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Best Potato Pancakes San Francisco 2008 - Schnitzelhaus

Potato pancakes comes in many forms — Norwegian lefse, Jewish latke, Irish boxty, good old American hash browns — but the Kartoffelpuffer of Austria (or Germany? Scholars differ) is singularly satisfying. The simple pleasures of egg, onion, and shredded potato (nature's gift to comfort food) fried together in a skillet of bubbling fat ... what's not to love? Too often, however, the spuds are undercooked, the filling is too dense, and the overall result is starchy and bland. Not so at Schnitzelhaus, that temple to Austro-Germanic cookery tucked among the warehouses and overpasses South of Market. Its Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus is stupendous, its crunchy, golden, hot-from-the-griddle exterior masking an inner core of buttery, succulent, elemental flavor. Served with a brisk, simple apple puree, it's excellent alongside a platter of knockwurst or bratwurst and one or two of the establishment's 18 German and Austrian beers (many available by the two-liter boot). Schnitzelhaus itself is a merry alpine oasis rife with antlers, beer steins, planked wooden tables, and the occasional beat of oompah.

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