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La Lengua Chronicles - My Project for 2012 [San Francisco]

Hello SF Hounds,

I moved to San Francisco a few weeks ago, and I am living very close to the strip of Mission Street known by some as "La Lengua." Since I like exploring food options in my neighborhood, I've decided to embark on a little project – eat at every restaurant on Mission Street between Cortland and Cesar Chavez. I finally got around to making a list of all the places I have to try, and will be reporting on all of them. The aim is to have this completed by December 31st, 2012.

I would love advice about what to get at these restaurants, if you've been. Also, if you are interested in joining me for any of these meals, definitely give me a shout! I'll definitely want company for some of them.

So, here's the list of where I have to go. There are a few places that I'm not sure about including because they are mostly just bars – I think the rule will be that if there's a menu (whether food or cocktail), I will try it. Also, there are some places that are very close to that stretch of Mission Street, but not quite on it, that won't be on the official list, but I might try anyway. So I will list those as well.

Here it goes:

3489 Mission – Zante Pizza (Indian, Pizza)
3486 Mission – Pastores (Mexican)
3472 Mission – La Terraza (Mexican – Michoacan)
3471 Mission – Angkor Borei (Cambodian)
3459 Mission – Nena's Restaurant (Latin American)
3458 Mission – Universal Bakery (Mexican Bakery)
3452 Mission – Shiso (Chinese and Japanese)
3438 Mission – Nervous Dog Coffee (Café)
3401 Mission – Melody Café (Lebanese)
3385 Mission – Oye Managua (Nicaraguan)
3369 Mission – Ichi Sushi (Japanese)
3346 Mission – La Alteña (Mexican)
3349 Mission – Pizza Hut (Pizza)
3326 Mission – Coronitas Bar and Grill (Mexican, Bar)
3322 Mission – El Paisa (Honduran, Salvadoran, Mexican)
3319 Mission – Nulite Kitchen (Chinese)
3318 Mission – Playa Azul (Mexican, Seafood)
3306 Mission – El Gran Taco Loco (Taqueria)
3303 Mission – Eagle Donuts (Donut Shop)
3299 Mission – Inkas (Peruvian)
3286 Mission – Al's Café (Diner)
3263 Mission – San Miguel Restaurant (Guatemalan)
3259 Mission – Pad Thai Restaurant (Thai)
3253 Mission – Jasmine Tea House (Chinese)
3235 Mission – Dell'uva (Wine Bar)
3230 Mission – El Zocalo (Salvadoran)
3226 Mission – Mi Lindo Peru (Peruvian)
3221 Mission – SiamSaigon (Vietnamese, Thai)
3218 Mission – Blue Plate (New American)
3216 Mission – Lotus Garden (Vietnamese)
3215 Mission – Locavore (New American)
3211 Mission – Taqueria Cancun (Taqueria)
3206 Mission – Los Panchos (Salvadoran)
3202 Mission – Royal Cuckoo (Bar)
3193 Mission – El Patio Restaurant (Mexican)
3149 Mission – Baby Blues BBQ (BBQ)
3137 Mission – Acapulco SF Grill (Mexican)
3100 Mission – Sweet Chinito (Donuts, Sandwiches)

Places that need more investigation to see if they really have menus of any sort. I'll be including them if they do (and might try to at least get a drink in all of these as part of this project):

3456 Mission – El Ahorro Produce (Grocery with possible prepared food?)
3441 Mission – Tikal (Bar)
3395 Mission – Club Malibu (Club)
3355 Mission – El Amigo (Bar)
3300 Mission – 3300 Club (Bar)
3223 Mission – Knockout (Bar)
3187 Mission – Iron & Gold (Bar)
3158 Mission – El Rio (Bar)
3152 Mission – Nap's III (Bar)
3140 Mission – Roccapulco (Club)

Places that aren't on the exact stretch of Mission Street, but that I might include in my project anyway, since they are practically on that stretch.

3501 Mission – Spicy Bite (Indian)
18 Virginia – Emmy's Spaghetti Shack (Italian)
10 29th Street – Goood Frickin Chicken (Middle Eastern)
1690 Valencia – Burger King (Fast Food)

Looking at this list, I'm really impressed with the diversity of restaurants I have in my neighborhood! It's quite a unique 4-block stretch of the city (let alone any city in the world), so I'm excited. Let me know if you have any advice, keep an eye out for my posts, and wish me luck!

Dave MP

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  1. Wow, mad props, as they say. I live nearby and have contemplated something like this for years. Looking at your thorough list, I'm even more daunted.

    I've probably been to about 50-60% of places listed, although some in earlier incarnations. Hmmm, I've got some input and anecdotes (a funny one about Zante's from 20 years ago), but I'll just stick to a few pieces of advice, from top to bottom on your list:

    Zante: must try both the veggie and meat Indian pizza, assuming you're an omnivore. Nothing fancy here, but I have a special regard for their samosas. For years their menu listed a white wine, which had been submitted to the printer handwritten as "slightly dry". Sloppy handwriting or a sloppy typesetter (this was quite a while ago), and the final printed menu described the wine as "slightly okay." (That's actually NOT my funny Zante story; it's too long to go into here.)

    Ichi sushi is as good as they say, so arrive with a hearty appetite.

    Alteña used to have good Al Pastor. Haven't been in a long time.

    If Coronitas has food, I'm surprised.

