Bento415 Reinvents the Lunch Box with Plenty of Neighborhood Flavor

Categories: Opening, Palmer
T. Palmer
Bento415 names its lunches after S.F. 'hoods.
Attention, Gold's Gym bunnies, culinary students, Dogpatch start-up soldiers, and anyone else who appreciates a flavorful and healthy lunch. Bento415 is now on the scene in SOMA, with to-go boxes named after S.F. neighborhoods and featuring an international palette of ingredients.

We were pleasantly surprised to find Bento415 located inside Pinkie's Bakery (300 De Haro at 16th St., Suite 342), which opened last week, since we were already fans of the Pinkie's baked goods sold at Rainbow Grocery.

Three of the four bentos were still available when we arrived, which was fine since only three of us were going to do the eating. The Chinatown Box (poached chicken, sweet potato salad, pickled celery, and ginger soba noodles with sesame, miso, and sweet chili vinaigrette) was sold out. We enjoyed eating a bit of each of the remaining three offerings. The vegetarian Haight Box balanced a red quinoa salad with currants and pine nuts with beets tossed in white balsamic and horseradish, persimmons and pomegranates kissed with wildflower honey, and some spicy pickled carrots. The same carrots showed up in the Italian North Beach box, along with a sandwich of spicy coppa Tramezzino, fresh mozzarella, and basil aioli, an herbed yogurt and apple slaw, caponata with grilled flat bread, and lemon olives. But it was the Mission Box (a Fra'Mani chorizo and queso fresco torta served with arbol-spiced grapefruit, spiced Marcona almonds, and totopos [chips]) we found ourselves completely devouring.
T. Palmer
North Beach Box
T. Palmer
Mission Box

Co-owner Patience Elfving, who runs Bento415 with chef Chris Beerman, told SFoodie that the contents of the boxes will change often, using the best seasonal ingredients available at any given time.

"We'll also add other neighborhoods once we get into the swing of things," she said.

We ordered plenty of food for lunch -- and, um, breakfast, since there was also a yummy squash and potato quiche with a spiced yogurt in a breakfast bento ($6.50). But we still couldn't resist throwing one of Pinkie's proprietor Cheryl Burr's pecan sticky rolls ($2) on top, a good choice since it was lighter than it appeared. The bakery normally opens at 6:30 a.m., and the lunch bentos are available from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., although Bento415 will be closed this Thursday and Friday in observance of Thanksgiving.

Headline photo: Mai Le/Flickr

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T. Palmer
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