Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kate's Kitchen for Dinner–Southern Food meets Californian

To your right as you enter Kate’s Kitchen, a landmark brunch restaurant on Haight Street in San Francisco, a painted message on the wall begins with, “LO2UL, hello to you all” and spans the length of the dining area. When decoded, it offers a note of welcome that whets the appetite. That most patrons don’t know the entire meaning matters little. Indeed, Kate’s décor is quirky, classic, and original, but it was the food that first brought patrons in the door twenty years ago. It’s what keeps them coming back.

Kate’s Kitchen, owned and managed by Hasan Khader, is the second-oldest traditional restaurant on the block. And it’s just reinvented itself. 

On any given day, tourists and locals alike congregate outside the front door, patiently waiting to drink the restaurant’s signature coffee with chicory, to taste the homemade fennel sausage, to soak their French toast orgy–topped with granola, fruit, and yogurt–in maple syrup. Not long ago, a man who was visiting from Maine said that the corned beef hash at Kate’s was the best he’d ever had. His friend later agreed.

Since the lunch and breakfast are so affordable and satisfying, it was as if on a dare to top his own daytime operation that Khader launched a dinner service last month. The locals I spoke with said they’re glad he did.

The new offerings include dishes like fried chicken, pan-seared halibut, shrimp and grits, roasted lamb, and kale salad with cranberries and bacon. The theme is a unique marriage of Southern and Californian cuisines. It offers something for the meat girl, the salad guy, and all foodies in between.

Mary's Fried Chicken
Roasted Lamb 
Shrimp and Grits
Khader and his family designed the menu, and if he happens to be on-hand when you’re visiting he’ll be glad to chat about the  new food items as well as the many changes Kate's has undergone in recent months.

The only regular day the restaurant closes is on Christmas. But in 2013, for the first time in twenty years, it closed an additional day so that an interior wall could be knocked down. Soon thereafter, a kitchen-view bar was built, which increased seating capacity and made it easier to serve beer and wine. 

Kate’s now offers draft beer and three types of mimosas, making the bar an ideal place to sit and eat before watching sports at your neighborhood watering hole. Or after–since dinner is now served from 5:00 to 9:30 Tuesday through Saturday.

What's more, the restaurant sources organic wine from California vineyards.

“Come in and let us know what you think!” Khader says. In the mornings when he stirs and cools his homemade jam, he sometimes asks his servers to taste it and tell him if something is missing.

He has the same philosophy for all food he serves. If something needs tweaking, he wants to know about it.

Kate’s Kitchen is, after all, a restaurant for the people. Whether they live around the corner or have just arrived from Europe, patrons will likely agree that the dinner entrees are spot-on.

Then they’ll come back the next morning for breakfast.

Kates Kitchen
471 Haight Street @ Fillmore 
San Francisco
(415) 626-3984

Breakfast and lunch served everyday

Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday

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