HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Windy's month of lunches - SOMA edition

I got a new job, and just in time. Now located at 3rd and Harrison, I've been wandering in every direction, trying to spend under $10. So close to Moscone and yet the lunch options are spread out.

The obvious: Whole Foods. You can spend $15 if you're not paying attention at the hot foods bar. On the other hand, you can do well if you're careful, don't go when you're starving, and resist the fresh fruit drinks ($2.99, full of fresh strawberries, yum!) and cookies (don't ask). Sunny corner to eat in with free wifi and corn-based utensils. Tip: staples are very cheap if you can find them. I got a half gallon for milk, hidden way back in the farthest corner, for $2.49 to keep at the office.

Epicenter Cafe has Barefoot coffee drinks (delicious), empanadas (delicious), live music, a wine and beer license, and pumpkin bread ($4 a slice--I put it back). Hip, quiet, tasty. Wifi.

Despite inattentive service, Zesty serves big bowls of fine, well-priced Vietnamese food. I got rice noodles with pork and imperial rolls and listened to the guys at the next table discuss their poker strategies. What else is good?

Chaat Cafe has decent Indian. Kind of self-serve, kind of surly guy took my order. I liked my chicken korma. It was on my way to the interview though, so I spent a lot of time worrying about spilling it or my mango lassi on my herringbone blazer.

It had been years since I ate at Cha Am, which was packed on a rainy day. Green curry chicken was a bit salty, but the vegetables were perfectly cooked and it had a bit of kick and fresh basil. What's good here? Service was distracted. This is a nice place to sit though, and food is a cut above most mediocre Thai in the city.

We also checked out Naan and Chutney. Specials are the way to go since they come with rice and naan. Free chai for all. I had the saag ghost, which was flavorful if underspiced. Comfortable seating. Most entrees around $9, some less.

Bill's Teriyaki Kitchen is an old school dive. Japanese, burgers, Chinese. You want it, they got it. I got a chicken teriyaki and tempura combo. Teriyaki was dreadful, but tempura good enough I'd give them another try. Anyone tried the burgers? Friendly service including free delivery.

Gigi Cafe serves giant old-fashioned sandwiches with chips for $5.55. Cheerful service, made to order. I had pastrami, which was huge and okay. This is not a high-end place; more like a garage with a couple of tables in the front. Catering too. Anyone tried the burgers or breakfast burritos?

Mexico au Parc is dishing up huge burritos and the like in the old Gordo space. With two lines, it's a little confusing how to order. I got a carnitas taco and an al pastor (only so so) but while I was waiting saw what I should have ordered: the taco azteca with grilled onions and peppers and chicken or beef. Next time. Free thin chips and salsa bar, jamaica. Lunch under $7 is hard to complain about on South Park.

Thanks to proximity search on Yelp, I found Eden Plaza Cafe, on 2nd at Harrison, across from Maya. Huge menu, family run, a very friendly place. Any kind of salad, sandwich, wrap (I had a spinach wrap with a Cobb salad inside), soup, pasta, hundreds of kinds of chips and energy drinks. Like Gigi, this is good old-fashioned food--the cheese in your salad is not from goats in Bolinas. Thumbs up.

There's also a new Peet's across from Whole Foods.

Where should I eat next month? On the list: Pazzia, Chili, Lime, Garlic, and TWO to go. I heard a rumor Orson had sandwiches from a cart.

Cafe Chaat
320 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Cha AM Restaurant
701 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Mexico Au Parc
24 S Park St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Naan N' Chutney - CLOSED
474 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Whole Foods Market
399 4th St, San Francisco, CA

764 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Zesty Restaurant
850 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Gigi's Cafe
685 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Eden Plaza Cafe
600 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94107

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Great report!

    Chaat Cafe: I used to go here often and only ordered two things because they were outstanding. Don't miss the aloo naan served with yogurt dipping sauce. It's the best anywhere. I really like their samosas, too (served with chana).

    Cha Am: I used to go to the Berkeley location and really liked their Cha Am Noodles and their Tom Kha Gai (chicken coconut milk) soup. I recall their Cashew Chicken being a standout as well.

