HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Good eats in and around the Portola District of SF?

Hi all, I will likely be moving to San Francisco from Emeryville in a couple weeks, but I have no idea what kind of food is around the neighborhood aside from Joe's Cablecar, which is a massive ripoff.

I'll be living in "University Mound" which is technically in the Portola District. Any suggestions are welcome. I like pretty much all food, but a good taqueria, pho place, and (reasonably priced) burger joint are good staples to have around. I already know I'm going to Roxie's for my sandwiches!

On a side note, I went to Lois the Pie Queen in Emeryville over the weekend on a tip from my cousin in Chico of all places. Wow, that place is a real gem! All the food was solid but the grits and biscuits were killer! I had the Reggie Jackson breakfast: 2 pork chops, 2 eggs, grits, 2 biscuits, and coffee or juice for like $14. The gf had fried chicken (2 pcs) and waffles, which was a couple bucks less. I can't believe I never heard of it in the 9 years or so I lived in Berkeley/Emeryville. It's got to be the area's best kept secret and I'm rather sad that I have to move away now!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The little Vietnamese cafe inside Pacific Super has surprisingly good espresso drinks, baked goods, sandwiches, and other snacks at very reasonable prices. The nearest pho place that I know of is on Ocean (next door to the 24 fitness) - but I always forget the name.

    Here's a small list of links to some favorites in that area.

    Rico Pan Bakery Salvadoreno
    3717 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Taqueria Guadalajara
    4798 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

    El Farolito
    4817 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

    Johnson's Barbeque
    2646 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134

    Beijing Restaurant
    1801 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94112

    Breakfast At Tiffany's
    2499 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134

    Carnitas Sandoval (CLOSED)
    3723 Mission St, San Francisco, CA

    Pacific Supermarket
    2900 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA

    Little Joe's Pizzeria
    5006 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

    5 Replies
    1. re: scarmoza

      Have you tried Jim Georgie's donuts?

      1. re: rworange

        I haven't tried Jim Georgie's. My mind has been closed to places that do both donuts and hamburgers for too long. I just read the yelp reviews of Jim Georgie's and am interested. I might even hit it today. I'll report back.

        1. re: scarmoza

          I think I found my new favorite greasy spoon. Mr. scarmoza and I went to Jim Georgie's for breakfast today and both left there very pleased with our 2 eggs any style + bacon + hashbrowns + toast breakfast. We also shared an old fashioned donut that was very good, too. (After being served nearly-burnt bacon twice this week at Toast, and truly burnt bacon at my dear St. Francis Fountain, it was delightful to have properly cooked bacon that was full of flavor. ) Hashbrowns, eggs, toast were as they should be, too!
          If coffee is important to you, have coffee from elsewhere. They serve Farmer Bros. I couldn't drink it but Mr. scarmoza was ok with it.

          I'm so very thankful you mentioned this place, rworange. Except for the coffee, it's exactly what I'm looking for when I'm feeling nostalgic and missing breakfast at my mom's. (My mom had a greasy spoon with a menu and style sooo similar to Jim Georgie's. She also served Farmer Bros coffee :)

          We look forward to trying more of their menu.

          1. re: scarmoza

            I love that it reminds you of your mom's place, all the way down to the coffee you can't drink!

            Jim Georgie's Donuts
            2462 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA

            1. re: scarmoza

              Cool. Looking foward to more reports ... and you got to celebrate National Donut Day (June 5th).

      2. Thanks for the report on Lois.

        In all the years I lived in SF, I never heard of University Mound despite living relatively close to it for a while.

        Anyway the good news is that you will be really near the Saturday Alamany farmers market.

        That seems actually closer to Glen Park than Portola, but I might be wrong. Given the Chow search is broken, here's the yelp search for that area.

        Gialina Pizzeria might be worth checking out. It has some negative reviews, but the overall impression I get is that it is good.

        Chenery Park gets lots of thumbs up.

        I like Destination Bakery. It holds its own against some of the better East Bay bakeries.

        La Ciccia has many, many fans.There's an Eggettes in that nabe.

        Near Joe's is Manila Oriental Market, a really decent largish Asian supermarket. Actually there's a lot of interesting places along that stretch of Mission.

        Hope you enjoy your new nabe and report back on your finds.

        Lois the Pie Queen
        851 60th St, Oakland, CA 94608

        6 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          Here's the google search of Places for Portola, but it picks up the street as well.


