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D, D & D in SF?

OK, not everyone is a fan of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network, but I am. I always wind up craving the food I see after watching. My partner and I will be in SF in two weeks and I would love to try one of the places Guy featured on the show. We'll probably just want to stop in for lunch and grab a sandwich, as we already have our dinners planned. Out of the following list, where should we go?

Grubstake Diner
Joe's Cable car
Tommy's Joynt
Rocco's Cafe
Dottie's
Tee Off & Grill
Q Retsaurant
Pier 23 Cafe

Or none of them? :)

Thanks to all.

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Tommy's Joynt
1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

Pier 23 Cafe
The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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  1. DO NOT go to Joe's. I don't know how he missed Red's Java House for hot dogs or a beer and a burger and a view.

    -----
    Red's Java House
    Pier 30, San Francisco, CA

    6 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      +1 on Red's. This is an actual D,D&D. I always get the egg sammy on sourdough with sausage, add tapatio hot sauce and enjoy on the picnic tables. Pure san francisco. Most places I explore the menu - not at Red's. It's a classic, and an antidote to all the tourist crud. Maybe it's not a "drive-in" because it's not really on a road anymore. More of a sail-in.

      Your second stop that DDD missed is an El Toyanse taco truck. Al Pastor, baby.

      Dottie's has huge lines and decent food. Visitors have claimed hour long waits on weekdays for breakfast. Then Tommy's. No view and harder to get to (but locals do eat there) but an honest sandwich - I find it boring. Pier 23 next, but I'm not a fan - it's kind of Jimmy Buffet in a bad way - but it has a view. Grubstake only at 2am (it is a dive with decent food) - I would eat there. NO to Joe's. Q is entirely off my radar - if I'm in that part of the world, I'm eating Gordo's or Spices or random Dim Sum or maybe Brother's BBQ.

      If you're in the Grubstake part of town, you're near the tenderloin, which means you're near Saigon Sandwitch, which is 100% worth a trip. And Lers Ros. And Shalimar. Problem with DD&D around here is most of the great dives are "ethnic".

      Another good old-school lunch in the tourist quadrant is Mario's Bohemian, get the eggplant parmigiana, or meatball.

      I don't know where Guy Fieri hails from, but he doesn't have his finger on the pulse of SF.

      -----
      Pier 23 Cafe
      The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            http://www.foodnetwork.com/guy-fieri-...
            Guy grew up in Ohio; opened restaurants in Sonoma county: Johnny Garlic's in Santa Rosa, Windsor, Petaluma, and — Roseville... then, there's also Tex Wasabi ...

            Ferndale is still No. California... not Ferndale, MI.

            -----
            Johnny Garlic's
            8988 Brooks Rd S, Windsor, CA 95492

            1. re: Cynsa

              He was born in Ohio but grew up in Ferndale, California. That's why his bio refers to him as a "California 'guy'."

      1. re: wolfe

        Repeat, DO NOT GO TO JOES. I went once and got the biggest sticker shock at the end of my meal. You will get nickel and dimed up to a $20 cheeseburger and beer before you know it. Also true dat for Red's, but the fish and chips or corned beef hash are leagues ahead of the burger and dogs.

      2. Tommy's is the only real sandwich place on the list. And it's good, in a cheap hofbrau of another era way.

        is Tee Off the place at the Presidio or the one in Golden Gate Park?

        Grubstake is recommended for 2 a.m. burgers, or Portuguese food.

        Aside from Dottie's, and the view from Pier 23, none of these is where I would send a visitor on a short trip.

        -----
        Pier 23 Cafe
        The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

        11 Replies
        1. re: Windy

          Tee Off is a bar on Clement street, located at the edge of Presidio park entrance that leads to the Legion of Honor museum.

          1. re: L C

            Thanks. Not the place I was thinking of, which I guess is the golf club at the top of Arguello.

          2. re: Windy

            Windy, i am now working a block from Tommy's and i'm curious to know which sandwiches you like - is it their specials? because i ordered a turkey on rye and got turkey on rye - i think some mayo, but no lettuce, no tomato, no nothing. ok, i think i got swiss on it too. the turkey was fine, but i thought overall the sandwich was dry, bland and overpriced (I think $7 something) for what it was. is it their combination sandwiches (i don't even remember what they were now) that you like? I'd really like to know because they're so close to my office. thanks in advance. (i actually had a decent turkey sandwich from some liquor store deli on Franklin nearby, maybe Eddy? that was much better, and cheaper.)

