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.)


  • Zach’s in LA today? If you want a food escort to take you where the Mexicans go for Mexican food, shoot me an email. Also, if you want a cheap Chinese sit-down meal at a place where the Chinese go for Chinese food, I’ve got that department covered too.

    PS – Ask for your In-N-Out Double-Doubles “Animal Style”. You wont be disappointed!

  • OMG, Zach, that is my exact food itinerary whenever I’m in SF, where I grew up. Except for the cheap Chinese, I don’t share your affinity for it as much, but def In N Out and a big veggie burrito (that is my go to flight back meal). Just tried the roach coach, El Tonayese (?), in the Mission on the last trip and that is the best…esp the tacos.

  • You can do that to me too Anastasia. I can handle it.

  • Wayne, you’re no man of mine. How dare you!
    In and Out is 110 times better than shake crap. Sheesh.

  • Zach, thank you for those photos of your SF vacation, it certainly cheered up my nor’easter plagued lunch hour!

    Also, as to point four, can anyone recommend a vietnamese place they like in the city for things other than just bhan mi? I’ve had to trek out to Joisey to enjoy the rice noodle dish (bun thit nuong)? Zach had pictured.

  • wayne, get me an in and out burger and we’ll talk. Don’t bother with the fries. Mama would just hit me and take them from me anyway.

  • Now who is rubbing it in Mamacita! Now who!!!!

  • Is this a secret thread hijack from http://www.thisiswhyyourefat.com ?

  • I would put the Shack Burger up against an In-n-Out any day. They are both top-notch ‘regular’ burgers (as opposed to huge behemoth patties) and neither is really better/worse than the other. Of course, InO is generally faster. But I live by the Shack and can pop over any time when there’s no line, so the wait is not an issue for me.

  • This is a major food porn photo. Drooooling at the computer!

  • do you want me to hate you now, or later? because i hate you now.

    btw, if you pick up a double-double right before getting on the plane back, I’ll pick you guys up and drive you home. I’m serious.

  • I think I gained 2 stone on my trip to LA. I was literally at In & Out within 15 minutes of landing at LAX.

  • I used to go to Los Charros everyday in high school, that place is incredible

  • Should Zach be pointed towards Tommy’s for a double chili cheese burger? That would be the chili that literally turns your fingers yellow/orange after eating one of those gut bombs. Oh, so, yummy.

  • Zach, take some time in LA to grab chicken and waffles, preferably at one of the Roscoe’s locations, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Seriously, you can get better versions of the “chinese” food and vietnamese food listed above in Chinatown or Flushing, both one train ride away from midtown. Also, go to Blue 9 (near NYU) for burgers. It’s not In-N-Out but it’s close enough.

  • Blue 9 is NOT anywhere close to In-n-Out. Even their ‘medieval style’ burgers. Nowhere near as juicy, tasty, cheesy. If you like In-n-Out, you will be DISAPPOINTED or PO’d by Blue 9. Better to grab a shackburger.

  • what?! it is universally known that viet food in nyc sucks?? i always thought viet food in new york was good! the restaurants i frequent, the entire staff are vietnamese (even though some understand/speak chinese, it is only something they picked up after moving to nyc). i’ll have to ask my viet friends about this and let you know.

  • @buns – i should probably have clarified that I meant Manhattan (specifically Chinatown). I’ve heard that there are good places in the outer boroughs… but nowhere near what they have on the west coast.

  • I have to say that the photo of your baby used as a scale for measuring a burrito has to be one of the best images I’ve ever seen. We always joke about getting burritos the size of an infant, but you’ve actually gone and proven it.

    BTW, next time you’re in SF, check out the blog Burrito Eater for the up to date reviews.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.