Maybe it’s the post-holiday hangover, but January seems to have become synonymous with restraint. We get it — that fourth dirty martini that Uncle Lou forced on you really was one too many. But having arrived mid-month, cranky from too many attempted juice cleanses, we’re feeling the need for a pendulum swing in the other direction: extreme decadence. That’s right: we sought out the most extreme eats and drinks in San Francisco, remarkable for their caloric content, strange ingredients, price tag or maybe just their sheer audacity (cough, pig’s head, cough). Presenting the 12 most bombastic examples, more or less invented to obliterate the idea of restraint.
1. Wood-Oven-Roasted Pig’s Head, Cockscomb
Leave it to Chris Cosentino to bring it with the pig parts. At Cockscomb, his brand-new SOMA spot, you can get pig all kinds of ways — as a rillette, as pig-skin spaghetti, or in the form of a child-size, fat-laden “bacon chop.” But there’s no beating the full-on pig’s head ($65), an entire swine skull meant to serve a group. Kinda gnarly? Sure. Totally delicious? You bet, particularly dressed with chicories, capers, parsley and lemon.
2. The “Big Mac,” 4505 Burgers and BBQ
You don’t go around calling something “The Best Damn Cheeseburger” if it’s not, in fact, a damn good cheeseburger. Thankfully, Ryan Farr and his team of meat mavens deliver, leading his grass-fed, Gruyère-topped burger to be one of the most loved in town. But true insiders know that the real burger deal comes in the form of the secret, off-menu “Big Mac,” ($18) a double cheeseburger encasing a massive slab of hot dog-filled (4505’s freshly made, bacon-studded hot dogs, of course), fried mac ‘n’ cheese (known as the Frankaroni) within. Because when you can add fried mac ‘n’ cheese, why on earth wouldn’t you?
3. Celebration of Foie Gras Prix Fixe, Dirty Habit
When foie gras was banned, chef David Bazirgan was on the front lines fighting for a repeal. So, in light of the ban’s reversal last week, Baz is celebrating in full foie style with a four-course, foie-tastic prix fixe ($80, $130 with wine pairings). Dishes are, um, decadent to say the least, and include aged rib-eye with black truffles and seared foie, tajarin pasta with foie butter and white truffles and oysters poached in foie gras fat. We’re not convinced you can come out of this meal alive, but man, what a way to go.
4. Bone-Marrow Luge, Marlowe
Remember ice luges? Those ridiculous frat-party contraptions that, in retrospect, were super unsanitary and got you super drunk? Well, there’s a gloriously decadent grown-up version in town thanks to the good people at Marlowe. The bone-marrow luge ($25), an off-menu, industry-friends special, features Marlowe’s decadently delicious smoked bone-marrow appetizer ($14) paired with Averna amaro (+$9). Specifically, the Averna is poured straight from the bottle down the hollow side of the bone (yes, after you’ve eaten the marrow), effectively “rinsing the residual bone-marrow flavors” down into your open mouth. It’s the best good-bad decision you’ll make all year.
5. Giant Donut, Bob’s Donuts
Bob’s is the kind of institution we expect to outlive us by a few centuries (at least). In addition to a continual stream of fresh-fried donut deliciousness (including an apple fritter good enough to convert every single one of your gluten-free friends), they’ve got a giant donut ($5.50) that’s about the size of your head. In theory, this is a food item that you purchase to split with a large group of people, but we wouldn’t hold it against you if you ordered one all for yourself. Not that we’d do such a thing. Nope.
6. Grilled Cheese Cake, The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen
What’s better than a grilled cheese sandwich? Well, 30 grilled cheese sandwiches, frosted with cheese, studded with bacon and jalapeños and layered in three-tier cake form. Meet the grilled cheese cake ($126), a stunning creation of grilled cheese glory courtesy of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, and a demand for every single birthday from now until eternity. Or, until a grilled cheese-induced heart attack.
7. Pork-Belly “Donuts,” The Sycamore
Remember when bacon-topped donuts were an eyebrow-raising novelty? Yeah, they’ve got nothing on the pork-belly-filled donuts at The Sycamore ($5.75 for three). Each tempura-battered nugget features a hefty, fatty piece of melty pork belly, which, after a quick dip in the deep fryer, is topped with a maple syrup-Maker’s Mark glaze. Thankfully, The Sycamore has an excellent beer selection, allowing you to use sheer drunkenness as an excuse for ordering three rounds of these.
8. “Death” Wings, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
Want to take your game-day wing eating to the next level? Go for the Death Wings ($9 for eight, $11 for 12) at Dr. Teeth, which are liberally doused with sauce made using liberal amounts of ghost peppers, which, per the “Death Zone” section of the menu, are known as the hottest peppers in the world. Oh, and did we mention you have to sign a waiver to even order these? You do. But don’t worry, they come with blue cheese sauce for dipping, so you’re good.
9. King Henry VIII Cut, House of Prime Rib
Here’s what to know about King Henry VIII: he was a big, big boy, with a big appetite. His eponymous prime-rib cut ($42.85) at The House of Prime Rib does him justice — the massive hunk of meat is more than a few inches thick, is served on the bone and could probably feed a family of three. Or just you and your king-size meat craving.
10. Emperor of the Orkney’s, Wingtip
You ever hear someone joking about drinking away their mortgage or rent? It seems like you could actually do that at the members-only club Wingtip. Specifically, by ordering one or two Emperor of the Orkney’s ($1,500) — yes, that says one thousand, five hundred dollars. The drink is made with Highland Park 50, is served in a hand-cut crystal glass and tastes,we imagine, like swimming in a pool of money, Scrooge McDuck-style.
11. Shiokara, Yuzuki
This is a dish for you equal-opportunity animal-parts eaters out there. Shiokara ($6) is a Japanese dish made from squid ink and guts, fermented for one to two weeks. Yuko Hayashi, owner of Yuzuki, explains that the dish is a traditional favorite of Japanese fishermen (eating with sake), likely since it’s made from the parts of their catch that they can’t sell. Specifically, squid ink and guts. Fermented.
12. The Kilauea, Smuggler’s Cove
Get your yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum on with the Kilauea ($200). This shared punch bowl drink is intended for 10 people, at least — likely because it includes an entire bottle of rum. Smuggler’s Cove owner Martin Cate describes it as “a super-charged version” of Smuggler’s Top Notch Volcano, which is made with lime, pineapple, passionfruit, maraschino and rum. Except this version features more rum and is served in a volcano Moai bowl.