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"One Hit Wonders" - restaurants you only go to for 1 or 2 items?

I was browsing through the general topic section and came upon this thread; http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... In it there was a discussion about places that only do a few things right and the rest of the menu is just bad.

In that light, anyone have any "one hit wonders" that they frequent? Places that you only go there for one or two items? I'm sure there's a bunch so maybe the context should be how the rest of the menu is subpar.

My one hit wonders include Le Cheval (lemongrass beef, braised fish in hot pot and crab) and Jack-in-the-Box (two tacos and that's it).

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  1. Vien Hong in Oakland Chinatown & Pacific East Mall. Chow chou noodles and shrimp cake.

      1. Adagia in Berkeley. The grilled Romaine salad is always excellent, especially when salmon is in season. The rest of the menu, meh.

        1. Otaez, Oakland - Caldo Tlalpeno

          Boulevard Cafe, Daly City - macaroni & cheese

          Los Cocos, Oakland - Chan - to go!

          LoCoco's, Oakland - Inferno Pizza

          4 Replies
          1. re: lainielou

            What's chan?

            The fresh ricotta pizza at LoCoCo's is excellent.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Robert - chan is an agua fresca made from seeds of a shrub native to El Salvador. I had never heard of it before I went to Los Cocos. . .it is very refreshing . . it reminds me of the taste of fresh prickly pear cactus. I've had it at Los Cocos and at Balompie but both places have it only sporadically. I have tried to find the seeds to make it myself but have not been able to. It is addicting.

              1. re: lainielou

                Actually it's dragonfruit.

                Los Guanacos (4479 Mission Street) makes a killer version. I've been meaning to try Los Cocos. Come to think of it the Chan might be the one hit wonder at Los Guanacos, too. AKA Pitahaya


            2. re: lainielou

              Aaah, while I did go to Boulevard Cafe when I was in the are to get the excellent mac and cheese on your craigslist recco there are other gems on the menu (and duds too.) The shrimp cocktail is ginormous with small shrimp in lime juice with avocado and big shrimp hanging off the rim, enough to share.

            3. For years the only dish I'd order at Le Cheval was orange chicken with French rice and the imperial rolls. My husband got the same main dish and we shared the rolls. A couple of times about a year ago, we got our usual and the orange chicken was dry and pretty bad. We haven't been back.

              Tadich Grill - I don't think I ever ordered anything but grilled swordfish with a dinner seafood salad with house dressing. And this is since the 60's! Talk about a rut! Actually this isn't really in line with the thread which implies one good dish and blah or bad other stuff.

              3 Replies
              1. re: oakjoan

                Funny that you'd mention Tadich, because I was going to add their cioppino to the list. There are other worthy items at Tadich, but that cioppino is just out of sight.

                1. re: jkv

                  I used to always get the sauteed Petrale, but a waiter tipped me to the seafood saute and that is all I order there anymore. It is scallops, shrimp and crab in a white wine butter sauce.

                2. re: oakjoan

                  On the subject of swordfish: check if it imported or not. Local line-caught swordfish is sustainable, but there's overfishing of swordfish in other countries.

                3. I think the only places at which I only order one or two items would be my fallback delivery Thai and Chinese places. Mostly because when I'm getting Thai delivered, it's because I don't want to think too hard about what I might be getting.

                  1. Roasted Chicken Dijon at Horatio's in San Leandro

                    1. Espresso at the Trieste. Everything else there -- everything -- is sad.

                      1. The only thing I've found at El Zocalo that is noteworthy are the great papusas. The rest of the items I've tried have been rather mediocre.

                        The carnitas and salsa verde at Taqueria San Francisco are great, but the pollo asado was akin to cardboard. Very dry and hard.

                        I think that there are lots of small ethni eateries that have a few great items and a handful of meh ones.

                        1. Little Napal in Bernal: Kukhurako Ledo

                          1. I used to go have a seat at the bar at Kuleto's just for the brussels sprouts (shredded and sauteed with pancetta and fresh marjoram) from time to time. They have recentlly changed the menu and have a new chef, and with the old one went the brussels sprouts--and the mac and cheese with prosciutto, too. I suppose they're trying to revamp their image, but the brussels sprouts were really nice as a snack on a shopping day downtown.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Sallie

                              I concur, I love to munch on the chared bressels sprouts and mac and chesse after christmas shopping with family. However, this year, I'm living in france and will miss that treat although I do have access to all the cheese in the world. So my question is: what is the mac and cheese recipe so that I can re-create it. Does anyone even remember the three cheeses used in the dish?