    If you haven't already, some places to check out:
    -Maya (the to-go counter next door)
    -South Park Cafe (haven't been there but have heard good things)
    -Firewood (Metreon)
    -Mo's Burgers (Yerba Buena Center)

    Maya Restaurant
    303 2nd St., San Francisco, CA 94107

    772 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

    101 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    South Park Cafe
    108 South Park, San Francisco, CA 94107

    1 Reply
    1. re: katya

      Thanks Katya! I still remember having tom kha gai at Cha Am in Berkeley a million years ago and how good it was. I'm a little afraid to order a bowl in case my memory has improved the soup.

      I forget Firewood's in the Metreon. I used to eat at the one in the Castro all the time for lunch for the half pasta, half salad special.

      It's also been ages since I've been to South Park Cafe. Will report back.

    2. Maya Next Door is much better then Mexico au Parc but they can have issues with orders.

      The other places on South Park to check out is Butler and the Chef and Caffe Centro. Getting to-go and sitting in the park on a nice day is one of the best lunches in SF. Eating at Butler can take time and Centro is better just to go into the park.

      Butler & the Chef Bistro
      155 S Park St, San Francisco, CA 94107

      Caffe Centro
      102 S Park St, San Francisco, CA 94107

      1 Reply
      1. re: ML8000

        I also liked Maya Next Door, but I haven't been in about 2 years now. They have freshly made tortillas and the prices are decent ($5 for two well served tacos). I liked the chicken tinga, although it was a bit too spicy for me.

        Another place to try that's maybe a little trek is Split Pea Seduction. I have been meaning to go, so it's on my list (splitpeaseduction.com).
        I am glad that Epicenter is still there - I was worried for them when Peet's opened on 4th.

      2. The best items at Cha Am, imo, are the cocktails, though I am not sure that does you any good for lunch, and grilled items. They seem to do a good job with grilled seafood.

        1. Can't believe no one has mentioned Samovar Tea Lounge. It's like a little oasis.

          Ask for Erik - just talking to him will improve your day.


          Samovar Tea Lounge
          730 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          1 Reply
          1. re: LAWoman

            Thanks! I am very fond of the chai at Samovar (which is on my Financial District thread). The theme meals are a bit pricey for my lunch budget though.

            What do you like, aside from Erik?

          2. Oooo. fun. My favorites from the last year:

            Brickhouse Cafe. Big tasty burgers. Some nice sandwiches. Usually good soups. Still runs you about $8. Call ahead and pick up if you want it to go.

            South Park Cafe - Pig Salad. Enough said. Let's go to celebrate something fun.

            Toaster Oven - Pretty tasty sandwiches. Made to order. Sort of like Sellar's but cheaper.

            HRD Coffee Shop - This is one of those greasy spoon dinery only in SF places. Half the menu is Chinese and the other half is lunch from a school cafeteria. If you order carefully, you can get a good tasty, cheap meal. Yes on roasted pork.. Yes on the fried rice or rice, egg, meat plates. Yes on the Turkey (fresh roasted). But No on the mashed potatoes (instant. tasteless). No on the Chicken a la King. Just tread carefully, and have fun.

            Lees - I know everyone knows about Lee's. But I really like the one on 2nd Street. Nice outdoor place to hang out. concerts on fridays in the summer and fall. And their Chinese dumplings are really good! Not the ones on the steam table, the ones you order with the noodle soups.

            Chavo's (not to be confused with Chavas in the Mission) - Mexican place. I think its better than Au Parc. Quesedillas are good. Watch out for veggie versions. Sometimes they sneak in tofu, which is a nono in my book. Tamales are pretty tasty. You always need a nap afterwards though. Also they an little outdoor seating, which can be nice.

            Zuppa Sausage Gal - Occasionally on 4th street outside of Zuppa, there's a gal who cooks sausages and peppers on this little stove on the sidewalk. mmm.

            Sandwich place on 2nd street, across from South Park. Can't remember the name. It's a deli store type place. Very good potato rosemary focaccia for sandwiches. They often sell out so you have to go early.

            Primo Patio - Caribbean food with a patio in the back on Townsend. haven't been yet, but lets try it!

            Two - Great for after work drinks happy hour!

