The Dogpatch lacks a full-service supermarket. In spite of its rough-and-tumble history and colorful name, it has only a handful of bars. Longtime caffeination spot Dogpatch Cafe shuttered its doors at the end of September. Late-night service and dim sum are a lot scarcer than barbecue or high-end Mexican food. And there’s a very low-rated eatery in SFO’s Terminal 2 that bears the name “Dogpatch” and which — if the disgruntled Yelpers are right — doesn’t even toast its avocado toast.
But with those stipulations, the Dogpatch is one of San Francisco’s quirkier dining destinations. Virtually everything there is to eat can be found directly on, or within half a block of, either Third Street or 22nd Street. And the neighborhood is full of catering companies and culinary artisans, so the clientele tends to be heavy on industry insiders — which means you know the stakes are high.
The Five Heavy-Hitters Having emerged from a Bernal Heights pop-up, Jordan Keao’s ’āina (900 22nd St.) is simply one of the most exciting restaurants in San Francisco — and considering Hawaiian food often contains little more than a scoop of macaroni salad and a dubious meat product that’s synonymous with unwanted email, that’s saying something. From the Spam bao to a charred octopus luau, dinner is resplendent, but brunch is the real key. Line up early for slow-braised kalbi short rib loco moco and malasadas (those deliciously messy Portuguese doughnuts).
Just down 22nd Street is the grandaddy of the neighborhood, group-friendly Piccino (1001 Minnesota St.), an ever-elegant, 11-year-old pizza-and-pasta spot with an adjacent cafe that balances rusticity and urbanity. Across the streetcar tracks, Serpentine (2495 Third St.) got a renovation this summer, during which time chef-owner Tommy Halvorson opened up the kitchen and moved the slightly awkward restrooms while rejiggering the menu in a more Southern direction, with mac ’n’ cheese alongside the vaunted steak frites.
If it’s Southern that you lust for, there’s plenty of barbecue at Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing (2505 Third St.), the sister to the craft brewery’s Haight Street flagship. Kalifornia Kolsch and Proving Ground IPA share space with plenty of cocktails, the brisket is plentiful, and the beans come with burnt ends. But for a true celebrity chef in an industrial setting, go to Alta CA’s second location inside the Minnesota Street Project gallery (1275 Minnesota St.) It’s Daniel Patterson’s temple to the full range of California cuisine, from the burger to the addictive brown rice puffs with avocado and piment d’espelette.
Classics, Old and New No tour through the Dogpatch would be complete without oysters, Shrimp Louis, and a beer at The Ramp (855 Terry A. Francois Blvd.), a slightly crusty but always delightful waterfront spot that’s been there since 1950, when the dilapidated pilings probably didn’t look much different than they do today. Considerably newer, and with its finger on the pulse of 21st-century San Francisco, is Glena’s (632 20th St.), a tiny, upscale Mexican restaurant that recently switched from fast-casual to full service. Get the chicken torta and a frozen margarita and feel your worries desaparecen.
Not far away is another new-ish taqueria: Gilberth’s Latin Fusion (2427 Third St.) Unlike Glena’s, which executes the classics admirably, Gilberth’s is where to head for wild boar empanadas or gnocchi made with epazote. A bit cheaper than the barbecue at Smokestack is one of S.F.’s two locations of Hard Knox Cafe (2526 Third St.), an always-busy joint that serves a lot of Muni employees blackened catfish and Cajun Lucys. For casual Japanese, say hello to the 30-year-old Moshi Moshi (2092 Third St.), the Dogpatch’s home for cold soba and more than a dozen under-$10 small plates.
Long Bridge Pizza (2347 Third St.) does its part to disabuse the world of the notion that S.F. can’t bake a decent thin-crust pie. After a few expansions, nothing’s yet available by the slice, but those pies include the sauce-free Pizza Jacker, which relies on Calabrian chile oil. For an even bigger gut-buster of an Italian lunch, Marcella’s Lasagneria (1099 Tennessee St.) proves how there is one true comfort food in this world, and it’s got Bolognese. Plus, they jar their own sauce. But one of the oldest restaurants in the neighborhood is Just For You Cafe (732 22nd St.), a breakfast-and-lunch diner with one foot each in Mexico and New Orleans. Yes, there’s a hangtown fry and Ritual coffee — and yes, they bake their own beignets.
Where to Grab a Drink Affiliated with Hayes Valley wine bar Pause, Yield (2490 Third St.) is a not-quite-no-frills neighborhood spot with a compact wine list, flatbread pizzas, and Tuesday night trivia. But it’s the duo of dives that echoes the Dogpatch’s working-class past. Between them, Dogpatch Saloon (2496 Third St.) and The Sea Star (2289 Third St.) have been pouring for more than 200 years. Third Rail (628 20th St.) is a cocktail and jerky bar(!) run by the Treasury team that practically faces the biggest site of future development in the neighborhood.
Along with Magnolia, there are two proper microbreweries in the neighborhood with dog-friendly taprooms: Triple Voodoo (2245 Third St.) and Harmonic Brewing (1050 26th St.) The former is open seven days a week and lets you bring your own food, while the latter has a Rye Old-Fashioned Pale Ale that’s about as sessionable as they come.
Sweets and Treats Because the American Industrial Center, a one-time production facility for the American Can Company, now rents space to so many light-industrial artisans, it was inevitable that it would affect the overall character of the Dogpatch, even though the makers are spread across the neighborhood. Cheesemaker La Fromagerie (2425 Third St.) and chocolatier Recchiuti Confections (801 22nd St.) are best known for their Ferry Building locations, but each manages a retail location here, as well. Meanwhile, Neighbor Bakehouse (2343 Third St.) serves chocolate claws, kimchi toast, and buckwheat orange financiers out of a different repurposed industrial building. The husband-and-wife duo behind ice cream makers Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous (699 22nd St.) may have no website and challenging hours for non-Dogpatch residents, but their ceaselessly evolving flavors are always worth a visit. Pray for Crema Catalina and Chicory Coffee.