- Diane Sanfilippo | New York Times bestselling author of "Practical Paleo" and "The 21-Day Sugar Detox" | Home of the Balanced Bites Podcast - http://balancedbites.com -

My Top 6 Picks for Fast & Cheap Eats in San Francisco

Posted By Charissa Talbot On October 23, 2010 @ 5:19 PM In Bacon,Budget Eating,Dining Out,FAQs | 6 Comments


A slaw burger with bacon, sans bun
from Prather Ranch Grill.

1. Prather Ranch Meat Company Grill

Location:
The Ferry Building (Pier 1/ The Embarcadero)
Grill is open Tuedays & Saturdays, outside at The Ferry Building Farmers Market, the butcher shop is open daily

Website

Why eat here?
Prather Ranch meats are pasture raised and certified organic. The people who work at Prather are fantastic and friendly and they’ll help you find just the right cut to meet your budget and taste. While I often rave about their bacon, I also frequently purchase beef steaks, buffalo steaks and ground lamb at their shop inside the Ferry Building to take home and cook. Their shop also sells beef jerky and beef pepperoni that are perfect for snacking on-the-go.

My usual:
I’m typically there on Saturday mornings and I grab a slaw burger with bacon, no bun, extra lettuce. Then I cut the burger in half and split up the fixings between the two lettuce leaves and make some awesome lettuce wraps. I also chase this monster with some coffee or iced coffee from Blue Bottle. Yum.

Sometimes I get:
If I’m not in the mood for the slaw burger, or it’s not in season / available, I sometimes go for a buffalo burger with bacon and possibly an egg or a sausage and top it with some sauerkraut – they use an organic version and while it’s not raw, it’s tasty and has clean ingredients- just cabbage and salt.

A bit of a mess, oops. A lettuce wrapped,
grass-fed burger and veggies from ROAM.

2. ROAM Artisan Burgers

Location:

Union Street, Cow Hollow

Website

Why eat here?
The ingredients at Roam are top-notch: grass-fed beef burgers, free range bison/buffalo, free-range turkey and organic veggies. The offer up sweet potato fries for when I’m feeling indulgent though I’m not positive if they’re gluten-free, they may have some flour on them but ask and you’ll get the answer- I’ve only had them once or twice and couldn’t tell. The pickles on the burgers are house-made and yummy and the condiment station features organic ketchup, mustard and hot sauce. Yum.

My usual:
The Classic with double patties, “cooked pink,” wrapped in lettuce with the standard fixings that come on top and a side of the mixed seasonal vegetables – hold the cheese (they sprinkle some parm on for flavor, which tastes lovely but I don’t usually get it).

Sometimes I get:
The same as the above but I add an egg, or avocado, or caramelized onions, you know, for a change of pace.

A make-your-own salad at The Plant.
Not the best photo, sorry…

3. The Plant

Location:
The Marina, Downtown @ Front & Pine, and at Pier 3 on The Embarcadero

Website

Why eat here?
The Plant serves fresh, organic, local and seasonal fare. The menu is detailed and lets you know what’s vegan (useful if you’re avoiding dairy) and gluten-free (if you’re going to indulge, at least avoid the gluten!). The staff is very accommodating to special requests and food sensitivities. While the menu lists lots of grain-heavy options (the place does happen to cater to veggie folks), you can find great picks if you just read it over a bit and ask for what you want. If you’re a fan of smoothies, The Plant is your place as they use a house-made almond milk or coconut milk by request in place of dairy. They also have a fresh juice selection that’s fantastic and if you’re traveling on a long plane ride to San Francisco, sometimes a power packed vegetable juice can feel like the magical green elixer of life.

My usual:
I’m a big fan of the make-your-own-salad option. I order mixed greens and spinach and top it with avocado, pumpkin seeds, sundried tomatoes, mango, sprouts, grilled onions, carrots and grilled chicken. Sometimes I order double chicken if I’m extra hungry. I get the lemon flax dressing on the salad or on the side. Super fresh and delicious!

Sometimes I get:
The Plant often has seafood specials that sound divine and if I’m in there for dinner I sometimes opt for one of those dishes. They’re really cool about subbing in extra veggies in place of whatever grain (usually rice or quinoa) is on the menu to be served with the entree. Their vegan cheesecake is also divine – mostly made from coconut and cashews – I just prefer it without the sauce. Who wants black pepper on their cheesecake?! I don’t understand that sauce. If I’m just stopping by for a “treat,” sometimes I get a smoothie- most likely something with almond milk, almond butter and blueberries.

