Archive for September, 2008

Over-rated in SF

Posted in Just my humble opinion... on September 22, 2008 by junkfoodie

Man, I read a lot of guidebooks, Best of Lists and such, and I often get sucked into believing the hype and trying places only to be disappointed. Maybe it’s just me, but here are some of the places that I think are over-rated. I welcome any comments, disagreements or hostile replies.

Taqueria Pancho Villa: Scrupulously clean and perfectly tasteless Mexican food on 16th near Valencia.

Citizen Cake: Blasphemy to most local foodies, but except the Shag cake, I don’t like much here.

Miette Bakery: Looks great, tastes…ehhh.

Memphis Minnie’s: Another bay Area Foodie Favorite that I just don’t get. Meats are just so-so, hate the sauces, mediocre sides. Not my favirite barbecue, as you can tell.

House of Nanking: If you see me eating here, they are giving away free food, and I haven’t eaten in a week.


More Bay Area Cheap Eats favorites….

Posted in Around the Bay Area, Just my humble opinion... with tags , , , , on September 22, 2008 by junkfoodie

Here are more random Cheap Eats favorites from around the Bay Area:

Pancakes: It’s Tops diner on Market Street near Octavia in SF. Cool, old fashioned diner that keeps odd hours, but THE best pancakes in the city IMHO. The shakes and fountain items are pretty good too. Everything else is just okay, bu try the pancakes, light fluffy, and not like a wet sponge as many mediocre pancakes are.

Pizza: Wow. This is a tough one. I’m gonna cop out on this one, but under the category of Cheap Eats, I’m gonna say Golden Boy Pizza by the (square) slice on Green Street between Grant and Columbus. Clam and garlic, vegetarian, pepperoni, just get whatever’s hot. This is kinda like Jack In the Box tacos, in that it tastes even better after a long night out on the town. I also happen to like the Kama Sutra Pizza on cornmeal crust at Pizza Orgasmica. I know someone’s going to ask about Delfina, but that’s not really Cheap Eats. I also like Pauline’s on Valencia and Little Star’s Deep dish on Divisadero, but it depends on which item you get.

Focccacia: This one’s easy. Liguria Bakery right off Washington Square park. THey still wrap the oily bread in butcher paper, and hand tie it up with string. The place is a small, old takeout storefront, and the only concession to modernization is the addition of “new” flavors. You can get plain, onion, pizza, or raisin flavors. I personally like the plain or inion, but the raisin is studded with plump, golden raisins, and toasts up nicely.

Coffee: I’ll start by saying that I’m a big fat coffee snob. My daily drink is Peet’s, but one of my favorites is Blue Bottle on Linden off Gough Street. It’s essentially a roll-up corrugated steel garage door with a small counter  inside. Each cup of non-espresso drinks is dripped to order, so it takes a little while. the upside is you get a rich, robust cuppa joe that never tastes burnt or stale. It’s a bit pricey, and there is nowhere to sit, but if you want a really good cup of coffee, check this out. They also have a stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market if you are out that way on Saturday.

Cheesesteak: I’m Partial to the Cheesesteak Shop on Divisadero between Sutter and Bush. A 10″ Cheesteak with onions and hot & sweet peppers is my usual order. I’ve had the mushroom and the spinach cheesesteaks, and they’re okay, but I’ll go with the plain so I can taste the meat & cheese. They use thinly sliced ribeye, and chop it on the grill, then top it with provolone or white american cheese. You can then get it topped with grilled onions and sweet and/or hot cherry peppers. They allegedly import the rolls from Amoroso’s in Philadelphia too. If you can’t find parking, and it’s in the evening, park in the Wells Fargo lot behind Starbucks. Cheesesteak, Fries, drink under $12 all in.

Breakfast: Tough call on this one, but I’m going to have to go with Bette’s Oceanview Diner on Fourth Street in Berkeley. I’ll usually get the Maryland breakfast, which is two poached eggs over their homemade, chunky corned beef hash with toast or a scone. The big chunks of corned beef include pieces of the fat to go along with the crusty potatoes and bits of green onion. If I’m in the mood for something sweet here, I’ll get the banana-rum souffle pancakes. Besides the quality of the food, I give Bette’s the nod because of it’s consistency and good, strong coffee. Unfortunately, it’s gotten so popular that the wait can be an hour on the weekends.

More to come later……

Banh mi in SF (Saigon Sandwiches)

Posted in Around the Bay Area with tags , on September 18, 2008 by junkfoodie

One of my favorite cheap eats in SF is Saigon Sandwiches on Larkin Street on the edge of Little Saigon. There are a lot of places for these Vietnamese sandwiches, especially in the Tenderloin. There is branch of the Lee’s Sandwiches (not to be confused with Lee’s Deli) across the street up half a block on Larkin Street. Lee’s has a few dozen more sandwich and bakery options, and is a slick, flashy and sanitized version of a Vietnamese sandwich shop. This is precisely why I enjoy Saigon Sandwiches so much. It is a veritable hole in the wall, with one or two crammed stools at the tiny counter in the window, but other than that, it is takeout only. They only offer a few choices for fillings, as you can see below.

