Civic Center Restaurants for Lunch
My work is moving to the SF Civic Center and I am not familiar with the restaurants there (east of Van Ness). I know there are many Vietnamese restaurants, but what about Chinese or Japanese? I've read about La Turc. Anyone want to reveal any special finds?
I work in the same area (VN at Market) and I can recommend:
a Greek/Mediterranean place on Grove just across from the SF LIB bookstore entrance. Very fresh food, delicious and always busy with nearby office workers. No great Chinese restaurants that I can think of but there is the Mandarin on Franklin at Fell which is so-so.
A great Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall is TU LAN on 6th off Mkt - an awful block - but great cheap food and always jammed.
I also work in the Civic Center, and here are my thoughts:
Midori Mushi Sushi (no longer open for lunch, though) is a new sushi place on Grove near Gough. It's a simple sushi menu with fresh and yummy food. They definitely know what they're doing there. Prices are very fair, $2.75 to $4 for nigiri and $2.75 to $5 for maki. Keep in mind that it's super tiny though.
Golden House Restaurant (Vietnamese) on 366 Golden Gate. I'm very happy to eat their cold vegetarian spring roll with rice noodles and vegetables for $5 anytime. It's cheap, quick and fresh. A perfectly good lunch spot if you're in the neighborhood.
Quincy's for sandwiches on Market between Van Ness and Polk is my favorite place for basic sandwiches. I don't like their pastrami at all, but I do really like their corned beef. I'm not schooled in that kind of thing, and for many years didn't even eat beef--but think the corned beef is very tasty and not overly chewy. The pastrami on the other hand was the opposite. The sandwiches are large (a half is often enough), the ingredients are fresh, and they're reasonably priced-and they give you a free piece of fruit of the day.
Don't go to the Japanese place in the Opera Plaza center. And if you do, I would definitely avoid the sushi. What I've had is chewy and unpleasant-I had to give up going there.
I like to eat at Ananda Fuara when I need healthy food. A personal favorite is their baked potato with mushrooms, broccoli and onions. It's $4.25 and enough to last 2 lunches for me. It might sound bland, but they use spices that make it tasty and interesting.
The Library Cafe in the bottom floor of the library has pretty decent sandwiches and salads, and is a nice place to have lunch-especially on a rainy day.
I'm sure you've read about the Vietnamese sandwiches already, so I won't go into that. That is definitely the tastiest and cheapest option around. I see that Gyro King has also been mentioned. I've only tried their falafel as the full lunches always seem like too much food for me. I've been perfectly happy with their falafel. Unlike the Vietnamese sandwiches, though, they're nothing you'd go out of your way for.
Be sure to check out the Farmer's Market on Wednesdays. If you want to eat lunch there they now have a tamale stand, serving tamales for a couple bucks. I have found that to be another perfectly cheap and satisfying lunch. You can get them hot for now or out of the cooler to take home--cheaper by the dozen.
My dilemma in this neighborhood is that if you want good cheap food it's often not the kind of place you want to relax with a book--which I often like to do. If you go to Haye's valley you find the nice cafes, but also lunches that get expensive.
Anyway, hope this helps.