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Cheap Eats/Dives/Landmarks/etc. to see over 1wk

Hi,

I'll be visiting SF for the first time in October, and I'm wondering what restaurants I should visit. I know SF has a ton of trendy, innovative restaurants, but that's not necessarily what I'm going for. While I would like to go to maybe one nice restaurant while I'm out there, I am looking for something a bit more unusual.

Not sure exactly how I would describe it, but if I were taking a visitor around NYC, places such as Katz's, Di Fara, Russ & Daughters, Shake Shack, etc. would be the focus, rather than a Babbo or EMP. Not sure if there is a SF equivalent to a Village Voice or NY Mag's Cheap Eats that might have some good reading on the subject.

Sorry, I'm sure there are at least a few threads along these lines, but I'm not really positive what I'm looking for exactly.

Thanks

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  1. Hey Chet,
    7x7 (which is San Francisco's local magazine) just did a great cover story on "31 Flavors: 1 Month's Worth of Delicious and Cheap Eats". It's also on their website at http://www.7x7sf.com/ --- I thought that the suggestions overall were good ones. I would just add Burma Superstar (Excellent Burmese food -- get the rainbow salad). Hope this helps!

    7 Replies
    1. re: skim99

      That's a great article!

      Yes, I've actually read about Burma Superstar over on the NY board (homesick SF ex-pat). Never tried Burmese before, and definitely looking to experience some foods that are less common on the East coast.

      1. re: chet steadman

        To offer a counterpoint, I don't think Burma SuperStar is that good. A one-hit wonder. If you must go there because of the hype, get the samusa soup.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I wouldn't say I must go there, but I am reasonably interested in checking it out. I heard that one of the salads was actually their signature, though.

          1. re: chet steadman

            The problem with BSS is that the cooking is watered down to appeal to people who would be turned off by the taste of Burmese or Southeast Asian food. Garlic, pungent fish sauce, chilis, fermented shrimp . . . all missing in action . . . but that's what their customers prefer and BSS is very popular.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I only went to Burma Superstar once, and I didn't feel that way about it. Some of the items were better than others - the tea leaf salad was my favorite - but I didn't feel it was watered down either. However, I ate here before ever eating at Larkin Express Deli, which I like better overall.

              Here's a link to my BurmaSuper post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/384549

              And here's a link to my top 25 eats from 2007. The majority of the things I ate fit the OP's budget and request. I also like the Pastores and El Delfin suggestions.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4682...

              1. re: Dave MP

                Thanks for including the link to your post. The discussion thread goes into the reasons the version at Burma Super Star has been labeled "tea leaf lite". (g)

                I would point toward Larkin Express Deli as well, if the OP wants Burmese.

                -----
                Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
                452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              2. re: Melanie Wong

                I don't think the Burmese dishes at Burma Superstar are all that different from those at Larkin Express, but the latter's definitely better.

                Some of the Indian and Chinese dishes that fill out the menu at Burma Superstar are really lame, so if you order at random, you could have a really mediocre meal.

      2. I thought the 7X7 article was pretty perceptive for a slick Gen-X kind of publication, and was delighted that they put Five Happiness in there (it usually flies under the radar, but it's a hoary place with good cheap eats). I'd've put Shanghai Dumpling King in place of Shanghai House; It's a bit more of a dive but has better xiaolong bao (soup dumplings to you) but you can't go wrong with either. For real lowbrow institutions, I'd add Red's Java House (cheeseburger and a long-neck Bud, please), Tommy's Joint, Lefty O'Douls, and Sam Wo.

        Odd that NY is deprived of Burmese restaurants; there's been at least three Burmese festivals/bazaars in NY this summer so far, with lots of tasty-looking food documented by Dave Cook.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Xiao Yang

          I think this is a link to a part of the article:

          http://www.7x7sf.com/features/cover/2...

          And I highly recomend Pastores (mentioned in the article) for something not too readily available in NYC. El Delfin as well.

          -----
          El Delfin
          3066 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Pastores Restaurant
          3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          1. re: Calvinist

            Pastores sounds like my kind of place for sure. Thanks

        2. I don't recall who said it here on the SF CH board but the mission burrito is basically your slice of pizza in NYC. Great line because the similarities are there...inexpensive, ethnic, accessible palette, basically street food, everyone eats them.

          I'd get some burritos.

