Written By Xpress Magazine Staff
San Francisco is 47 square miles. Within those miles cage between skyscrapers and Victorian architecture, there’s a plethora of hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants and knick-knack stores. Some of which are noteworthy; others are unexceptional. Our Xpress Staff has embodied the City by the Bay and is showcasing why this city reigns supreme. Here is the Best of San Francisco: SF State Edition.
Best Mediocre Cocktail with a Great View — Empress of China838 Grant Ave. (415) 434-1345
Head through a bazaar of lanterns, keepsake chopsticks and kitanas until you reach the back elevator, transcend as high as it’ll take you, and you’ve just touched down at a Chinatown cocktail secret. At most hours, the pagoda-hooded bar is completely empty. Near sunset, order a Tyku mojito from the 90-year old bartender in a green coat. The $10 lychee mojito will barely get you buzzed, but take a seat on any of the pleather green swivel seats and hopefully the stunning view of Coit Tower will soften the blow to your wallet.
– Rhys Alvardo
If you’re a chicken and waffle fan, you probably enjoy the delicacy no matter how it’s prepared. Personally, I consider Dino Nuggets on an Eggo an above par dinner. But if you fancy something a little less sketch, Hot Sauce and Panko on Clement and 17th has revolutionized the chicken and waffle game with the “Ultra Goliath Waffle Sandwich”. By putting two pieces of crispy fried chicken, cabbage and sriracha between slices of a Belgian waffle, they’ve engineered a way to guarantee meat and waffle in every bite, and a to make me, and probably most C and W fans, really really happy. Syrup is available and should be applied without restraint. I’d recommend topping off your Goliath with one of the approximately three hundred hot sauces on display. It will make for an ideal capper on what is one of the uniquely satisfying meat and batter combinations in the city.
– Jake Montero
Best Late Night Pizza Joint – Golden Boy Pizza542 Green St (415) 982-9738
If you’re looking for a great late night slice of pizza in North Beach, Golden Boy Pizza is for you. Widely known for their Clam and Garlic pizza, Golden Boy offers generous sized pizza squares with a variety of toppings like sausage, pepperoni, and veggie. Fork and knife are required as is cash, and you may need spare cash for that irresistible second slice. Golden Boy definitely lives up to their slogan, “Where it is Hip to be Square!”
Best Calzone in the City – Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House
There are a lot of pizza joints in the city by the bay. But, there’s only one place to get the best calzone in Frisco – Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House in North Beach. Hand-tossed, perfectly seasoned and lightly crispy, these big-ass calzone’s come stacked with homemade marinara, real cheese, delicious meats and vegetables. There’s Gouda dude. Shit will fill you up, and the employees take pride in how they prepare and serve it. “This is the best calzone ever,” said the counter-clerk as he handed the smoldering cheese pie, wrapped in a white box that contained a side of sauce. Dude!!! The place is into the craft of making pies – that’s why it’s the best. Hands down. And the price…ha! In a city full of over-priced, measly, and bogus deals – like an $18 sandwich, or a $14 burger (without fries) – the calzone is only (intentionally blank) dollars. Shit man, it’s so cheap I’m not even gonna say. Cause I don’t want all you fools coming and ordering up all the calzones and leaving me hungry. It will suffice to say that one calzone costs less than a pack of Marlboros in Arkansas. That’s fucking cheap. I’m not even gonna tell you the address, find it yourself…bitches!
Best Sandwich Place — Roxie’s Food Center1901 San Jose Ave (415) 587-2345
Magic. That’s the only way I can describe the sandwiches from Roxie’s. Sheer, udder magic. If Tolkien were around at this time, we’d be waiting for big screen adaptations of The Hoagie: An Unexpected Pastrami hitting box offices near you. Located at the corner of Balboa Park, Roxie’s is a little liquor store that has found a way to craft the best sandwich in town. They’re jubilatious displays of fine sandwich craftery. It is most certainly a meal that is more than the sum of its parts. The go to sandwich that every visitor should order is the Simon Special. Turkey, pastrami, jalapeños and cheese toasted to perfection on a Dutch crunch roll. You’re expectations might be a little high for this sandwich, but it’s just a sandwich. However, if you don’t like it, you should immediately turn yourself into the Men In Black, because you are clearly a pod person sent to earth with inferior taste buds and an aching hole in your stomach that will never be filled properly. Now go, it’s time for you to grab a Simon and leave the Shire. Magic awaits.
