He loves Taco Bell... I'm hoping for a bit more
My husband thinks that the best food is Taco Bell, Kraft Mac& Cheese and Outback. And while some of that isn't bad, I'm hoping for a little bit more during our SF trip (vacations being one of the few times he is forced into being adventurous). So can you please help me satisfy both of us?
We are big folks, who like large portions. :) The cheaper it is, the happier I am. We are vacationing, but most of the cash went for activities, so I need most of the meals to be $25 or less for the two of us. However, there is a little wiggle room for a $50 meal or two. We don't have to do app, entree and dessert- just an entree is fine so long as its filling. And we don't drink with dinner usually.
We love seafood (he esp loves Dungeness Crab), BBQ, burgers, Mexican and steak. He doesn't like Italian, pizza, sandwiches or veggies.
We won't have a car while in SF, so everything needs to be within a few blocks of the Muni/Bart. And in a decent area of town (the Tenderloin scares me).
Our schedule is as follows:
Sat 8/8 Giants game at 12:45
Fisherman's Wharf (yes, I know)
Sun 8/9 Muir woods in the morning
North Beach (Coit, Lombardi, etc)
Mon 8/10 (will have car this day)
Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Lunch and Dinner?
Ferry Building with Lunch at Farmer's Market
Bay Quakers Tour
12:45pm Giants game
Slumber Party at AT&T park
Options I'm considering so far include: Louisiana Fried Chicken/Happy Donuts, Joe's Cable Car, South Park Cafe and Tadich.
Thank you so much for all your help! Courtney
Are these price points with or without drinks?
And if the Tenderloin is scary, how do you feel about the Mission?
Lunch before the Giants game: Primo Patio - cuban / carribean, jerk chicken, snaps&fries and lots more. A family fav.
Lunch in N.Beach: Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store. Great cafe, lots of atmosphere.
Santa Cruz: Brutal. I got nothin for ya. Get ye away from the boardwalk! You can probably get a decent burger in the downtown pedestrian mall/street. But I'd be interested in what others say.
The price points are without drinks. And I'm okay with the Mission, we've been there before and it was fine. I'm from Arizona, crummy Mexican joints are our thing. :)
Just had a bad experience staying at a seedy hotel in the Tenderloin once, and then another trying to walk to AsiaSF from around the Capitol another time that made me leery of SF after dark. Ended up going to AsiaSF the next time, but made sure to get there while it was light and took a cab back!
OK, for Mexican our long-time family fav is Puerto Allegre on Valencia. Nothing mind blowing about the food, but the atmosphere is great and it fits the budget. Numerous good taco options near 24th & Mission BART - Tacqueria San Jose is right there.
And for a only-in-San-Francisco dinner option, check out Mission Street Food on Saturday night. They are only open Thursday & Saturday nights and the menu changes every time - they post it blog-style on their site which you'll probably want to check before going since sometimes it get's out there -- for instance, a few Saturdays back the menu was "Mission Stoned Food" he he he... Just tell him he gets to eat Pringles and don't mention the foie french onion dip! (Not that it will be on the menu when you're there.) $5 corkage, so BYO. The tab will probably land between $25 and $50. Totally unique and highly recommended.
Maybe $20 is a lot for a burger, but Epic Roasthouse has the most delicious burger I have had in along time and they have a burger, beer, brownie deal for $20.
The location is great since you sit in the bar area and have a view of the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge. The burger is huge and the fries are good thick-cut fries. You can also substitute a soda or iced tea for the beer, although they will not adjust the price. The only catch is that you have to be there before 5:00 pm to place your order. Also, if you like your meat medium then say rare-medium since I think they might overcook the burgers a bit, but they are still juicy.
For the same price you will dine at Joe's and Joe's Cable Car is not worth the trek on a bus or BART + bus to the Excelsior.
Near the ballpark, consider Primo Patio, jerk bbq chicken and a patio. South Park Cafe is nice, but may be above your budget. I don't recommend LFC/HD for a vacation meal (its ok if you're desperate), although some donuts to take into the park aren't a bad idea. Grabbing a brat at the game is my normal plan as a seasonticketholder. There is also Red's for basic burgers, joe, breakfast and a great view.
