Tired of eating at the same place everyday? Do you want to try something new, but have no idea where to begin to look? Here are the five food venues that generate the most revenue at SF State. The list is based on a survey conducted by the Cesar Chavez Student Center in October 2013 and includes responses from three thousand five hundred and ninty students. The study also revealed that students use the Student Center mostly for the food venues. The dishes I chose are my personal favorite items. Take a look! You might discover your new favorite place.
Ingredients: ½ lb. of Fed beef served on toasted sesame bun with the fixes: mayo, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles. It is also served with your choice of: French fries, Cole slaw or spring mix salad with balsamic dressing.
The piece of the steak is juicy. The hamburger is a good size. I could not finish it all, so I saved half of the hamburger for the rest of the day.
Living in a city that is home to over six hundred bars and restaurants as well as a ton of eccentric characters has its perks. But between attempting to afford San Francisco’s increasingly high rents, school supplies, and student loan interest to pay off, I can not afford to spend money on whatever high-priced drink is in fashion at any given moment. And quite frankly, I am sick of hearing people rant and rave about $12 mojitos and attending brewery tours. As a middle finger to the exclusive (and expensive) alcohol scene in San Francisco, I have provided four of the best spots in the city to get drinks while adhering to that strict budget you have placed yourself on.
Located on 3rd Avenue and Geary Boulevard in the Richmond district, Buckshot is a hidden gem in a city with one bar for every ten people. The crowd that can be found there on any given night is comprised of people that live in the neighborhood and University of San Francisco students; if you are sound enough to observe how the two different demographics interact, hilarity often ensues. I have witnessed old men dancing in the middle of large groups of sorority girls and drunk, middle-aged women inquiring about where they could “get something good to eat,” despite Buckshot having an in-house kitchen and being located in between a pizza place and a Burger King.
There is no jukebox at Buckshot, but there is a DJ there every night of the week, and if you come on the third Thursday of any given month you will be treated to Brown Noise, a monthly party where early aughts, hip hop, and R&B are played exclusively. If that is not your style, check out Punk Rock Tuesdays.
A simple whiskey and coke here will run you around $4 and a sixteen ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon will cost you $3. Both of which you can enjoy while being stared at by the taxidermy bear, deer, and cougar heads mounted on the fluorescent orange walls or while you stare up at whatever torture-porn horror movie is playing on one of three television screens, displayed on those same walls. They have every arcade game you could ever want to play (which probably is not many if you are like me), shuffleboard, pool, darts, and skee-ball.
The cheapness of the drinks, dark lighting, and the presence of a dance floor makes Buckshot a great place to have fun with some friends or get drunk and make out with a stranger, if you are into that sort of thing.
What better way for a cash-strapped college student to lower the price tag of a night out than splitting the cost of libations with friends? If you are looking to indulge in a punch-bowl filled with alcohol with a couple of friends—or alone, no one is judging you—then there is Trad’r Sams. Conveniently located across the street from the 29 bus stop on Geary and 25th Avenue, this means you could come here directly from school, Trad’r Sam’s is advertised as a tiki bar. But, because the only light in the place can be attributed to a digital jukebox and a massive television that sits directly behind the bar playing sports, the island-y decorations are easily lost in the darkness of the room. Bamboo is huge here; it covers the front of the bar, the armrests of the worn chairs and booth seats throughout the establishment, and was even used to build a hut-like structure that covers one of the booths. Aside from the liberal use of bamboo, pastel colors of the drinks and the little umbrellas used to garnish them, there is no other indication that this is supposed to be a tiki bar.
Despite its sort of silly theme, this bar is just as popular with older neighborhood residents as it is with young college students who are just figuring out the limits of their alcohol tolerance. While one would think the combination of locals and drunk college kids would make for many awkward encounters, the two demographics rarely interact—the older women and men mostly sit on bar stools and the college students are dispersed at tables around the bar, only acknowledging each other when space is needed to be made at the bar to order drinks.
Which comes to my last point: the scorpion bowl. The scorpion bowl is what makes Trad’r Sam’s Trad’r Sam’s. It is a huge punch bowl filled with alcohol and can be ordered in its original form or in a variety of flavors, including Passion Punch. I believe I saw the bartender pour both rum and beer into the blender, but I cannot say for sure what else is in it. One thing I can say for sure—the drink is strong. A scorpion bowl will cost you sixteen dollars and I recommend splitting it with at least three other people; it will hurt your stomach and your wallet less.
