Cafe Europa [San Francisco, Inner Richmond]

I have no idea how many times I’ve walked past Cafe Europa, but it was cold and late a few nights ago, and Pho Huong Viet was closed, so P2 and I decided to give it a shot. This was a great idea, and we’ll be going back as often as we can.

Alex, the proprietor, read us a list of specials that included Kharcho (georgian meat soup with rice), homemade bratwurst, and Bigos (which we ordered). We also got a the pork schintzel (labeled “Best In Town”), a side of spaetzle, and a glass of kvass.

Bigos - Hunter’s stew made with pork shoulder, sausage, bacon, tomato, cabbage, and broth. Alex described it as both a classic Polish grandmother’s flavor and “full of meat.” It was served alongside roasted potatoes and sour cream, and I felt that the dish lived up to Alex’s promises. Sweetness from cabbage married with savoriness from the many different types of meat to create a comforting dish, grounded and enriched by the sour cream. The potatoes were beautifully roasted, and each element had a good level of salt (but not too much). We were hungry, and I had forgotten to take a picture before we’d begun digging in…

Pork Schnitzel - A “prime cut” of pork, breaded and fried, served with Cafe Europa’s mushroom sauce (“This sauce may have kept us in business”), heavily fortified mashed potatoes (sour cream, butter, cream?, chives, green onions), and sauerkraut (sauteed with bacon, of course???). Once again, Alex’s promise that the schnitzel could be easily cut with a fork alone proved true, and this was a rich and savory cut of meat with a beautifully crisped exterior. The mushroom sauce was, indeed, quite tasty, supported by a deep mushroom-y flavor that doesn’t usually come through in this kind of cream sauce (IMHO). The sauerkraut may have been the star of the show, though – savory and fatty from the bacon, sharp and acidic from the fermented cabbage, it improved everything it touched.

Spaetzel - Cooked with scrambled eggs and onion, this was comforting, savory, and incredibly easy to eat. It was probably unnecessary to order, given the portion sizes of the other dishes, but we took a little of everything home and made a nice next-day meal out of the leftovers.

Napoleon Cake (not shown) - Layers of alternating (once) crisp pastry and rich custard was the final blow of the meal. While very good, and almost certainly homemade, it pushed us from comfortably full to ready-to-get-into-bed full.

I like Cafe Europa a lot. It’s not cheap (the veal schnitzel tops out at ~$33), but the food is thoughtfully prepared, delicious, and fortifying. I’ve heard that their pierogi are excellent. The atmosphere is welcoming and patient, with diners encouraged to take their time and enjoy their meals, somewhat of a rarity in SF. I haven’t eaten schnitzel anywhere else in the city, but I’m willing to bet that Europa’s is, indeed, the best in in town.


I love this kind of food. Luckily, I can make it myself and can travel to eat it at the source(s).

Can’t tell if the Schnitzel has air pockets or not. But I don’t see the words “Wiener Schnitzel” so it’s still “Schnitzel”. Because otherwise it should look like this, with air pockets. Schnitzel is most commonly served with a leafy salad and potato salad.

Eierspätzle (Spätzle with scrambled eggs) is a home-style dish, but not as common as Eiernockerln/Eierknöpfle (button dumplings with scrambled eggs). (Grand)mothers would make extra dumplings on purpose so the next day they could turn it into new meal with eggs or Speck added.

This is the tool for making button dumplings: Austrian/German, Hungarian.

I also love this kind of food…

Having eaten wiener schnitzel, I am certain that this is not, and the menu did not suggest that it was. If I remember correctly, the proprietor is Polish, which might account for differences in sides etc.

I’ve never seen button dumplings but they are now on my to-try list, thank you!

Button dumplings are easy to make, but you do need something with big enough holes to pass the batter through. They are also super awesome with cheese.

Here’s a short video clip of ingredients and how it’s made:
Once cooked the dumplings should be shocked in cold water, and drained. Best to fry in hot fat before adding other ingredients.

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