Reds Java House is a good idea for a basic burger near the ball park.
Pier 23 Cafe is kinda similar but with a full bar. It's on the Embarcadero closer to the Warf.
For more of a splurge, go to Tadich for an old-school seafood meal -- crab or sole.
You could trying a place in Chinatown -- Hunan Homes is an old stand-by of mine.
And you can get some nice family style Italian in North Beach -- Capp's Corner is a good example.
Hunan Homes Restaurant
622 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133
240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111
1600 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Reds Java House
30 San Pier, Francisco, CA
Pier 23 Cafe
The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111
I would strongly discourage Joe's Cable Car. Burgers, fries, shakes, tax, & tip will set you back over $50 and it will be a trek to get to.
Louisiana Chicken = Popeye's+-, and the location on 6th is not considered decent. Not bad food, but not really not anything to look forward to.
Most entrees at Tadich are in the $20-$25, so it will be tough to get out for under $50, but it is great spot for out-of-towners, IMO.
I second the rec for Primo Patio near the ball park.
For a blue collar burger under the bay bridge, you might try Red's Java House.
The best way to enjoy SF on the cheap is to go ethnic, especially Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Burmese, Peruvian, and lately Yucatan. If you guys are up for that, you'll probably get more rec's than you can bargain for!
re: Civil Bear
I don't know if I could get him into an ethnic restaurant... but if I did, it would have to be one that is easily accessible to everyone. We did see Yank Sing featured on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" and their menu looked good to me. I know it would add up quickly though. And having walked through Chinatown twice now, I'm not sure there its worth another trip.
One type of "exotic" fare he does love is teppanyaki style Japanese cooking (and even he has the good taste to shun Benihana). So that would be a go regardless of price if there is a great option.
I really wouldn't worry about any accessibility issues. San Francisco is extremely multi-cultural and you shouldn't look out of place at any restaurant unless you are wearing shorts in the fog. As far as the food, some can be pretty spicy by mid-western standards, but the food is hardly challenging. For instance many (if not most at lunchtime) Vietnamese and Thai dishes come with your choice of chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp. If you haven't had a chance to explore southeast Asian cuisine, San Francisco would provide a great opportunity. And you can eat well for cheap!
I think Joe's Cable Car is too far out of your way. It's really on the other side of town.
Joe's Cable Car
4320 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112
A couple suggestions for you:
Sat dinner--since you are already going to be at Fisherman's Wharf, try Scoma's. It will likely hit at around your $50 limit, especially if you have drinks, but it is right on the wharf, has a nice old-fashioned (though somewhat ragged) decor and atmosphere, and their seafood is great if you stick to the simple preparations. Otherwise, this would be a great night for Tadich, better than Scoma's, but maybe pricier (I could be wrong). Tadich's cocktails definitely beat Scoma's, hands down.
I second the suggestion for In-N-Out--assuming you are from an area where you do not have In-N-Out, that is--it is cheap and filling and uniquely Californian.
Sunday, if you have not had your fill of seafood, try Fish in Sausalito. It is right on the water (though not on the main drag), and though it is a sort of high-end version of an old-fashioned fish shack, the food is delicious and the menu goes beyond what you would find at Fisherman's Wharf.
Since your husband doesn't like Italian food, I am not sure of a good recommendation for Sunday night in North Beach. If he likes pizza, then definitely try Tommasso's. Otherwise, for something a little more adventurous, try The House, sort of Asian fusion, right on Grant Avenue. Or maybe head on into Chinatown for some non-fusion.
Monday, you can have lunch in Santa Cruz on the Wharf, assuming you still have not had your fill of seafood! We used to go to Gilda's when I was a kid, though I can't really vouch for it now--old-fashioned mix of seafood and Italian, as I recall. But for something cheaper, you can go to one of the take-out stands on the Wharf for some fried or raw seafood (my mom and I always get a couple oysters and a beer) and then sit on a bench and watch the action on the water. For dinner, you can head downtown to Pacific Avenue. On the cheap side, there is Taqueria Vallarta--great tacos and a generous salsa bar. Slightly higher up on the price scale is El Palomar, where you can get a combo plate for around $15 or less. They also have a huge selection of margaritas (if you like something other than the standard rocks version) and a variety of tequilas .
