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Cheap Chinese, Pizza and Free Mimosas at Punjab Restaurant

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Crappy Chinese food is a weakness of mine. Since I also love authentic, well-made Chinese cuisines, this fact usually fills me with shame. That is until I think of the many Mexicans I have known throughout my life that eat Taco Bell like it’s manna coming down in a rain of gold. Much like those of Asian descent I know that still duck into the likes of Panda Express, we are all products of this great, gastronomically distressing country of ours. Forever may she churn.

Punjab is hardly crap per se, but if you are looking for the nuanced culinary intricacies of China’s many diverse regions, you may want to take a pass. They are pretty up front about this at the outset. Their sign does say “Chinese-American”, but then again the restaurant is also named after a land that has never once been a suzerainty of the Son of Heaven, so take that disclosure for what you will.

Food-wise, this place is what some might call “Mexican-style Chinese” or “old school Chinese”, depending on who you talk to. If you ever have been to one of the noodle factories off of Revolucíon in Tacubaya, D.F. or any cheapie place between here and Lost Strangeles you’ll know what they’re talking about- giant plates of starch and meat ladened in lots of sauce for not too much dough.

In addition to providing filling meals it would seem that the management at Punjab also like to confuse people, albeit it in odd, harmless ways that benefit their clientele. Like their name and the fully functioning aquarium devoid of fish (unless you count the trophies mounted above it), the fact that they offer weekend brunch is another unexpected facet of the enigma that is Punjab. You’ll probably stop questioning their motivation, however, when you realize that, in addition to offering equally enormous American breakfast standards, brunch includes a FREE mimosa followed by as many as you would like to pour down your gullet for $2 a piece. I’m reticent to share this particular piece of info, but the place already has a bit of a following, so I hardly think I’m spilling the beans here. I apologize to my neighbours in advance, though.

Whether it’s the avocado spring rolls, Crab Rangoon Pizza or the restaurant’s double life as neighbourhood senior center, a trip to Punjab will likely leave you with more questions marks than Frank Gorshin’s wardrobe, but like any good trip it’s best to let go and just let it wash over you like so much velvety Egg Fu-Yong gravy.


Note: Click here for an apparent answer to mystery that is the restaurant’s name. Like the origins of the Martini, Crab Louie, and Hangtown Fry, however, it may be just be part of that pantheon of SF food lore no one will ever really know or agree on.


Punjab Restaurant

2838 24th Street (@ Bryant)

[Inner Mission]


Brunch Sat/ Sun 11:00 am- 2:00 pm


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Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen's early years were spent in a boxcar overlooking downtown Los Angeles. From there he moved around the state with his family before settling under the warm blanket of smog that covers suburban Southern California. Moving around led to his inability to stay in one place for very long, but San Francisco has been reeling him back in with its siren song since 1999.
By trade he pours booze, but likes to think he can write and does so occasionally for the SF Bay Guardian, Bold Italic and 7x7. He also likes to enjoy time spent in old eateries, bars and businesses that, by most standards, would have been condemned a long time ago.