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Line Cooks and Late Night Eats

The Search Continues

A few new restaurants under our belt, the kitchen crew at A16 has continued our after-hours eating adventures in San Francisco. Though the temptation runs deep to return to our current favorite Thai House (on Larkin at Geary), we have tried to give other eateries a chance and have come across some interesting finds. Little did we know that an unassuming Vietnamese restaurant on Broadway would provide late-night sustenance in a scallion pancake or that a dodgy looking burger joint on the same street would win our affections with great prices and incredible onion rings. We also found that when all else fails, Bob's donuts on Polk will be glazing a steaming batch of their specialty at 1:15am.

Sam's
Perhaps because we spend much of our day at A16 inundated with pecorino cheeses, rich braises, and pizza, our tired taste buds often want satisfying food at the end of the night that does not play tribute to any part of Italy. After one particularly long week, we all needed a good burger. We headed to Sam's on Broadway and piled into the counter seats at this narrow, inconspicuous joint. Ignoring the dismal pizza spinning under a heat lamp in the window, we ordered cheeseburgers, onion rings, and fries. The onion rings were excellent: crisp with a light batter that stays on the onion ring even after the first bite. The burgers were reminiscent of a high school football game's snack bar, but in a good way. And where else in San Francisco can you have a cheeseburger, onion rings, and a cold beer for $8? We all agreed that Sam's, with its odd, dusty memorabilia and cheery service, was a perfect spot for budget-minded late night eating.

My Canh
The following Monday, after another hot night working around a pizza oven inferno, we were craving the refreshing flavors of Vietnamese food. Late-night options slim, we settled on the only place that came to mind: My Canh on Broadway a few doors up from Sam's. To be honest, we weren't expecting too much from the nondescript storefront that was virtually empty save a large table of Vietnamese watching TV and playing cards. After ordering we were quickly inundated with spring rolls, pho, noodles, Vietnamese pancakes, and enough fresh herbs and bean sprouts to satisfy the hungriest raw food advocate. Though we'll admit that the meal was not on par with our favorite joints (the spring rolls turned out to be as dry as we feared), there were definitely some highlights: one of us was applauded by the staff for his pancake eating technique; the noodles were delicious; and, when the bill for three people was under $24 (the average price per item was $5), we had little reason to complain.

Bob's Donuts
Vietnamese food and donuts make unlikely companions, but somehow we figured that a trip to Bob's Donuts on Polk was in order to round off our day. San Francisco's cheeriest donut vendor welcomed us from behind the counter and assured us that hot donuts were on their way if we could wait. After 15 minutes, the donuts emerged from the back and were deftly fried and glazed before our eyes as we munched on donut hole appetizers. Next we dove into the steamy, glazed donuts, thankful that we had waited. After parting with our dollar's worth of donuts, we thanked the staff and promised that we'd return soon.

[Editor's note: after reading Kate Leahy's first late night eats article, we tried Great Eastern for dim sum -- and found it to be the best ever. Trust Kate!]