5 Things Midtown Needs From San Francisco

Bay Area Food 2009
Double Double w/ Cheese (and grilled onions)

I was in the Bay Area over the weekend, and was able to partake in five things that Midtown Lunch desperately needs! #1 is the most obvious… and has been mentioned a million times before: In N Out Burger!  Because everything is sourced fresh from the west coast, it’s unlikely that this will happen anytime soon- but there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to get the other four things!

Bay Area Food 2009

#2. A burrito that is 2/3 the size of a 3 month old baby.

Bay Area Food 2009

Oh, and it should be able to stand up on its own.  None of this fork and knife bullshit.  This carnitas burrito came from (what I thought was) a nothing place in Mountain View, California (but apparently is well known), called Taqueria Los Charros. And it was 1000 times better than anything I’ve ever had in New York City.

Bay Area Food 2009

#3. Enormous tacos.  Sure we have Tehuitzingo (on 10th Ave. btw. 47+48th) and the El Rey Del Sabor Cart (on 60th and 3rd) has finally brought some delicious Mexican food to Midtown… but these were on a-whole-nother level.  The carnitas (on the right) was awesome, but the cabeza (on the left) was ridiculous.  And I’ve never seen tacos with this much meat in them.  Delicious salsa verde on every table sealed the deal. (From La Taqueria in the Mission… thanks to the Foodbuzz crew for the recommendation!)

Bay Area Food 2009

#4. Good Vietnamese Food. We finally got an out of control Banh Mi place (even though it is out of bounds), and you can now get generic deli versions of bun and pho from Boi Sandwich on 3rd Ave. (btw. 44+45th)  But this city has a real problem with decent Vietnamese food.  Once again, I went to some hole in the wall place in Mountain View, that isn’t even considered that good- and had a better bun (with pork and spring rolls) than anything you get in NYC.  Is this stuff really that hard to make!?!

Bay Area Food 2009

#5. This crazy version of a cheap Chinese food buffet.  As a lover of cheap Chinese food of all kinds (I’m seriously addicted to the stuff) I was amazed by this buffet at one of the 99 Ranch Supermarkets.  I’ve had all you can eat cheap Chinese food.  I’ve had pay by the pound cheap Chinese food.  And of course, I’ve had the choose 2 items with rice or noodle Chinese food.  But this blew me away…  a $6.95, stuff all food you can into a Styrofoam container, cheap Chinese food buffet (in a grocery store!  Awesome.)  They did have two rules: only rice and noodles in half the container, and you have to be able to close the lid.  Done and done.  The check out person offered the guy in front of me extra fried calamari (free of charge) but didn’t do the same for me.  I guess he thought I had take enough:

Bay Area Food 2009

So great.  And to top it off, they had a lot of more authentic Chinese foodstuffs, like salt and pepper shrimp, and pork chops.  Oh… and (!?!) around the corner from this buffet they had a separate dim sum buffet.  They should just rename this place “Zach’s Heaven”.  None of it is what you would call “great”, but I had so much fun the lack of quality didn’t really bother me.

Well, I guess as long as we’re talking cheap chinese food, I have to add a #6.

Bay Area Food 2009

Panda Express!!!  (Eaten on I-5 from S.F. to L.A., where I am today.)  Their noodles and orange chicken are cheap Chinese food nirvana.

If we could just get a few of these things in Midtown, I would never have to go to the west coast again… well, except for the weather.  I hear it’s pretty crappy in NYC today. Sorry, I feel your pain. (If it makes you feel better, it’s raining in L.A. today.)


  • i would give my left arm for a carnitas taco from la taqueria right now. instead i have leftovers and 6 inches of snow. damn you!

  • “Cabeza” means “Head”..So although there’s lots of meat in that taco, what SORT of meat is it?! :-\

  • The pic of Harry rules (I think that’s his name right?) He is freaking smiling with that burrito on him! You gotta love a kid who likes to eat and smiles when food that is half the size of him rests on his tummy! To some people, that may be uncomfortable, but to people like Harry and me, that is pure bliss…!

