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Budget trip for foodies @ SF / SJ

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  • Prs Jun 26, 2008 03:59 PM
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Me and my buddies are landing in SF for the 4th of July weekend. We're all foodies, but being students, can't spend loads per head for a meal. Also we're vegetarians (not vegans - only no meat / fish )- so as long we get a veggie version of a food we're ok. Also, we're big breakfast and dessert people - so tips on that would be welcome too.

Thanks.

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  1. Perhaps this thread will be helpful. One of the sons is a vegetarian.
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/531462

    1. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/359937

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Thanks a lot Robert. Its been very useful !!

      2. Where will you be staying in San Jose area? South Bay has loads of ethnic restaurants with my vote for best cheap veg. meal going to Falafel Drive In. For S.Indian, you can also add Saravana Bhavan & Udupi Palace with the latter having a lunch buffet in the Sunnyvale location.

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/340262
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/514988

        Also, depending on your budget, I'd suggest Zeni Ethiopian or Rehoboth (haven't been to latter but good review on CH). I recently tried Zeni's veg. combo at lunch ($10) & it was absolutely delicious and with generous portions too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ceekskat

          Just went this weekend...veg. combo is $11.50 & it was perfect for me & DH. I believe the menu is the same at dinner.

        2. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427295

          1. Wolfe, I missed you in the first round of thanks - so thank you !
            Ceekskat - we'll be more in SF than in SJ so most of the restaurant's I've looked at are in SF. I will try making it to Zeni though...

            The list reads (as of now:)

            Larkin Express Deli
            A La Turca
            Gyro King
            Thai House Express
            Helmand Restaurant
            Burger Joint
            Hyderabad House.
            Maybe Udupi

            We'll see what my friends' pick and choose, but let me know if you guys think this is a good list pricewise / veggie foodwise.

            Another thing - are the portions generous or measly ? Because we have big appetites - (at least two of us) so we tend to "tuck in" !

            Thanks a lot - again.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Prs

              The first five all give you plenty of food for the money.

              1. re: Prs

                It looks like you've got some great places picked out... I'm wondering why you have burger joint on the list when you are all vegetarians. Also for cheap eats you might want to hit one of the many Mission Taquerias. Taqueria Cancun is sort've the official home of the veggie burrito in San Francisco but there are other places to go as well.

                -----
                Taqueria Cancun
                2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1. re: virtualguthrie

                  I agree, Burger Joint doesn't make sense, even if they have a vege burger I wouldn't expect anything special unless you just need a maintenance meal.
                  (I'd think Burgermeister would have better options for veges if you do want a burger place for some reason). The vege burrito is a much better suggestion, and should be on the top of any budget conscious eater's list.

                2. re: Prs

                  I don't know where you are coming from, but do you mean the Hyderabad House in downtown Palo Alto? They have good biriyanis, but unless you are coming from NJ, if you are going to pick any Indian at all, I would go to a south Indian joint, since we've got pretty good South Indian here. (And they specialize in vegetarian to boot.) I think the cuisine they serve at Hyderabad you can find many places.

                  Also, if you are in the South Bay, I'm sure we've got excellent Vietnamese compared to many other places.

                  Some places that come to mind which aren't nec. "destinations per se" but are reasonable to cheap and good food:
                  -Homma's brown rice sushi on California Ave in Palo Alto. (Actually, on second thought, this is a rec w/ reservations, since I like their fish stuff.)
                  -Donut Place-I don't know the exact name, but on the corner of El Camino and Escuela in Mountain View, there is a Cost Plus. A few doors down from there, there is a donut shop that serves pretty good pupusas. $2 ish each. Very filling. Most of the flavors are meat, but they do have a cheese one.
                  -Madras Cafe in Sunnyvale. (El Camino and Bernardo) Excellent South Indian vegetarian stuff. Their dosas are very good. Food is extremely cheap. Don't bother getting the lassi, b/c lassis are evidently Northern, and so theirs is lousy.
                  -Chaat Paradise (Grant and El Camino, in the Smart and Final shopping complex) Snack-type foods (chaat) from both north and south and lots of veggie options.
                  -If you like Korean, there are a bunch of reasonable Korean restaurants on El Camino in Santa Clara. It sounds like you guys are big eaters--Korea House (blue roof, right next to a motorcycle shop, on El Camino in Santa Clara) has very generous portions and wonderful sides. I also like Tofu House in Palo Alto--on El Camino, sort of near Charleston/Meadow.
                  -For Chinese, Jade Palace on California St. is good. They do Shanghai style food. I haven't had enough of their menu to see if it is one of the best, but I liked what I've eaten there so far.
                  -For Taiwanese, Queens House in downtown Mountain View (Castro Street) has homemade noodles.
                  -Thai food-- you can probably get better Thai in the city, but King of Krung Thai or whatever it's called--in the San Antonio shopping complex in Mountain View (right next to the Trader Joes) is pretty good.
                  -If you make it all the way to San Jose, you must try Vietnamese. Vung Tau in downtown San Jose is very good. Run by the same people who do Tamarine and far less pretentious food.
                  -There is another hole-in-the-wall Hue-style Vietnamese place in San Jose, whose name escapes me. If I think of it, I'll repost.
                  -Breakfast--House of Pancakes in downtown Los Altos? Also, I'm not a huge fan of Hobbees, but if you like breakfast food, I'm sure you'll like it fine. There are many scattered around the peninsula.

