Lunch at Salumeria marks the day I fell in love with California. It started with breakfast at The Mill (I’m addicted and it’s 10 minutes from my house, not a healthy combination), where I met a fellow East-Coast transplant with whom I discussed the differing paces of life and attitudes towards work and school on each coast. After my dose of perspective, strong coffee, and maple-syrup-drenched toast, I began my walk through the Mission District. For just under an hour I wandered through the neighborhood’s sunny streets filled with energy and life, and past Dolores Park packed with colorful people. As I watched the streets change and embraced the sweat beginning to form under my T-shirt (in early March!), I thought to myself that somewhere along the way, through meeting people I admired and being motivated towards some ultimate future goal, I’ve become comfortable here.
I arrive at the block of 20th street in the Mission that is overtaken by wildly loved, successful and related restaurant friends, Central Kitchen, Trick Dog, Flour & Water, and Salumeria. Three of which are physically connected, like a maze hiding one good food secret after another. They also share an awesome, industry-informative blog. Salumeria, the more casual, daytime, and wallet-friendly character of the bunch, is somewhat reminiscent of a high-end farm stand as you wander inside. The chalkboard menu offers sandwiches, salads, local beer and wine, and the shelves around you boast intriguing locally sourced grocery items.
If you walk past the smiling people at the counter, you arrive at a doorway leading to a semi-outdoor seating area with lights strung up above, a decorative wall fountain, and lots of green plants. Green plants are everywhere here. On the opposite side of this pleasant, secret garden of an eating area begins Central Kitchen, a highly regarded (and priced) place I’m anxious to try when I have my life savings in order.
Whether it was the community feel from the other restaurants, the sun, the glass of beer, or the sun, this spot provides a simple and tasty reprieve from the goings-on of anyone’s day and embodies the live-and-let-live-the-good-life sentiment that seems so prevalent on this side of the country. Don’t those drinks look like they’re having fun outside on the sunny sidewalk, tempting you to join them?
The food tasted great. Like I said, I was on some kind of natural life high but you can still trust me. The menu is small, but that’s because every item on it is really complex and good, from what I tried. Everything was pretty pricy, though. A salad and a beer cost me $20. Yikes. But have you ever seen a salad look so seductive? It tasted as good as it looks. With its herbed yogurt dressing, pickled onions, cauliflower, dried cranberries, and flavorful croutons, every ingredient and bite had a significant taste. I hate paying for lettuce, but this was a damn good salad.
The fried chicken sandwich was fantastically tasty as well. Though served cold, the flavors from the different components made up for that. And the chicken meat was heartier than its fried skin, which makes it great in my book. Tip: you can take your farm-style lunch sandwich or salad next door to Trick Dog and pair it with a super craft cocktail at the hip, evening friendly component of this restaurant family. That’s next on my to-do list. Want to join?