                            2. Los Cantaros on Grand Ave. in Oakland - my neighbors really like this place, so we've gone there with them from time to time. After I tried the tacos, I didn't want to go back - they were terrible. But somehow on a rainy day last winter we ended up at this place again and I ordered the posole, which was a weekend special. It was excellent - porky, rich, a little spicy, with fresh avocado and scallions on top and tasty hominy. The only reason I look forward to wintertime is so I can eat food like this again!

                              (Also, I stole a bite of chile relleno from someone else's plate, and it seemed pretty good, so maybe that's their second decent dish.)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chompy

                                I just had to update this old(ish) post to reflect the posole I had at Los Cantaros a couple of weeks ago. It was not really very good, in fact, it was verging on bad. The evil doppelganger of last year's posole.

                              2. Nan Yang (Oakland) -- ginger salad. I still mourn the Thai garlic noodles from their original location. When they moved they changed both the noodles and the pork in the dish, and it's a completely different dish.

                                1. Shin Toe Bul Yi, the Korean place on Tarraval. Great fried chicken, hit and miss kalbi. The free stuff that comes with the fried chicken is quite good (panchan, pickled daikon, spicy tofu soup). I have yet to find another dish that I really like there, and I've tried quite a few so far from all parts of the menu.

                                  Grubstake for Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa, the ultimate Portuguese comfort food. I don't love anything else on the menu, including the other portuguese dishes. I don't make it there very often, but it's nice to know that it's open until 4am every night. In fact, this may just be my favorite dish in SF served after 3am...

                                  Hing Lung for Jook. OK, that's cheating a bit, since you can order many different flavors for the jook, but I always end up ordering the roasted duck one. I have not extensively tried the other stuff on their menu, but was not overly impressed the couple of times that I did.

                                  Good Frikin' Chicken, for the eponymous chicken.

                                  Cafe Jacqueline, for the chocolate souffle. I'm not a huge fan of savory souffles, and there's not a ton else on the menu (the salads are fine). One time, when they were too busy to seat us right away, I actually ordered a chocolate souffle and grabbed a slice of pizza across the street while waiting for the table and souffle to be ready.

                                  Ino Sushi for the Ankimo and sometimes the Aji. The sushi is generally good at Ino, but I like most items better at Takara next door. But the Ankimo is amazing, and the Aji can be at times too.

                                  1. At Herbivore, I only like the bbq tempeh sandwich and the green salad with dijon dressing and tofu.

                                    1. SF Chinatown's Hing Lung for their rice porridge (especially the pork and preserved egg, or the fresh fish). Most of their other food is less than great, including the $9.99 Peking duck.

                                      1. pier market - SF - bowl of chowder & crab melt sandwich

                                        restaurant lulu - SF - pork loins w/mash or the duck on saturday nights.

                                        il postale - sunnyvale - rock shrimp capellini & boca negra cake

                                        family delight cafe - milpitas - tofu/fish filet stirfry over rice

                                          1. La Boulangerie for their macaroons!!! Especially Carmel or Hazelnut.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: misspiggy

                                              The Bay Bread bakeries (aka Boulange / Boulangerie) also make great canneles and good bread.


                                            2. The lemongrass pork at Le Cheval is excellent, as are the clay pots.

                                              1. The fried chicken wings at Capitol Restaurant in SF Chinatown. Hot and delicious, with scallion & jalapeno garnish. Skip everything else on the menu.

                                                1. Vung Tau, Milpitas - beef & onion rolls
                                                  Giovanni, Berkeley - focaccia (it's free)
                                                  Tomatina, Santa Clara - pizza
                                                  Bleu Ginger, Milpitas - chicken lemongrass salad, blue lake green beans
                                                  Yan Can, Santa Clara - kung pao vegetables
                                                  Spaghetti Factory - mitzithra cheese spaghetti, meatballs and spaghetti
                                                  (started to stray into chain restaurants - sorry)

                                                  1. King Egg Roll in San Jose. The egg rolls are AMAZING and everything else is cheap but ... let's just say unamazing.