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Red Star Southern and Balkan Cafe Get Raves From The Chronicle

Two casual eateries get high marks from critics this week.

Red Star Southern's Launch
Red Star Southern's Launch

Virginia Wood visits Southern trailer with a sense of humor Red Star Southern this week. Every item on the trailer's limited menu shines. On the hot chicken:

Take the Nashville-style hot fried chicken ($8) - pieces are marinated in buttermilk and seasoned with cayenne, lemon, and thyme before emerging from the fryer with a crisp, golden crust. Paired with white bread, pickles, and Waksmunski's signature coleslaw, the dish is the antidote for any serious fried chicken craving.

Meanwhile, Mick Vann visits Serbian-run Balkan Cafe, where he praises both the hospitality and the simple, "comforting" food.

We also split a bowl of gulas ($7.49), a luscious stew of meltingly tender, slow-braised beef, with aromatics, beef stock, tomato, and paprika. We split a Balkan salata($5.25), which is a platter with two whole roasted and peeled, meaty red bell peppers in garlicky olive oil, two cherry peppers stuffed with whipped feta, and a pile of those addictive sour gherkins. Sop up the oil with the yeasty, thick, pita-like lepinja bread, and your taste buds will be happy.

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