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Family Cafe

362 Columbus Ave

San Francisco, CA 94133

The 10-month old Japanese-style cafe in North Beach specializes in katsu curry and katsu sandwiches served on milk bread. We gravitate toward the colorful veggie sandwich they call the King George, a rainbow of fresh, julienned vegetables, house-made mustard, and a delicious cashew cream and herb pesto. The last time we had it, the sandwich was served on milk bread, but they’re now making it with activated charcoal vegan sour loaf slices.

The kissaten-style cafe in North Beach is our go-to whenever we need a salad in sandwich form (which, these days, feels like all the time). Their King George sandwich is a rainbow of fresh, thinly sliced vegetables, and it’s really, really good. But this is a katsu sandwich guide, and that’s what we’re here to talk about. And, thankfully, it’s another reason that Family Cafe is so great. The sandwich is a lightly crispy-fried chicken thigh topped with a housemade katsu sauce, red and green cabbage. They also have a pickle katsu sandwich with a herb cashew dressing that we’re hoping to try next time - or, at least, whenever we crave green things.

There aren’t a huge number of places in North Beach that make us want to stop, stay a while, and maybe make a new friend. But Family Cafe is one of those spots. This small, two-story Japanese-style cafe on Columbus Ave. (with ties to Soba Ichi in Oakland) is delightful - family portraits and vintage mirrors hang on the walls, turquoise tiles add a bright pop of color, and there’s an intimate feel here that makes you want to take your time eating your katsu, tonkatsu, or veggie sandwich ($14-16) served on Japanese milk bread. Family Cafe is open for lunch and dinner (until 8pm), but we prefer going during the day when the light makes everything feel warm and inviting.

The Japanese cafe has chicken curry, udon, sandwiches, and matcha lattes available Tuesday to Friday, 12-5pm. Order online.

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