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Looking for great/inexpensive food to try in SF/!

My friend and I are taking a weekend trip up to San Francisco from LA/San Fernando Valley. I've been looking for some recommendations fairly close to Fisherman's Wharf (Nowhere out of San Fran please!). Anything inexpensive is great, and specifically my friend and I are partial to:

Indian food
Middle Eastern food or Greek Food (from what I've read there may not be much in SF)
Authentic Mexican food (I hear mission district is good? any specific places?)
South American food (I don't know if there's much of this, i haven't read much)
Mediterranean food

I'm also very interested in trying African food, so if anyone has any great recommendations for that sort of food :) southern/western? I'm not too sure on the differences but either are fine.

or anything else you think is worth mentioning!

the closer the better!
Thanks :)

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  1. inexpensive around the Wharf? - good luck, instead just park yourselves at 16 and Valencia (15 Montgomery bus to BART or 42 Loop to same - or either to the Mission bus). and you'll find most of your requests

    Falafel, VN, Indian, don't get people started on the best Taquerias - search the board, I have my faves and dear friends have theirs, but it can come to blows.

    re: African there is (was?) a semi-Senegalese place called Baobab in the Mission that has received mixed comments as to authenticity - I dunno, but it was always yummy and had a Jack D and Tamarind cocktail that pulled me back to high school (long story) for Ethiopian; Axum on Haight is so hardcore they won't serve half the menu if it is against their Coptic calendar restrictions - but still good.

    am I alone posting in the tentative? so many places in so many cities have closed in the past year.

    1. Some of the places I'm thinking of trying are

      Yank Sing

      9 Replies
      1. re: ashleyy

        Yank Sing is crazy overpriced for dim sum. Good, but overpriced.

        Just sayin'

        1. re: ashleyy

          10 years ago Kokkari was THE Greek place. I have a friend that will not eat Greek unless a family member has made it, but she loved the place.

          Yank Sing is good for standbys, I had the fortune of working at a firm that brought in Dim Sum every Thursday - in down times we'd try out other sources, but always went back. but then when you're dealing with 100+ people, there are are a lot of opinions to deal with.

          Pearl City was my personal fave.

          but you'll get as many recommendations as for Taquerias.

          you won't go wrong (probably)

          1. re: ashleyy

            I used to like Axum Cafe a lot when I lived nearby, but haven't been recently. The best value is the veggie combo and I thought the food was the best of the other Ethiopian places around, but I'm no expert.

            1. re: ashleyy

              Your best bet for cheap food is head down to 16th & Mission. Pauncho Villa's is worth checking out for the scene if you haven't been there, Poc Chuc operates at a higher level but is a much smaller place, Truly Mediterranean's good for shawerma and falafel. I also like Old Jerusalem down past 24th on Mission.

              If you want to stay nearer the Warf make your way over to North Beach & Chinatown. There are a lot of small casual places there. Maybe a 20 minute walk from FW.

              Truly Mediterranean
              3109 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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

              Pancho Villa
              3071 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              Old Jerusalem
              2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              1. re: ashleyy

                Is there food in Fisherman's wharf? SF is a small city--get a muni bus map and the phone number of a cab company and you are pretty much good to go.
                A Greek friend really likes Kokkari, but it is pretty expensive. For Indian, you could try udupi palace in the mission (cheap, authentic) or Dosa (more expensive, more trendy). Cafe Zitouna is a nice place for Middle Eastern. I kind of like De Afghanan Kabob for its freshly made bolani, borani kadoo, kabobs (although the mothership in Fremont is better).
                For Vietnamese, I would try turtle tower for northern pho or Pagolac for seven courses of beef.
                For cheapie fun, you could walk down Stockton St in Chinatown and sample whatever suits your fancy. Golden Gate Bakery and Red Blossom Tea on Grant are also good.

                1. re: ashleyy

                  I wouldn't call Kokkari "inexpensive" au contraire!

                  1. re: Concetta

                    I wouldn't either. but the OP brought it up upthread

                    1. re: Concetta

                      I think Kokkari was the single most expensive meal I've ever had in SF.
                      Granted, we weren't being careful -at- -all- and over-tended to hit the
                      high end of the wine list a bit too much, but man. I was floored.