    Eagle Donuts: everything is super sugary and a bit stale. Not that there's no place for that in the world. Coffee is barely drinkable. Still, if you're running to the harward store in the morning, it's there. (Hardware store: Don's Lock is useless, Cole is fine if you're not in a hurry. Don't take anyone's advice in that store except perhaps in plumbing.)

    Pizza hut: you are a brave and thorough man.

    El Zocalo: don't go after midnight Friday or Saturday. It gets thuggy.

    Blue Plate: I like, but it's a bit overpriced. In good weather, sit in the backyard.

    Knockout: definitely no food.

    Royal Cuckoo: no food, I'm pretty sure. This is the next-to-last bar to be gentrified. (Rock Bar, across from Front Porch, is the latest.)

    Which reminds me, you left out Front Porch. If you're including Emmy's, arguably they should be in also.

    El Patio: my opinion is that it's sketchy, from a food-safety standpoint, but I haven't been in years.

    Acapulco SF: this is my spot, but I confess I haven't been under the new name. Formerly Brisas de Acapulco; reliably empty with predictably passable mexican food. I haven't been since they re-launched. Assuming the plumbing is unchanged, don't sit toward the bathrooms in back.

    Sweet Chinito: you're a brave man.

    El Rio: No menu, but they do have oyster days and a nice backyard cookout on Labor Day. Good folks.

    Naps: again, you're brave. You won't find any food, but I'm sure you'll find some kind of surprise.

    Welcome to the LL Autonomous Zone. You've been to Mitchell's, I presume?


    11 Replies
    1. re: waldito

      Thanks waldito for all these details!

      A few responses:

      1) Coronitas *says* it's a bar and grill. So I think they must have something to eat. Should be interesting!

      2) Yes, I am planning on being thorough. Pizza Hut will be included.

      3) I didn't think Knockout had food either, but last night they were advertising karaoke and pizza! Not sure where the pizza was from, though.

      4) The new Acapulco looks super upscale and its sole Yelp review is horrible. So this might be an interesting one now.

      5) I am thinking now that for this project that I'm going to be super strict and only include restaurants on Mission Street. So this means no Emmys, Front Porch or GFC. But that doesn't mean I can't eat at those places too as a side event.

      6) Yes, obviously I've been to Mitchell's :)

      1. re: Dave MP

        Don't Emmys and GFC have at least one wall on Mission?

        1. re: susancinsf

          GFC does, but Emmy's Mission facing wall is blocked by the bar.

          1. re: suckerpunch

            Ooops just posted about GFC before seeing this...but since GFC has the takeout entrance on Mission...do take out!

      2. re: waldito

        I haven't been to La Altena in a long time either, but I'd second the recommendation to try the al pastor.

        1. re: waldito

          El Rio does have some food. On Mon/Wed/Sat nights they have Rockys Frybread on the back patio. Native American style tacos (Vegan option). Thurs night are Beans & Rice Family style. Italian Style sandwiches by Tatini on fri nights.

          1. re: waldito

            Generally agree, except that Sweet Chinito is really quite good (especially deli sandwiches and shakes).

            I also like Cafe Seventy8, which is in that area.

            1. re: xanadude

              Cafe Seventy8 has gotten insanely popular. I'm there every Saturday morning myself. If Nervous Dog would get a clue and serve better coffee and better food (though they have had decent pastries for a while now, from Sandbox), they would have a line out the door too.

              1. re: Atomica

                Where does Cafe Seventy8 get their beans (which roaster)?

                1. re: scarmoza

                  Will have to check on that. But I probably won't be there until Saturday, which is 5 days from now!

                  1. re: Atomica

                    Okay, I still have never noticed what kind of beans Cafe Seventy8 uses. I forgot. But their sandwiches are definitely worth trying in this group of places in the Outer Mission. And they now have WAFFLES! My kid got one and it was actually great. You can have them with syrup or with whipped cream and fruit.

          2. Cool project.

            I really enjoyed Inka's Palta Rellena con Pollo and their Anticuchos. I wouldn't get the Picarones (Peruvian donuts) by themselves, but were great when paired with the Helado de Lucuma (Peruvian ice cream). I've had better Lomo Saltado elsewhere.

            Ichi takes forever to get into, so you're lucky you live in the neighborhood!

            Emmy's is technically on Virginia, but since their front door is on Mission, you should probably include it.

            Edit: FYI, "La Lengua" was originally coined by blogger Burrito Justice. It's the southern part of the Mission wedged between Noe Valley and Bernal Heights. The western border is Guererro/San Jose Ave and the Eastern Border is Mission. The northern border is a diagonal that follows the old Southern Pacific Railroad tracks between 26th and 24th, and the southern border is at Randall St (where San Jose Ave and Mission converge).


            5 Replies
            1. re: hyperbowler

              i found the the Google map maintained by Burrito Justice funny with "hipster Valencia" extending both norht & south into La Lengua

              1. re: drewskiSF

                Yeah, the hipster Valencia extension is great :)

                1. re: drewskiSF

                  I think he's overreaching laying claim to territory north of Army. It's only the little bit south of there where people get confused and think they're in Bernal Heights or Noe Valley.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    No one else seemed to be using that part so we annexed it. (Plus, Pi Bar and Anthony's Cookies.)

                2. re: hyperbowler

                  Inka's, in our opinion, has the best spit-roasted chicken around - INCLUDING better than GFC's. we often get it to go. having been to many, many, many peruvian restaurants in my lifetime, that's what they do best there.

