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Dining Notes 2.0, March 2002

San Francisco Dining Suggestions

Once I realized I had a sweet little servers-in-T-shirts theme going with a recent column on Delfina, Blue Plate and Emmy's, I didn't have room to talk about some other totally kick*ss meals I've had lately. Here's the skim.

Beef Pho Soup from Sunflower Vietnamese at 16th and Valencia or Hung Yen at 18th and Harrison: The Cold/flu Cure-All! Three times now I have whipped a heavy-duty cold/flu bug with beef pho, a rich, brothy rice noodle soup served hot enough to cook the thin-sliced raw beef which accompanies it. Factor in fresh basil, lemon, jalapenos, bean sprouts and seemingly suspicious beef balls which are actually delicious with some hoisin, and you're set. Sunflower is my regular haunt, since the people there are so sweet, but that's not to knock Hung Yen, where the pho is just as effective. Neither delivers, but at least Sunflower is near Arinell Pizza, another non-delivering treat administrator. Make sure to add chili sauce to your pho, since hot chases cold (that's right, get all New Age on your illness). It increases the healing properties if someone you love brings the soup to your house.

Sunflower Vietnamese Restaurant
3111 16th Street
(16th @ Valencia)
phone: 415.626.5023
Cuisine: Vietnamese

Hung Yen Vietnamese Restaurant
3100 18th Street
(18th @ Harrison)
phone: 415.621.8531
Cuisine: Vietnamese

French Toast at Hungry Joe's, 29th and Church: Real Tasty! I feel kind of like a jerk for telling a mass audience about Hungry Joe's, since it's a bit of a hood secret recently revealed to me by my good friend Kate, but I loves my people, and you SF Station people, you are good people, and I trust you. Go get some above-par diner-style eggs and coffee at the counter or at an outdoor café table. Check the tall waitress' totally Pretty In Pink style while you're at it.

Hungry Joe's
1748 Church Street
(Church @ 29th)
phone: 415.282.7333
Cuisine: Small American Diner

Barbara's Fish Trap, Half Moon Bay: Best Fried Seafood Basket with a View North of Neptune's Net! I come from South Carolina, where you go to a seafood restaurant and order a mess of fried shrimps, scallops, fishes and fries and you eat them up with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce and coleslaw. Regardless of which coast you're on, sometimes you get to do this by the sea, but you usually pay the rent when the check comes. At Barbara's, you get charm, fresh deliciousness, waterfront viewing, and a low check total, especially before 5 pm when lunch prices skyrocket to dinner rates. The clam chowder is perfection. Fried clams can be had from a walkaway counter or at a gingham tablecloth. It's tops, plus it's right near Maverick's, a dramatic surf break with pretty little seashells and tide pools. If you're ever at the Ventura County Line down south, Neptune's Net, an outdoor seaside shack deluxe featured in the seminal action film Point Break, will provide similarly, albeit less formally, with bikers!

Barbara's Fish Trap
281 Capistrano Road
Half Moon Bay, CA
phone: 650.728.7049
Cuisine: Fresh Seafood

Le Krewe, Valencia @ 21st: You've Been Curious About This Place. The décor at this New Orleans restaurant is tacky to the point of being embarrassing, but the food is delicious and they serve Abita Amber, a New Orleans beer that plays hard to get in parts not Louisianan. You may have to endure a roomful of people in Mardi Gras beads, but the crabcakes and jambalaya are worth it, and although it's not a $5 meal, it's not too pricey either.

Le Krewe
995 Valencia Street
(Valencia @ 21st)
phone: 415.643.0995
Cuisine: Creole Cuisine

Thai Buddhist Temple Sunday Brunch, Berkeley: Low-Fi Outdoor Love. Tents, picnic tables, and mounds of mango sticky rice abound at this weekly outdoor brunch, which runs roughly from 9am to 2pm or so. Enjoy the sounds of gongs and bells, the smells of incense and fried fried, and the funky East Bay peeps one block from the Ashby BART station. The pad thai's a little dry and fishy, but the pork skewers, mango sticky rice, hot noodle soup (watch for tripe) and assorted curries, all less than $3 a pop or $5 for a combined plate, are divine. Plus you get to buy your thai iced tea with charming little tokens. Browse the Ashby BART flea market after for Nigerian beads and funny sunglasses. From SF, take the Ashby exit off of 80, turn left on MLK, and turn immediately right onto Russell, right by the Tool Lending Library. The church is on your left at Russell and Otis. Or, take BART to Ashby, cross Ashby and walk one block north on Otis.

Thai Buddhist Temple Mongholratanaram
1911 Russell Street
(Russell @ MLK)
Berkeley, CA
phone: 510.849.3419
Cuisine: Thai Sunday Brunch