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Taste Test: The Bacon Bar

Is bacon that’s made in-house at a restaurant better than what’s available from a butcher—or a supermarket? We brought together a chef, a butcher shop owner, and a food publicist* to do a blind tasting and let their taste buds make the call.

 

WINNER: Beast and the Hare
MEAT AND METHOD: Pork from Stone
Valley Farms smoked over apple wood
for two hours
JUDGES’ NOTES: “Almost like a
brittle.” “Great balance of sweet, salt,
and smoke.” 1001 GUERRERO ST. (AT 22ND
ST.), 415-821-1001 [R]

2nd place: Foreign Cinema
MEAT AND METHOD: Pork from Llana
Secco Farms (and others) smoked
for three hours over hickory and apple wood
JUDGES’ NOTES: “Tastes like Chinese
barbecue pork.” “Like bacon candy.”
2534 MISSION ST. (NEAR 21ST ST.),
415-648-7600 [R]

3rd place: Bar Agricole
MEAT AND METHOD: Pork from
Riverdog Farm or Heart Arrow Ranch
smoked over apple or fig wood for 10
minutes per pound
JUDGES’ NOTES: “Supermarket
bacon.” “Dry, like jerky.” “Smokier, less
sweet.” 355 11TH ST. (AT HARRISON ST.),
415-355-9400 [R]

4th place (tie): Nopa
MEAT AND METHOD: Pork from
Coleman Natural smoked over almond
wood for three hours
JUDGES’ NOTES: “Chicharrón taste.”
“Crispy.” “Not much spice.”
560 DIVISADERO ST. (AT HAYES ST.),
415-864-8643 [R]

4th place (tie): 4505 Meats
MEAT AND METHOD: Pork from
Riverdog, Stone Valley, or others
smoked over fruitwood for six hours
JUDGES’ NOTES: “Chewy.” “Salty.
Hamlike.” “Meaty.” AT THE TUESDAY
FERRY PLAZA FARMERS MARKET [B]

5th place: Cedar Hill
MEAT AND METHOD: Pork from
Gourmet Meat smoked over white
oak for two hours
JUDGES’ NOTES: “Lightly salted.
More pork-forward.” “Ham-tasting.”
3242 SCOTT ST. (NEAR CHESTNUT ST.),
415-834-5403 [R]

6th place: Marin Sun Farms
MEAT AND METHOD: Pork from their
own ranch smoked over apple wood for
an hour and cooked for two
JUDGES’ NOTES: “Meaty and chewy.”
“Typical bacon.” “Very plain.”
AT THE SATURDAY FERRY PLAZA FARMERS
MARKET [B]

7th place: Whole Foods
MEAT AND METHOD: No specifics
available from the supermarket chain
JUDGES’ NOTES: “Lean.” “Not much
to it.” “Salty.” 399 4TH ST. (AT HARRISON
ST.), 415-618-0066 [S]

 *The Judges: DKPR founder Deborah Kwan; Drewes Bros. Meats co-owner Josh Epple; Contigo chef-owner Brett Emerson

[R] = RESTAURANT [B] = BUTCHER [S] = SUPERMARKET