                3. I live nearby too and wonder when this La Lengua business started. Will post recs and a few cautions later.

                  I'd very much like to check out Oye Managua and Playa Azul. Also Stefano's on 30th & San Jose is serving Guatemalan food now.

                  3300 Club is great aside from this Saturday.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Windy

                    I tried Playa Azul back in 2008 or 2009 and really liked it, although I can't seem to find any Chowhound post about it. So I'm looking forward to going back there.

                    Oye Managua definitely seems like it could be a good candidate for a Chowdown, so I'll be in touch about that, too!

                    Dave MP

                    1. re: Dave MP

                      I tried Plaza Azul once, probably before 2008, for dinner, and hated it. However, IIR, my sister Janet liked breakfast (huevos rancheros) there when she tried it. An update would be great.

                      Edited to add: I had a snapper dish, I think with a Veracruzano sauce. It tasted less than fresh, and the sauce was not well executed. I still shudder when I think about it. I remember thinking that fish should be more reliable at a place called Playa Azul.

                      Welcome back, looking forward to the reports even if I don't live in the hood anymore....

                  2. Definitely include Spicy Bite and GFC. I'd also encourage you to include Front Porch.

                    I would suggest that there's no point in reviewing Pizza Hut or Burger King, but then again, I'm a snob. If you're going for the encyclopedic completeness, a bit of literary naturalism, then include them and include the prepared foods at Safeway.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: BernalKC

                      I think you are right about Safeway - to be thorough, I need to include it.

                      I am still torn about Spicy Bite, because it's technically on the other side of Cortland (beyond my limit). But we'll see.

                      1. re: Dave MP

                        La Lengua extends past Cortland on both Google maps links above, so I think you're OK :)

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          If Pastores is in (which is needs to be) then Spicy Bite is too. Its directly across Mission street.

                        2. re: BernalKC

                          When have you eaten at Front Porch most recently? It was pretty awful last time I was there (and not all that great before then). The food was reheated, overfried, and oversauced. Not cheap either.

                          1. re: Windy

                            I'm not sure when I was there last, probably last summer. The original chef had gone, and we thought the new chef had filled in nicely. But who knows how stable the operation really was.

                        3. Fab project, love it. I've only been to two places on your list during our visits, Pastores and Inka's, but I still think about the fried chicken and especially the salsa amarilla at Inka's. Looking forward to reading your reports as you bite your way through, the Tongue! May have to add San Miguel to my short list for next visit to try the salpicon de res.

                          1. Welcome back it will be nice reading your trek for good food

                            I look forward to what you will be eat up now.

                            Great selection in the city.

                            I await your chowhounding

                            1. I was under the impression that Lotus Garden had been closed a while, since a fire. Don't think it has re-opened, has it? (which makes me sad...)

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: susancinsf

                                I asked the same thing a while back--Windy told me they have reopened. DaveMP and I met there at a chowdown 5 years or so ago...maybe we'll do a chowdown again in 2012 to take another look at the menu! Ah, memories.

                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  Lotus Garden has re-opened. We ate there a few weeks ago. I get the feeling that Pastores may have closed, though. I've gone by several times in the last few weeks and the windows have all been shuttered up. <sigh>
                                  Does anyone know what's up?

                                  1. re: Euonymous

                                    good to know, thanks! Pane and DaveMP, I think I might have been at that Chowdown; certainly remember one big one there. Would love to come into town for the next one if you do plan one. Lotus Garden was the TGIF-but-don't-want-to-cook place for hubby and me. Now that we live in a town without even a single Vietnamese restaurant, I really miss their Banh Xeo. Yes, good memories.

                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                      Found it! And it's 5 years ago tomorrow. You were out of town, regrettably--I don't think we've met yet: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/381356

                                      I'll definitely count on having one there and send out notice via the list; I'll try to snag you when you can be in town.

                                      1. re: pane

                                        sounds great...yes, we had at least two Chowdowns there: just found the one I remember:


                                        Can't believe it was more like eight years ago! Time flies...

                                        Edited to add: and wow! my first taste of the Banh Xeo at LG was at that Chowdown ...in 2004! Amazing...I think I probably ordered it almost every one of the many, many times I ate there after that.

                                        Dave, thanks a lot for really making me miss the old neighborhood on this rainy evening in the Central Valley! :-)

                                      2. re: susancinsf

                                        by the way, I meant good to know that LG has re-opened, but NOT good if Pastores may have closed. However, she does keep irregular hours and I've had similar experiences in the past, when it turned out that she was simply on vacation. Or even just that she forgot to pull the shutters up. With Pastores, unless you tried the door and it is locked, you can't be sure it is really closed.

                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                          I started a new thread for that question--hopefully someone will report that they are open. I'd be heartbroken if she closed up shop.

                                          New thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838802

                                        2. re: susancinsf

                                          I think I was at all the chowdowns at Lotus Garden. Happily the food's the same, at least the banh xeo is. Prices are maybe a dollar more than they used to be.

                                          They do deliver, which was a lifesaver when my cousin had twins and lived nearby.

                                        3. re: Euonymous

                                          WHAT! I am shocked by this Pastores news. Maybe start a new thread so it doesn't get lost here?

                                          Her hours have always been...idiosyncratic. And she goes on vacation with no notice. Maybe it's a vacation?

