San Francisco is known for its cool summers, Victorian architecture, hilly landscape, and the impending threat of earthquakes. Cable cars and Alcatraz; Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge; Burritos in the Mission district, sourdough bread, and Anchor Steam beer. It has a long and storied history of political activism from the Haight Ashbury Flower Children and the anti-Vietnam demonstrations, to Harvey Milk and the tenacious LGBTQ movement. The politics are seeped into the culture of the city—left-leaning and boisterous.
With the explosion of the tech industry, San Francisco is becoming way too expensive for most people to live in, but the heart of the city still moves to the beat of its own street-performing bucket drummer.
Chef David Lawrence was born in England to Jamaican parents. He got his formal training in London and started cooking with the Roux Brothers in the ’80s. At London’s Interlude Restaurant, he prepared meals for the Prince and Princess of Wales, as well as the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He came to San Francisco on holiday to see some friends — with the intention of “getting America out of the way” (in terms of travel) — and ended up with a job offer he couldn’t refuse.
Later, when Lawrence was asked to cook at the James Beard House for Black History Month, he thought “what do I know about cooking soul food?” To which, a friend answered, “You know how to cook, and you understand flavor.” So, he went for it. And then ended up opening 1300 on Fillmore, specializing in high end southern style dishes. One night, he made baby back ribs as an off-menu special. Not long after, the dish became a regular “secret menu item.” Soon, the restaurant was selling three cases of ribs every night.
It became clear to Chef Lawrence that there was a desire for soul food in San Francisco. So, he opened Black Bark BBQ — a fast-casual rib joint — in January of this year. He hopes that the restaurant will play a part in the revitalization of the neighborhood while staying true to its rich history.
Without further ado, here are Chef David Lawrence’s tips on eating your way through San Francisco:
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Well hello there, Hikari Pie. We love your grilled Negri onions, pancetta, fontina, and wasabi arugula. You know what else we love? We love that proceeds from this pie go to @kitchentableadvisors to support local farms like Hikari Farms, as part of their #SaporediMarzo campaign. Available until March 6 at our 18th Street Pizzeria.
Absolutely Delfina! It’s within walking distance [of his restaurant], has a great staff and atmosphere. The Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza is hands down the best.
La Taqueria has my favorite tacos in the entire city. The Beef Tacos with everything – guac, diced tomatoes, onion and sour cream. When I feel adventurous, I do the Chicken Quesadilla with a flour tortilla that’s been crisped up.
A local joint down the street – Sweet Lime Thai Cuisine on Steiner & Sutter. Excellent pad Thai.
Not a big street food person. Festivals perhaps. During the July 4 weekend, the Jazz Festival sets up on the Fillmore and there are these doughnuts that you can’t get any other time of the year. These extraordinary red velvet cake doughnuts!
On Fillmore and Bush. Around Easter, they do Hot Cross Buns, something I grew up with in England. Original owner used to work in London with the Roux brothers and even though the ownership has changed hands since, the food is the same.