Cheap Lunches in the Financial District
Can anyone suggest non-sandwich places to go for lunch downtown that are under $15 for lunch? There are many wonderful expensive places down here but I certainly can't afford go to Boulevard every day (financially or fitness-wise). There seems to be a notable lack of good at least semi-cheap places to go get lunch from work, and I quickly get tired of sandwiches. It doesn't matter to me if the place has only one or two great items -- I am happy to order favorites over again.
More information: I'm over on the edge of the Financial District (Battery and Clay). Much of Chinatown would be walking distance. Favorites are Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Indian, and 'Mediterranean' for lack of a better term (falafel, kebabs, hummous, etc.) But I'm open to any and all suggestions --
I find it completely ironic that I now have the pleasure of living in this great food city, after living in Reno, NV, for two years -- and yet I'm missing my favorite lunch places in Reno because I can't find anything as good here near work! For anyone on their way to Reno, or in Reno, here's a list of my favorites:
Palais de Jade (Szechwan and other Chinese): Moana Blvd. at Lakeside. The best dry-cooked string beans I've had. Nothing here in the city compares. Also great hot & sour soup, mongolian beef, 'Jade sizzling chicken', Szechwan shrimp.
Paolo's Italian Deli (fresh deli sandwiches with the meat sliced only when you order it, and piled on homemade salt focaccia; fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich on the same; hot meatball sandwiches, etc.): Moana Blvd. at Lakeside.
Bangkok Cuisine (Thai): Mt. Rose St. at Virginia. Best -- Black pepper pork or black pepper chicken; cashew chicken; pad se-euw; pad thai.
Golden Flower (Vietnamese): 5th St., few blocks west of Virginia. Pho, bun, fresh shrimp rolls, seafood salad.
Rose's (great Greek salad and grilled sandwiches on homemade bread): Center St. near the federal courthouse.
Here are two of my favorite Mediterrean-type lunch spots in the Financial District (and one Mexican): Krivar on Pine (near Kearny) - they do sandwiches, salads, a huge plate called a Wowee Plate that has hummus, tabouli, etc., they have spinach/phyllo rolls and a hot lunch special each day.
Another place I like is Baladi (don't think my spelling is right on this one), on Kearny (near Pine). I like their Iron Bowl (lentil soup over rice with chicken, fresh spinach and sauteed onions), their feta pita pocket and their Fatoush salad - portions are huge (at least for my tastes).
On Tuesday's there's always the Farmer's Market around lunchtime at Justin Herman plaza - I think they have one or two vendors who serve lunch types (tamales, indian food).
And one Mexican place I like - Los Socios on Clay near Kearny. They have tables and take out, good salsas and usually some specials every week and I had a nice watermelon agua fresca there yday.
If you do a search from the main page of Chowhound (or take some time and scroll thru old posts) there's a ton of information on Chinatown recommendations.
Your message is breaking my heart. I moved from SF to Southern Illinois 3 months ago, after 20 years in the Bay Area, and my office was on very corner that yours apparently is. Are you also in 1 Maritime Plaza? Now I eat protein powder shakes for lunch most days because it's not worth venturing out for yet another pulled pork sandwich.
Lucky for you, though, you're within walking distance of scads of good, cheap places, though I may have a mental block against dredging them all up because of the pain it will cause. Here's few for now, though I may add more later: the little Falafel place in the alley next to the Park Hyatt between Battery and Sansome; Sai's Vietnamese at Washington and Sansome; Massimo (sp?), an Italian toasted sandwich place [and a few nice salads and entrees], with a working fireplace, on Washington between Sansome and Battery; Nanking, of course, on Kearney nr. Columbus [but get there by 11:30]; although you said no sandwich places, I like the feel at Cafe Prague on Pacific at Kearney & Columbus for great soups and sandwiches in a Eurotrash atmosphere; the fastfood sister restaurant of Cafe Macaroni, across the street from it on Columbus [I forget what it's called]; for straightforward Cantonese, the Chinese place on the eastside of Kearney just across Commercial Alley from the Holiday Inn; and the "gourmet" burrito, etc Mexican place farther down Commercial Alley [I think}, on the south side, with a name that begins with a "T", something like Tlaloc, I think.