            564 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

            Primo Patio Cafe
            214 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107

            Toaster Oven Sandwich Shop
            145 2nd St, San Francisco, CA

            HRD Coffee Shop
            521 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

            Brickhouse Cafe & Bar
            426 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107

            Lee's Deli
            303 2nd St Ste 101, San Francisco, CA 94107

            Chavos Mexican Restaurant
            595 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94107

            7 Replies
            1. re: MelissaSF


              Primo is great. Jerk chicken and spicy fries, and a sunny place to eat outside.

              And of course Le Charm, for a splurgier meal.

              Sounds like the list now includes cocktails. Has anyone been to happy hour at SOUTH yet?

              1. re: Windy

                South is also participating in the June DAT. One of these days I'll get over there for that licorice dessert.

              2. re: MelissaSF

                Hennessy's? Don't go there. The service is very odd to simply ignoring you. I worked in South Park for quite awhile and no one I knew had an okay experience. Most never got food after being ignored. I can't figure out how they stay in business.

                A couple of doors over is 21st Amendment. It's brew pub fare but good to very good.

                South Park Cafe is very good for a leisurely/casual business lunch. At 3rd/Brannan there's Koh Samui & the Monkey...v. good, not great, good for business/clients. Coco 500 is at 4th/Brannan and open for lunch. Might also try Two and their take out lunch.

                22 Hawthorne St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                Koh Samui & the Monkey
                415 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                598 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                21st Amendment Brewery Cafe
                563 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                1. re: ML8000

                  I'll not only second, but third, fourth, and fifth the rec AGAINST Hennessy's. In the decade I lived in the area I have never received good service before or after their move and there was never anything in there worth the attitude.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Interesting about Hennessy's. I've only had pleasant and tasty experiences there.

                    For drinks:
                    SOUTH is kinda expensive, so I've never gone. District is not bad, if you go on Mon-Wed. Its a little over the top with trendsters and hipsters on Thurs - Sat.

                    B in YB is good fun on (one of the 4) warm days in SF. Nice patio, good views of YB.

                    Oh and of course there's Tres Agaves for tequila fun.

                    1. re: MelissaSF

                      We have have our work cut out for us. B has $1 oysters for happy hour. South just started bar snacks and discounted wine until 6 or 7 weeknights.

                      Completely agree about the scene at District. Terroir isn't that far either.

              3. Yellow Pa Taut--might be a schlep. But mohinga for lunch!

                1. Way back in the day when I worked nearby, we used to like Fly Trap for lunch. It is Zare's at Fly Trap now, and might be over your $10 figure, but I'd think it would be worth checking out.

                  Zare at Fly Trap
                  606 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: susancinsf

                    Looks like they're dinner only, but they do have happy hour. And meatballs.

                    1. re: Windy

                      That is what I thought too when I first looked at the website, but while it isn't clearly written I actually think they are open for lunch weekdays. If you are walking by, let us know what you see...

                      Yes, hmm, meatballs. And arancini.

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        Zare at Fly Trap was open for lunch until about a month or so ago. When I called to make a reservation, Hoss Zare answered and told me he had stopped serving lunch due to the adverse impact of the current economic situation. I had been there a couple of times previously and enjoyed it a lot but it was definitely more thant $10.

                  2. Maya To Go - The best burrito I've had in SF. I'm a fool for having just discovered this last week and lived a block away for 3 years. Chicken burrito with a handful of chips - $6.57.
                    The Sentinel on New Montgomery - corned beef with gruyere and cole slaw on foccacia is great - $7.
                    The Greek place next to Working Girls on New Montgomery - Gyros, fries and a drink for about $9. The fries are fantastic - they must be super unhealthy. Gyros are okay.
                    The sandwich place inside the office building where Maya is located. It's a sundry shop but makes a pretty good meatball sandwich for about $7. The place is a little depressing so if windowless office building snack shops bring you down, just skip it.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Bprecie

                      If Maya to Go is as good as everyone says, is Maya worth another shot (for happy hour maybe)? No one mentions it any more.

                      New Montgomery and Mission is well beyond my normal radius, but I might make an exception for a gyro with fantastic fries. And there's not much I wouldn't do for a meatball sandwich.

                      Thanks for the tips.

                      1. re: Bprecie

                        The Greek place is Ayola and the sandwich shop is called the Snack Depot. You need to use the entrance by the coffee shop (Tullys?) and go around the security desk on the left.

