Comprehensive Guide to the Best Poutine in San Francisco

perdiem02_poutine.jpg
The Dapper Diner
Where does Per Diem's poutine fall on our all-time best of list?
As fall settles in on San Francisco, it brings changes at the farmers' market, restaurant menus, and the type of weather-related bitching done by city residents. With each successive fall, one food item seems to be rearing its greasy head on more and more menus: poutine. Every year, this Quebecois pub snack gains traction as additional restaurants slot it on to their menu, and each year someone writes about a few of them, but it's usually only a short list of three to five places and ends up resembling more a rapper's name check than an informative breakdown. This doesn't cut it for me. Having traveled to Montreal on many occasions to watch the Canadian Formula 1 races and then to Quebec, I have indulged in many late night poutine-eating sessions in bars, and even a sad afternoon stop at a poutine-serving Burger King, so uncovering only a few of San Francisco's poutine stops would be criminal. Instead, I found eleven. Yeah, "Vladamir Poutine," president of Poutinestan, would approve.

See also:
- Top 10 Best Places for Fried Chicken in San Francisco
- San Francisco's Top 10 Burritos
- San Francisco's Top 10 Brunches

But what is poutine? For the uninitiated, it is the eastern Canadian equivalent of chili cheese fries, In-N-Out animal style fries, Buffalo wings, or Bullitt's Tot-chos. Simply, it is a pile of thin to medium cut French fries which are crispy enough to withstand a ladle-full of brown gravy on which a generous serving of crumbled cheese curds are dropped, melting slightly from the heat of the fries and gravy. It is the 2 a.m. greasy, bar food for which you would kill your best friend. It is the salty and satisfying snack that tastes like ambrosia as you shove it down your gullet while drunk in a bar that smells like it has sticky floors as Rush's greatest hits plays. It is the regret that punches the inside of your stomach and wakes you the following afternoon.

So with a moderate amount of ado, I present the poutine breakdown. Note: these aren't ranked by authenticity, but on their overall enjoyment from flavor and preparation, such as the crispiness of the fries and how they hold up to the gravy, how thin or thick the gravy is, and how melty or firm the curds are. Ultimately, it's up to you to choose which one you like the best, but choose wisely.

11. Jamber Wine Pub: $9

jamber_poutine.jpg
The Dapper Diner
The too-salty-to-eat poutine at Jamber.
The weakest of the bunch: the fries, while nice and crisp, were so salty that a majority of them were inedible. Inspecting one of the fries made it clear that each was decorated with an incredible amount of salt crystals, glistening like morning dew on a leaf. The last time I ate something this salty that wasn't an actual salt lick was the tripe dish from Locanda. The "cream gravy," as described by the menu, was too thin and watery, contacting very few of the fries, with a flavor that was non-existent ... or perhaps it did exist, but the salt made it impossible to taste. Lastly, the barely present melted curds ended up being more "stiff" than gooey.


10. The Beach Chalet: $9

beachchalet_poutine.jpg
The Dapper Diner
Poutine at Beach Chalet gives it a goood try, but falls short.
Available during dinner or brunch, The Beach Chalet's poutine uses a thin, broth-like onion and beef gravy that ends up sitting at the bottom of the bowl in which it's served, getting soaked up by the giant pieces of roasted potato which are soft, but not crisp, as promised by the menu description. The mozzarella curds are melted nicely and generous, distributed throughout, but like other mozzarella-curded poutine, contribute little to the overall flavor of the dish. A sparse amount of braised beef sits atop the curds, like a sad patch of hair on a balding man's head, where they act more like a meat garnish than anything else.


