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Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Food Network's Tom Pizzica Brings Pork-Belly Burgers to SoMa

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 2:45 PM

The Banh Baby Banh with crinkle-cut fries. - PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
  • The Banh Baby Banh with crinkle-cut fries.

Western SOMA is really taking off. In a corner spot on Howard Street that used to house a forgettable taqueria comes the brick-and-mortar for Big Chef Tom's Belly Burgers, a somewhat desperately needed establishment a solid mile from any Super Duper or Umami Burger. The Big Chef Tom in question is Tom Pizzica of the Food Network, a gregarious soul if ever there was one, and who seemingly does everything Guy Fieri should avoid doing.

See also: Western SoMa Gets a New Third-Wave Roastery, Sextant Coffee

The Willows Had Us at "Pork Belly Doughnuts"

Ground pork belly provides the patty for all 14 burgers here -- although you may get chicken or veg, if you're so inclined -- and the condiments run wild. To wit: the Philly Porker come with Italian herbed mayo, sautéed broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone; the Uncle Jesse features olive tapenade, herbed feta, and pepperoncini; and the BLC has lime cumin aioli, cucumber, and iceberg lettuce.

  • Pete Kane

  • Pete Kane

You can swap out the buttered bun for a lettuce cup, but as the name suggests, getting a bit of a belly is kind of the point. At $7.50 each, there is a risk of one's-not-enough-but-two's-too-many, but a $4 side of salty crinkle-cut fries might solve that dilemma. And for the record, the Banh Baby Banh (with Vietnamese caramel, hardboiled egg, cilantro and jalapeño) is well-rounded and pleasantly spicy, and you should definitely eat it over those fries to catch the drippings. Conservation is important.

As may be expected, Big Chef Tom's interior has white subway tiles and lots of reclaimed wood. (No surprises there. It's still 2014.) But it's pretty big, the round bench seats swivel out, and there are seven two-tops as well as a giant communal table -- so although this burger joint shuts at 9 p.m., it's not too hard to see gaggles of partiers gorging on pork before hitting a club, pork belly fiends stopping here before eating a pork belly doughnut at the Willows, or hungry bears mobbing the place after the Eagle beer bust. SOMA for the win.

Big Chef Tom's Belly Burgers, 1550 Howard St., (415) 513-1331

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About The Author

Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40


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