Go Eat This Now: Cracklin Fried Rinds at Dobbs Ferry

Skin in the game: Bar snacks are the best reason to go to Hayes Valley’s only dive.

A great bar snack can carry the whole team. Even if the atmosphere kind of sucks and the beer list is weak, if there’s even one great snack on that little menu, other defects won’t be enough to keep you away. It doesn’t hurt if the bar itself also happens to be great.

Dobbs Ferry is a bar-and-grill on the corner of Hayes and Gough streets in Hayes Valley. On the Gough side, a cute restaurant serves East Coast-inspired California fare like pasta and seafood. (Is it mere coincidence it’s named for the Westchester, N.Y. town where Mark Zuckerberg grew up? Maybe.) On the Hayes Street side is Dobbs Bar, a dark cozy space that’s one of the only dives left in the neighborhood. Always reliable for day drinking or watching the game, Dobbs Bar has tasty snacks like arancini and homemade chips-and-dip, but what will keep you coming back time and time again is their bowl of cracklin fried rinds.

One of the best drinking snacks around town is Dobbs’ $6 bowl of chicharrónes, which include bubbling pork crisps and hot chicken cracklins. These little bits of piping-hot flesh are the perfect pairing for a pint and the playoffs. The pork pieces are light and fluffy with an intense crunch, and the chicken is thin with a nice tear to it, like jerky. I can’t remember the last time I saw a chicharrones appetizer that included chicken skin — and after this one, I’m not sure I can ever go back. Shimmering with its own glorious grease, a perfectly fried piece of skin contains the bliss of a turkey dinner in one bite. Bouncing from pork to poultry and dipping each shred in homemade jalapeño hot sauce, I’m in a meaty, savory trance. I can usually take down a bowl of these babies pretty easily by myself, so I recommend ordering a couple if you’re with friends, or even if you’re not. Salty bar bites never get old.

During happy hour (Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m.), all drafts and bar snacks are $5, including Dobbs’ cheeseburger and buffalo wings. It’s a great deal if you’re hungry and trying to kill a couple hours in the afternoon. Dobbs has always been a place you can count on, the people are friendly, the food is good, and the TV is always on. But I’m telling you, if you have no other reason to go, go for the skin.

Dobbs Ferry, 406 Hayes St., 415-857-6791 or dobbsferrysf.com

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