Roast chicken, roast pork, “fanci pork”, pate, “meat ball pork”, “jambon”, or the very popular combo which includes a little of evrything. The prep area is kinda grubby, and the decor is little more than two drink coolers filled with sodas as well as various Vietnamese drinks and desserts, as well as a variety of packaged snacks on the counter. You can pick up anything from squid chips to Vietnamese “tamales” filled with rice stuffed with salty pork or banana. The prices are downright cheap, although they are a dollar more than they were about 2 years ago. Still, $3.00 for a sandwich on a fresh, crusty French roll slathered with a mayo-based sauce and stuffed with your choice of fillings and topped with pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro and sliced jalapeno is not bad.

The reason I like Saigon is the place is an honest, no-nonsense, family run place. There is always a line out front during lunch hours, but the line moves fast. The combination of the crusty. toasted bread, the salty pork and pate, the creamy mayo and the crunchy pickled carrots along with the herby cilantro and spicy jalapenos all for $3.00 cannot be beat! You might find a better banh mi elsewhere (if you know where, please let me know!), but the combination of the low prices, homey atmosphere, friendly service and seedy neighborhood is tough to come by.

Ongpin filipino restaurant. South San Francisco

Posted in Around the Bay Area with tags on September 15, 2008 by junkfoodie

Had dinner tonight at Ongpin in South SF tonight. This is one our regular spots, and I’ve tried most of the items ont the menu. It’s a family oriented place, and almost all the customers are Filipino families. This shouldn’t stop any non-Filipinos, as the service is very friendly, and if you are not familiar with the food, they are more than happy to explain the menu. The food is nothing fancy, but good, homestyle food, much like you’d find in any Filipino home. Portions are large, and prices are very reasonable. You can easily eat for under $10.

Here are some photos of our meal tonight:

Lumpia shanghai ($8.50)

chicken adoblsilog ($7.45). Chicken adobo, two fried eggs and garlic fried rice.

pancit bihon guisado ($8.95). Rice stick noodles sauteed with chicken, shrimp amd vegetables.

longsilog ($7.45).  Pork longaniza sausages, two fried eggs and garlic fried rice. Yummmm….

close up of the longaniza. Note the cup of chopped garlic in vinegar.

Bottom line, enough food for 3, $36 plus tip. If you are near South SF, check it out. It is located just off Westborough just north of El Camino Real, 1/2 block from the Blockbuster Video.

Ongpin Restaurant 73 Camaritas Ave.South San Francisco, CA 94080 (650)615-9618

Mon-Thu 9:00AM-10:00PM, Fri-Sat 9:00AM-10:30PM, Sun 9:00AM-10:00PM

Burrito King breakfast, LA

Posted in Road trip with tags , , , on September 13, 2008 by junkfoodie

Here is a pic of my breakfast from Burrito King in Los Angeles. Let me preface this post by saying that Burrito King is NOT my favorite taco stand in LA, but it is my wife’s favorite. They have several branches, but this shot is from their Hyperion location. We often hit the Echo Park location at Sunset and Alvarado late at night, and it’s usually pretty crowded, and fairly safe. They seem to have a more extensive menu at the Sunset location, but the Hyperion location has a serve-yourself salsa/condiment bar which has chopped onions, lime, cilantro and encurtido in addition to several salsas.

This plate pretty much sums up what Burrito King is all about: cheap, plentiful portions of decent-but-not-great Mexican-American food. This photo is of the “Mexican Breakfast #2” or Machaca con Huevos. They describe this as “shredded beef prepared with mild Mexican spices and scrambled with two eggs and served with rice and refried beans”. I topped mine with onions, cilantro, salsa and encurtido (pickled carrots, onions and peppers), and ended up with a serious plate of breakfast for only $4.65!

Sno Flake Drive In, South Lake Tahoe

Posted in Road trip with tags , on September 13, 2008 by junkfoodie

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in South Lake Tahoe, stop by the Sno Flake Drive In off Highway 50 right by the lake. It’s located right across the street from the Campground by the Lake, near the boat launch. It’s an old fashioned burger stand that has a great ice cream counter. They’ve got great hand scooped shakes, sundaes and splits. We always stop by for a chocolate dipped soft-serve or a chocolate malt. I’ve never tried anything from the grill, but it seems to always be crowded with locals chowing down on burgers and fries, and finishing off with a shake or sundae. Just take a look at the people in the picture above. We waited about 30 minutes for ice cream over the 4th of July weekend this year. If you see the crowd lining up inside, but you only want something from the fountain, like a shake or cone, don’t wait inside and head to the express window in front. We found out the hard way that the inside line is only for the grill. There are no signs, and we just fell into the line because we just followed the crowd. Prices are cheap, with shakes under $4, and burgers under $5.

There is a plaque inside proving that hey were voted ” Best Shake in Tahoe” for the last couple of years. Not sure how much competition there was for that award though.


Sno Flake In 3057 Lake Tahoe Blvd. South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 (530)544-6377

Food Porn part 2….

Posted in junkfoodie Hall of Fame on September 12, 2008 by junkfoodie

Sauteed “ris de veau” (sweetbreads), glazed spring onions, blackberries, swiss chard leaves and black truffle sauce.

Sweet butter-poached Maine lobster tail, golden Chanterelle mushrooms, Brentwood sweet corn and applewood smoked bacon.

Snake River Farms “Calotte du boeuf grillee”, roasted romaine lettuce, beets “Cuits sous vide”, bone marrow pudding and “sauce au Raifort”.

Probably THE best piece of beef I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Andante Dairy “Acapella”, olive oil genoise, Silverado Trail strawberries and young fennel.

….to be continued.