In my opinion, San Francisco has the best food scene of any American city. You can try and say New York City or Portland or even somewhere in the south like Austin or Charleston, SC… but hands down, it’s San Francisco. It’s easy to accidentally have a sub-par meal in New York City because tourists keep places like Hard Rock Cafe in business. For all of the things I love (and hate) about California, it’s that Californians are really great about closing and changing things they don’t like (but can we talk about that foie gras ban, please?).
I am really, really lucky that I have a few former colleagues in the city. One of them is my friend Sam, who I really connected with when we worked together in Pittsburgh through our mutual love of food, traveling, wine and running. I actually can credit Sam to encouraging me to come to my first hot yoga class at Amazing Yoga, thus starting my three-year long love affair with heated vinyasa.
Today’s post, guest starring Sam. Ignore how terrible I look by Friday night (and my hat-hair).
Anyway, Sam and I went to yoga in the city a few years ago and then to dinner at Souvla. When she got in my car she noticed the kabocha squash I had been too lazy to carry into my apartment. We quickly began discussing our love of pumpkin and she told me about this pumpkin-themed pop up dinner (with beer pairings!) she had tickets to the following week. Luckily, her husband wasn’t too into the idea so I was able to go in his place.
Naked Kitchen takes place basically the lower level of a house in the Mission District with a huge, gorgeous kitchen and a living room and dining room that have been turned into communal seating. Seasoned chefs and up-and-coming chefs are invited to come create a dinner for about 40-50 people. When we got there, the address had us in front of a house so we both kind of stood around for a couple minutes until someone opened the door and let us in. Not that walking into someone’s house is probably totally out of the norm in SF.
Communal seating area… but we sat at the kitchen bar.
Ignore my shadow, but the Naked Kitchen-Citizen Fox Pop-up Menu.
When we arrived, we were given our first beer, Allgash White, from Portland, Maine. (I think I’d had this beer before in Maine, but not positive.) They also had passed appetizers, endive tea leaf with giant lima bean, beefsteak mushroom and pumpkin and tea-smoked tofu and snow pea wrapped in yuba, pear-yuzu mustard. The apps were a little forgettable but the spicy mustard was amazing, And spicy.
Next came a dal soup with pumpkin and mini samosas, paired with Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale. I’d actually had this beer before and really liked it.
I need to up my soup game.
Following the soup, we had a salad with roasted beets and pumpkin (specifically, kabocha squash) and then a Headlands Group G Belgian RyePA which truthfully, I wasn’t super into, but I’m not super into IPAs (or truthfully, non-wheat beers). It was from San Francisco. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the craft beer game in Northern California because it’s mainly all about wine up here.
Salad, as if you couldn’t tell.
The main course was definitely my favorite, but as we all know, I am a fan of vegetables. It was a root veggie cake topped with pecan-crusted tempeh with a mushroom sauce, brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce. Kind of Vegan Thanksgiving, if you will. The beer was a St Feuilien Saison from Belgium. I’ve had Saisons once or twice, always thinking I will love them. I still couldn’t tell you if I’ve made a firm decision on whether I love them or not.
We were definitely told why the mushroom sauce was green but I couldn’t tell you how or why now.
Pre… ahem… fried… tempeh.
Finally, as if my stomach could really handle any more food, there were chocolate waffles with pumpkin sorbet, poached pears, raisins and walnuts. It was paired with a North Coast Old Stock Ale from Fort Bragg, California, but at this point I was kind of buzzed and so sleepy so it didn’t really matter.
This sorbet didn’t taste dairy-free at all.
I definitely loved my experience with Naked Kitchen and I’m so happy Sam asked me to go! I had a slight bit of food regret with how full I was (and how sluggish my run felt the first couple of miles on Saturday) but it was totally worth it and something I would do again.
Chat with me:
Have you ever done a secret kitchen/pop-up kitchen? Would you want to? What is the most memorable meal you’ve had lately?