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Bernal Heights [San Francisco]

So after decades in the East Bay we took the plunge and are now in SF. Please help with some go-to staples for lunch/dinner?

Below are the places that were my go-to's in Oakland. What are the equivalents? SF Noob here.

Nido all the time for casual but delicious dinner, and lunch too
Haven for something a bit fancier, but still down to earth
Cactus was my go-to taqueria
Sierra Deli/Genovas/Bakesale Betty's for sandwiches
Golden Lotus for vegan vietnamese (sadly I think this might be unique to Oakland)
Shangri-La Vegan
Chai Thai Noodles (have heard Lers Ros is similar with good northern thai dishes?)
Shan Dong for delivery chinese
China Village for ma la (tried Z&Y but it's not as good. we'll make the drive; can't see finding a replacement for China Village)
Same with Miss Ollies - we'll make the drive
Saul's/Sunrise Deli for falafels

Really going to miss the east bay, and will be back for many many meals because I just can't see finding replacements for these and other favorites. But, would like to have some go-to's in the neighborhood here as well. Help a fellow hounder out! Thanks.

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  1. Sunrise Deli has three locations in SF.


    House of Thai (formerly Thai House Express) on Larkin is where Chai Thai's chef used to work, pretty much the same menu but better. Lers Ros is excellent but different dishes.

    Miss Ollie's is unique. Front Porch might still use her fried chicken recipe.

    There's a vegan Vietnamese place called Golden Era.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Thanks, I'll do a comparison of the Golden's soon. Also excited to try a better version of Chai Thai's menu.

      1. re: hungree

        I think Chai Thai has gone downhill since it opened, or at least it's not consistent, but House of Thai has if anything gotten better. Some tips on what to order:


    2. Are you looking for weekday or weekend lunches?

      I'm blanking on farm to table Mexican in the Mission. Try Nopalito in Nopa or in the Sunset

      Old Jerualem for falafel et al.

      Angkor Borei for Cambodian (they deliver)

      Sandwiches: meet Avedano's, your new butcher. I've not read any reports on their sandwiches, but they look promising: http://www.avedanos.com/foods.html

      La Santaneca for pupusas (location at 3781 Mission St.) Balompie a few doors down is good too.

      Chinese: no great delivery to your area to my knowledge. Change regions of China.... make the short drive to Rice Valley for okay Shanghainese or Beijing Restaurant

      Here's what's to the south of you:

      3 Replies
      1. re: hyperbowler

        The Avedano sandwiches are good, but nothing incredible. A lot of them suffer from too much bbq sauce or some other strange element. They're not all that well composed.

        The OP should look into Blue Plate, and Spicey Bite, and the already mentioned Front Porch, for some nearby options.

        Alemany Farmers Market will be a short distance away for them. There's also Precita Park Cafe, and of course, everything in the Excelsior and Mission area.

        Not direct replacements, but maybe some new loves to explore.

        1. re: hyperbowler

          Might not exactly be farm to table Mexican, But Lolo is quite good: http://www.lolosf.com/

          For Chinese delivery we use the Henry's Hunan on Church Street. Henry's Hunan has a particular salty spicy style that some people don't care for, but others like (including us).

          1. re: Calvinist

            Henry's Hunan really is a love it or hate it kind of place. Pretty greasy as well.

            Jasmine Tea House and Wild Pepper are both good in the area for more Americanized Chinese dishes.

        2. Lucca Ravioli on Valencia is pretty much the same style of deli as Genova, but probably has a better selection of wine and cheese.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            The sandwiches at Lucca are much simpler than the ones at Genova. Less veggies, more meat.
            You might also try Canyon Market in Glen Park or Pals in the Mission for sandwiches.

          2. Let's focus on lunches:

            903 Cortland is excellent. Hard to put a label on their food. Fusion definitely does not do them justice. Great for lunch.

            Paulie's Pickling offers really good sandwiches. I can't seem to get past their brisket, but I hear the other choices are just as good. Of course, their pickles are great too.

            In the same space as Paulie's, 331 Cortland, Anda Piroshkis are really good. A search here will yield other raves about them.

            Precita Park Cafe is another fun lunch option. You can find better food, better value, but on a sunny day its a nice place for lunch.

            Liberty Cafe is an institution of sorts. Its had some ups and downs with semi-recent changes of ownership, but the new incarnation seems to be solid again.

            Since you mention felafel, Good Frickin Chicken is decent. Not great, but decent. Their rotisserie chicken is inconsistent in my experience. When its good, its really good. But it can be overcooked.

            And if you broaden your search radius to about a mile, you get a wealth of 24th & Mission options: Rosamunde, La Taqueria, Tacqueria San Jose, La Cornetta (and many other taco/burrito options), Wise Sons Deli, Mission Pie.

