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What are your favorites in the LESMD (Lower East Side of the Mission District)?

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There's a 7X7 article christening a new district ... formerly known as 24th St.
http://www.7x7sf.com/eat_drink/blog/3...

They mention Dynamo Donut, St. Francis Fountain, the upcoming Sushi Bistro, La Palma Mexicatessen and La Torta Gorda.

There seems to be an Indian restaurant in that area as well, though I don't recall the name. Any good?

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  1. Maybe you're thinking of Punjab, which despite the name serves Chinese-American food.

    -----
    Punjab Restaurant
    2838 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    8 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Yup. That's it. Drove by yesterday and saw the Chinese part.

      Any thoughts about Sundance Coffee on 24th? The coffee is organic and free trade.

      Tried Dynamo yesterday and hated ... hated ... that Four Barrel coffee. Wish I had noted the blend because it will put me off ever trying this coffee again. It is very much like Blue Bottles Hayes Valley blend which is my least favorite BB coffee. It tastes like Dunkin Donuts coffee that's been sitting in the pot too long ... sour and acidic. Ick. I nursed it over two hours before finally tossing it. I toyed with the idea of stopping by Philz and asking for a few mint leaves to throw in.

      That combined with the bacon apple donut made for an extremely unpleasant start of the day. The first bite of that donut was just foul ... and this after the awful sip of coffee. I stopped by to try to wake myself up. It did ... but not in a good way.

      Not one to toss a $3 donut, I soldiered through, and it was ok after a few bites. Wouldn't buy it again or go out of my way for a Dynamo donut. I wouldn't turn one down. It was ok, but just not up to the promise and price.

      I also didn't know this was just a sidewalk coffee bar and there was no indoor seating area. Sheesh, all that money and not even a table to sit at. Yeah, sure, there are chairs on the side walk ... without a table. Heck even All-Star and Bob's have a place to set your coffee cup while eating a donut. It's not like this is in any better neighborhood than those locations despite the start of gentrification.

      I feel Dynamo is making a sincere effort to deliver a quality product, but it just didn't appeal to me a lot.

      It sort of had the Miette-syndrome. Someone brought a dozen and boxed they just looked beautiful. The taste didn't match the looks.

      Not that I'll use it ... but what is the frequent 'fryer' card about? .... buy 12 donuts and get one free or buy 12 dozen and get a dozen free?

      That was the other thing. The service was off. I was standing there with the card. No one offered to stamp it. They started to buypass me in line. The guy in front of me was taking a gazillion years with those donuts and I was supposed to guess that the server glancing in my direction meant to place my order. He then glanced at the next person in line who seemed to know the code and started to order before I stopped him. Weird place. Prefer Philz in that nabe.

      1. re: rworange

        Sundance coffee is pretty good. If I am looking for a simple cup of coffee on 24th between Mission and Potrero, I go there. They usually have both medium and dark roast.

        I haven't had any fancier drinks there (by 'fancy' i mean cappuccino, espresso, lattes, etc). Nor have I ever been enticed to stay...the chairs/decor seem uncomfortable. The baked goods never look good.

        I had similar service issues at Dynamo, but that was closer to when they first opened. I had hoped these issues would be solved by now, but I'm sorry to hear they haven't.

        1. re: rworange

          Because Philz isn't weird? hahah I

          Four Barrels uses Stumptown beans last I checked (unless they started roasting finally?) You may have been happier getting coffee at Dynamo itself. They also use Stumptown. I've just rarely had a good cup when the vendor used those Stumptown beans. I think it's a difficult coffee to brew, or there are bad batches. Anyway you realize if Four Barrels isn't roasting their own, then the hype is just over barista services, a coffee maker, and ambience.

          What's wrong with Dynamo being a stand?

          It's a pretty large stand, in that they've got a lot going on back there, and it's nicely presented. The counter is large, and relaxed from what I've seen. I love the trend in bringing back food stands. If you really want to sit with a donut, buy the donut at Four Barrels and order your coffee today. By all accounts, Dynamo makes some clunkers, and you ordered one of them. I really liked the pumpkin vanilla bean, for example.

