My new client is down by the wharf, around the corner from my first San Francisco apartment.
Surprisingly, there are lots of great options, and we've only explored a small area, mostly sandwich shops and takeout. Prices are $1-2 more than they would be in a regular neighborhood, but you can still get lunch for under $10.
Tourists: if you're reading this, walk up Columbus two or three blocks!
Our most regular spot is Caffe Sapore aka the bagel place. These are seriously great sandwiches and salads. Foccacia with salmon and capers; a bagel with roasted eggplant, feta, and onion. They're not NY bagels by any stretch of the imagination, but they're good toasted. Giant salads, and a case full of pies. Everything is made to order with care, which can mean a long wait. But it's a sunny place with free wifi. Relax.
901 Columbus Cafe has huge sandwiches and salads. I got a crunchy turkey sandwich with cucumbers; it was okay, but next time I'll try something else. Cash only. We were there during the world cup game between Japan and Denmark. Three busloads of Russian Federation sailors disembarked from their tour buses and peered in the window, looking just like you'd imagine a Russian sailor would look.
Rico's Tacos has been on Columbus as long as I can remember. My chile verde burrito with black beans, rice, and guacamole was awfully good, and I don't even like burritos. Friendly fast service. They have a liquor license for beer and wine.
One Monday I headed to Beach and Jones only to find the Tanguito truck closed. So I had tacos at the Guadalupe truck next door. The MUNI F-line drivers are regulars. They were only okay (al pastor being the wrong thing to order), but at $1.75 each, hard to complain. The tacos at Rico's are $3 each. It was nice to sit outside and watch the tourists buy sweatshirts.
Another afternoon we headed to the Tanguito truck because I was craving a burger. They are the nicest people; they were busy upgrading order with better cuts of meat and goat cheese. The guy at the next table swore by his saffron rice with steak. My co-worker swears by the paella. And we all know the empanadas are hard to beat.
The best lunch I've had was at Cafe Capriccio. A rare roast beef sandwich with horseradish on a dutch crunch roll, and a spectacular cappuccino. Fast service, free wifi, and friendly owners.
What do you like in this area for lunch or happy hour?
Coming soon: I haven't been to Kennedy's Curry House in a while. I keep meaning to walk up the hill to the cafe with the gorgeous view at the Art Institute. There's a Taqueria San Jose branch with pretty terrible reviews on Yelp.
Any gems hiding out in the Cannery? I guess the farmers' market isn't happening there any more.
Happily there's a Trader Joe's on Bay to pick up salads and smoothies. And incredibly, parking turns out be plentiful if you know where to look.
Kennedy's Irish Pub Curry House
1040 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Ricos Fine Mexican Restaurant
943 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
901 Columbus Cafe
901 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
790 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94133
2850 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94133