Occupation: Non-Profit Worker
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Auntie April's Chicken, Waffles & Soul Food
Reviewed Auntie April's Chicken, Waffles & Soul Food: Wednesday, February 17, 2010
In the interest of full disclosure, it’s important to understand that I am a lover of all things soul. Soul music, soul power, soul clapping, and especially soul food. Crispy fried chicken, ham-laden collard greens, perfectly breaded catfish, and red velvet cake are certainly a few of my favorite things, and they are dishes I’ve sampled near and far. However, even a jaded soul foodie, such as myself, will have a blast at Auntie April’s Chicken 'n' Waffles, an unpretentious finger-licking-good eatery on 3rd Street in the Bayview District.
My first trip to Auntie April's was completely due to my being totally caught off guard by the fact that San Francisco had its own chicken and waffles spot. Having grown up on Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n' Waffles, a Los Angeles staple, I knew I had to give it a try. Buttery, syrup-drenched waffles and crispy, crumbly chicken wings awaited. I was hooked, and at under $10, I could afford to gleefully work my way toward a first heart attack again and again. And I did.
For my most recent visit, I brought along two Auntie April’s newbies, and was determined to try something new myself. One of my guests ordered a $6 fried catfish po'boy, which was gigantic and served with fries that tasted just like all the other delicious goodies that had hopped into the fryer before them. Yum! Another went for the gold and got the $13 four-piece chicken dinner and, for her two hefty sides, chose collard greens and red beans and rice. The chicken, as always, had Auntie April’s melt-in-your-mouth batter without the grease one comes to expect at lesser fried chicken joints. Her collard greens were stewed to perfection, and her red beans and rice had just the right amount of seasonings.
Before I get into my meal of meals, I want to comment on some of the non-food features that are indicative of Auntie April’s serious soul cred. Firstly, the staff, which is usually no more than two, does not mess around. Their job is to fry your food perfectly and quickly (all of our meals were back to us in ten minutes), not to waste time on too many pleasantries. The restaurant also caters to its clientele, who are residents of the Bayview community, by providing a lovely seating area where people can congregate and by not wasting time/energy/space on unnecessary décor. Again, at Auntie April’s they are focused on the food, and you should be, too! Oh, and they have a touching Michael Jackson shrine! So much soul!
Anyway, back to the food focus! I decided to break away from my penchant for poultry on this visit and went with the 4-piece catfish dinner, which, for only $13, included four tasty pieces of fish, two sides, and cornbread. The fish was to die for! Tender and moist as could be and covered in a relatively light, but delightfully crispy cornmeal batter. My sides -- mac 'n' cheese and yams -- both knocked my socks off, with the mac leaving gooey strings in my beard, and the sweet syrupy yams putting me on the edge of a diabetic coma.
Somehow after all of this food, the three of us mustered up the courage to try and stuff down a slice of red velvet cake, as it looked too good to miss. It was. We bought another piece and will be dealing with the consequences for days. Auntie April's is not for the faint of heart, literally, but if you’re the kind of person interested in heading to a new neighborhood to check out a community-serving, butter-drenched restaurant with a lot of soul, head on down to Auntie April’s today.
Occupation: Sales Consultant
Favorite Restaurant: Incontro Ristorante
Reviewed Auntie April's Chicken, Waffles & Soul Food: Saturday, February 13, 2010
My wife and I decided to take our thirteen-year-old son Max and his best friend Nathan to dinner at Auntie Aprils. We opted for an early dinner and arrived at 6 pm. There were a bunch of folks hangin’ on the sidewalk in front of April’s but no one in the restaurant. Not even anyone behind the counter. I am guessing it’s more of a breakfast/lunch joint.
A nice young man came out and asked if we were going to get food to go or eat in, we opted to eat in, and he invited us to sit anywhere and gave us menus.
The décor is very basic. Some tables had glass tops and tablecloths, and others had those faux oilcloth tablecloths. There were some couches and chairs in the front window. We opted for a table in the back, close to the open kitchen, which runs all along one wall.
Shortly, April herself came out, sporting a red chef coat, red sweat pants, and what looked like slippers. She took our order – the boys ignored our advice, "They are known for their chicken and waffles here, boys," and our son ordered a plain cheeseburger with fries, and Nathan ordered chicken strips with fries. Really, you could take these boys anywhere, and if those items are on the menu, that’s what they will order. It’s been that way since they first met in second grade. Nathan briefly considered ordering from the "Grown Man’s Menu," but I think it was just because he liked the name.
My wife ordered the leg/thigh/waffle combo, and I got the three-piece wing and waffle combo. April and her young assistant commenced to whipping up our dinner. In no time at all, we were presented with our meal and plastic squirt bottles of ketchup, hot sauce, and (of course) syrup.
