HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Any place new and wonderful in the Castro? [San Francisco]

I'll be serving my annual ten day sentence in Noir City at the end of the month. Need recommendations for restaurants/takeout for lunch and dinner in the neighborhood of the Castro Theater, preferably quick and easy.

I neglected to post about the new places I tried last year, so away we go.

Still like:
Zapata Tacqueria - very good pozole and burritos
Rossi's Deli - good Italian deli sandwiches and an unusual selection of international cookies (Walker's, et. al.)

Good enough:
Firewood - pasta is good enough, salads better. Haven't tried the chicken because too messy for this event.

New places I tried:
Kasa - I enjoyed it. Probably not authentic, but the food was spicy and very savory and fast. I'll go here this year too.
Brandy Ho - Went here for Chinese NY. It was pretty good, but don't care for the dark atmosphere.
BiRite Creamery - Not my favorite ice cream, but did enjoy the Dainty Gentleman sundae (lavender ice cream plus)
New Orleans place down the block on Market - OK and now closed. They had po-boys on the weekend but I never got back to try them.

Plan to try:
Mollie Stone for prepared foods
Your recommendations?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Dinosaurs - vietnamese sandwich shop across from the library on 16th street is very good

    Eiji Tofu house / sushi has gotten good reports - we've not tried it as yet, but on our list

    Kasa is fairly authentic, IMO.

    Namu Gaji next to BiRite is also very good. Lots of places as you head in that direction


    1 Reply
    1. re: dlobo

      Thanks for the reminder about Noir City!

      +1 Namu Gaji if you're coming from Bart

      Dinosaurs is a good stop before going to the Castro Theater, and their banh mi are easy enough to sneak into the theater. Ike's is nearby too, but they're too messy to eat in the theater.

      Speaking of sandwich, M & L Market has fantastic pastrami. Long lines unfortunately and their hours are Tue-Fri 11:30 am - 4 pm.

      I asked a similar questions a year or so ago, lots of overlap with this thread and some other mentions.

      I'd be interested to hear a report on K-pop.

    2. It'/s not new, but have you been to Poesia?


      If Bi-Rite's not too far, then Namu Gaji, Delfina Pizzeria, and Bi-Rite Market for prepared foods.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Poesia is fantastic.

        Unlike most on this board, I do not like Frances. At all.

        There is a new Korean place on the corner of 18th and Castro that I want to try. Looks good to me but the bf is turning his nose up at it. From pressing my nose against the glass, the pickles (banchan) look nice. Might want to try them. This is quite close to Castro Theater and I believe simple walkin (don't know if they even take reservations).

        Since you want simple and maybe even takeout, Rosenberg's Deli on Noe just north of Market has good tunafish salad. :-)

        Farther away is my current favorite Japanese, Izakaya Yuzuki (but if you are going as far as Namu Gaji, walk the extra block, it's worth it).

        1. re: pauliface

          The new Korean place is K-Pop, menu looks pretty traditional:


          1. re: pauliface

            I tried K-Pop tonight (the new Korean place at 18th and Castro).

            While not as good as my other favorite Korean places in the city, I will return and I would recommend it for Castro eats.

            The banchan (those little plates of pickles and apps) were varied. There was a super tasty cooked yam, some nice brocolli, and a very tasty bean sprout. But the kimchi was not so great, and nor was the shredded daikon salad. At this point I was not hopeful (also because the yam and sprouts came only after I finished the broccoli; they brought more and at that point the best two came out. So the initial splay was not so hot)

            However for my entree I got a spicy beef soup that was amazing. It was listed on the card of specials on the table. A spicy soup with shredded beef (think brisket cooked until it falls apart into threads), egg, scallion, green beans, glass noodles, and I think some tofu.

            This was perfect for a cold night. Spicy, tasty, filling, delicious. I may go back for it again tomorrow.

        2. To answer the question in your topic, no. However, Rossi's also makes a great falafel sandwich. And their turkey is carved from the bird (vs. deli slices) so any turkey sandwich there is above average, by my standards. Great deviled eggs, too (and deviled egg sandwiches).

          Pizzas at Firewood are a good bet. I find the salads too expensive (though they are large enough). I've heard good things about the BBQ place on Castro between 18th & 19th but have not been myself. Thai House Express at 19th & Castro has good green chicken curry. I'm often in a rush for time in that part of town and settle for a slice of pizza. My favorite is Marcello's (Nizario at 18th & Castro is horrible).

          Finally, the upstairs sit-down area at La Taza is better than decent. I'm there fairly often for brunch, but the two times I've had dinner there were good too, and it's moderately priced and not too crowded. http://cafelataza.com/

          1. Frances, a great neighborhood place, though you typically need to book ahead.

            Maybe give them a call now and see if something is available?

            2 Replies
            1. re: RichInMV

              Poesia and Frances sound lovely but that week no time for dining. I'll have an hour and a half to get to the place and eat there or bring back food to the theater. And nothing too messy as I will be handling photographs and documents afterwards.

              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                I think Poesia could easily get you in and out fast enough if you mentioned your time constraints when you reserve.

            2. Canela is near the Castro Theater and is very good.

              1. For coffee and pastry, I'd add Cafe Sophie to the list, especially if you are fond of Verve Coffee.

                For iced coffee, they use coffee ice cubes + cold coffee...

