Lunch with my friend D. always is a treat. In this review I shall refer to him only as D. in order to protect his privacy, because he is quite famous. And not only is D. a world-renowned author and a pillar of the community but also, he just happens to be a foodie of the first order. (Suffice to say, he is simply fabulous.) So for all these reasons and more, it was a joy to try out a new restaurant with him, the Green Chile Kitchen, a Western Addition/NOPA restaurant that serves dishes inspired by the food of New Mexico.
Before getting to a review of the food, I feel a hiccup must be pointed out. The restaurant is not that new so I was surprised that upon entering there was a bit of confusion with regard to the service. No one greeted us and as it was a big restaurant. . . what to do? Where was the menu? Oh, there’s a basket of them near the door. Should we seat ourselves or order at the counter? We managed to flag down a server (it was 12.30pm) and we were instructed to proceed first to the register to place our orders. Scanning the paper menu at the register took some time, given how extensive it is and how unusual some of the dishes are. . . they merit a good read (this could definitely create a bottleneck at rush hour) We made our selections and paid, and then we got our flags with numbers to take with us back to our table.
The decor was austere, with lots of heavy wooden furniture and catholic iconography. The room almost had the feel of a Spanish mission. . . some of the pieces were gorgeous. . .
As for the food, we ordered the following:
The food was good, but not great. While the ingredients themselves clearly were of top quality, and while the food was beautifully plated, the end result still felt a bit disappointing. The burrito was unremarkable, bland. The quesadilla though was much better; while mild, it was rich and had a deep savory richness that we both loved. The drink, what was it called??, was horrible. Bottled vinegar. Yuck!
Given the uneven nature of our experience, I think the reason to go to this restaurant is the following: it provides solid, good food (and sometimes really good) but moreover, provides a convenient venue for the people of the neighborhood to connect. In terms of menu and decor, it’s one of the coolest spaces on the block. It is spacious enough for the ladies who lunch, it is friendly to parents with babies in tow, to the laptop warriors who want plenty of space to stretch out while they work over lunch, and for the singles that want to linger over a book and people watch. The restaurant provides a fine stage for all these things but to be fair, can also get fairly loud, too, during prime time.
I’d definitely go back to try some of the other menu items, as there were many things that looked appealing, but I’m not in a hurry.
San Francisco, CA 94117
Neighborhood: Western Addition/NOPA
After lunch, however, we discovered a real gem, one block to the south. Green Chile Kitchen has a partner bakery, Chile Pie and Ice Cream. We decided to ‘peak-in’, despite being full from lunch. We both decided we’d have to make a point to come back for this one. The pies are gorgeous, made of organic ingredients and every bit as gorgeous as the ones you’d find at a church bake-sale. Perhaps more so. They also serve Three Twins ice cream which is another star on the local ice cream scene and again, all organic. Stay tuned for a review as we’ll be going back to Chile Pie and Ice Cream, most definitely!