Anyway, hope this helps; it's killing me. Give us a report on what you experience and give my best to the 'hood.
I work just a couple of blocks away (at 50 California), so thanks for all the suggestions, especially the Vietnamese and Mexican places.
A couple of other cheap but decent options:
Cafe Venue (a couple of locations, one at 218 Montgomery and one on Leidesdorff St. (an alley off California above Montgomery). Soup, fancy sandwiches ($4.25-5.75), mix-and-match pastas and sauces ($5.39-5.99), and big entree salads ($4.25-5.95 -- I usually get the Thai chicken salad, and I've never finished it). All made to order. Also combos of the above and fresh squeezed juices. No table serice: order it, pay for it, pick it up -- they have tables (including in the alley for mild days) but they fill up fast.
The best value in the neighborhood is the falafel at the Oasis grill (corner of Sacramento and Drumm, across from the Hyatt Regency). Falafel, hummus, tahini, tomato-cucumber relish, shredded purple cabbage and a smear of harissa (watch out!) wrapped like a burrito in lavash and heated on the grill for a minute -- $3.75. They also have other stuff (shwerma, a mezza plate, etc.) but I fall for the falafel every time.
And for something a little different, I like all the chilis I've tried from Chili Up! (on the alley that is the continuation of Sacramento to Justin Herman Plaza). Variations from all meat to completely vegetarian, served over seasoned rice with a garnish of cheese, onion, cilantro and lime. $4.50 for a "regular" (which is plenty for me) and $5-something for a large.
Celery was right about the farmer's market: Donna's tamales (see the link to the write-up I did a couple of weeks ago) and an Indian vendor (samosas are okay, but the Cilantro chutney is killer). Also Acme has a booth there. We have a big fridge at work, so I keep things like salad dressing and maybe some cheese, and get an Acme roll, some salad greens and fruit for lunch (unfortunately, they no longer have the booth that sold Cowgirl Creamery creme fraiche -- that and a box of raspberries and I was in heaven).
PS: I'm almost always available for dim sum on short notice.
Thank you so much, everyone! Now I'm hungry again. . . . I'm particularly looking forward to trying the farmer's market tamales, the falafel places, Mangia Tutti and the Vietnamese place Melanie mentioned.
Yes, I am indeed at One Maritime Plaza. They've just demolished the building across Battery that had Yank Sing (my favorite, although admittedly non-authentic, dim sum). Already have been to Tlaloc, Chili Up, Nanking (not my favorite), Massimo del Panino, Sai's, and the great little (red) Cafe on Leiersdorff alley, across from Tlaloc. Love Massimo's, particularly the broccoli coleslaw and pasta bowtie salad with fresh tomato and red onions. I have found that I'm not happy with almost everything at Sai's, which is unfortunate since it's one of the closest places and many people I work with like to go there and suggest it. (Their chicken, in particular, seems of questionable quality and always slimy.) I generally order pho when there since it's decent if not anything great. The fresh shrimp rolls are very good.
I think the pho and bun thit nuong are better at Golden Flower on Jackson, just above Kearney.
Grumpy's has great burgers and fries, and is almost a dive (for the person looking for one earlier this month) . . . .
A new sushi place just opened up around the corner from my apartment on Bush between Franklin and Gough.
They have a $3.50 lunch special (one cooked meat dish), a $5.95 lunch special (two cooked meat dishes), and a $6.50 sushi special (including Miso soup and a choice between a roll combo or a sashimi, nigiri, roll combo). You can go with a friend, split some sake, and come out well under $20.
I've only gone twice - once for dinner and once for lunch, but both times it's been some of the friendliest service I've had in S.F. I'm not a sushi expert, so my tastes are probably fairly run-of-the-mill, but the fish is very fish and the chef, Jackie, is happy to make suggestions and point me towards newer dishes I might not have tried otherwise.
I'd be curious to know what more knowledgable sushi eaters thought of it...