            And dinner? Lots more to talk about.

            3 Replies
            1. re: BernalKC

              Awesome -- all these going onto the list. Will report back.

                1. re: BernalKC

                  I like Goood Frickin Chicken's falafel and also their chicken shawarma. I also like both of these from Old Jerusalem, not far away.

                2. Piqueo is not an equivalent match on your Oakland list.
                  We recently enjoyed an evening of small plates and easy parking. http://www.piqueos.com/
                  830 Cortland Avenue between Gates & Ellsworth

                  fried chickpeas
                  red snapper Cebiche Pescado
                  Papa a la Huancaina
                  scallops Ficho with blue mashed potato
                  crab cake Peruano
                  beef hearts Anticuchones
                  baby octopus Pulpito Bebe/papitas dorados
                  Suspiro a la Limean/Dulce de leche

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Cynsa

                    This looks great -- like a Peruvian Nido :). We checked out Tacos Los Altos for the first night. Pretty good shrimp tacos, but stale chips, although the habanero salsa made up for it.

                    1. re: hungree


                      La Lengua Chronicles


                      Angkor Borei
                      Lotus Garden Vietnamese Cuisine
                      Poc Chuc
                      Los Jarritos

                      St. Francis Fountain & Candy
                      2801 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      La Palma Mexicatessen http://www.lapalmasf.com/

                      La Victoria Mexican Bakery & Cafe

                      1. re: Cynsa

                        oops - sorry, please note name change:
                        901 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110
                        - formerly known as Los Jarritos

                      2. re: hungree

                        I know people in this neighborhood who despise Tacos Los Altos. Always has seemed pretty basic and non-offensive to me.

                      3. re: Cynsa

                        Piqueo's the same chef-owner as Mochica and La Costanera (in Half Moon Bay). My favorite dish of his is halibut tiraditos in aji amarillo sauce.

                        1. re: Cynsa

                          Piqueo was out of this world good. What Boca Nova wishes it was. Really loved all the seafood and the diversity of sauces / plating. Tastes as good as it looks, and they aren't shy about spice. We particularly enjoyed the pickled garnishes on many of the dishes. Will be back. Sat by the bar and had a great view of the kitchen. Nice neighborhood gem that is definitely worth a trip from anywhere else too.

                        2. General likes and dislikes...
                          Lotus Garden, tasty but a little pricey and precious portions.
                          La Santaneca/Balumpie. Diffent restaurants, both cheap, both good to great.
                          Liberty cafe, good 10 years ago. Now same owner as Vakentino across the street. Both look like they should be great...mediocre to bad food consistently. In my experience nothing chow worthy.
                          Little Nepal used to be great but recent experiences have been more bland. Royal Cuckoo is a great low key bar with a Hammond Organ bar!

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: bdl

                            In general I agree with the list above. However we did get chicken pot pies (for the first time in years) from Liberty recently that were very good. Restaurant wise Cortland is ok but there are better options down the hill.

                            Our favorites near Bernal:
                            La Ciccia. Sardinian. To us the best place in the vicinity. Lots of mentions on this board.
                            Front Porch & Rock Bar. Fun and casual.
                            Blue Plate. Ate at the counter recently. Solid neighborhood spot.
                            Santaneca & Balompie #3 are both good Central American places.
                            Royal Cuckoo is a fun bar. Lucky Horseshoe is very casual and has some very decent bands play on the weekends. The folks who runs Churchills are renovating the former Stray Bar and are planning some a more upscale, but local, cocktail bar.

                            And you are very close to a huge range of options on Valencia and Mission. Really like Lolinda, which is a little bigger and swanker than the other places mentioned. And just went to St Vincent, which has basically a nice wine bar with good small plate options.

                            1. re: Calvinist

                              Same experience with Liberty's pot pie. I've always found the place annoying with overpriced mediocre food, but I tried the pot pie again after years, and it was one of the better ones I've ever had.

                              Iron and Gold also makes very good cocktails.

                              I don't think anyone's mentioned Emmy'S spaghetti Shack, which has a strong following.

                              1. re: Calvinist

                                Rock Bar's cocktails and even Emmy's cocktails are vastly superior to Royal Cuckoo. Nicer people too.

                                1. re: Atomica

                                  Rock Bar is my favorite neighborhood spot for cocktails.

                                2. re: Calvinist

                                  How about Holy Water?

                                  Holy Water
                                  309 Cortland Ave.
                                  San Francisco, CA 94110

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    We went on Tuesday night - for the 2nd soft opening - nice folks and good cocktails made with care, if a bit on the sweet side (at least the ones my husband got.) The space is very cool but it looks like it could get noisy when the place fills up. They've put alot of thought into it and it is a bit more refined than the other bars in the nabe.

