Since this week is like my Dogpatch roundup, I want to mention one more spot that cracks me up: ~HARD KNOX CAFE~. The irony is this little soul food joint is run by a Vietnamese family who lived in Texas; they've been running this cozy and down-home place for nine years. It looks like a roadhouse, with corrugated metal siding for the walls, antique signs, a wood bar and floors, cute red vinyl booths, and some bluesy tunes. It's almost always busy, with a line out the door, but it moves pretty quickly.
I've tried a lot of things on the menu, but the fried chicken ($9) is where it's at. I think it's some of the better fried chicken in town, actually--my Southern pal agreed. You get three pieces (a leg or thigh, a wing, and a breast), with a light fry but good crunch, and the chicken is almost sweet it's so juicy. Plus you get two warm corn muffins, which are probably nuked, but oh well, along with a soft pat of butter, and you get a choice of two sides (which are all vegetarian). Yeah, I know, for $9. No, it's not Fulton Valley Ranch chicken. But it's commendable there's a place serving hearty portions of some decent comfort food in this town for under $10.
Of the sides, I think the potato salad is just perfect, and it's fun to dig in to some old-school kinda trashy stovetop mac and cheese that reminds me of being eight and having dinner at a friend's house (it tasted nothing like my mother's, who made hers by scratch, a baked version with a little milk, lots of cheese, and cut-up Polish dogs in it, yum!). Otherwise, the vegetable sides taste either canned to me, or just weird--like, I gotta have salt pork in my collards, and the yams were cloyingly sweet.
The spicy chicken sandwich ($6.45) is also the shiznit, with grilled onions, peppers, and a tasty sauce. For me, that's it--those are my two dishes. I know some folks love the spare ribs, the oxtails, and the Cajun meatloaf. But for me, the rest of the menu doesn't really rock me--for some unfortunate reason, I've had some pretty bland dishes here, and the vegetables haven't been shown much love. But I definitely dig the friendly service, the Mason jars for your lemonade or Arnold Palmer, and the cold (and super affordable) beer on tap. And the fried chicken. Bwok.
Hard Knox Café
2526 3rd St.
Cross: 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107