Although we aren’t always their biggest fans (ahem), 7×7 Magazine asked us to contribute to their ‘Best 10 dishes under 10‘ web series with our picks from our neighborhood/s. Since they asked nicely (and yes, we are whores) we ended up compiling the two lists and they ran them today here. It ended up being really hard to write as there are way more than 10 excellent cheap dishes in this neighborhood (although we also discovered that some of our favorite ones are actually a little over $10). And since it took us a pile of time to do it, we thought we’d share the lists with our local Tender Readers in case you don’t go check out the “49” all that often. So after our picks for the Tendernob, we present you with our picks in the Tenderloin (south of Geary), in no particular order. As usual, be sure to share your thoughts.
1. Louisiana-Style Bread Pudding from Hooker’s Sweet Treats
There are days when the Louisiana-style bread pudding with seasonal fruit and caramel sauce from Hooker’s Sweet Treats has a touch more Bourbon than others. We call those days, “lucky” and you should too as you can grab the bread pudding Tuesday through Sunday with any permutation of Sightglass coffee your heart so desires and trust us, it will desire. $5.50. 442 Hyde St. Cash only.
2. Karahi Chicken from Lahore Karahi
At Lahore Karahi everything is made to order by the always smiling owner Guddu, so we advise you to BYOB so you can better enjoy the wait — which is totally worth it. Their tandoori fish is the star dish in the menu, but we’re quite fond of their signature Karahi chicken , featuring tender chunks of chicken in a deliciously creamy tomato and bell pepper sauce. Sure, there can be a line some nights, but there’s a reason: they serve this in heaven’s buffet. $7. 612 O’Farrell St.
3. Bún bò Huế from Ngọc Mai
While we love the famous Phở from Turtle Tower, the Bún bò Huế from Ngọc Mai is one of our favorite Vietnamese noodle soups in the Little Saigon section of the Tenderloin. It’s a hearty and spicy broth made with beef and pig’s knuckle, with rice vermicelli, lemongrass and spicy shrimp paste that sends us to soup heaven every time. And we love the homey feel of this family-run cute restaurant. $6. 547 Hyde St. Cash only.
4. Sloppy Josephine from Brenda’s Soul Food
When discussing the Sloppy Josephine from Brenda’s Soul Food we tend to quote those from other neighborhoods and say, “OMFG!!!” because really, you gotta use a touch of F when you talk about how awesome this sandwich is (they also have a vegan version). It’s served for lunch from 11am to 3pm Monday through Friday. $9. 652 Polk St.
5. Al Pastor Burrito from Tesoro
Yeah, yeah, the Mission is where it’s at when it comes to burritos, but we’re big fans of the al pastor burrito from Tesoro. And not only because it’s conveniently closer than the Mission and has two locations in the Tenderloin, but also because it’s juicy and extremely delicious after a night out in the TL. $5.95 regular, $6.95 super. 868 Geary St & 599 O’Farrell St.
6. The Bánh mì from Saigon Sandwiches
These sandwiches are on every one of these cheap eat lists for a reason: they’re tasty and at $3.25, you can get three and stuff yourself silly with goodness. Our favorite is the one with grilled pork, but the tofu option is extremely popular and we suspect it’s due to the secret sauce they use in all their sandwiches. $3.25. 560 Larkin St. Cash only.
7. Koh Moo Yang from Lers Ros
It appears that our constantly spreading the word about the excellence that is Lers Ros has gotten around and it’s grown mightily in popularity. We stick by the Koh Moo Yang which is their grilled pork shoulder with chili and rice powder sauce. It’s a delicious steal. They pull no punches in the spice department, so ask them to dial it back a bit if you can’t handle the heat. $7. 730 Larkin St.
8. Tea Leaf Salad from Burmese Kitchen
While we’re big fans of their lunch plates, what makes us keep going back to Burmese Kitchen is their addictive tea leaf salad. It’s not only one of the crunchiest and tastiest we’ve had, but it’s also one of the most authentic in the city. It features unchopped laphet, the fermented tea leaves which serve as a base for the salad, which the owner buys directly from a small farm in Burma and carries back to his restaurant. That really puts a new spin on “from farm to table”. $5.95. 452 Larkin.
9. The Gözleme from A La Turca
It’s a traditional Turkish bread filled with vegetables or meat, closed like a pouch and cooked over a griddle. Order it and be happy or don’t and practice your “I really missed out” look. Starting at $6.25. 869 Geary.
10. The ‘Loin cold sandwich from Morty’s Deli
Give it a try if not for any other reason than the name (they also have a Tender burger with pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions and chipotle mayo for $8.95). All of Morty’s offerings are pretty solid on the sandwich front, so go crazy, but only during the week as he’s unfortunately closed on weekends. $7.25. 280 Golden Gate Ave.