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Jun 6, 2011 10:31 AM

what's missing from the Chron's "Bargain Bites" list

People are always recommending it here but to me that's bad advice.

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  1. Are there any banh mi or Yucatecan places on that list?

    Banh Mi Ba Le (Oakland / El Cerrito)
    Bodega Bistro
    Bowl'd (Albany)
    Burmese Kitchen aka Larkin Express
    Chef Yu's (Oakland)
    Helmand Palace
    Jayakarta (Berkeley)
    Lanesplitter (Berkeley / Oakland / Emeryville)
    Memphis Minnie's
    Pyung Chang (Oakland)
    Saigon Sandwich
    Thai House Express
    Truly Mediterranean
    Turkish Kitchen (Berkeley)

    Jayakarta Restaurant
    2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

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

    Bodega Bistro
    607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Thai House Express
    901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

    Helmand Palace
    2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

    1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

    Turkish Kitchen
    1984 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

    Banh Mi Ba Le
    1909 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

    Chef Yu's
    3919 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

    Esperpento Restaurant
    3295 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      one of their criteria is that most entrees are under $12, which disqualifies esperpento (two tapas will be more than $12), helmand, bodega bistro, and maykadeh. im pretty sure bowl'd wasn't around at the time they put the list together.

      the banh mi place at 6th and clement is on the list

      1. re: vulber

        Most of Esperpento's tapas are under $6.

        That arbitrary cutoff is one of the things that make the list weird and dotted with some of the most expensive places in certain categories, such as to-go sandwiches and Gott's (which actually should be disqualified for charging $15 for an ahi burger). Lots of places where you can eat very well on the cheap have more expensive items someone on a budget would simply not order.

        Esperpento Restaurant
        3295 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    2. There are good places on the Chron list, but there are also enough bad/mediocre places on there to render the list pretty hit-or-miss. In some ways, it'd be helpful to make the list shorter, not longer - to say which of Bauer's recs are either not that great (Lynn & Lu's, Crepevine, etc.) or are outdated (Bakesale Betty, which IMO is just coasting on its laurels at this point and isn't particularly cheap in its category).

      That said, some other inexpensive places I like that aren't represented (or mentioned by Robert):

      Indus Village (Berkeley)

      Chai Thai Noodles (Oakland)

      Chef Lau's (Oakland)

      Shan Dong (Oakland)

      Taco Grill (Oakland)

      Uncle Dougie's (Oakland)

      Woodminster Cafe (Oakland - Friday night Persian dinners)

      Inkas Restaurant (SF)

      Mandalay (SF)

      Turtle Tower (SF)

      Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen (SF) - Saturdays only, and I'll admit that, brunch-/lunch-wise, this is at the upper limit of what I'd consider a "bargain".

      Zaki Kabob (Albany)

      Mac's Wok (El Cerrito)

      Chopin Cafe (Walnut Creek)

      Inkas Restaurant
      3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Turtle Tower Restaurant
      631 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Mandalay Restaurant
      4344 California St, San Francisco, CA 94118

      Indus Village Restaurant
      1920 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

      Chopin Cafe
      1574 Palos Verdes Mall, Walnut Creek, CA 94597

      Shan Dong Mandarin Restaurant
      328 10th St, Oakland, CA 94607

      Chef Lau's
      301 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

      Woodminster Cafe
      5020 Woodminster Ln, Oakland, CA 94602

      Taco Grill
      3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

      Mac's Wok
      10558 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

      Chai Thai Noodles
      545 B International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

      Zaki Kabob House
      1101 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

      Uncle Dougie's
      362 17th St, Oakland, CA 94612

      Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
      San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

      1. I always feel the Peninsula/South Bay are always underrepresented on the Bargain Bites listings.

        The criteria of $12 and under on the entrees list is what really wipes a lot of restaurants off the list, because a lot of bargain bite-ish type places will often have a special dish or two that are just above $12.

        However, a lot of great gems such as the ramen houses of the peninsula/south bay do meet that price point.

        Himawari (San Mateo)
        Shalala (Mountain View)
        Maru Ichi (Mountain View)
        Ryowa (Mountain View)
        Orenchi Ramen (Santa Clara)
        Ramen Kahoo (San Jose)
        Santouka (San Jose)
        Ramen Halu (San Jose)
        Ramen Tenma (San Jose)

        Japanese/Sushi Restaurants
        Hotaru (San Mateo)
        Yume-ya (Sunnyvale)
        Hoshi (Santa Clara)
        Hana Maru (Sunnyvale)

        Thai Basil (a few seafood items are 12.95, but most everything else is 9.95) (Sunnyvale)

        Chaat Paradise (Mountain View)

        99 Chicken (Santa Clara)
        Bon Chon Chicken (Sunnyvale)
        Secret Garden (Santa Clara)
        Choi's Kitchen (Santa Clara)
        Roll House (Santa Clara)
        Zazang (Santa Clara)

        Napoletana Pizzeria (Mountain View) would be my choice for Italian/Pizza, but about half their entree/pizza menu is over the $12 mark -- the entrees top out at $14, and the pizzas top out at $16.

        Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food (San Jose) is also what I would consider a bargain bite, with most of their entrees between $8-15 for combo plates with sides.

        Ramen Halu
        375 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

        Chaat Paradise
        165 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

        202 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

        246 Saratoga Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95050

        Zazang Restaurant
        3006 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

        859 Villa St, Mountain View, CA 94041

        99 Chicken
        2781 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

        Maru Ichi Restaurant
        368 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

        3530 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

        Thai Thai Restaurant
        653 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

        Roll House
        3486 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

        House of Soul Food
        635 East 14th St, San Leandro, CA 94577

        Orenchi Ramen
        3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

        Ramen Tenma
        487 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

        675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

        698 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

        Bon Chon
        572 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

        Napoletana Pizzeria
        1910 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

        1 Reply
        1. re: mhuang

          Most Chinese places on the peninsula meet this criteria as well... Off the top of my head, Little Shanghai, Crouching Tiger, The Noodle Shop, and Everyday Beijing are all places I know I can go and get a great meal and a ton of leftovers for quite a bargain; some of them have things like whole fish or whole duck over $12, but they are meant to be eaten family style (so per person it is less than $12).

          Also, Tacos in RWC.... I won't even start down this route. Too many to name.

          There are also some Indian places down in Sunnyvale like Taste Buds that meet this criteria as well.

          And Back A Yard Caribbean is very close to meeting the criteria... a couple of entrees are $12.95.

        2. Old Jerusalem.

          Old Jerusalem
          2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          1. This year's list was a big improvement - at least a couple of legitimate East Bay places made it this year. Last year, Kim Huong, one of the worst restaurants in Oakland Chinatown, was the only Chinatown restaurant to make the list (this year there are none, but honestly, better none than Kim Huong). The Michelin folks must have picked it off that list, because Kim Huong made Michelin's Bib Gourmand list, which is just obscene. Also, this year they dropped some of the more absurd picks, like 900 Grayson, which is good but in no way a Bargain Bite.

            few more of my faves, not yet listed by Robert or abstractpoet%3


            BC Deli

            Black and Silver


            Fortune Restaurant

            Kang Tong Degi (dishes are more than $12 but sized to share - does the Chron account for that?)

            Phnom Penh

            every taco truck in East Oakland

            In Alameda%3


            Homeroom Racing Cafe


            Kang Tong Degi
            3702 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

            Phnom Penh Restaurant
            3912 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619

            Homeroom Racing Cafe
            1305 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

            1303 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

            8 Replies
            1. re: daveena

              I thought Scolari's was pretty expensive for what it was. Bargain to me doesn't necessarily mean "cheap" it means "good value for the price"!

              1303 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

              1. re: daveena

                I find Scolari's to be a good value for the food. The burger, for instance, is a couple dollars more than Trueburger's, but I also think it's a couple dollars better.

                I suppose if you care about the ambiance/comfort (which hasn't deterred us), then you'd maybe dock it a couple points - I haven't tried having my food brought over to the bar.

                146 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

                1303 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                1. re: abstractpoet

                  Trueburger's burger is $5, Scolari's is $9.

                  146 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

                  1303 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Huh - I think it used to be $7 or $8 for the plain burger. Anyway, I like it better than Trueburger's - meat, bun, etc. (And I do like Trueburger.)

                    146 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

                    1. re: abstractpoet

                      I might be wrong about the price, I was just going by the most recent post on Yelp. Earlier posts said $8.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Plus the fries -- which are mediocre -- are $5 or $3 for a side order with the burger. That's just ridiculous! There are fancy restaurants that don't charge that much (or any more) for better fries!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I can't speak for the regular fries, but the garlic fries at Scolari's are EXCELLENT, and a half-order (for maybe $4?) is plenty to share between two people.

                        Maybe you were there on an off day, Ruth? It's fine if you just don't like the place - but I also don't know if all the line cooks are equally good. When the head chef is cooking, I've found the food to be uniformly excellent.

                        1303 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                        1. re: abstractpoet

                          I thought the burger was very good. I just didn't think it was a "bargain" -- not when, for example, you can get a burger and fries at Marlowe for only a buck more. The regular fries were a real disappointment.