                                      3. Ambitious list. I live right there, too. Here's my selected commentary.

                                        3369 Mission – Ichi Sushi (Japanese) - a lot of people like this place, I find it nothing special, other than the lack of competition in the immediate vicinity.

                                        3286 Mission – Al's Café (Diner) - I've enjoyed every standard greasy spoon item here, especially the specials.

                                        3235 Mission – Dell'uva (Wine Bar) - not a fan of the ambiance, but had surprisingly good brunch here. I thought the potatoes were much better than expected, better than the main dishes.

                                        3230 Mission – El Zocalo (Salvadoran) - I like the pupusa here, but it's also El Slowcalo.

                                        3226 Mission – Mi Lindo Peru (Peruvian) - I like the ceviche mixto and the chowfa (fried rice).

                                        3215 Mission – Locavore (New American) - Get a burger during lunch, it's basically the same as the dinner version and cheaper.

                                        3211 Mission – Taqueria Cancun (Taqueria) - equivalent to the old burger commerical of tasting just the patty, I get the vegetarian burrito with black beans and no sour cream.

                                        3193 Mission – El Patio Restaurant (Mexican) - this is where I get pupusa instead of Slowcalo. I'll admit Slowcalo is better, though.

                                        Front Porch - I'm partial to their gumbo and fried chicken.

                                        Good luck.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: leefc

                                          I agree about ICHI. I've had quite decent sushi when I sat at the bar and Tim served me. I've had mediocre sushi when someone else did. And recently had an okay dinner that cost a small fortune. Lunch is a good deal.

                                          Had a great dinner at Locavore and then a so so one. Wines by the glass are unusually but very expensive. I have meant to try the burger.

                                        2. Just want to put a vote in for El Gran Taco Loco. Love their al pastor and buche tacos. Love their chicken soup. LOVE their green salsa! I used to live in the hood and now I live in the Portola. We still drive over for taco Happy Hour occasionally.

                                          1. Doctors Lounge: go for the brisket with slaw on Fridays: Slow Hand BBQ


                                            Doctor's Lounge
                                            4826 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Cynsa

                                              Doctor's Lounge is in the Excelsior. But part of me thinks Dave should include the stretch all the way up to the 280 overpass, right before Trumbull. This area includes two of the best pupusa places in SF plus a bunch of other stuff I'd be interested in hearing about. I don't know what this area is called but nominate "Little El Salvador."

                                              1. re: bigwheel042

                                                Yes, the branch of Balompie on Mission just north of Crescent is quite good and you can watch the pupusas and other food being made.

                                                Better than any of the Salvadorean options further north. I love El Zocalo, but mostly for the friendly service after midnight.

                                                1. re: bigwheel042

                                                  I agree, or perhaps that should be his next project. There is also (or at least used to be) a dim sum place on that stretch of Mission, west side of the street, that appeared to be popular, and that I always meant to try.

                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                    Yeah, I think I need to save that stretch for my next project! The list I have now is a lot already. But bigwheel042 - what are the two pupusa places you're referring to?

                                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                                      Balompie #3 and La Santaneca. There are also some other restaurants and bakeries on that stretch that I've heard little about. Coffee is not my thing but there is also a new upscale cafe (window?) on Richland just off Mission called Cafeto.

                                              2. You're correct that El Rio does not have a menu - I asked them the other night. I'll probably try to include them anyway, though, since they do serve (free) food!

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Dave MP

                                                  I wish I knew what the names of these things are, but on (at least) Monday nights at about 9pm on the back patio of the El Rio there is a dude that make these dough things that he then puts toppings on. He has two versions, one sweet, one savory (no meat).
                                                  Because I have already eaten by the time I get there, I personally haven't had any, but based on other comments, they seem to be a hit. And free!

                                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                                      Yes, thats it!
                                                      He serves a version that looks similar to the last picture of your link, as well as a version topped with honey & powdered sugar.

                                                    2. re: suckerpunch

                                                      That fry bread guy has been on my to try list for ages (never run across him on our trips) but I thought it was by donation.

                                                      1. re: grayelf

                                                        grayelf you slay me! i live so close to el rio, and have lived closer in years past, and i've never heard of the fry bread guy! i love fry bread!

                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                          Mon/wed/sat after 8pm on back patio of El Rio is Rockys Frybread. Pay what you think its worth

                                                    3. You've got to start with Spicy Bite - it's at Mission and Cortland, across the street from Zante's - and it is awesome.

                                                      1. Wow, good luck, and please on occasion go eat at a nice place elsewhere in SF .. I'd hate for you to leave the city in despair based only on this one rather tangential neighborhood.

                                                        When I saw Zante's heading your list, right after you asked for recommendations on what to get, I was going to suggest getting (at least as a default) whatever "signature" dish a place offers .. e.g., Zante's Indian Pizza. But I see you have plenty of suggestions.

                                                        I think you should include Pizza Hut, Safeway, and the like, if only because those reviews will serve as a reference: a calibration point for your readers. In fact, I think this is an excellent reason to include nearby well-known places like Emmy's, Spicy Bite, GFC, Palace Steak, etc. that don't technically meet your criteria: people will be able to use their experiences of these more well-known places to gauge your reviews, and thereby better interpret your opinions of the more obscure venues.

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: fgmr0

                                                          welcome to Chowhound, fgmr0. Looking forward to your reports on your own finds in SF. Too bad you started your first post with a dig at a neighborhood that IMO is anything but tangential. As for interpreting Dave MPs posts, just take a look at his prior posts. No need to read what he thinks of Safeway to get a good sense of his perspective.

