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After 15 years of vegetarianism

I'm eating meat again and thrilled at so many dining options. I'd love to get your recommendations on:

* Your favorite (meat) dish
* The Bay Area restaurant/eatery I can find it in.

Here are some dishes I'm looking forward to enjoying again:
roast chicken
chicken enchiladas
pork chops
coq au vin
sausage pizza
beef hash
biscuits & gravy
pork buns
beef stew
chicken pot pie

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  1. Zuni for roast chicken.

    Cafe Rouge in Berkeley for steak, lamb, and pork chops.

    Pizzaiolo in Oakland for sausage pizza and meatballs.

    A16 in SF for meatballs.

    Incanto in SF for all kinds of cold cuts.

    Get yourself some bacon, sausage, and bratwurst from Fatted Calf to cook at home.

    Similar question came up last year: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/308467

    1 Reply
    1. Welcome back to the world of omnivores. I second all of Robert's recs, and also add:

      Beef stew, lamb stew - Aziza
      Pepperoni and sausage pizza - Picco in Larkspur (Marin county)
      Turkey pot pie - 900 Grayson in Berkeley (weekday lunch only)
      Lasagne - Dopo in Oakland
      Pork Chop - NOPA
      Beef hash - Canteen (not always available)
      Fatted Calf also carries brochettes when available. Get to know Fatted Calf, they will be your new best friend.
      Incanto has unbelievably good pork and lamb (menu changes regularly). Really, all the meat I've had there has been incredible.

      1. Welcome back to omnivorism!

        You picked a perfect time: usually I sneer at dining fads, but I'm wholeheartedly behind the house-made salumi trend. I had prosciutto at both Perbacco and La Ciccia in the last couple of weeks -- they were very different, but both delicious!

        For bacon, I really like Nueske -- you can get it in various high-end butchers. For a real treat, look for a place that has it by the slab and have them hand-cut some nice, thick slices. Sooooo goooood!

        1. Spaghetti & meatballs at Mary's Pizza Shack

          Pastaria (or is it Pasteria) in Los Gatos makes a divine sausage lasagna.

          1. I agreee with Ruth about Nueske bacon. It is served at 900 Grayson.

            Hobbes bacon has always been great. Not as good as Nueske, but my second favorite. Hayes Street Grill at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers has it for breakfast.

            Love Zuni chicken ... for less lofty priced chicken (zuni is about $40) ....

            Lola's on Solano in Albany. Just my favorite chicken. Everytime I go there it amazes me how good it is

            Roli Rosti at various farmers markets including Old Oakland, Marin and Ferry Plaza.

            Pork buns - Golden Gate Bakery, SF

            Chicken pot pie - Bakesale Betty's, Oakland

            Chicken enchiladas - Hacienda Grill, Richond. They have a rosemary chicken version that is so good

            Bratwurst / sausage - worth a stop to Dittmar's in Mountain View for the house-made sausages and a meat-o-rama in general. All cold cuts are house made.

            The DiBrova Sausage cart at the Friday Old Oakland Farmers Market is good too.

            6 Replies
            1. re: rworange

              Does Bakesale Betty still make chicken pot pie? I thought she stopped making pot pies to concentrate on the fried chicken sandwiches.

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                Really? That's too bad. I really loved that pie. When did she stop making them?

                1. re: rworange

                  They're back again. She was having problems w/ how labor intensive they are to make. Now she sells them unbaked and frozen. Takes about 90 minutes to bake.

              2. re: rworange

                Hobbs bacon is very good. Hard to find.

                Zuni's roast chicken is $41 for an order intended to feed two.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I'm surprised to hear Hobbs is hard to find. I always assumed it was all over the place. I don't ordr bacon that often and usually buy it at Hayes Street at FP. I know that Hidden City Cafe in Point Richmond has Hobbs bacon and other meat & sausages.

                  I just kind of assume that everyone knows that Zuni serve a whole chicken, but good to note that. The other two places are take-home chicken.

                2. re: rworange

                  Another vote for both Hobbs and Nueske bacon. You can get the Neuske (and I think the Hobbs as well) at Golden Gate Meats at the Ferry Building.

                3. Jeanty at Jack's has a very good coq au vin. It is delicious, quite authentic, and can be served with noodles, as it should be.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Paul H

                    Can't say I am as enthusiastic about the coq au vin. Bacony, true, but not that great, the onions and mushrooms didn't have a lot of flavor. I did order the noodles (for which there is an extra charge). Actually the part of the meal that I still remember is how difficult it was to take advantage of eating the coq au vin with the noodles, given that the coq au van was served in a small ramekin. I guess I spooned some onto the noodles, but I do remember it being a tedious process.

                    1. re: Paul H

                      This is also an excellent location for Cassoulet...

                      1. re: wineguy7

                        It's been a while, but we really liked the Cassoulet at the Grand Cafe in SF. And my partner makes the best cassoulet of all....

                        1. re: Kim Cooper

                          For great cassoulet, check out Chapeu!

                      2. re: Paul H

                        Since you are a meat eater again, go all the way with steak tartare. Jeanty at Jack's is good. So is the Acme Chophouse, but avoid nights when there is a ball game.

                        1. re: mc2

                          I love the tartare at Harris' too. It doesn't come with the raw egg on top, but it's almost as good as Jeanty at Jack's.

