Wednesday, July 20, 2011

D&D Restaurant Rating | Hard Knox Cafe

It's been awhile since I last did a restaurant rating. Ryan's on summer break from Stanford and when I have a day off we typically like to check out thrift/antique stores or enjoy some of our favorite breakfast and lunch spots throughout San Francisco. One area of the city that I think people can tend to forget is the incredible Dog Patch neighborhood. It's got a cool mix of industrial spots like Building REsources and hands-down the coolest garden shop in the city Flora Grubb, both of which can be dangerous for me, financially that is. This particular restaurant came to Ryan and I's attention sometime in the fall but with multiple locations throughout SF we found ourselves dining at the Hard Knox Cafe located in the Dog Patch this past week.

A brief history from their site:

In 1999 Chef/owner Tony Hua opened the first Hard Knox Café with one simple concept in mind and that was to offer guests a taste of soul food and lots of it. He believed that food is a medium that brings people together to enjoy not just the food but each other. His passion for food and people transformed Hard Knox Café into what it is today. After 9 successful years in the Dog Patch district of San Francisco, Tony opened a second location in the Richmond district of San Francisco. Hard Knox Café serves one purpose and that is to feed your appetite and soul. We welcome your feedback and depend on it to better serve you. Please email us if you have questions or comments and we will promptly reply. Thanks for visiting our site and restaurants!

Like I said, Ryan and I discovered Hard Knox Cafe last fall, but stumbling upon this second location made our day of thrifting and plant shopping that much better! I so rarely get soul food - unless I'm making my Mac & Cheese - but the entire ambiance of Hard Knox is something I just can't duplicate at home. The tin walls and combination of vintage street and food signs gives Hard Knox an authentic feeling that reminds me of my childhood. I did not grow up in the south but I will say that I was raised on some pretty comforting recipes that were passed down through generations of southern grandparents and great uncles/aunts.

Drinking a coke out of a glass jar or ordering a fried chicken sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes isn't easy to come by in San Francisco. And that's exactly what I ordered. The joy of Hard Knox is that you don't just get the option of fries or salad on the side. The list of sides is practically endless, consisting of but not limited to: Collard Greens, Potato Salad, Candied Yams, Mac & Cheese, Corn, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, or Red Beans and Rice!

My sandwich and side were a fantastic combo of savory and spice. The chicken was perfectly fried and the bread was flaky and delicious! I even went as far as dipping my sandwich in my mashed potatoes for that extra level of indulgence. I think the only downside to lunch was Ryan's Shrimp Po' Boy - which I found to be very good - but he struggled with do to the spiciness.


  1. kyle- looks delish! I'm kind of a recent soul food convert thanks to front porch (have you been?) so I've gotta try hard knox.

  2. Front Porch is where it's at. I really want to check out Boxing Room in Hayes Valley. It's new, and I hear it's great.