Wednesday before the Giants game, try the burritos or tacos from Maya Taqueria on 2nd Street. This is a high-end Mexican restaurant, but during the week, they sell tacos and burritos from the bar area. There is a small area to dine-in, but most people take it to go. It is nice to bring on of their still-hot burritos into Giants park before a game--your seat neighbors will be envious. Another good bet, though they have more room to sit down, is Mexico au Parc, in South Park, also right near 2nd Street on the way to the ballpark. This place has a larger variety, as well as a staff that is less likely to fall apart when the place gets crowded. Also, a generous taco bar, and you can take your lunch out to the grassy park across the street.
I hope these are helpful. Enjoy your trip!
I also second the rec for Red's Java House.
303 2nd St., San Francisco, CA 94107
1230 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Scoma's Fisherman's Wharf
47 Pier 45, San Francisco, CA 94133
350 Harbor Dr, Sausalito, CA 94965
Mexico Au Parc
24 S Park St, San Francisco, CA 94107
I'm pretty certain that Scoma's is considerably more expensive than Tadich, but I do believe they have a reasonable prixe-fixe meal at lunchtime (around $25).
I also wouldn't recommend Fish in Sausalito unless the OP considers $22 for self-served fish & chips eaten at a picnic table a reasonable deal.
Talk about champagne taste on a beer budget! Seafood, steak, and sushi at $25 for two!? Mexican and burgers, yes, but your other favorites are well out of your price range (and even pushing it at $50 for two, if you are including tax and tip in your cost estimates).
On 8/9 you should, in order to avoid Italian, head into Chinatown. There are a few good restaurants there. They can be spendy if you focus on seafood from the live tanks, but this is not necessary. Servings are generally quite generous, and though there are more adventurous items on the menu, they'll still have plenty of food that is not challenging at all. If I were you I would go to Great Eastern. Order the honey glazed barbecue pork (no controversy there) to start for $9.50, chow mein or chow fun for $9.50, and a single beef or chicken dish for $10.50. This will be more than enough food, it will be good quality in a nice room, and it will come in under $40 inc. tax and tip. You could go cheaper by skipping the barbecue starter, but it's really tasty.
On 8/10 at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, I would walk across the street to the Falafel Hut for lunch. It's not great, in fact it's a bit weird (and located in a not remodeled at all former "ye olde" fish and chips shop). It will, however, meet your burger needs and give you some other grilled options. I have no clue for dinner. I would probably stop somewhere on the way back to the City. Here is a thread that covers many of your options convenient to the ride back: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/608206
I know its a tight budget. But sometimes there are those fish shacks where you can get a delicious fresh fried shrimp baskets for $9.99- and those are the places we want to go. We aren't big on atmosphere, and he orders fries as his side dish no matter what the other options, so I'm hoping if I sacrifice on everything but a good entree, I can make it work.
And there is likely more wiggle room than I'm allowing on meals, but I wanted to challenge you hounds. :)
I don't know what kind of city you think you're in, but there are no "fish shacks". The only thing like that has been recommended - Red's Java Shack. There you can get a patty melt and sysco onion rings for your your twenty - and a nice view, if you sit outside. Taylor's refresher might be able to get you out the door for $20 - In n Out with a better view. Mel's is a step up from Taco Bell but I don't know if you can really get out for $20.
To get out of a restaurant for $20 for two the entrees have to be about $7. There are very few filling $7 places, if you're going to throw out "ethnic" (asian + european, apparently). You've got all the burrito joints, which you already know about. Pakwan in the Mission you can get a biryani plate for $7, but curries are $8 and you'll want nan for $1.50 and now you're over $20. I don't know if indian is "ethnic".
Here are some local-mini-chain burger places:
Mo's Grill (basic burger and fries: $10.50 - north beach)
Burgermeister (several locations)
BurgerJoint (mission and elsewhere - $8.50, strong grill char taste)
Barney's (several locations - wide menu, burgers not as well loved as the above)
These are all counter/sit down, and all award winning. I have listed them according to my personal taste in burgers. You can get out of each of them for *around* $20, like maybe $25 to $28, or $20 for the most basic burgers, water only, and skimping on tip.
