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Sep 26, 2008 01:07 PM

Bargain Bites 2008 - Now Without the South Bay!

The San Francisco Chroncle's annual Bargain Bites are up. I'm really disappointed that they dropped the South Bay this year. First, no more food writer for The San Jose Mercury News and now this. The largest city of the Bay Area definitely needs more food coverage.

Bargain Bites 2008

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  1. I wasn't impressed with it at all. It seemed like they threw together a bunch of places they'd reviewed in the past; not necessarily the best places for the money. (I'm thinking of the Hot Shop in Albany.) Have they really been back to them lately? I doubt it. There are so many good, inexpensive places in the Bay Area. This seemed like a random list with a few really obvious places like Vik's and Picante. So you're not missing much in the South Bay. You have Chowhound. Much more useful!

    9 Replies
    1. re: Glencora

      Totally agree. Delessio, while tasty, is not considered a Bargain Bite in my world. Not Brenda's, Weird Fish or Little Star. I don't think of the prices at any of these resturants as outrageous, but they aren't a bargain bite either!

      1. re: Glencora

        I always take their list with a grain of salt anyway since there are some places that make the list every year that are only OK and then there are the favorite Chowhound spots that never make the list. That said, it still usually puts a few places on my radar, and I always hope some of my favorite little known spots (Gourmet Express in Milpitas with stellar Palestinian food for example) might make the list and get more business which they definitely deserve.

        1. re: katya

          It's the Chron. The world ends at San Mateo.

          1. re: lgphil

            Probably even more now in the world of the incredible shrinking newspaper . But no La Taqueria? I think that's been there since I moved to SF in '90.

            1. re: Calvinist

              Incidentally, the original founder of the Chevys franchise ate at La Taqueria in the mid-80s and the ideals of Chevys (fresh-Mex and all that) are based on La Taqueria.

              1. re: katya

                Actually he had a little experience with Mexican restaurants before that.

                1. re: wolfe

                  I didn't know about Tia Maria. That was interesting.

                  I just got my info from someone I used to work with who was friends with Warren Simmons. He said Simmons took him to La Taqueria one day for lunch and asked what he thought because he was going to model Chevys after them.

                  Apparently, the original Chevys in Alameda had an excuse booth so when you'd call (in theory) your spouse to explain you'd be late (because you were partying at Chevys), you could choose from a variety of excuses (airport, office, etc.) and the background noise would correspond.

                2. re: katya

                  I always thought Chevy's was inspired by the Cadillac Bar but never captured the energy.

              2. re: lgphil

                I disagree. San Mateo, along with the rest of the Peninsula, gets very little coverage. Certainly not politically, and barely culinarily.

                "Silicon Valley" however, gets coverage b/c of the business aspect.

          2. I've lived in SF, San Mateo and now Los Gatos. The choice to eliminate the South Bay is bothersome. They could compete with the Mercury easily but they've chosen to ignore a huge portion of the population. There is a reason why the newspapers are in trouble and ignoring the largest city in the bay area is a big part of it. Lots of people work in the South Bay and commute from other places. It boggles the mind!!

            1. Well, it is the San Francisco Chronicle, after all, not the San Jose Chronicle. It probably costs about $20 in gas money to go there and back. That's no bargain. I thought it was a pretty creative list; Bang San Thai, Kopitiam, Da Beef and the like are certainly not all that obvious, so they've either done their homework or trusted Chowhound reports or both ("trust and verify"). I was glad to see La Taqueria dropped, when there are so many less expensive and tastier options for the same kind of food.

              And P.S., "The Largest City in the Bay Area" ought to be able to do its own food coverage, not rely on a newspaper 50 miles away. Maybe the Merc could at least give Michael Bauer et al gas money.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Xiao Yang

                Several of the restaurants have been reviewed on Check Please on KQED

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  Their subtitle on the web is "Cheap eats around the bay". South bay is more around the bay than Healdsburg, Calistoga, Sebatapool, etc. which are really Wine Country. Plus it doesn't cost to pay for a bridge to go there from SF. If they can drive there, they can drive to the south bay.

                  1. re: sflegs

                    Again, it's about turf (or terroir). A SF paper covering San Jose eats would be as presumptious as, say, the New York Times covering Philadelphia. It's not SF's fault if San Jose doesn't have enough of a food culture to support some restaurant reviewers in its local paper. On the other hand, the Chron is the default metro daily for the North Bay and Wine Country.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      The south bay is its own market in my opinion - different cities altogether. It is far away from San Francisco, different vibe and different clientele. Whereas the SFGATE also covers much of Napa, Healdsburg, etc., it has been my experience that south bay dwellers would prefer to get away to Monterey or Santa Cruz coast for their weekend excursions.

                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                        Actually, it would be like the NYT covering Long Island, New Jersey or Westchester, which it occasionally does. Believe me, no one in newspapers worries about being presumptuous!

                        1. re: Xiao Yang

                          For newspapers its about circulation. For them to give up on the largest population in the area just eeks stupidity. There are some very good places to eat down here - not in the pleathora of the San Francisco restaurants but still good.

                          1. re: sflegs

                            There are very few subscribers down there, though.