Restaurants

The Great San Francisco Mac and Cheese Throwdown

When four, count ‘em four, friends contacted me this week to make sure I was aware of this event, I realized I’d made a bit of a mac-and-cheese-tasting reputation for myself.

This throwdown comes your way through the combined efforts of the SoMa StrEat Food Park and FunCheapSF, both great organizations with a goal of keeping Bay Area residents in good food for fair prices. In addition to over 10 food trucks offering their mac and cheese spins, there will also be games, beer specials, and a cheesy cover band. And yes, that’s the precise language used to describe the band.

What: the Great San Francisco Mac and Cheese Throwdown

Where: SoMa StrEat Food Park, 428 11th Street, San Francisco.

When: 11/22 from 11am to 5pm.

How Much: $5 for entry, which includes 1 tasting ticket OR $20 for a passport that includes entry, 5 tasting tickets, and a PBR. Individual tasting tickets are $4 each.

Get me tickets: Order them through Eventbrite here.

Unfortunately, I will not be attending the throwdown because I already have plans Saturday and because I’m pretty sure that many mac and cheese options are too many even for me. But my quest to conquer 7 x 7′s list of the best Bay Area mac and cheeses continues, and my most recent post on that is here. Coming up soon are my thought’s on Paragon’s offering and then the Mac and Cheese nights will continue after the New Year. Only 4 to go!

 

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Mac & Cheese Night #5: American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

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Fifth macaroni and cheese night already? And I’m not even sick of the stuff yet. I must say, though, that all this mac and cheese analysis has affected my standards. Let’s just say that a recent order from a fast food chain was NOT up to snuff. Bright orange sauce lacking flavor and overcooked noodles doesn’t do it for me as easily as it used to.

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen does commit the atrocity of overcooked noodles, but in their case, it’s no crime. We went to the Mission location (2400 Harrison St.), a spot that’s steadily busy even at 2 on a Saturday afternoon.

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That menu is composed of sandwiches made of locally sourced ingredients, which results in quality that you can taste. The drinks illustrated that for me most clearly.

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My lemon-thyme soda hit the spot. The thyme wasn’t any bit player; it was a refreshing counterpoint to commanding citrus with just enough sugar to make it palatable. Husband’s pomegranate-rosemary soda was also tasty, but it didn’t hold a candle to the lemon-thyme for me. Obviously, I was not in a berry mood.

And both Husband and Friend #1 were not in mac & cheese moods, opting instead for the club turkey and cubano, respectively.

Club with cheddar, havarti, smoked turkey, roasted tomatoes, bacon, stout mustard, and arugula on sourdough.

Club with cheddar, havarti, smoked turkey, roasted tomatoes, bacon, stout mustard, and arugula on sourdough.

Cubano with monterey and garlic-herb jack cheeses, coffee-rubbed pulled pork, ham, stout mustard, pickles, pickled red onions, and chipotle butter on levain bread.

Cubano with monterey and garlic-herb jack cheeses, coffee-rubbed pulled pork, ham, stout mustard, pickles, pickled red onions, and chipotle butter on levain bread.

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Sapporo

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Sapporo is the sushi restaurant’s answer to the overly familiar neighborhood pub. If you need to be greeted warmly by a hostess and have your every need catered to in a reasonable time frame, I’m not sure it’s the place for you. There’s nothing wrong with those expectations, but Sapporo won’t meet them. Instead, the tiny staff—consisting of one waitress and the sushi chef Sam—will get to you in due time, and your drink order will likely be yelled across the restaurant.

As soon as you see the restaurant’s interior, you’ll realize it’s a playful joint. Keep yourself entertained while waiting for service by looking at the polaroids covering the walls and booths.

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And keep that playfulness in mind as you realize Sam’s banter with the regulars is far more entertaining than the photos. Otherwise, you may be worried actual insults are being flung around rather than friends skewering each other. Heck, not knowing for certain is part of the appeal.

Sam, the sushi chef.

Sam, the sushi chef.

But I think the existence of a Crazy Sammy roll resolves that question pretty well.

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