          1. re: sugartoof

            What's wrong with Dynamo being a stand?

            $$$$$

            Place your order (after a way too long wait) ... pay up (cash only) ... wham, bam, thank you m
            'am. I need a little atmosphere with my pricy coffee and donuts ... a little romance.

            1. re: rworange

              It's a donut. If you want romance, buy a pastry?

              Doughnut Plant in NYC is not much more then a stand either. Dynamo probably has more square footage behind their counter then all of XOX truffles on Columbus. Most of the reviews probably fail to mention these places are really just stands, without seating. If you want the Dynamo product and seats, Four Barrels is your current option.

              1. re: sugartoof

                If a place is selling $2-$3 donuts, there shouldn't be clunkers.

                XOX is a candy store. Yes you can buy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, but that isn't the focus ... and small as it is ... in a more prime area ... it has a counter or tables to put your coffee. For $2 I can get both a better cup of coffee (Graffeo) and a truffle ... hand-made ...in the shop.

                Like I said, I don't dislike Dynamo. I just wouldn't go out of my way to go there and unless nothing else was open, it would be unlikely I'd stop by again. Gourmet donuts came and went in the 90's. They will come and go again.

                1. re: rworange

                  Well yeah obviously, they shouldn't sell bad taste combos, but seating wouldn't make them taste any better.

                  I don't remember a gourmet donut thing in the 90's...you mean Krispy Kreme?

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    It was the dessert at a lot of restaurant's .

      2. And I'm waiting impatiently for Humphry Slocombe to open--a new artisanal ice cream shop near the corner of Harrison and 24th. Yats is also right in that area, and I hear Manivanh (sp?) Thai is pretty okay.

        ETA #1: The churros made to order at La Parilla are (sing-songy voice) to die for!

        ETA #2: Philz. Just had a fantastic Turkish coffee there this AM.

        ETA #3: Last but not least, Alhambra Halal Meat, "100% natural and organic." I know for a fact that a lot of families in the Mission that prefer this type of meat have switched from Whole Foods to buying at Alhambra. I bought some beef shanks there myself this AM. First time I've gotten anything.

        1. This is my neighborhood, so I have been to most restaurants on this section of 24th St. I've written about most of them on chowhound too.

          Manivanh Thai is pretty good, especially for curries. It's the closest Asian food to my house, so it's good for a quick take-out meal. I wouldn't go out of my way to go there, but if you are in the neighborhood, it's good.

          St. Francis Fountain is overrated but not bad. I once had a really good egg salad sandwich there (or a special sandwich with egg and bacon?), but then I went again another time and it wasn't good at all. Breakfasts there are fine, but IMO not worth the wait.

          I love L's Cafe, where I go pretty frequently. Great for breakfast sandwiches, also great chicken salad, and other cafe food.

          La Palma has amazing guacamole (best packaged guacamole you can buy I think), good tortillas....I don't usually go there for burritos/tacos, so I can't comment on that.

          I haven't had a torta from La Torta Gorda since they moved to their new space, which was over a year ago! But I have had excellent banana milkshakes there, and they are super friendly. I usually get tortas at Tortas Los Picudos.

          Yat's is very close by, like Atomica says. My one meal there was great.

          I've eaten at other places too....will post more later.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Dave MP

            Cool. While it may be further down on 24 th than qualifies, have you tried the new George BBQ with rotisarrie chickens spinning in the window? Reading yelp about it it seems more haufbrau than bbq. The owner worked at Pete's on Mission, so same idea.

            1. re: rworange

              Yup, I tried George's with a fellow hound, and we ran into another hound there. I thought it was just OK. The pastrami was pretty good, and I might return to by this by the pound sometime....service was super friendly, and I want this place to do well.....but the food might not be interesting or good enough for me to return anytime soon.

