HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Help! I work in a culinary black hole!

Does anyone have some recommendations for a lunch spot in the Civic Center area? To be more precise, in the area around the intersection of Van Ness and Market, which has to be one of the very few places in SF where there is NO good food. Aside from Zuni, which is a bit much for lunch every day.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I was misinformed, Gyro King is still Gyro King.

    2. Tough spot..

      there is-

      Citizen Cake
      Vietnamese sandwich place on Larken -560 Larken
      If you venture towards the TL there are several good ethnic food options, like
      Turtle Tower Restaurant, etc.
      Morty's Delicatessen
      Stelline- towards Hayes Valley (I think they are open for lunch)
      Delissio- on Market

      3 Replies
      1. re: Lori SF

        Oh yeah, DeLessio. That's a great lunch place. Has the second branch done anything to the quality of the original?


        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          All seemed the same to me last week when I was there. Although there seemed to be some fresh faces so I wonder if some of the staff from the original is at the new one to get it running smoothly.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            thank you for my spell check.. The second location is trying hard. I tried it once in December and the polenta, mac and cheese was too oily I mean I had to drain it. The chicken did not taste right, it was greasy and fatty as well.

            I have never had an issue with the on on Market.

        2. Nordsroms and Neiman Marcus are good spots for lunch and not far.

          1. I beg to differ. Within one block of Market & Van Ness there is a pretty good Cantonese lunch place on the south side of Market between Gough and Van Ness (Sunrise something?).

            And if your appetite is up for the task, there is Espetus Cheroscaria across the street.

            Also, Quncy’s on the North Side of Market between Van Ness and Polk has good pastrami sandwiches.

            At Mission & Van Ness, Home Menu is serviceable and has a large selection of Chinese & Vietnamese, and the Japanese restaurant next door isn't bad either (sorry, I can't remember the name).

            12 Replies
            1. re: Civil Bear

              I haven't been to Quincy's but I have heard the sandwiches are good. I will try that soon.

              I have definitely noticed Sun Rise Restaurant and New Home Menu restaurant and have never been inclined to enter either of them. Have you been to them recently? What should I order? I will definitely try them, but based on appearances (and a few negative Yelp reviews), I am not getting my hopes up....

              Dave MP

              1. re: Dave MP

                I no longer work in the area, so it has been awhile since I have been to Sun Rise or Home Menu. Neither are places I would make a special trip to visit, but of the two, Sun Rise was definitely better. Their specialty is the crispy flounder, but I have found all their lunch specials to be pretty good. For some reason Home Menu used to be better when they were located near Quincy's, but I still found it to be serviceable when it moved to Mission Street.

                1. re: Civil Bear

                  Sunrise has changed hands twice since they were good. They've since morphed into a Japanese/Chinese place which now looks as if it's closed. Home Menu on Mission has been closed for quite some time. All the seating is still in there, but it hasn't been open for at least a year. I would recommend Ted's on Howard & Lafayette for sandwiches or Taqueria Reyna for a veggie burrito. Their meat ones are less than stellar though.

                  1. re: semifredocorleone

                    Thanks for the report. Sorry to hear that about Sun Rise.

                    1. re: semifredocorleone

                      Holy Smokes, I once got a double charge on credit card after ordering take-out at Home Menu! I returned with my statement and they happily credited it back to me, and I was convinced that it was mistake. I'm glad that bastard has been caught!

                2. re: Dave MP

                  I went to Quincy's today. I got a pastrami sandwich, which I ate half of (split it w/ co-worker). It was good pastrami. I got it on an onion roll, which was not the best idea, and while the spicy mustard was good, they put a bit too much on. So next time I'll ask for less mustard. The woman behind me got avocado on her pastami sandwich! I think my family back east would disown me if I ever did that. But I guess this is California. Avocado costs extra, but add-ons like cheese and veggies are included. So was a banana. Thanks Civil Bear for writing about this place, I will definitely be back, both for more pastrami and to try the corned beef.

                  Dave MP

                  1. re: Dave MP

                    Thanks Dave. I am glad I was able to help.

                3. re: Civil Bear

                  I pass by Home Menu every day and I've never noticed a Japanese restaurant next door, but maybe I should look harder. What I have noticed is a restaurant called Shanghai something, which I've tried and found to be absolutely awful.

