Gourmet fresh (and cheap)

Pub date April 17, 2012


APPETITE Trekking around the Bay for what is not at all elusive — excellent food — is ever a pleasure. Finding it on the cheap? Options are endless. Sandwiches stand as one of the easiest ways to fill up for less, making the continued glut of sandwich openings unsurprising. (Check out the Richmond’s new Chomp n’ Swig — hard to top the Bacon Butter Crunch sandwich: white cheddar, tomato, bits of bacon, guacamole. Or in the Mission, the Galley inside Clooney’s Pub at 1401 Valencia serves a meaty French Onion sandwich, yes, like the soup and oh so good.) Beyond mere sandwiches, here are some other affordable delights.




West Portal is lucky to claim new Market and Rye, from Top Chef alum Ryan Scott. What could be just another sandwich shop is instead an airy, high-ceilinged cafe in yellows and whites under skylights. Salted rye bread is made specifically for the spot by North Beach’s classic Italian French Baking Company (IFBC’s sourdough and wheat bread choices are also available).

Sandwiches ($8.50–9) offer enough playful touches to keep them unique, like Funyuns on roast beef or Cool Ranch Doritos adding crunch to chicken salad layered with avocado spread and pepper jack. I took to the Reuben chicken meatball sandwich on salted rye, its generous contents falling out all over the place, overflowing with 1000 Island dressing, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, red cabbage caraway slaw, and house chicken meatballs. I almost didn’t miss the corned beef.

Build-your-own-salads offer healthy alternatives, while above average sides ($4 per scoop, $7.50 2 scoops, $10.50 3 scoops) are generous helpings of the likes of roasted zucchini tossed with cherry tomatoes and boccaccini (mini mozzarella balls), enlivened by mint vinaigrette. The side that didn’t work for me was grilled broccoli. It appeared green and verdant, dotted with ricotta and walnuts in red wine dressing, but was so cold, its flavor was stunted.

Housemade root beer float “Twinkies” ($3.50) are a fun finish, though Twinkie-lovers be aware: these are dense, dark cakes filled with a dreamy root beer float cream, neither fluffy nor spongy.

68 West Portal Ave., SF. (415) 564-5950



A jaunt to Jerrold and Third Street leads to a food truck parked in a Bayview oasis: a parking lot filled with picnic tables, potted cacti, and herbs used for cooking. All Good Pizza — open weekdays only: 10am-2pm — just launched this month from neighborhood locals desiring healthy food and “good, sincere pizza,” with a real commitment to the area (check out the site’s community page).

The lot invites lingering over cracker-thin pizzas (a steal at $7), from a basic Margherita to a spicy pie dotted with peppers, fennel, mozzarella, and Louisiana hot links smoked on site. The trailer houses a 650 degree gas-fired oven. These aren’t game-changing pies but there’s nothing like it in the ‘hood — nor are there many healthy salads, like a kale, radicchio, sweet potato crisps, Parmesan, balsamic reserva combo. There are also panini sandwiches ($7) such as a pig-heavy, super salty Nola Muffaletta: Genoa salami, smoked ham, olive salad, fior di latte mozzarella, and provolone cheese.

Italian sodas ($2.50) are all made on premises, like a candy sweet coconut soda evoking coconut oil, beaches and vacation. All this in a Bayview parking lot.

1605 Jerrold Ave., SF. (415) 846-6960, www.allgoodpizza.com



A close childhood pal is Russian and her mother and grandmother often home-baked us unforgettable treats as kids, from blintzes to piroshkis, those little baked buns stuffed with goodness. I still dream of them — a rarity in this town. Not even in Chicago or NY have I tasted any piroshkis as fresh as those at Anda Piroshki, a stall in the tiny but idyllic 331 Cortland marketplace housing a few take-out food purveyors. I’ve eaten Anda at SF Street Food Fest, but the ideal is to arrive at 331 soon after it opens when piroshkis are pulled from the oven piping hot.

The dough is airy yet dense, ever-so-subtly sweet, like a glorified Hawaiian roll. No skimping on fillings — one piroshki ($3.75–4.50) fills me up. Sustainable meats and local ingredients make them relatively guilt-free. Try a button mushroom piroshki overflowing with fresh spinach, or one of ground beef, rice and Swiss, oozing comfort. My favorite is Atlantic smoked salmon and cream cheese accented by black pepper and dill. It makes a savory, creamy breakfast.

The one downside has been a straight-faced, disinterested server who could not be bothered as I asked a question about Russian sodas (like Kvass, a fermented rye soda — pleasing rye notes if too saccharine) and acted the same when I returned a second time… a stark contrast to the friendliness I encounter at every other 331 business. But momentary coldness is still worth those warm piroshkis.

331 Cortland Ave., SF. (415) 271-9055, www.andapiroshki.com

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