It's summer in San Francisco and you know what that means — hazy gray mornings, sun-speckled afternoons, and long lazy evenings wrapped in parkas in Golden Gate Park. Let's face it, the City by the Bay wasn't exactly made for twilight summer dining (at least not without a jacket).
Starbelly stands in protest of Karl the Fog, pulling out the heat lamps and putting on the dog (or rather, the pig) with their series of patio picnics, each of which features a whole-roasted Devil's Gulch piglet. They also provide a selection of craft beers ($9 for three 10-ounce pours) and a wide array of sides, so there's no need to show up with a six-pack or a salad.
[jump] Each picnic offers two seatings: one at 6 pm and the other at 8 pm. You'll want to arrive right on time, lest you risk being the last person in line for the self-serve buffet. June's picnic offerings took a Southwestern sensibility and included elote asado corn on the cob, nopales (cactus) and tomato salad, rancho gordo potted beans, hand-made corn tortillas, house made salsas and caramel flan. Featured beers were provided by Sudwerk Brewing Co.
The food was satisfying and abundant, with hot fresh tortillas coming out on a regular basis. While the nopales made for an interesting alliterative to a five-bean salad, underripe tomatoes had more structure than flavor. The prized item of the evening was evidently the piglet, which was broken down snout-to-tail and divided among the 45 guests. Bench seating and brightly colored napkins added to the ambience of a summertime picnic, almost making me forget that I'd come dressed in a scarf and sweater the second week in June. The $45 ticket seemed a little steep for not including beverages, but when you consider the fact that the serve-yourself meal allows for second helpings, it's really not unreasonable.
Remaining patio picnics will take place on July 12 and August 2nd. Tickets are still available for both.
Starbelly: 3583 16th St.