                                                          I will admit that when I told hubby about La Lengua Chronicles, he immediately piped in that he was sorry that Palace was on the wrong side of Cesar Chavez, because he really wanted to hear Dave's take on it. :-)

                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                            Okay, I will *consider* including Palace Steak. I've always wondered about that place, too.

                                                            Of course, I'm still allowed to eat at places that aren't part of the Chronicles....so just because I'm not including it doesn't mean I can't eat there and give my report!

                                                            Dave MP

                                                            1. re: Dave MP

                                                              ohhhhh.... i wouldn't waste my time/palate/calories/money on Palace.... funny place because it's so retro in a non-ironic way, but really just not good.

                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                have you been since the re-model/takeover?

                                                                1. re: vulber

                                                                  when was the reopening? i went approx. 8 years ago. you're saying the food is markedly better? better than, say, a Sizzler's? because it was worse than that when we went.

                                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                    It re-opened a few months ago. Although still offering a couple versions of steak, it's no longer a 'steak house'.
                                                                    I haven't tried the steak yet.

                                                                    1. re: suckerpunch

                                                                      i tried the steak back then, it was pretty bad... but if anyone says it's decent now....

                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                        never went before the re-model, but just went today, and it's bad. looks liek they were in a rush to re-open, the place is still dirty and under construction.

                                                                        it is open until 3 though, so i'd imagine that most of its business comes from people leaving the nightclub across the street looking for greasy food.

                                                                    2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                      Palace closed in 2009, reopened last year, I think the owners retired and someone else is running it.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        Just walked by the Palace today. They have a special of fried chicken strips and fries for $5. I love chicken strips, so I will probably try this soon!

                                                              2. re: susancinsf

                                                                I've been to Palace Steak House and would never ever return for any thing. If I had an enemy, I'd send them there.

                                                                PFSH is a really sad joke of a restaurant but it's likely not worse the Coronitas (which is down right scary).

                                                                1. re: scarmoza

                                                                  While certainly unremarkable right now (I have been twice since the re-opening), it isn't THAT bad.
                                                                  I have never been to Coronitas.

                                                              3. re: fgmr0

                                                                Haha, don't worry. I am giving myself 9 months to do this, so I will have plenty of time to eat elsewhere too. Especially since a lot of the places on the list are just bars/cafes where I'd just be getting a small bite or a drink anyway.

                                                                I think I should limit myself to Mission Street establishments for this project, and I need to draw the line *somewhere* (in this case, the Northern limit is Cesar Chavez) so I think Palace Steak is not going to be included. I guess I'll do Spicy Bite, though.

                                                                Also, I am gonna try to get signature dishes where possible, although I guess not necessarily. Hopefully my posts about places will inspire others to go try more things at each of these restaurants too!

                                                                Dave MP

                                                              4. Did you overlook Good Frikin Chicken? Despite the awful name, they have some good food. I'm partial to the veggie combo plate, but the rotiserrie chicken is great.

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: dogrocket

                                                                  Dave MP mentioned GFC in his initial post -- may include it.

                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                      It may not be better, but quite different....GFC really did remind me of the chicken places that were ubiquitous when I was in Jordan (not at all surprising, as I believe it is Jordanian owned), but that said, if I were Dave and he decides to include it, I'd recommend some of the non-chicken Middle Eastern specialties such as lamb, vegetable items, sides....rather than the chicken itself....

                                                                  1. re: dogrocket

                                                                    I was not very impressed by Goood Frikin' Chicken. Old Jerusalem a few blocks away is much, much better.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      I find that timing is everything at GFC. If they are moving orders and the chicken is fresh, its quite good. If its slow and the bird has been siting, it can be pretty bad. Old Jerusalem is not part of this project, but I will be looking forward to a comparison with Melody Cafe. That might be one of the sleepers in this stretch of Mission.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        What I have mostly gotten over the years at Goood Frikin' Chicken is their hummus and maybe a side of falafel (the sandwich is way too dry for me). The falafel used to be good, but I got some recently and it was tasteless.

                                                                        We love San Miguel. Stick with the appetizers--they are really salad-y, light and refreshing!

                                                                        I completely disagree with the "stale" comment on Eagle Donuts. I think their donuts are pretty damn good. The main woman who works there, Sherry, is the sister of the owner. I think she must work 100 hours a week.

                                                                      2. re: dogrocket

                                                                        The hummus at GFC - I don't know (or care) if it's authentic or not, because it's amazing. Super amazing.

                                                                        1. re: jakeymon

                                                                          Have you tried Old Jerusalem's mossabaha?

                                                                        1. Hey Dave-
                                                                          A few notes: Irma only opens Pastores whenever she damn well feels like it so it can be tough to get in. Go on a hungover weekend and get the chilaquiles.
                                                                          One or two of the joints are clearly fronts (I won't slander here... you'll figure it out).
                                                                          El Paisa is/was cash only but crazy inexpensive. Get the huge hunks of carnitas!

                                                                          If you want company gimmie a holler :) spicedish at gmail

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: spicedish

                                                                            Pastores also happens to have the most insanely delicious chicken enchiladas, so consider ordering those when you go!

                                                                            1. re: Absonot

                                                                              Pastores has not been open much (if at all) the last couple of weeks. It's my son's favorite place to eat so we always check when we drive by. Hopefully Irma is on vacation (which is consistent with her method of operation over the years).

