Sandwiched between a sprawling beer hall and a karaoke bar in the unadorned storefront of a former auto shop, Trifecta can get lost in the clutter of its neighborhood, making it easy to stroll right by Ken Forkish's third restaurant and not even notice. That's a shame because the menu offers everything from upscale bar snacks to vibrant vegetable dishes as well as pastas and steak—all of it expertly executed and infinitely comforting.
When you first walk in, it almost feels as if you've stumbled upon a secret tavern where all of the cooks at Ken's Artisan go after clocking out for the day. Part of that is due to the bakery that shares the space—giant bags of flour are piled high near the front door, and you can catch a glimpse of industrial-sized mixers near the back. Even though the cavernous factory-floor vibe remains, Trifecta is sexy. Ruby-hued booths invite you to linger across from the marble-topped bar, where you can take in the view of the alluring fire powering the kitchen.
Speaking of that mighty oven, order at least one item that's been singed by flames. The toppings on the flatbread ($15) change daily, but that means they're bound to be fresh. During a late summer visit, the cracker-thin crust covered in Braille-like eruptions of air bubbles popped with seasonal fruits and vegetables like tomato and purplish marinated squash. The spaghettini ($24) also benefited from what appeared to be a blue-ribbon haul from the farmers market. Thin, buttery noodles were tossed with grilled corn, scallion and briny Dungeness crab, and spice from Calabrian chilies simmered in the background. But you really can't go wrong here with a basic combo like the burger and taters. Trifecta's two patties come layered in neon pimento cheese nestled inside a tender housemade brioche bun ($16). While the fries are a perfectly satisfying McDonald's-style skinny cut, the hearty smashed fingerlings ($12) proved to be more addicting with their mix of smoke and salt and earth. Plus, they come with a side of ranch.
Pro tip: Don't sleep on happy hour when you can get pimento cheese on that burger and more for a steal.