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Your Top Three Ethnic Dives?

Goin back up to SF and just wonderin what your top three ethnic dives are up there... :) Used to enjoy the Arab place in the Lower Haight that closed down (this was like 7 years ago) and the dumplings in peanut sauce at the Coppola chinese place...

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  1. Yamo, Yamo, and Yamo. OK, Yucatasia as well. Yamo (Burmese) is on 18th, btwn Mission and Valencia. All entrees are $5.25. Get the Yamo cold noodles or any of the fish dishes, tea salad. Yucatasia is on Mission bwtn 17th and 18th. That chicken leg (also used to make the banh mi) is killer!

    1. Kaygetsu - Japanese - Kaygetsu.com
      Bissap Boabab - Senegalese - BissapBaobab.com
      Chelokababi - Persian - Chelokababi.com

      5 Replies
      1. re: wchane

        Looking at those websites, I would hardly call those restaurtants "dives." Heck, the fact that they have websites kinda pushes them out of dive territory.

        But that Japanese restaurant looks great. Those prices are way too high to be considered a dive. Any recommendations on what to order? Thanks!

        1. re: chaddict

          Go all out, get the kaiseki menu.

          1. re: willowg

            yeah. or a la carte...i learned from here you can put together your own kaiseki meal form the menu and it'll cost you maybe 2/3 the kaiseki...HOWEVER...you're going to leave wondering what you missed. go all out. just do it.

            i almost forgot: spice hut in sunnyvale, ca - indian food...i'm going to go there now. =) mmmMmmm...

        2. re: wchane

          Wow, you must be extremely wealthy if you consider Kaygetsu a dive.

          1. re: willowg

            i have to admit...my reading comprehension faulted during this post. they are definitely not 'dives'

            so..new list:

            sushi maru - sunnyvale, ca - japanese
            rose market - mountain view, ca - persian
            yiassoo - cupertino, ca - greek
            lucy's cafe - cupertino, ca - chinese
            ogi-san ramen - san jose, ca - ramen : this place is actually quite horrid, but i live really nearby so i literally walk there when i don't want to think. it's edible, just don't go there on my account.

        3. Interesting that in the bay area we don't consider vietnamese, chinese, japanese, indian and mexican food ethnic anymore..:)

          We are so lucky.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Offal Lover

            Dol Ho. That's Chinese and while not exactly a dive, most certainly a hole-in-the-wall.

            If you want a literal hole-in-the-wall, try La Torta Loca in Oakland (on International in Fruitvale). It's a counter on the front wall of a laundromat (although they now seem to have a couple of tables just inside the laundromat).

          2. Truly Mediterranean

            Taqueria San Jose (the one by 24th St BART)

            I'd say Saigon Sandwich but haven't been there since the recent rash of downhill alerts.

            1. The only Dive I go to with regularity is Shan on 3rd street,
              which is fine, but the food is just kind of average, nothing more or less than you would expect from this kind of no frills Indian place.

              Here are a couple of local dive food websites it might be worth reading through for some other ideas:


              7 Replies
              1. re: Sixy

                Shan closed, will reopen as a Naan 'n' Chutney.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  NO WAY!
                  I was there just a couple of weeks ago the last time.
                  damn it.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Have you ever been to the Haight st location of Naan'n'Chutney. If so, what is your take?

                    1. re: Amahal420

                      one thing is for certain - parking will be easier in the SoMa location.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I drove by Shan last night.
                      It looked very open and it still had the huge shan sign outside.

                      1. re: Sixy

                        Are you sure it is not the new place or they were doing work to open the new restaurant. I was there last Saturday and saw the notice on the door.

                        If the new restaurant is a little bare-bones type of place, it might take them a while to remove that big sign outside ... if ever.

                        1. re: rworange

                          i drove past again, and noticed there is a sign on the window but that it does appear to be open. will cehck it out soon

                  2. I like Tikka Masala (Indian) on 6th and Judah, Taste of the Himalayas (Nepalese) on Lombard near Divisadero, Golden King (Vietnamese) on Clay and Grant. All are cheap, hole in the walls with delicious food!

                    1. El Nuevo Frutilandia, 24th St. between Harrison and Folsom, San Francisco. Go on Thursday for the bacalao special.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rootlesscosmo

                        I love this place! Quite nice and clean. But I thought the Thursday special was the Chicken Fricasse (which I love)?


                        1. re: chaddict

                          You're right--Bacalao is on Friday. (Vatican II or no Vatican II...)

                      2. Tu Lan at 6th & Mission.

                        1. What's your definition of a "dive"?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Maya

                            and how does a "dive" differ from a "hole in the wall" :-)

                            1. re: Scott M

                              Availability of malt liquor?

                            2. re: Maya

                              this is my favorite website for dives in and around the silicon valley... (doesn't include Sf however). but it rates dives... stopping at the point of a place nice enough to take your mother.

                            3. Only 3?

                              Taqueria Cancun, the 5th & Market Branch -- looks like the indoor re-creation of a taco truck.

                              Star Lunch, Jackson above Kearny. About 10 stools at the counter and that's it (but good stinky tofu).

                              Tea Garden, Mission west of first. Definitely a dive by neighborhood standards, featuring excellent Taiwanese beef nooodle soup.

                              1. I second Tikka Masala. (although I'm still not sure what we're calling a dive, its more of a family place run by two brothers than a dive.) The tandori quail rocks, as does the cilantro chutney. Much less oily than Nann and Curry as well...

