#1. Tu Lan: Although this is a recent discovery for me, every experience at this restaurant has been a extraordinary one. Touted as "Julia Child's favorite restaurant in San Francisco," the image of Julia Child scrawled across the cover of the menu is an endorsement to be remembered. You will always hear two things about Tu Lan: 1) the considerable portions of food served and 2) the rock-bottom prices. Although Tu Lan is in a relatively seedy area of the City (read: "non-tourist friendly") and it is a sticky-table dive in the truest sense, it is the best value in the City for great Vietnamese. My favorite item there, is the refreshing chilled noodle salad, or bun cha gio thit nuong, which comes dressed in a spicy fish sauce and lime vinaigrette. The cha gio (fried imperial rolls) are substantial, cylindrical hunks of oil-crisped rice paper wrapped around ground meat. Dizzam! Those cha gio are a force to be reckoned with! (By the way, the pictures in this post are from Tu Lan.)
#2. La Mediterranee: In the Fillmore District of San Francisco, this tiny restaurant is flanked by colorful boutiques with glistening glass windows that showcase flowing mesh skirts and dangly artisan jewelry. You can work up a hearty appetite after perusing what the neighborhood shops have to offer and then feast on soft and chewy pita breads that are kept warm in cloth napkins. The pita breads are partnered wonderfully with La Mediterranee's flavorful extravaganza of thick and creamy Mediterranean dips, made with ingredients such as chickpeas, eggplant, or tart Greek yogurt. Check out a recent post of mine on my lunch at La Mediterranee, here.
#3. Chutney: This is my all time favorite Pakistani restaurant, I cannot say enough about the creamy, rich, and tomatoey sauce in their chicken tikka masala. I was one of the first patrons of Chutney on the day they first opened, and will be a patron of this fantastic restaurant until . . . Well, forever! Other "must try" items include bengun bharta (which is made with softened cubes of tomatoes and eggplant) and garlic naan (which is served piping hot and liberally sprinkled with roasted garlic and fresh cilantro).
#4. Café Bastille in
#5. Marnee Thai: Walking into the restaurant, you will immediately notice several things about this comfortable place. First is the hatch-patterned bamboo façade on the walls. The second is the numerous plaques and certificates decorating those walls. Those awards are for winning international competitions for pad thai. And yes, I said "international" competitions. Their awards for the pad thai are extraordinarily well-deserved. This place seriously has the best pad thai outside of Thailand. The flavors in the pad thai are delicate and arousing, with the perfect amount of tartness and sweetness from the tamarind paste. The noodles are also immaculately textured--mildly agglutinative but firm enough to be discrete, separate from the other noodle tendrils. For more on the deliciousness that is Marnee Thai, please one of my previous posts on the restaurant.
Additionally, if you are lucky enough to have transportation around the City, check out Shanghai Dumpling King for the best Chinese meat dumplings in the entire City. Try looking up the MUNI bus lines for easy public transportation access from where you are staying (if you are a tourist). It is definitely worth the trip. Also, for good Chinese food in Chinatown, don't just stop in any old place. There are many tourist traps with really bad food in Chinatown. I recommend R and G ("RNG") Lounge, which is a pricier place, but their Chinese food is no-fail. Definitely amble down North Beach for some Little Italy dining. Finally, for cheap and delicious banh mi sandwiches, check out Saigon Sandwiches in the Tenderloin District. Oh yes, and for a touristy taste of San Francisco's sourdough bread, check out Boudin Bakery, where you can get affordable clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.
And I would love to hear other people's take on San Francisco restaurants. For other San Francisco places, check out my posts tagged with "San Francisco Eats." For this post, I would like to tag my wonderful food blogging friends who write:
Taste Tests (see her list here)
The Short Exact Guide
Cooking with the Single Guy (see his list here), and
The Food Hoe (see her list here)!
As for all of my meme tags, even if you are tagged, feel no obligation to write a response. I understand you are busy. However, I would love to learn what restaurants earn your seal of approval. Also, if you were not tagged but are interested in this meme, let me know!