          Like pizza in NY, you'll get many opinions on favorites. The usual suspects are: El Faralito, Taqueria San Jose, Taqueria Cancun, La Taqueria. You might take a look at this site: http://www.burritoeater.com/main.php

          1 Reply
          1. The Guardian and the Weekly are two local free weeklies that cover food, and it seems to me they periodically publish articles about cheap places to eat. You might search their websites for suggestions. http://www.sfbg.com and http://www.sfweekly.com.

            Just how divey are you looking to get? Tu Lan is one of the diviest places I know (both the neighborhood and the restaurant itself) that serves quality food.

            -----
            Tu Lan
            8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            6 Replies
            1. re: weem

              not sure if i would do this in an unfamiliar metro area, but i'll go to places that serve food through bullet-proof glass around here.

              that said, it's not a requisite.. the goal is to see the authentic, family-run, time-warp type of places. some of them may be dives, but many are not.

              1. re: chet steadman

                You should read the reports attached to that link tp Tu Lan. I guess I'm in total disagreement but I think the food reporting on the Guardian and SF Weekly are dreadful (RL excepted). I'm sorry but one of the reviewers on the Weekly is a disgrace to food writers.

                Anyway, you might scroll through the SF Chow Digest which has some of the best of the board. It does cover the entire bay area so you need to scroll through and look for SF suggestions.
                http://www.chow.com/digest/tag/san+fr...

                The Chronicle's Bargain Bites section pretty good
                http://www.sfgate.com/food/

                I hope you will be stopping by the Saturday morning Ferry Plaza Farmers market.

                For some reason, SF has a lot of Yucatan restaurants
                http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

                Of those, Poc-Chuc is one of the better choices. Yucatasia is ineresting. I haven't been there in a while and heard they dropped the 'asia' part which was Vietnamese. Comida Yucatan y City Pizza is in one of the worse spots in SF. I keep wanting to try some of the different tamales there.

                The Sentinel is a little take-out place that has been getting raves and has the same owner as Canteen ... a place you might consider for one of your nicer bites.

                Speakin of a place to consider for your nice dinner take a look at Aziza.

                Back to the more humble spots ...

                In North Beach Liguria Bakery makes one thing and one thing only, foccacia. The only change to the shop since it opened in the early 20th century is the family members and register. Get there early. A block or two away is XOX chocolates which make some killer truffles. The owner or assistant is always there, chatting with locals as they make their chocolates.

                Also in North Beach in a more medium price range are The House and Da Flora.

                You might click in the Places link at the top of the page for San Fraancisco and plug in either of the following to pic up some more ideas
                SF Inexpensive
                SF Moderate

                You can further narrow it down by Neighborhood
                SF Inexpensive Mission

                Looking for Landmarks, Tadich is a good one. It is the oldest restaurant in SF. Order the sand dabs or cioppino. Speaking of landmarks, if you go to the Sentinel, stop by the Palace Hotel next door and check out the restauarant ... you don't want to eat there, but it is lovely. The food isn't bad, it's just not exceptional.

                1. re: rworange

                  I'm fond of El Maya Yucatan for Yucatecan food.

                  -----
                  El Maya Yucatan
                  2022 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  1. re: rworange

                    I'm no longer writing for the Weekly. (The gig was too fattening.)

                    1. re: rworange

                      Immediately after posting my post, I stumbled upon the Tu Lan thread and thought, "Oh, great, here come the criticisms." LOL. For the record, I am not one of those people who thinks Tu Lan has the best Vietnamese food in the City. Nor would I recommend it to the average tourist, or a tourist only in town for one day. But he'll be here a week, and he seemed to be actively seeking such places. I don't personally consider it a destination either. But when I find myself in that neighborhood (and when seeing a concert at the Warfield or a play at the Golden Gate, you are only a block or two away), I think it's a perfectly acceptable option for dinner.

                      As for the Guardian and the Weekly, I don't really read their food critics, so I apologize if my comment came across as a ringing endorsement. I just know they are popular local papers with restaurant coverage, that they are free, and that they cater to something of a more counter-culture mentality, which Mr. Steadman seems to be projecting. It seemed like having a broader scope of opinions, such as an alternative set of cheap eats lists, would help him make a more informed choice.

                      1. re: weem

                        I can't argue that Tu Lan has a legendary status ... whatever anyone thinks of the food ... worth a stop for the take out menu with the bad drawing of Julia Child on it. Have you tried the new Miss Saigan nearby on 6th?

