First thing's first: South San Francisco is not San Francisco.
The locals call it South City, mainly because South San Francisco is a mouth-full to say. Also because of the obvious confusion that exists in the name. You see, South San Francisco isn't the southern part of San Francisco, in fact South San Francisco doesn't even border San Francisco.
To add even more confusion to the mix, South San Francisco is just north of the San Francisco International Airport, which is owned by the City and County of San Francisco, which also owns the land, thus making it officially San Francisco territory. So, if I m getting this right, South San Francisco – the city/town separate from San Francisco – is both south and north of the City of San Francisco.
My brain hurts. Time for some hofbrau food.
Lucky that there is such a place in downtown South City called Bogy's Hofbrau. While Bogy's is in an old, and very cool, building, the restaurant doesn't look that old, perhaps due to remodelings and ownership changes.
Downtown South City, which is a mix between new and old architecture, seems like a bustling little place, at least on Saturdays. Most of the businesses are either new businesses catering to the overwhelming majority of Asians and Latinos, or they are throwbacks to the 50s and 60s, back when the majority ethnic group was Anglos.
I imagine this explains Bogy's Hofbrau, whose cuisine is Old American and perhaps use to be run by Joe, but whose restaurant is now owned and run by New Americans, uh, that would be Jose.
At first it seems like your average Hofbrau, only there's no bar, and the sole television that's on is blank other than the words on the screen that mentions something about it being the R&B/hip hop channel. It actually should have said the CRAP R&B/hip hop channel, since every single hip hop tune that came out of it since we entered the restaurant was so amateurish, boring, unoriginal and cliché it bordered on nauseating. But then, isn't this the state of rap today?
The décor is reminiscent of pretty much every Mexican taqueria and restaurant I've been to, with high back, heavy wooden Mission-style chairs and colorful murals on the walls – one of a Spanish flamenco dancing scene and another of a Ye Olde European carnival, no doubt in town to lure all of the children away to toil in sweatshops. Both of the employees at Bogy's are Latino and, according to this Yelp poster, the owners of Bogy's also own one of the best taquerias on the Peninsula, which may explain the furniture.
Despite the fact that from the inside Bogy's looks like a taqueria, the food is pure hofbrau. And unlike Harry's Hofbrau, they don't front with some nasty-ass, pseudo, turkey "enchalada", even though I'm sure they could totally pull it off if they wanted to. No, here the food is straight up, traditional, American food.
Ok, ok, ok. I know that, especially in these circumstances, the term "American food" is a loaded term (read: white). Here we are at a "hofbrau" eating not sauerkraut, but roast beef and barbecued ribs, because this hofbrau is a completely uniquely American invention. But if they served burritos, gumbo, and succotash with a fortune cookie on the side, would it be any less American? No!
However, as it is, most hofbrau food (with the exception of the Oaks Corner – and even then it can be argued that the American Chinese food served there is uniquely American) is what is known as traditional American food – roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, ham, turkey, (sometimes barbecue) green beans, corn, pasta salad (I know, confounds me too), and dinner rolls. Maybe that's an age and era thing. In fact, I'm pretty sure it is.
But let's talk about the food, since that's why we're here, right? Trust me, I could go on and on about culture, race, class, history, blah blah blah, ad nauseum, but after a while it would be a bit like those hip hop songs, now wouldn't it?
"What? What? OK! Yay-uh!"
Bruce ordered the barbecue ribs dinner ($7.99) with a choice of two sides, in his case corn and rice. He says that "they were ok although they didn't have any smokey flavor and that most of the flavor seemed to come from the barbecue sauce. However, they were very tender. The sides were mediocre at best. The corn and the rice had very little flavor."
I also thought one of the sides, the corn, which came with my dinner ($7.99), was mediocre, but come on. It's corn, warmed over. What can you really expect?
I thought the mashed potatoes and gravy were decent although I wasn't a big fan of the gravy. It wasn't bad but it seemed a little too bland. At least they served it up right, unlike Harry's. Granted it was a Saturday, but the food could've been a little warmer. Also, I don't understand the point in serving bread, in this case a dinner roll, that has no flavor, is bland, is rock-hard, is too uniform on the inside, and is cold.
I feel like saying, "if you keep the bread and butter, can I get two quarters back?"
I thought the roast beef here was very good. It was tender, not overcooked, and not gristly or fatty. While I liked the dinner, the roast beef could've made an excellent sandwich and seeing as though the sandwiches are less expensive, it probably is one of the best deals in the neighborhood.
Cutting to the chase, I actually liked Bogy's. Despite the stupid music playing, I felt comfortable here and at ease. Also, if I was hungry and in the area and looking for a simple place to fall back on, no doubt I would head here. The food was plentiful and inexpensive and it seemed to have a down-to-earth, friendly vibe about it.
The only thing is...it's not a true hofbrau. Sorry.
The food is definitely hofbrau food, and very good, authentic hofbrau food, but Bogy's is missing at least two essential hofbrau characteristics. They've got the food and the regular, working-class customer bit down, but what they're missing is the atmosphere and the bar.
It's a nice place, but for now it's probably more honest to say they are a restaurant that serves hofbrau-style food, as opposed to being a hofbrau.