Best No Bullshit Sushi — Yum Yum Sushi2181 Irving St (415) 566-6433
When I think of comfort food, it’s all about how it makes you feel. The setting, price, nor the cleanliness of the kitchen matters to me. Even if you’re forced to sit on the sidewalk to enjoy that bowl of noodles, it’ll make you happier than any Michelin-star joint because it’s exactly what you wanted.
I don’t frequent many places in the city because there is always somewhere new to try (and I’m broke). However, Yum Yum Fish on Irving Street and 23rd Avenue has seen me scarf down more platters of sushi than any other place in San Francisco.
This little gem has been satisfying my craving for high quality fish at dirt-cheap prices for a couple years now.
First off, it’s not really a restaurant. It’s a small fish market with three tables where you can enjoy their pretty extensive sushi menu. Second, there are a couple things you should know going in. One, it smells like a fish market, so if you’re not used to the aroma that is reminiscent of Chinatown grocery stores, suck it up or get out. And lastly, get there early because they stop serving sushi when the rice runs out.
The beauty of it being a fish market means everything is fresh, most likely came in the morning of and is seasonal. They pretty much have every magical sea creature you can imagine, like semi-top notch toro, uni, and hotate. My favorite is the unagi, or barbequed freshwater eel, which is only around $1.75 a piece.
Yes, that’s one dollar and seventy-five cents apiece. Expect to be surprised at how little you’ll end up spending. The average bill for two is $30! When I spoil myself and go a little crazy, I generally end up spending $20. This is unheard of in a city where you must expect to pay at least $50-$100 per person at some bougie izakaya or sushi bar. Those places rock, but sadly don’t fit into my lifestyle. And considering how on point their rice-to-fish ratio is, this place is basically a blessing.
– Nicole Debarro
Best Place To Get Your Nails Did — Crystal Nails2347 Clement St (415) 752-4425
Far past San Francisco State on the other side of Golden Gate Park lays the Outer Richmond, one of San Francisco’s hidden treasures. The micro-hood boasts countless restaurants, a variety of mom and pop stores, which specializes in things from stationary and imported spirits to hot sauce, and a 24-hour Subway. But, the true gem of the Outer Richmond is Crystal Nails, located on Clement Street between 24th and 25th Avenue. Crystal Nails is great because where else could you go in this expensive city and receive a full manicure––including acrylic nails and long-lasting gel polish favored by celebrities and broke college students alike, for less than $40? Though, I have yet to be daring enough to venture into the world of nail charms and 3D nail art, based on the cache of iPhone photos featuring of some of the fanciest manicures I’ve ever seen (courtesy of my nail technician), it’s safe to say the ladies of Crystal Nails excel in that arena as well.
Best No Frills Thrift Store — Goodwill4631 Mission St (415) 239-8070
This Goodwill thrift store, located on Mission Street, has too many things going for it. Not only is it in a far away district that many hipsters have not yet discovered, it is also the recipient of all the slightly flawed goods from Target and Urban Outfitters. That’s right, Urban Outfitters. Also unlike other thrift stores this one has held true to the basic definition of a thrift store—It’s cheap. We are talking brand new slightly dented French presses for five bucks, Free people T-shirts for $3.99 and J. Crew Pants in every color and size. The building that houses this thrift mecca looks straight out of the 30’s. It has a tall towering majestic street front with moldings and a big neon marquee GOODWILL. Your fellow shoppers will consist of mostly families and people over the age of 50, and the music they play leaves much to be desired, but it all goes along with the atmosphere. As most people who live in San Francisco are scraping for money, this establishment keeps good on its principle—affordable, reusable goods that people give up under their own free will. And that is just so so good.