                        Ayola Restaurant
                        118 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA

                        1. re: tatertot

                          Linking to the Snack Depot

                          Snack Depot
                          303 2nd St # 126, San Francisco, CA 94107

                        2. re: Bprecie

                          I'd have to disagree with maya. Its rather small, and flavorless. I find best burrito/tacos in the area are to be found at Tacos of Justice, aka the El Norteno Taco Truck taco truck across from the courthouse on bryant and sixth. The carnitas are up there with any the mission has to offer.

                          Mehfil is among the best Indian food to be found in SOMA, and at $5, their box lunches can't be beat. Menu changes daily!

                          I miss seoul on wheels.

                          Mehfil Indian Cuisine
                          600 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                          Tru Gourmet
                          San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

                          1. re: rugzo.yo

                            Mehfil is definitely some of the best Indian food in SoMa. At 3rd and Harrison you aren't too far from Henry's Hunan. Very tasty. I also second Primo Patio Cafe - a favorite of mine.

                            Henry's Hunan Restaurant
                            110 Natoma St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                          1. re: fresnohotspot

                            Thanks Fresno. It's good to have friends in Central places.

                            An update. First lunches.

                            Mehfil's rotating $5-6 special is a great deal, prepped and ready to go. But I liked the saffron lassi even better than my meatballs and basmati rice. The to go prices are roughly half the eat in prices.

                            I had quite good rice noodles with pork and vegetables at Chili Lemon Garlic. I think this was the only lunch in weeks where someone actually earned their tip, checking to see if I needed anything after I'd had a chance to eat but before it was too late to do anything. Genuine Thai food, not especially Americanized. Prices are $1 higher than they should be, so this is $10+ with tax and tip if you eat in. But authentic.

                            I stopped in at the Metreon farmer's market and chose $7 falafel. Earth Island is a very odd market. Strawberries, raspberries, too many bakeries. But it's a good lunch spot, with empanadas, raw food, African food, and of course falafel, with a fine assortment of pickles. I'm looking forward to returning.

                            Maya to Go was an amazing deal. $5 plus 50 cents for homemade tortillas gets you three enormous tacos. I tried carnitas. It was enough for two. Points for guava agua fresca.

                            Nearby Lee's was as vast as Melissa promised. At 1:45, the won ton soup was only okay, but I was enthralled by the 50 kinds of chips and rice krispies treats. This is a SuperLee's.

                            Finally, Little Skillet lives up to its take out fried chicken and waffles promise. I got the chicken lunch box with cole slaw and a biscuit (2 pieces, both small for $6.50), then splurged on an excellent, huge $3 red velvet cupcake. Everything was ready before my rather weak, lukewarm cappucino next door at Cento. And the folks at Little Skillet are as sweet as their offerings. Warning: this is not a low fat lunch. But it is good, and pretty fast, and they spelled my name right. It's amazing what matters. Anyone tried the waffles with pecans?

                            Also a note that blocks south of Market are huge! The distance from 1st to 2nd in the FiDi is nothing. 3rd and Harrison is not that close to Ritch and Townsend or the Metreon. So it's kind of you to suggest taco trucks near the Hall of Justice, and it's not that a walk isn't a good idea after a lunch of fried stuff and butter and cupcakes. But unless you have 1+ hours for lunch, it's hard to find that kind of time to roam. Little Skillet was 10 minutes' walk each way (bad lights), including balancing the cappuccino, chicken, and cupcake, plus 5 to order, leaving me 5-10 minutes to gobble down the wings in my office.

                            Now on to happy hour:
                            lschow and I hit SOUTH for their 4 to 6 ballgame happy hour. The drinks aren't much of a deal $5 beer and $6 house wine, but they have four or five snacks for $5 each. The fried barramundi was excellent, as were the fries. Ceviche was tasty too. Small portions but well prepared, and a comfy place to settle in. We noticed all the patrons were female.

                            Then we stopped in at Orson for $5 cocktails. We really wanted bar snacks, but somehow Orson thinks it's a restaurant (patrons to the contrary--everyone was in the bar). So they didn't really have bar snacks or desserts that tempted us. My Manhattan was okay. Small. Begrudgingly served, like I was a cheapskate or insufficiently cool. Did not make me want to return, despite a past meal I enjoyed.