                        Unfortunately for the Guardian the counter-culture mentality extends to the restaurant review just mentioning the name of the restaurant. If you are lucky the last line has to do with the food. In this one the very last words of the article ... after we learn all about the writers day and what else was eaten at home ... there is a mention that "fish fillet with tender greens" was ordered. Not how it was ... good or bad ... the info in quotes is literally the only thing about food in that two page 'review'. It's too bad. Long, long ago the reviews were both irreverant and had actually something to do with food.
                        http://www.sfbg.com/entry.php?entry_i...

                        Looking at the Weekly, the reviews seem to have improved lately, but I just stumble on way too many where I think "Why am I wasting my time reading this"

                        Thinking of landmark places, if the OP goes to Aziza, he might consider stopping by for a drink at Cliff House ... or just drink in the view. The food is over-priced and geared to tourist, but the Cliff House has been there in one form or another for a long, long time.

                        Then up the street is Seal Rock Inn which has a decent breakfast for the area and where Hunter S. Thomas wrote "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"

                2. I would also like to add Yamo burmese in the Mission. The link below to the chronicle's cheap eats section has other good tips as well.

                  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/listing...

                  1. Wow, I'm really appreciative of all of the responses. I'd post more often, but I'm not allowed to from work (I do eagerly check this post during the day though). I definitely have a big task ahead of me in organizing everyone's suggestions.

                    Found a few pictures of Tu Lan, and it doesn't look *that* dingy. I hope to give it a try.

                    As an aside, how about places at Stanford and Berkeley? I'm actually going to be in SF to check out these schools, so I imagine at least one full day at each.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: chet steadman

                      Recent, fairly exhaustive discussion of places around UCB:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/489135

                      The Leland Stanford Junior College area is something of a culinary black hole. Will you have a car?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Thanks for the link. Yes, I'll be renting a car for my school visits. Wow, I guess I should have expected a ton of options around Berkeley.

                          1. re: chet steadman

                            Your criteria seems different than just the general what's near UCB.

                            In addition to criteria alike Cheap Eats/Dives/Landmarks, you mentioned some places in NY that you'd take visitors to that don't exactly fit in the criteria of the title.

                            That being said, when I take visitors to Berkeley ... in terms of landmark... Chez Panise. You can order at least one dish at the cafe upstairs and soak up the vibe and history.

                            That is the Chez Panisse Gourmet Ghetto triangle that requires a stop at Cheeseboard for a slice of pizza, California-style, and the cheeseshop next door.

                            I have taken visitors to Gregoire where top-quality Frech-cal food is served very casually ... in styleish corregated take-out containers. At the three-seat counter you can watch the chefs tending to bubbling pots and other grills. Two picnic tables on the sidewalk .

                            Then a stop at the temple of produce - the Berkeley Bowl where there is often 10 - 20 varieties in every category ... oranges, apples, peaches, radishes, etc. etc, etc. Stop by Crixa cakes on the way which I'll take bets is better Eastern European baking than you would get back home

                            While I'm not a fan, Top Dog is such a Berkeley landmark, it deserves a stop.

                            Brazil Cafe is known for its funky sidewalk cafe and an exquisite tri-tip sandwich.

                            This is new but there are a lot of positive reports on a dirt-cheap new Peruvian place called Fonzie's Peruvian Chicken.

                            I often take people to Fourth Street for a souffle pancake at a long-time institution, Betty's Oceanview Diner. Depending on the time of day, a dessert of Sketch's soft-serve ice cream with great toppings.

                            Other stops are Alice Waters Cafe Fanny with the original Acme Bakery next door.

                            If you are in Berkely on a Saturday, like Ferry Plaza, there are prepared food booths at the farmers market The Tuesday Berkely farmers market also has some prepared food booths. On Thursday there is a farmers market a block away from Chez Panisse, but iit is smaller and there's no prepared food but lots of sampling of baked goods, yogurt and produce.

                            Down on Telegraph there is Pizzaiolo and Bakesale Betty's.

                            And I'm likely to drag people to the Fruitvale section of Oakland which is more like Mexico than any part of the City. There's a little section near the Bart station that has a Mexican ice cream maker, Nieves Cinco de Mayo, who with nothing more than a paddle and a wooden bucket produces wonderful ice cream in exotic flavors like rose petal, garlic, avocado and an excellent cinnamon ... for $1 a scoop. A fresh churro vendor is outside the door. There's also a nicle little Mexican restaurant next door that I like more than most people on the board that has a nice salsa bar and tries to use organic ingrediants. A block down is the best aqua fresca I've had in my life at the Aqua De Oro taco truck. Further up International the El Gordo truck has some really great stuff an watching the action is almost as good as the food. For a sit-down restaurant there is Ortiz.