Best Place For Free Wi-Fi — Java On Ocean1700 Ocean Ave (415) 333-6075
If you’re a WiFi/coffee junkie who likes to pretend like they’re actually working in a cafe, Java On Ocean is the best shop in the city. On Ocean and directly on the K-Line (or a mile down from Balboa Park BART), Java on Ocean is a quiet establishment that has lots of seating and a fair number of outlets, which is a place any connection-obsessed student who needs to get out of the house and focus. Even better, the coffee is great, and there’s a decent selection of food to get you going when it’s crunch time. The biggest perk to this shop is the WiFi–it’s fast and it’s free. Create your account and connect, and you’re good to go for all your browsing needs.
Best Place To Nap On Campus — The room on the terrace level of the Caesar Chavez Student Center
Let’s face it, right now in the semester we are deep in the trenches. It’s project after project and it seems endless. Doing all this work is tiring and sometimes you just have to take a nap on campus. After all, naps are good for the soul. It’s a fact. So instead of falling asleep at some uncomfortable spot in the library, come to this napping paradise, aka the Secret Sleep Society. Pick a couch or a chair and get cozy. Even bring a Snuggie or your favorite ocean sound CD if that’s your thing. Feel free to nap without judgment because everyone there doing the exact same thing. The majority of people are getting their sleep on, so why not join them and feel your worries slip away as you dream about Ryan Gosling telling you lines from the Notebook. After waking from an awesome nap, you’ll feel so refreshed that you can go back out there and finish that homework like a boss. So what are you waiting for? Sleep to your heart’s content.
– Jennifer Moreno
Best of Cheese Steaks — Jake’s Steaks3301 Buchanan St (415) 922-2211
If you’ve ever been to Philadelphia and sampled a traditional cheese steak, you’ll know firsthand how difficult it can be to find one of similar quality on the west coast. Maybe the cheese is second-rate, the bread is underwhelming or the meat is just dry and lacks flavor. But fear not San Franciscan Cheese Steak lover, as a magical place capable of fulfilling all your greasy, hoagie needs does exist—Jake’s Steaks, located at 3301 Buchanan St. in the Marina. Their deployment of classical rib eye steak, whiz cheese (as well as American and provolone), and Amoroso rolls unite together to make a delicious fiesta in your mouth, leaving your taste buds dancing the night away. So next Sunday, if you find yourself hankering for something tasty and a place to watch the football games, pop on in to Jake’s and order yourself a Whiz With…but don’t forget to dawn some Eagles attire while you’re at it. Side note: they throw out free Jell-O shots when the birds score a touchdown. Yes, I told you, this place is magical.
Best Not Your Ordinary Sunday Brunch Place – Brenda’s Soul Food652 Polk St (415) 345-8100
Tired of the same old eggs, bacon and potatoes joint for Brunch? Well, Brenda’s Soul Food is the place. With some Southern Comfort, Creole-style, Brenda’s Soul Food will spice up—literally—and revive your Sunday Funday.
Located in the Tenderloin, Brenda’s is a quant and lovely restaurant with a reserved storefront. Other than it’s sign, scarlet red paint and the crowd of people that congregate at the entrance, by-passer wouldn’t notice its presents on Polk Street. Inside, Brenda’s exposed brick and concrete walls, mirror-heavy décor and distress mural of San Francisco’s shipping company are an ideal arrangement to create this special place where the City by the Bay and the Louisiana bayou live in matrimony.
Not only that, its food feels like guest are in the upper echelon where soul food was conceived. Guest should start off with a Beignet Flight, an arrangement of Brenda’s delicious beignet — Traditional, Granny Smith Apple, Chocolate and Crawfish. Next, patrons should pick from its House Favorites. I recommended the Shrimp and Grits; a healthy serving of sautéed shrimps smothered with cheddar grits and topped with spicy tomato-bacon gravy. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.
Brenda’s Soul Food is the place to step-up anyone’s Brunch game. A word from the wise: arrive early; Brenda’s on Sunday is madhouse. A group of hungry patrons converge to Brenda’s and you don’t want to be stuck outside all day, do you?