                                                                            1. I would suggest that you try Angkor Borei (Cambodian)
                                                                              .Visit their web site. It is truly unique and the food does not resemble Thai or other SE Asian.
                                                                              We order the Crispy Spring rolls, the Blanket Prawns and the Ahmonk. Sounds strange but wonderful. I have never had a bad item from their menu and their special can be amazing.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Bruce in SLO

                                                                                Yep, Angkor Borei is on the list. And I love that ahmok! A post of mine from 2007: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/404792

                                                                              2. What a great project!

                                                                                Here are some of my fav. things about some of the restaurants on your list and places that you should have low or no expectations about:

                                                                                Ankor Borei - I have never had a bad meal here and the people are really nice. Not to miss: spinach leaf appetizer, any of the curries, the bbq sliced pork.

                                                                                Playa Azul - Not a fan of any of their entrees. Stick to the shrimp and seafood cocktails. Can be really busy and loud Sundays when it's packed with families and mariachis.

                                                                                Ichi Sushi - Tim, the head chef and owner, will not let you down. Sit at the bar and get whatever specials the chef recommends. Well paced, excellently seasoned and hands down the best and freshest sushi in San Francisco. Go early as the place is tiny and gets packed. Nice sake selection, too.

                                                                                Taco Loco - Folks love their ceviche and the fact that they are open til 3am.

                                                                                Inka's - Their Peruvian ceviche is AWESOME! They are known for their roasted chicken which is really good. I think they are closing soon as the head cook/father of the family run business wants to retire.

                                                                                Eagle Donuts - My roommate loved their apple fritters. They go quick so don't sleep in too late on a weekend.

                                                                                Blue Plate - Their meat loaf is REALLY good. Nice wine selection, nice staff. Menu changes often enough to keep it seasonal and really tasty. Don't think I've ever had anything there that I didn't like. If it's nice out, sit outside in the backyard where they grow some of their own herbs.

                                                                                Low or No expectations:

                                                                                Nulite - Skip it. Go to Henry's Hunan on Church instead.

                                                                                Pizza Hut - Um...do what you gotta do.

                                                                                Al's Cafe - Not the same since the gals retired. Service is spotty and food is ok. New owner really missed an opportunity to refresh this spot and make awesome diner basics with an updated twist.

                                                                                Baby Blues - Bad service, disappointing bbq. Have a beer and order the banana pudding for take out.

                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                1. re: sfjinx

                                                                                  wrt Eagle Donuts, I think their breakfast croissant sandwiches are better than their donuts. The apple fritter is probably the best choice of their donuts, though.

                                                                                  1. re: xanadude

                                                                                    Good to know. I tried the breakfast sandwich at Sweet Chinito today, so I can go to Eagle soon to do a comparison


                                                                                  2. re: sfjinx

                                                                                    Gah, I missed this post till now by sfjinx! Say it ain't so about Inka's. I hope they are still open on our next trip. Will be so sad to miss them...

                                                                                    Too bad about Pastores as well, it was kind of a quirky institution. We tried to go twice before we found it open and although I didn't swoon for Irma's quesadillas they were good and she is lovely.

                                                                                    1. re: grayelf

                                                                                      I ate at Inka's on Tuesday. So they definitely didn't close back in April. Report coming soon!

                                                                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                        Bless you, Dave MP (which now stands for Muy Peruano)! Will look for your report.

                                                                                      2. re: grayelf

                                                                                        i'd heard this before as well.... better make it over there ourselves, too!

                                                                                      3. re: sfjinx

                                                                                        Re: Blue Plate .. I love this place. (sometimes, there are LOUD people at the larger tables .. not the restaurant's fault!) If they have fried chicken, it's crispy and delicious.

                                                                                        Wonderful sparkling rose (Cremant d/Alsace) Love, love, love it.

                                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                                          Yep. Tried it for the first time a few weeks back and it was very good. Sat at the bar during the hour before closing and got to talk with the guy at the grill a bit.

                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                            love Cremant - good idea with the fried chicken!

                                                                                        2. SiamSaigon is gone, and there's a brand new vegetarian (vegan?) Thai restaurant in its place. It's on my list to try. Can't remember or find the name right now, but it's a few doors down from Taqueria Can Cun.

                                                                                          There are also two new coffee places since I made this list: Way Out Cafe, which has a lot of comfy seating and free wifi and waffles. And also the tiny place on the other side of Mission Street, that does takeout only...the name is escaping me.

                                                                                          Also, there's a new place that has replaced Pastores.

                                                                                          Haven't tried any of these yet, but will soon

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                            you have quite worthy goals, trying for a comprehensive chronicle, but the project might be like taking a census in India or China -- during the time the process requires, the data will have already shifted. buona fortuna, and travel in peace.

                                                                                            1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                              The vegetarian Thai place looks pretty good. I'd be game to try it.

                                                                                              The place that replaced Pastores is promising burgers and chicken wings, and delivery.

                                                                                              I should also note the sweet potato fries at Burger King are good, and their sundaes are a ridiculous deal. We got food from GFC and BK and brought it back to El Rio last week.

                                                                                              1. re: Windy

                                                                                                Okay, you have convinced me that I should soon try a BK Sunday while at El Rio. Good idea!

                                                                                                The new place that replaced Pastores doesn't look so great to me...but I will try it and perhaps will be pleasantly surprised!