              1. re: Dave MP

                Thanks

                -----
                L's Caffe
                2871 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                St. Francis Fountain & Candy
                2801 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Philz Coffee
                3101 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                La Palma Mexicatessen
                2884 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Alhambra Halal Meat Company
                3111 24th St, San Francisco, CA

                La Parrilla Grill - Folsom
                2801 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA

                George's BBQ
                3231 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Yats New Orleans Original Po Boys
                1609 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Manivanh Thai Restaurant
                2732 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                La Torta Gorda
                2833 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1. re: Dave MP

                  I think George's roasted meats (the ribs and pastrami) are worthy of inclusion, as long as you skip the barbecue sauce. It's a hofbrau basically--a nicer Pete's. It's not like there's a decent deli on this side of town.

                  They'll have to upgrade their sides if they want to appeal to anyone who thinks calling the Mission the Lower East Side is a cool idea though. (Where else can you get a baked Idaho potato with a slab of butter and sour cream? No truffle butter or duck fat or local herbs to be found.

                  And for those of us who remember the Lower East Side before gentrification, when all you could count on was junkies and muggings after a middle of the night meal at Kiev, the comparison's a little too apt.

            2. LESMD? Oh com'n that's either pretentious or silly...perhaps both.

              Just call it 24th and York like always, after the old York Theater (now Brava).

              8 Replies
              1. re: ML8000

                I agree. Just because a new donut shop opens, we don't need to re-name the neighborhood.

                1. re: Dave MP

                  I purposely held back on commenting on that in the OP to get.food recs so this didn't turn into a thread about the name.

                  Someone over at 7x7 was trying to copycat NY's LES by putting that stamp on this area. That being said, it is more than a donut shop. More and more relatively upscale for this area joints have been opening.

                  I've expressed some alarm at the transformation of this area, but I don't live there, so if this was my nabe I'd probably appreciate the changes. Still, it is a little sad to see the character of a neighborhood change. I guess the name isn't any more silly than NOPA.

                  Now what to call the 16th and Mission area which has it's own character and vibe going ... Central Region Inner Mission Experience?

                  1. re: rworange

                    NOPA actually makes some sense since there was really no designation for this area before ("Western Addition" technically comprises a huge area and even the more colloquial reference covers a lot of space).

                    If I were a Spanish-speaking person or from that tradition living in the Mission, I might not welcome the "diversification" and probably yuppification of my nabe, particularly if my income were low. So often it's not just that new types of places are added but that older places are slowly squeezed out.

                    On a related topic, many newcomers to SF refer to this area as "Outer Mission," I never know whether to laugh or scream: That designation by general historic consensus starts at Geneva.

                    My own historic Cow Hollow nabe is universally misnamed "Marina" by newcomers too. I'm all for tradition ih these matters.

                  2. re: Dave MP

                    Yup. Besides, trendy acronym nicknames only work if they're easy to spell and pronounce, like SOMA and the more annoyingly trendy NOPA. How do you pronounce LESMD? Less-mid? At least "NO" and "SO" are accepted abbreviations for the directions they represent, but does anyone (especially in SF), think "lower east side" when they hear "less"? Heck, I had to look at a map to verify that 24th street is indeed the "lower east side" of the Mission District! Let's just nip this one in the bud right now, before the trendoids glom on to it!

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Agreed, NOPA is annoying but at least it's easy to say. I'm glad 24th and York is perking up a bit. The renovation of the York into Brava was actually a very good re-use because it was run down for years and someone was likely to put in lofts otherwise. Still, it would be a shame if that area got yuppied.

                      If you want to subvert LESMD, there's plenty of way. I'd use gang lingo...like Y24 or something. That'll scare away the riff-raff.

                      Indeed, I hereby christen that 'hood Y24. Now lets get some ink to rep the 'hood! Tats for everyone bi-otches!

                      1. re: ML8000

                        Speaking of tattoos, the tattoo parlor on the corner of 24th and Potrero is also a cafe, they have pretty good coffee in the morning. Best in the area, until the arrival of Dynamo.

                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I agree we don't need any more acronyms. :)

                        When I first read the topic title I was thinking more of somewhere around 16th and Folsom than 24th Street.

                        If we do decide that we have to divide up the Mission, then I guess you could consider 24th and Mission the center. However it is more common in SF to use Inner and Outer when referring to neighborhoods.

