We tried the $18 San Francisco bread that everyone is talking about

Everyone seems to be talking about San Francisco’s $18 loaf of bread, which one vendor called “playful sourdough.” Its purple guts are a sight to behold, but is it worth the high price? The Standard went on a mission to find out.

San Francisco is a city known for its high cost of living, skyrocketing rents, and seemingly every service asking customers to tip.

Now Viral Thursday Reddit post of an expensive sourdough ube loaf, baked by SoMa-based bread maker Rize Up, got people talking about the city’s insane costs — with 878 comments and nearly 5,000 upvotes on the social media platform. Opinions are, unsurprisingly, mixed.

The post shows the bread for sale at local grocery store Luke’s in North Beach, one of Rize Up’s many vendors, and praises the bakery for taking ube — a purple yam native to the Philippines — “to a place of refinement rather than a gimmick. “

Despite the high cost, the ube sourdough loaf is one of the most popular choices at the grocery store. The Standard got the last loaf of the day at Luke’s Local in the Lower Haight neighborhood at 9:30 a.m. Friday, 90 minutes after the store opened.

The $18 Rize Up Ube Sourdough Loaf as seen before slicing. | Source: Justin Katigbak / The Standard

The Standard wants to hear from readers: What other expensive everyday items have you seen or bought in San Francisco? Email [email protected] with “expensive items” in the subject line and tell us what you splurged on.

Luke’s employee Michael Banks said the loaf sells out quickly almost every day, despite being the most expensive bakery in the store.

But is it worth the price? At first glance, the ube sourdough loaf has a rustic, brown crust that cracks like an amethyst geode. It smells and tastes like traditional sourdough, but the ube adds a slight sweetness and earthiness. Most importantly, the bread is airy and chewy, which you’d expect for the price.

Still, reviews of the loaf in The Standard were divided. One writer said it was a good sourdough, but “I hate to look at it… It’s purple.” The editor showered the loaf with praise: “I thought it was excellent and beautiful. I’d probably pay the $18 for it.”

The Ube Sourdough Loaf is one of the many items SoMa-based Rize Up Bakery sells. | Source: Justin Katigbak / The Standard

Rize Up founder Azikiwee Anderson said he got the idea for the loaf after eating a bowl of ube-flavored ice cream. He started experimenting with recipes three years ago and now this item is one of the bakery’s most popular requests as it supplies about 200 loaves a week.

The bakery hand-makes ube halaya, a sweet paste made from chunks of ube, sugar and sweetened condensed milk, Anderson said.

As for cost: It’s not Rize Up’s most expensive loaf. The bakery also sells a masala-flavored loaf for $20. A loaf of Ube retails for $16.

Anderson said the price of baked goods is necessary for “people to appreciate the people who make them.” A portion of the profits go toward training Rize Up’s employees, many of whom don’t come from culinary backgrounds, he said.

Rize Up products can be found at Luke’s, Rainbow Groceries, Gus’s Market and other local grocers throughout the city. The bakery also delivers directly to the consumer company website.

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