                            Have fun. Hope you report back about what you tried.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I would call Gregore's food a French spin on American short-order cooking. They use quality ingredients but the cooking is very simple.

                              1. re: rworange

                                Wow... not sure how far out of my way I wanted to drive, but that Fruitvale ice cream vendor sounds unbelievable. Is it reasonably close to my route?

                                What is that, a hero roll or a baguette at Top Dog? I have so many hot dog places that I've yet to try in NY, not sure if I can stomach getting one in Cali. Game-time decision.

                                I don't really agree with you on the title issue. Shake Shack may be a toss-up (I would argue that it's both cheap eats and a landmark, in an "established 2004" kind of way). Katz's, Di Fara, and Russ & Daughters are all landmarks.

                                ...and my Eastern European grandmother begs to differ on this Crixa place.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  And thanks again for the great, detailed information. I think I'm going to have to map out, by neighborhood, a broad list of places that seem the most interesting, and just play the actual agenda by ear. No way I'll be able to enjoy my sightseeing, get my business done, and follow a strict restaurant schedule. Fortunately it looks like classic dining experiences are to be had all around the city.

                                  What I will do for sure is make a list of the several places that sound the most interesting to me, and make it a goal to visit at least 3-4 of them. I have a few in the running right now, but I'll definitely run it by you guys when I have something more concrete.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    rworange says: "A block down is the best aqua fresca I've had in my life at the Aqua De Oro taco truck. "

                                    Did you mean Aqua de Ojo? Or is this a different place? I'm swimming in the warm waters of Fruitvale posts in preparation for our November trip...

                                    1. re: grayelf

                                      Just saw this -- for future reference, it's Ojo de Agua.

                                      -----
                                      El Ojo de Agua Taco Truck
                                      Derby St and International Blvd, Oakland, CA

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        Thanks, Ruth -- I think I just made it worse :-).

                            2. Hi,

                              I finally began to put a little thought into this trip of mine. I feel like it's going to be impossible to set a definitive agenda in a city that I've never been to. I started up a list of places to possibly check out if I am near them during my sightseeing, and I will try to play it by ear that way. How does this list look for starters? And yes, you may have noticed that Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines.

                              Burma Superstar (Richmond)
                              Pastores (Mission)
                              El Delfin (Mission)
                              Taqueria Vallarta (Mission)
                              Mariposa (Potrero Hill)
                              Tu Lan (SoMa)
                              Taqueria Cancun (Mission)
                              La Taqueria (Mission)
                              Y Ben House (Nob Hill)
                              El Maya Yucatan (Mission)
                              In-N-Out (Fisherman's Wharf)
                              Dynamo Donut (Mission)
                              Izzy's (Marina)
                              Pho Garden (Richmond)

                              25 Replies
                              1. re: chet steadman

                                Which week in October will you be here for? There may be good special food-related events going on.

                                The list looks good, but maybe a bit heavy on taquerias.

                                I would potentially add:

                                Yamo - Burmese, Mission
                                Larkin Express Deli - Burmese, Tenderloin
                                Various eats at the Ferry Building - Embarcadero
                                Cafe Zitouna - Tunisian - Polk St.
                                Cordon Bleu - Vietnamese - Polk St.
                                Tartine Bakery - Mission
                                Bodega Bistro - Vietnamese - Tenderloin
                                Sultan - Indian - Union Square (mainly for weekday lunch buffet)

                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  I agree that the list is too Mexican/taqueria heavy: for OP: IMO, the popularity of the Mission burrito notwithstanding, Mexican food really isn't a strength in SF, IMO.

                                  Cancun used to be my favorite taqueria in the Mission, but my last few visits have been very disappointing. Both the al pastor and carnitas have seemed to be gloppy and more about the quantity of the meat than the quality.

                                  I'd choose Poc Chuc over El Maya Yucatan, myself.

                                  -----
                                  Poc Chuc
                                  2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                    It is a bit heavy on taquerias....but he's coming from NY so he doesn't get much or any decent Mexican food whereas he can get Vietnamese and even Burmese...just not as good. The disparity between Mexican between West Coast and East Coast is HUGE.

                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      This is true, but unless the OP *really* likes burritos, going to Cancun, Vallarta and La Taqueria seems excessive, especially if you are also potentially eating Yucatecan food and/or at El Delfin and Pastores.

                                      Maybe the meals at the taquerias can be smaller, or the OP could do a mini-taco-crawl between the three.