                        Another useful practice in SF is to always provide a cross street because the address numbers are not consistent (like in cities that follow a strict grid system).

                    2. re: ML8000

                      >Just call it 24th and York like always, after the old
                      >York Theater (now Brava).
                      >
                      You could call it the Costa Brava.

                    3. More places in this area:

                      I had a chorizo super burrito from Taqueria San Francisco last night. It was okay. Burritos are hit and miss here, sometimes they are excellent, with really tasty meat and generous amounts of avocado. In general, their chorizo is pretty good.

                      I posted recently about my meal at Usulutan - I thought their homemade tortillas were great, and I want to go back to try their pupusas, though other posters have said they are only OK.

                      El Metate makes great quesadillas, filled with veggies. I ordered their fish tacos again recently, and again they came with rice in them. I am not a big fan. Usually I just make my own quesadillas at home, but if I'm ever in the mood to go out for them, this is the place to get them.

                      Assuming the Goza Goza taco truck is still around (haven't been in a while), that's at Harrison and 25th. Good cuban sandwiches.

                      Places in the neighborhood but have been meaning to try: Roosevelt Tamale Parlor, La Paz Restaurant (on Potrero), Casa Sanchez, New Aux Delices (which has some odd and contradictory yelp reviews - I wonder if some of the posters are confusing it with Aux Delices??).

                      Also, I didn't realize Dynamo was opening a restaurant. Does anyone know more about this? What will they serve?

                      Dave MP

                      -----
                      Taqueria San Francisco
                      2794 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      Tacos Goza Goza Truck
                      25th St and Harrison St, San Francisco, CA

                      Roosevelt Tamale Parlor
                      2817 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      Usulutan Restaurant
                      2990 24th St, San Francisco, CA

                      El Metate Restaurant
                      2406 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA

                      Dynamo Donuts and Coffee
                      2760 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      Casa Sanchez Restaurant
                      2778 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      La Paz Restaurant Pupuseria
                      1028 Potrero Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      New Aux Delices Vietnamese
                      1002 Potrero Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      1. LESMD, indeed. Do they have a guide to pronouncing it?

                        1. I live in the area and am also excited to see it changing - dynamo is dangerous to have so close, and the new ice cream seems in the same vein.

                          I especially want to call out the alhambra meat market - the guys that run it really have a great sense of an old world butcher, and bend over backwards to do custom service - tying up a roast, trimming fat to order, special cuts - all for exceptionally good prices. Also a great source for offal cuts.

                          http://beerandnosh.com/2008/11/alhamb...

                           
                          18 Replies
                          1. re: jfriedman

                            Gentrification will eventually drive out places like the Alhambra Market. You can't have your cake donut and eat it too.

                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                              Umm, Al Hambra is not an older store. They opened earlier this year, and as far as I can tell, they are doing pretty well. I don't think they are in any danger of being 'driven out'.

                              1. re: osho

                                It may not be the one I was thinking of, but doesn't matter whether it is recent or old; it's Halal, I believe, and probably serves a market that will be driven out by gentrification, as will the bars that were a good place to go on a Saturday night, and slug down some cheap Tecates (in a can, of course) while listeng to a duetto or a conjunto and be far away from everyay SF.

                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                  One man's gentrification is another's diversity I guess. Halal is a growing market, serving a growing population that never had much of a footprint in the Mission previously. It's going to be a destination for one community, while also serving the new neighborhood as a good clean butcher that's pork free (most of the others specialize in pork). Remember, there was a post prior to Thanksgiving asking about Halal turkeys, so I wouldn't underestimate the appeal.

                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                    While ethnic/religious mom and pop places usually would get pushed out in gentrification, Halal butchers might be the rare cross-over given the practices produce higher quality beef and poultry.

                                    It's been noted in France, that despite general societal prejudice, Halal butchers have greatly improved the quality of meat in many urban areas.

                                    The Halal butcher in the Tenderloin is the place I think you're thinking of...and that does look like a place that would die under gentrification.