            1. re: mariacarmen

              It's best to order a hot sandwich or plate from Tommy's since it's a hof brau...or something like pastrami. I've never had a deli sandwich there that requires lettuce, tomato, etc., not sure if they even serve that. The lamb shank is good as mentioned and they specialize in buffalo stew and chili. When I lived in SF I usually got the turkey plate.

              1. re: ML8000

                Yeah, I usually look at what's fresh, and get pastrami or lamb shanks. Turkey if it hasn't been sitting too long. All better if you get one of their $4 cocktails to wash it down with. I get the plates rather than sandwiches.

                1. re: Windy

                  ok. yeah, that's not what i really want at lunchtime. thanks.

                  1. re: Windy

                    I order dark meat for the turkey plate, it holds up to sitting around. The beer list (bottled mostly) is pretty crazy as well. The thing I've never order is the turkey sloppy joe and salmon...just too risky.

                2. re: mariacarmen

                  College Liquors on Ellis @ Franklin.

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Try asking your sandwich 'dipped'. Adding gravy or 'jus' will help a lot with the dryness. I doubt they have a tomato in the house.

                    1. re: TenderNob

                      they don't, i asked! good idea about the jus. and i think i'll go for pastrami next time. thanks!

                3. I am a triple D fan too, and as you probably have experienced, the places can be hit or miss sometimes. Same goes for SF, as there are better options around town. To rank your list:
                  1. Dotties - but be prepared for a long wait
                  2. Tee Off for the Pork chop & Mac & Cheese - but well over $20pp for lunch. Call ahead to make sure they are open and have the pork chops on hand.
                  3. Tommy's Joint on a Thursday for the lamb shanks. Otherwise order a plate meal like pastrami over just a sandwich. The sandwiches are cheap but very bready.
                  4. Grubstake - but not open for lunch.
                  5. Q Restaurant - Interesting place and menu, but I have felt it was missing something the couple of times I have been there.

                  Haven't tried Rocco's.

                  Just say no to Pier 23 (touristy) and Joe's Cable Car on Mission (most over-rated over-priced burger in town.

                  -----
                  Joe's Cable Car
                  4320 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                  Pier 23 Cafe
                  The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  1. I don't think any of those places would make a real local dive aficionado's top-10 list.

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

                    Taqueria San Jose
                    2830 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                    Truly Mediterranean
                    3109 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                    Cordon Bleu Vietnamese
                    1574 California St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                    Hai Ky Mi Gia
                    707 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                    Yamo
                    3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                    La Santaneca De La Mission
                    2815 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                    Shalimar
                    532 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                    19 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Cordon Bleu makes your list? I used to live around the corner on Sacto, had a couple of pretty good for the price meals, then a few that left me feeling ill, like the meat was a bit 'off' and haven't been back since.too many good places IMHO to put up with that odd flavor and worse feeling. hope they've changed as I did like them when they were good.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I think the O.P. is looking for diners not just divey places. And only those featured on Guy's TV show.

                        1. re: L C

                          My point is that Guy Fieri's recommendations for San Francisco are so random that it would be a waste of a meal to follow them.

                          Actually, Joe's Cable Car would be just desserts.

                          -----
                          Joe's Cable Car
                          4320 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Yeah, but that misses the OP's mission. Speaking for myself, some of the specific dishes prepared on the show look awesome, so it is nice to get a chance to try them when available. The typical Triple D fan isn't likely to order something that wasn't on the show, let alone go somewhere else.

                            1. re: Civil Bear

                              Chowhound is about where to find delicious food, not where to get mediocre crap you saw on TV.

                              I can see tracking down some of the stuff Fieri has had on his show, but his choices in SF don't show any knowledge of the town or even any effort to research it. Q and Dottie's? Seriously? Not that there's anything wrong with either, they just aren't among the places that really fit his show's theme.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                You may not like the show, and the think the food featured on that show is crap. That's fine. But OP is a fan of the show and has serious intent of trying out food on the show. Why post in this thread if you're not gonna help the OP achieve his or her mission? So can you simply call the OP's choices "mediocre crap"?

                                I guess for you Chowhound is about blowing off others' requests for help if their tastes differ from yours.

                                1. re: Dude Swenson

                                  That's 2.
                                  "Hey Dude, nice call and coincidently just watched The Big Lebowski."
                                  wolfe on Dec 18, 2010 04:31PM

                                  1. re: Dude Swenson

                                    The last line in the original post was, "or none of them?"

