Where Michelin-Starred Chef Alex Hong Eats on His Day Off

The maestro behind Sorrel gives us his recommendations for doughnuts, fresh seafood and one off-menu cocktail

April 12, 2022 6:30 am
Chef Alex Hong of Sorrel in San Francisco. He shares his favorite bars, restaurants and food purveyors in SF.
Chef Alex Hong of Sorrel.
Joseph Weaver

Chef Alex Hong originally hails from Colorado, but after 10 years in the Bay Area — working at such illustrious restaurants as Michael Tusk’s three-Michelin-starred Quince and his own Pacific Heights Cal-Italian spot Sorrel, which secured its first star in 2019 — he has become a bona fide San Franciscan. Known these days for his exquisite pastas, Hong is particularly excited to be opening the restaurant’s new bar and embracing seasonal ingredients on the latest incarnation of his ever-changing menu.

“We change our menu completely every four to six weeks,” he tells InsideHook, “so right now, we’re getting the first of the green strawberries and the peas and the favas and the artichokes, and kind of saying goodbye to some squashes and winter citrus and all that stuff. It’s definitely exciting to work with completely different ingredients.”

On his days off, however, Hong deviates from the pasta-centric focus of his work to embrace a wide variety of local specialties ranging from bao in Chinatown to fish just over the Golden Gate Bridge. Here are five Hong-approved spots to take you through a delicious day in his adopted city.

Breakfast: Dolores Outpost 

“I would say I’m more of a coffee drinker and pastry person than a ‘breakfast’ person. Working in the restaurant industry until the wee hours of the night, typically, on a normal day, I’ll make myself a cup of coffee or go to the bakery and just kind of wander the neighborhood a bit. For pastry, I’ve been going to this place called the Dolores Outpost. They do these mochi doughnuts, which are this new craze kind of going around San Francisco. Every coffee spot has them now, but it’s basically a doughnut that’s made out of mochi, and they have all these fun icings on top. One of my favorites right now is this ube one they make. But the texture is very fun.”

Lunch: Fish

“If I’m not working, I would say a really fun thing to do is bike over to Sausalito. There’s this place called Fish that [has] amazing, fresh seafood. There’s fish and chips, and you’ve got ceviches, and you can get some good crudos and tartares. It’s a really amazing destination spot, if you want to get out of the city and really explore some of San Francisco’s great seafood.”

Snack: House of Dim Sum 

“One of my favorite little snack spots is House of Dim Sum. It’s a dumpling house in Chinatown, and they sell these giant bao. They’re so good. It’s basically a steamed pork bun with barbecue pork inside. They do this really kind of old-school one; it’s giant, like the size of a softball. And it’s really tasty. I’ve been having them for years.”

Dinner: Nopa

“Nopa is a San Francisco classic that I go to maybe once a month on my way back from work, because they’re open a little bit later. They have a really amazing pork chop — it’s basically a giant bone-in pork chop, and they’ve got a wood-fired grill that they cook it on. In the summertime, there’ll be grilled peaches with it, and then throughout the seasons they’ll have different accoutrements.”

After-Dinner Drinks: ABV

“For a good cocktail, ABV has always been my go-to spot — it’s in my neighborhood, on the way back from work. And they make this drink that they made at the opening called the Tarragon Collins, which is one of my favorites. They’ll make it for me when I come, even though it’s not on the menu, which is really great. It’s tarragon, gin, muddled juniper berries and some soda water. It’s not too complicated, but it’s just really refreshing and light and a lot of that tarragon flavor comes through. It’s super tasty.”


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