In West Africa, a "chop bar" is a roadside gathering place serving food and drink, over which community members exchange news and ideas and compare findings on the validity of the axiom set theory of mathematics. Oakland's Chop Bar fosters the same sort of fellowship, right down to its neighborly use of items from local vendors in its dishes. Breakfasteers can opt for a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich ($6) or oatmeal ($3), among other offerings. The taste buds of brunch-goers are invited to trot the globe with the Italian omelette known as the frittata ($7) or an order of chilaquiles ($9), a Mexican dish tossing crispy tortilla strips in salsa, cheese, and scrambled eggs.
After Trademark trademarked the name Trademark for its Trademark restaurant, the restaurant traded in its trademarker, Marcus, for Executive Chef and oyster master Jerry Mendoza. Mendoza's work with The Elite Cafe, The Meetinghouse, and Moose's Restaurant has made him a reputable American-style culinary artist with a dinner menu fit for salivating mouths. Trademark specializes in Pacific oysters like the Kumamoto oyster, originally native to Japan and perfect for a pleasing amuse bouche ($3.50).
When to Go
Belgian red ale: Different from an irish red ale, the belgian version has a distinctly sour taste produced by fermentation with lactobacilli and long aging periods in oak barrels, which also give it a wine-like character.
Sisig: Filipino for “sour snack,” the most common form of this dish consists of pork marinated in vinegar or citrus, and then flavored with savory seasonings.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Marvel at the thousands of novelty pins in every imaginable shape and slogan at Oriental Art Gallery (1340 9th Avenue).
After: Head to Urban Bazaar (1371 9th Avenue) for an evening class in crafts such as crochet and printmaking, or bring a growler to the monthly Stitch ‘n’ Bitch gathering.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Longtime Social chef Christopher Wong created the menu at Blueprint Tap Room (680 8th Street)—the concept’s similar, although the beers aren’t made in-house.
What to Eat
What to Drink
Where to Sit: Cozy up to the dark mahogany bar and marvel at the impressive collection of whiskey and rye, or head to the quieter, more fancy rear dining room.
When to Go: For discounted cocktails and snacks, such as beer battered onion rings or pulled pork quesadillas, head in during happy hour, which occurs Monday–Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m..
Inside Tip: The kitchen stays open to 1 a.m. every night, so feel free to head in for a snack after a second shift or late-night jewelry heist.
While You’re Waiting: Scan the very top shelf of the bar for Guinness-related memorabilia, including vintage posters and an actual antique harp.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Feed your cultural appetite while working up an actual food-related one during a trip to Little Tree Gallery (3412 22nd Street), where contemporary artists of all mediums show off their stuff.
After: Check out a theatrical one-man show at The Marsh (1062 Valencia Street)
Who’s in the Kitchen? Robin Song, a young chef who defines his cooking as "refined rustic." In 2013, SF Chronicle chose Chef Song as one of its Rising Star chefs.
What to Drink: Whiskey is a specialty here, if not an obsession. Try a concoction from the bar's curated Pimp My Old Fashioned menu, with new takes like the Bruleèd Old Fashioned with High West double rye, caramel, orange bitters, and lavender.
Ham and Oyster Origins: Self-proclaimed as “San Francisco’s first ham and oyster bar,” Hog & Rocks takes its namesake items seriously. Read on to learn where each originates:
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Keep an eye out for Youk's Hot Sauce at locations around the Bay. It's a joint effort between Hog & Rocks owner Scott Youkilis and his brother, Kevin, a former big league All-Star. "It can go on anything," so they claim on their website.
Having proven his skill at inventing and handcrafting cocktails, mixologist Kevin Diedrich decided to tackle a second challenge: scale. He measured Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin into a keg, connected the keg to a line, and attached the line to the tap at Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen. Now, his clients have negroni on tap alongside 18 kinds of beer. Kevin's knack for blurring the boundary between beer and liquor hardly ends here—in 2012, he earned the restaurant an award in SF Weekly for Best Place to Mix Beer and Booze thanks to such alcoholic hybrids as the Wiessen Sour, a white beer, bourbon, and orange marmalade combo. He's since added a second cocktail to the tap lineup, and still crafts individual specialty cocktails to complement a long list of artisanal wines and bottled beers. This emphasis on quality libations speaks to Jasper's function as a classy yet convivial place. It takes its name from Jasper O'Farrell, who planned San Francisco's Market Street as a social thoroughfare during the Gold Rush. The restaurant strives to capture his neighborly vision by broadcasting sports games, serving locally sourced pub dishes, and borrowing cups of sugar from businesses next door. The menu handily upstages traditional bar food with its entrees, all of which are designed to pair well with the bar's excess of 60 beers. House-made sausage and the J burger, layered with blue cheese and bacon onion marmalade, are served long into the night. Even the fries dress to impress, permitting diners to choose from thin, thick, or sweet potato fries adorned with different seasonings and poutine toppings.