A fun, higher end option would be Monk's Kette - but the burgers there are $13. Tack on $2.50 for fries. And the only reason for going would be to have a beer, and a mid-range pint is $5. it's $20 for *one*, which is more like what most dining is in SF.
Steak? Sushi? Crab? Right.
Monk's Kettle over La Trappe in North Beach? La Trappe has better food, a much more comfortable atmosphere, and a better selection of beers that are less expensive than Monk's. La Trappe makes great burgers and their frites are awesome. If you haven't been, go check it out, especially since they are pouring Russian River Temptation right now for $6.
La Trappe is better.
Oh, one thing for the OP. Your coy little "I could spend a little more" - I think you're better off asking for exactly what you want. If you want $10/pp american places, fine. If you really want something different, you should ask for it.
And, there's no such thing as local shrimp in san francisco.
true enough, but they are tough to find and pricey. Though wouldn't it be great if there was a little shack near the ballpark where one could get fried spot prawns and fries to go for around $10?
I'd take him to Poc Chuc in the Mission. Walkable from BART, in the right price point, generous portions, delicious food. It is Yucatecan, but hey, just tell him it is Mexican (which is not a lie) and let him find something he likes on the menu.
2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
True, the spot prawns. Between $10 and $20 (and up) per pound retail when in season. The BC fishery predominates, although you can get 'em at the Berkeley farmer's market - and often used for amaebi. Season just wrapping up.
It's true, when someone says "shrimp in a basket for $9.95" my mind didn't jump to those delicious spot prawns. My mistake.
My wife and I just back from a recent trip to Santa Cruz. For lunch I recommend you go just south of Santa Cruz to Gayle's in Capitola. Great place with really good sandwiches, salads, and baked goods. I found this place via CH and we ended up going twice for lunch.
For dinner, I also like Taqueria Vallarta. Nothing fancy, but they serve really good tacos at affordable prices.
If you like Greek food, I recommend Vasili's Greek Restaurant. Really good food and good portions.
Don't forget to stop at Marianne's for ice cream before you leave.
You could try the daily sushi happy hour at Chaya brasserie. I assume you're allowed to sit in the bar area without drinking. There's a nice view of the bay bridge from there. You say you're big eaters... You won't be able to get a lot of sushi at 5.25 a roll, but it's still a good deal and there are other seafood options on the happy hour menu and even fries, should your husband fancy them with his sushi.
If you are driving to Muir Woods in the am, try the Dipsea Cafe in Mill Valley for lunch. Its on Route One, on the way back to the GG Bridge, with indoor and outdoor seating on a pretty creek (its egret season, so you may get some sightings.) The food is good, well priced and portions are plentiful. They serve breakfast/brunch and lunch with an extensive menu and lots of daily specials. You'll go a bit over your $25 for two limit, but not by much. Menu items average about $12-13 but come with sides, including your husband's beloved fries. If you drive into downtown Mill Valley (a very pretty little town) Phyllis'(sp?) has really good burgers, with lots of burger choices, great fries and onion rings and definitely within your budget. Avatar's Burritos, also in dt MV is an Indian take on burritos/wraps, very tasty, within your budget and at least to me, not very exotic. Not much else in MV in your price range tho.
Instead of Fisherman's Wharf I recommend walking south to North Beach. There are cheap non-Italian options there like Mo's Burgers, bare bones Il Pollaio (rotisserie chicken), and (I haven't been to this one), Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store for sandwiches. (Another great deli - no seating though except for a table outside) is Molinari's.) Note that all my suggestions are a half mile (nice walk down Columbus) south of Fisherman's Wharf. I'm sure there are places farther north in North Beach as well.
If you're going to Fisherman's Wharf, definitely check out Musee Mecanique, a free museum devoted to arcade games from about 1880-1930 (plus some old school video games).
Another North Beach suggestion is The House. My in-laws request it when they go, and the four of us all get the same thing - the grilled sea bass with garlic ginger soy and comes with sesame noodles and garlic green beans (a complete meal for $25 - perhaps this could be your splurge meal). The House is Asian fusion and there are a lot of posts on this board on what to order there (entrees are $17-$25). Almost every dish has a good review; however, I recommend getting dessert elsewhere.
