Packed. That's the best way to describe most eating places that inhabit the general SOMA area around Mission/New Montgomery/Second St/Howard etc., especially at lunch time. The area is populated by tall buildings full of office and tech workers who seemingly don't bring their lunch and thus when the clock strikes noon they stream outside and flood the most any eating place within a 3 block radius. When a new place opens in this juncture, it also becomes immediately swamped as folks hunger for new and different places to try. It's something I understand having worked on and off in this area of town for more than 10 years. Sure, you have your favorites, but you occasionally get bored and want other choices. Fortunately in this time of new eateries things do come along sort of semi-frequently. One such place is Archive Bar & Kitchen nestled right on the corner of 2nd and Mission in a space that previously housed a sort of similar café. 

Yes, this place was already full, both inside and out, but me and a friend decided to brave it and were able to squeeze in at two tiny bar seats in the window. The menu is simple and direct and perfect for the lunch crowd with sandwiches, salads and pizzas. The also serve up the booze, lots of beers and wines as it seems they try to entice the happy hour after work crowd, but this is lunch so we are just fooding, not boozing it. You know, gotta go back to work and all. We go with one pizza (yes, eating pizza again after Venice) and one sandwich to share.

This is the white truffle oil pizza with goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic and bacon for $14. A little pricey (for most folks) for a lunch bite, but decent enough in size for lite eaters to share. Things we liked about this--a mostly thin crust, the bacon, plenty of it, the roasted garlic pieces, the creamy goat cheese, the earthiness of the mushrooms, they all seem to work together well. Things not so keen on--couldn't really taste the truffle oil, I mean it is supposed to be a selling point, a little too much on the crust ends, look how big they are, pictures don't lie. Plus it was a little under done and suffered from the soggy middle syndrome so many pizzas fall into--crust too thin in the middle to handle all the toppings. Maybe if they had spread it more evenly over the whole pie it might have worked with cooking a tad more to get some crunch. Overall though, we did like it but just thing it needs some tweaking.

Here is what they call the "pulled pork sando"--slow cooked pork, sweet bbq sauce and jalapeño cilantro slaw served on toasted brioche bun with pickles and potato chips for $9. In the grand scheme of sandwich prices in SF I'll say this was passable as it does have chips and house made pickles with it. And it was a decent size and piled quite generously with pork. The meat was tender and juicy and I liked the fact they didn't mix the meat and sauce together like some places but used it like a spread across the pork. Yes it was sweet, which normally I'm not that big a fan of, but here because it wasn't too much, it didn't become cloying. And you have the spiciness of the jalapeno slaw that was vinegar based giving it some bite and balancing out the sweetness. I'll also give props for buttering the toasted bun, I do so love that in a sandwich. In the realm of pulled pork sandwiches in town this one was pretty good and something I'd recommend and order again if I wasn't in a pizza mood.

As a new lunch spot in the area it's a nice alternative to the other stuff present in the neighborhood. The pizzas are a little high-end lunch but the sandwiches are in line with other places and fear not, you don't have to brave the crowds to eat in, you can call/online order ahead for pick-up and take out, which if the weather is nice downtown, I say is a better choice. Sure you could take it back to your desk to eat but it's better to find one of those "hidden" public spaces in the area and watch the workday lunch crowd meander about. Lunch and a people show, what could be better.

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