                                    1. re: Dude Swenson

                                      Except that they aren't the OP's choices--and none of the above was an option.

                                      We used to get a lot of posts asking about the Stinking Rose. It is a public service to (politely, kindly) warn tourists when they're headed for tourist traps.

                                      My favorite aunt, who likes elegant dining, saw this show and asked me about Tommy's Joynt. I like Tommy's enough (as evidenced above), but steered her toward something better for her few meals in town.

                                      -----
                                      Tommy's Joynt
                                      1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                      Stinking Rose
                                      325 Columbus, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      "Chowhound is about where to find delicious food, not where to get mediocre crap you saw on TV."

                                      Believe me, I have enough "chowhound" dinners in my life to last a lot of other people a lifetime. All I asked was if anyone would recommend any of the places I listed. Some of the dishes I've seen on TV look very good. Some of the people cooking in these places have credible credentials and some of the people have been cooking a lifetime and have real experience. If you actually watched the show and listened, you would know that.

                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                        I've watched the show a bunch of times.I just think they did a terrible job of finding the places in SF that really belong on it.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I'm going to put is a bit more nicely: the type of food featured on DDD can be delicious but his definition of a "dive" is fairly narrow and the places in SF that fit his parameters are not particularly good. On the other hand, there are a lot of good, cheap, delicious "dives" that you would be missing out on if you focused on places featured on DDD.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            I think (1) there are places in SF that would fit his parameters, which he and his producers missed, and (2) some of the places listed are well outside of those parameters. Makes me wonder if he just puts his pals on the show.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              "Makes me wonder if he just puts his pals on the show."

                                              He's been to hundreds of place...he must be a very friendly man if all of these people from all over the US are his "pals."

                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                I figure most of Fieri's pals are probably in the Bay Area and that might have skewed his local picks.

                                            2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              OK...let me say this one last time. I want to try one of the places on the list. If you don't think any are at all good, that's why I added "Or none of them? :)" Quite simple really. I'll take your answer as "none," Ruth Lafler. Thanks!

                                          2. re: ttoommyy

                                            Just go and ignore the not CH enough deal. Tommy's, Grubstake, Dottie's and Tee Off are all good for what they do...but not exactly diners or dives, instead mostly just hearty food (that's how I read DDD). Also you're going for lunch which allows for another meal to erase a less then great experience, always a good strategy.

                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Beg to differ on Tee Off Bar & Grill, he is doing great food there.

                                  3. Tommy's Joynt may be your best bet for a quick lunch. It is in the Civic Center area so fairly close to most hotels. I get that you are looking to try a Triple D place and are not necessarily looking for an ultimate meal.

                                    The Tee Off can be great, or they can be totally off, so definitely call ahead if you are going to head out there. It's a long way from downtown, but if you were planning to do any sight-seeing out towards Ocean Beach (the Legion of Honor, Land's End, Sutro Baths, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, etc.) then it might be worth a stop. They do make a good burger and a pulled pork sandwich, but the special items have gotten a little pricey.

                                    Pier 23 is located about half way between the Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf, so if you find yourself in the mood to stroll the Embarcadero that might be a logical stop.

                                    With either the Tee Off or Pier 23 you don't have to go for a full meal, they are dive bars, so you can just stop by for a drink and/or a snack, to check them out.

                                    Have a great time in SF!

                                    -----
                                    Tommy's Joynt
                                    1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                    Pier 23 Cafe
                                    The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                    Legion of Honor Cafe
                                    100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: pamf

                                      Tommy's is not in the Civic Center area. But it's true that it's just a 10 minute walk away, along Van Ness. Most hotels are near Union Square, not Civic Center.

                                      +1
                                      I agree, a stroll along the Embarcadero would be nice.

                                    2. My experience has been that places get crazy crowded when they're featured on DD&D. Dottie's had food that IMO was nowhere near worth the wait before the show; I'd hate to see the lines now.

                                      Tommy's isn't bad for what it is. I like the braised stuff - buffalo stew, lamb shanks, etc.

                                      1. Thanks to all for your suggestions. Looks Tommy's is the place to go from the list, otherwise I'll have to sift through the other local suggestions. Thanks again!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          I love Tommy's once in a while. It's not the best anything, but it is good. If you get a sandwich, just make sure to slather on some of their spicy mustard from one of the table crocks and some pickles from the bin by the register. Cheap cocktails, friendly service at the hofbrau line (make sure to tip), and funky atmosphere. I always get pastrami and my husband gets corned beef. Mmmm, I may have to make a stop tomorrow.