                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      I agree. There are often posts on this board either recommending halal butchers or looking for halal meats for quality reasons, not religious reasons. So it should fit in quite well with gentrification.

                                      1. re: ML8000

                                        ML800: What is it about that Halal practices that produce higher quality meats? I had thought that Halal related just to the way the animal is butchered, not the way it was raised. But if there is more, I would be interested in knowing.

                                        1. re: SFDude

                                          You are correct that the halal practices relate to the butchering, and the animal may be raised in conventional ways. One Muslim restaurateur who I spoke to about this said that there can still be a difference in taste. The animals are dispatched one by one and do not witness other animals being slaughtered and according to him, do not have the taste of "fear" from stress hormone release. Also, the halal animals are processed separately in small batches and the more attentive handling, bleeding, etc. might result in cleaner taste than the bulk of animals from the same herd, flock, etc.

                                          Then on the retail side, halal butchers often break down whole animals in their shops, so the cuts are fresher.

                                          1. re: SFDude

                                            MW said most of it with the key being a Halal butcher must process a whole animal in shop and not just the parts. They must also sell it quickly. I think this gives a Halal butcher a better understanding of things so the service is also better. Also the general clean factor...big in the Muslim faith as I understand it.

                                            1. re: ML8000

                                              "Then on the retail side, halal butchers often break down whole animals in their shops, "

                                              I don't believe this to be true as a requirement, though a good butcher is supposed to break down their own meats, even if that's now a rarity.
                                              About cleanliness .... I've seen some frightening activity go on through Halal meat delivery (in NY, not San Francisco) so I don't think being Halal or Kosher automatically means cleaner, or better tasting.

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                Agreed about the frightening activity. This is why I was so impressed with Al Hambra. Their shop was immaculate, as Atomica describes, in not just comparison to the other halal markets that I've been to (although especially), but meat markets in general.

                                                1. re: adrienne156

                                                  I agree 100%, and so far the place does look immaculate. It's a great addition to the area.

                                        2. re: Xiao Yang

                                          I don't know about in the Mission proper, but there is a fairly significant (and I suspect growing) Muslim population in my neighborhood (somewhere on the Cusp between Glen Park and Bernal Heights/around Alemany/College Hill/never know what to call it)...with at least one active mosque, and Alhambra isn't that far away at all.

                                          For that matter, I doubt if gentrification and Islam are in any way mutually exclusive.

                                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                                            It's actually an exceptionally clean, well-run little market that was carrying Fulton Valley (questionable sourcing, I know) and Mary's turkeys this past Thanksgiving. The owners really pride themselves in carrying organic products and I have to admit that I was rather impressed. There have been several positive reviews of their housemade merguez sausage.

                                            http://alhambrahalal.com/

                                            1. re: adrienne156

                                              And, as I mentioned above, many families in the area have quit buying their meat at Whole Foods and buying at Alhambra instead. That's a great market in this economy because Alhambra has very good prices and the fact that the store is immaculate will bring in and retain a certain segment of the population that usually prefers Whole Foods.

                                              1. re: Atomica

                                                Which was my point exactly in the earlier post.

                                                We are one of those families. I've stopped buying meat from WF.
                                                I would highly recommend the offal, goat, chicken and lamb sausages at Al Hambra.

                                              2. re: adrienne156

                                                Adrienne, what's the questionable sourcing you refer to ?

                                                1. re: osho

                                                  Melanie linked this to the halal turkey thread I started.

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4609...

                                      2. The 7x7 editors really do have this fantasy that they live in Gotham-lite. I think it's the coffee place with Slocombe ice cream around the corner that's going to really shift things into stupid neighborhood nickname territory. Then let's not just blame Dynamo, we got Sugarlump cafe which looks like a mod furniture showroom. That section is looking refreshed these days. Less grungy. Less retail storefronts of undetermined business. Certainly more gentrified.

                                        That said, I agree the Halal butcher is a great addition to the area now. As is Dynamo, just for being fun and modern without being intrusive.

                                        Otherwise, it's still the oldies that stand out.
                                        Nobody's named La Victoria bakery yet, so I'll toss them into the ring.