Sodini’s Green Valley Restaurant

A pretty decent Italian place in North Beach — standard fare and south Italian, but flavorful and filling. I wouldn’t call it authentic Italian, but it’s a good Italian-American restaurant, for what it’s worth. Many many tables for two, so I suppose that it’s a popular romantic spot. But no dessert!

I had the ravioli with the house red sauce — they were smaller ravioli, not the huge pillows you sometimes get, and the sauce was a bit thickly spread. But they were nicely al dente, which is better than many places I’ve been in North Beach. Ann had the gnocchi with pesto, which I found to be too creamy. All in all, a good hearty dinner, the best I’ve had in North Beach, and pretty inexpensive for a meal there as well.


Luna Park

I went here with Jordan, Kunal, Jhala, and Kevin, so we were seated at a cozy booth in the back. We went a bit nuts with the food — three appetizers and then entrees. And someone ordered dessert. Pigs, all of them.

I had a mojito, which was quite strong, but nothing to write home about. I usually like them with brown sugar and in a tall glass, but these were in tumblers, more gin and tonic style. Jordan ordered some apple martini thing which was no good, and then a pomegranite juice cosmo, which was quite tasty. Then again, I am a sucker for pomegranite juice.

The appetizers were mussels and fries, which were just that, and none too excititing, a sort of ceviche/seafood salsa on wontons, which was delightful, and a small cheese fondue with bread and apples. I can’t quite remember the kind of bread. For an entree I was feeling a little meated-out, having eaten lunch at In-N-Out, so I ordered the ravioli in truffle oil and cream sauce, which was quite tasty if a little light. The bulk of the entrees were “American food,” which I define as a hunk of meat with some vegetables on the side.

The only problem I had with the restaurant was the pricing — everything was slightly more than it should have been, I felt. Of course, I’m not a huge fan of traditional “American food” of the meat-and-potatoes variety, so maybe that’s why I was a bit put off. This would be a good place to take your visiting relatives from Texas or the midwest. It’ll expand their horizons somewhat, but not too far.


700 Post St., corner of Post and Jones. This is supposed to be one of
the best Indonesian restaurants in the Tenderloin, and it certainly gets
my vote as one of the better places I’ve eaten lately. We started with
the Pangsit Goreng Ayam, which was small pieces of chicken wrapped in
dough and then fried, with a sweet-and-sour sauce that was opaque and not
as glutinous as in other restaurants, even though to me it seemed like
ketchup cut with vinegar. For the main course we had Bakmi Goreng, a
fried egg-noodle dish with chicken and vegetables. I don’t know what it
is about Indonesian and Malaysian food that makes it taste so distinctive,
but these noodles compared favorably with Nasi Goreng, another favorite
dish of mine (and also on the menu). The total damage was around $16 with
tip — pretty good, all told.

Next time I go (and there will be a next time), I’m going to try the
rendang curry, which I have heard is excellent. This place would be
great for a meal before seeing a play at the ACT or before a movie at
the AMC Van Ness. If you have lots of extra time, you could go there
for a meal before the Symphony or Opera, although it’s a bit of a hike.


Corner of 16th and Sanchez. I have only been here for brunch, so I can’t say anything about the dinner menu, but Tangerine is at worst an ok restaurant. It is certainly a place you might go to for the ambiance rather than the food, it seems, although the food is not bad, just bland.

Billing itself as a sake bar, Tangerine seems to tip its hat to Asian influences — the meal I had had nothing asian about it. I tried the macaroni, corn, and parmesan pancake, topped with a fried egg, leeks, and oyster mushrooms. All mixed together, it was a somewhat filling breakfast, but the mushrooms were too weak to counteract the dullness of the macaroni. It came with an arugula salad, which was a good light counterpart to the heaviness of the pancake. Ann had gingered shrimp with a scallion-potato pancake, which was hardly a pancake — more of a breaded mush, but flavorful. The shrimp were pretty tasty, I thought, although Ann was not so impressed. Each entree was under $10, which is not bad for a nice-ish brunch place.

All in all, I might go here again, but at happy hour rather than for a real meal. But it might be a good place to go for a date — the food sounds interesting, in any case, and maybe the dinners are better than the brunch.


On Chestnut at Divisadero. This is a tasty but expensive Greek restaurant that is way out of the way in San Francisco. To go here, you would have to go out of your way. But if you crave Greek food and price is no object, this place isn’t a bad idea. We got a huge meal, with wine and dessert, which made it even pricier. The service was good, though, and they are real Greek people from Greece, so if authenticity worries you, have no fears.

