Gimme Your Local, Delicious, Divey Faves
The BF and I will be in SF for a long weekend tacked on to some business for me. I've been to SF many times, but this will be his first time. He is not at all interested in fancy, fussy or overly pricey dining. Here in Chicago, he's happy with fabulous pho, creative curry and magnificent Mexican -- the cheaper the better. So, I'm thinking I need your help for the down and dirty.
We're staying at the Harbor Court near the Ferry Building, but are proficient in public transit and are willing to travel. Ethnic is great! A dinner or fun breakfast place is good and a spectacular beer bar is required (the Hopleaf here in Chicago is the best!).
We'll be hitting Shalimar in the Tenderloin for Pakistani food, I love that place. The one possible "fancy" meal will be Nopa, which I've been to and am requiring a second visit. We'll also hit Blackbird in the Castro for drinks. Visited Contigo on my last visit and it was good, but won't be hitting it again. We don't have great sushi in Chicago (it's all soooo expensive and just eh). I'd love a good, hole in the wall sushi place. He doesn't love Thai but adores Vietnamese. Middle Eastern is good. Really good Mexican, not Tex-Mex. We like pretty much anything. Italian is probably not a necessity.
I'm talking dinners under $50 here (sans cocktails). I'm making this a little bit of a challenge for myself to complete. Give a gal a hand?
Thanks in advance!
560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117
1320 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114
So, here's what's weird. Divey in SF means meals around $30 for two. There's that range, and then you bump up to $100 for two. the mid range is lacking.
On to some recs.
Saigon Sandwich. Bahn Mi. Do not go to lee's.
Bodega Bistro is well regarded (pho)
Schwarma is strong, I love Simply Med at 16th and Valencia, which is a great corner for bar crawling. Two bars on every corner, I'm a patron of Dalva but Casanova is good. Hit one bar, grab a schwarma, hit another bar. Give the mission some of your drinks dollars. Especially consider a bi-rite run.
Branch out in the tandoorloin. I like the dark curries at Pakwan.
Don't write off italian. Defina, for example. SPQR. Frances.
You have mentioned no tacos. Where are the tacos.
Search 'hakka'. And get on the Geary bus out to Spices (or hop the bart to Oakland's version).
Saigon Sandwich Shop
560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102
607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109
1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
3121 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
My favorite dive is only open for lunch but is fantastic. Plus it's totally convenient by transit from where you're staying.
Out in the Dogpatch close to Cesear Chavez Street there's the Mariposa Cafeteria, which when you go you'll see the daily specials are roast pork Mondays, roast pork Tuesdays, etc. etc. etc. Chinese style roast pork but just super moist/tender/flavorful and for $8 unless you have a HUGE appetite you can both share a single plate.
Seriously the place is a total dive. I'd advise NOT going into the bathroom and keeping lots of sanitizer on your person. But the pork is really THAT GOOD (yum!) and the price absolutely cannot be beat.
1599 Tennessee St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Whoa...is that HRD? I worked around the corner for more then 10 years and would go there once in awhile for a cheap breakfast but mostly not. The photos on their webpage look great...way better then what they served.
Total guess here, since I haven't been in a few years...new owners? Use to be a Chinese family that owned/operated the place. But they had grown kids in their 20s...maybe they took over? The kimchee burrito and Mongolian cheese steak sound are definitely new.
(Okay I just read a link off their hompage to an SFgate article...nephew took over.)
I started working around the corner this past February. After the SFist blog mentioned the sandwich, the business really picked up. They now have a nice new menu sign inside, and the new awning. But it's still the same old grungy counter, dark back dining room.
Some people in my office refused to go there..since they remember it from before the nephew took over. I like the old school stuff on their menu (i.e. the turkey dinner....what's not to love..roast turkey available all year! And their roast pork over rice). I also drop by for breakfast on days when I have early meetings. The staff are always friendly...even when they have a line out the door.
Glad to hear the service is sim/the same and the menu is better. The old staff was alway very nice as well. I use to get the turkey plate and sometimes chicken and bok toy...way back when ATT wasn't there and next door was a run down gas station (not the Shell). It wasn't bad and it was cheap. I went less and less because I commuted from the Embarcadero side....but still got breakfast or a BLT .
The BLT was something ridiculous...like $2.35 5 years ago, now it's $3.50. It's made like a homemade BLT - toasted Safeway white bread, mayo, iceberg, pink tomato and 3 strips of bacon but in that neighborhood it's worth it. Brannan St Cafe is also a good place to get a decent BLT for like $5.
HRD had a promotion for a free fried oyster and kimchi burrito through Scoutmob this past week, so I snagged one today. I didn't think I was going to like this - most fusiony "burritos" in my experience go wrong somewhere; usually it's with flavors that don't overpower the tortilla, so you get a mess that tastes like a flour tortilla. In this case I figured that there would be white rice in it or something that would lead to disaster. And the listing of "kiwi salsa" as an ingredient just sounded bad.
Boy, was I wrong. The rice is kimchi fried rice, and there is a ton of tart kimchi in the burrito. The nori on there adds a nice touch, and the kiwi salsa isn't sweet enough to offend my sensibilities. Also comes with gochujang on the side. I suspect this thing is even better with the usual meat than with oysters.
So $50 for two without drinks generally means to me entrees under $20 , apps under $10, and desserts around $7. There are several good choices in the City that meet that criteria. A few of my favorites that offer very good quality for this price range are:
Park Chow for comfort food
Poc Chuc for home cooked Mayan (awsome tortillas)
Burmese Kitchen for authentic Burmese
Inka's for Peruvian rotisserie chicken
Bodego Bistro for Vietnamese OTHER than the Pho
Nearby Turtle Tower for the best Pho Ga in the City
PPQ for Pho Bo
For the ultimate Vietnamese dive there is Tu Lan. It is a one-time Julia Child approved HITW, that SF Chowhounders are hesitant to recommend to first time visitors. You will not find a tastier bowl of Bun for less though.
3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
1238 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
Turtle Tower Restaurant
631 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109
8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
re: Civil Bear
regarding tu lan, which is tantalizingly close to downtown, it is even more contentious than Civl Bear mentions. Quite a few people here think it's just an awful grease pit and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. There was a long investigation and discussion a few years ago. Some people really like specific dishes there.
Classic taco truck rec is the El Tonayense's. One spot is 18th and Harrison. Very accessible mission burritos at Pancho Villa on 16th, slightly tastier ones elsewhere. I do like PV's reliability.
365 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401
2598 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA