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Tight schedule on Union Square


Lots of Union Square listings, but can't find what we need among them. We're at the Grand Hyatt for a day-long seminar and have a one-hour lunch break from 1:10 to 2:10 (that exact!) December 8. I live in Juneau, AK, where ethnic food consists of Thai (ok), Chinese (so-so) and truly world-class bad Mexican. In that hour, where can we go for good ethnic around $40 for 2 with some assurance of getting back to the seminar on time and happy with our lunch experience?

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  1. Akiko's - if you like sushi

    1. If you order at the bar and tell them you are in a hurry, you might be able to get a Mexican fix at Colibri (on Geary, about three blocks west of Union Square) in an hour or less. Not great, but not world class bad either (although to be honest I thought the halibut tacos I had at the Mexican place on the main drag in Juneau two years ago were definitely better than world class bad....)

      Also the House of Thai Noodle House next to Macy's is probably ok; though I haven't eaten at that branch...

      What I would probably do, however, is walk over to Chinatown (about 15 minutes) and go to some of the to go dim sum places (do a search for some recommendations) and Golden Gate Bakery (for custard tarts) and take a selection to eat back during the afternoon session. Or arrive late for the afternoon session....

      1 Reply
      1. re: susancinsf

        duh: too late to edit, but I meant King of Thai Noodle House, on O'Farrell, that stonefruit mentioned below..

      2. There are several Middle Eastern places nearby on Kearny Street.

        1. Kitana-ya at Geary and Mason has very good ramen - tasty and fast!

          1. Realize you have Thai in Alaska, but I do love King of Thai Noodle House on O'Farrell, near Macy's (as Susancinsf mentioned). My favorite dishes are the pad see ew (wide rice noodles with Chinese broccoli and your choice of protein) and the red veggie curry. This place is super fast and very affordable. There's also another branch across the street from the Curran Theater on Geary.

            1 Reply
            1. re: stonefruit

              and I believe there is also a brand new branch that opened up next to the Westfield Center. Entrance is on a side alley off of Fifth Street between the Mission St Garage and Nordstrom.

            2. Sorry, you are out of luck. You are right smack in the middle of 'tourist town' which is a culinary wasteland, and you will not find good food, ethnic or otherwise. Any decent food will require a detour of at least 2 hours. The only place I feel comfortable in recommending is Sears, which is 1/2 block up, but just waiting in line will probably take more than 1 hour.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jerry i h

                I disagree. If the OP had even an hour and a half, there are plenty of places to eat within a ten or fiteen minute walk with better food than Sears (IMO). Anywhere in Chinatown would serve lunch faster than that hour wait. It is the exactly one hour break (during which time you may have to take care of a few tasks and issues other than just eating, plus deal with pre-holiday crowds) that is the problem, NOT the location , which is far from being a culinary wasteland.

                1. re: jerry i h

                  I'm going to disagree too. There are some good, hardly touristy eats in the area ... locals need to eat too ... but IMO Sears isn't one of them ... and even if the food was any good, it wouldn't meet the time limit as the lines from the tour buses are usually outside.

                  The problem is the time limit, budget and the ethnicity. Emporio Rulli right across the street from the hotel has some good paninis, but it is not the ethnicity required. There are a few taquerias in the area, but I don't know how they are. Here's the list of restaurants in Union Square from Menu Pages. Maybe it will refresh some people's memories and they can give a rec.

                  1. re: rworange

                    L&L Hawaiian BBQ?

                    Pakwan or Tajine might be a little far for the tight schedule.

                    Hung Ky's closed, right? And the chef of Indonesia recently moved to Jayakarta.

                2. I wouldn't exactly call it ethnic, but you can dash down the alley behind Campton Hotel and go to Anjou - very French. If I were on a tight time frame, I'd try to make a res since you are at prime time.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dinnerout

                    Cafe Claude's probably a better French choice for a short lunch break.

                  2. dunno if it's all that feasible, but what about having a restaurant that delivers deliver to the lobby of the hyatt at 1:15? too bad ozone thai only delivers for dinner!

                    if you call ahead by about 15 minutes, thai house express (the best thai in the city, imo) can have your meal ready for pickup, or ready when you arrive to dine in. i do this on a fairly regular basis. they are very, very quick at lunch.

                    if you have a cab ready to go at 1:10, one of you could go pick up the food and bring it back, or you could just eat there (still ordering ahead). the restaurant location is not far at all from the hyatt (straight shot down geary), less than 10 minutes each way. you'd still be comfortably under $40 for 2 and the food would be fabulous. the menu is on menupages and menupix, and also repeatedly referenced on this board.

                    the advantage to pick up in your case is that you can have the cab wait for two minutes while you pay and then zip back out again. it might be harder on your timing to snag a cab if you eat in.

                    1. For some reason, this question popped into my head as I was drifting off to sleep last night....I kept thinking, there must be a place that would be perfect...then it came to me! Of Course! If you only have an hour, and you want something you probably can't get in Juneau, get a Pork Banh Mi, or two, from Latte Express! A delicious lunch, well under your price range, and easily doable in an hour or less.

                      Check out Dave MP's report below:


                      1. I might give Sultan a try. Its located in the Ramada hotel fairly close to Union Square. We had a really good dinner there and its a nice place to sit. I think you could probably get out in 1 hour. Great indian food, very fresh and tasty. Not expensive. Friendly people. There are a lot of posts up about it including a few chowdowns.

                        (located in the Ramada)
                        339 Taylor St.
                        San Francisco
                        Breakfast 7am-10:30am
                        Lunch 11am-3pm
                        Dinner 5pm-11pm

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: China

                          Absolutely do not go to Sultan if you're on any kind of strict timetable.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Good to know. Things were speedy when we were there, but it sounds like that isn't always the case. On that note, I would say absolutely do not try to cross the city in a cab if you are on any kind of a strict time table.