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Newcomer looking for food near Daly City BART

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I just moved to the city in December from Kansas, but largely due to very little money have ended up at the extreme south end of San Francisco (yes, technically, we're still across the line...) near the Daly City BART station. This means that trips into the city for food are surprisingly problematic. Either we drive and spend forever trying to find a place to park or we take the bus and spend at least an hour and a half plus transfers just to get there. While we plan to move ASAP for the moment we're trying to find decent places to eat that are at least reasonably close by.

Since we live here I'm more concerned with finding new staples to add to our standard dining out rotation than spending forever just to try out the best place in city. Likewise we're still poor with only one entry-level job between two post-grads and want to keep things on a bit of a budget (i.e. under $20 for two teetotalers, although coming from Kansas City we're still trying to get a good fix on what constitutes a reasonable price).

From my excursions around the neighborhood (such as it is) there doesn't really seem to be anything out here. Just a bunch of run-down houses and a strip mall or two, but for the meantime while we're stuck out in this end of town we'd like to try getting a bit of a clue about what might be worth our while.

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  1. You are missing a couple of good places right under your nose. And don't forget that some of the tastiest chowhound type places life in strip malls where the rent is cheap.

    I don't know the names of the streets around there, but on the street that has the freeway overpass right next to the BART, John Daley Blvd, I think, is a place called Boulevard Cafe. It's a redone 50's coffee shop fitted out in an upscale retro way that is very cool. It is nice. The food is a mix of upscale diner and a smattering of Italian and other international stuff with some Asian too. I think they are going for international comfort food but it works. Some dishes are a exceedingly good, while others are for the more pedestrian eater. They are super nice there about splitting dishes and only ordering appetizers and if you really want to be casual there is a very comfortable counter to sit at. The service has been so kind and accommodating on my few visits. The portions are huge so I've often split. They have a huge and amazing shrimp cocktail that is big enough for 2. 6 or so big prawns on a bed of bay shrimp mixed with lime juice, tomato and avocado. The mac and cheese is rich and sharp and comes with a little salad.

    Banana Island restaurant (311 Lake Merced Blvd) is a little further down the street in a shopping complex. Delicious. Order the roti (fried bread with curry sauce) and you can watch the guy make in at the center counter, and then just be adventurous and pick a couple of items to share. I can't remember what I got except that one dish had fantastic house made tofu in it.

    There are tons of restaurants near the BART stations so you don't need to transfer. 16th Street especially has tons of places if you walk a block to the 16th and Valencia intersection. Ti Couz crepe place is a particular favorite for brunch, lunch or dinner. The food scene in this area is hopping both hi and low end pricewise.

    3 Replies
    1. re: coconutz

      I've seen Boulevard Cafe a million times, but felt it looked more expensive than I wanted to try. I'll do a bit more research though. Not a big fan of taking basic food and making it upscale though. It always struck me as a way to increase the price and make it seem more "adult" and "refined" rather than getting at the core of what makes it good. Case in point: macaroni and cheese. If I want some then I'll just make it at home for a fraction of the price of going out.

      As far as dining near any of the other BART stations... well, we live really, really close to the BART station here and it has become the bane of my existence. Basically it really irks me that they stuck it just barely on the other side of the border and won't accept a Muni pass. As a result I almost never, ever use it even though I catch buses there all the time and have to meander through the damn thing just to get onto my street. I just can't justify actually paying to use BART for in-city transit.

      Banana Island sounds excellent. I'll definitely have to try them out.

      1. re: coconutz

        Thanks for the info on Boulevard. They've remodeled nicely... used to be a Lyon's right? and it looks expensive but good to know that it isn't. That'll be the next restaurant I want to try. Can you name some of the "exceedingly good" dishes, so I know?

        1. re: boltnut55

          Some reports:

          http://www.chowhound.com/search?item_...

      2. Patio Espanol on the San Francisco side of the border has gotten good reviews on Chowhound for their Spanish food.

        Boulevard is pretty good - I gave it a good review when they first opened. Generally their food is better than most places making the same dish. It's not a destination restaurant, but they do their thing well.

        I haven't been to the Fuddruckers on Junipero Serra, but generally they do a good burger, cooked to a nice medium (make sure you ask).

        1. Mr. Chan's on Mission across from the Albertson's. It really, really cheap Chinese food and surprisingly good. $2.50 for an order of chicken fried rice loaded with chicken and enough for two. It has one of the best beef chow fun around. There are also lots of rice plates to choose from and has recently added 3 $2.50 specials. The chicken wings, fried tofu and general's chicken are all really good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: anna

            Thanks for the rec. I stopped in tonight and it was exactly what I was looking for. My only quibble was that I wasn't that impressed with the general's chicken. Still, I'm willing to cut them some slack in food quality for cheapness. It is definitely better than it has any right to be at those prices though.

          2. Aren't there dozens of restaurants along Mission Street heading into town?

            There are lots of good cheap places on Taraval and parking's not difficult.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I just moved from out of state and since the BART and the freeway dominate most of the area and streets upon streets of houses occupy the rest I haven't really found much just walking around and I've never really been able to explore by driving. At the moment I've felt sort of penned-in unless I have a specific destination in mind so I haven't really ever been over to Mission and barely even ventured into Daly City proper.

              In a weird way I feel more lost out here than I actually do when I'm in the city.

              1. re: belgand

                Mission is a major, major commercial street and has been for close to a century. Take a drive down it and scout out where the restaurants are. Then you can take the 14 trolley there.

                There's a well-stocked Greek deli at 6524 Mission St.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Either Mission Bart stop will yield many treasures without the parking headache. I guess I just don't really understand the OP's dislike of Bart. Good food is worth the couple of backs in fare.

                  1. re: chaddict

                    It costs $2.30 for a one way ticket from Daly City to 24th St. And that's just to 24th Street! So it's almost 5 dollars round trip. I'm sure the OP wouldn't mind using BART sometimes, but I can definitely understand the frustration of not being able to use the muni pass.....with my muni pass I can hop on BART anytime within the city, so it's no big deal for me to go, for example, to Glen Park for good food. But if it were 5 dollars round trip every time, I would hardly ever do it. Hence the need for good food right near OP's house.

                    1. re: Dave MP

                      Exactly. If it was on a FastPass I wouldn't mind in the slightest, but paying $5-6 round trip is something I try to avoid.

            2. Two or three spots...

              1. Westlake Shopping Center
              2. Ranch 99 complex in Daly City (highway 35 and king?)
              3. There are many mom and pop small restaurants along Mission and John Daly...

              5 Replies
              1. re: badbatzmaru

                I honestly haven't found anything really that interesting at Westlake center foodwise (well, aside from Trader Joe's). I was a bit cold on Burgermeister feeling that my burger was overdone (asked for medium, got a dry well-done burger with no trace of pink at all) and there was some pho place that was ok, but nothing special. Am I missing something there?

                I've read a bunch of good things about Ranch 99 and keep meaning to take a trip out there to check it out.

                1. re: belgand

                  I'm into Asian food and you live in an area where there are many Asian GEMS ! Here are a few that I frequent:

                  Don't dismiss the Westlake yet. Heard good things about Tani's kitchen below but never got a chance to visit. Their hours are sporadic I heard. It's one of those obscure places I guess.

                  Also, the dimsum place close to the complex (on Southgate IIRC) is quite good. Close to the public library. Usually served at lunch hour only and reasonable price if you make sure you do not pick the expensive items. They have carts running around so you can see the food.

                  Pacific Super is a worthy place for at least several things. The fried squid and fried smelts are probably the best in the world (not kidding). You can ask for a sample. And if you buy a sweet plum sauce for dipping, it is perfect. The roast pork is also good but you must eat them right away and you must order at least 1 lb to experience the freshly cut pieces - this is the salty kind. But most of their other dishes are not that good, so avoid the non-recommended items !

                  Also, in the same Pacific Super complex is the TC Dimsum which looked rundown but that is deceitful because it has some of the best dimsum takeouts in the area. Many Asian locals know this secret. The best things there:
                  -baked bbq pork bun
                  -chicken sticky rice
                  -shrimp cilantro dumpling
                  -an eggy pork dumpling
                  -stuffed tofu

                  Again, stay with the recs !

                  1. re: Han

                    Is it just the baked char siu bao that's good or is the steamed (which I prefer) worth ordering as well?

                    1. re: belgand

                      IIRC, the steamed char siu is not as good. Definitely the baked one is very good.

                  2. re: belgand

                    in the ranch 99 shopping center there are quite a few very decent asian restaurants. there's dim sum king, porridge king, and a pho joint. dim sum king is not cart service, but you order off a menu, but it's solid dim sum.

                2. I could easily live off of the Bahn Mi (vietnamese sandwiches) from the little shop inside of Pacific Super. IMHO, the beef are the best. They're $2.50 each or 4 for the price of 3. We had them with salad for dinner a couple of nights ago. I haven't tried too much else from that vendor but it all looks great and priced very reasonably. Also, I love Pacific Super!

                  I haven't tried the Greek Place yet but I've heard good things about it.

                  Patio Español was a huge disappointment. Don't go there for paella. Actually, the only thing that we really enjoyed was the mushroom appetizer.

                  The Phil-Am BBQ place on School Street off of Mission is good but watch what you order as it could get expensive.

                  Mi Guadalajara isn't bad or expensive but I haven't figured out what the best thing to order is yet. The torta ahogada was kind of disappointing.

                  There are a couple of Central American places on Mission before E. Market that are good but I don't recall the names.

                  Tani's Kitchen (near Nation's) is one of my other half's favorite places in the world. It's well priced Japanese comfort food. Don't order the sushi. Go for the any of the cooked dishes aside from the Japanese curry. It's fun to watch Tani cook - especially after he's had a few beers.

                  And how could I forget Kuk-je? It's a fun place to shop and to try Korean food. The sitdown restaurant inside is very good and reasonably priced (for Korean food which can get expensive).

                  1. I too have recently moved to this area.... We live near Mission and John Daly Blvd. As for decent cheap eats, the posts above are pretty comprehensive and I'd agree with most of them. Some places I'd add are:

                    L&L Hawaiiaan BBQ located in the Albertsons Shopping Center on Mission. They have "regular" sized combo plates for about $6.50 and they are really two meals in one. I can't finish one order by myself.

                    99 Ranch Supermarket - www.99ranch.com , located on 250 Skyline Plaza- They have really cheap and fresh produce and meats (but don't try to find good deals for american branded items here because they don't really specialize in that.) So if you cook and eat in a lot, going here to grocery shop would save a lot of money. Also, in the store, they have 2 hot food counters... one counter is all dim sum items, really good deal, and the other counter is a hot foods steam table, with TONS of choices. That the steam table counter, you can also order wonton soups and noodles, and they make it when you order it.

                    There's also In and Out burger, which has great burgers for pretty cheap.

                    TK Noodle - located right next to L&L in the same mall has soupy as well as stir fry noodle dishes, and rice dishes as well. All are about $5-$6.

                    As for the Westlake center, no one has mentioned Daphne's Greek food... its an option too.

                    Since you have a car, you could also drive to Burlingame, fun downtown area for walking and eating. (or any of the other peninsula towns) You could also drive to certain areas of the city that DO have parking. I haven't learned the public transportation system yet myself because my office allows me to drive to the city and park, so I make sure where I go out to dinner has parking. SOMA generally has street parking available, as well as the embarcadero, etc.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: lamster

                      The food sold by In-N-Out Burgers, Inc. is not great by SF Bay Area standards. Here are some topics on where to get the best burgers:

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/321947
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42175

                      1. re: lamster

                        Burger Meister just opened up in the Westlake Mall (on John Daly blvd). Their burgers are from Niman Ranch and they have onion rings (which I like more than fries).

                        I thought the Greek place across the way was just so-so. Not bad, but not really good either.

                        1. re: Sebby

                          I didn't mean to insinuate that In N Out and the Greek place were Good... (I personally like In N Out) but that they were cheap options in the area.

                          1. re: Sebby

                            While an initial visit was disappointing (overcooked burger) I went back to Burgermeister last night and it was excellent.

                            Walked past Daphne's a month or so ago and it looked like the kind of stuff I'd expect to get at the mall so unless I hear that I'm totally missing out I'm unlikely to ever try them.

                            1. re: belgand

                              Yes, Daphne's is mall-food par-sub-excellence. Sebby & I had the misfortune to eat there last month - it was quite uninspiring.

                        2. You can head further North on Mission into SF. There are a few decent places there:
                          - Taqueria Coyote on Mission (sorry don't know the cross street, but it is before Geneva Ave) makes really good burritos. I've only been there once and thought it was a great find.
                          - Pollo Supremo on Mission right before Geneva for chargrilled chicken, rice, beans, and excellent salsa.
                          - Geneva Steak House -grubby nasty place that's probably been around since 1960 for all I know, but their steak sandwiches are good. I usually get the food to go since it is kind of depressing in there.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Mari

                            also at mission and geneva is bravo pizza. not much in the city beats an x-large pizza with cheese and 2 x garlic as the topping. so good.

                            1. re: Big Larry

                              Yes, Bravo's is great. I think it's my favorite out of all the pizzerias in the vicinity.

                              1. re: Mari

                                Really? I went there last night and wasn't really impressed. It was ok (there are a lot of worse places), but nothing even remotely special. The crust was particularly notable for just sort of being there. At the same time I've read almost nothing but praises for the place.

                                1. re: belgand

                                  The reviews on Yelp describe the crust as "thick, soft, and spongy," "that thick crust that some East Coasters hate, but chewy." These are people who like the pizza! I guess I'll reserve judgment until I've tried Bravo, but the description of the crust doesn't sound good at all.

                                  1. re: belgand

                                    Yeah - it's basic SF old-school pizza that I grew up on and actually like. I think you should probably visit that new pizza place in Glenn Park if you are looking for something more refined in the general area.

                                    1. re: Mari

                                      I'm not looking for refined (trust me, I spent most of college and afterwards going to a local place that was merely good enough simply because you could get a large two-topping for $5), I'm just trying to find something that suits my personal tastes. So far I've had some trouble finding that.

                                      Perhaps it's just the prevalent local style and I'm not quite used to it.

                            2. 24th+Mission BART as well as 16th+Mission BART stations have almost infinite dining possibilties. Daly City to 24th+Mission BART is only 7mins and $2.30 .

                              1. I mention this option because the price is very reasonable. There is a delivery service called Annadaata that delivers quite inexpensive and good vegetarian Indian food. For about $70, you get 7 dishes delivered to you. We order from them and make rice ourselves at home. I warn you that many of the dishes are quite spicy hot. My husband takes an Annadaata entree to work with him for lunch several days a week, but he works where there are no dining options at all, so for him it's great.

                                1. You can get a really nice Brazilian dinner for $8 at Cybelle's Pizza across the freeway from In-N-Out.
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/330698

                                  Chow Digest summarizes the above link better

                                  "Other excellent Brazilian pizza options include Cybelle’s Pizza in Daly City, which also serves awesome, massive $8 full Brazilian meals, like homey picana na chupa (cowboy steak) served with tons of side dishes, like a bowl of great soupy red beans with a touch of bacon, and farofa (nutty-tasting yucca flour puree). Manor Room Pizza gets the nod from a local Brazilian grocer."
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/digest/1095

                                  Ask them for the bottle of tiny peppers in the the fridge ... or a little cup of them. They are called pimenta. Some Brazilian dishes can be bland in themselves and the pimenta pep them up ... be careful they are small but carry a lot of heat. I bought a bottle at home and actually use them on lots of stuff, especially good mixed with rice.

                                  Cybelle's also delivers. I didn't try the pizza, but personally I'd skip it. The Brazilians in the Bay Area often favor a soft puffy pizza. I don't like that style.

                                  Never been to Manor House for the Brazilian food yet. Hope someone checks them out.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Thanks for this great tip....I think I'll check it out soon! Also, where is the "Sabor Brazil" place you were talking about in the other post?

                                    Dave M

                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      Richmond ... corner of San Pablo & McDonald
                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/330834

                                      A little more from the East Bay Express
                                      http://www.eastbayexpress.com/Issues/...

                                    2. re: rworange

                                      Already went there for pizza on someone else's recommendation and was quite disappointed with it. I noticed the Brazilian menu though and will give it a try. The last (ok, only) time I'd had Brazilian before was at Mozzarella di Bufala (tried their pizza a few weeks back, not at all impressed) and it was excellent.

                                    3. House of Catfish and Ribs 270 San Pedro across from Albertson's is either great or not good. I haven't been since I moved from Noe Valley but give it a try when you're in the mood for 'cue. What I liked best was the mushy cooked-to-death spaghetti--goes back to the early '60s.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: lintygmom

                                        Oh, and get the ribs dry--you can always add the sauce. I don't understand the habit here of drowning the meat in sauce, but that's how it's often served.

                                        1. re: lintygmom

                                          You, sir, are a degenerate of the highest order. I come from Kansas City and have some damn high standards for barbecue and among those standards are that ribs are served wet! ;)

                                          1. re: belgand

                                            You, sir, cannot read! I am obviously a lady: linty-g-mom=the grandmother of linty, my daughter's cat.

                                            And how do you taste the meat if it's sopping in sauce. (Try them. At least a few years ago the place was pretty good!)

                                            1. re: lintygmom

                                              Sorry, no offense intended. I also tend to use the "You, sir" phrasing with everyone, regardless of gender.

                                              Part of the thing to understand is that in Kansas City much of barbecue is based around sauce. Rubs have never been terribly common and mop sauces are rarely used so one of the few ways you get any flavor into the meat (aside from smoking it, of course) is by coating it with sauce. Thus, more so than most other regions, the sauce is the key to great barbecue.

                                              That said, I'm aware that in other areas, specifically Memphis, the wet ribs/dry ribs argument is quite the holy war. I can't help but come down on the side that's been ingrained in me for the past twenty some-odd years.

                                              As for the place itself, yeah, I've heard the strongly mixed opinions, but I need a barbecue fix (back in Kansas I went to one place at least once a week for lunch until they changed hands, got bad, and went out of business) and I'm interested in giving them a try. Incidentally, they wouldn't happen to have burnt ends would they? I've found that trying to find them outside of KC can often be an exercise in futility... a shame since they are just about my favorite cut.

                                              1. re: belgand

                                                I love ribs that have the sauce slow cooked on them. I don't like ribs drowning in a sea of sauce so around here I routinely ask for them sauce-on-the-side.

                                                and no offense taken. For other rib places try Memphis Minnie's in the City and Looney's in Berkley (Tex-ass style rub)

                                                1. re: belgand

                                                  Love ribs drowned in sauce. Everyone tells me that restaurants make them dry and then put sauce over it before serving, but I don't care. I make it with the sauce (DH tells me that it'll burn the ribs, but I still don't care - it just doesn't seem right without sauce). I tried House of Catfish one time and didn't like it (I guess we got the "not good" time).

                                                  I haven't tried that $2.50 fried rice place, but will give it a try. Also, just keep in mind that the Chinese food in this seemingly Asian-dominated area may not be the same as Kansas City. Thanks for asking the question though. I live in South San Francisco (a couple of exits south of you), and I'm always complaining about the lack of restaurants. Oh, Tani at Westlake is good; it's very inexpensive, but there's only room for about 10 people, usually all Japanese (which is a good sign for ethnic restaurants).

                                        2. Tani's in Westlake is great - simple, homey-style Japanese food. I really like their chicken karaage. The cooked dishes are best, and the prices cannot be beat for the quality of food. I think the chicken karaage is around $7 for chicken, rice, macaroni salad.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: Pavement2112

                                            Macaroni salad? Is the place run by Hawaiians?

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              It's the best macaroni salad I've ever had. Super creamy without being heavy mayo tasting. The little cubes of cured ham make it perfect.

                                              Tani and his wife are Japanese and speak very little English (and I don't speak Japanese) so I've never been able to get the whole story behind the plate-lunch-ness of many of their entrees.

                                            2. re: Pavement2112

                                              I've read a number of good things about Tani's Kitchen and only recently actually noticed the place itself (I usually turn at light right there, but I never looked at the shops on that side aside from noticing a nail place and a liquor store and not caring about either). Today I even saw a sign pointing out Banana Island and have completely re-evaluated Westlake in terms of culinary possibilities.

                                              1. re: belgand

                                                I followed those "Banana Island is open!" signs through all the construction. I was intrigued. I wanted to know what Banana Island was, but I couldn't find it even though those Alice-in-Wonderland-like signs were beckoning me.

                                                1. re: Atomica

                                                  If you know where the Applebee's was located in Westlake Mall 9 years ago, then you know where Banana Island is now. Look for the Hollywood Video, it's next door.

                                                  I forgot to mention the Pho place and another Japanese restaurant that are both very good on Southgate Ave. (across from Safeway). I don't know the name of either but they're both right there near the H&R Block. The Japanese restaurant is much more spacious and quiet compared to Tani's - you won't have to wait to get in the door, like at Tani's. It's also a little more expensive. The Pho place is always packed at lunch and serves good Vietnamese soups for under $5 a bowl.

                                                  1. re: scarmoza

                                                    Yeah, the Pho place was the first place I ate after moving here in December (so, no, I've been living in Kansas for the past 23 years) and it was good, but I don't really have a lot to compare it to. The Japanese place I was a bit curious about, but hadn't yet tried.

                                                    I found Banana Island because I was driving away from Trader Joe's and glanced off to the left and saw a sign that said "Banana Island - Through Breezeway". Since it's on Lake Merced I think I've got a good idea of where it is now.

                                                    1. re: belgand

                                                      I have a friend who used to live in the Westlake area and love the Japanese restaurant. They live in Belmont now but still go back to eat about once a month. The owners have watched their children grow up. Not a lot of ambience (like you get at the more expensive places), but food is good from what I remembered and the prices are reasonable, although not as cheap as Tani's, but it's two different levels.

                                                      I think I'm going to Boulevard Cafe today. My daughter is doing Bring Your Child to Work Day with my husband but needs to be picked up at 12. I'll try to remember post a short review, but generally I'm no good with details.

                                            3. Also, add the taco truck on Mission (across from Albertson's Plaza) to your list of cheap eats to try in Daly City.

                                              1. Is the Silver Moon bar still around on School Street opp. the auto body shop in Daly City? As a starving student few years ago, I used to get a huge half salami or roast beef sandwich and a bowl of darn good homemade minestrone soup for two bucks. If I recall correctly, the place was frequented by gravediggers from Colma.
                                                Speaking of pubs that serve food, has anyone tried Kennedy's in SF (north Beach). I hear it's an Irish pub that serves Indian food.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: gourmetwannabe

                                                  Some of Kennedy's Indian food is pretty bad. If you go there, I suggest sticking to the northern / Pakistani dishes and avoiding the southern ones.

                                                  Long way from Daly City.

                                                  1. re: gourmetwannabe

                                                    I never knew the Silver Moon served food - very good to know. If they're open for lunch, I might give them a try today. I've been curious about that place for a while.

                                                  2. Don't know if you moved. Haven't tried this joint yet, however this place sounded interesting and they have a limited delivery range ... so you might be in that area. Please report back if you try it out.

                                                    Ethel Mae's Southern Cafe & Taqueria
                                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/395346

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                      Oh yeah, I went there a few times. The thing is, they closed a while back. They never really announced it, but one week they just weren't open when we walked over there and from then on they never seemed to be open when we went by. After a month or so of that they put up a "Restaurant for Sale" sign in the window.