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Restaurants & Bars 2

twelve months of lunches

Windy | Mar 17, 200606:43 PM

My year downtown is finally coming to a close in a week. I can't say it's been a culinary thrill--I'm looking forward to rice plates and tacos closer to home and sandwiches for less than $7. Lately, it's been more bars than lunches.

A few more spots near the Financial District:

Rado's Gourmet Sandwiches, on California near Tadich. Decent fresh turkey and corned beef for $7. Friendly, if drab place.

Gambino's Italian Sandwiches in Embarcadero 1. I dragged a friend hoping for a meatball sandwich or eggplant parmigiana like a NY pizza place would have. Disappointing. The bread wasn't crusty enough. The meatballs were okay.

Thai Corner Express on Mark Twain, across from the firehouse on Sansome near the pyramid. Okay steam table. They run out of food early, so I'd go early. Two items plus rice is around $6.50; three for $7.50. Green curry was only so so, but fried tofu with green vegetables was good. Worth a look.

Helmand buffet on Broadway. We finally made it last week. This is an exceptional treat--nearly everything from the regular menu. The standouts are the mantoo (dumplings) and roasted pumpkin, although I loved most items--fragrant rice, salad with pomegranite dressing. Good reminder that the Helmand is less than 10 minutes walk from Front and Market; and since it's a buffet, there's no waiting.

I never posted on the Monte Cristo Cafe, but I've been twice, one for lunch and once after work, and both times the service has been neglectful at best. At those prices, even the appetizers I liked were hard to swallow. No idea if they only pay attention to large parties with expense accounts. It is a beautiful room. Wine prices are inflated. Fried calamari wasn't good.

Finally, last night, we celebrated going away drinks for a friend at the Equinox, the rotating bar on top of the Hyatt Embarcadero. The first time I went there was on my first trip to San Francisco, and I was appalled when the waiters carded me. We didn't eat, but we did enjoy the view. Metal bowls filled with Acme epis rotated by. Good mixed drinks and plenty of decent wines by the glass, at the usual downtown markups. A glass of Taittenger above the city. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays; opens at 5 other days. Gracious service.

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