                            Finally B bar's expanded its happy hour, which now runs until 7:30. Dollar oysters were superb especially the pearl points, truffle fries decent, $5 cocktails made with fresh raspberries, although I had sangria. The place was hopping, the staff couldn't be nicer or more attentive. And of course on a warm day, you can sit outside, the city your oyster. This is a business that will survive the downturn.

                            B Restaurant & Bar
                            720 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                            South Food Wine Bar
                            330 Townsend Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                            Orson Restaurant
                            508 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                            Farmerbrown's Little Skillet
                            330 Ritch Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                            1. re: Windy

                              Maya has good free food in the bar at happy hour.

                              B's happy hour is also great.

                              1. re: Windy

                                I tried Little Skillet yesterday and thought it was great, although I'd skip the biscuit. I tried a bite of someone's waffle and really wanted one -- next time!!! I got the 2 pieces of fried chicken and, surprisingly, they let me have all white meat for same price. They even asked if I wanted 2 breasts or 1 breast/1wing -- I chose the 2 breasts and they were not tiny -- hot and delicious. I got french fries for the side but potato salad looked good.

                                Farmerbrown's Little Skillet
                                330 Ritch Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                            2. No great discoveries in June, but one delicious pizza.

                              First stop was Shiki Sushi on 3rd. I got a combo nigiri and grilled saba, which wasn't bad and well priced at $8.95 or maybe 9.95. Rude order taker, although her sweet replacement came in and almost made up for it. They charge for green tea. Given a choice, I'd probably walk to Sanraku in the Metreon, but the sushi was better than expected.

                              Brickhouse Cafe aka the surly burger joint. A place I really wanted to like, but defied me at every turn. The place was empty, yet my medium rare burger took 20 minutes. It was served with ruined/frozen iceberg lettuce and a tomato that needed a worm cut out. The roll was cold, but I was given a steak knife and no fork. So much for priding themselves on their burgers.

                              This could be a great wifi cafe for the 'hood. Plus they have a full bar, if you need a cocktail at 11 a.m., or 2. Salads looked good and at $7-9 are well priced. They serve real breakfast. And yet I couldn't help feeling they need to...grow up. It's a service business, not a social club.

                              Brickhouse is in stark contrast to Epicenter, a hip looking place I was prepared to hate, where the barristas with the five roasts of beans can't do enough for you, and empanadas and sandwiches are assembled with great care.

                              Moe's. I had an awful burger. The regular burgers are huge, and I didn't want to spend $10 for a giant burger and fries and then have to work all afternoon, so I got a kid's meal, still at least 1/4 pound and $6.96 including fries. Asked for it medium rare, was told it only came well done, extra annoying because they're cooked to order. This was served without lettuce and onion, because I guess kids don't like lettuce and onions. Great mustard selection, and a fine roll.

                              Also good luck escaping from the Zeum maze. I walked in circles (literally--there's a hedge maze near the playground), trying to get back to work before my burger and fries wilted.

                              Chavo's - heavy, not cheap Mexican. I had two awful tacos, one carnitas, one carne asada with leaden beans and stale chips for about $11 including an agua fresca, self-serve. Maya to go was cheaper, and better.

                              And the winner is...Pazzia, by a mile. Excellent thin crust pizza, half wrapped expertly (did you know there's a right way to wrap pizza in foil?) and even better reheated on the oven racks the next day. I got a Neapolitan, and didn't like the anchovies, but the sauce and crust were awfully good. Pizzas run $11-12 and are big enough to share. This is a better place to eat with someone, so you can share pizza and a salad.

                              They're expanding next door. And service is lovely, even though I walked in at 2:25 just as they were ending lunch service. I can't wait to return. Any pastas to recommend?

                              I did have a great garlic naan at Chaat Cafe, which has added a daily $5 special to compete with Mehfill (my new favorite takeout). The seek kabobs at Chaat were too spicy for me, but I like the samosas with mint chutney and yogurt appetizer, and the sauces in general.

                              Earth Island Farmer's Market continues to evolve. When I walked through yesterday, it was filled with conventioneers. The prepared food people seem to doing more business than the green grocers, which is not too surprising. And there was only one bakery.

