Last fall, we published the 10 Best Lunches Under $10 in Union Square. It was so popular, we decided to do it with every neighborhood. Rather than attack this subject as outsiders, we're approaching "hyperlocal" dwellers from each 'hood to give us their picks — in this case SFWeekly contributor Tamara Palmer, denizen of the Inner Sunset and avid foodie. Follow her on Twitter at @eatstreetfood for your daily dose of street food news.
1. Dol-Sot Bibimbap from Manna
This no-frills Korean spot has only been open for two months and is a great addition to the neighborhood, which is heavy on Chinese, Japanese, and Thai options. You can save a buck by getting this without beef, as a weekday lunch special, or at dinner if you don’t order it in a stone bowl — but if you do that, you miss out on the awesomely sizzled crispy rice bits at the bottom. $9.99. 845 Irving Street. 415-665-5969.
2. Noodles With Peanut Sauce from San Tung Chinese Restaurant
While everyone’s always giving all the shine to the dry-fried chicken wings here, San Tung quietly touts some pretty spectacular homemade noodles that can be enjoyed in a variety of preparations. My favorite finds ‘em drowning in a rich peanut sauce with scallops, shrimp, onions, peas, and some key crunch from water chestnuts. I am a San Tung lifer but am honestly not the biggest fan of the deafening, mess hall atmosphere, so I usually get my order to go. $8. 1031 Irving Street. 415-242-0828.
3. Vegetarian Alicha at New Eritrea Restaurant and Bar
It’s taken me many years to perfect the art of not snarfling this soft stew of potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and garlic too quickly before hitting the midway point of the meal, when the spongy injera starts expanding in the stomach. An aside: If you’re willing to spend $11, you can get a combo plate of four vegetarian dishes with salad. $9.95. 907 Irving Street. 415-681-1288.
4. Malai Kofta from Curry Village
These are veggie fritters made with tomatoes, cashews, pistachios, and onion and served in a buttery yogurt sauce. Extra credit: $10 gets you the really good and nap-inducing all-you-can-eat weekend buffet. $8.99. 1386 Ninth Avenue. 415-731-2388.
5. Grilled Portobello Mushroom Salad from Pluto’s
I started growing my own salad materials on my back stairs last year, but I sometimes stop here to get a tricked-out one with a ‘shroom on top; the base price includes a choice of seven “salad fixins.” I usually add on a side of smashed spuds ($2.50), which would still keep you on budget here. $7.25. 627 Irving Street. 415-753-8867.
6. Ulsan from Pomelo
This is Pomelo’s filling take on pajeon, a Korean pancake made with egg, rice flour, green onion, shrimp, scallops, and red and green peppers. The inside has a nice, creamy consistency. It’s also ready in mere moments and you can watch it being made if you’re sitting at the counter. $9. 92 Judah Street. 415-731-6175.
7. Tempura Soba from Hotei
Hotei rocks a hearty noodle that bears a nice, concentrated buckwheat flavor and a strong bonito broth. It comes with a plate of two fried shrimp plus one piece each of carrot, broccoli, sweet potato, and zucchini. This bowl holds up surprisingly well against comparable ones in Japantown. $7.95. 1290 Ninth Avenue. 415-753-6045.
8. Duck Empanadas from Pasión
There’s a kind of unexpectedly boisterous, frat-reminiscent energy at this Peruvian place that I don’t particularly dig — you might actually be offered jello shots if you’re waiting for a table, no lie. But the noise kind of fuzzes out when you’re concentrating on a plate of deep fried duck confit pockets. $9. 737 Irving Street. 415-742-5727.
9. Apricot Tart from Tart To Tart
I never want to see stone fruit season go away gracefully, and I have just confirmed that this custard-based tart with its plump, lightly blackened fruit on top is at its best right now. Bonus: You can get dessert here until 1 am every night and 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays. $3.75. 641 Irving Street. 415-504-7068.
10. Ginger Cake With Pumpkin Ice Cream from Park Chow
If you’re not a dessert person or only occasionally find the room for a sweet ending, this is the dish worth your exception. A slightly burnt caramel sauce and minimal sugar in the cake keeps it from being cloying. I’m going to go ahead and declare it one of the most consistently wonderful and comforting desserts in the city, and that’s coming from someone who has done far too much research on the topic. $6.75. 1240 Ninth Avenue. 415-665-9912