  • Zach, he is so adorable. Don’t you think he’s looking at you thinking “Dad, this one’s mine, get your own, I don’t want to share?”

  • chick-fil-a

  • i’m not even sure there are any there, but we still need one

  • If I had that burrito on me, I’d be smiling just like that. and that chinese food is sooo beatiful to look at!

  • Careful Zach … baby w/ burrito = Dingo Bait

  • I could really go for a sandwich from Specialties Cafe. Their bread is soooo good.

  • some could argue that showing us all these delicious pictures from the other coast is akin to torture. stop doing this to us, zach!

  • 1. Los Charros isn’t a nothing place but rather a known mecca. One of the top 3-5 burritos in the Bay Area. E.g. http://www.burritophile.com/editorial_review.php?rid=30&pid=10&uid=3 I will agree with you however that it’s tremendo.

    2. La Ta is only ok, IMO. Burrito al pastor from Farolito my fave in SF proper.

    3. I have to say I’ve never had truly good Vietnamese in SF. Not better than even the basic places in Manhattan C’town. I’m sure there are hidden treasures but in general I’ll take NYC. (sue me!)

    4. Ditto on Chinese. I think you’ll be hard pressed to top Szechuan Gourmet in mainline Bay Area. I’m sure there are off the beaten-track treasures but SG in our own backyard — and field trips to Little Pepper and spicy/tasty — nothing to sneeze at.

    p.s IMO Tulcingo beats the stuffing out of Tehuitzingo.

  • I’m disappointed there is no Indian. Dude, SF is all about good Indian Food!!!!

  • Anyone have any recs for tacos or burritos in the OC??? Going to Disney!

    • Grace, if you’re still interested in finding a taco place in OC, there’s a taco shack in Costa Mesa/Santa Ana. Take the 405 south to Bristol/South Coast Plaza. Go north on Bristol just past Warner Ave. You’ll pass South Coast Plaza on the left, and further up Bristol, Trader Joe’s on the right. Look out for the Food 4 Less supermarket on the left. The taco shack is in the middle of the Food 4 Less parking lot that’s not only cheap but really amazing. If this shack had a name, I never knew it- I was too busy stuffing my face to care.

  • I love In & Out a whole lot too but if I was on the west coast I’d be eating them and thinking about a double Shack burger – great too, and probably more consistent, and the custard shakes are better.

  • @ Jack Barber – I agree that La Taqueria’s burrito was not that great, but the tacos were probably the best I’ve ever had.

    And you’re on crack about the Vietnamese food. Sorry! Everyone is entitled to their opinion… but the Vietnamese restaurants in NYC are mostly run by Chinese people! You can occasionally find a decent meal in New York, but in SF there are good, cheap Vietnamese places everywhere! I think it’s universally accepted that there is very little good Vietnamese food in NYC.

    @Wayne – and only twice the price & twice the wait! :-)

  • I want to make sweet love to that burger. Then never call it back.

  • @Zach:

    I’m more of a meth guy, to be honest.

    You should definitely expand your taco horizons if La Ta are best you ever had.

    re. Viet, all I’m saying is that I’ve been taken over the years to a half-dozen supposedly great and authentic Vietnamese places in the Bay Area — Valley, SF proper, and E Bay — and none were all that.

  • I am printing out the In and Out photo and wallpapering my apartment with it.

  • In & Out Burgers are the best!! I have to agree with Zach that there are no good Burrito places in NYC and Tacos are way to small here. The closest decent East Coast burrito resides in Boston (Anna’s).

  • Speaking of the sad shape of Vietnamese food here, I was in Boston and went to a couple of literal hole-in-the-wall places for banh mi. For under $3 each I got excellent sandwiches that put anything I’ve had in NYC to shame. Even at twice the price. Baoguette–eat my shorts!

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