                5 Replies
                1. re: escargot3

                  Pastry, really? They always seem to be out of food in the afternoon. Nice coffee though.

                  In that vicinity, walk over to Thorough Bread on Church for great bread and baked goods.

                  Chilango across the street has superb carnitas with homemade tortillas, healthy ceviche, and lots of other much better than average Mexican food.

                  I like Thai House Express on 19th and Castro quite a bit; it's not quite as authentic as the Tenderloin version, but better than most of what you'll eat in the Castro.

                  Buffalo Natural Foods on the corner of 19th and Castro has some decent takeout including Hodo Soy products in the fridge (try the yuba or tofu with five spices), pastries, and nuts from Alfieri Farms.

                  1. re: Windy

                    Chilango is a good call based on our spring 2010 lunch there. Bit more expensive than other taquerias but really tasty with quality ingredients, and the green cactus tortillas are fun. Could be a bit messy though which may not work for the OP. Added value: very close to Aardvark, a great bookstore but again with the time constraints, maybe not useful to the OP.

                    1. re: grayelf

                      +1 for Chilango. I had the lightest and most tasty tamales there. Not at all heavy and corn-bound, but refreshingly different. Nice service, too.

                    2. re: Windy

                      Thorough Bread is a great recommendation--I stop by once or twice a month and I can't remember ever getting anything bad. Nearby on Church St., Chile Pies is new and very good. It's an offshoot of Green Chile Kitchen, and has savory stews and soups in addition to pie by the slice.

                      1. re: tripit

                        Excellent suggestion and thanks for actually reading and responding to my original post. I have been meaning to try GCK ever since coming back from a green chile/game eating trip to Denver.

                        My new plans include more walking to get to-go food from Tartine and Pizzeria Delfina. I didn't realize I had been so close when I went to Bi-Rite. I live in Berkeley but spend little time in the Castro or Mission.

                  2. Your list is dismal. You go to SF and that's what you eat? Everyone knows there isn't good food in the Castro. Firewood? Really? It's a chain for chrissakes.

                    Hop on the 24 and go to Ragazza on Divisadero and Page. There, I've done my good deed for the day.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: blackpippi

                      Your answer is a little too flip for my taste. Firewood is bad but at this moment in time there is good food to be had in the Castro.

                      1. re: blackpippi

                        The OP noted upthread that he will be working at the Castro Theater and has no more than 90 minutes to travel and eat each meal. Ragazza is fine, but not possible given that limitation.

                      2. Super Duper Burger is also relatively new, and just about a block up Market from the Castro Theatre. It's more or less a slightly upscale In 'n' Out, although they also have chicken, veggie burgers, and salads. I'd put it in your "good enough" category, but it'd be my recommendation if you get a craving for a burger and fries in the neighborhood.

                        1. Take out only? sandwiches/soups/salads?
                          not new, but I didn't see Anchor Oyster Bar on your standards listing. No reservations and the wait can be long or short, depending on your luck/timing. Tasty crab cakes. Fits your 1-1/2 hour time.
                          579 Castro Street
                          Mon-Fri 11:30 am - 10 pm
                          Sat 12 pm - 10 pm
                          Sun 4 pm - 9:30 pm

                          Starbelly for a good burger
                          3583 16th Street

                          2362 Market Street
                          Dine About Town 2013 until January 31

                          Carry a box of hand wipes with you to clean up before handling the photos/documents or wear gloves.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Cynsa

                            Good recommendations, I'll look into Catch. I can eat in if I can get there and back in no more than an hour and a half. Basically, it must be walkable from the Castro Theater.

                            In my business there is no handling of paper ephemera after any significant handling of food. One greasy fingerprint can ruin a vintage piece. At home, if I have handled greasy food, I only handle photos/paper after thoroughly cleansing my hands by washing dishes or taking a shower!

                          2. Noir City 11 opened last night.
                            Are you finding good eats?

                            1. I realize I'm replying to this thread after the OP left San Francisco, but there are a few places I didn't see mentioned in the thread.

                              Queen Malika creperie (on 18th between Douglass and Eureka) has been bought by a Chinese woman who has added dim sum and a few other Chinese dishes that are made on the premises and quite good. My favorites are the rice noodles with shrimp (just don't expect big shrimp, or very much shrimp) and the sticky rice steamed in lotus leaves. But everything we tried is good. Prices are only a but higher (and portions a bit smaller) than in the Sunset, Richmond or Chinatwon, but it's the best Chinese food I've eaten in the Castro. Crepes and pastries are still available as well.

                              I didn't see Thai House Express mentioned in the thread. It's our favorite Thai place in the neighborhood. A couple dishes not found on every Thai menu are their Kao Soi, chicken and noodles in a yellow curry, and Kao Moo, a braised pork leg served with pickled cabbage.

                              I also like La Tortilla, the taqueria on the east side of Castro just north of 18th street. I'm particularly fond of their sopes (not listed on the menu, but always on display in their glass case), a thick cup shaped piece of masa that one can order with any of their meats. I usually go for the chicken mole, on top of refried beans, with the works on top -- guacamole, sour cream, cheese and salsa.

                              Finally, does anyone know whether M & L Market on 14th at Church will reopen? I miss Judy's roast beef sandwiches!