                  -If you like sweets, try Beard Papa cream puffs. I personally can't ever eat one whole one, but if you're big eaters, it sounds like the right size! There is one sort of across the street from Yerba Buena, in that alleyway near the new Contemporary Jewish museum, which is the building that looks like a blue box tilted on its side.

                  Sorry about the unexactness of the locations. I'm assuming you have google capabilities. :)

                  1. re: anzu

                    Beard Papa's an international chain, the frozen-dough thingies they sell aren't really cream puffs, and if you can get past the unpleasant smell they don't have much flavor. Discussion on the Chains board:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/311914

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Well, I have to agree that the first time I had them in Japan, I liked them much better. My enthusiasm from that first taste has declined, but still, I don't think the ones in the U.S. are bad. I like that they're not too sweet (Also, I should confess that I'm a sucker for anything with black vanilla bean specks.) and the dough maintains its crunchiness.

                      However, ugh. I didn't realize they use margarine. Now that is blashpemy. I might have to now ban them on those grounds. UGH! I mean, margarine isn't exactly natural!

                3. My favorite places that are moderately priced (or cheaper)...

                  L'Osteria del Forno (Italian, North Beach)
                  Helmand Palace (Afghani, Russian Hill)
                  Benjarong Thai (Thai, Marina)
                  Taste of the Himalayas (Nepalese, Marina)
                  Blue Barn Gourment (counter service gourmet salads and sandwiches, Marina)
                  Barney's (burgers and salads, various locations)
                  Papalote (burritos, various locations)

                  All of those places are veggie-friendly.

                  I'm not a big dessert kinda guy, but I love Emporio Ruilli in the Marina as well as the gelateria on Columbus in North Beach (forget its name, though). Also, Tango Gelato in Lower Pacific Heights on the Fillmore strip is very good.

                  1. Thank you all for the wonderful inputs. Tonight being the last night in SF, I'd like to share what we ended up doing...
                    First, though, the burger place was solely for the boca burger and milkshake, but it was stricken down by a unanimous vote by the other three travellers !
                    We've ended up having lunch at A La Turca - abt $60 with tip and it was pretty good food. Very filling and at the price, it was very affordable. Shady neighbourhood if you approach it from the Van Ness side (the other side is Union Square) but very good restaurant and ambience. An evening "snack" was at Ghirardelli's Ice-cream shop - yummy sundaes and ice-creams. However, enter the place that is actually in Ghirardelli Square - which is up on a hill. There is a smaller branch shop down on the road at the bottom of the hill iwth not half as many choices. Dinner was at Rainforest Cafe at the Fisherman's Wharf. Expensive, only burgers/ pasta as the veggie choice. But absolutely wonderful ambience....all those who eat all kinds of food SHOULD head there. Today's lunch (day 2) was at Burma Superstar - go early, the wait is long. Foodwise - I had the tea salad, sumosa soup (5/5 for these) and some vegetable with tam poi - (rice side dish). The veggie was so-so but the rice was pretty good. Damages ~ 65 for 4, with tip. Not bad, again.
                    Dinner was at the Metreon - mall food. I had a Portobella Buck sandwich at the Buckhorn Grill....its good comfort food. Oily, and tasty :D
                    Tomorrow is going to be Zeni's Ethiopian Food and hopefully, I'll come out of it as I have come out of the other places - with a full stomach and a good memory !

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Prs

                      Thanks so much for reporting back. Yours was th first positive report I've read about Rainforest. What did you have?

                      -----
                      Burma Superstar Restaurant
                      309 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                      A La Turca
                      869 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                      Ghirardelli Chocolate Union Square
                      42 Stockton St., San Francisco, CA 94108

                      Buckhorn Grill
                      101 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                      Rainforest Cafe
                      145 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                      1. re: Prs

                        Rainforest Cafe is a chain with several dozen locations around the US and elsewhere in the world. Might make sense to visit one in a place with fewer great places to eat than San Francisco.