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San Francisco: Canteen

October 23, 2006

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Last Monday I scrambled out of bed bright and early to catch the BART into San Francisco. My object of desire? Canteen’s breakfast of Chupacabra, a dish oft spoken of with high regard on Chowhound. I exited at Union Square, dashed past Macy’s, the new Westfield mall, this and that hotel, cabs on the street and the beautiful morning dew. A left turn onto Sutter Street, a couple blocks down. And there! Awesome, I was the first guest of the morning.

I settled my bum onto one of the bar seats and made myself right at home. A hot cup of coffee and menu in hand, I began to peruse my options. Oh dear, French Toast. With Stewed Blueberries. But I had come for hearty Chupacabra! It was a battle of the sweet and savory tooth. The waitress noticed that I was taking longer to decide than most normal people. She offered to help,
“Having a hard time making a decision?”
“Mmmm, French Toast or Chupacabra?”
“Oh, they’re both good!” and she strolls off towards the register to enjoy her cup of coffee. Great. I was going nowhere. See what happens is, I usually get sweet dishes for breakfast – think pancakes, french toast and the like. And then someone else at the table would get something savory. And then I get a severe case of “order envy” in which I stare longing at their savory hot dish wondering why I stupidly choose the sugar-laced starch. It’s not that I don’t like my pancakes and toast, it’s that I want my order AND theirs! Gee, I’m a greedy bum. :) But today would be different, I will restrain myself from letting my evil sugary side takeover. Chupacabra it will be!

I placed my order with the utmost confidence and relaxed back, happy with my decision. There were three of us in the small restaurant at the moment. The waitress, the cook, and I. Everyone seemed involved in their own world. The waitress confirming dinner reservations, the cook in the open kitchen, hunched over on my softly scrambled eggs and myself, observing what the other two were doing.

Ten minutes later it came. Presented by the cook himself, nonetheless! My Chupacabra Isn’t it gorgeous? A bed of savory hot homemade chorizo stirred in with black beans. Beneath the blanket of just barely scrambled eggs laid a mound of spiced stewed peppers. I didn’t know where to begin so I took it all in at once. Hoooo man, it was joy in a mouthful, the tender chunks of pork marked by the almost nutty beans and soft eggs, dark red peppers, touches of diced tomatoes and green onions – I would have given anything for a couple of fresh tortillas to soak it all up. All was silent in the kitchen/restaurant as I enjoyed this dish, I would have moaned from gastronomic pleasure…only I think the waitress would have found that inappropriate, so I substituted my appreciation with, “mmmm, this is soooo awesome!” (I must have sounded like a cheerleader. woohoo!) Hearty and comforting in ways that only proper food can be, my Chupacabra was the perfect match for this dewy San Fanscico morning.

Canteen
817 Sutter St.
San Francisco, Ca 94109
(415) 928-8870



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