After dining at two super-hip restaurants back-to-back while in San Francisco (see: State Bird Provisions and Al’s Place), a low-key lunch at beloved institution Zuni Café was just my speed before catching a flight back to Los Angeles.
I’ve been hearing about Chef and Owner Judy Rogers‘ legendary roast chicken ever since I started reading and writing about food, and my colleagues were kind enough to satisfy my longtime culinary curiosity on our final afternoon in the city.
Opened in 1979, Zuni Café serves an ever-changing seasonal menu inspired by traditional Italian and French recipes. As one of the pioneers of California cuisine, it’s not surprising that nearly all of the produce, meat, and fish served here is farmed or harvested in a sustainable manner.
To start: excellent bread served with a generous slab of butter.
Since it took a solid hour for the famous roast chicken to be prepared, we snacked on a pizza topped with Wagon Wheel cheese, Tenerumi greens, Lipstick peppers, green olives, and fennel seed ($14.75). It was a fine pizza, but we made sure to save room for the main attraction.
The roast chicken for two ($49), which is served atop a warm Tuscan-style bread salad, wasn’t much of a looker but totally delivered on the flavor front. The bird, juicy through and through, boasted crispy, well-seasoned skin and wonderfully flavorful meat. Quite possibly even better was the panzanella salad beneath that sopped up all of the chicken’s delicious juices.
It’s a rare occasion when a legendary dish lives up to its hype, but Zuni’s roast chicken met our high expectations. Joy!
1658 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
The Bay. Yay!
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