Location Info

Venue

Map

Jamber

858 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA

Category: Music

Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant

1000 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA

Category: Music

Chop Bar

247 4th St., Oakland, CA

Category: Restaurant

Salt House

545 Mission(at First St.), San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

Sauce

131 Gough, San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

Sauce

56 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

Pig and Pie

2962 24th St., San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen

401 Taylor, San Francisco, CA

Category: Music

Wayfare Tavern

558 Sacramento, San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

Citizens Band

1198 Folsom, San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

Per Diem

43 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
33 comments
jfaubert
jfaubert

None of that is poutine. Poutine is fries, cheese curds and brown gravy, period.

CoyDavidsonCRE
CoyDavidsonCRE

@krystaelaine I will have to find a place in Houston. It doesn't look all that appetizing, but I will try anything once

mmmbuttah
mmmbuttah

PLUM BAR is where it's at!! cant believe it didn't make the list...

themayorpete
themayorpete

@VitiViniVino yeah....uhhh....no. he writes his reviews like a family guy ep. reference jokes in every sentence. awful shit.

ZL_Francis
ZL_Francis

@VitiViniVino wonder if @thedapperdiner is going to start inviting chefs to cook for his holiday party.

bhearsum
bhearsum

@joduinn @shappy @sfoodie @catlee @railaliev I guess we need to get poutine during the next team week now.

thedapperdiner
thedapperdiner

@LouAtLarge I expect hate mail from lots of balding poutine lovers.

LooTina
LooTina

@Ian_Mosby Like Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion, poutine is Quebec's biggest cultural export and contribution to the world!

fee_lechat
fee_lechat

@robnicmac @sharadmohan @PeymanehChychi @weaktight @juliovisko omg. Best list ever!!! Came at the best time.

dashandbella
dashandbella

@JeffGordinier @sfweekly I don't know wassup with SF poutine trend. but must partake. shall shove down gullet while drunk. as advised.

PeymanehChychi
PeymanehChychi

@robnicmac @sharadmohan @weaktight @fee_lechat @JulioVisko let's go!

Catherine McCracken
Catherine McCracken

Grew up in Ottawa and do like poutine every once in a while - fun that a Canadian trucker food has made it to the States!

Christopher Basso
Christopher Basso

there are a couple of funny comments at the end of the article. :)

vanmoore
vanmoore

real simple, no cheese curds on it, it's not a freaking poutine. freaking hipsters.

janeandjohndoe
janeandjohndoe

Poutine: The hipster douchebag dish of 2012. 

 On a positive note: It will lead to skinny jeans falling out of fashion in 2013 because they won't fit...

krystaelaine
krystaelaine

@CoyDavidsonCRE it tastes much better than it sounds

Sfcheesecake
Sfcheesecake

@ZL_Francis @vitivinivino @thedapperdiner Riot!!

thedapperdiner
thedapperdiner

@ZL_Francis only if they want 4 stars. heh. @VitiViniVino

VitiViniVino
VitiViniVino

@ZL_Francis @thedapperdiner I hear that if you want his recommendation, that's the only way #AQ

escapewindow
escapewindow

@bhearsum @joduinn @shappy @sfoodie @catlee @railaliev Especially since we can get Indian Poutine at the Town Crier in January?

LouAtLarge
LouAtLarge

@thedapperdiner Looks like you put a stick in a hornets nest! Anti-hipsters, baldies, and even the Canadians have awakened from the calm.

thedapperdiner
thedapperdiner

@Sfcheesecake i mean really, what type of person would do that. Oh, that's right... @ZL_Francis @VitiViniVino

VitiViniVino
VitiViniVino

@thedapperdiner @zl_francis how much for a Michelin star? #howmuchpoutine

railaliev
railaliev

@escapewindow @bhearsum @joduinn @shappy @SFoodie @catlee can't wait, let's go there next week! @armenzg

thedapperdiner
thedapperdiner

@LouAtLarge I fear it's worse than drawing a cartoon of Muhammad.

ZL_Francis
ZL_Francis

@thedapperdiner unlimited eva peron's. @VitiViniVino

thedapperdiner
thedapperdiner

@VitiViniVino gallons of it with foie and truffles. Also gold bars. @ZL_Francis

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