Forget your cute little cafes with the chic, outdoor tables to take a load off at lunchtime.
Some of the best al fresco dining in San Francisco can be had at an actual concrete loading dock, where you might find yourself digging into your gourmet sammy as an exhaust-spewing UPS or Fed-Ex truck pulls up right beside you.
Of course, I can only be talking about the offbeat and charming Kitchenettein San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood, a short drive from the W Hotel.
You gotta love its slogan: "Spontaneous organic covert nourishment.''
That about sums up this cash-only, tucked away spot that's only open 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. weekdays.
It was opened last year by a group of chefs that have worked at some of the Bay Area's top establishments, including Chez Panisse, Ad Hoc, Incanto, and Betelnut. With that kind of pedigree, you know you're not getting some slapped together cold cuts.
Nope, the limited menu changes daily and features primo artisan, organic ingredients.
The menu is posted daily on Kitchenette's Web site, and usually includes a choice of two or three different sandwiches, such as a fig wood-smoked pastrami one or fried eggplant on anchovy-garlic bread; possibly a salad; house-baked cookies; and a creative, house-made beverage such as a lemon verbena-chrysanthemum Arnold Palmer.
Walk up a couple stairs and through the steel door to place your order at the makeshift counter. Then, take a seat -- if you're lucky -- at one of the couple of benches by the doorway, until your order is called and handed down to you from the yawning garage doorway.
I tried a very fine Tuscan-style beef bolito ($8.50). The tender, thinly sliced boiled beef was smeared with a pungent salsa verde and sweet, caramelized grilled onions. This is one of those fine sandwiches in which filling and crusty bread meld to become one juicy, drippy wonderful messy mouthful.
The beverage of the day was a citrusy tangerine-cardamom-honey refresher ($5) that arrived in a quite generous size, and sported a pleasing palate warmth from the earthy spice. On the side, I had a bag of those addicting, shatteringly crispy 4505's chicharrones ($3) and a crunchy, double chocolate mint cookie (75 cents).
As delivery trucks pulled in and out all around us, we took our last bites, and savored one of those great only-in-San Francisco moments.
Kitchenette: 958 Illinois St, Potrero Hill
-- Carolyn Jung of FoodGal
[Photo Credit: Carolyn Jung]