                  1. re: JoyM

                    Just went by there today.....on Mission St, to the east of Home Menu, there is the Shanghai something or other, and then a few more doors down, there is indeed a Japanese place. I already forget the name, but it's 4 letters long. I'll definitely check it out soon

                    1. re: Dave MP

                      The Japanese place is called Zaoh. I just finished eating a Canada roll (smoked salmon and avocado, 8 pieces, $4.20 w/ tax) that I got take-out. It was good, nothing too special.

                      Zaoh itself looked great though, and I'm excited to go back. The place was full at 12:30 today, lots of people w/ sushi, tempura and teriyaki dishes, and I noticed several specials on the whiteboard too. Everyone there (30 people?) seemed to be enjoying their meal, so there must be some good stuff....thanks for this tip Civil Bear.

                      Zaoh is at 1555 Mission St. (at S. Van Ness)
                      415 431 3930

                      1. re: Dave MP

                        We use to order Zaoh for lunch when I worked downtown because they delivered and my options were few. They are fair to good, depending on your order. I distinctly remember liking the gyoza and tempura. The sushi was hit and miss, sometimes even great but once in a great while bad! Udon was ok. Zaoh probably seemed better to me than it is because of my limitations at the time (chained to desk) but I would try them again.

                  2. re: Civil Bear

                    Definitely try the Pastrami at Quincy's.

                  3. Hi kchowder,

                    I also work right by the intersection of VanNess and Market, and you're right that there's not a ton of great food nearby. For me, a trip to Tenderloin is a bit too far for lunch, though I have hopped on muni and eaten a banh mi at Latte Express, which is super close to the Powell Muni Station.

                    My coworker and I often order out from Mandarin Villa, which is on the corner of Oak and Franklin. I've also eaten at the restaurant once. Chicken w/ basil is very good, potstickers are pretty good, singapore noodles are pretty good. I wasn't a fan of the chow fun. The place is always packed at lunch. When we ate in the restaurant the one time, they gave us complimentary egg rolls which had a nice curry flavor. You should definitely give this place a try. Standard but good Chinese.

                    I ate once at Canto do Brasil, also on Franklin, between Oak and Market. I had a pork dish that was pretty unexciting, but my coworker had a great fish dish. Fish seems to be a specialty there, definitely worth a try. This place is also really popular at lunch.

                    I recently tried Flipper's, on Hayes @ Octavia, and I thought my burger was pretty good (though it was well done when I asked for medium). ON my way there, I noticed a new Middle Eastern place that seemed maybe a bit expensive but potentially good, also on Hayes St.

                    For pizza slices, Go Getters Pizza at Gough and Market is OK, but certainly not anything special. My coworker sometimes gets bbq chicken burritos from Las Estrellas, which is on Gough @ Hayes. This place gets very mixed reviews on Yelp, and I've never tried it. I like DeLessio a lot, but it gets expensive pretty fast.

                    That's about all I can think of right now, I'll be curious to hear what other people say.

                    Dave MP

                    1. It goes through good/bad phases, but there are times the lunch counter in the car wash on Van Ness & Market has good food ... nothing extrodinary and for the over decade I've dropped by to get my car washed 75 percent of the time there is dreck ... overpriced dreck ... and then brief shining moments ... a wonderful soup ... and tasty something ... definately a place to ask questions and use sight instincts ... who makes the soup, baked goods etc ... darn for a while they were selling some really really tasty baked goods.

                      If you are going as far as Delassio, you might want to check Yum across the street. For take-out Delassio has the better selection but Yum has a few take-out dishes that can be good.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rworange

                        Where exactly is this car wash? Sounds very interesting....I'm thinking it must be on Van Ness somewhere south of Market St? I don't pass by that way very much, so maybe I've missed it. I'll definitely check this out...

                        Dave MP

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          It's at the corner of Mission and Otis, which is one corner of the complicated intersection of Mission, 12th, South Van Ness, and Otis.

                          Former site of the Mel's drive-in used as a location in American Graffiti.

                      2. Near all the other Hayes Valley places is Arlequin To Go which is a nice French deli from the owners of Absinthe I believe. They have a nice little patio area outside and they double as a wine shop. On Hayes between Franklin and Gough. There's also a Cuban restaurant called Laurel's I believe, on Oak between Gough and Octavia I think. Been there twice and wasn't blown away but it's a nice change of pace.

