Sarah C. Jimenez

6 supper-worthy soups


Take almost any kid to the grocery store and their favorite place is likely the candy aisle. Me? I salivated in front of the soups. All those colorful cans promising savory combinations of belly-warming meat and veggies caught my childhood fancy, no matter the season in my temperate hometown of San Diego. Back then, the decision always was between hearty beef barley, comforting chicken noodle, and more-fun-than-tasty alphabet soup. Now my palate has matured — but my taste for a brothy meal in a bowl has not. I still consider the greatest dining find to be a liquid lunch with ingredients so fresh and seasonings so rich that ordering a "proper" entrée is superfluous.


If you’re looking for a traditional Mexican stew (or just a fantastic hangover cure) in a hipster-free environment, head out of the sunny, skinny-jeaned Mission District and into the fog of the Excelsior. There, at La Taqueria Menudo, you can find a steaming bowl of perfectly spicy pozole. (Similar to menudo, minus the creepy surprises of tripe — or Ricky Martin). This under-appreciated neighborhood joint serves the classic dish with plump hominy and pork so tender it comes apart when you stab it with your spoon. The dish is traditionally served with cabbage and radishes, but La Taqueria serves it with limes, cilantro, onions, and chile de arbol. No matter. The spicy depth of the soup’s flavor unravels in so many layers, and the accompanying tortillas are always so warm and soft, that those deviations get lost in the mist.

4591 Mission, SF. (415) 333-8604


Overall reviews of this mini-chain are mixed, but we love this company’s dedication to organic ingredients and free-range, hormone-free meat. And say what you will about any of the other soups, the chili here is transcendent. Made with four different types of beans, fresh tomatoes, and bell peppers with a bit of crunch, this cold-weather classic is satisfying year-round.

90 New Montgomery, SF. (415) 369-9602; 1900 Powell, Emeryville. (610) 601-7687;


It may be rare to get San Francisco days so sweltering you need chilled soup to counter them. But La Mediterranee’s cold cucumber soup is worth ordering whatever the weather. The cool blend of fresh fruit (cucumber is one, you know) and warm garlic melds perfectly with the creamy yogurt base, proving bright enough for an Indian summer lunch and dense enough for a nippy autumn supper.

2210 Fillmore, SF. (415) 921-2956; 288 Noe, SF. (415) 431-7210; 2936 College, Berkeley. (510) 540-7773,


It’s easy to assume that all German cuisine is bland and heavy, particularly dishes like potato soup. But the kartoffelsuppe at Hayes Valley’s Suppenküche proves that central European food can be hearty without inducing a heart attack — or a born-of-boredom nap. The thick, savory, beef-based stew may warm your belly, but the balance of spice and starch is delicate enough to delight the palate of diners who’ve never set foot in Münich or Milwaukee.

525 Laguna, SF. (415) 252-9289,


Made from a mix of samusas, falafel, cabbage, and fried potatoes, the samusa soup at this Richmond District eatery might sound like the last stop for wayward leftovers, but this thick, salted delight is the reason many diners make the trek to Clement Street in the first place. Indeed, this stewed version of the popular eatery’s varied specialties is so good you might be inspired to skip the next course altogether.

309 Clement, SF. (415) 387-2147,


SF Soup Company may seem to be everywhere, but it’s an entirely local enterprise. Even better, it has found a way to take tomato soup — the dreaded accompaniment to the ubiquitous grilled cheese sandwich of childhood — far beyond its boring, watery reputation. The secret? Combining the sweet acidity of the native South American plant with savory basil in an organic, creamy base. Add in the choice of wheat or french bread and you’ve got a delicious, healthy meal option wherever you are in the city.

