The Mc 10:35 - McDonald’s
Location: 701 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107
The love child of an Egg McMuffin and a McDouble. The sandwich has been dubbed the “Mc10:35” since it can only be ordered during the changeover between breakfast and lunch.
Disclaimer: There’s a chance you may have to buy the two sandwiches separately and smush them together yourself. 
HM review: “It’s curing a hangover I don’t even have yet.” - @JonSnyder
Written by: Kat ManalacPhoto by: Jon Snyder

The Mc 10:35 - McDonald’s

Location: 701 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

The love child of an Egg McMuffin and a McDouble. The sandwich has been dubbed the “Mc10:35” since it can only be ordered during the changeover between breakfast and lunch.

Disclaimer: There’s a chance you may have to buy the two sandwiches separately and smush them together yourself. 

HM review: “It’s curing a hangover I don’t even have yet.” - @JonSnyder

Written by: Kat Manalac
Photo by: Jon Snyder

Tartine

image

Location: 600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, CA

People who queue up at Tartine Bakery have all the trappings of geeks lining up at an iPhone launch: wide eyes, fevered anticipation, and copious drooling. There’s a reason for that. The perma-packed Mission patisserie infuses its collection of baked goods (everything from decadent eclairs to succulent sandwiches) with communal flavor, using locally grown organic flour, eggs, and meat. The ingredients are ultra-fresh, while breads and pastries always spring piping hot from the oven.

For Hidden Menu’s visit, Tartine’s Sierra Zumwalt opened our eyes to a spartan (but none the less tasty) off-menu option.

image

Tartine Toast
What it is: Tartine’s famous in-house made country bread roasted and served with sweet butter and orange marmalade.
What we think: It’s one hot mother. The country bread has a slightly tart twang; it’s like a subtle sourdough. We suspect it would be good with some steamy soup. Two slices of toast and some coffee? There’s the ideal snack on a cold rainy afternoon.
Inside Info: Tartine’s bread springs fresh from the oven Wednesday through Sunday after 5:00pm. You can typically score bread (baked on a radiant stone hearth no less) infused with walnuts, sesame seeds, and olives.

Tartine’s toast is available everyday. What’s not available on a daily basis are the following clandestine gems that we didn’t have the pleasure to nosh on.

  • Savory Bread Pudding
  • Apple on Puff Pastry
  • The staff also snacks on ham and cheese croissants with apricot jam and sandwich makings stuffed in a gougere cheese. Tartine doesn’t sell this unholy yet delicious sounding monstrosity to customers but that doesn’t mean you can’t try making it at home.

Written by: Kat Manalac & Danny Dumas
Photos by: Jon Snyder

Turtle Tower

image

Location: 631 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA

Just eating at Turtle Tower makes you feel like you’re “in the know.” Set in the midst of Little Saigon, the Pho shop even has hipster-ready t-shirts and a secret room in the back (you enter through a dirty alley!) that add to its exclusive mystique. 

The northern-style pho tastes like it was prepped in Hanoi. Featuring lighter broth and wide rice noodles, the soup comes unencumbered by hoisin sauce or any of the usual garnishes typically found in South Vietnamese versions of the dish. Turtle Tower’s main objective is to keep it simple. Well keep it simple and keep it fresh.

Chef and owner Steven Nghia is uncompromising about the quality of his ingredients. Nghia buys produce from local farmers’ markets, uses only free-range chicken, and the noodles are handcrafted every day. Steven, on that note, we have an idea for your next t-shirt: “Turtle Tower Keeps It Fresh.”

