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May 5, 2009 12:23 PM

Suggestions for SF Dive Eats... and mid-range restaurants

We're taking a road trip up to SF this weekend and it's been a while since I've been, so I'm hoping to get some suggestions for excellent "dives".

We have a car...and a child....and will also be trekking down towards Mountain View.

Fortunately our child is a pretty adventuresome eater, but we're not interested in blowing $100 on dinner for him. We're not on a serious budget, but with a kid, we'd rather eat at casual and moderately priced joints. (under $30 for lunch and under $80 for dinner - excluding drinks and tip).

I love dim sum (understanding that under $30 does not apply) and all sorts of Asian cuisine (although my husband is Thai averse), we all enjoy a great burger, but can skip the pizza, veggie/vegan joints and Mexican. Would be particularly interested in exceptional seafood joints, any type of California or Continental cuisine places, and any kind of "comfort food"/diner establishments. My husband is 35 going on 100 and LOVES chicken fried steak, sawmill gravy, and most blue plate specials.

Thanks for your help!

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    1. re: wolfe

      Thanks...I did a search for SF dives and got a lot of irrelevant links back.

    2. Not all of these are fact most aren't but this is a good list for cheap eats, SFGate/the Chron's annual Bargain Bites list.

      5 Replies
      1. re: ML8000

        Thanks...any recommendations on which ones are good? I guess I should have clarified that "cheap" isn't our top criteria. Good is. Followed by casual, kid-tolerant and then reasonably priced.

        1. re: 1HotTomato

          Not a dive - Hukilau is kid-friendly, would husband chow on Loco Moco with hamburger or chicken katsu... or teriyaki shortribs?
          5 Masonic Ave
          San Francisco, CA 94118

          for breakfast:
          The Village Grill
          160 W Portal Avenue
          San Francisco, CA 94127

          for breakfast/pumpkin pancakes/fried chicken wings
          J's Pots of Soul
          203 Octavia Street
          San Francisco, CA 9410

          Hard Knox Cafe
          2 locations: Third Street and Clement Street
          Larkin Express Deli
          Lime Tree
          Old Jerusalem
          Dives/bars are not very kid-friendly... the Mariposa Cafeteria is the place for oxtails or roast pork on rice — these links aren't very divey; you'll do better at Chow on Church Street...

          Lime Tree - Southeast Asian Kitchen
          450 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

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

          215 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114

          1525 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          5 Masonic Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

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

          Art's Cafe
          747 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

          Hard Knox Cafe
          2526 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

          Mariposa Cafeteria
          1599 Tennessee St, San Francisco, CA 94107

          Old Jerusalem
          2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Hard Knox Cafe
          2448 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

          7 Mile House Sports Bar
          2800 Bayshore Blvd., Brisbane, CA 94005

          1. re: Cynsa

            Mariposa Cafateria and Tu Lan are certainly divy, but please do not subject your child to either of those places. Not unless you wantto subject him to urine soaked junkies or agressive panhandlers on the way to the door. Oh, and I once found a drywall screw in my fried rice at MC...yum.

            1. re: Cynsa

              That reminds me of Tee-Off, the ultimate comfort food dive. While it is a bar, there's an outdoor patio.

              Please don't go to Tu Lan with a child. Chow or Park Chow might fit your needs exactly.

              1. re: Cynsa

                While I've not been to Hukilau for a head-to-head comparison, I can highly recommend the loco moco made with Niman beef at Namu during happy hour. It's just a few blocks away. There were kids chowing down at the early hour with their parents.

                439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

          2. Where are you coming from and what route are you taking? The Saturday morning Farmers market at Ferry Plaza has lots of good prepared food stands.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rworange

              Coming up from San Diego and likely to take the 101 all the way up...

            2. For a kid friendly burger joint that is kind of an institution there is Bill's Place on Clement. Great shakes too (the old kind were you get the leftovers on the steel cup). And it's not far off your path if you take 19th Ave through the City.

              Bill's Place
              2315 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

              1 Reply
              1. re: Civil Bear

                Bill's Place (since 1959) is indeed very kid-friendly; with back patio — but, the cheeseburger at the Hard Knox Cafe at 2448 Clement Street is also a great deal for $6.50 + one side - cooked perfectly medium-rare as requested.

              2. Grubstake and Tommy's Joynt were on a cable TV show featuring Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Grubsteak is probably a Diner, Tommy's a dive.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Alan408

                  Tommy's Joynt is an interesting choice. Definitely a SF institution. Although not necessarily "kid friendly", it should be fine for an older child that doesn't mind crowds. It is also right on the Hwy 101 route through the City. It's old school Haufbrau fair.

                  Tommy's Joynt
                  1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

                  1. re: Civil Bear

                    Atmosphere it has, dive it is, but the food is - IMHO - sub par.

                    What do you get there that's so good as to recommend for a limited-time visitor?

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      From the opening post.
                      "and any kind of "comfort food"/diner establishments. My husband is 35 going on 100 and LOVES chicken fried steak, sawmill gravy, and most blue plate specials.
                      I like the roast beef with dip and horseradish.
                      But it isn't Phillippes so settle for the buffalo.

                      1. re: wolfe

                        Valencia Pizza and Pasta for " any kind of "comfort food" at the right price.

                        Valencia Pizza & Pasta
                        801 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      2. re: bbulkow

                        Like most/all dives, you have to cherry pick the menu. Turkey and buffalo are good but not great but for the price it's hard to complain.

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          Without a doubt, the braised lamb shanks! $8 + change for two, with roasted new potatoes and a side salad. The sauce is very good. Tastier and a better deal than Valencia Pizza & Pasta, IMO.

                          Agree though that the sandwiches are a tad sub par (other than the meatball).