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Best foodie lunch spots in the city??

I will be in town for 3 nights in January and my nights are already filled so we need advice for lunches...our night plans are dinners at Benu and Frances and a Warriors game one night. To give you an idea of our taste the other restaurants we were interested in going to were Commonwealth and Bar Crudo but they are only open for dinner.

So what are some can't miss lunches for Saturday-Monday? We don't mind brunches but really want something unique to San Francisco or very "foodie" type lunches with adventurous food, really interesting flavor combinations, even really amazing ethnic food would be good (coming from PHX we have decent ethnic but I'm sure SF does some better).

$ isn't an issue, and our tourist plans for those days are very relaxed so we can have long lunches or a takeout place. We're staying in union square area without a car but willing to make a slight trek if public transportation is somewhat easy or a cab isn't outrageous.

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Bar Crudo
655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

Benu
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. Even in January, you should check out the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market and the Ferry Building--lots of lunch options there. Or, you could walk down the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building and try La Mar (Peruvian) right on the bay.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bobpantzer

      Second the ferry building farmer's market! I brought one of my colleagues who was visiting SF here and he absolutely loved it. You can graze on all the free samples, then order lunch from the huge variety of food stands in the market. Go here on Saturday for an early lunch...it's definitely a "can't-miss" for any foodie!

      Zuni and Foreign Cinema are both very "San Francisco" and great for brunch/lunch. Most people also consider the Mission burrito (found in many Mission District taquerias...search this board for recs) to be a uniquely San Francisco experience.

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      Zuni Cafe
      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Foreign Cinema
      2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

      1. re: arlenemae

        If you're going to be at the ferry building on Saturday moring, I highly recommend the porchetta sandwich at Roli Roti. It's incredible, especially if you enjoy crackling (and ask for more in the sandwich).

        1. re: hong_kong_foodie

          Yes, the porchetta sandwich is a must. You should also head over a couple stalls to 4505 Meats and get the chicharones. They're to die for. Farmers Market is on Saturday from 10-2.

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          4505 Meats
          1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, CA

          1. re: dragonrl

            The Farmer's Market is on Saturday from 8-2.

    2. Boulette's Larder in the Ferry Building
      Zuni Cafe
      maybe Nopalito if you wanna try a Mexican foodie spot

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      Zuni Cafe
      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

      1. foreign cinema still remains my favorite brunch in sf

        spruce is a great weekday lunch spot for monday

        i also would do commonwealth over frances - far more adventurous and interesting flavor combinations - i'm in the minority on frances in that i don't think it's all that special - but all biases aside, frances is really more going for perfectly executed californian food, rather than adventurous flavor combinations - alwyas one fish entree, one poultry entree, one meat entree, one vegetarian entree - won't find any marrow-stuffed squid there

        1. Monday I'd hit one of Dennis Leary's spots (Sentinel or AU) -- holes in the wall with great gourmet chow, and also representative of the trend of top chefs opening casual micro-restaurants/food trucks.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Definitely AU but easier to find as Golden West.
            http://theauwest.com/

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            Golden West
            8 Trinity Pl, San Francisco, CA 94104

            1. re: wolfe

              Depends on where you're trying to find it -- it says "Au" on the sign, so it's hard to find if you're looking for "Golden West" on the street!

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Yes but first you have to find Trinity Place and the place function recognized Golden West and not Au. Also had trouble with The Sentinel.
                http://www.thesentinelsf.com/

          2. Burmese Kitchen, Jai Yun, Lers Ros, Memphis Minnie's, Mochica, Poc-Chuc, Wexler's

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            Jai Yun
            680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            Mochica
            937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

            2 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I second the recommendation for Lers Ros -- it really is one of the best Asian restaurants in the bay area right now. You can really taste the fire in some of the dishes.

              Speaking of which, the ones I think are pretty good (and not too exotic for those who are so disinclined) include:

              #9 grilled slices of pork shoulder
              #53 stewed pork leg
              #62 stir fried pork belly with crispy rind and basil leaves
              #76 pad kee mow (almost too embarassed to recommend this dish, but oh the fire!)

              Just beware that food here - as authentic Thai food should be - is quite spicy especially for those who are not Southeast Asian. Request otherwise if necessary.

              1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                That pork shoulder is great. Hard to go there without ordering it.

                I was at Lers Ros for lunch the other day and tried a dish off the non-English specials board the server translated as "dry noodle." It was a bit reminiscent of pho minus the broth. Big pile of noodles with crisp pork skin, ground pork, herbs, some kind of pickled vegetable? ... the server said she had it for lunch.

                Alligator from the printed specials page was fine, wouldn't order again.

            2. Yank Sing at the Rincon Center for dim sum (deem sum).

              1. Mission Chinese Food for mouth-numbing Chinese food: http://www.chow.com/food-news/67146/c...

                Saigon Sandwich for banh mi sandwiches. Katana-ya for ramen (I like the spicy miso). Swan Oyster Depot for crab salad.

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                Saigon Sandwich Shop
                560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                Swan Oyster Depot
                1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                Mission Chinese Food
                2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                2 Replies
                1. re: carfeng

                  Thanks everyone for the great suggestions, now I have a little too much to choose from! Ferry Building is definitely on my list now although I still need to choose from the long list of restaurants. La Mar is looking good too, I haven't had Peruvian food since I went to Peru in college!

                  I just read a review of Michael Mina's lunch tasting menu which sounds like a fun lunch to do on vacation - the only time when leisurely lunches are something I can do!

                  I will report back after my trip, thanks again!

                  1. re: AnonymousWaitress

                    Mochica has great Peruvian food for cheaper than La Mar.

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                    Mochica
                    937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107