Even though the menu and food are uncomplicated, team Turtle Tower (the restaurant gets its name from the Thap Rua, one of Hanoi’s most prominent landmarks) presented HM with a clutch of off menu dishes. Here’s what they cooked up for us.

image

Pho Tai Ga
What it is:
You don’t have to choose between rare beef and chicken. You can get both in the same bowl.
What we think: A collision of flavors that’s at first a bit jarring then settles into a symphony of noodle-y goodness.
Inside Info:
You can get Turtle Tower’s pho pretty much any way you want it. That can mean generous helpings of rare beef, extra tripe, or a bowl teeming with giblets. 

image

Bun (No. 12)
What it is:
Grilled pork patty and sliced pork loin suspended in a tangy broth served with cold vermicelli noodles, lettuce, mint, and cilantro.
What we think:
A lovely cool contrast to a heaping bowl of hot soup. Great for putting out fires in your mouth when you’ve shoveled in too much Pho and Sriracha sauce. 
Inside Info:
While technically on the menu, you can can get the dish with larger portions of patties or just the sliced pork. We opted for more sliced pork and were not even remotely disappointed. 

image

Custom Side Dishes
What it is:
If you want ANYTHING, all you need to do is ask. Customers often order mini sized portions of the side dishes. We were tickled by the prospect of ordering mini dishes of egg, giblets, and liver.
What we think:
We ordered a mini portion of the liver, because let’s be real, there’s nothing wrong with a little extra iron in the diet.
Inside Info: Egg yolk with soup, a popular off-menu item was just recently added in January.

Written by: Kat Manalac & Danny Dumas
Photos by: Jon Snyder

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

image

Location: 1 South Park Street, San Francisco, CA

Grilled cheese – a snack that came into popularity during the Great Depression, and has since been banished to the kid’s menu at diners, is all grown up and headlining at SOMA’s The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.

In its traditional form, the beauty of the grilled cheese lies in its simplicity - just two slices of Wonderbread and a couple Kraft singles. Buttered. Grilled. Perfect. But at TAGCK, all sandwiches are made using fresh rustic levain bread from San Francisco’s Pinkie’s Bakery, and they’re accessorized with ingredients like basil-lavender pesto and rosemary butter—ingredients more synonymous of haute California cuisine than your mom’ kitchen.

The constant line spilling out the restaurant’s doors and on to the sidewalk has proven that there is no lack of enthusiasm for the gussied up grilled cheese. And fortunately for fans, loyalty has its rewards. The masterminds behind this pilgrimage spot have cooked up a secret menu for regulars only.

Owner Nate Pollack gave Hidden Menu the passwords for three variations of the Kitchen’s signature sandwich The Mousetrap and prepared us a mystery drink that he refused to give use the code word for.

Here are the passwords that will get you access to three variations of the Kitchen’s flagship dish. The Mousetrap usually comes with three kinds of the cheese (Tillamook sharp cheddar, creamy havarti, and monterey jack) on artisan sourdough.

For the drink, you’re on your own.  But HM likes a good challenge and we’re pretty sure our resourceful readers will figure out what it’s called and how to order it. And when you do, hit us up at tips@hiddenmenu.com.

image

Tell them you want it “Kiddie Style.”
What it is: Tillamook sharp cheddar grilled between two pieces of bread.
What we think: The closest thing The American has to its namesake’s traditional form. Just add tater tots and tomato soup, and you’ll be transported back to a rainy day in 4th grade.
Inside Info: According to Nate, this is most often ordered by kids (hence the name), or adults who eat like kids (ahem, Danny).

image

Tell them you want “The Works.”
What it is: A Mousetrap with applewood-smoked bacon, roasted tomato and bread n’butter pickles.
What we think: Sweet Zombie Cheesus! The bacon and sweet pickles work better together than Hall and Oates.
Inside Info: The American’s bread n’ butter pickles are proudly made in house.

image

Tell them you want a “Purist.”
What it is: A Mousetrap straight up.
What we think: Technically, a grilled cheese purist would probably lean toward the no-frills Kiddie Style.
Inside Info: Using the lingo just lets them know you’re a regular.

image

The Drink That Must Not Be Named
What it is: Though we don’t know what it’s called, we do know this fizzy concoction contains real fruit, house made syrup, and real sugar.
What we think: Tastes kind of like a mixed berry Crystal Geyser but better. We’re thinking it’s the lack of brain damaging corn syrup typically found in most sodas.
Inside Info: Nate didn’t tell us the drink’s moniker or how to order it. If one of you enterprising grilled cheese aficionados has this intel tell us in the comments or better yet drop us an email.

