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Bacon Bacon: Pork-Centric Haight Cafe Is More Than a Novelty 

Wednesday, May 28 2014
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Ah, bacon, that undying American obsession. Salty, cured pork belly has been part of the country's diet since the beginning, but the bacon mania that we have indulged over the past few years has more to do with our times than any sense of heritage. Bacon is unpretentious; the meat of the people in the age of the one percent. Bacon is indulgent; eating it feels like an act of rebellion in an time of rising obesity and heart disease. Bacon is delicious; beloved by everyone from Thomas Keller to Homer Simpson. And bacon is a stupid thing to take seriously, which is why bacon-infused everything — air fresheners, candles, cologne, toothpaste, personal lubricant — has become one of the Internet's favorite jokes.

Since its inception in 2011, Bacon Bacon has served big, messy, porky sandwiches and other bacon-infused items with more than a slight wink at its audience. It started as a food truck, of course, but then grew into a cafe in the Upper Haight that was shut down last year when neighbors complained about the overwhelming smell of pork coming from the kitchen. The story wafted through the Internet, eventually climbing the heights of Viral Mountain to become an item on an Amy Poehler-hosted "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live. (The bit revolved around the problems with complaining to cops about pig smell.)

Nearly a year later, Bacon Bacon owner Jim Angeles has won the day and reopened his shuttered cafe. He had to make changes: install a new ventilator system, for one, and move the kitchen for his trucks elsewhere, which meant he had to get the space rezoned by the city. It still feels like a victory. There are now a few tables instead of just a walkup counter and a vintage red coin-operated pig ride for the kids. But the most impressive thing about Bacon Bacon is that the food is more than just a novelty. For the most part, these are seriously good sandwiches, worthy of a cheat day or hungover Saturday, and, most importantly, a return visit.

Breakfast, served all day, is all items whose caloric content are well-suited to an afternoon of farm labor. The regular breakfast sandwich is the closest I've seen in S.F. to the simple egg-and-cheese buns of the East Coast: a fried egg, bacon slices, bacon jam, and cheddar cheese oozing out of a soft bun. Nothing new, but who needs to break new ground with something this buttery, salty, and smooth? There is also a San Francisco version of the classic called the Almost Veggie Breakfast Sandwich, which piles sauteed broccoli rabe and sweet roasted red peppers on top of the bacon and egg and swaps the cheddar for provolone. I liked it even better than the regular — the broccoli rabe added some texture and a bitterness that cut through the fat — but then, I am a child of the West Coast.

Those who are really hungry or really hurting should go with the breakfast wrap, which is really just a breakfast burrito under another name. Laden with chorizo, bacon, pork shoulder, scrambled eggs, and cheese, it's a hearty protein delivery system with some avocado and Mama Lil's peppers to temper the meaty onslaught. There's also Roast coffee, vegetarian items like granola and yogurt parfait, and pastries like bacon-flecked scones (cheddar- or maple-flavored). The scone was cake-ier than a proper one should be, but the bacon flavor came through.

Lunch brings more sandwiches. There's a reliable burger with two patties, bacon, and cheddar cheese. A messy, delightful sandwich with supple pork belly and fried egg, topped with arugula, Mama Lil's peppers, and tangy caper-y aioli. A nice grilled cheese, buttery and golden, stuffed with thick-cut bacon and bacon jam. The zingy fried-chicken-and-bacon sandwich was a tad dry — it would have benefitted from aioli in addition to slaw — but taking a big bite of fried chicken and bacon together was a gleeful, hedonistic pleasure.

The only real disappointment was the LGBT, a take on the BLT with Little Gem lettuce, seasoned tomato, goat cheese spread, and five slices of bacon. It too could have benefited from more moisture — one of the best parts of a BLT is the way the mayo gets into the nooks and crannies — but the thick, dry, boring bun killed it. The sandwich deserved better.

You might see all these other ingredients as superfluous and prefer to mainline the porky stuff. To that end there is the bacon bouquet, five slices of bacon and a little drizzle of maple syrup arranged in a paper like a bouquet of wildflowers. It's a decadent and fairly ridiculous thing to order and carry around, let alone nibble. But you are eating lunch at a place that sells T-shirts that proclaim "You had me at bacon." Don't pretend you're above this.

About The Author

Anna Roth

Anna Roth

Bio:
Anna Roth is SF Weekly's Food & Drink Editor and author of West Coast Road Eats: The Best Road Food From San Diego to the Canadian Border.

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