                                                                                                1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                                  Everything tastes better with a caipirinha on the patio. (Though if you're lucky, Rocky will be making Navajo tacos.) Also BK has crowns.

                                                                                                  1. re: Windy

                                                                                                    WAIT, WHAT?? NAVAJO TACOS? WHEN???

                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                      Rocky is often on the patio after 8. Just ask when you walk by or call. Delicious.

                                                                                              2. re: Dave MP

                                                                                                Stopped by Way Out Cafe for the first time. They've cleared out all the shelves where the comics were. It's a lovely relaxing vibe with wifi and a tiny outdoor garden.

                                                                                                Open something like 7-7 and 8-2 on the weekends. Waffles with a DJ on Sundays. Lots of tasty looking snacks from Batter Bakery.

                                                                                              3. Free party (rsvp required) for La Lengua neighbors, Thurs Aug 23

                                                                                                1. El Paisa. Not sure if you've tried this one yet.
                                                                                                  Definitely my favorite place on your stretch of Mission.
                                                                                                  Someone mentioned getting the Carnitas... oddly enough that is the item most often mentioned as not being good so i've never tried it there.
                                                                                                  The Bistek Mexican is great. The Pincho (skewer of sausage and beef) is huge and great. The soups are great. Lots of use of green banana as a potato substitute.
                                                                                                  The fish soups are crazy. Whole fish head and tail. You can get them with our without coconut milk. If you get it with, then it makes eating very difficult as the bones disappear into the milky broth. However the coconut gives it a bisque like taste and texture. I like the stewed chicken dish as well. My wife loves their breakfast dishes. Huge portions of food and big glasses for the drinks. Great tamarindo.
                                                                                                  The place can get busy during a big soccer game.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: kairo

                                                                                                    Dave MP, you might want to checkup Locavore's burger before they close their doors for business next week.

                                                                                                    1. re: razpeters

                                                                                                      Is the burger really worth it? I could also wait and try whatever moves into that space next....

                                                                                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                                        I just had the burger there last week and I would definitely say it's worth it. Done to a perfectly medium rare, it was juicy and well seasoned with just the right balance of char grilled flavor. The fries that came with it were really good too, not a limp one on the plate, and it was a very generous serving too.

                                                                                                        I'm sorry to see the place go.

                                                                                                        1. re: Kristine

                                                                                                          While this sounds good, I think I missed my opportunity.

                                                                                                          I'm still aiming for an end-date of December 31st for this project, at which point I'd like to be able to say that I've eaten at every restaurant on La Lengua...so I think I should focus on places that I think will still be in business on December 31st

                                                                                                          I have my work cut out for me though!

                                                                                                          Dave MP

                                                                                                  2. El Ahorro makes handmade tortillas and sells them in the store (often still warm). Poofy, quite unlike the taco or burrito/style flat tortillas you typically see.

                                                                                                    1. I'm happy to report that Thai Idea and Coffee Shop are great additions to the neighborhood.

                                                                                                      Thai Idea is the third outpost of a vegetarian restaurant. Service is ridiculously nice. They have fake meats and a very traditional Thai menu. I got a cup of tom kha "gai" and a pumpkin curry with "beef." They also served a free cup of summer squash soup, that might have been my favorite item.

                                                                                                      Healthy, meatless, water served at room temperature. I can't wait to go back.

                                                                                                      I'd also been meaning to stop into Coffee Shop, across from Roccapulco on 3189 Mission and met the owner, who brews Ubuntu coffee and matcha and sells a lot of delicious cakes and treats. I had a pourover of Peruvian beans. It's tiny and open during the day. They may expand to offer more food. The slow brew iced coffee looked good for a warmer day.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Windy

                                                                                                        I think Coffee Shop has already been chronicled. Sound interesting. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/865513

                                                                                                      2. So, it's about 10 days before my initial deadline, and I have decided to give myself an extension on this project. But I am definitely making some good progress. Here are the places I have eaten:

                                                                                                        1) San Miguel Restaurant
                                                                                                        2) Jasmine Tea House
                                                                                                        3) Al's Cafe
                                                                                                        4) El Zocalo
                                                                                                        5) Lotus Garden
                                                                                                        6) El Gran Taco Loco
                                                                                                        7) Sweet Chinito
                                                                                                        8) El Ahorro Produce
                                                                                                        9) The Royal Cuckoo
                                                                                                        10) Eagle Donuts
                                                                                                        11) Zante Pizza
                                                                                                        12) Angkor Borei
                                                                                                        13) Universal Bakery
                                                                                                        14) Taqueria Cancun
                                                                                                        15) Los Panchos
                                                                                                        16) Inkas
                                                                                                        17) Goood Frickin Chicken
                                                                                                        18) The Way Out Cafe
                                                                                                        19) The Coffee Shop
                                                                                                        20) Playa Azul
                                                                                                        21) Nulite Kitchen
                                                                                                        22) Pizza Hut
                                                                                                        23) Thai Idea
                                                                                                        24) Shiso
                                                                                                        25) Dell'Uva
                                                                                                        26) Las Brisas
                                                                                                        27) Blue Plate
                                                                                                        28) ICHI
                                                                                                        29) Pad Thai Restaurant

                                                                                                        The places I still need to eat at are as follows...they're the only ones from my original list that are still in existence that I haven't tried. Although this doesn't include a few places that have opened up since March that I haven't documented.

