By Alex Reyes
San Francisco has long been regarded as one of the great food capitals of the world,
but what many who live, work or attend class in the city do not realize is that some
of the best food to be found in the entire Bay Area costs no more than what can be
paid for at any neighborhood 7-11 or takeout joint.
Here’s a quick tour.
Lucca Delicatessen, located at 2120 Chestnut St., has been a mainstay of the Cow Hollow
and Marina Districts since 1929.
Elegant though cramped, Lucca’s interior is stacked to the ceiling with an
overwhelming inventory of meats, cheeses, olive oils, pastas, gourmet condiments
and other delights.
Wicker baskets can be packed and taken to the nearby Crissy Field, Exploratorium
or Marina Green.
Don’s Lucca sandwich is a star of the Lucca lineup. A circular-shaped Italian roll
stuffed with cheese, lettuce, peppers, mustard, mayo and “seven or eight” different
meats, according to one Lucca magician, the nearly three-inch high sandwich is too
good to be true for the carnivorous connoisseur. The $10.99 sandwich serves four.
The $5.99 half sandwich serves two. Mangia!
Other out-of-this world sandwiches are made to order at Saigon Sandwiches.
Located at 560 Larkin Street in the Tenderloin District, this stripped-down marvel
of a take-out place (not counting the two window seats) is tied with fine cuisine
darling Slanted Door Restaurant as serving the best Vietnamese food in the greater
Bay Area! Even better, Saigon Sandwiches is located just a block-and-a-half away from City College’s Civic Center campus!
Saigon serves just eight sandwiches—five banh mi sandwiches and
three thit cha sandwiches—on simple rolls with various combinations of chicken, pork and pate. The meats are all well ground and seasoned to maximum deliciousness.
Fresh lettuce, pickled vegetables and cilantro contribute to the taste explosion to be felt with every bite.
Pate as a featured sandwich meat seemed odd at first, but as Vietnam was a French colony for
decades, pate must be one of the lasting vestiges to be found the Southeast Asian
nation’s now-traditional cuisine.
Saigon’s sandwich price range is hard to believe at $3.50 to $4.00. That’s it—no tax!
The no-tax trend was also evident at El Castillito, located at 2092 Mission St.—just five blocks north of City College’s Mission campus—which features a spare dining room with a single string of green and white lights and wood-framed prints of Mexican scenes.
El Castillito’s extensive taqueria menu includes six fish dishes, menudo and the
usual assortment of burritos, tacos and other basics of Mexican taqueria fare.
The salsa bar features three types of salsa and marinated peppers, fresh carrots and oranges sit on a counter behind the salsa bar, ready to be squeezed into jugos naturales.
Tortillas are sold on the side for $1 each, a vegetarian taco costs $2.25 and a well-stuffed chorizo super burrito costs $6.90 and can easily be stretched out over two meals. Olé!
For dessert, Bi-Rite Creamery is a few blocks away at 3692 18th St. near
Bi-Rite features baked goods, ice cream (including soft-serve), popsicles,
four types of chocolate sauce-in-a-bottle and even a Hey Boo brand coconut jam.
Popsicles sell for $2.25 and kid-size cones (one scoop, one flavor) for $2.50.
Daily soft serve specials are displayed on the creamery’s sidewalk “sandwich board” and has recently featured salted-caramel-and-coffee Mondays and pumpkin-and-vanilla Thursdays.
Seating is limited inside the creamery, so there is usually quite a kids-of-all-ages scene in
front, and customers can sit on U-shaped wooden seats right outside.