I used to hear stories of my friends hanging out at Randy’s Place because that was supposedly where all the cute people that work at the Whole Foods across the street went after work. I was always reluctant to go because it takes an hour to get there from the Richmond, where I live. However, it is really close to school, a fifteen minute bus ride, which is perfect if you are looking to wind down after a day of classes, but do not want to be subjected to someone playing covers of pop songs on the piano at the school’s pub. And who could pass up a bar where you can get a shot of well whiskey and a pint of Budweiser for the low, low, price of $6?
Aside from the decorations on the wall that appear to have been remnants of a birthday party that occurred long ago, the bar is as stereotypical of a bar as you can get; there are three televisions, a pool table, a jukebox, and nine draft beers on tap.
Randy’s Place has been around since 1969, and is one of the few bars that remains on a stretch of Ocean Avenue where there used to be eight, according to the bartender, a woman named Susan. Though she has only been tending bar at Randy’s for the past five years, my suspicions tell me that Susan is one of the reasons Randy’s Place has been able to stay in business. She is super sweet and seemed to be on a first name basis with everyone at the bar – they gave her hugs, she offered them candy, apparently functioning as both bartender and surrogate mom.
In addition to Susan’s sweetness, Randy’s is great because it is located by two major bus lines–the K/T light rail line, the 29 bus stop—and sits between a McDonalds with a twenty-four hour drive-thru and another hidden San Francisco gem, Beep’s Burgers.
I have been to Chinatown maybe three times in my life. Once, to watch a Chinese New Year parade while I was in elementary school. Once because I got off of the bus at the wrong stop. And again during this cheap drink tour, at the suggestion of my photographer that we hit up Li – Po, a seventy-seven year old bar famous for a drink called the Chinese Mai Tai.
The gates to Chinatown are an eight minute walk from the Montgomery Street MUNI station, and Li-Po is about nine blocks past these gates. I timed it, and you will spend about fifteen minutes walking from the underground to Li-Po – a little less if you run half a block after seeing a roach (like I did).
Li-Po is easy to spot—it will likely be the only place open on Grant Street at 11 p.m—and when you walk in the door to the narrow entryway, you will be greeted not by a bouncer, but by a bright yellow poster board with a photo of Anthony Bourdain and a man I am assuming is the bar’s owner glued to it. The poster proudly states “Anthony Bourdain came here on layover in 2012.”
At $9, the Chinese Mai Tai is a little more expensive than the other drinks consumed on this journey, but it comes in a goblet, and just one will get you a pretty nice buzz. It is also really good, which is shocking because I cannot think of any other time mixing five different alcohols in one drink was even in the realm of goodness.
The bar itself was dingy and sparsely decorated with some haphazardly arranged lanterns, a huge altar for Buddha right behind the bar, and two televisions. There was music, but I could not see where it was coming from and did not know who was in charge of it, but I would like to thank them for playing some of my middle school favorites: “Goodies” by Ciara and “Magic Stick” by 50 Cent.
If you cannot make it to Chinatown, the bartender tipped us off on the ingredients necessary for making a Chinese Mai Tai: Whaler’s Dark Rum, Castillo’s Light Rum, Bacardi 151 Rum, Chinese rice wine, Dole pineapple juice, and Chinese rice whiskey. Feel free to make it at home, just do not call it a Chinese Mai Tai—Li-Po’s owner had that name trademarked last year.
Fall is just around the corner, and how do we know this? Because Starbucks has unleashed their fall drinks including their infamous pumpkin spice latte! Companies far and wide are jumping on the pumpkin spice craze this year and have created a pumpkin spice classics of their own.
Below is a list of some of the craziest pumpkin spice products on the market and, being the brave soul that I am, I tried each and every one of them to save everyone the hassle of deciding what they really wanted, because, you know, deciding what pumpkin spice product you want can be a tough decision.
Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts: I tried these two different ways because there are two types of people in the world – those who warm up their Pop Tarts and those that eat them straight out of the package; I felt like I needed to fairly represent both. First, I tried the Pop Tart not warmed up and it was not bad. The pumpkin spice taste was strong as well as too sweet for my preference. I would probably only be able to eat one every so often because it would be too much for me. When warmed up, it was one hundred times better. I felt like the pumpkin spice taste was not as strong. It almost felt like I was eating a warm pie on Thanksgiving. If you are going to eat these, I would highly recommend heating them first. Rating: Good
Pumpkin Spice M&Ms: Actually, these do not taste like pumpkin spice. When I first opened the package and looked at the candy pieces, I thought I was in a world of trouble; they were big and fat and all I could think of was “this is going to be pumpkin spice overload.” I was surprised when I popped them into my mouth and they tasted like normal M&Ms, with the tiniest hint of nutmeg. After eating about four or five M&Ms, I did not even notice the nutmeg taste. Rating: Bad
Frontera Chipotle Pumpkin Salsa: No to all the nos – I did not like this one bit. If someone took a picture of my face when I was eating this, it would have looked like the squiggly faced emoji – the one that looks in pain. The salsa was extremely bland with a weird pumpkin taste and whole bunch of heat. The heat is not what bugged me, it was the pumpkin flavor. There was too much pumpkin that engulfed your mouth with every crunch of the chip and it did not complement the rest of the flavors in the salsa. Rating: Ugly
Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale: The beer tasted like a normal ale to me. If I did not know that this was supposed to be a pumpkin beer, than I would not have realized that it had any type of pumpkin in it. It was a good beer, but it did not live up to what was on its label. Rating: Bad
Chobani Pumpkin Spice Blended Greek Yogurt: This was really good in my opinion. It was not too sweet and it did not have an overwhelming taste of pumpkin spice. It tastes like Chobani took a pumpkin pie and mashed it into Greek yogurt. It is really creamy and does not have any chunks in it like some Greek yogurt can have. I also really like the light orange color it has. Rating: Good
In the end, most of the products I tasted were not that bad and I think that a lot of people would like them if they like sweet foods. I’m not a fan of super sweet food, which is why I liked the Chobani yogurt the best. Pumpkin spice is a great blessing in disguise and I will always give a new pumpkin spice product a try just because I love it that much. Now, I am off to get yet another pumpkin spice latte and welcome fall!
With a dry and sweltering atmosphere, only two words can describe this Bay Area moment – disgustingly hot. Out comes the cargo shorts, bro tanks, and flower crowns. No, we’re not at Coachella. We’re in San Francisco, and it just hit 72 degrees. The sun’s blazing rays make me feel grimy and parched. During these unusually hot SF days, drinking boba is the best way for me to beat the heat.
Milk tea, also known as boba, a pearl drink, or bubble tea, is a refreshing mix of milk, sugar and tea. The result is a smooth and creamy taste. The drink comes in a variety of flavors and can be served either hot or cold. From tropical flavors like passion fruit and mango, to stronger ones like earl grey and Oolong. This popular tea drink, which originated from Taiwan, contains sweet, gummy tapioca balls made from cassava root. The boba hype has been huge in the city, so I searched for the best boba cafes.
Boba Guys is not your traditional boba joint. For starters, they have interesting flavors like horchata, coconut green tea, and muscat oolong. The cafe’s minimal interior design is very Tumblr-esque with its white walls, wooden countertops, and chalkboard menu. Drinks cost around $3 to $4, which is a bit pricy for boba, but you’re getting high-quality milk tea. Forget the powder tea packets. Boba Guys brews all their drinks with real tea and mixes them with Straus organic milk. I’ve been there multiple times, so it’s safe to say their drinks have a perfect consistency. The tapioca balls are not overcooked, not too chewy, and the tea is never overpowering. It’s not too creamy, not too sweet, just right. If you want a sweeter drink, you can adjust the sweetness by asking a “bobarista,” (seriously, that’s what they’re called) they’ll adjust the drink.
