San Francisco: Kitchenette

You’ll know you’ve found the place when you spot a cluster of dubiously parked cars opposite warehouses coated with a patina of rust and a crowd of hungry loiterers hanging around a loading dock. Kitchenette, a pared-down lunch operation in a part of town called Dogpatch, offers just a few tasty items daily (you can check out the ever-changing menu in advance on the website, but there’s no phone). The set-up is beyond simple: A few stairs put you on the loading dock, where you place your order and take a number. Then the loitering begins. There are benches arranged between cars, where you can awkwardly position yourself and dig into a hefty meatball sandwich drenched in Fatted Calf–enhanced amatriciana sauce, or try to dress a tarragon-laced salad of gem lettuces, peas, slivered radish, and avocado. Local cod tacos were a highlight of my visit: three corn tortillas smeared with avocado and filled with cornmeal-dusted fish, cabbage slaw, sautéed chiles, cilantro, and a drizzle of crema. Kitchenette’s pedigreed chefs—including Brian Leitner, formally of Chez Panisse, and Douglas Monsalud, from Fog City Diner and Betelnut in San Francisco—call their food “spontaneous organic covert nourishment.” I’d like to add “delicious.”

Kitchenette 958 Illinois St., San Francisco (



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