Pak Wan in the Mission-Really good
I've been to this place twice now. I think it is fairly new (6 months or so). It is a refreshing spot in a neighborhood that seems to sprout slick new cookie cutter spots like mushrooms.
It is on 16th between Valencia and Guerrero. Bare bones kind of place. No service. No "atmosphere" in the usual sense, but I found it pretty great for people watching and it is very lively. No booze. Small simple menu. Cheap.
You order at the counter and get a number and grab your dishes, and find a clean empty table. (the place was pretty busy both times I was there, but no waiting).
Behind the counter there is one tall nice fellow taking orders and ringing people up as they go. It is an open kitchen (coffee shop style) though no counter. There are six or seven busy guys grilling giant skewers of meat, dishing up curries from a steam table and slapping nan bread around. It is a smoky fun chaos.
The food: Really really good and fresh and well seasoned: Nothing really spicy ( I wouldn't mind more spice, but it is so tasty). So often inexpensive Indian food is really oily and/or all tastes the same. Not the case here
Chicken Tikka Masala. Tender boneless pieces of white meat in a orangey creamy and mildly spicy sauce. I couldn't stop dipping my nan in it.
Aloo Palak: A large dish of perfectly spiced spinach with lots of onions and peppers and a few big chunks of flavorful and not soggy potato.
Rice: One buck and perfect
Nan: One buck and perfect
Fish: Thats the only name I think. Grilled tandoori style and very fresh (sole I think) with crunchy fresh onions chilis and limes on the side.
All this for about 21 bucks!!
You can bring beer or wine in, but they don't much like it (according to the guy at the liquor store across the street) So make sure you bring your own opener. They didn't give us dirty looks or anything, and there were other people with beer, I think they just don't want to enable.
Sidenote: Tried Fina Estampa on Mission after reading so much about it on these boards. It was really good. The ceviche was unbelievable. The potatoes huancayeno were the only thing not so great.