When in San Francisco, you can expect to eat seasonally, responsibly and well at restaurants that know the appeal of micro herbs and stuffed squash blossoms. So too at Central Kitchen. Found in the Mission District, Central Kitchen’s kitchen is led by Chef Thomas McNaughton and churns out dishes inspired by Northern Californian ingredients and sensibilities. On any given night, you might spy dishes like Fried Young Fava Beans with a lemon verbena aioli, Pan-roasted McFarland Trout (served with fingerling potatoes, smoked almonds, and chicory and kumquat salad), or Roast Duck Breast (with grilled asparagus, wild ramp and strawberry-pine nut compote) on the short but sweet menu. Here, fruit mingles with the mains, ingredients are locally sourced, and you’d be mad to miss the opportunity to sample the offerings on the wine list; they’ve been curated to match that season’s menu.
The space itself, while contrasting the serene seasonality of the menu with industrial-like exposed pipes and stark drop lighting, features plenty of green, both in the plants growing around the edges of the glass-roofed courtyard dining area and the wealth of painted wood found throughout. While prices can be fairly steep and the noise level can also be fairly high, it’s all indicative of the fact that Central Kitchen continues to be popular with San Franciscans week-in, week-out. Speaking of: while walk-ins are possible, they’re not likely, so you’ll want to lock in a reservation to dine here.