          1. re: rworange

            Googling "University Mound" I find an old lady's home nestled between San Bruno Ave and McClaren Park, so I'm assuming that's where the OP is located. In which case all the advice about Glen Park, Excelsior district, and OMI eateries is slightly off the mark. OP may end up venturing to those adjacent locales, but that's not what is being asked for.

            San Bruno Ave has undergone huge changes in recent years thanks to a major influx of Asian immigrants. I'm very interested to hear what hounds have found here recently. One place I'm curious about is Hoy Sun. A few posts on the bernalheightsparents list suggest it has decent, inexpensive dim sum. Been meaning to try it, but I'd love to hear what other hounds think.

            Years ago I had a great deli sandwich from some old-time institution located on San Bruno Ave. dating back to its Italian working class roots. I can't find any mention of it now. Anyone know what that was and are they still in business?

            1. re: BernalKC

              Actually, I did google it. It seemed that the nabes mentioned were just as close as Portola. The OP mentioned Joe's and certainly Glen Park is closer to that area than Joe's. That is what struck me about the post, because I couldn't imagine Joe's even in the same breath as Portola.

              Looking forward to to info about new San Bruno Ave eats.

              1. re: rworange

                University Mound is the reservoir located between University, Bowdoin, Woolsey, and Felton Streets. From there Joes is a bit more accessible than Glen Park, as it is just quick hop down Silver from University. Not to say Glen Park shouldn't be in the OP's repertoire though!

              2. re: BernalKC

                Armanino's was the deli - it's gone and has been replaced by Subway.

                1. re: BernalKC

                  University is about halfway between San Bruno Ave. and Mission on Silver. That's why I gave recs in both the Excelsior, which is bordered by Silver and Geneva, and the Portola district. I live in the Excelsior and often shop in Portola -- it's just a 5 minute ride from my house and about a 10 minute ride from Mission to San Bruno Ave if you drive on Silver Ave. Other areas that aren't too far from that area are Bayshore and Bernal Heights -- it's just a short ride up Cortland Ave. from Bayshore and then you hit the shopping part of the street with restaurants such as Little Nepal, Liberty Cafe, etc. And the outer Mission area around 30th St. also is pretty close and has lots of very good places.

              3. Not too far from there is a new place in the Excelsior called Broken Record that has received some buzz: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/601067

                Otherwise, other places in the Excelsior area are Roxie's for sandwiches, Chick-n-Coop for old-school roasted chicken, roast beef, etc (it's nothing fancy and not a "foodie" destination, but the food is decent and freshly made every day by a Greek family) and Pollo Supremo on Mission near Geneva. I haven't been in the Portola in ages, so I don't have any recs there. There used to be a deli called Armanino's that had great sandwiches, but it's now a Subway.
                You could also head north on Mission towards Cortland for pupusas at La Santaneca.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mari

                  I'm coming up empty search-wise because it doesn't work, but there is that deli next to Royal Bakery. Both are good stops in that area. There's a few good pupusa places in the Excelsior ... again ... no search so can't name them.

                2. On San Bruno Ave., I really like Red House Bakery, a Chinese-American Cafe, where you can find very good cha siu bao, dan tat, dry beef chow fun, cheap American-style breakfasts, etc.

                  Also on San Bruno Ave., I like Wing Hing for bbq meats, particularly their fresh roast pork.

                  On Ocean Ave., which isn't too far, Happy Bakery serves some of the best Chinese roast duck in SF. I also love their soy sauce chicken. Their rice plates are a real bargain.

                  You also aren't far from Glen Park, where you'll find the aforementioned Gialina, my favorite pizza place in SF, and Tyger's, a good breakfast place with (unfortunately) bad coffee, and Destination Baking, a wonderful bakery.

                  And, finally, in the nearby Excelsior, there's Guadalajara Taqueria, El Farolito Taqueria, Sorrento Delicatessen, the Salvadorean Panaderia on Persia just up the hill from Mission, and Manila Oriental Market (MOM's) on Mission just north of Silver. I also like El Chico Market on Mission at Brazil for Latin foods.

                  2842 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                  Manila Oriental Market
                  4175 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                  Sorrento Delicatessen
                  4763 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                  Destination Baking Co
                  598 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                  Wing Hing Restaurant
                  2550 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134

                  Happy Bakery
                  1548 Ocean Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112

                  Red House Bakery
                  2818 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA

                  Taqueria Guadalajara
                  4798 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                  El Farolito
                  4817 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                  2798 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                  El Chico Produce
                  4600 Mission St, San Francisco, CA

                  1. Sushi Raw, near Joe's Cable Car, is good for sushi and cooked dishes. It's not Sebo, but whatever is on their sushi specials has always been good.