                                1. Loi's, on Irving at 23rd. Vietnamese with exceptionally delicious charred pork bun. It's a dive because: there are about six tables, a kitchen-sized tv plays in the background for the indifferent server to watch between slamming your pot of tea or bowl of noodles on the table, and you can get a sizable dinner for two for under $15 (with tip).

                                  1. I'd like to nominate DeeDee's Indian Buffet, Groceries and Chaat Corner on Middlefield in Mountain View.

                                    This is a small, vegetarian/vegan place in a sort of dilapidated mini-strip mall on Middlefield Rd. I found it by accident the other day and decided to give it a try.

                                    I wasn't hungry enough to have the $6.99 lunch buffet so I had Dahi Puri ($3.49) and a Mango Lassi (can't remember price). I've had the same dish at Amber's fast food place on El Camino and I can tell you that this one was much better and the people were much friendlier too.

                                    DeeDee's is an interesting little place and I look forward to trying out more of their menu.

                                    Check out their website: http://www.mydeedees.com/restaurant.html

                                    Edit: I just remembered that DeeDee told me that they make an effort to not over spice their dishes and they also try to keep relatively low fat...

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: RWCFoodie

                                      I recall that Deedee's had a really excellent aloo naan, in which naan is filled with potato (and some spices).

                                      1. re: katya

                                        I see an Aloo Paratha on the menu but no naan of any kind... have you tried anything else there?

                                        1. re: RWCFoodie

                                          It's been six years. It was probably aloo paratha. I honestly don't remember what else I tried.

                                    2. I haven't lived in SF for 6 years now, but this was my poor man eats good list I used to give to visitors.

                                      in the area that borders two neighborhoods, the tenderloin and knob hill, known as the tenderknob. at 532 jones, between geary and o’farrell, super cheap indian food, limited menu, be sure to order aloo parathas, you order at the counter, deli style, and pay when you are finished. it’s real greasy and tasty, sometimes all the food isn’t ready at the same time, atmosphere is “sweaty curry house”, i have seen fights in the restaurant.

                                      Tu lan
                                      in the heart of the 6th street skid row, the first block south of market, tu lan offers big greasy plates of vietnamese food. get the vegetable rice paper rolls to start. be careful not to slip on the floor. do not leave your bicycle unattended, even inside the restaurant. admire julia child’s photo on the menu.

                                      Taiwan (now defunct)
                                      at the corner of broadway and columbus in the area of the north beach/china town border known as vagina town because of the dense population of strip clubs in the immediate area. this chinese restaurant offers a $3.95 lunch special, and although i eat here everyday for lunch when i am at work, i always order the “combination vegetable soup noodles” at the rock bottom price of $3.25. if you sit at the counter you can watch the chef cook work his magic over what appears to be a direct gateway to hell.

                                      Taj Mahal
                                      398 eddy @ the corner of leavenworth in the tenderloin. this restaurant offers a larger menu than shalimar, table service, and is amazingly even cheaper than shalimar, formerly thought to be the cheapest restaurant in the world. taj mahal also offers an all you can eat lunch buffet for $5.95 a head. however, the aloo parathas do not compare to shalimar's. those are the facts.

                                      El Farlito
                                      at the corner of 24th and mission, my favorite mexican spot for the $1.35 beans and rice option. also fresh carrot and orange juice, don’t get the burritos, they are sort of bland, but the tortas are delicious. load them up with plenty of the green salsa from the salsa bar, and don’t miss the cebollitas, (grilled scallions) with lime.

                                      mission at 19th. i think cancun is a shitter, because the beans always taste burnt to me, but it boasts the title of best vegetarian burrito in the city. and every dirt seems to swear by it. it is cheap, i’ll give it that, and that’s about all i give it.

                                      Maya (now defunct but the related Azteca is still on Church near 16th)
                                      at the corner of 16th and guerrero. this is my vote for best vegetarian burrito in the city. chose either the tofu burrito, with or without nopales (cactus) or if you would like to take a nap directly after your meal, treat yourself to a chile relleno burrito. you will be in a ecstatic coma.

                                      Pakistani Restaurant I can't remember the name of.
                                      It's right near the old Maya location at 16th and Guerrero. A Mission location of a Shalimar style Pakistani/Indian place, very tasty, but new since I left SF, so I can't remember what it's called.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: hulasboy

                                        There are maybe 20 Shalimar-type places around town these days.

                                      2. Hung Ky is my absolute favorite...
                                        here's a link to a Chowdown thread


                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                          Hung Ky is one of my faves but it's not a dive. It's quite nice for a modest restaurant. Same goes for Shalimar mentioned abouve.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Ah, forgive me, Derek! I was thinking Sultan. Thanks for the correction.

                                        2. Naan n Curry moved into Taj Mahal's space. The place you might be thinking of in the Mission is Pakwan.

                                          1. Bodega Bistro - This qualifies as a dive mainly due to being in the tenderloin.

                                            Thai House express - great thai, tenderloin.

                                            Burma Super Star - kind of divy, but awesome food.

                                            Lahore Karahi - in the tenderloin and the best damn indian food in the city, bar none.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Lord Griffin

                                              Bodega Bistro's location is not the best but it's a pretty nice place, nothing divey about it at all.

                                              Thai House Express (Larkin & Geary) recently redecorated a bit (nicer furniture, better lighting?) and it doesn't feel as much like a diner. Nothing else seemed to have changed.

                                              Two of my favorite restaurants in SF.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Dive....Hole in the Wall......semantics.....
                                                It's still the Tenderloin....Hung Ky, Dottie's, Bodega Bistro....same thing...! (really like all 3 places though, and i will brave the T'loin to get there!

                                              1. re: hulasboy

                                                I think that Soups closed last year...