What to try before you die

Morbid thought? Maybe — or maybe it’s just a focused/goal-oriented approach: who’s to say? This weekend, sys brought my attention to this article (7×7) detailing the SF-specific delicacies to sample before biting the dust. (In a rare conflation of idioms, I almost wrote “kicking the dust” = neologism ha ha!) How I hadn’t seen this article before baffles me — I spend so much time internetting, it’s insane — but I’m glad that Ali spread the word.

Not surprisingly, H. and I have tried many of the goodies included on the list: Beer sausage with sauerkraut and grilled onions at Rosamunde, Blue Bell Bitter  at Magnolia Pub,  the Cheeseburger with sweet potato fries at Gott’s (née Taylor’s Automatic Refresher), and others. Many more of the items are yet-untried and have been added to my edible bucket list. One item in particular caught my eye because 1) it’s one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in this city; and 2) I’d just, just eaten it.

Some transplanted Southerners and self-proclaimed BBQ experts assert that there’s no solid barbecue to be found within city limits. I politely disagree. The pulled pork sandwich served at Roadside BBQ (Geary between 2nd and 3rd) is not only the best BBQ I’ve had in San Francisco, but it rivals sammies I’ve had in all miscellaneous parts of the country.*

Lunch of ultimate champions: pulled pork sandwiches, fries, and Lone Star. Yes, we are honorary southerners.

Hook and I first discovered Roadside when we were members of the Richmond District Y. (Familiar story, I know, but my walks to the gym were how I discovered All That is Good along Geary — at least until 18th.) Taking a left onto Geary from Arguello that first time, I caught a whiff of Hickory smoke in the chill air. “Good heavens,” I though, “whence comes that smell?” Two blocks later, my question had answered itself.

It wasn’t long before Hook — a fan of sandwiches, fries, and Lone Star if I’ve ever met one! — and I made our inaugural visit to Roadside. As I remember, H. ordered the Brisket Sandwich and fries. I ordered the Pulled Pork (also with a side of frites). Although Hook found the brisket lacking in personality (and, for that matter, looks), my sandwich was undeniably great. The pork itself — lean, drizzled with smoky BBQ sauce and topped with a cute nest of slaw — was juicy without being greasy. The bun (a toasted ciabatta) was chewy, but not too chewy. The sandwich was a little bite o’ heaven.

With each return visit to Roadside, I wonder whether I should try something new. Its health halo makes the BBQ salad an appealing option, while the sausage sandwich appeals to the sausage lover in me. I’ve never had the pecan pie a la mode, though wedges of it frequent my dreams. Despite the allure of the other entrees, the pulled pork sandwich has me in chains: tasty, tasty chains.

Roadside BBQ is not glamorous: let me make this point known. It’s not somewhere you’d take a date, if that date is fussy about things like vinyl booths, self-serve condiment stations, or weirdo cashiers who have puffy ponytails and look like they might live in their moms’ basements. In other words, Roadside is not somewhere you’d take a lame date. My date, however, is awesome, and his feathers aren’t ruffled when paper towels are provided in lieu of napkins.

True, Geary doesn’t provide much in the way of scenery, and the restaurant’s decor tends toward the washboard & weathervane aesthetic, but the pork is worth it. Treat yourself right: summon your favorite person, ask him or her to Roadside BBQ, and buy this person a pulled pork sandwich with fries. Look deeply and longingly into his/her eyes, hold his/her hand across the mustard-crusted table, and dig in. The pigeons and the bus rumbles and the plastic seats won’t matter; the food will take precedence over it all.


*Southern parts included.


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