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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SFoodie's 92, Part 3: Our Favorite Things to Eat and Drink in S.F.

Posted By on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Page 10 of 31

Mission Burger's chili on cheesy tater tots. - J. BIRDSALL
  • J. Birdsall
  • Mission Burger's chili on cheesy tater tots.
Number 71: Chili from Mission Burger Call us lazy ― Americans, that is. The nation that invented chili, we've shown little interest in taking it beyond predictable simulacrums of the can, or the semi-digestible multi-bean creations of hippie moms. But not at Mission Burger, where from his corner at Duc Loi Supermarket, chef Danny Bowien wrings surprising things out of fewer ingredients than stock a Johnny Rockets. The namesake sandwich is a salty aggregate of ropy meat fibers stiffened on the flattop. The patty's construction has been much written about (short rib, chuck, and brisket, blended in the grinder and extruded, plastic-wrapped into a mighty torchon of meat). But it's the scraps ― the torchon's ends, in other words, which Bowien says end up too compacted to make successful patties ― that form the base (and the raison d'être) of Mission Burger's occasional chili. The latest version was an hours-long braise of those burger ends, with a bit of onion, chili vinegar, and house-made harissa. It ended up a thick, fiery stew with smoky undertones that offered a glimpse of redefined chili, part Italian ragu, part ma-po vividness. Bowien says if the temperature dips he'll consider selling bowls of it as a special. Today it showed up ladled onto tater tots (the frozen kind, from Sysco) glazed with slices of brick Monterey Jack. We'd be satisfied with a clump of the stuff spooned over rice, a hot dog. Hell, even a bowl of Fritos ― in fine American tradition. Mission Burger at Duc Loi Supermarket 2220 Mission (at 18th St.), 551-1772; open noon-3 p.m., Sat.-Weds.
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