                      3. Welcome back!! I'm sure your salivary glands have been in overdrive.

                        Osso bucco - Capp's Corner in San Francisco has a sublime version.

                        Carnitas - El Taco Zamarano Taqueria on the corner of High/International in Oakland has an awesome carnitas plate with homemade corn tortillas.

                        1. A16 for braised meats, prosciutto, sausage and pork generally speaking
                          Fringale for rack of lamb
                          Slanted Door for "Shaking Beef"
                          Piperade for the warm sheep's milk cheese and ham terrine (appetizer)
                          Scala's for gourmet sausage pizza
                          Escape From New York for fast food sausage pizza
                          Bushi-Tei for quail (appetizer)
                          Ton Kaing for potstickers
                          Zuni for the chicken
                          Aziza for stews...

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: whiner

                            Escape from New York in the Financial District is good if you're in the neighborhood and want a slice, but I would not go out of my way for it.

                            I've heard the new one on Polk (former Nicky's Pizza Rustica) is better.

                            1. re: whiner

                              this may be nitpicking, and hearsay to boot, but it would be surprising if ton kiang had good potstickers.

                              and for meatballs, try emmy's spaghetti shack.

                              1. re: echo

                                Ton Kiang makes the best "Steamed Bacon with Dried Mustard Greens" (梅菜扣肉), so it wouldn't surprise me if they were also good at other heavy pork dishes such as potstickers.

                                Here's a topic on pork dishes for a reformed vegetarian:


                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  robert, whiner, ruth:
                                  i guess i'll have to try the potstickers at tk and yw, because there can be surprise hits on any menu, but potstickers are NOT in the same category as "heavy pork dishes", nor cantonese food, nor hakka, fujian, or whatever tk is supposed to be.
                                  potstickers are mostly about dough, and frying/steaming technique.

                              2. re: whiner

                                Actaully... I've never been to the Escape From New York in the Financial District. My only experience with them is the one on Polk and once the one in the Haight...

                                I know Ton Kiang has its share of detractors... but I'm in the TK camp. Especially when it comes to their potstickers.

                                1. re: whiner

                                  In that neighborhood, Yet Wah still makes my favorite potstickers -- my potsticker benchmark for almost 30 years!


                              3. Street, on Polk, puts great homemade sausage in their gnocchi. The gnocchi, themselves, are some of the best I've had.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Chris Rising

                                  In the gnocchi themselves or on them as a sauce?

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Two large sausage links served with gnocchi. Sauced with a fairly simple pomodoro.

                                2. The single most amazing bite of meat I have ever had was the Lamb Bacon at 231 Ellsworth (San Mateo). It was a garnish, they just gave me two square inches of it. It was so wonderful, it's all I remember of that meal, but I gave half of one of the two squares to my partner, saying, "You know I really love you by the fact that I'm giving up any of this!"
                                  They say they have it "sometimes" -- they make it there. Sometimes there's a pasta with lamb bacon at lunch -- it was almost too much to take -- I nearly swooned.
                                  Other than that, the now defunct Stars had a great warm duck and ginger salad.....Anyone know if anyone is making that?
                                  Then there's the scallop with wild mushroom and truffle sauce at Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino.... the best dish I have ever had. It's on the menu with sturgeon, the scallop is a special, but both are great.

                                  1. Go to Absinthe for Coq au Vin - it's always on the lunch menu, if not the dinner menu. It's unctuous, savory deliciousness!

                                    I find the meatballs at Emmy's spaghetti shack fairly pedestrian. I can't think of a perfect meatball off the top of my head, but when Delfina has bolognese papardelle (or any other pasta) on the menu, DO eat it!

                                    La Cicca for house cured prosciutto.

                                    Little Star has the best housemade sausage on their thin crust pies. It's very addicting.

                                    Rosamunde for sausages!!! Do try the lamb sausage, it's my very favorite.

                                    I've converted at least one vegetarian with the Al Pastor super burrito at Tacqueria Cancun.

                                    I prefer my own homemade lasagne and chicken pot pie, but under duress I'll eat the chicken pot pie at Ella's for lunch. :-)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: celeste

                                      Perfect meatball: well, I don't know if there is such a thing, but Pizzaiolo's come close, IMO.

                                    2. Chicken taco on the combination at La Mexicana (Oakland), with a side order of a chile relleno.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: yerioy

                                        YUM!! Thanks for all the terrific suggestions!!


                                      2. Suckling Pig app. at Legendary Palace in Oakland.

                                        Fried Chicken Sandwich at Bakesale Betty in Oakland.

                                        Tabla Grande and Cesar on Piedmont in Oakland (that's a whole mess o' prosciutto, chorizo, smoked duck breast, etc.). You can opt for the pequena if there are only two of you.

                                        On the bacon front:

                                        Definitely Fatted Calf bacon at the Berkeley Farmers Market on Saturdays.

                                        Red flannel hash at Rick & Ann's in Berkeley (not a fan of everything there, but beets, potatoes, onions, and bacon are hard to top).

                                        Bacon w/ leeks at Spices! 3 in Oakland.

                                        Sam Gyub Sal Boke-Um (sauteed bacon w/ veg) at Ohgane or Sahn Maru in Oakland. I slightly prefer the Sahn Maru version.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: lexdevil

                                          If you're a fan of red flannel hash, make sure to try the version at Seaweed Cafe in Bodega Bay.