                              Shiki Japanese Restaurant
                              251 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Windy

                                Pazzia does have a great pizza - especially the crust and sauce. It is pricey, though ($13 for margarita that is not big enough to share). The pasta is hit or miss. The last time there I had a seafood linguine with grossly overcooked shrimp and average pasta (I still can't tell the difference between dry and homemade pasta but I would bet this was not made in house). I"ve never been for lunch, only dinner.

                                1. re: Bprecie

                                  Thanks, good advice. Homemade pasta generally requires only a minute or two to cook, so it's easily ruined by a wrinkle in the kitchen or a busy server.

                                  Orson's offering pizza at lunch time now, but I haven't been in a hurry to try them.

                                2. re: Windy

                                  Try the street food options at Chaat - cheap, filling and very unusual. I particularly like the potato cake with garbanzo beans. These are much better to eat in than to take out.

                                3. I walked into the Hotel Utah. "Haven't seen you in a while," the woman behind the bar said. It had been at least five years, but nothing has changed. The fries are still great. Medium burgers are still severely undercooked. The atmosphere's better after a pint, which I wasn't having at lunch. A San Francisco original, where it's always 1978, but maybe not the best use of $14.

                                  Takeout dim sum from Canton Deli on Hawthorne Lane was cheap and reasonably fresh. It was replenished several times from Canton Restaurant, the parent kitchen around the corner, while I ate. Not the best siu mai or har gow in town, but fine for the price, or those of us craving Chinese food at 3rd and Harrison. Dreadful custard tart, cheerful ladies serving.

                                  We had catered sandwiches from wichcraft for a retreat. I chose pulled pork with pickled red cabbage. Nothing about this was good. The dense tasteless roll, the meat, the egg salad? layer. Even a delectable-looking chocolate sandwich cookie had no redeeming qualities. In an era of $9 sandwiches, it's good to get the basics right. Do they fly them in from nyc?

                                  I managed to hit the Educated Palate, City College's restaurant, before it shut prematurely for the summer as a result of budget cuts. It was a nice menu, and the meat on my Reuben was a hefty serving. Fries were cold, and after a giant portion of meat, I'd have preferred salad. Desserts looked great.

                                  You can't help but feeling you're doing a public service eating there. By which I mean my server was extremely inept. Well intentioned, but in need of a lot more practice, at everything from refilling the iced tea to checking on my sandwich. Otherwise she'll be coming to a restaurant near you, flustered and ill at ease. Her supervisor came by to make sure those of us in the dining room had what we needed. Apparently food is prepared downstairs and sent up by dumb waiter. They reopen in September, if all goes well. Help us all out and eat there if they do.

                                  Finally, I decided to try the pastrami at Subway on Folsom and 3rd. This isn't Katz's but it wasn't half bad on a 9-grain roll, made to order with pickled peppers and mustard. $5.25 plus a giant drink. Fast food well-prepared is preferable to atrocious yuppie sandwiches, coasting on their east coast reputation.

                                  On the way back, I grabbed a huge small cappuccino at Coffee Choice, on the corner of 3rd and Folsom. Bitterer roast than I prefer, but perfect foam, good prices, excellent fast service. They also have Lindsey's teas and giant cookies for $1. Thumbs up. It only looks like a chain.

                                  Has anyone tried La Bricola, the new place that opened on 3rd where Ruby's used to be? Looks good, but more in the $15+ range.

                                  868 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                  Canton Dim Sum & Seafood
                                  655 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                  Hotel Utah Saloon
                                  500 4th St, San Francisco, CA

                                  Educated Palate
                                  88 4th St, San Francisco, CA

                                  Coffee Choice
                                  300 Third Street, San Francisco, CA

                                  1. I haven't seen any sandwiches on a cart at Orson, but have been there twice for lunch. It's reasonably priced and very good. My favorite is the fried chicken sandwich, followed by the burger. You may want to add this to your list, although lunch at Orson is more like $15.

                                    Also, Ironside opened recently and is good (I haven't checked to see if a post already exists). They have interesting hot sandwiches (served with a small pile of salad), pizzas, and soups. So far I've tried the snapper sandwich, which had small but well appreciated kick, the cheesesteak, which is more like a cuban beef sandwich, flammenkuchen - no comment since this is the only version I've tried. New sentence. The clam chowder was fine but I wished it were clammier. And the quinoa salad was great mainly because of the cucumber/mint/citrus/red onion topping. Sandwiches average $10, salads and soup are a few dollars less.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: felice

                                      Thanks. I hadn't heard of Ironside. I keep meaning to update this, but that would require more than takeout from the salad bar at Whole Foods.

                                      A while back, Felice and I went to South Park Cafe, which was cheaper than I remembered and more self-serve at lunch. We shared a steak sandwich and the excellent if overdressed pig salad with apples and shallots. Unfortunately their fryer was broken so we didn't gen any of their fries. And the citron presse is now just another lemonade. Go to Ti Couz for the real citron presse.

                                      I finally checked out Rainbow Way on 3rd, a karaoke bar turned Vietnamese restaurant, with decor to match and photos of pho on the sign boards. I got rice noodles with pork and imperial roll, my standard. It's funky, cheap, and friendly, with a full bar. Thumbs up.

                                      Melissa and I also hit Zuppa's fab happy hour, with 50-cent oysters (a dozen per person limit), $5 margaritas (so so), and delicious flatbread. Lots of other bar snacks and discounted wines. It was packed on a Thursday by the time we left.

                                      1. re: Windy

                                        fifty cent oysters...hmmm....is this every week night?

                                        564 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                      2. re: felice

                                        felice and I and two of her co-workers recently checked out La Bricola. This is a beautiful space, and the lunch menu provides good value, with most items under $10. Still it comes to closer to $15 with tip.

                                        Real service, including bread and water filled.

                                        My pasta with ragu was okay; for some reason they added Bechamel, and when I reheated the leftovers, it was like paste. It was a huge portion, and I'd have preferred fewer noodles with a salad.

                                        I had a bite of the gnocchi (very creamy but fluffy---not leaden as gnocchi can be) and the delicious veal special of the day, which came with steamed vegetables. Felice's mozzarella and prosciutto sandwich was tasty, but too much bread to filling ratio.

                                        Definitely worth checking out for a nice lunch out, or for dinner.

                                        Anyone else eaten here?

                                        La Briciola
                                        489 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                        1. re: Windy

                                          Oh, the old Ruby's / Vino e Cucina. I always liked that space. They got rid of the giant tomato?

                                          1. re: wolfe

                                            Yeah, I liked that tomato too. Not that I ever ate at Vino e Cucina, but I have fond memories of Ruby's.

                                            It's much nicer inside than it looks from the street.

                                      3. I had a perfect lamb gyro at Island Earth Farmer's Market in the Metreon this week, from the stand by the entrance. It was a late lunch and a lot of the vendors had closed up. $5, fresh ripe tomato, cucumber, yogurt, hot sauce. Big thumbs up, and portable if you're headed to the movies upstairs.

                                        Any word on the Argentine empanadas? They looked good.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: Windy

                                          The empanada stand is El Porteño . . . I posted about it at some time, can't find it now.

                                          ETA: here's the post, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5916...

                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                            Great, thanks. Yes, we were discussing empanada styles last night at Inka's, and this came up. Will report back--El Porteño sounds like a style I might like versus the deep-fried variety.

                                            Does anyone remember the Peruvian empanada place at Shattuck and University many years ago, and what it was called? I think where Zatar is today. They had beef empanadas dusted with sugar and served with a lime.

                                            Inkas Restaurant
                                            3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                            1981 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                Sounds like we need to organize an empanada and salteña crawl.

                                                1. re: Windy

                                                  The only place I know that has saltenas in the City is Pena Pachamama in North Beach. I've never been there, so I can't vouch for them.
                                                  http://pachamamacenter.org/?key=food Otherwise, I could bring some up from L.A. next time I go (I go quite a bit - family) and we could arrange a tasting at someone's home? they'd have to be baked. We live in a tiny studio so I'm afraid I can't offer up my place, but I'm happy to do the run....

                                                  Pena Pachamama
                                                  1630 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                    That sounds fun, and we may have a few home empanada makers too,

                                                    Let's use the Inka's evite/SF chowdown Yahoo list to brainstorm more details.

                                                    Inkas Restaurant
                                                    3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                              One of their empanadas was one of the better things I ate at the Eat Real event.


