Lunch hour, part 2

Pub date March 20, 2012

APPETITE Last week we covered four notable new lunch spots. This week, we round off the list with four more.



I said it a year ago when Wise Sons Deli was merely a pop-up and Ferry Plaza outpost: it is refreshing to have this quality level of Jewish food in San Francisco. Lines still run out the door in the brand new brick and mortar location — good luck finding many “off” hours to drop in. But how can I not be delighted to have fresh-baked loaves of rye bread, corned beef hash, and matzo brei available six days a week? (Don’t worry, you can still catch the Sons on your Tuesday commute at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.)

Order: Chocolate babka bread ($3.50 per hefty slice; sometimes available as a bread pudding) is dreamy. Earthy-sweet chocolate and a crunchy crust weave together in a bread that is better than coffee cake. Chopped liver ($7) is appealing even to those skittish about liver. Challah French toast ($9) is fluffy and sweetened with orange butter and maple syrup. House-baked bialy fills a bagel void, layered with cream cheese ($3) and seasonal smoked fish like salmon or smoked trout ($8/$11). The Sons address my craving for whitefish salad with smoked trout salad ($9), wisely using a more sustainable fish choice. Don’t forget hand-sliced pastrami or corned beef and an egg cream soda. One can only hope the meaty, pastrami bread pudding I sampled at an opening party shows up on the specials board.

3150 24th St., SF. (415) 787-3354,



Square Meals is just what Polk Street needed: a friendly neighborhood café with eat-in, delivery, or take-out foods and dinners, delectable baked goods and sweets from Batter Bakery, ( — the two enterprises share cafe space — Ritual coffee, a wine happy hour, and board games to play in a mellow setting. Offerings include cool, subtle soba noodles with crab, mint, chili, and escarole, plus lasagna, pork schnitzel, flank steak, falafel patties.

Order: The lunch highlight is a daily sandwich special, such as tender halibut enlivened with strips of bacon and silky caramelized onions ($13). Don’t miss Batter Bakery’s sand angel cookie, a glorified, denser snickerdoodle.

2127 Polk, SF. (415) 674-1069,



Rocketfish ( is a happening Potrero Hill sushi restaurant. But by day, it is transformed into Korean fusion (yes, I used the dread “f” word) pop-up Seoul Patch. A few menu items rotate, with a couple more traditional Korean dishes in the mix. Eat in at Rocketfish’s bar top or roomy booths.

Order: A fried chicken sandwich ($10) with daikon slaw has been an early favorite, and with good reason. The chicken is blessed with subtle Asian spices, crispy breading giving way to juicy meat within. The sandwiches can suffer from not enough sauce or contrast, translating to dryness, as in the case of a Korean BBQ pork sando ($8.50) with avocado, tempura onion ring, and a pickle. Though the spicy pork was well-prepared, the sandwich needed a sauce to tie it together. Traditional Korean dishes like bibimbap ($11 for this rice bowl with bulgogi beef and fried egg) are better elsewhere. I prefer a green onion pancake ($5.50) that recalls Japanese okonomiyaki: chewy and moist, it’s dotted with bacon and kimchi, drizzled in kewpie (Japanese mayo with vinegar) and oko sauce, both typically used on okonomiyaki.

1469 18th St., SF. (415) 282-9666,



Industrial South San Francisco roads near SFO are certainly not the place most of us would head for lunch, and certainly not for lobster. But look for the new, bright red truck off Mitchell Avenue, right outside seafood-shellfish source New England Lobster. The best lobster rolls I’ve had have been from the East Coast — the divine, overflowing rolls at Pearl’s Oyster Bar in New York’s Greenwich Village have been excellent for years. But despite the New England moniker, this lobster is not the most flavorful nor is the bread that dreamy, buttery brioche used in the best lobster rolls. Nonetheless, they are satisfying sandwiches, particularly if you ask for drawn butter to drizzle over them.

Order: Lobster corn chowder ($5) is essentially a creamy bisque dotted with corn and chunks of lobster. It’s decadent with a lobster roll. The only other option is a crab roll. If you happen to be nearby or on need lunch before a flight, this is a fun, unusual option.

170 Mitchell, South San Francisco. (650) 873-9000,

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