Porchetta sandwich… er, minus the bread!

4. Il Cane Rosso

Location:
The Ferry Building (Pier 1 / The Embarcadero)
Website
Why eat here?
Il Cane Rosso serves up the best of the best from the Farmers Market purveyors. Honestly, I think this is some of the best quality food in the city that you can get quickly and fairly inexpensively. Granted, it’s not actually “cheap,” but that’s because the food quality is primo. They regularly serve meats from Marin Sun Farms and Soul Food Farms. Their offerings include amazing sandwiches (that I order sans bread, seriously), delightful salads made of seasonal greens and veggies and sides that warm your belly. Organic ingredients are just the basics for these folks and the love is truly in the details. Right down to the little piece of crispy pork rind on top of the sando-sans-bread I usually get.
My usual:
Porchetta (or any kind of pork) sandwich, minus the bread. Most of the time they do well adding a bunch of greens on the side for me or even some sauerkraut (which is house-made). I also like to get a salad on the side of whatever looks good that day, always careful to ask for them not to sprinkle it with breadcrumbs or cheese (as they like to do for taste/texture, which I can understand).
Sometimes I get:
They serve some pretty tasty roasted chicken with sides at Il Cane Rossso and if it’s a colder day, sometimes I go for this option with some salad. I’ve also had their beef stew before, though I don’t know whether there could be flour in the mix there, I’m not uber gluten-sensitive, so I just sort of pick around the excess of potatoes in the stew and chow on the meat, carrots, etc. It’s tasty stuff. Really, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, just be sure to ask for things prepared as you need them and they’ll be accommodating whenever they can.
The Maui Salad from Mixt Greens.
Image courtesy of The Washington Post.

5. Mixt Greens

Location: Several locations around downtown SF

Website

Why eat here?
Mixt Greens serves up fresh salads with all organic ingredients. You can order from their well-crafted menu of pre-designed salads or make your own. I’ve tried a bunch of the pre-made salads and I’ve also made my own many times.

My usual:
The Maui salad which consists of: butter lettuce, coriander-crusted seared ahi tuna, avocado, mango, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, mango citrus vinaigrette, topped with crushed macadamia nuts. I order it with double ahi. Yum.

Sometimes I get:
The Dagwood: mixt greens, roasted portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers, roasted zucchini, caramelized onions, goat cheese, garlic croutons, balsamic reduction, lemon herb vinaigrette. I add chicken and no croutons. The goat cheese is something I dabble in from time to time. It just depends on my mood really.

A scramble with spinach, avocado & smoked
salmon at La Boulange on Polk Street.

6. La Boulange

Location: Several locations around San Francisco

Website

Why eat here?
As the only non-organic and bakery option on my list, I suppose you’re wondering how it even ended up here. Well, quite frankly, I eat at La Boulange at least once a week so I felt it deserved a spot. While the ingredients aren’t organic and the location is a veritable gluten minefield, I manage to find a great breakfast here at least one a week when I don’t feel like making a mess in my own kitchen. That’s to say nothing of the networking I end up doing every time I set myself up in this place with a book and a fabulous looking meal. (“The Paleo Solution” typically stirs up conversation within minutes of my sitting down.)

My usual:
Since I typically hang out at La Boulange for breakfast, my usual is an egg dish. Not every location cooks eggs to order, so check out their website before you venture into one. I like to order a scramble with either spinach, roasted peppers and goat cheese (if I’m doing the cheese) or a scramble with spinach, avocado and smoked salmon. Either way I get a side order of bacon. The scramble comes with side options and I choose mixed salad greens. I grab a little cup of olives from their condiment bar and, voila, a delicious, grain-free meal in the middle of a bakery!

Sometimes I get:
If I stop in to La Boulange for lunch I typically order the Nicoise Salad and ask to substitute in avocado for the potatoes. If I’m particularly hungry I’ll also add chicken to the salad but it does come with tuna and a hard boiled egg, so there’s decent protein there when served as-is.


Article printed from Diane Sanfilippo | New York Times bestselling author of "Practical Paleo" and "The 21-Day Sugar Detox" | Home of the Balanced Bites Podcast: http://balancedbites.com

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