I’m eating 100 Items off of 7 X 7?s SF Big Eat List. You can see the rest of entries to this series here. The day before Bay to Breakers we needed to go pick up our race packets. It was really an ideal confluence of events for Big Eating. A Big Eat Perfect Storm of a large group in the city and a cross-city race looming as penance for our face-stuffing sins.
Before we dive into the food porn I'd like to talk a little about strategy. City-dwellers can leisurely munch their way through the list but Sacramentans must be smart. You must choose where to eat ahead of time, check that the places will be open and serving the item you need on that particular day and most importantly figure out a parking scenario. For this particular day I chose a wondrous corner of the Mission that had at least 10 Big Eat site within walking distance and we stocked up on quarters. My friend Betty in particular was a great addition to this particular Big Eat strike team. Well-versed as a group leader from her weekend job leading hikes through California she was organized and efficient as in "You pay the bill, I will run to feed the meters".
This is what you need to Big Eat well, consider yourself warned.
#21-Cheese Slice at Arinell's Pizza
Arinell's is this dingy little pizza place. Well, truth be told, large sections of the Mission are not so shiny and clean but I personally like a little grit to my neighborhoods. The pizza at Arinell's is sold by the slice and they are gigantic but as you can see in the picture, each slice is also quite thin. A good pizza is judged by it's crust and I really liked Arinell's, it was crispy but not hard and was almost like a cracker? I know that isn't an appealing way to describe the crust, but it was like kind of crispy yet soft at the same time without tasting doughy.
Verdict: A solid start to our day.
#22-Buckwheat Crepe and French Cider at Ti Couz
First off a moment of silence for Ti Couz. When we arrived at it's bright blue exterior we discovered a large sign saying that it was closing the NEXT DAY. Kismet, non? Our meal ended up being a literal once-in-a-lifetime experience. I enjoyed the drama of being there on the second to last day but honestly I feel a little sad for you because you'll never get to experience it's greatness. :(
At Ti Couz we were charged with having a french cider and a buckwheat crepe. The cider was confusing. It tasted vaguely alcoholic and was served cold. I've always had cider served warm so I wasn't prepared for the experience. It wasn't bad, I guess I just don't deal well with unmet expectations. My favorite part about the cider was the color, it was the most beautiful translucent red you can imagine.
If I was underwhelmed by my cider experience I was overcome by the crepes. It's hard to explain how delicious they were. The crepes themselves were slightly crispy on the outside in a toasty sort of way but the texture was almost spongy, like Ethiopian injera bed. In short: they were amazing. The light and rich mushroom sauce was just the icing on the cake/crepe. After we finished our first crepe Emily sighed and said "I'm afraid the next one won't be as good."
She was wrong: the next one, a caramel crepe, was so delicious I had to sit on my hands so that I wouldn't eat more than my share. True story.
The world Balompie is a play on the words balón y pie (ball and foot) and so sets the theme for this soccer-centric corner restaurant. For me Balompie screams "Latino restaurant" in the authentic sense of the word, there were multiple TV's blasting soccer games, pennants looped around the ceiling and a jukebox that was blasting Rhianna's Umbrella. When we arrived the place was full of families who had just finished celebrating first communion at the church across the street.
At Balompie there were not murals of people wearing sombreros or dried chili peppers hanging from the ceilings. Please take note designers of "Latino" restaurants.
Also I should mention that Balompie Cafe is a Salvadoran restaurant. In Mexico-adjacent California people tend to forget that there is Latin-America beyond Mexico. The most well known food of El Salvador are pupusas. Have you had a pupusa? I have had many and you should TOO! Pupusas are a griddled corn cake that is stuffed with rubbery, melty cheese and topped with a slaw of pickled, spicy cabbage. The slaw is really important, without it a pupusa is delicious but a little too bland. The slaw cuts these soothing cheese bombs with aplomb.
Balompie was our last stop for the day so we went all out, ordering patacones, maduros, chicharrones, pupusas and yuca frita. The combination knocked out our group of intrepid eaters. You can't tell in this pic but my little dinosaur is falling asleep on the table.
Verdict: Go to Balompie. Order at least two pupusas each. Pile them high with the cabbage and apply to your face with enthusiasm and vigor. Then fall deep asleep in a pupusa coma on your way home.