Great food that's cheap by 16th & Mission BART
I have never explored this area before, and I suspect that I'm missing out on some great finds here... so I'm planning to check it out with a friend on Monday night for dinner. We are hoping to find a place within our budget of no more than $15-$20/person for a meal (not including drinks) and within walking distance of the Bart station. And if possible, I'd like to find a place with good white sangria.
Noise factor aside, Ti Couz would be my choice (assuming you both like great crepes with your choice of fillings, and great salads). You could try Limon for good Peruvian, but it might be tough getting a table. I've had their red sangria which is nice, but have not had the white.
i had pretty good sushi for $3/handroll at tokyo go go, 16th and guererro, during their happy hour, which is until 7pm weekdays. as long as you get your order in by 7pm, you can sit there long after enjoying your inexpensive sushi.
i particularly liked the scallop, unagi, and quail egg rolls. no sangria, but cucumber or lichee sake.
A lot of people absolutely love Limon which is 1 & 1/2 blocks away from the 16th. street BART station on the west side of Valencia south of 16th. It's sophisticated Peruvian. The ceviche, and other fish dishes are really fine. It's within your price range. It's stylish...cool. BUT a friend and I had a bad experience there and I realized I dislike stylish/cool restaurants in poor neighborhoods unless they have A LOT of heart and soul. But there's something a little cold around the heart at Limon.
My best friend and I had some heavy duty girl talk to do and Limon was dead at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. We went in and sat in the back corner. After a while, a waitress came over and told us we couldn't sit at a table for more than two because some large parties MIGHT come in and need to sit there (maybe we would have inconvenienced someone if say, six large parties suddenly showed up in the middle of the afternnon on a weekday - but what are the odds of that happening?)
We had to move to a tiny table right next to the door that was 3 inches away from the only other people in the place. I asked her to turn down the tinny (techno, house?) music. She grudgingly did - ever so slightly. That was it. Adios Limon.
But, on a happier note, I'll tell you my favorite neighborhood restaurant: Panchita's. It's Salvadorean - on the south side of 16th closer to Valencia than Mission. Family run, great food, lots of heart, sunny, good Latino music, the biggest bargain in town, but although the dining room is airy and very clean, the kichen and BR are just barely clean enough to be acceptable to me. And in a personal first, I have actually been panhandled INSIDE this restaurant.
But I love the women who work there. My favorite lunches always come in at around $5 or so. For that price you can get a lot of excellent food. The pupusas are fat and made to order. I get 2 of the chicharron con queso. The fried to order chips, smoky salsa, and curtido cabbage slaw are gratis and gladly replenished. A hearty meal: $3.25. Excellent fish soup, fabulous ceviche, the best chicken tamales I've ever eaten ($1.65 each), and the best refritos I've ever eaten (it's the lard).
- Al Hamra (Indian and Pakistani)
- Pancho Villa (taqueria)
- Sunflower (Vietnamese)
- Truly Mediterranean (Middle Eastern)
Not as cheap:
- Tokyo Go-Go (Japanese/sushi)
- Ti Couz (crepes)
- Il Cantuccio (Italian)
- Ramblas (tapas)
For what it's worth, I had an experience similar to Niki's when going to eat at Limon at an "off" time in the afternoon -- lackadaisical, bored service. And a friend once had some very underdone, almost raw chicken in their previous location, so that's put me off.
Another add to the Cheapest list: Mi Lindo Yucatan
I had a bad experience at Sunflower awhile ago so I'll never go back there. We didn't notice the 15% tip requirement stipiulated on the menu, and apparently gave slightly lower than that. This resulted in the owner grumbling and cussing us out as we were walking out the door. Truly awful behavior.
Big Lantern is no more than half a block away from the BART station and well worth a visit. I've not had the dim sum, but all the entree plates I've had are delicious. Try the General's chicken; even a meat-lover will savor the General's meatless chicken. It's flavorful and not too sweet and comes with steamed broccoli. The garlic string beans were crisp, not soggy and over-sauced, which is the norm in most Chinese food places. You do have to pay for a pot of tea -- which is a little like paying for chips and salsa at a sit-down Mexican place -- but, on the upside, they have a tea menu and it's loose leaf, so you're not stuck with Oolong in a Lipton bag. The portions are generous, everything tastes fresh, and the presentation is tasteful. If I haven't made it clear already, I'm sold on the place.
Of course, there's no sangria to speak of, but you can find that at most of the restaurants nearby. They do have a wine list, but I didn't even bother looking at it.
First, a geographic comment:
The "upper mission" ... from say Duboce [13.5th street]
on the north, to Cesar Chavez [26.5th street] to the south,
should all be be reachable from either the 16th street
or the 24th street BART Stn ... asusming you are in the "main
corridor" and not too far to the East, toward Potrero.
So if you are willing to go down one more BART stop, and
walk a maximum of 6blocks, that opens up almost all of the
16th and valencia at the top of the Valencia corridor has
a different vibe from say the 24th Street corridor [going
east from Mission].
Anyway, that all being said, Chava's near 24th st BART is
good ... I think the close pretty early tho.
I really like the coquille et tomato crepe at Ti Couz.
On a monday, I dont think they'll be super busy/loud ...
esp earlier than later. The have some unusual drinks.
I think bar tartine is a nice environment ... you wont get a
full meal here for $15, but as a place to stop in for a light
item and hang out for a bit, it might be good.
And now for something totally different: i like the burgers
at Zeitgeist. On a nice evening, their "beer garden" is also
a cool place hang out. Whether it's for you I suppose depends
on some combination of personality and the demographics and
vibe you are looking for ... are you looking for a food
experience that is food-centric, or experience-centric?