Drinks to try: Horchata Milk Tea, Iced Matcha Latte, Hong Kong Style
Instead of using sugary syrups, Plentea blends fresh fruit in their drinks. This creates sweet, light tasting milk teas, and you can actually taste the fruit. The tapioca is soft and not too chewy. You can choose from a variety of toppings like aloe, honey boba, lychee jelly and more. Like other boba places, you can adjust the drink’s sweetness. All drinks are served in glass bottles that you can keep. Bring yours back and you’ll get a discount on your next drink. Word of advice: ask your server to go easy on the ice. Too much ice waters down the flavor.
Drinks to try: Brown Sugar Ice Milk With Pudding, Sea Salt Crema With Honey Boba
Like Plentea, you can adjust the sweetness of your drink and add honey flavored tapioca balls. But with Tpumps, the combination of flavors are endless. You can mix up to three flavors together and add a variety of boba and jellies. There are many flavors to choose from: peach, passionfruit, lychee, mango, blueberry, the list goes on! Flavors are consistent and the tea is well-brewed. The teas are not strong, and they do not taste diluted as compared to other places.
Drinks to try: Lychee Raspberry Rose Milk Tea, Mango Peach Milk Tea With Honey Boba
Matcha red bean, brown rice milk, and taro are just a few of Sharetea’s unique flavors. Their tapioca is too chewy in my opinion, but their flavors are on point. Drinks have a good milk to tea ratio. My personal favorite was the Hokkaido pearl milk tea. It had a rich caramel toffee flavor. It was a bit salty, but also sweet. If you’re looking for some authentic tapioca drinks, Sharetea is the place to go.
Drinks to try: Hokkaido Pearl Milk Tea, Mango Milk Tea
Purple Kow has a ridiculously long wait, but that is ok, because their drinks are worth it. And $3 to $4 gets you a huge cup (it will NOT fit in your cupholder). This place has hands down, one of richest flavors of milk tea. The drinks are really sweet and creamy, which is great, because I have big sweet tooth. The texture reminds me of a milkshake. Warning: if you’re not fond of the creamy texture and extreme sweetness, you might get a stomachache, but you can always ask your server to adjust the sweetness or opt for a light flavored milk tea to still enjoy this tasty treat.
Drinks to try: Matcha Green Milk Tea, Honey Milk Black Tea
Beef pho rolls from Rice Paper Scissors. Photo by Catherine Uy
Azalina's meatball sub was hearty and delicious, according to one attendee. Photo by Hillary Smith
Salumeria's fried chicken drew a constant line of hungry customers throughout the festival. Photo by Hillary Smith
Mexican macaroons with chocolate from La Victoria Bakery Corp. Photo by Catherine Uy
The food festival brought out an array of colorful street performers. This man, for example, dressed as a giant dancing skeleton. Photo by Catherine Uy
Asian street food truck Chairman served authentic steam and baked buns nonstop at the annual event. But Chairman is also known for its pork burgers, which are sweet and delicious, this couple said. Photo by Hillary Smith
A cook from Kama Food Lab prepares “super samosas.” Photo by Catherine Uy
A musician entertains festival-goers as they wait in line for their food. Photo by Catherine Uy
Cholita Linda' Peruvian street food tent was quick at serving up freshly made carne asada and baja fish tacos, which were ordered almost every minute. Photo by Hillary Smith
Last Saturday, thousands gathered to celebrate La Cocina’s 6th Annual (and final) Street Food Festival. The widely anticipated event took place in the Mission District, and showcased more than 80 Bay Area vendors. With free admission, delicious food, and drinks at cheap prices, it was every foodie’s dream come true.
As a fellow foodie, I felt obligated to try almost every food truck and stand. The variety of food available included everything from El Sur’s braised short rib empanadas to Rice Paper Scissors’ beef pho rolls. I cried a little inside after I finished eating El Sur’s empanadas. They were light, fluffy, and bursting with flavor. The beef pho rolls from Rice Paper Scissors were a unique twist on Vietnamese spring rolls. Instead of using rice paper, beef and lettuce were wrapped in thick rice noodles. It tastes exactly like you are eating a bowl of beef pho, but without the broth and extra toppings.
According to the event’s website, this was La Cocina’s last street food festival. Word is that they’re looking for another location to host their epic block party. So, if you missed out on last weekend, don’t fret! Most of the vendors are from San Francisco. Here’s a list of our top 8 favorite vendors and where to find them on a regular basis.