                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                        I agree, that is a lot but as you mention, as a smaller meals or lunch...I could see that. Basically a replacement to a sandwich or slice, also usually quick and portable. I love the minor genius of the foil wrapper...the utility is amazing.

                                        Perhaps I'm in the minority but when I travel I get what I can only get there or can't get at home. Even going to LA I'll go to a 2-3 of Mexican places in 3-4 days...usually a couple of lunches...stuff that isn't as good in NorCal and is usually cheaper.

                                        1. re: ML8000

                                          one of the things I don't like about Cancun these days, besides the gloppy meat, is that the proportions are off: there is waaayyy too much meat per taco. I end up having to eat half of the meat with a fork or fingers before I can even pick up the taco (because the tortilla is too small to wrap around it). Now, some people might like that, but I think it tastes wrong...and it also means that unless OP either wastes meat or has a big appetite, that a crawl to several places might be a bit much for one lunch...

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            There's three things I order from Cancun: burrito al pastor, quesadilla suiza and the cebollitas (grilled onions)...and occasionally the burrito chorizo.

                                            For tacos, since they give two tortillas...I usually shift half the filling on to one of the tortillas. I find the burritos with rice helps balances things out...reduces the overpowering meat.

                                            1. re: ML8000

                                              I don't like burritos (the concept of rice to provide balance makes me shudder...) so that isn't an option for me... but as for shifting to one of the tortillas, part of my recent dislike for Cancun is that I am finding it to be too much meat even for two tortillas: the eating with fingers and fork I mentioned is AFTER I shift to two tortillas. Either they are adding more meat or my taste is shifting; either way, I'd rather have less meat and higher quality than what I've been getting.

                                              I do agree that the cebollitas are good; definitely worth trying if the OP ends up there.

                                  2. re: Dave MP

                                    October 4-11, with the 9th and 10th being my UCB/SU visits.

                                  3. re: chet steadman

                                    I like Larkin Express Deli better than Burma Superstar and Poc Chuc better than El Maya.

                                    Izzy's is OK but the food's not great, it's not as cheap as it once was, and the old-school atmosphere is stage dressing. Seems like a waste of a meal for a visitor.

                                    Tu Lan's definitely a dive, but there's better Vietnamese food in equally divey places a few blocks away in the Tenderloin.

                                    Overall, that seems like a semi-random selection of not-the-best places.

                                    -----
                                    Ngoc Mai Restaurant
                                    547 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                    Quynh Nhi Coffee Shop
                                    642 Eddy St, San Francisco, CA

                                    Hoang Dat
                                    930 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                    Them Ky
                                    717 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Can you elaborate on these Vietnamese places? I don't think I've been to any of them.....what is best to order where?

                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                        I can never keep them straight, and they keep changing names.

                                        E.g. 337 Jones has been Hung Ky, Ngu Binh, and Ha Nam Ninh, and now Google thinks it's Son.

                                        -----
                                        Ha Nam Ninh
                                        337 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Thanks for the color, Robert. I admit it's a pretty shaky list of random yelp/chow suggestions that I'd seen, and it's completely subject to change.

                                        I don't plan to eat THAT much Mexican, but I would be surprised if I didn't have a daily snack at a taqueria in between my meals. I just can't resist, and I have a deceptively huge appetite. And, while I'm aware that SF isn't the burrito Mecca, it has to be better than NY.

                                        1. re: chet steadman

                                          SF is the Mission burrito mecca, if you're into that, but to me that's not so much a snack as a meal and a half.

                                      3. re: chet steadman

                                        one more thought: there is nothing uniquely SF about In-N-Out and I wouldn't buy into the hype, unless you are considering it just because you will be at the Wharf (where options can be somewhat limited). Personally, I wouldn't spend much time at the wharf, but if I was there, I'd actually rather have a sidewalk shrimp or crab cocktail than In N Out, even with crab being out of season. Maybe this is heresy, but actually even the chowder in the bowl is just as good as In N Out IMO (which says more about my lack of enchanment with In N Out than anything else). Basically I think of In N Out as being a slightly better than average fast-food burger and much worse than average fries. I'd skip it.

                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                          In-n-out is a tough call. I know it's not one of the best burgers ever (I'm sure plenty of SF spots blow it out of the water), I know the menu is limited, and the wharf definitely doesn't sound like my type of tourist spot. But I often find myself really, really wanting an In-n-out burger. Tough to fight that urge.

