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The Stinking Rose – San Francisco’s Garlic-Centered Restaurant

If your idea of a perfect meal is garlic, garlic and more garlic, The Stinking Rose restaurant should definitely be on your itinerary the next time you’re in San Francisco. Their motto – “we season our garlic with food” – says about everything you need to know about this place.

Located in the Italian North Beach district of San Francisco, The Stinking Rose is probably not the best place to go on a first date, at least not if you plan on getting to first base. The garlic-centered restaurant prides itself on serving over 3,000 pounds of the pungent seasoning every month, so you can expect almost every dish served here to be literally covered in it. It does have a few garlic-free foods on its Vampire Fare menu, for “those finding the herb’s folklore and aroma more appealing than its taste”, but if you’re not a fan of the culinary treat, there’s really no point in visiting. On the other hand, if you are a garlic enthusiast, all you have to do is “follow your nose” and it will lead you to the door of The Stinking Rose restaurant, on Columbus Avenue. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by the unmistakable smell of garlic and a gallery of garlic-inspired memorabilia covering the ceiling and walls of this unique establishment. Colorful garlic characters, a mechanical miniature garlic factory and the world’s longest garlic braid featuring 2,635 bulbs of garlic are just some of the whimsical decorations you can expect to find inside The Stinking Rose.

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Photo: missizii

As you can imagine, the food and drinks stink! Their most popular appetizers are pesto spread with chunks of raw garlic and garlic hummus, both served with garlic bread, and the main course section includes dishes like Garlic Steamed Mussels, Garlic Roasted Prime Rib and the famous 40-Clove Garlic Chicken which actually contains 40 cloves of garlic per serving. Luckily, the stinky herb is cooked so it’s not very strong, but patrons who have eaten at The Stinking Rose say it takes at least three days for the garlic breath to wear off. But the truly adventurous will appreciate the delicious garlic ice cream dessert. It sounds disgusting, I know, but it’s apparently to die-for and will convert anyone into a galic-ophile. If you need a drink to go with all that stinky grub, try the surprisingly tasty garlic martini.

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Photo: Llima Orosa

At the Stinking Rose, all the pungent food is prepared with Gilroy garlic, named after the Californian town of Gilroy, considered the world capital of garlic. Just so you can imagine how potent its taste is, Virgin Atlantic Cabin Crew have been banned from dining at The Stinking Rose due to complaints from passengers, according to Quirky Guide.

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Photo: Annie