Various SF and Bay Area locations,

6 innovative ice creams


It’s not just you. There really is an explosion of new places to get sweet, cold, creamy treats in the Bay Area. But why the new interest in this classic American dessert? Neil Gottlieb, founder of Three Twins in the Lower Haight, considers the trend the newest place the slow food movement is having an impact. "There’s a renaissance of making ice cream the way it should be made — with fresh ingredients." Jake Godby, chef/owner of Humphry Slocombe, agrees. "Ice cream is the new cupcake," he said. But does that mean the market will become oversaturated soon? Mitchell’s manager Linda Mitchell doubts it, explaining that people simply love ice cream — and have a seeming insatiable desire for new and interesting flavors. Plus, Godby adds, each specialty ice cream shop has its own niche. "We’re all kind of different from each other, and we all get along," he said. After extensive testing (and just a few ice cream headaches), we’ve discovered six of our favorite flavors from both new and long-beloved creameries. Pinkberry who?


You may scream for ice cream, but the yelling in my house came from my mother when I tried to nibble a block of Mexican baking chocolate: "That’s not candy!" Bouncing off the walls, I begged to differ. Now Mitchell’s, the family-run parlor that’s been open more than 50 years, has turned the spiced chocolate of my childhood dreams into a bona fide creamy dessert, rich in flavor and accented with blasts of cinnamon. Not even Mom can argue.

Mitchell’s, 688 San Jose, SF. (415) 648-2300,


This orgasmic flavor is what inspires people to wait in tangled lines, even in the middle of a rainstorm. Is it the first lick, when salt puckers your taste buds, that’s so enticing? Or the luscious sweetness of caramel that kicks in next? Or the pleasant surprise at the way the two meld into one perfect after-experience? It doesn’t matter. Thanks to flavor combinations like these, Bi-Rite’s ice cream, always made with organic dairy products from Straus Family Creamery, already feels like a San Francisco classic after only three years.

Bi-Rite Creamery, 3692 18th St., SF. (415) 626-5600,


Three Twins carries only eight flavors of its organic ice creams and sorbets at its tiny shop on Fillmore and Haight (and its several other locations, including one in Napa), so you never know what special flavors will be available. But if you can get the Domaine Carneros sorbet, made from unfermented pinot noir grapes, you won’t want to miss it. The delicate hint of wine mixes with ripe bursts of tangy, tart berries for an unexpectedly balanced flavor, pleasing your child-like and 21+ palate alike. (If the sorbet’s not available, you also can’t go wrong with Lemon Cookie, a Three Twins staple flavor.)

Three Twins, 254 Fillmore, SF. (415) ITS-TWIN,


Following the lead of spicemasters like Bombay Ice Cream, Mission District newcomer Xanath has turned the savory spice of saffron into a creamy, lush, and ginger-filled frozen treat. The young, family-owned parlor also offers an array of organic ice creams and vegan sorbets, including options like coconut, strawberry, and peanut butter. And we love the staff, not only because they’re extraordinarily friendly, but also because they let you try as many flavors as you like (before you inevitably settle on Saffron Ginger).

Xanath, 951 Valencia, SF. (415) 648-8996


I’d like to thank the crazy person who first made goat cheese gelato. In the meantime, I’ll just thank Holy Gelato!, the neighborhood shop that hosts this pungent, creamy party in your mouth. The quirky shop, featuring a picture of Darth Vader glaring at you from a heaping tub of gelato, makes sure you not only get an eyeful of eccentricity, but a mouthful of crazy flavors that’ll have you skipping back for more. (For your best goat cheese pairing, try an accompanying scoop of raspberry sorbet.)

Holy Gelato!, 1392 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 681-3061,


Sure, Humphry Slocombe may have a reputation as the latest hipster trend (and it is). But for good reason: its Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee flavor is the most phenomenal thing to happen to ice cream and coffee since the two were first mixed together in … who knows? The shop on Harrison and 23rd streets may be known for its way-out flavors, but it’s the combination of some of the best coffee in the city infused into this simple yet complex ice cream that makes this flavor a hit.

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, 2790 Harrison, SF. (415) 550-6971,