The brisk summer travel season may be over but, if you’re an adventurous eater, there’s still plenty of border crossing to do here at home.
Trying a rare delicacy from a distant land won’t just transport your taste buds, it may even give you a different perspective on those cuisines you thought you knew.
From 1601 Bar & Kitchen’s Sri Lankan egg hopper to Parche’s Colombian changua breakfast soup, these five dishes are so unique, you won’t find them anywhere but these restaurants in San Francisco and Oakland.
Egg Hopper at 1601 Bar & Kitchen
(Courtesy of 1601 Bar & Kitchen)
In Sri Lanka, the egg hopper is a street food staple. But here in the U.S., it can be near impossible to find the savory rice flour and coconut milk crepe topped with a soft-boiled egg. At 1601 Bar & Kitchen, the decade-old Michelin-guide favorite that recently reopened after an extended pandemic hiatus, chef Brian Fernando pairs the egg hopper with brightly spiced sambols and recommends folding it taco-style for a hand-held treat. Find it on 1601’s seven-course tasting menu ($150/person), which includes other Sri Lankan-inspired delights like roasted black cod in tamarind broth and cured duck leg with Masoor dhal. // 1601 Howard St. (SoMa), 1601sf.com
Chile en Nogada at Merkado
(Courtesy of Merkado)
In honor of Mexican Independence Day, Merkado’s chef Lorenzo Camal is serving up the rare Mexican delicacy, chile en nogada. With legendary origins that date to the country’s separation from Spain in 1821, the poblano pepper stuffed with a hash of pomegranate, walnuts, and plant-based chorizo made from Impossible “meat” evokes the green, red, and white colors of the Mexican flag: And even though Mexican Independence has already come and gone, there’s still plenty of time to give the dish a try. It will stick around on Merkado’s menu till March. // 130 Townsend St. (South Beach), merkadosf.com
Tinaktak at Prubechu
(Courtesy of @theandrewcheng)
At the only Guamanian restaurant in the Bay Area, every Chamorro dish at Prubechu—from kelaguen to lichen birenghenas—is something uniquely special. We’re partial to the tinaktak, which is made with coconut milk-braised proteins like beef or shrimp, and is named for the chopping sound a knife makes when preparing it. Combined with egg noodles, button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and long beans, the whole thing comes together with a rich, stroganoff-like sauciness. Top it off with a bit of black or white fina’denne’, two versions of the country’s iconic hot sauce. // 2224 Mission St. (Mission), prubechu.com
Changua at Parche
(Courtesy of Parche)
At Oakland’s Columbian hotspot Parche, they’re infusing brunch with a Bogotá tradition rarely found outside its country of origin. Changua, isn’t just an indulgent, creamy breakfast soup made with eggs poached in hot milk, fresh mozzarella cheese, scallions, and cilantro, it’s an authentically homestyle hangover cure. Outfit your soup the way the locals do, with a side of arepas and strong Colombian coffee. // 2295 Broadway (Oakland), parcheoak.com
Pâté en Croûte at Maison Nico
(Courtesy of @maison_nico)
Despite being a French tradition with roots that stretch all the way back to the medieval era, the savory pâté en croûte is a rare find in the Bay Area—but not at Maison Nico. The viennoiserie is a showcase for Michelin-starred chef Nicolas Delaroque’s French-inspired take on multi-layered, flaky-crusted pastries. With complex interiors filled with combinations like pork, dried plum, and Armagnac and duck and duck liver, pork, chicken liver, confit onions and garlic, and Madeira, Maison Nico’s pâté en croûte are works of art almost too pretty to eat. // 710 Montgomery St. (Jackson Square), maisonnico.com