Well, if a "peak chowhoundish experience" includes unexpectedly finding great food at a reasonable price in a wholly unlikely place -- we had one last night.
So it was about 7:00 Friday evening, and Deb and I wanted to go out to have a quick bite to eat, preferably near home (Portrero Hill). Everything on 18th Street was already packed and so we checked out the Connecticut Yankee -- also packed (Red Sox - Yankees on TV).
We were thinking "cheeseburger" or the like, and I remembered that the restaurant at the corner of 7th and Harrison had reopened a few months ago as some kind of "Sports Bar". We thought, given those modest goals, how bad could it be? btw, for those who've been around a while, in the late 80s and early 90's it was that old cop bar named "the Lineup" that had somehow morphed into a Mexican restaurant with a very colorful vibe.
At any rate, we walked in, and the fairly large space was not real crowded. It had all the dark wood and the old bar that had always been there, and they had kept many of the booths up front. In the back there were pool tables, and seemingly dozens of plasma TVs on the walls everwhere, with the Giants game and a football game playing.
There couldn't have been more than a toal of 20 - 25 customers in the entire place. There didn't appear to be anyone actually on duty behind the bar, and nothing that clearly indicated who might be working there and who were customers. I was just thinking to myself: "maybe this just isn't going to work out", when I noticed the menus.
So we grabbed 2 of them and sat down at a big booth by the windows looking out over Harrison. As we watched for a while, it became clear that the place was run by an Asian family. After looking at the menu and speaking with the owner/waiter/bartender we got kind of excited about what their food might be like.
So we ordered drinks and "Spicy Chicken Wings" to start. Then Deb ordered the cheeseburger, which the owner said was all beef ground fresh daily. I ordered the BBQ Pork, which on the menu was described as having a spicy sauce and served with rice and fresh veggies.
My vodka/soda was fine and the wings arrived. We thought they were just fantastic -- spicy, and not overcooked. The sauce was "Asian" rather than the typical sports bar "tomatoey" or "vinegary". The spicy heat was far more subtle, but had a good bite. (We like things pretty spicy and this did not disappoint us).
Then the cheeseburger arrived and it was absolultely perfect. Deb and I had to do some serious negotiating, utilizing the 6th chicken wing and promised bites of my dinner in return for a few bites of the cheeseburger. She had ordered it "medium", and it arrived perfectly pink in the center. It was juicy, fresh, flavorful, served on a fine bun, and all and all as good as any we've eaten,
Then, my spicy pork arrived, and marital communications became a bit "testy" after Deb had her first taste and wanted to start re-negotiating for more. There were 4 or 5 tender, very thin but wide sort of pork cutlets on a plate with a generous helping of moist "fluffy" rice , and a bunch of really fresh veggies that were cooked just right! The sauce was again spicy with a good, but not overpowering bite.
The bill came to $27.00 including tip and 2 vodkas. I wanted to attach a PDF file of their "to go" menu, which lists most of what's on the regular menu (minus descriptions of dishes), but can't figure out how.
So, a couple of words about the menu. Appetizers also include fried calamari and quesadilla. They have a wide range of "regular bar food" -- salads, chowder, sandwiches, etc. and the bunch of diffrent rice plates like what I had for dinner, including prawns, pork, beef, chicken and short ribs. They also have entrees served with mashed potatoes and fresh veggies including NY Steak, butter and tempura prawns and grilled salmon.
We chatted with a few other customers and everyone shared our opinion about the amazing quality of the food and the whole strange but somehow fun feel of the place.
It is a block the Hall of Justice on the corner of 7th and Harrison. There's plenty of safe street parking. It's a pefect pit stop from the East Bay to SFO (just get off at 5th and back on at 7th). The menu says they're open from 11 to 1 AM Monday and Friday, and 5PM to 1 AM Saturday and Sunday.
I tried to explain about Chowhound to the owner, but I'm not sure he got it completely (my fault - not his), but we'll definitely be going back again next week and will try to find out more and explain myself better.
Sorry for going on so long, but we really were excited about "Ted's Sports Bar" and wanted to share it with chowhound folks who have turned us on to so many great places.
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