TABLEHOPPING: Burgers for your belly from Big Chef Tom, Chubby Noodle #2, and a bunch of great brunches
TABLEHOPPING Sorry (not sorry) but both of these places I'm about to mention have "big" and "belly" and "chubby" in their names, which should be your clue that I'm not going to be telling you about a new salad bar. Whatever, many of you just finished a week of not eating (thanks PRIDE!) and are probably still hurting from the weekend. Let's do this. First up, Big Chef Tom's Belly Burgers (1550 Howard, SF. www.bctbellyburgers.com) has opened in SoMa, and if you haven't had the chance to acquaint yourself with chef Tom Pizzica's burgers made from 100 percent ground pork belly at events around town, well, you are overdue. This is his first brick-and-mortar spot, which means he gets to rock an expanded menu, with all kinds of creative combos. I would start with the All-American, with rosemary mayo, sliced apple, and sharp cheddar cheese. I also really dug the Banh Baby, Banh one afternoon at Outside Lands, with Vietnamese caramel, sliced jalapeño, hard-boiled egg, and cilantro. Don't eat pork? No problem, you can sub the porky patty for one made with ground chicken thigh, or a vegetarian version. There are a few sides too (crispy onions, fries, or roasted kale, because hey, it's California). Good news: beer will be coming in a couple weeks. Open daily 10:30am–9pm.
Next up: Chubby Noodle (2205 Lombard, SF. www.chubbynoodle.com) has opened a second location, but unlike its original location in Amante in North Beach, this 49-seater is a stand-alone in the former Gatip Thai in the Marina. Pete Mrabe (the evil genius behind Don Pisto's) and biz partner Nick Floulis (Pushback Wines) just finished their grand opening celebration this past weekend, and now they're open 5pm–12:30am nightly, but potentially closing on Mondays (just double check their hours on their website before you head over). The 12-item menu includes some dim sum (the chicken buns are a fave), chicken noodle soup (a riff on a fried chicken ramen), hot fried snapper, and are you ready for breakfast for dinner? I sure am. They have a hickory-smoked bacon jook with a fried egg, yes! It's a casual and lively spot, with flavor-packed food that's well prepared, and budget-friendly too. Look for some wine-based cocktails (they're better than you'd expect), plus beer and wine on tap, and they're also going to be one of the first places in the US to have sake on tap.
Brunch is something we do almost too well in this town, and here are three more options for you to add into rotation (especially since all three places serve full liquor). The colorful and cheerful Loló (974 Valencia, SF. www.lolosf.com) in the Mission is now serving brunch Friday (love it!) through Sunday, 11am–4pm. The menu includes chilaquiles with carnitas, a Mexican Benedict, a chorizo scramble, and more. The cocktails are also (almost) too delicious (ditto the cute staff), so watch yourself.
Palm House (2032 Union, SF. www.palmhousesf.com) in Cow Hollow is serving weekend brunch 10:30am–2:30pm. Get into an island Caribbean vibe with tropical breakfasts from around the world, including huevos rancheros; fried eggs revoltillo with plantains, rice, beans, and Puerto Rican spices; and a Cubano. Note: They have boozy slushy drinks.