Criolla Kitchen Now Open in the Castro

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Interior photo by John Glenn.

As reported last week, chef Randy Lewis is opening ~CRIOLLA KITCHEN~ in the former Bagdad Cafe space this week (although it’s Criolla, not Criollo as I originally reported). Additional partners are Stephen PV Weber, Stephen H. White, and Michael Patterson. The menu—which traces soul food’s journey across the globe—features dishes from Africa, Puerto Rico, Louisiana (where Lewis is from), Portugal, and Cuba.

Dishes include starters like shrimp-stuffed hushpuppies with bread and butter pickle rémoulade ($5.90) and yam-yam tater tots with cilantro-lime crema ($4.90), while larger dishes include a selection of eight different rice and bean dishes (choose from either cast-iron, pot-simmered vegetarian black beans, or creamy ham-hock red beans, served with Louisiana long grain rice. Will it be calypso-spiced flank steak with rice and beans ($15.90), or plancha-seared Louisiana catfish with rice and beans ($14.90)? There’s also southern fried chicken, with your choice of waffle (original crispy, yam-yam sweet potato, johnny-cake corn, or savory herb)—and there’s even a choice with gizzards (I know my grandma would be thrilled with that one). There’s also a barbecue section, with ribs and brisket that are smoked daily in a barbecue pit in the East Bay. I am happy to see a Cubano on the menu ($10.90), with slow-roasted leg of pork, thin-sliced tasso ham, pickled okra, Swiss cheese, and Zatarain’s Creole mustard crema. Check out the entire hunger-inducing menu here. I’m ready to sit down and start shaking some housemade hot pepper sauce on the whole menu. Beer and wine will be coming soon, as will lunch, brunch, and 24-hour service. Dinner nightly at 6pm. 2295 Market St. at 16th St., 415-552-5811.