The plates are small to medium-sized, but they are meant to be shared. Unfortunately (for Jordan) they had no ouzo to go with the meal, but perhaps that was for the best. We had chickpea keftedes (patties), saganaki (fried cheese), “summery” calamari (stuffed with tomatoes and peppers), meatballs in tomato sauce, and shrimp in another tomato sauce. For dessert, the galactobourikos (custard wrapped in phyllo), and a lemon cake dipped in honey. All in all, very very filling, and very good. I also had a Kouros chardonnay, which claimed to be dry. Maybe if you had it with dessert it would be dry. Ann had a tasty gewurtztraminer, and Jordan had a different chardonnay.

I would go again, but my wallet won’t let me for a while. The listed price is without wine and dessert.


On Dwight, just east of Telegraph. Completely vegetarian South Indian food that is good and cheap. I mean, where else can you get a masala dosa for $3? It was pretty good, and the staff is friendly. Go earlier for dinner ( before 8 ) to avoid them running out of your favorite dish. As an added bonus, for a more authentic Indian experience, get a Thums Up/Fanta/Limca. Or don’t. Your call.

UPDATE : This place has since closed and was replaced by “The Patio.”)


On Solano, a block or so west of the Alameda Way (MLK). This is the only place I know of in the Bay Area which serves Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Thank god it exists, and Uno’s be dammed. Zachary’s is tasty, perhaps not as cheesy as you might want it, but a welcome change from brick-oven and New York style pizza. A large pie (8 big pieces) will run you around $18-25, depending on how many toppings you want. There are usually three specials a day, all of which are pretty good. There’s generally a line for tables, and the pizza takes 35 minutes to cook, so don’t go here if you are really hungry or need to eat in a timely fashion. If you can take the time, however, it’s well worth the wait.

Oriental Express

Shattuck between Delaware and Francisco. This is a hole-in-the-wall place that serves all kinds of Asian food. It’s pretty fast and cheap, but the staff is really friendly. They’re actually Vietnamese, so I would recommend getting the Vietnamese dishes (conveniently pictures on the wall). Dave got the pho, which he said was pretty good, especially compared to Pho House. I got the banh xeo, which is an eggy crepe filled with mushrooms, chicken, shrip, and bean sprouts. You’re supposed to pour fish sauce over it and then chow down. It was tasty, if a bit greasy. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to go here, but if you’re right there, it’s worth a visit.


18th and Guerrero. This is one of those Nuevo Latino places, a kind of hodgepodge of Central American foods that to the uninitiated (me) all seem, well, tasty. And tasty it was. We started out with the tostadas, some fried plantain discs with two kinds of salsa, one green, and one red. I found the red one a little overbearing and the green one a little weak, but I could alternate between them, which worked wonderfully. For the main course I chose a Guatemalan tamale, with some tender juicy chicken and onions, a grilled corn salad that was light and refreshing, and black beans with rice that was surprisingly sweet. It was a hearty portion, but I wanted more, so I got the custard with fresh raspberries, which was a perfect light way to end the meal.

The decor is very… orange. And the service is pretty good. It gets kind of noisy once the main dinner rush kicks in, and the high ceilings only make it worse. Expect to pay more if you get the dessert, like I did, or a beverage.

All in all, I would recommend Platanos, and it is a welcome addition to my list of Good Places To Eat In The Mission. But there are so many good places, and it didn’t have any one thing that stood out in my mind. But maybe next time I’ll try something else on the menu and have my socks knocked off.

Pho Hoa Lao II

333 10th Street, between Webster and Harrison. This is a pretty crowded pho place in Oakland’s Chinatown. I had the pho tai bo vien (flank steak and beef balls), which was about the best pho I’ve ever had in a restaurant. The broth was flavorful but not too heavy, the portions of meat were generous, and the noodles cooked just right. The menu is a little sparse as Vietnamese restaurants go, with none of the bun (vermicelli) dishes that you see at a lot of places. But they serve up a mean bowl of pho, and one that I’m willing to make the trip into Oakland for, given the sparse pickings in Berkeley.

The wait staff is friendly and not pushy, even though we spent 20 minutes after finishing just yakking away. They even taught Dave how to ask for his pho without cilantro.