                        1. the doughnut place by sf honda.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: foodfanUSA

                            All Star Donuts. Do they serve anything interesting there? Different All Star Donuts have different menus.

                            Does the Caffe Trieste on Market serve food? If so, anything good?

                            I remember a few years ago someone mentioned a government place that had a cafeteria on the second floor ... 100 Van Ness maybe? Anyone remember this? Is it still there?

                          2. Would Saigon Sandwiches at Larkin and Eddy Street be too much of a walk? It's definitely worth it and will not set you back more than $5.. unless you go all out and order a five course Vietnamese lunch! ;o)

                            1. I work in the same neighborhood and it's definitely not one of the city's best. I'd suggest that you make at least an occasional 10 minute walk (or quick bus ride up Van Ness) to the Vietnamese places in the Tenderloin, several of which are fantastic.

                              I also second the suggestions of Mandarin Villa, Gyro King, and Quincys. Especially Gyro King (or whatever it's now called at 25 Grove St.) which has the best Gyros I've ever had. Check out the spinach (and other) pies.

                              Hayes St. has a wealth of restaurants, although in my experience most of them are overprices. Arlequin To Go, in particular, is a rip off. The food is good, and they're quick, but extremely pricey -- I once got a small Caesar salad there for about $5 which turned out to consist of 4 pieces of cheesy lettuce and a crouton. Hayes Street Grill is really nice, but probably more $ than you want to spend on lunch unless it's a special occasion. Moishe's Pippic has decent New York style deli (yeh, yeh, I know he claims it's "Chicago" style, whatever that means) at fairly reasonable prices.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: JoyM

                                  I also like Mandarin Villa. No, you are not going to get some authentic, regional specialty blah blah blah...But what they make has always been very good, cooked just right, and good portions.

                                  The "Chicago style" IIRC, are dogs on steamed poppy seed bun with a pickle spear, onions, tomato, and mustard. I may be leaving something out but that was what I remember of Moishe's. And absolutely NO KETCHUP!

                                2. Just remembered Tartine (not the bakery) on Gough right around Page (244 Gough). Good cute little French deli with tasty sandwiches. Haven't been in awhile, but it used to be very reliable.

                                  1. Since the discussion has migrated somewhat into the TL, I would be remiss if I did not mention Original Joe's.

                                    Ante "Tony" Rodin opened Original Joe's in 1937. He retired just four or five years ago at the age of 92. His daughter, Marie Duggan, is keeping the tradition alive and the last I heard, she manages Original Joe's ... but I'm not certain that she still does.

                                    Original Joe's is a very original San Francisco restaurant. Herb Caen wrote of it, "very retro, very fine."

                                    I've been going to Original Joe's since the late 1950's. My father loved Original Joe's and took me with him often. I was always anxious to go along because as "everyone" in San Francisco at that time knew, that was Joe DiMaggio's favorite restaurant.

                                    Original Joe's is open from 10:30 AM to 12:30 AM every day of the week and it is located at 142 Taylor Street. Go to: http://www.themenupage.com/originaljo...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: dunn.sanfrancisco

                                      The meat can be good. The pasta and vegetables may have been simmering on the stove since the 1950s.

                                    2. Second the Rec up there for Moishies. Frjtz also has some good lunch options.

                                      1. A Naan N Curry just opened up at Van Ness & Turk if you like Indian/Pakistani. It's in the former site of Lyon's/International House of Noodles/Senor Peppers.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: semifredocorleone

                                          I haven't tried it yet, but that's one of those "doomed" locations, so I hope someone tries it soon, before it goes out of business.

                                        2. The California Culinary Institute at 625 Polk Street is a great place for a "gourmet" lunch or dinner. This is from their web site:
                                          Carême Room: Elegant dining.
                                          Dine under a 40-foot barrel-vaulted ceiling and filtered skylights
                                          Watch culinary students and chef instructors in action with views into various production kitchens and demonstration classrooms
                                          Enjoy artfully presented, sophisticated international cuisine
                                          Lunch and dinner is served Tuesday through Friday, with extravagant buffets featured every Thursday and Friday.

                                          Academy Grill: Bistro Fare
                                          Have a quick lunch at the school or at 625 Polk Street on the corner of Polk and Turk streets
                                          Enjoy an a la carte menu and daily specials.
                                          Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday.