31st Union 5 S. Ellsworth St./Baldwin, near train station, (650) 458-0049. D Tu-Sun; $$.
Decorated in a rustic style reminiscent of a mountain cabin, this restaurant has blackboard walls framed with reclaimed barn-wood panels, a high ceiling, and a state map that denotes the geographic sources of various ingredients. The restaurant’s name combines the fact that California was the 31st state to enter the Union and the house commitment to using ingredients from within state lines whenever possible. Featuring mostly small sharable plates, the menu changes regularly. Populaar items include duck tacos, fish & chips, and fat lamb meatball sliders (a Romesco sauce makes them both colorful and tasty).
I especially liked the scrumptious bite-size roasted green padron peppers and the flavorful and juicy grilled hanger steak. All the desserts are inviting, though we opted for the cannoli ice cream sandwich and flaky peach pocket pie and not the beer float (next time). Drinks include flights of wine, cocktails, and local artisanal beers. Though open just two months now, when I visited on a Saturday night the Union roared with a capacity crowd.
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images ©2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers