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Lunches - 3rd & Market

About to start a new job in SF, will be working on Market between 3rd and 4th Sts. I'm not familiar with the lunch areas within walking distance, any recommendations for lighter but tastier fare at lunch time? Not particular on the type of cuisine as long as its cheap, reliable and not generally stomach bombs.


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  1. This topic's asking about the other side of the FiDi but the recommendations work for 3rd & Market too:


    1. I work in that exact same spot and can tell you you selections are a bit tough, as the tourists make it easy for mediocre places to overcharge and survive (ex: Wolfgang Puck Express).

      Keeping in mind that workers seldom like to stray very far from the office, I will share my regular rotations, as well as those of my food-geek colleagues:

      Cafe Madeleine (O'Farrell & Market) is great for coffee, pastries, the express sandwich ($3.50 for a baguette loaded with quality ingredients). Their quiche slices are accompanied by a fresh field greens salad, making it a very hearty sub-$5 lunch. The hand-tossed salads are delish, but will run you upwards of $7.50 before you even add grilled chicken.

      Westfield Food Court
      Out the Door takeout is delicious, if a bit pricey. You can usually cobble something together that is very delicious from the prepared foods at Bristol Farms (though stay away from that nasty steam table). Lots of other delicious options exist, but you'll be hard-pressed to get out of there for less than $10

      Dolci Cafe
      Tiny, pocket-sized espresso stand serves a surprising variety of Vietnamese sandwiches, all under $5. Right next to the Walgreen's at Grant/O'Farrell & Market

      Latte Express (5th & Market)
      Down the street from where Copeland's used to be, they serve delicious Vietnamese sandwiches for only $3.50. If I have an extra 10 minutes, I'll walk here instead of Dolci.

      King of Thai Takeout (Stockton & O'Farrell)
      Solid, well-priced Thai - cash only

      Naan N' Curry (O'Farrell & Mason)
      A bit of a schlep, but worth the trek through the 'Loin for everyone's favorite "chainlet" of good & affordable Indian cuisine

      "B" Restaurant & Bar at Yerba Buena Gardens
      A little more upscale, but my preferred spot for a good sit-down meal. Grilled sandwiches, salads & occasional pasta specials form the Boxed Foods people all for around $15 per person. This is a great place to get away from the crowds in a chic, upscale atmosphere. When the weather's nice the terrace has some of the best views in the city.

      Sports Club/LA Cafe
      Little known fact: They have a dish not on the regular menu called "the 3 salad sampler." For $7.95, you can have any 3 of their composed salads (choose from daily specials like Greek Salad, roasted golden beets, poached chicken salad, Mediterranean pasta salad, etc.), and the portion size ends up being huge. Sometimes one $7.95 lunch is enough to cover me for dinner, too. Stay away from pretty much everything else, as made-to-order items can take FOREVER.

      Enjoy your new digs and please post here if you find any other gems.

      [apologies for not including links, but the function freezes my browser]

      7 Replies
      1. re: foodiegrl

        Do you have to be a member of Sports Club LA to eat at the Cafe?

        1. re: Fussy Foodie

          You do not have to be a member to eat at the cafe. It's on the 4th floor. I've been a member and have been eating at the cafe for almost 3 years, and the prepared foods are quite decent, though inconsistent in the offerings (they used to do a spicy shrimp salad that was great, but I haven't seen it for months). The made to order items may take awhile, but the service is good and you can sit next to huge windows overlooking Market Street.

        2. re: foodiegrl

          Thanks, this is a great start! I'll be sure to add to this list if/when I come across other finds.

          1. re: kevine

            As promised, although a bit late :-), here are a couple of others I've found.

            Specialty Sandwiches in the lower level where you go into BART at Post and Montgomery has very good sandwiches and soups. The small Japanese place next to it has excellent udon.
            AJ Ferrari has a place on Mission just east of Third St. Sellers on 2nd just south of Market is pretty good. Soup Freaks on Mission west of New Montgomery isn't bad.

            Anyone know of others?

            1. re: kevine

              That sushi place at the BART entrance used to have 1/2 off sushi in the afternoons. If they still have it, it may be worth checking out for a late bento-box run.

          2. re: foodiegrl

            Regarding the Westfield food court... Just curious. Are any of the 4th floor restaurants in the Westfield Center (Straits, Lark Creek Steak, the "Colibri clone", sorry can't remember the real name) good for lunch or good in general? Have you tried these places for lunch? Or is not really do-able for lunch?

            1. re: boomer13

              We just did lunch at Straits last week, and it was delicious. The tuna tartare was exceptionally good, if a bit of a cliche. The garlic noodles were also terrific. We ordered a whole bunch of large and small plates and passed them around. There was a salmon entree somewhere in there that was delicious. Service was friendly and the place was nearly deserted on a Wednesday at 1pm. Prices are a little high, but much better than Zazil (the Colibri Clone) or Lark Creek Steak. My lasting impression was that everything was very well-prepared - not too greasy or sloppy, with really clean and distinct flavors. The atmosphere was much calmer and more elegant than Out the Door downstairs, too. Since it was so dead, we were able to get in & out in about an hour, too.

          3. I like B & M Mei Sing on 2nd between Market and Mission. NOT the steam table stuff, but rice plates, soups, and noodle plates that you order at the register. Get in the upstairs line (it's a bit nicer upstairs,) order and they'll bring the food to you.

            1. I acutally like 'Witchcraft. Their sandwiches are on the inventive side, and the potato cheddar soup is really good.

              868 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              1 Reply
              1. re: gemster

                I second that. Wichcraft is great.

              2. Sellers Market at 595 Market (the entrance is at Kearny and Sutter) has fresh, reasonably fast lunches. It seems like they think of themselves as the farmers' market of lunch restaurants (products go straight from the producers to them to you); the food is local and/or sustainably raised. The sandwiches (particularly the oven toasted ones) are very tasty and come with small side salads. They aren't dirt cheap, more in the $7 range if I remember correctly.

                Sellers Markets Inc.
                595 Market St # 160, San Francisco, CA

                6 Replies
                1. re: PiuPerFavore

                  I don't think this is at Kearny & Sutter. Kearny & Sutter do not intersect at Market Street.

                  1. re: debby

                    The OP is closer to the other Sellers Market anyway, on 2nd right off Market. I like the food at Sellers, but it is overpriced for what it is. $7 is for one of the cheaper sandwiches, they go up to $10-$11 too.

                    1. re: Frosty Melon

                      I think the first post really meant the Seller's Market on Pine and Front (although the address is 388 Market, which is the address of the entire building) -- the 595 Market address is for the one on 2nd (the building is 595 Market, but Sellers is on the 2nd St. side of the building).

                      Sellers Market
                      388 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I agree re: first post - I was just pointing out the other location is closer to 3rd & Market. And I might add, has abundant outdoor seating.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Yes, I have my streets and locations wrong. I haven't been there in a few months. And as noted, the other location is closer to the OP anyway. Sorry for the confusion.

                          1. re: PiuPerFavore

                            Well, it is confusing, because the formal address for both places is on Market St., but the "real" location of the entrance is on a completely different street!

                  2. Samovar Tea Lounge - Yerba Buena Gardens

                    1. Update to this post since I've been working here for 6 months now.
                      Dolci Cafe north side of Market just east of Grant is great for a quick Vietnamese Banh Mi.
                      SF Soup Company for half sandwiches and good soups - Westfield Mall and west side of 2nd St between Mission and Howard.
                      Speciality Sandwiches - Montgomery/Market - lower level on NW corner as well and SW corner of 2nd/Mission St.
                      Westfield Mall is also packed with plenty of options including Out The Door for medium-priced Vietnamese fare.
                      Soup Freaks on north side of Mission west of New Montgomery St.
                      Katz's Bagels north side of Mission west of 2nd.
                      Long-Life Veggie in the Metreon (also packed with other places a la Westfield)
                      Osha Thai on 2nd - not cheap but fantastic food.

                      16th and Mission is two stops away on BART which runs every 2 minutes - Pancho Villa on 16th just east of Valencia and Sunflower Cafe for Pho are exceptionally note-worthy.

                      There's also a door front shop on the south side of Market just east of 4th which I think used to be Oh-La-La but is now a great little cafe specializing in Mediterranean fare that is excellent. I'll fill the name later...

                      That's scratches the surface, great location for a job as far as lunch goes, that's for sure.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kevine

                        "There's also a door front shop on the south side of Market just east of 4th which I think used to be Oh-La-La but is now a great little cafe specializing in Mediterranean fare that is excellent. I'll fill the name later..."

                        It's the Alexandria!

                      2. There's a little med/greek place next to Chipotle on 2nd (might be new montgomery) that has a tasty greek salad with chicken (Sparta salad.) One of my staples.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mofo313

                          Cool, thanks for the tip. I know the one you mean, I'll give it a shot.

                        2. I was briefly working in this area again and am a big fan of Paladar Cuban restaurant. They have a takeout special that's $6.50 for a half sandwich (excellent pressed Cubano) plus either salad or soup of the day. They also make great coffee (try the cortadito).

                          The other fine option nearby is the Boxed Foods Company sandwiches. Not cheap ($7-10) and can be slow since they're made to order so call ahead. But really delicious BLT, pulled pork, etc. They also have Blue Bottle Coffee.

                          One ridiculous thing is the sandwiches allegedly come with a salad and fruit. The fruit is often half a slice of orange; the greens are good though.

                          Finally there's a cafe on Maiden Lane between Grant and Kearny that serves Greek/Mediterranen food including a decent moussaka, salads, etc. It's basically glorified cafeteria food, but reasonably priced and huge portions. Can't remember the name, bu there are two levels of seating plus outside. Has anyone else eaten here to recommend specifics?

                          Paladar Cafe Cubano
                          329 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

                          Boxed Foods Co
                          245 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Windy

                            Right near Paladar is By the Bite in the International Food Center, decent Burmese food at rock-bottom prices.

                            By the Bite
                            380 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104