The boys declared their meals "good." Our chicken and waffle combos were delicious. The chicken was hot and crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. The hot sauce was a nice combo of spice and vinegar and was excellent on the chicken. The waffles -- wow. First, they came loaded with a little lake of butter, to which I added the syrup, making a beautiful, little, buttery, sweet sauce. The waffles were light and crisp at first. Naturally, as the meal progressed, the butter/syrup duo permeated the waffle and they got less crisp, but they were still yummy. My son asked for a bite of waffle and then proceeded to eat about half of my waffle. I told him we could order him a waffle, but he contented himself with pilfering from mine. Nathan declined to taste the waffles, I think, because he didn’t want to experience the regret of not having ordered waffles.
I had looked at some reviews on Yelp, and many people commented on the red velvet cake, so my wife, who LOVES red velvet anything, ordered a slice, and April astutely suggested four forks. The cake was a two-layer affair, with the requisite cream cheese frosting, which April had packed with red velvet cake crumbs. The taste, unfortunately, did not live up to its image. It was dry and didn’t have enough chocolate flavor for me. The frosting was gooey, not fluffy, but it did have good cream cheese flavor. We guessed that perhaps the red velvet cake was intended for consumption earlier in the day and was maybe just a little long in the tooth by the time we ordered. Again, this is probably a better lunch spot. Our entire meal, for four people, was $38.00, which is very reasonable.
As for the neighborhood -- we were able to get a parking space just one storefront away on the street. As we were pulling away, the boys commented that they hadn’t felt comfortable when we first got there, because of the people congregated in front of the restaurant. My wife and I felt completely safe the entire time, even though it was dark when we left. Again, probably a better lunch choice for four white folks from the ‘burbs, but even so, we didn’t have any issues and, despite what I had read on Yelp, saw no drug deals go down.
Would we go back? Probably, if we were in the area. I could totally see hitting Auntie April’s on the way to a game and picking up fried chicken to go. Or stopping on the way home from the airport. Or if I was at a client site over in Potrero Hill and finished up in time for lunch. But it’s not a destination choice, meaning I doubt I would get up on a Saturday and suggest driving there for lunch. Although, we did tack on a visit to Mitchell’s Ice Cream in the Lower Mission, which really isn’t that far, and is another out-of-the-way spot. So, a chicken-waffle-ice cream field trip just might make it a destination.
Occupation: Jazz Guitarist
Favorite Restaurant: Butterfly Restaurant
Reviewed Auntie April's Chicken, Waffles & Soul Food: Friday, February 12, 2010
I have had the infamous Roscoe’s chicken and waffles, so I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect from Auntie April’s Chicken 'n' Waffles, and I was looking forward to it. Auntie April’s is located in the Hunters Point/Bayview district of San Francisco, which has been/can be known for being a tough/rough part of town. I didn’t find that at all. I went midday and didn’t feel uncomfortable at all, and with plenty of parking, it had a leg up on most places to eat in San Francisco!
Although we -- the Check, Please! Bay Area participants -- were instructed to bring cash to Auntie April’s, as they don’t take checks or credit cards, I, of course, forgot to go to the bank. Just up the block, I found a corner store, which had an ATM, and made my way back to survey the menu. Auntie April’s is a chicken, waffles, and sandwich joint, so I wasn’t expecting amazing atmosphere or ambience, and what I found was pleasant and enjoyable. Recently revitalized, the main drag is just out in front of the restaurant and features palm trees and a newly built Muni station, which are all visually appealing. The inside of Auntie April’s was clean, well lit, spacious, and had plenty of seating.
The first thing on the menu that caught my eye was the fried catfish, of which I am a huge fan. I did decide, however, to stick to the task and try the namesake chicken and waffles. Auntie April’s did feature several waffle and chicken combinations, including leg, thigh, breast, or chicken strip combinations. I chose the chicken strips/waffle combo. I also added a single pancake to the order as, truth be told, I am a huge pancake fan -- more so than waffles. I also added a side of yams or "sweet potatoes," since Auntie April’s has many great soul food side dishes on the menu as well. The food came quickly, within ten minutes. The service was great, helpful and friendly. A woman even came and insisted on fixing my slightly wobbly table leg before my order came out!
The waffle was to my liking, light, fluffy, and very tasty. The pancake was very good, cooked perfectly with great flavor. The syrup, which some say makes the dish, wasn’t my favorite, but it was still very tasty. The chicken strips were great; great seasoning, flavor, and not over cooked. The chicken batter was light and not too "cakey." Auntie April’s special hot sauce was one of my favorite parts. I would love to go back there and have some scrambled eggs with that hot sauce -- tasty! The yams were a great surprise. Cooked with brown sugar and cinnamon, they were moist and flavorful.
Overall a great experience, and while a little out of my way living in the East Bay, I plan on going back to try some of the other items on the menu, and I would definitely recommend it to friends.