                                        2. Re-posting an edited version of my original post. Hope it helps.

                                          Joe's Cable Car is the farthest away place in that list. You can see them grind the meat on the spot. Expensive burgers. Lots of neon and tacky decor. Worth visiting at least once. Take a few pics to show friends, that's it.

                                          Tee Off Bar & Grill - it's the worst looking place in the group. The people can be very rude. If you're a smoker then you won't mind the cigarette stench. For lunch, most of the time it's closed when they should be open, or they open late. Very important note: the food is good ONLY when the owner with the trucker hat is cooking. The rest of the time it's crappy. That's my opinion of course.

                                          Dottie's True Blue Cafe, like others mentioned it has the longest waiting time. Don't know how much free time you have available. The line is shorter after 1pm, but the place closes at 3pm. I like that place, I like the food (breakfast) too. The staff loves their work. Note: The surrounding streets smell like pee.

                                          Tommy's Joynt is not as hard to get into compared to Dottie's. Not many hof brau places left in SF, they bake their own meats. The pastrami comes from local producer RCM. Pick whatever meat looks fresh at the moment. I don't think it's that great, but worth visiting at least once. They have buffalo stew and chili, but I think it's just a novelty. I prefer the juicy buffalo burgers at Bullshead Restaurant.

                                          Q Restaurant on Clement, has the best food quality and variety compared to all others on that list. Comfort food, large portions.

                                          Rocco's Cafe, is an old-school Italian restaurant. Like every place in that list, lots of tacky decor. Sodini's in North Beach is a much better example, in both food and decor.

                                          Pier 23 is just a cafe bar facing the ocean. I've been here for drinks with coworkers, and attended several parties. In my opinion, other than the view and having space for dancing, there's nothing remarkable about it. BUT if you are in the downtown area, this is the closest place, and therefore probably the quickest meal. After lunch you can stroll along the Embarcadero, until you reach the Ferry Building to browse around. The walk can be enjoyable for your family.

                                          Swan Oyster Depot, should be added to that list.

                                          Note that Dungeness crab is in season now, so any good SF seafood restaurant might be a good choice.

                                          -----
                                          Sodini's
                                          510 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                          Tommy's Joynt
                                          1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

                                          Dottie's True Blue Cafe
                                          522 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                          Joe's Cable Car
                                          4320 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                                          Pier 23 Cafe
                                          The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                          Bullshead Restaurant
                                          840 Ulloa St, San Francisco, CA 94127

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: L C

                                            "Pier 23 is just a cafe bar facing the ocean"
                                            Bay?
                                            Louis' faces the ocean.

                                            1. re: wolfe

                                              Louis' faces the cliffs, only the Cliff House faces the ocean.

                                              1. re: L C

                                                You mean it's the only one, like the Beach Chalet?

                                              2. re: wolfe

                                                BB is correct, of course, the Beach Chalet entrance faces the ocean and you are only 50% correct in that Louis' front door and the Cliff House front doors both face the "rocks" at Sutro Heights while their back windows overlook Seal Rocks and the Pacific Ocean. Pier 23 faces Telegraph Hill and overlooks San Francisco Bay.

                                            2. Re-posting an edited version.

                                              Grubstake is a shadow of what it was many years ago. It's cute because they converted a former cable car into a diner. I don't like the place because of what happened to me some time ago, that's all I have to say. If you want to try your luck, I'd say that the burgers, the French Dip sandwich, and anything deep fried are the safest bet. The famous caldo verde (kale soup) is watered down and includes just 2 thin slices of Linguica sausage.

                                              Cooking can be inconsistent, sometimes food is overcooked. For example one time, my plate had 2 pork chops, and one was dry as cardboard, while the other was perfect. This should not happen when cooking both pieces at the same time. Maybe the cook reheated a piece that was cooked earlier. Their food is not cheap, so those type of mishaps are not acceptable. The only thing nice is how all entrees come with fresh veggies. That's all.

                                              1. DDD visited places in other cities in the bay area besides those located in SF. Duarte's in Pescadero, 900 Grayson, Rick and Ann's and Bette's Diner in Berkeley, Rudy's Cant Fail Cafe in Emeryville, Falafel's Drive-In in San Jose, to name a few.

