Roasted Pumpkin Soup (credit: Chow.com)
Unique flavor, vibrant color and distinctive aroma –- pumpkin has it all, and is a true fall original. Pumpkin and its squash family relatives make it big time when it comes to appearing in some of the best seasonal dishes around town. Combining a hint of sweetness with mouth-pleasing texture and characteristic aroma, it’s no wonder pumpkin dishes return every year. Here are five places to enjoy mouthwatering pumpkin dishes in San Francisco.
150 W. Portal Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94127
Since it opened in mid 2013, Trattoria Da Vittorio has been a West Portal favorite destination. The namesake restaurant of owner and manager Vittorio D’Urzo, who has many years of restaurant management behind him, Vittorio chose to open his dream of an authentic dining space in West Portal. This is the same comfortable, close-knit neighborhood that first welcomed him after first arriving in San Francisco to work at his uncle’s Mill Valley restaurant, Piazza D’Angelo, more than a decade ago. Trattoria Da Vittorio pays its respect to the Calabrian food and cozy family connections that shaped Vittorio’s culinary passion for the best of Southern Italian food, people and culture. In addition to the regular menu, pumpkin-infused dishes add to the seasonal colors and flavors that fit well with the Italian cuisine here. Begin with homemade butternut squash soup with gorgonzola cheese ($8), then choose from homemade pumpkin gnocchi with butter and sage sauce ($18), homemade pumpkin ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and pumpkin ($18) or risotto with pumpkin, prawns and Parmigiano cheese ($20).
2424 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Helmand serves distinctive Afghan cuisine in the City’s Russian Hill district and is known not only for its tempting dishes, but also for the attentive service diners enjoy here. Afghan delicacies representing the Helmand River region, and the largest state in Afghanistan, have given Helmand Palace its notable reputation for char-broiled and marinated meats, sautéed vegetables on yogurt sauces, soups and rice dishes. Pumpkin choices at Helmand include Kaddo, a pan-fried then baked baby pumpkin appetizer seasoned with sugar, served on yogurt garlic sauce and topped with ground beef sauce ($5.95). And there are two vegetarian options: Kaddo & Banjan Challow, pan-fried then baked pumpkin with garlic sauce, sautéed spinach and baked eggplant, garlic, mint yogurt and tomato sauces, served with challow rice ($11.95), and Vegetarian Sabzi Challow, spinach sautéed with Afghan seasoning, served with garlic mushrooms and challow rice ($11.95).
309 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
Since opening in 1992, the tastes and cooking of Burma are highlighted at Burma Superstar’s home location in San Francisco’s colorful Richmond district. The restaurant has enjoyed a great reputation and growing fan following, allowing it to introduce two additional locations in the Bay Area. Right off the bat, the Tea Leaf Salad, with its myriad of textures from romaine leaves, fried yellow beans, fried garlic sesame seeds, tomatoes, jalapenos and dried shrimp, sets the tone, and most diners say it alone is worth the trip. Culinary influences from its shared border neighbors India, China and Thailand have given Burmese cuisine its unique and spicy flavors both familiar as with warm coconut aromas, and harder to pinpoint, from some dishes’ singular spice blends. Serving a range of meat, chicken, seafood, noodles and rice, and vegetarian dishes, many items can be ordered in your preferred level of spicy. Pumpkin dishes include Pumpkin Pork Stew, tender slow-cooked pork stew cooked with kaboha squash and ginger, and Vegetable Curry Delux, made with tomatoes, squash, potatoes, eggplant, lentils, okra, tofu and mint.
415 Brannan St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
Koh Samui prides itself on offering fine dining in a lovely atmosphere. The well-rounded menu at this attractive spot presents the anticipated Thai tastes diners love best: satays ($8 – $11), Buddah’s Delights ($8 – $12), curries ($14 – $20) and Pad Thai ($13 – $16). Also here are some unexpected and thoroughly delicious creations, including pumpkin dishes such as an enticingly named Aromatic Pumpkin Curry that combines prawns and bell peppers in a spicy red curry sauce ($17). The Monkey Bar Happy Hour, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., is an ideal way to experience some of Koh Samui’s flavors including Pumpkin Fries ($5), one of several small plate offerings here. Catering is also available.
Restaurant and Cachacaria
41 Franklin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Minas Brazilian Restaurant is an authentic introduction to Brazilian cuisine in the City’s Hayes Valley neighborhood. Minas serves mouth watering, aromatic dishes to highlight Brazil’s traditional flavors at lunch and dinner. Chicken, beef, pork, fish and seafood marinated and sautéed with blends of onions, garlicky sauces, spices and herbs dominate the menu. For a touch of sweet and savory together, try Galinha na Moranga, a traditional entree of pumpkin stew of chicken and pumpkin chunks cooked with fresh herbs and served in a whole pumpkin with rice and salad, making for a dramatic table arrival. Want to try some of the flavors here, including Caipirinhas, Brazil’s distinctive national cocktail, and other select drinks? Stop by for happy hour, Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., for $4-$6 drinks and $6 appetizers.