                                                                                                        3472 Mission – La Terraza (Mexican – Michoacan)
                                                                                                        3459 Mission – Nena's Restaurant (Latin American)
                                                                                                        3438 Mission – Nervous Dog Coffee (Café)
                                                                                                        3401 Mission – Melody Café (Lebanese)
                                                                                                        3385 Mission – Oye Managua (Nicaraguan)
                                                                                                        3346 Mission – La Alteña (Mexican)
                                                                                                        3326 Mission – Coronitas Bar and Grill (Mexican, Bar)
                                                                                                        3322 Mission – El Paisa (Honduran, Salvadoran, Mexican)
                                                                                                        3226 Mission – Mi Lindo Peru (Peruvian)
                                                                                                        3193 Mission – El Patio Restaurant (Mexican)
                                                                                                        3149 Mission – Baby Blues BBQ (BBQ)
                                                                                                        3501 Mission – Spicy Bite (Indian)
                                                                                                        18 Virginia – Emmy's Spaghetti Shack (Italian)
                                                                                                        1690 Valencia – Burger King (Fast Food)

                                                                                                        I've been to several of the bars already too, but I haven't written about them on Chowhound if all I had was a drink. But places like 3300 Club and Knockout don't even have food, so I think my real goal should just me to finish the places listed here, plus any new opening that I haven't covered (there aren't too many....I think mainly just the place that replaced Pastores). So that's only about 15 more places, so I'm going to try to do it by the end of March! Wish me luck

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                                          Nervous Dog is newly out of business, so you can take it off your list. I think Melody is drastically re-tooling and I can't see how it can stay open much longer (though I have no inside information, they have never had customers). They had a sign outside a couple of days ago advertising $5 pancakes and French toast. Ditto Cave Grill, which replaced Pastores. Just absolutely dire. I don't want to see the giant Sysco delivery hanging out in the main room while I'm ordering.

                                                                                                          1. re: Atomica

                                                                                                            Cave Grill in the former Pastores space is now gone, replaced by Chan's Cuisine.

                                                                                                            From the menu on grubhub Chan's appears to be a Chinese-American joint with the same kinds of stuff as every other middling-to-weak Chinese place on this stretch (Jasmine Tea House, Shiso, etc.).

                                                                                                        2. Pizzahacker has opened at 3299 Mission, Inka's old space. Grand opening on Thursday.

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                            Sad to see it confirmed that Inka's is gone. I loved our Chowdown meal at that place.

                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                              Ah, I meant to post about that but it's been a busy month.

                                                                                                              I went to one of their soft-launch nights in early December. The pizza is definitely worth a visit.

                                                                                                              Crust was thin, generally a Neapolitan style. A note of sour flavor which was great. I thought it could have used a little more salt. What really struck me was the chewiness -- maybe the chewiest crust I've had in recent memory. A little too much char in my opinion, but they were still dialing in the oven (gas-fired, 2 decks, running around 800F).

                                                                                                              A straightforward pizza menu, written on a chalkboard that covers one whole wall. 4 or 5 pies, one salad, beer and wine. (Of course, that was only a soft launch, so the approach may have changed by now.) Salad was enoromous and looked fantastic -- I was just getting 2 pies to go.

                                                                                                              I thought the atmosphere was lovely -- long tables and wood benches, welded steel and distressed planks, all in orange, which seems to be the color of the moment. There was a 70s glam and early punk rock playlist rolling that really hit the mark for me. Maybe not for everyone! However -- here's the reason I mention it -- it was NOT TOO LOUD and although the place was 2/3 full, music and conversation levels were perfectly pleasant.

                                                                                                              I'll definitely be returning. Easily the best pizza in a mile radius, but that was a low bar.

                                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                oh no, I didn't know it had closed! I knew there was talk of it, but didn't know it had happened.

                                                                                                                Sad. for us, theirs was the best rotisserie chicken in the City - and the East Bay - that we've tried, bar none.

                                                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                  That was the first time we met, mc, and what a night it was. I put their yellow sauce on everything. I knew they had sold but now gone completely. Sigh.

                                                                                                                2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                  Pizzahacker was busy and full by 5:30pm this Saturday. Lots of families--- there's room on the 8 bench-style tables, one two-person table, and some bar seating, for about 70 people. Lighting is minimal.

                                                                                                                  The place is bustling and food came out surprisingly quick given how busy they were.

                                                                                                                  Salad is more than enough for two people and very good, albeit overdressed. It currently contains "Little Gems, Radicchio, Carrot, Cucumber, Chick Peas, Farm Egg, Kidney Beans, Alfalfa Sprouts, PoppySeed Dressing." That description sounded very health-food-bar, but it came together very well. The set, but not overly solidified, strips of egg white added an almost cheese-like component.

                                                                                                                  I really enjoyed the Margherita pizza. Sauce and cheese were as high quality as I could want. The dough, and pizza overall, had a good amount of salt, so they may have worked out some kinks since waldito's visit. I loved the balance of elasticity and crispiness of their thin crust.

                                                                                                                  This pizza is very charred, which was generally a good thing, but there were a few spots where I found it took away from the dough's flavor. The texture of the crust's bottom was a bit strange. It has a bit of a sheen to it, something I've noticed at the Cheeseboard but not at wood-fired oven places, which tend to have more of a rougher bare wood kind of a feel.

                                                                                                                  For two people, I'd recommend two pizzas and a salad. That'll leave you with some extra slices, but better to over-order--- the pizza's good here.