The Best Cheap Eats in the Richmond District
The Richmond District is a sleepy stretch of San Francisco that’s easy to think of as the edge of the world. It’s cold, windy, foggy, and thanks to our beaches and two major parks, has a quieter than usual feel than other SF neighborhoods.
The Richmond is not a traditionally thought of as a food mecca, but unlike many other parts of The City, we do have incredible cheap eats.
For starters, there is a preponderance of Dim Sum counters on Clement Street and each of them are a little different. The chicken bun at Wing Lee is something every San Franciscan should eat at least twice. Its soft, generous, warm, steamed bread like dough hides an egg, a whole shiitake mushroom, and a Chinese Sausage. A complete meal for $1.25.
But for real Dim Sum glory on the cheap, you have to go to Good Luck Dim Sum across from New May Wah Market between 8th and 9th Aves. It’s cheap, service is fast, and there’s nothing bad on the menu. When you get to the counter, know what you want before they ask, and then prepare yourself for porky, shrimp filled glory. The shrimp and chive dumpling is especially good, the har gow shrimp dumpling is basically perfect, and it’s worth getting a half dozen baked bbq pork buns to go. All you have to do is point and say, “That one.” Or fill out a handy written menu. My wife and I can stuff ourselves silly at Good Luck for about $10.
Equally worth checking out are the plethora of Vietnamese sandwich shops along Clement. They are all decent to very good. The fish sandwich at Café Bunn Mi, on Clement near 5th Ave., is an affordable, incredibly satisfying mix of deep fried crunch, tender flaky fish, and fresh Vietnamese slaw, on an uncannily good French roll. All the bahn mi here from grilled pork to crispy duck are delicious and generously portioned. The Saigon noodles with crispy imperial rolls is also excellent. Prices have recently gone up at Café Bunn Mi, but you can still get a sandwich and coffee for $10 or so.
For the adventurous, and dare I say severely hungover eater, the spicy beef noodle soup at Café Bunn Mi is a worthy rendition of the lesser known soup Bun Bo Hue. Brisket, roast pork, and a variety of other hangover curing meat, plus chubby round rice noodles, lay suspended in a rich, salty, beef bone and shrimp broth, that’s heavily infused with lemon grass and chilis. It may erase your night before regrets, but might make you thankful you indulged in such foolish antics just so you have an excuse to eat this near miraculous cure for the common hangover. Café Bunn Mi opens at 9am and they do not screw up the coffee, an integral part of any hang over cure.
Moving deeper into the Richmond and over to Geary is the Salvadorian deli counter at Liquor Express. Grab a pupusa plate, carne asada plate, some soft Salvadorian tamales, or platano fritos with rice and beans, then head over to The Hearth for delicious German beers in a cozy, friendly bar or pop by Harvest dispensary to work up the munchies in the first place. Generous plates at Liquor Express are $13 or less.
On a cold Richmond District day, nothing beats a cabbage, potato, or beef piroshki at the Moscow & Tbilisi Bakery on Geary near 20th Ave. Basically the best of a donut and a sandwich put together, these long torpedoes of doughy love are one of the best ways to warm up, especially when you ask the server to heat it up for you. Note that’s when, not if. The cakes and deserts here are good, but it’s the savories that are the main attraction.
Also worth mentioning are Gordo Taqueria on both outer Clement and Geary for obvious reasons, Joe’s Coffee Shop next to Trad’r Sam for hash browns and eggs, and Hard Knox Café on Clement near 26th Ave. While Hard Knox is not necessarily cheap, is not expensive either, and the fried chicken, generous sides, and pitchers of beer make it a great place to catch the game with friends or get Sunday brunch before a hike in Lands End.
What are you favorite places that we missed? Leave them in the comments.