Track down Detroit-style pizza at this San Francisco pop-up, celebrate Humphry Slocombe’s tenth birthday, snack on Chilean empanadas, warm up with special holiday cocktails, and experience a show-stopping timballo on New Year’s Eve!
You’re So Square: Experience Detroit-Style Pizza at This Weekly Pop-Up
Detroit-style pizza is a type you would probably only be acquainted with here in San Francisco if you were a native Detroiter, or you have diligently worked your way through Tony Gemignani’s menu at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. But, there’s a new Detroit-style pizza in town, popping up at Vinyl on Divisadero, as well as Harmonic Brewing, and at Prizefighter in the East Bay. Square Pie Guys is from Marc Schechter (a self-taught pizza obsessive who has worked weekends for some fellow obsessives around town, like PizzaHacker and Casey’s Pizza) and Danny Stoller, who has worked in Seattle restaurants for 12 years.
Detroit-style pizza is baked in a square pan (the blue steel pans were used in Detroit auto factories), and the thick, Sicilian-style pizza gets wonderfully crispy along the base and dark edges — the best part is where the cheese along the corners and edges gets all crispy (like a dream grilled cheese sandwich). The dough has great developed flavor, and the toppings are assembled with care.
They have put together a fun and well-thought-out menu of pies, from the clever Ron-i-Burgundy (Pavone cupping pepperoni, cheddar cheese edge, mozzarella, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes) that deserves a tag on @ronicups ($6/slice), and there’s a simple cheese ($5/slice), and the Mean Green Sausage Machine comes with a cheddar cheese edge, mozzarella, fennel sausage, ricotta cream sauce, charred broccoli, red pepper, and garlic ($6/slice), which they secretly finish with a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey on top. There was also a special one night, El Pugilista, with red sauce, mozzarella, Mexican chorizo, pickled jalapeño, chopped white onion and tomato, and finished with cilantro and lime crema ($7/slice).
The best strategy for your first time is of course to try all the different slices (ideally go with a friend so you don’t slide into a food coma). But honestly, a couple of our slices felt a little shrimpy for the price — the better deal is to get a whole pan. For example, the Ron-i-Burgundy, which you have to get, is $20 for the full pie (vs. $6 per slice). I also think you’ll end up getting a hotter pizza (the slices can sit out for a bit). Our slices didn’t come out hot enough (they were lukewarm in the middle), but when we were asked what we thought of the pizza and told them about the temp issue, they kindly sent out a couple more slices that were better. Very thoughtful service — they care about everyone having a good experience.
Vinyl has some good wines you can get by the glass, and there are also a couple salads on the menu you should probably order to go with all that bread and cheese.
Pro tip: you can order your pizza ahead of time (up to three pies), that way it will be ready for you at your desired time. And you don’t have to run the risk of them being sold out, which happens around 8:45pm when they tend to sell through their 50 pies. Follow @squarepieguys on Instagram to keep up with their pop-ups and more.
Humphry Slocombe Turns 10 and Is Throwing a Flavor Party!
Can you believe Humphry Slocombe is celebrating their tenth anniversary? What is San Francisco without Secret Breakfast? They’re throwing a big fat ice cream party at their Mission shop on Friday, December 28, 2018 from 12pm until 12am. They will be scooping up free scoops, with a recommended $1 donation to their long-term charity partner, Project Open Hand. There will also be drag queens and prizes, so a good time is pretty much guaranteed.
They are also bringing back a bunch of their OG flavors (some with a twist) to celebrate their birthday this December: Foie with Cherries, Government Cheez-It, Honey Ham with Bacon Brittle, Jesus Juice (wine and Coca-Cola with a hint of cinnamon), Candy Cap with Chocolate, Peanut Butter Curry, and After School Special (French vanilla ice cream with chocolate–covered, ridged potato chips and caramel). All month, they’re offering a special called the Charcuterie Board that will feature mini scoops of the first five flavors listed above (for $7.50). You can try all these flavors at all their scoop shops.
Handmade Chilean Empanadas Make the Best Snack
When you’re out running errands or you skipped lunch and you want something snacky, a visit to Chile Lindo in the Mission will help you out with their handmade empanadas. Owner and baker Paula Tejeda (aka The Girl From Empanada) is a native New Yorker of Chilean ancestry, and she does everything she can to promote Chilean culture — she even just held the inaugural Chilean film festival here in SF, Cine Chileno. She was known for going around the Mission with her basket of empanadas years ago but has had her own café since 2010 (it’s a walk-up window where you order, with a counter outside where you can perch with your coffee and empanada).
The empanadas are made on-site by hand and feature a variety of fillings (“pino”), including the classic made with Niman Ranch ground beef, onion, cumin, paprika, rock salt, raisins, black olive, and a slice of hard-boiled egg. You can up the exotic factor with the Goooooooool at Merkén, which adds the smoked merkén spice from the Mapuche people in Patagonia. She uses Mary’s free-range chicken in her pollo version (with green olives), and there’s jamón y queso, chilanga (cheese and jalapeño), and a vegan version too.
They are $6.95 each, but considering the quality of the ingredients she is using and the labor that goes into them, let alone the rent she must be paying, I’m okay with paying a little more than I would like to support this business. They warm the empanada up for you, and after a couple bites of this flaky and savory treat (which you will dip into the small container of pebre, which is like a Chilean salsa), hopefully, you’ll feel the same way.
Holiday Cheers with Vintage Holiday Cocktails
One of the best things about the holidays are all the festive cocktails that are designed to warm you up (in many ways). It’s also a time when some vintage and old-school holiday drinks make their appearance. One of them is the classic Tom and Jerry, made with a frothy housemade batter of eggs, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, rum, cognac, and hot frothed milk. Elixir in the Mission serves a Tom and Jerry from December 15–December 25 (yup, they open on Christmas Day at 7pm), and Stookey’s Club Moderne will be mixing and serving them up on Christmas Eve, starting around 10:30pm if you want to come by for a nightcap. Stookey’s will also be serving Swedish glögg, and hot buttered rum, pfeffernüsse (their liquid version of the German spice cookies), and a Christmas martini for December.
Elixir’s holiday cocktail menu also includes their house egg nog (and añogo, made with añejo tequila!), Hot Butt Rum (with housemade hot buttered rum batter: vanilla ice cream, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, and cardamom), their Kentucky Pilgrim (Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon infused with cardamom, cinnamon, and dried cranberry, Luxardo Maraschino, lemon, and Demerara syrup; shaken and served up with a lemon twist and made on request), the Friar Serra Flip (you gotta ask for that one too), and hot spiced cider.
Timballo for New Year’s Eve
Have you always dreamed of trying that timballo masterpiece at the end of Big Night? Every year for New Year’s Eve, chef-owner Jon Smulewitz Dopo makes this special timballo that is a very labor-intensive process, made of nine layers that include ravioli, risotto, egg, various cheeses, and salumi, all encased in a giant, savory, pastry-crust shell and baked to a golden hue. It’s part of their three-course tasting menu for $55, which also includes traditional New Year’s cotechino sausage for good luck and chocolate zeppole. Make a reservation, this evening special will get booked up soon.