Mac & Cheese Night #3: The Tipsy Pig

It’s only a few days until Mac & Cheese Night #4, and I’m just now getting the write-up done for Night #3—it’s been that sort of month, y’all. You’d think I’d be tiring of all that pasta, cheese, and sauce by now, but frankly, I want more comfort food bliss.

Night #3 was our biggest group yet, and it took place at the Inner Marina’s local gastropub, the Tipsy Pig.


This is definitely an in-demand spot, but unlike so many others of its ilk, the Tipsy Pig actually takes reservations and has thus earned my gratitude. I’m so much happier when I can be assured I’ll get a table before I go to a restaurant, especially when that involves trekking across the Bay, as it often does.

The overall feel of the place is kitschy English pub…with a backyard full of frat boys.


The crowd around the bar.

The crowd around the bar.

Front of the house.

Front of the house.

I found it cozy, and of course, the company was good. Menu focus is subtly playful takes on standard menu items at most American pubs these days: tartare, ribs, sliders, risotto, burgers, and of course, mac & cheese. Some of my companions found those takes too subtle, but that does not apply to the mac & cheese.


Let’s start there, shall we? The Tipsy Pig’s mac & cheese revels in the complement of bacon, from the crumbles mixed in to the cheese sauce cooked in bacon fat.

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One of my friends is a police officer in Fremont, and thus he knows all the awesome hole-in-the-wall spots to grab a bite in his precinct. Mirchi is one of those, and I’ve joined him twice for lunch there now. It’s located at the end of a small strip of shops, so you may pass it by without knowing it’s the treasure you seek.


Especially as it’s all the way at the far end of that row.


I made a special trip this time just to try their chicken and waffles, which my friend loves and they did not have available the first time I went. Chicken and waffles is a peculiar combination for some diners, and Mirchi adds another element to it, upping the novelty factor. That element is their house blend of Pakistani spices, which makes this a Southern-Pakistani fusion plate that waves a red flag in front of this stomach-charging bull.


See, my metaphor isn’t that belabored. The fried chicken coating is red! $9.49 buys you the meal, which includes a freshly cooked Belgian waffle and steaming fried pieces of chicken—a wing, a drumstick, and a giant round ball that I’m going to call a thigh but has way more meat than any thigh I’m used to. Expect the chicken and waffles to take a bit of time—you want it served fresh off the iron and griddle, right?–and you can call ahead if you’re in a rush. Like I said, my friend’s a police officer, so he’s always in a rush and knows the tricks.

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Michael’s Sourdough


Michael’s Sourdough is a small chain in Marin and Sonoma counties that specializes in giant sandwiches featuring their signature, fresh-baked sourdough rolls. Most of their meats are also hand-roasted, which is a huge undertaking for a sandwich shop in a small space, so applause! I’m guessing they have a central kitchen somewhere to pull that off.

Their San Rafael shop is in a more industrial section of town, but that didn’t stop the whole parking lot from being filled just past the typical lunch hours. Indoor seating only, and framed vintage posters advertising the Pacific Northwest decorate the walls.


Place your order with the cooks on the right of the long, narrow room. They’ll write it on your plate, and the cashier will call out whoever’s order is finished first to pay. Drinks in the fridges. Pick up a giant pickle if you want for an extra charge.


I ordered the chicken salad sandwich–on their sourdough, of course. I love when chicken salad recipes get creative, and Michael’s paprika-heavy one fit the bill. It also tasted strongly of leeks and/or celery, which added a lot of flavor to what can often be a bland choice–I pick it because I love mayo, y’all, not because I expect the chicken salad to blow my mind with boldness. Luckily, Michael’s delivered on both counts.

But the sourdough was not as memorable. Maybe my expectations were too high? I thought I’d be impressed by its sourness, but it wasn’t much different from a soft French roll. The crust had a good crunch.

All toppings were thinly sliced except the shredded iceberg lettuce, which is always fun for a change. The rest was swiss cheese, mustard (which I refused), lettuce, tomato, and red onion. A satisfying sandwich with a unique chicken salad filling, but I wanted more thrill from the hyped-up bread.


Mike’s Sourdough
3095 Kerner Blvd #L
San Rafael

Michael's Sourdough Sandwiches on Foodio54

Reviewed 28 May 14.


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