Gluten-free Restaurants in San Francisco: Hot Spud

February 19th, 2013 yum Posted in Ca, Fisherman's Wharf, Gluten Free Dining, Potatoes, San Francisco 3 Comments »

Hot Spud SF
2640 Mason Street
(Between Jefferson & Beach Streets)
San Francisco,CA 94133
TollFree:(888) hot-spud

Some time back I read a review in GF in SF on Hot Spud, a gluten-free friendly potato-themed restaurant near Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco. I love potatoes and loved the sound of the place, so at the next opportunity I had to try it out for myself.

As we walked up to the restaurant I was most impressed with the sign that greeted me on the window, proclaiming their food philosophy. “Gluten-free friendly” and “Vegetarian friendly” it proclaimed. I was sold.

When I walked in I asked the chefs which toppings were gluten-free. “Everything except a few salad toppings like the wontons,” they told me. Music to my ears. Then I had to decide which delightful potato creation to order from the menu, no small feat. They also offer salads that are no doubt lovely, with an effort to use organic and local ingredients, but I was looking for a potato experience. I decided on the veggie spud, which is topped with sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, peas, corn, olives, and green onions. After consulting with the chef, I decided to have the chipotle sauce on the side and I was very happy with my choice. Next time I do think that I’d customize my own potato and skip the green peas, as they are one of my least favorite vegetables. Besides, I think it would be fun to create my own potato! Potatoes generally all come topped with butter and cheese and then individual sauces, but I believe that they will leave off that base if you request it.
Given that we were near Fisherman’s Wharf, I couldn’t help but approve of the DH’s suggestion that we order the “Wharf” spud for Kid Yum, a generally mild potato topped with crab, a lemon beurre sauce (a light and creamy sauce), corn, and with green onions and red onions on the side. To my delight Kid Yum thoroughly enjoyed her dish, and even experimented with the green onions and red onions. She liked the green onions, but the red onions were too much for her. Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to see how much she enjoyed her dish, to the extent that she stole our potatoes for herself- “three potatoes, because I’m three.”

The biggest surprise at Hot Spud was the gluten-free dessert selection. Lauren Valentino had mentioned that they had a tasty Gluten-free Sweet Potato Brownie, and that was true.

But they also had a Gluten-free Sweet Potato Cheesecake made with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free flour blend. Gluten-free cheesecake is not easy to come by, and I am happy to report upon taste testing that this may be the best gluten-free cheesecake I’ve had! The crust was a bit on the sweet side, mind you, but the filling was absolutely perfect and Kid Yum and I lovingly battled each other for the privilege of the last bite. The potato was good and I’d come back any time for another one, but the cheesecake is going to stick in my mind and tempt me to make it soon… So well done to the shop! They advertise on their shop page that they make all of their sauces, which is how they can declare them all gluten-free. Lovely!

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Gluten free Restaurants in San Francisco: Pica pica

November 7th, 2010 yum Posted in Bay Area, Ca, Fellow Food Bloggers, Gluten Free Blogs, Gluten Free Dining, Restaurant Review, Rice Free, San Francisco 5 Comments »

Pica Pica Maize Kitchen
401 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: 415-400-5453
Can’t make it to San Francisco? Try Napa!
Oxbow Public Market
610 First Street, #5 Napa, CA 94559
Phone: 707-251-3757

Pica Pica Maize Kitchen is a delightful find for anyone on a gluten-free diet or who has developed an addiction to corn-based Venezuelan cuisine. I am almost embarrassed that in the over five years that I’ve lived in the Bay Area, I’ve never made it to their San Francisco location. Luckily, my gluten-free friends at BlogHer food were more motivated and planned a lunch there which I was very happy to attend. The entire menu is gluten-free. Those who can’t have corn will be out of luck, as pretty much everything contains corn. However, you can easily eat vegetarian or even vegan, and rice isn’t even on the menu if you are rice intolerant! Soy also can be avoided, although PAN, the base for their arepas, may be manufactured on lines with soy. If you thought you’d never eat a sandwich out again or have this much selection if you did, this place will prove you wrong and make you happy in the process. If you are like me, you’ll be a little overwhelmed by all the options, so let me tell you about the vegetarian dishes I tried. The most obvious vegetarian arepa choice is of course La Vegetariana Arepa with tofu, avocado, plantains, black beans and sauce. The ingredients sound perfect, but somehow it is just a bit bland for my taste, to be honest. I had it twice- once at the Napa location some time back, and both times I wasn’t all that excited. I love tofu, but this is quite a big, fairly plain slab of the stuff.
I didn’t order the Morena, or black bean, Empanada myself, but Ali of Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen did and generously shared some with me. Usually empanadas are made out of wheat flour, so it is a rare treat to find some that are made out of corn. These are light, flaky, probably deep fried, and have a delicious bean filling. I would definitely order them next time. Yummy! And I loved the spicy sauce with them. De-lish! The Queso Fresco empanada sounds good, too, but it would be hard to beat the savory bean filling.

Deep fried gluten-free goodies are always tempting, as it can be very hard to find them without cross contamination issues from a shared fryer. Pica Pica has two deep fried sides that are both good, but very different. One is a plantain chip. They are soft and sweet, with a thin, lightly fried exterior. If you are expecting intense crunch, this may not be the dish for you, but I like them because you can eat a bunch and not feel terribly guilty. If you’re in the camp that wants your fried food to taste like true deep fried goodness, then I recommend the Yucca fries. These amazingly crispy fries will satisfy all your Southern dreams and then some. I would want to share them with a friend because they are so rich and decadent. Bet you can’t eat just one!

I also tried their hot chocolate, but I am a picky-picky girl when it comes to my hot chocolate and I like it dark, rich, and thick. I wouldn’t order it again for myself but I bet my DH would enjoy it.

Of course the best thing about eating out is usually the company. I shared my meal with a wonderful group of gluten-free bloggers, most of whom I mentioned in this post about our gluten-free meal together at The Plant. *Link to blogs included for New friends not previously listed*

Shirley of Gluten-free Easily was a charming table companion, and we shared a batch of plantain fries. I just love her.

Counter-clockwise: Tia from Gluten Gluten-free, Alisa of Go Dairy Free, Diane from The Whole Gang, and just the eyes of Wendy of Celiacs in the House

Clockwise: Ellen of I am Gluten Free, GF Veg of Wheatless and Meatless, Kim of Cook it Allergy Free, Tom and Ali of Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen

And guess what? My friends wrote reviews of Pica Pica, too!
Wendy’s review and Arepas recipe
Diane’s review of Pica Pica and other gluten-free dining in San Francisco
GF Veg’s review of Pica Pica and photo slideshow
Alisa’s Dairy-free Review of Pica Pica Maize Kitchen
Know of any other Pica Pica blog reviews? Share in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!

Want to make your own version of arepas?
My recipe for green chili cheese arepas
Cheese Arepas and Perico Scramble Recipe

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