Written by: Kat Manalac & Danny Dumas
Photos by: Jon Snyder

Rye

image

Location: 688 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA

The staff at San Francisco’s Rye aren’t bartenders  — they’re highly trained mixologists — cocktail nerds who delight in libation innovation and experimentation. But like so many SF-based establishments they’re also hardcore locavores, mixing in as many seasonal, homegrown components as possible. Think of Rye as a bookend to Farm:Table; you can start your day off with expertly crafted coffee at one location and wind it down with exquisitly formulated cocktails at the other.

We pulled up a stool (next to Farm:Table’s Shannon Amitin no less) and spoke to professional spirit-slingers Jon Gasparini and Doug Williams. They concocted a quartet of off-menu drinks for us using ingredients like bergamots, blood oranges, and meyer lemons along with some highly specialized liquors. Here’s what they blended that left us feeling stirred. 

image
International Sour
What it is: A medley of spirits originating from France, Italy, Trinidad, the US, and China mixed with Navan (a cognac-based vanilla liquer), house made kumquat syrup, a dash of port, then topped with foamy egg white, lemon peel, and served in a tall glass (phew, got all that?).
What we think: This extremely labor intensive reinterpretation of the whiskey sour is both masculine and delicate. One gastronaught was overheard exclaiming, “it’s a manly, foo-foo drink.”
Inside info: When Rye threw a mixology contest, the International Sour ended up being the winning entry.

image

Blood Orange Blood and Sand
What it is: Glenrothers reserve scotch blended with fresh squeezed blood orange juice, Dolin Rouge vermouth, and Cherry Herring. 
What we think: According to Gasparini, “People are often apprehnesive about scotch cocktails.” For us, there was nothing to be bashful about. This easily approachable, earthy, zesty, and aromatic drink is as frothy as it is refreshing.
Inside info: The drink’s namesake comes from a 1922 film starring Rudolph Valentino and even uses era appropriate ingredients — Cherry Herring was a popular staple in pre-prohibition bars.

image

The Unnamed Cocktail
What it is: Fresh grapefruit, lime, and green apple muddled together with a 100% agave tequila, canton ginger liquor then garnished with a slice of green apple, and topped with crushed ice.
What we think: Tart and tingly. It hits like an exceptionally smooth margarita with a lip smacking finish. 
Inside Info: This yet-to-be-named libation is typically produced with house-made ginger syrup (Rye had just run out when we visited.) Oh and if any of you clever commenters can think of a pun-tastic name for it, let us know; we’ll pass it on to the folks at Rye. 

image

Doug’s Drink
What it is: Pikesville rye whiskey, Leopold Bothers Georgia Peach flavored whiskey, Antica Carpano vermouth, Amaro, fresh bergamot juice, topped with frothy egg white.
What we think: It takes a few sips to fully appreciate this libation. But after a few tastes, you’ll be treated to a full bodied and spicy yet also elegant and herbal experience.
Inside Info: Due to its strong floral hints, Doug typically likes to make this cocktail in the spring. But get some before the last batch of Leopold Brothers runs out. The "painstakingly slow" process of blending whiskey with Georgia Peaches yields just under 20 cases a year.

Written by: Kat Manalac & Danny Dumas
Photos by: Jon Snyder

Solstice Restaurant and Lounge

image

Location: 2801 California Street, San Francisco, Ca

Main entry: Solstice

sol·stice
Pronunciation: \ˈsäl-stəs, ˈsōl-, ˈsȯl-\
Function:  noun
1: Either of the two times of the year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator.
2: A restaurant in San Francisco’s NOPA district serving up easy sipping drinks, a wide selection of small plates, and several off menu items smoother than Miles Davis on a hot buttered slip and slide.

Yeah, we prefer the second definition too.