                                                -----
                                                900 Grayson
                                                900 Grayson St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: majordanby

                                                  And, to my point, those are some decent rec's. Rudy's is sanitized for my taste, and Falafel's Drive Inn has much more nostalgia than taste, but overall, not bad. Maybe Guy gets mislead by nostalgia when in The City? I have no idea.

                                                  1. re: majordanby

                                                    Rudy's is 100% faux, a diner designed for Pixar engineers.

                                                    Now the trucker diner it replaced--whose name I'm blanking on. That was a worthy dive.

                                                    1. re: majordanby

                                                      If we're talking about the Bay Area as a whole, Duarte's is an easy pick. The show has never made it to Top Dog, I guess?

                                                      I think 900 Grayson, Rudy's, and Q were not featured on the show per se, rather Fieri invited the chefs to a tailgate party at the [This Space for Rent] Coliseum.

                                                      -----
                                                      Top Dog
                                                      2534 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                                      Duarte's Tavern
                                                      202 Stage Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Here's the Duarte clip from the show:

                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1baD6-...

                                                        You can eat really well there. I recommend the cream of artichoke and cream of green chile soups (not on the menu but you can order half-and-half), cold artichoke hearts, cracked crab, and cioppino.

                                                        They really pronounce it "doo-art"?

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          Yes, they really pronounce it "Doo-art's."

                                                      2. re: majordanby

                                                        other bay area places he's featured

                                                        Albany:
                                                        Meal Ticket

                                                        San Rafael:
                                                        Sol Food

                                                        Santa Rosa:
                                                        Antojitos La Texanita
                                                        Hank's Creekside
                                                        Willie Bird's
                                                        Worth our Weight

                                                        San Anselmo:
                                                        Bubba's Diner

                                                        Pacifica:
                                                        Gorilla BBQ

                                                        San Jose:
                                                        Los Tapatios
                                                        Naglee Park Garage

                                                        Napa/Sonoma:
                                                        Taylor's
                                                        Tex Wasabi
                                                        Shellville Grill
                                                        Sunflower Caffe

                                                        Geyserville:
                                                        Catelli's Restaraunt

                                                        Kenwood:
                                                        Cafe Citti

                                                        Forestville:
                                                        Russian River Pub

                                                        i watch the show and went to Bubba's after watching it feature a soft shell crab BLT. not bad, but not great.

                                                        -----
                                                        Antojitos La Texanita
                                                        1667 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95407

                                                        Willie Bird's Restaurant
                                                        1150 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

                                                        Meal Ticket
                                                        1235 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

                                                        Sunflower Caffe
                                                        421 1st St W, Sonoma, CA 95476

                                                        Creekside Cafe
                                                        239 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma, CA 95476

                                                        Cafe Citti
                                                        9047 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452

                                                        Naglee Park Garage
                                                        505 E San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95112

                                                        Russian River Pub
                                                        11829 River Rd, Forestville, CA

                                                        Los Tapatios
                                                        354 N White Rd, San Jose, CA 95127

                                                        1. re: majordanby

                                                          Have been to most of those places and agree with you on Bubba's. Gorilla BBQ was worth the visit. Sol Food, Naglee Park Garage, Hank's Creekside, Shellville Grill, and Falafel Drive In are all worth trying if you're in the neighborhood. Nothing on the show is worth making a special trip though.

                                                          -----
                                                          Creekside Cafe
                                                          1581 Sycamore Ave, Hercules, CA 94547

                                                          Naglee Park Garage
                                                          505 E San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95112

                                                          1. re: majordanby

                                                            if you're gonna go that far afield, I'd toss Giusti's out in the Delta to that mix.

                                                            1. re: majordanby

                                                              I've been to both Willie Bird's and Meal Ticket and didn't know they were on DD&D. I thought that they were very good for what they do. I'd go back to either if I'm near.

                                                              I'd say Willie Bird's is edging towards being a dive....looked pretty funky in broad daylight. The turkey plate is great. Your mom might be able to do better but it would be very close. Meal Ticket, had a trout plate for brunch in the patio for $10 bucks...very pleasant, very reasonable. I figured it was the food and the chef use to be a British punk rocker or something.

                                                              If had to put a tag on the places DD&D picks, it's well-executed, honest/hearty, not expensive food with an optional eclectic or hippie-dude-artsy twist. Sort of funky road trip cuisine.

                                                              -----
                                                              Willie Bird's Restaurant
                                                              1150 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

                                                              Meal Ticket
                                                              1235 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706