                    Sushi Raw
                    4435 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                    1. I've been living there for a couple of years, so here's my take (although I won't be too sure of some of the names).
                      On San Bruno Ave...
                      Johnson's BBQ is hit and miss, but can satisfy a craving in a pinch.
                      Tiffany's is a good old school breakfast joint that serves decent honest food, but make sure you're not in a hurry because service can be dreadfully slow.
                      The Big Chinese place (Emerald Garden?") has decent and reasonable dim sum (limited selection) and nice people. Their dinners are also good but a bit pricey.
                      Most of the other Chinese places fall into the "mediocre" range but none I have tried are really bad. The Wing Hing Has tasty Chinese BBQ but the place is filthy. I kind of like ling ling cuisine cause it's just a little weird in there.
                      There's two Pho places; the one on the east side of the street is average and there's a new one called Cali pho nia, where zone 88 was next to the fire house, which I haven't tried yet but have heard some decent reviews.
                      Haven't tried the Taquerias but that's because I always just hop over to the excelsior to El Farolito.
                      The hawaiian BBq is decent for a quick take out.
                      We're still wating for Queens La. Poboys but I don't think that will ever open. There's the popular Hong Kong style place (Cafe T 2200?) that I have found just average... but they have a huge menu and they're very inexpensive. The excelcior district IS very close by and I definitely recommend the short trip over to Beijing Cuisine on Alemany and Ocean. Glen Park is a little further (about the same distance as Bernal Heights).

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: bdl

                        Good report bdl. I would just add that the pho place on the east side serves the northern version (no caramelized onions, star anis, basil, etc.) while cali-pho-nia serves the southern version (or do I have it backwards?).

                        Also, Tiffany serves one of the best cam chowders in the City on Fridays. But as you said, service is dreadfully slow.

                        There is a taqueria on the east side of San Bruno that serves horrible Mission style burritos and nachos and such, but has wonderful homemade specials each day of the week. The tortas are pretty good too. Cinco de Mayo is a more Mission style taqueria which is located next to Cali-pho-nia.

                        1. re: Civil Bear

                          How's the Old Clamhouse on Bayshore? That's not too far from San Bruno Ave. I haven't been there in many many years.

                          1. re: Mari

                            The last time I was there it was pretty bad.

                            1. re: Civil Bear

                              Can we get an ID on the pho place with the northern style? I'd love to try it.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Ugh, I cant remember the name of the taqueria it is next to either! I think it is "Pho 2000" or something. It is across the street from Wing Ling and the two other Chinese restaurants on that block.

                                1. re: Civil Bear

                                  From my past history in Vietnam Pho 2000 would be very very bad. Google gives a Pho Number 1‎ at 2571 San Bruno Ave. Number 1 is good.

                                  Pho #1
                                  2571 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134

                          2. Thanks to everyone for your input. Great starting point!

                            Melanie I just read your thread on Yats. I work at SFGH and am going there ASAP! I almost ate there once but it didn't exactly look like the kind of place you'd want to order food in, though the items on the menu looked appealing. Sweet, a new lunch place!

                            Any other suggestions within reasonable walking distance in that area? My coworker and I always either go to the corner liquor store across from the parking garage for sandwiches, which are surprisingly good with their fresh carved turkey, or El Farolito. Some little Thai place on 24th once in a while. I'm so excited to be adding a little variety to lunch. The options around SFGH are generally pretty terrible. Then again I think I've proven to be rather oblivious to great places that are right under my nose.

                            As for the little squabble over geography, I did say in or AROUND Portola. Maybe I should have specified that includes a short drive, though I think the reference to Joe's Cablecar was a clue. I just don't want to be driving 40 minutes to/from Western Addition for a decent burger or something.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: kimchee411

                              You can put Balompie #3 for papusas on your list as well.

                              Balompie Cafe No 3
                              3801 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              1. re: Calvinist

                                The pupusas are great at Balompie #3, but not what I would consider a quick lunch. They are made to order and they seem to take a while, but worth the wait if you have time.

                            2. I haven't been in a few years, but Bravo Pizza at geneva/mission has pizza and huge italian dishes.

                              1. Los Planes de Renderos, 12 Persia (just off Mission) for Salvadoran style tamales made with masa cocida. They have a full menu but the place is nothing special so I usually just order take out. The pupusas are good, too. Good cheap eats.