To celebrate the shortest day of the year, we hitched up our one-horse-open-sleigh and headed to Solstice for some live music and secret eats. HiddenMenu snuggled into a booth with Solstice’s Alison Winters where she stoked us with a trifecta of off menu drinks and a scattering of unlisted dishes. 

image

Last Word (Green)
What it is: Gin, Chartreuse, lime juice, maraschino cherry liqueur, served in a chilled glass with a sugared rim.
What we think: Sweet but not overpowering. The Last Word finishes with a note more dulcet than a scene from Willy Wonka.
Inside info: According to Ted Saucier in his 1951 bartender’s guide Bottoms Up, The Last Word is a prohibition-era drink that originated at the Detroit Athletic Club.

image

Cosmo-Not (Red)
What it is: Raspberry vodka, lime juice, Cointreau, raspberry puree.
What we think: Tastes like a grownup glass of raspberry Kool-aid. (That’s good!)
Inside info: The Tang infused Cosmonaut cocktail has actually been putting people in orbit for years. But Solstice’s Cosmo-Not jettisons the space-friendly powder for a raspberry puree payload.

image

Flying Sidecar (Yellow)
What it is: 4 Roses Bourbon, triple sec, lemon juice.
What we think: Hopefully someone forgot to service the brakes on this sidecar — we never want to get off.
Inside info: Sidecars typically have a brandy or cognac base. The Flying Sidecar subs in bourbon for a decidedly stiffer punch. 

image

Chicken Pesto Pizza
What it is: 1 cheese pizza - tomato sauce + pesto + marinated chicken
What we think: Pizza purists may decry the addition of pesto on anything. Nuts to them. This pie was handily obliterated by our four hungry gastronauts.
Inside info: The cooks are more flexible than a spring of well cooked asparagus. You can ask for virtually any kind of pizza and they’ll do their best to make it for you.

image

Ahi with Lime, Apples and Jalapeno
What it is: Ahi poke with a south-of-the-border twang.
What we think: Delicious and light with ample spiciness. We were dubious about the apples + ahi pairing, but they’re a surprisingly delicious combination.
Inside info: This one gets the ubiquitous “staff favorite” badge. We can see why. It’s easier to kick a smack habit than to cease consumption of the buttery blue corn chips, and the rich, tasty ahi.

Little Star Pizza

image
Location: 846 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA

If you consider thin crust blasphemy, make pilgrimages to Chicago for Giordano’s (or Lou Malnati’s, or Gino’s East, everyone has an opinion), and kneel before the altar of deep dish, then Little Star should be your West Coast temple of worship.

The pizzeria specializes in pie that hits like a wrecking ball of flavor: Chicago style, loaded with toppings, crowned with thick tomato sauce, and encased in a buttery cornmeal crust. If you leave hungry then you should probably get yourself checked for tapeworm.

We rolled in to the Little Star’s Mission street location where they whipped up two off menu pizzas.

image

Brass Monkey
What it is: In the ‘burbs a “Brass Monkey” is both malt liquor mixed with OJ and one of the best songs from Licensed to Ill. At Little Star it’s their namesake deep dish pizza (spinach bended with ricotta, feta, mushrooms, onions and garlic) with a sausage upgrade.
What we think: Get a knife and fork ready, you can’t really eat a slice of this stuff with one hand. It’s a veritable lasagna pie. The sausage gives each slice a sweet, almost maple-y quality and nicely balances out the cornbread crust which — despite the dog-pile of ingredients — never gets soggy.
Inside Info: The Brass Monkey was featured in 7x7’s 100 Things to Try Before You Die 2009.

image

The Abba Zabba aka The Half Baked
What it is: Any Little Star Pizza (we opted for the Mediterranian) cooked 50% through and tossed in a to-go box.
What we think: Dave Chappelle would approve.
Inside Info: Take home, bake at 375 on top rack for 25 minutes. For better results, consider constructing a DIY home pizza oven. It’s seriously not hard!

Written by: Kat Manalac & Danny Dumas
Photos by: Jon Snyder

Little Skillet

image

Location: 330 Ritch Street, San Francisco, CA 

One glance at the plaid hipsters sitting atop their fixies on Ritch Street, and you’d swear Little Skillet was in a Mission enclave, not an alley in SOMA.

But it is indeed south of Market. Planted by the farm-fresh soul foodists at Farmerbrown, Little Skillet is in itself something of a hidden foodie hotspot. At lunchtime, scores of people materialize at the to-go window of 330 Ritch to order up hearty helpings of Southern comforts like chicken & waffles and bacon wrapped waffledogs.

