I just want to add one other idea. Namu Gaji in the Mission. It's fairly loud and cramped (counter seating and communal table), but delicious sharable food. If your schedule permits, you could also do this one for lunch: gamja fries, and "KFC style" chicken bites.
posted by zachlipton at 10:31 PM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We went to Limón! Really good chicken. I will note for the sake of the future that the Valencia location was very loud, maybe due to an echoy space. Thanks for all the other suggestions, which I will certainly return to next time.
posted by silby at 10:51 PM on May 26, 2018

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