                      You can certainly do better than I did but you'll need to be careful.

                    2. re: ashleyy

                      I've heard Axum is good.
                      Love Shalimar, but only the one on Jones near Geary.
                      Kokkari is great, beautiful -- but -- far from cheap.
                      I LOVE Yank Sing.
                      I have Indian friends who love Sultan, I just have not been yet. They also like Mehfil on 2nd/Folsom. I like Roti on West Portal but it isn't cheap like Shalimar.

                    3. You will have to sort through this list but I am sure there are some good choices in you desired area. There is a problem in that you can't have close to WF and still include the Mission.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: wolfe

                        Hey Ashley! As a big fan of visiting San Francisco, I beg you to reconsider and catch a streetcar, bus or just walk out of Fisherman's Wharf. Even cabbing it seemed really cheap to me when we've done that occasionally. I can't tell if you've been before, but getting around is relatively easy and quick, and many of the neighbourhoods are cheek by jowl. Check out this simplified map to give you an idea of how close you will be to various 'hoods. I'm thinking specifically of the Civic Centre/Tenderloin for great cheap eats (Vietnamese or how about some Burmese??) in an area often described as sketchy but hasn't scared me yet http://www.sfheart.com/mapofsan.html

                        1. re: wolfe

                          wow thanks for the great site!
                          yeah i'm not too familiar with the area, i haven't been there since i was very young.

                        2. Assab Etrirean on Geary and Collins
                          La Vie on Geary and 22nd Ave for Vietnamese
                          I second your thoughts on Shalimar and Kokkari

                          1. Anyone been to a place called Absinthe?
                            I know its not cheap

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ashleyy

                              Rep on Absinthe:
                              Location + Bar + a good looking room + you don't have to make a reservation. It's a good choice if you need to be in that few block are (like for symphony or opera). It's cheaper than Jardinere but more formal than Citizen Cake. And the bar's good (Jardinere's bar is exceptional though - and a live jazz alcove)
                              However, comparing city-wide it's a little expensive for what you get - the food doesn't quite rise to a Delfina or Foreign Cinema or CAV, and there's no price difference. And Zuni's not that far either, a real treat.
                              If I was traveling, and I had a hotel within a two blocks, I would be thrilled to stop in for an evening snack & drink. If I was traveling and I made it the center of an entire evening, I'd be disappointed.
                              All that having been said, I haven't eaten there in a while. I figure places like this will have trouble in the down economy, being neither star destination nor low-cost neighborhood.

                            2. I was just in SF last week...had such a great time! My son and I ate Greek/Middle Eastern food at The Sunrise Deli & Cafe on Irving Street in the vicinity of Golden Gate Park. We loved the Falafel platter for around $6.95 which came with 4 lovely crisp falafels on bed of fresh lettuce & tomatoes, generous portions of tzatziki and hummus on the side and warm pita bread; we were in heaven! Another 'hound referred me there. Kebabs are also available...you order at the counter. Here's a link for you:

                              1. Regrettably you've chosen an area to stay which is not known for either good or cheap eat. Food quality will rise, and cost will drop, step by step, as you move away from that location. There's some good threads about a few years back (outside the search function's standard time period) about where to eat if you are stuck and hungry in the wharf area.

                                I throw in a word about indian - search for "Tandoorloin". There's a little nest of cheap (really cheap) and excellent indian places in the tenderloin area. Shalimar started it all and is great, but the newcomers are good too. I remember one night when the line was out the door with tourists at Shalimar, so I went over to Pakwan, which was empty, and had a monster vindaloo - all the while watching the really slow line at Shalimar.

                                Please, do yourself a favor and get down to 16th and Valencia. The two block area on 16th between mission and guererro doesn't have a bad joint. Andalu is central american tapas fusion that really should be better, the venerable Ti Couz, Pakwan for excellent cheap indian, neighborhood favorite Sunshine for Vietnamese, Monk's Kettle for Belgian + Burgers, great Shwarma, taquerias....

