(Photography by Sarah Chorey)

First Taste: Smokebread is the answer to your sad desk-lunch rut

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You looooved Bar Tartine. And you dug Duna (even if the self-serve thing was kind of confusing), and now you're planning to pop in for another taste of those flavors perfected by chef Nick Balla, whose newest concept, Smokebread, is popping up at The Perennial in SoMa.

Like a Duna 2.0, Smokebread is serving up healthy lunches in the form of hearty spoon salads (though the term "salad" doesn't quite do Balla's dishes justice) and, of course, to-die-for bread.


Let's start there, because obviously it's the star. At Duna, Balla turned out an exceptional smoked potato flatbread, a dish he's been tweaking over the years. His latest iteration is a soft, thick loaf, slightly buttery and salty with a hint of smokiness from the potatoes. The heft of this bread might intimidate you at first—but that's before you realize its talent for sopping up all those delicious salad juices.

Big heaping bowls of fresh ingredients blend together a selection of the essentials: veggies, cheese, olives, nuts, and meats in oils and vinegar—honestly, there's nary a leafy green in sight.

Of course, Duna diehards will also remember Balla's dips. The housemade sprouted hummus and paprika cheese dip have been reincarnated at Smokebread as delightful companions to thick sourdough slices. The result is a highly satisfying lunch of robust Central European flavors.

(Sarah Chorey)

Savor your hearty lunch bowl in the natural, well-lit space.

// Smokebread at The Perennial, 59 Ninth St. (SoMa), Tuesdays through Fridays, 10:30am to 2pm; smokebread.com.

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