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January 20, 2015

Where to Eat All the Best Pig Parts in San Francisco

This story is brought to you by the great people over at the Bold Italic. The Bold Italic is an online magazine, shop, and events hub in San Francisco. We celebrate the free-wheeling spirit of the city.

San Francisco boasts restaurants specializing in nearly every aspect of a pig, from its head to its tail. Here are the best places to get your hog fix based on the cut you’re craving most. 

Head

Cockscomb (SOMA)
The star of Chris Cosentino’s new restaurant so far hasn’t been the chef, it’s been the wood oven-roasted half pig’s head that’s part of the “shared supper” section of the menu. Served with a gold leaf gilded snout, chicories, capers, parsley, and lemon, let it serve as a tasting menu of textural discovery. Don’t fight over the eyeball, though.

Ears

The Progress (Western Addition)
One of the best of the first bites on the opening menu at State Bird Provisions’ new sister restaurant is a dish of cauliflower and “pig fries” made up of fried strips of pork belly, jowl, and ear. The latter can be distinguished by a slight curl and a denser, chewier texture that could be dangerously addictive if it were easier to get a table at this place.

Skin

4505 Meats (Mission and Western Addition)
The country’s most gourmet chicharrones are available at 4505’s restaurant and butcher shop. These bubbly snacks taste as airy as you want regular pork rinds to, only without the long list of preservatives found in the corner store varieties.

Shoulder

Nopalito (Panhandle and Inner Sunset)
Braised in beer, orange, cinnamon, and milk until super tender, the pork shoulder here (aka carnitas) is quite possibly San Francisco’s top option of crack in meat form. Set it off with some of the restaurant’s fiery pickled jalapeños for a sweet-hot experience.

Feet

SPQR (Pacific Heights)
Matthew Accarrino is just one of those chefs who you should pretty much eat what he tells you to, even if pig feet aren’t normally on the dinner agenda. A dish of bludnudlen (pig’s blood pasta) with blood sausage ragu and pig’s foot pan grattato (bread crumbs) appears often on a frequently changing menu.

Loin

Rhea’s Deli & Market  (Mission)
Rhea’s Deli (and its counterpart Rhea’s Cafe) have the lock on loin. It’s served as a Japanese battered and lightly fried tonkatsu cutlet in a sandwich with cole slaw, pickled red onions,  jalapeños, spicy aioli, and a tangy katsu sauce that is miles better than the bottled kind.

Belly

Big Chef Tom’s Belly Burgers (SOMA)
Slabs of fatty pork belly are ubiquitous in San Francisco, to the point where it can be pretty annoying. But Tom Pizzica (a 2010 Food Network Star finalist on Food Network who had his own show called Outrageous Food) is smart to grind the belly for his juicy, delicious patties that put the ham in hamburger.

Bacon

Bacon Bacon (Upper Haight/Ashbury Heights)
While plenty of people will fight to the absolute death debating where to get the best bacon in town, this is the only spot where you can get chicken fried bacon. And this is something you need to know about if your soul is carnivorous.

Ham

Hog & Rocks (Mission)
Kentucky ham, Italian prosciutto, Spanish serrano — you don’t have to decide at this temple to hamology. Because that’s what the ham tasting flight is for, homie.

Ribs

Smokestack (Dogpatch)
Pork back ribs and spare ribs appear frequently on the daily specials at Magnolia’s barbecue joint. But go on Wednesdays, when there’s always a special of St. Louis cut ribs (spare ribs with the rib tips cut off) glazed in bourbon.

Tail

Tosca (North Beach)
Pig parts were expected on Tosca’s menu when April Bloomfield, British chef and purveyor of New York restaurants like The Spotted Pig, took it over in 2013. But her crispy pig tails are only served here in San Francisco. Close your eyes and think of England.

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