                                there's lots of interesting non-food entertainment options within a 10-block radius, but you have to do your homework - it's all small venues without obvious signs - I haven't seen any shows announced at The Lab recently, dunno about The Swamp or Marsh or whatever they call that performance space, ODC has excellent shows but again, the economy's causing some flailing. At least the standard music venues are doing regular shows. I'm not sure I can recommend a good website to figure out the performance spaces & live music venues; if you're interested, you might have to start with sfbg.com's entertainment section and do some homework.

                                A final note, because it seems no one ever follows our recommendations about getting down to the mission. You can at least jump on the "historic F" streetcar, which is fun, and in a few minutes be whisked to the ferry building. There's lots of slightly pricey but tasty choices around there, such as the perennial Slanted Door, a branch of taqueria Pancho Villa, upscale joints like Boulevard and Chaya. And it's scenic and romantic, with the bay bridge looming overhead. Usually smells less like homeless people's pee, too.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: bbulkow

                                  <i>You can at least jump on the "historic F" streetcar, which is fun, and in a few minutes be whisked to the ferry building. </i>

                                  And if you do take the F to the Ferry Building, from there you can take BART to the 16th & Mission stop. About a 10 Minute BART ride and a world away from Fisherman's Warf.

                                  1. re: Calvinist

                                    thanks for this information :) im sure itll come in handy

                                  2. re: bbulkow

                                    thanks for the great suggestions!

                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                      Nitpick: bbulkow means to say Sunflower for Vietnamese (rather than Sunshine)

                                    2. Some great suggestions so far...my suggestions:
                                      Indian - easily in the Tenderloin - and I'm honestly not a fan of the atmosphere of Shalimar but they make great dishes. I hear Little Delhi is good and I like Mehfil, albeit pricier.
                                      Middle Eastern - Taboun's is one of my favorites near UCSF. Else, I love Lavash in Inner Sunset (Persian), but it's not as cheap, but it IS good.
                                      Mexican - El Farolito (for a great burrito) - but you're coming from LA, why do you need Mexican? I wouldn't call SF the top Mexican food capital outside of Mexico. El Delfin - not a fan of the volcano beef even though the server suggests it. Great for creamy garlicky seafood.
                                      S American Food - Limon Rotisserie is a great value place if you get a whole chicken. It's at 21st and Van Ness. Make sure to get tacu-tacu if the found of a ball of rice & beans slightly spicy & deep fried sounds good to you.
                                      African - Assab Eritrean.

                                      Tons of great eats in SF, not as easy finding the cheaper places though. For some other interesting, unmentioned places try Lolo in the Mission, Beretta at 23rd & the Mission (great atmosphere & cocktails & sort of an italian tapas type of place), Humphrey Slocombe (for some really interesting ice cream!), Helmand Palace for Afghani food - although it's in the upper teens price range, and Thai House Express for Thai.

                                      Thai House Express
                                      901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                      El Farolito Bar
                                      2777 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                      3234 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                      Helmand Palace
                                      2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                      2845 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                      201 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                      532 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                      1199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                      Limon Rotisserie
                                      1001 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                      Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
                                      2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                      1. Indian food - Indian Oven is the BEST
                                        Vietnamese - Sunflower in the mission (super cheap)

                                        Middle Eastern food or Greek Food (from what I've read there may not be much in SF) - Ali Baba's Cafe (very hole in the wall, but good falafel's)

                                        Authentic Mexican food (I hear mission district is good? any specific places?) -Yes this is very true! I've lived in the Mission for 5 year and i've found these places to be the best: Farolito for the BEST quesadillas, La Taqueria for the BEST carnitas tacos, Chava's for sit down Mexican food (only takes cash)

                                        South American food (I don't know if there's much of this, i haven't read much) - Limon Rotisserie (very cheap and good Peruvian food)

                                        Mediterranean food - Nopa (not exactly cheap, but worth every penny!)

                                        African Food: bissap baobob for sure

                                        1. I apologize in advance if I am maligning someone's favorite restaurant, but when in the Mission, eat Latin American or possibly South Indian. If you're looking for authentic Vietnamese, hit the Tenderloin.

                                          I once had a craving for Vietnamese while working in the Mission District and went to Sunflower for a bowl of pho. Never again.