Recently, for lunch, or dinner, or drinks, or snacks, I keep finding myself hiking up Pacific Avenue to Russian Hill. Union Larder, which opened on tree-lined Hyde Street last year, is our go to neighborhood spot right now. Owned by Jay Esopenko and his wife, Melissa Gugni (who also own Little Vine on Grant Ave. in North Beach--which is also amazing!), Union Larder offers everything you want in a neighborhood wine bar: excellent food, house cured meats, an amazing wine selection and affordable prices. They're open for lunch and dinner, and have a lunch special that includes a sandwich and a beer for $15.
The BLT is enormous and comes with a generous portion of crave-inducing pork belly. The pork reuben is cheesy and wonderful, and the chef salad is easily one of the best I've had. The salad has generous helping of cured meat and cheese, is light on the dressing, and is big enough to share. Each sandwich comes with a selection of house-made pickled veggies that are both tasty and pretty.
The space is a hybrid between a wine bar, a cafe and a small specialty market. The tiny kitchen is open to the rest of the space, and a galvanized bar wraps around it. Above, house-cured meats hang, giant wheels of cheese age and hundreds of wine glasses sparkle. At night, the mid-century style orbs softly glow as the place quickly fills up. It's a great date spot, a perfect place to meet up with friends, and a perfect place to grab a casual but delicious meal. I order a different wine each time we visit, and I've never been disappointed.
Be sure to check them out for lunch if you're not quite ready to fight the crowds. The secret of this place has definitely gotten out! They were even named Wine Bar of the Year by Imbibe Magazine! Sometimes getting a seat can be tricky around dinner time, but Za Pizza is just down the street if your hanger takes over. Cheers!