Although the boundaries are not clearly stated, Little Saigon is generally thought to be a 3-4 block stretch of Larkin Street and some of its cross streets. The area is strife with eateries, mostly small, very authentic operations. With so many choices, it can be difficult to parse through all the options. But there are some spots that are definitely on the must-try list.
Ler Ros Thai: The original (a second location opened recently in Hayes Valley) is one of the most authentic Thai restaurants in San Francisco. The menu is immense with options that may be familiar to customers and some that are a bit more on the adventurous side. There is never a shortage of spices coming through each dish, which can go from spicy to flamethrower hot. The restaurant is not very large so there can be a bit of a wait for diners. But it is well worth it. Service is also friendlier than at some of the other establishments in the area. Ler Ros Thai is located at 730 Larkin St., open seven days a week, 11 am-midnight.
Bodega Bistro: One of the better Vietnamese restaurants, Bodega Bistro offers a relaxed and comfortable environment. One of the things I noticed about most of the restaurants in the area is that the food usually comes out within five minutes of ordering; everything can feel a bit rushed. The service was quick at Bodega Bistro, but there seemed to be a bit of time to relax between dishes as well. It offers one of the best bowls of pho I have ever had. It cleared my sinuses and was so comforting on a cold San Francisco night. Bodega Bistro is located at 607 Larkin St., open for lunch seven days a week from 11-3, for dinner Mon-Wed, Sun from 5:00-9:30, Thurs-Sat 5:00-10:00 .
Turtle Tower: Vietnamese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Where can I sign up? Turtle Tower has unusual hours (open at 8:30, closed at 7:30) but serves up great cuisine. There is nothing fancy about the interior (it has that diner feel to it), but service is attentive and prompt. And at any time of the day, the food is great (I must admit, pho for breakfast is not a bad thing). Turtle Tower is located at 631 Larkin St., open seven days a week from 8:30-7:30.
Sai Jai Thai: Walking into Sai Jai Thai, the aroma of unbelievably comforting Thai food wafts through the air. Sai Jai Thai has a unique interior and serves up plenty of great food. While the menu is not quite as large as Ler Ros Thai, there is plenty to choose from, including some great noodle and curry dishes. Sai Jai Thai is located at 771 O’Farrell St., open seven days a week from 11-11 .
Pagolac: Just order the “Seven Flavors of Beef.” That’s what many people will say, but there is actually plenty of other great options on Pagolac’s menu. But the seven flavors of beef is what the restaurant is known for. Fast and friendly service and a quiet, serene interior make this a friendly overall dining experience. Pagolac is located at 655 Larkin St., open Tues-Sun from 5-10pm.
These are just some of the options of where to dine in Little Saigon, an area which truly offers a great way to explore the food of Vietnam and Thailand, all for a very reasonable price. One warning: some of the spots are cash only so bring some extra just in case.