You could do lunch at Mijita (see board for what to order; I like the quesadilla; many like the albondigas) or at Delica rf-1 (sort of a Japanese deli).
If you were going to be in the Inner Sunset (or Golden Gate Park) or the Castro I'd definitely recommend Park Chow or Chow. Lots of great food, lots of options (great burgers, Thai noodles, bruschetta, chocolate cake), and cheap!
1230 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
373 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
1238 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
215 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store and Cafe
566 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
1 Ferry Bldg, San Francisco, CA
1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94111
555 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
I bet he would like Red's Java House on Embarcadero at Bryant St which is 15 min walk north of the ballpark along the water. Burgers. You can sit outside in back. South Park Cafe might be above budget. Go early to Tadich or you have to wait. I hope you have a super time.
>We love ... BBQ<
Our best barbecue (in my opinion) is Memphis Minnie's in SF. I've had a lot of barbecue in Kansas City and some in Texas, and I'd put MM up against most of them. It's in a funky but safe (everyone goes there) neighborhood.
Memphis Minnie's BBQ
576 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Skip Joe's and South Park Cafe with your budget....
...I'll take a stab at some suggestions though.
La Corneta - for crispy tacos, and the big shell tostadas. Really everything on the menu is good. Maybe not the very best SF offers, but It's clean, it's brightly lit, and safe for a Taco Bell lover.
While in the Mission you can sample some other Mexican food, and check out Dynamo Donuts, and Humphrey Slocombe (one cup is big enough to share if you're on a budget and you like each other). Bob's Donuts after 10pm is a fresher more hand made alternative to Happy Donut.
Burgermiester for burgers. You can go upscale at Nopa, or Spruce for around $13 per burger w/ friens
Pork Buns, and Egg Custard tarts at Golden Gate bakery in Chinatown.
Brunch/Lunch in North Beach would be the standard Mama's suggestion, especially if you're avoiding Italian food and sandwiches.
Lunch near the ballpark - Little Skillet is a lunch window with inventive bbq and Southern. It's near South Park. Also in South Park but maybe out of your comfort zone is the Butler and the Chef is a casual French bistro where the quiche is impressive, and their Croque Monsieur is excellent.
For really good Mac n' Cheese and other comfort food, there's Blue on Market St. You can take one of the historical trollies. It's a odd place, in my experience and it's in one of San Francisco's more colorful neighborhoods. Another choice, nearby is Chow. Expect good variety to suit a lot of different tastes. It's a local standard just because it serves as a utility hitter. Another idea if you feel like a real casual modernized Hofbrau setting, is Plutos, specifically for their full course Turkey dinner with all the trimmings. One final option for eclectic comfort food is Kezar, a pub with good potato pancakes, and sausage. I'm not sure if they've raised their prices though.
Let us know if you're need suggestions for anything more specific.
While Tadich is certainly recommended, if you wanted another seafood place to consider that is good and at a lower price point, how about Woodhouse Fish. Haven't been to their new and larger location, but we quite enjoy the Market St. one and it was a hit with friends from Chicago who are themselves owners of a very popular Chicago bar/restaurant. Good basic seafood at an affordable price.
On your trip down to Santa Cruz, take Rt 1 and stop at Barbara's Fish Trap in Princeton a couple of miles north of Half Moon Bay. This is as close as you're going to get to that fish shack you're looking for. Big portions, good stuff, casual, and not overwhelmingly expensive.
Head to the Mission and have a burrito early in your visit. Because if you like taco bell you will really like mission burritos and you will want to come back and have another. They can be a little intimidating the first time but all you need to do is say "super burrito with carne asada, please". You'll get two pounds of rice, beans, and hunks of steak wrapped in a big tortilla for about $6. Everybody has their favorite place and every place is somebody's favorite so just go anywhere. La Cumbre, San Jose, Can-Cun, and El Farolito are my regulars and all no more than a couple of blocks from BART.
You might want to look for posts here and in other places for Happy Hour promotions, dolar oyster places etc. It seems like many places are doing loss leaders on food items, and not just cheap fried things to get people in the seats. Financial District has many places close to BART stations. Japan Town has some good cheaper places for seafood and is a fun place to walk around. SF Gate has a link to their Bargain Bites feature which has had a wide range of establishments.