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Shop Till You're Starved: Where to Eat Around Union Square

Kare-Ken: only open for dinner.

Your feet ache from pounding the pavement. The handles of your Macy's/Bloomie's/H&M/Hermès shopping bags are carving deep welts into your hands. Are you seeing stars or are those Christmas lights? You're starting to lose the spirit.

It's time for a pit stop. Here's just some of the great places around Union Square to fuel up and get right back out into the thick of it.

Super Duper
Yes, there are great burgers at this upscale burger spot on Market Street, but if you're still wallowing in self loathing from your Thanksgiving gorge, the portabello sandwich is mighty fine too.

Ramen Underground
Though not as good as Katana-ya (a staple on our Big Eat), which is also near Union Square, the ramen at this tiny nub of a place is perfectly tasty and just one step closer to Loehmann's. They also have soy milk broth, a style of ramen that I haven't had, but apparently attracts avid fans. 355 Kearny St. (at Bush), 415-765-9909

Ayola
This is the best of the gyro shops that line Kearny Street. Get the chicken shawerma here and then get lots of hot sauce to go with it. The hortopita made with roasted eggplant and feta is a great veggie option.

Kare-Ken
Who would have thought that this part of town would become ground zero for Japanese curry joints? Well, ground zero in that there are two very good options. I've been a Muracci's fan for a while now, but Kare-Ken in the Tenderloin, just off Union Square, offers a stylish alternative, not to mention a dish called dry beef curry that had a hardboiled egg and onion rings on it. They're only open for dinner.

Burritt Room
If what you need is actually a nicely-made cocktail, then head to this hotel bar smack in the middle of Union Square which recently redid its food menu. Hidden upstairs away from the mayhem, you can really put your feet up. Crescent Hotel, 417 Stockton St., 415-400-0500

Urban Picnic
If you're an early-morning shopper who likes quinoa, then this healthy-alternative spot on Kearny is for you. They just started serving nourishing breakfasts, including a tasty wrap with whole wheat tortilla, filled with eggs, chorizo, quinoa and spiced up with a tomatillo salsa. Alternatively, the hot oatmeal with quinoa has fresh blueberries.

Cupola
Do not expect mall food in the Hot Dog on a Stick kind of way. From the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, this new pizzeria under the dome at the Westfield Centre slings legit wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, pastas, porchetta and more from the current Italian greatest-hits. (And if this doesn't satisfy, head downstairs to Sorabol, the Korean joint in the food court, for their great beef and dumpling soup.)

Claudine
The latest from the Cafe Claude group, this quirky and cozy space offers a wine bar, snacks and a perfect excuse to sit down and throw back a lamb belly sandwich.

Annie's Hot Dogs
Sometimes you've just to eat on the go. Must. Keep. Shopping. In this case, grab a hot dog from Annie's which carries 4505 Meats hot dogs. The carts are dotted throughout Union Square but there's almost always one at O'Farrell and Stockton if you can shove your way through the tourists cooing over the kittens in the Macy's windows. If you have a few more minutes, Zog's Dogs on Market offers a calmer respite. Get their spicy hot link.

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