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Cap'n Mike's Holy Smoke San Francisco Lox Sandwich
Ferry Building Farmers' Market, Embarcadero and Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
There isn't a deli in San Francisco that serves as interesting an assortment of smoked fish as you'll find at the al fresco Cap'n Mike's stand. The fish is chemical- and preservative-free, with no nitrates. The current menu features cold-smoked Northwest-style red lox with shaved fennel, roasted red peppers, and pickled red onion ($10); albacore tuna lox with roasted golden beets, toasted walnuts, and pickled red onion ($10); and cold-smoked sliced sturgeon with lemon, capers, and, yes, pickled red onion ($12). Look for white salmon lox, steelhead trout, or sable at other times. All the sandwiches are served open-faced on Acme sourdough with San Francisco Lox' cream cheese spread and an optional sprinkle of Eatwell Farm's lavender salt (go nuts).
100 Alemany Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94110-6221
Region: Mission/ Bernal Heights
Fishermen's Wharf seafood stands (#9 Fishermen's Grotto, Alioto's Crab Stand, Nick's Seafood, Sabella & La Torre, Crab Station, Guardino)
Fisherman's Wharf, Taylor between Jefferson and Beach, Daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
It may seem an insanely touristy thing to do, but it can be pleasant to pick up a walkaway crab or shrimp cocktail, a shrimp or crab salad sandwich, clam chowder (even if it's in the inexplicably popular sourdough bowl), or a freshly steamed Dungeness crab, and consume it while strolling around the wharf. Most of the stands serve similar items at similar prices — currently between $5 and $7 for cocktails and sandwiches, and $11.95 a pound for crab. That's around twice what you'd pay for cooked crab at Whole Foods, but Whole Foods markets are not located in such picturesque surroundings.
Golden Gate Park, three trucks on JFK Drive: Conservatory of Flowers, De Young Museum, Spreckels Lake. One at Ocean Beach in the parking lot across from the Beach Chalet, 1000 Great Highway, weather permitting, Daily 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Location, location, location. Running across one of Happy Belly's chic little carts in the vast and generally foodless expanses of Golden Gate Park is as exciting as finding an oasis in the Sahara. It's a plus that Happy Belly dispenses snappy dogs (locally made all-beef, lemon chicken, bratwurst, or Louisiana hot links) with interesting toppings (kimchi, sauerkraut, and sweet Japanese mayo) all week long — and even more interesting fare on the weekends, when exciting sandwiches are also featured. Daily specials include the Pan-Asian bagnat (tuna with diced Fuji apples, kalamata olives, toasted seaweed, sesame seeds, scallions, lemon juice, and olive oil), the Merry Mozzarella (caprese salad — tomatoes, basil, mozzarella — on herbed foccacia), or the B.B.Q. Belly (Korean charcoal-grilled chicken with soy-glazed onions, lettuce, and tomato on pain de mie). Dogs and sandwiches run from $4 to $6. You can also command drinks ranging from water to sodas, Red Bull, coffee and tea, and half a dozen ice cream treats including Häagen-Dazs, mochi, and San Francisco's own It's-It.
Antojitos San Miguel
16th Street BART station, Daily 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
It may look like a generic taco truck, but Antojitos San Miguel is actually Guatemalan. It features homey, well-cooked, and lesser-known Guatemalan dishes such as chuchitos (small, tender tamales, $2 apiece) and rellenitos (plantains stuffed with mashed black beans, $1 apiece). Unusual fillings include carne adovado (pork with chiles) and longaniza (spicy smoked sausage). Spice things up with condiments from the unusually generous stand, loaded with assorted salsas, cilantro and chopped onions, radishes, and pickled carrots. There's no better banana licuado anywhere than the one that'll be whipped up in front of your eyes: chunked fruit, milk, ice cubes, and whirr — chilly, sweet bliss for $2.50. Try the atol de elote ($2), a sweet corn drink.
El Tonayense taco trucks
Three locations on Harrison (at 14th, 19th, and 22nd sts.), Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
There are no better tacos, burritos, tortas, and quesadillas available anywhere in the Mission than those served up at one of El Tonayense's three immaculate trucks strung out along Harrison like the pearls they are. The list of succulent braised meats reads like pure poetry: carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, lengua, cabeza, sesos, tripita, buche, pollo, pollo asado. The English translation might give the less adventurous some pause (beef, pork, fried pork, tongue, head and cheeks, brains, tripe, neck, chicken, grilled chicken), but even the squeamish have been known to exclaim with delight after trying some of the less-familiar organ meats. Tacos are $1.75 each (with meats, salsa, and chopped onions heaped on two small corn tortillas, with a couple of radishes, pickled carrots, and a wedge of lime). The price goes up to $5.50 for the Super Torta and $6 for the Super Burrito.
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