Hidden Menu braved the wind and rain and huddled under Little Skillet’s bright canopy while we watched chef Christian Ciscle and his team fry us up some of their favorite off-menu grub. If you can bear deprive yourself from the house fried chicken and waffles dig into these:

image

Grits With Pulled Pork, Tillamook Cheddar and Scallions
What is is: See above.
What we think: Frakkin’ delicious. The creamy grits and cheddar are the best duo since Hall and Oates. 
Inside Info: The pulled pork is co-opted from the on-menu breakfast po’boy. If you’re feeling adventurous, try any of the po’boy ingredients on top of grits. (We’re ordering Creole shrimp and grits on our next visit.)

image

Wing-Wings
What it is: Sweet and spicy chicken wings dabbled with whole grain mustard.
What we think: Nicely balanced — not too sweet, not too spicy.
Inside Info: It’s not always available, but check the Little Skillet twitter feed to see when it is.
image

Eggs McMahon
What it is: A waffle floating on a river of sausage gravy then topped scallions, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg.
What we think: Hard on the heart and heavenly in your mouth, it’s like a deep south interpretation of Eggs Benedict. 
Inside Info: Got a hangover? Ingest one Eggs McMahon, chase with two Advil and feel your headache dissipate. Hi-yo!

image

Brown Sugar Black Pepper Biscuits
What it is: The well known and voraciously consumes southern biscuit with a sweet, piquant kick.
What we think: The sweet/savory combo gave us the same delightful surprise we had when poured maple syrup on fried chicken for the first time.
Inside Info: Though they’re off-menu, the biscuits are one of Little Skillet’s signature staples.

Written by: Kat Manalac & Danny Dumas
Photos by: Jon Snyder

Five Happiness

image

Location: 4142 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

The problem with Chinese food in America is that it’s, well, very American. Noodles slathered in sweet-and-sour-meets-napalm sauce or deep fried dough injected with overcooked mystery meat is often standard issue. Dishes like these are about as close to authentic Chinese food as Taco Bell is to genuine Mexican cuisine. But when you’ve got an uncontrollable hankerin’ for some intestines with blood tofu, there are ways to get it. You just have to know where to go and what to ask for.

One place to go is Five Happiness. One thing to ask for is their traditional Chinese menu.

Unless you’re a regular at Five Happiness, you’ll most likely receive their standard menu filled with the requisite Kung Pao chicken and broccoli beef. However if you press them for unlisted/more traditional items they’ll (somewhat reluctantly) produce a single pink laminated placard. On this unassuming “hidden menu” are 25 authentic Taiwanese and Shanghai dishes that you won’t find in many Americanized Chinese restaurants. And yep, they even have the aforementioned intestines with blood tofu.

We asked the staff what some of their most beloved dishes were. This is what they recommended to us:

image
Spicy Dumplings
What it is: Fresh wonton dumplings cooked in pungent red pepper oil.
What we think: These slippery little morsels slide down the pipe fast — we didn’t so much eat them as inhale them.
Inside Info: The dumplings aren’t even on the special hidden menu. You have to order them separately.

image
Shanghai Rib with Spinach
What it is: Small hunks of baked short ribs lightly sprinkled with spicy savory gravy and served over fresh spinach.
What we think: The meat is so tender; it literally melts from the bone. The delectable sauce mixes perfectly with the spinach and has a hint of red wine and pan drippings.
Inside Info: Shanghai ribs are usually cooked to taste very sugary. But Five Happiness’ take on the meat skews less sweet, more savory.

image
Eight Treasure Delight
What it is: A medley of pork, shrimp, beef, tofu, soybeans, mushrooms, green onions, and peanuts wok seared in a tangy spicy sauce.
What we think: Richer than Paul Allen and more complex than theoretical physics, this dish is best cut with an ample dollop of sticky rice.
Inside Info: A favorite of the staff. When we ordered it their eyes lit up with collective approval. It was almost as if it granted us instantaneous street cred.

There’s 23 more dishes on the hidden menu ranging from braised pork shank with tendon to Hakak style shredded dry bean cake. Are we going to list them all? Nope. But that’ll give you cause to head over and see what the rest are. Maybe even try a couple. Even the blood tofu.

Written by: Danny Dumas
Photos by: Jon Snyder