Tartine Bakery at 18th and Guerrero may close too early
for you [7?] otherwise it is a fine option. There's pizza
delfina, which other's like, next door... I found it wanting
in price-performance, but people have told me since they opened
they've retooled and are better.
There are tons of places in this area ... it's hard to know
what to recommend without knowing if you want a "quiet place
to catch up with a friend" or a place where people will
randomly start talking to you between "tokes".
BTW: I think OHSA THAI is also ok ... maybe a reasonable balance
of food and out-for-the-evening vibe.
If you skip restaurant $5-$7 dessert, can allocate budget to
I had a good sangria at Zarzuela recently. But that would be
a different trip I suppose.
A few weeks ago rw referred to Market and 14th street as the Castro. Now, you are talking about the "upper" and "lower" Mission. I think it's time to geographically define the areas we're discussing.
I've lived on Dolores between 14th. and 18th. for many years. This area, in terms of neighborhood, is no man's land. The closest you can come to a "neighborhood" designation for my block, Dolores & 14th. would be Upper Market or Inner Mission. Dolores street and Church are very distinctive, from each other, and both from the rest of the area as a whole. We have never had a neighborhood association. It is most definitely not the Castro. Church and Market is not the Castro either. Both areas have very different souls. Personally, I just say Dolores near Market or Church near Market to refer to the general area.
OK, the Mission. It's never "upper" or "lower" Mission. It's Inner or Outer Mission. And for me, this is how I see it: Inner Mission: not counting Mission downtown/SOMA, it starts around South Van Ness and ends at 16th. THE MISSION: 16th. to 24th. Outer Mission: 24th. to Daly City. There are other neighborhoods adjacent to Mission Street south of Cesar Chavez or 30th. Street, but to me, Mission Street is still THE MISSION until you hit the Daly City border.
re: niki rothman
Ah, no-man's-land. I've lived there for years too. Church & Market...is really Duboce Triangle, no? But here at Market & Guerrero -- there is no label. When out-of-towners ask where I live in the city, I simply say, Look at a map of SF and point directly in the center of it. That's where I live. But it has no name.
That said, I am thrilled to live so close to Zuni, Pauline's Pizza and Delessio, and can walk to so many options in the Castro, Mission and Haight.
re: niki rothman
Ok, I suppose I should have use the canonical "upper" and
"lower" in a public conversation rather than my ideosyncratic
labels, but I think w.r.t. to the Mission "upper" and "lower"
make more sense than "inner" and "outer", since one often
speaks in terms of "above" or "below" ARMY/Cesar Chavez.
Inner/Outer Richmond|Sunset seem "natural", but upper/lower
seems a better fit w.r.t to the Mission ... do you really think of the
Safeway, Taco Bell, El Rio, Angkor Borei, Mitchell's Ice Cream,
Blue Plate, GFChicken etc as "below CC" or "father from downtown".
I think the San Francisco "metric tensor" does not really
have a radial/inbound/outbound/polar geometry, like say
Boston might. Well, maybe it is in the east-west sense,
but it doesnt seem to be in the north-south axis. Maybe
it does if you have a MUNI-centric view [rather than BART,
or car-centric] ... I wouldnt know; I've not been on MUNI
since I moved to SF a few yrs ago.
My favorite pet name for a part of SF is The InterMission:
the area *between* "me" [pot hill] and the mission "proper".
So pretty much "the flats" eastish of about van ness,
till you get to potrero ave maybe.
Ok, I suppose I also like the name "the wine(wino) county"
for part of SOMA and tandooriloin, but names like TriBeWay
[or whatever it was ... Triangle Below Safeway?] seems to be
Manhanttan Bootlicking. I just designate that as "the Super
Safeway" ... not to be confused with the Oakland Super Safeway.
re: Robert Lauriston
Just checked with my husband, the ultimate third generation San Franciscan. His uncle calls him "Mr. San Francisco" Here's the low-down: "I haven't heard anyone use the term, 'Eureka Valley' in a long time. The Castro used to be called Eureka Valley when it was an Italian neighborhood. In the 60's the gay population started to increase, that's when it began to be called the Castro. Church & Market is not Duboce Triangle. Church and Market has no neighborhood association." (There is a Duboce Triangle neighborhood association (Richard was the treasurer of it for several years when we lived on 14th & Castro).
Frosty Melon and I both do the same thing when trying to tell people where we live: "Look at a map. Find the exact center of San Francisco. That's it." The geographic center of the best place on earth. And this neighborhood, whatever it is, has some of the best restaurants too. From no-name sushi, to Delessio, Burgermeister, El Castellito, Chow, I'll even stretch a tiny bit and include Zuni, and now the new Woodhouse Fish restaurant.
But from now on, when I want to tell someone where I live and mainly eat, thanks to you Frosty Melon, it IS going to be "Safeway Gulch."
Safeway's house baked chocolate chunk cookies are THE BEST. Made with butter even.
Andalu is at 16th and Guerrero, and I've enjoyed their white sangria in the past. With those and a handful of small plates, you might be pushing your price limit a bit, but many of them are tasty. You could always start out at the Tokyo A Go Go happy hour (which is great), and then head down to Andalu to finish off.
re: Hungry Hippo
Actually, I haven't been for about a year or so, but just recommended it to a friend the other night, and she said it was great. I might have to check it out again soon, though. And no, it's not cheap, but with some judicious ordering, you could eat for $20 there (not including the sangria), especially in a group where everyone is sharing.
I forgot to report back on this... We ended up going to Sunflower, which was pretty cheap with big portions. Since its been a while, all I remember was I got a dry vermicelli bowl with grilled pork, imperial roll, and other stuff I've forgotten. There was a substantial serving of the pork, which is always good. And to my surprise, the imperial roll had taro in it. I have never had it this way before, is this a new thing? I still liked it, but I was craving a traditional roll.