                                    1. re: SarahS

                                      Thanks, do you have a sense that it's trying to be a destination bar or more for the neighborhood? Or maybe too early to tell.


                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Looks like this is following the formula of the other two bars they have, and you can expect mason jars, and a nice cocktail menu that's not all that innovative, but fairly solid for something like an old fashioned variation, or a lemonade punch type drink.

                              2. I'm not a fan, but Mission Chinese Food delivers to the north side of Bernal for free.

                                I recommend driving for take out at Thai House Express (aka House of Thai) at 18th and Castro, far better than anything in the Mission/Bernal/Noe area.

                                Mama Ji's in the Castro is good for Szechuan or for Szechuan take out, I haven't tried the dim sum there yet.

                                Excited that Champa Garden just opened on Ocean Ave. I tried Sea Garden Restaurant for Chinese delivery but wasn't impressed. Beijing Restaurant delivers but has it's ups and downs.

                                La Ciccia is excellent.

                                The fried chicken at Front Porch is a different recipe than Miss Ollie's and nowhere near as good. It doesn't have the herbs under the skin. That being said, it's still good for the occasional fried dinner and/or drinks in the neighborhood.

                                Beretta and St. Vincent are pretty close and good for different occasions. I like late afternoon weekend lunch at Beretta and dinner or Saturday wine tastings at St. Vincent.

                                Sandbox Bakery on Cortland is amazing, especially the savory stuff. It's related to 903 Cortland.

                                Hillside Supperclub is a total neighborhood place. They're settling in and deserve a look. Harvest Hills produce stand across the street has great bargains on organic produce.

                                Playa Azul has good ceviche tostadas, whole fried fish, and seafood cocktails (vuelve a la vida, hold the oysters bc they're giant/flabby and double the shrimp). Beware of the mariachis coming in here, as they will blow your eardrums out with all the hard surfaces.

                                Cancun on Mission at 29th has good salsa verde that you can buy by the soda cup and take home. The rest of the stuff is standard fare but consistent. I've been hearing good things about the pupusas at Los Panchos but haven't tried them yet.

                                I also haven't tried the Shanghai places that have switched over in Glen Park or All Seasons but was worried about their dismal heath dept rating. Hope that's been cleared up.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Candice

                                  Thai House Express in the Castro is still Thai House Express.

                                  House of Thai on Larkin changed its name to reflect the ownership change five years ago.

                                  Angkor-Borei is good. Cambodian rather than Thai, but many similar flavors.

                                2. Have already been to Paulie's Pickling twice -- first time for a whitefish sandwich and second time for lox and and pickles. Whitefish was good and not too mayo'ey. Marble rye bread was thick and soft with nice crust, a little on the lighter rather than darker side. The house-cured lox is great and really retains all its oils. The JLS lox guy doesn't show up at the Alemany farmers market (saw them at Mountain View so I know they aren't exclusive to JLS), so this looks like the go-to lox pick-up. It was probably as good if not better. The house pickle recipe is fantastic. Love the spice. Tried the garlic pickle too, and will be getting that next.

                                  Still looking for a good SF bagel. Don't think we'll find anything as good as Authentic Bagel Co. Just another excuse to head to Oakland!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: hungree

                                    Try Holey Bagel on 24th St. Some of the least disappointing bagels in SF and first-rate whitefish salad.

                                  2. Hillside Supper Club for brunch.

                                    This restaurant has really made strides. (I live around the corner.) When Bauer's review came out, he really nailed it -- great enthusiasm but a real lack of focus and finesse.

                                    I've been back twice in the past year for dinner, and their game has consistently improved -- service, which was forgetful and quirky -- is now very solid, and the kitchen execution seems more consistent. Happy as I am about this, I still wouldn't call it a destination restaurant for dinner.

                                    But brunch...brunch! I had been eyeing the plates for a few months while walking the dog on a saturday morning. Everything looked lovely -- even at dinner they have always had a very deft hand with eggs.

                                    So,with house guests in tow, I finally had a chance to enjoy the brunch a few weeks ago. Eggs in various presentations, french toast, frittata, all quite pleasing. I believe my Parisienne cousin ordered granola+yogurt (of course) and pronounced it good.

                                    I took a gamble and ordered something called Goetta. Got an informed description from the server; evidently someone on staff is from Cincinnati. I couldn't tell you a good Goetta from a bad one, but I would describe it as a 'house-made spam'. Which could be horrible, but this was not, especially with home fries, greens and avocado on the side. I would cautiously describe it as 'light'.

                                    Prices are not exactly cheap for brunch, but they're in the ballpark. And vs the competitors in a mile radius (Toast in Noe Valley, Boogaloos and the others at 22/Valencia), this is a real winner. Without the crowds, so far.