                                        2. re: chet steadman

                                          If you're that into Mexican food, you should spend an afternoon grazing around Oakland's Fruitvale district, ideally a Saturday or Sunday. It's much like being in Mexico.

                                          The Mission has a much diverse mix of people and cuisines from all over the world, including a substantial yuppie / hipster contingent. Most of the Mexican restaurants there are patronized mostly by (and sometimes owned and run by) non-Mexicans. It's Yucatan central, though.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            I just may. I remember earlier in the thread, there was mention of an ice cream vendor in Fruitvale that really piqued my interest. I do have a car for 2 days, and while I don't know where exactly Fruitvale is, I should be passing through/by Oakland at some point.

                                            Thanks as always. You've been a tremendous help thus far.

                                            1. re: chet steadman

                                              I second the recommendation of going to Fruitvale. The ice cream place you are thinking of is probably Nieves Cinco de Mayo. Also keep an eye out for the churro stand that serves fresh made churros.

                                              -----
                                              Nieves Cinco de Mayo
                                              3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

                                              1. re: chet steadman

                                                Fruitvale is centered around International Blvd. (E 14th St.) from Fruitvale south. It's easy to get to on BART, just go to the Fruitvale station. Driving, take one of the Fruitvale exits, south off 580 or north off 880.

                                                Some topics on the area:

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/search?sear...

                                                -----
                                                El Huarache Azteca
                                                3842 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

                                            2. re: chet steadman

                                              Looks like you started out wanting some old school cheap eats and ended up going in a more ethnic cheap eats direction.

                                              Skip Izzy's. You're coming from steakhouse wonderland, and Izzy's can't compare. Alfred's would have better quirky old school atmosphere if that's what you're after. Personally, I'd replace it with Tadich or Sam's.

                                              Burritos are super filling. NY's taco scene is improving otherwise I'd suggest tacos are an easier way to sample around the Mission. For a non-MIssion suggestion, check out reviews for El Burrito Express.

                                              I would add Liguria for focaccia , Momma's for brunch or Golden Boy for a square slice that's similar but better then Artichoke (and you know who their square gets compared to).

                                              Try some salamies while in town. Our gold standards are Columbus and Molinari (I'd suggest their Coppa).

                                              SF's bakeries are stronger then NY's at the moment if you like pastries.
                                              Bob's donuts. You can't get an old fashioned or apple fritter in NY.
                                              Stop into a grocery store and get an It's-It ice cream sandwich. They're a local treat that used to come hand dipped. I like to wash it down with Calistoga water in the small glass bottles.

                                              In-and-out isn't worth the effort, but if you want a burger, try Burgermeister or maybe Bill's (wasn't great last time I was there but it's an oldie).

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                Yeah, for real old-school SF (rather than Izzy's stage-set version), Tadich or Sam's (the latter has fewer tourists, no lines, and takes reservations, at least for dinner).

                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                  Huzza Huzza on the taco suggestion. First, tacos are more "authentic" (because I don't buy into this Mission-burrito-as-a-category thing, also because you go all around mexico and everyone eats tacos all the time). Second, you taste the meat clearer with tacos - and the meat is the best part. Third, you can order more different types of meat (everything's on display, so point-n-shoot - I do this even in my local taqueria, where they have specials just-because and don't bother putting them on the sign). Fourth, you can eat at more places, and Fifth, IT'S CHEAPER!

                                                  While we're at it, I prefer a quesidilla suiza over a burrito anyway.

                                                  Apple fritters are THE BOMB. I get mine at Happy Doughnut and they're usually fresh as can be. I've also rarely seen buttermilk bars outside of California, although one could argue they're similar to a Original Dunkin'. This assumes you like the category called FRIED. Someone, serve me a calimari mista in a buttermilk bar bowl.

                                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                                    I love the Happy Donut apple fritters too. Never tried a buttermilk but shape wise they're pretty popular in NY, though probably taste entirely different.

                                                    I love a good burrito, but the quesadilla idea is another good suggestion. If there's a baby burrito on the menu, I'd say that's a safer bet for a tourist trying to fit in multiple meals per day!

                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                      As an earlier post said, the ny taco scene is actually pretty decent, while burritos here are weak as a whole. But it's also true that they're a ton harder to eat in quantities. I'll set maybe 2 mission burritos and a bunch of tacos as the over/under. On bberry now so I can't find them by name, but two restaurants were mentioned earlier that really interested me as alternatives to izzy's. I don't want to go on a tangent, so use existing threads to determine which 2 burritos I hope to try. Thanks