[Photographs: David Kover]

"Sort of an open-faced, fancy-pants quesadilla."

This is the note I typed into my phone after eating one of Universal Cafe's grilled flatbreads, and it might as well serve as my whole review. It's pretty hard to think of their toppings as resting on anything other than a tortilla.

Though, please understand, I do like quesadillas.


Universal grills their tortilla—I mean, crust—to the point where the edges crisp up, and even the brown-spotted, ultra-thin undercarriage gains a little structural integrity. With a fold, the small slices can easily be eaten by hand.

Toppings on Universal's grilled flatbreads change regularly. I happened in upon broccoli rabe, caramelized onions, goat cheese, and mozzarella ($12.50). The tangy flavor of the goat cheese dominates most bites, receiving a classic contrast from the sweet onions, while the mozzarella amps up the cheesy, comforting qualities of the dish. I found myself inclined to add some hot sauce (just as I might with a quesadilla!), but certainly not dissatisfied with my little lunch of carbs and cheese.

Universal Cafe

2814 19th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (map)
415-821-4608; universalcafe.net

About the author: David Kover is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and food enthusiast. Follow his attempts to bring Brooklyn-style bagels to San Francisco at Schmendricks.com, or his occasional musings on Twitter as @pizzakover.


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