                                          2. Thirsty Bear does $8 lunch specials Mon - Fri.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jbsirkin

                                              Oh cool. We'll have to check it out.

                                            2. Probably way too pricy but have you ever checked out Vitrane?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: rworange

                                                I haven't, although I was tempted to try it during DAT (they usually have lunch weekdays only at Vitrine).

                                                I did go to the lovely SF MoMA rooftop garden and cafe one afternoon with a friend who's a member. As promised Blue Bottle coffee and a fine assorted plate of cookies, lots of cozy places to sit in sun and shade plus wifi. And art.

                                                Fortunately/unfortunately they serve everything on Heath plates, which meant I couldn't bring coffee back to a coworker as promised.

                                                Blue Bottle
                                                151 Third St, San Francisco, CA

                                                1. re: Windy

                                                  Isn't that rooftop garden all that and a bag of chips? I think I like BB's new MOMA blend even better than their Hayes Valley (my former favourite -- I was told the MOMA is the same blend minus one bean though I couldn't find it on their website). Since we don't have a membership, I guess I won't be trying it too often :-).

                                              2. A few final notes as I bid goodbye to my sunny SOMA office:

                                                Ruchi opened a couple of months ago in the Naan and Chutney space on 3rd and Bryant. It's pretty good, with more dishes made to order and friendly service. Entrees are $7-11 with free chai while you wait.

                                                I've had the so-so dosas and a decent fish thali in tamarind sauce. A welcome addition to the neighborhood, with a much lighter hand with sauces than Chaat Cafe. The dining room is cleaner and nicer than I remembered from Naan and Chutney.

                                                Dartealing Lounge on the same block of 3rd looks like a boutique of charming girlie knickknacks and is one. We made a reservation for 5 but when we arrived, despite having only two parties seated, they were too flustered to take us. We were eventually seated but not given tea for some time.

                                                The food is charming, if you have $25 and two hours to spend for lunch. (There are lunch specials for $9--a sandwich with salad, which seemed beside the point of the place.) The tea tends toward flowery and frilly. We each got an enormous pot with mismatched antique cups.

                                                I liked my Darjeeling quite a bit, but was put off by the rose Earl Grey, like a walk by the perfume counter.

                                                We each got tea sandwiches with a pot of tea and scones, one of the more elaborate menus. Sandwiches include roast beef, cheddar, fried fish!, curried chicken, and of course cucumber. These were good, although serves on regular bread in squares, and a few of ours were left off.

                                                I liked the scones and clotted cream. The scones were small and delicate, the perfect size. Lemon curd did not seem house made. We also tried a few lovely butter cookies.

                                                Leftovers were gift wrapped by the charming owner. I wish them luck, especially in figuring out how to become a real restaurant.

                                                I stopped in at the Creamery one day while taking the bus south. The kitchen shuts down at 4, even though they were open. I got a kind of stale savory scone for $2.50 from a disinterested server who pointed toward a case of unappealing readymade food. It's a nice looking place, but not very motivated to return. At least at Starbucks (a block away inside the Wells Fargo), they're friendly while reheating your quasi egg mcmuffin.

                                                Osha has opened a branch on the corner of 3rd and Folsom. Although they have lunch prices, they seem to be $11-13 each before tax and tip so not in my budget. Doing a booming convention business though.

                                                Looking forward to a month of lunches closer to home and near my new clients.

                                                The Creamery
                                                685 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                                1. Was having lunch with one of my old co-workers and stopped in at Darwin Cafe. What a gem! A thoughtful assortment of sandwiches for $9, plus salads, an odd croissant, and wines by the glass.

                                                  We shared the eggplant & mozzerella and the roast beef, both prepared to order. I also had a cappuccino (made with de la Paz beans), which I found a little light for my taste.

                                                  Warm, friendly service without attitude. (Is this really SOMA?) No wonder there's a line out the door.

                                                  Has anyone tried their happy hour charcuterie and cheese plates?

                                                  I also noticed a new Ethiopian restaurant called Moya on my way down Folsom. Open for lunch, which could be handy. Any reports?

                                                  1044 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                  Darwin Cafe
                                                  212 Ritch St, San Francisco, CA 94107