Saturday night easy walk-in (Tenderloin to Mission)

A movie at AMC Van Ness or Alamo Drafthouse followed by an extemporaneous dinner is my kind of Saturday night. Any recommendations for easy walk-ins between the Tenderloin and Mission (Hayes Valley, Civic Center)?

I’ve had success with (Tenderloin) Vietnamese, Turkish, Thai, and Afghani but those are easy to get to during lunchtime when we’re with our infant. Ideally, I’m looking for something with seasonal produce and whose dishes or atmosphere make a visit better than takeout (e.g. nix Little Gem, which is great, but takeout is fine).

Any suggestions? Newer places? Is Cala crazy on a Saturday night? Anything in the Mission?

I don’t go to the Mission much, but two places I have enjoyed are Esperpento (traditional Spanish tapas) and Lolo for “updated” Mexican small plates (think Duck Chimichangas!) Both are about a block from Alamo Drafthouse on Valencia and reasonably priced for their genre.

1 Like

When I looked into Cala reservations its always pretty challenging to find one, so I am not sure about walking in.

I need to try Esperanto!

I’m a fan of Lolo, but they always seem slammed on the evenings. I’ll keep that in mind when we have a later movie or better yet, I may make a reservation for lunchtime

This past Saturday night we went to Heirloom Café on Folsom. At 8:30 we snagged a two-top for 9 PM on Opentable. There was also a communal table and bar seating when we arrived.

We order the gnocchi and pretty much all the appetizers, which @mariacarmen advocated for doing in another thread. The food is straightforward and seasonal-- at another time of my life I might consider it too boring or reproducible at home, but it was exactly what we were looking for. I’d feel comfortable bringing family here and can see why NYtimes recommended them in their 36 Hours column.

Early girl tomato soup was garnished with creme fraiche, and was served with grilled Josey Baker bread. Tomato flavor was central and benefited from a sparse use of other ingredients— richness from a hint of butter, and depth from onions and thyme.

The smoked trout and cress salad was lightly supplied with a horseradish dressing, and chunks of avocado gave the impression of more creaminess without toning things down.

Bruschetta repeated Josey baker bread, this time with burrata, jimmy nardello peppers (not too hot), and grilled eggplant, the one component for which laziness would prevent me from replicating at home.

Of the other dishes we tried, gnocchi was my favorite-- structured, not dense, excellent.

1 Like

Honestly, i think Esperpento has gone downhill. i liked it 15-20 years ago, but the last time i went - maybe 5 years ago? things were very meh, to me. I’ve actually liked their sister restaurant, Cafe Picaro, a bit better. Still, not GREAT.

Myriad is a good walk-in place, but it’s also pretty straight-forward food.

I’m glad you liked Heirloom!

and i think i mentioned this place to you once before… Arabian Nights - never super crowded, but the food is excellent. ignore the Disneylandiesh decor and enjoy the Middle Eastern fare (with some Lebanese dishes). Or did you already go?

if you feel like Mexican seafood, we enjoyed the fairly new (and cheap) Rincon Nayarit (So. Van Ness and 26th. ) Small, family owned, really good Mexican-style ceviches, tostadas, cocteles, etc. Killer hot sauce on the table. a bathtub-sized Michelada, decent (but small) sangria. very casual. I haven’t reviewed it yet for Mission Local but am about to.

1 Like

I didn’t say Esperpento was great, I said it’s enjoyable. I don’t think it has changed as much as, perhaps, your expectations. it’s plain, inexpensive, bustling with OG locals (no gray hoodies) and filled with gemütlichkeit (if you can use this word in a different cultural context.

“Meh” is not a word

I was giving hyperbowler my opinion. i don’t have a problem with gray hoodies, either.

I find “meh” very descriptive, mehself. Ha. The thing that really stood out to me at Esperpento the last time I was there was their very terrible red wine.

I’m glad you mentioned Rincon Nayarit. I’m intrigued.

1 Like

i love “meh”!

Ah, I didn’t realize Picaro had the same owners as Esperento (I’ve been to neither)! I’m intrigued by a dish on Esperanto’s menu that contains butifarra, a Catalan sausage not common around here.

Upon your recomendation, I’ve have been to Arabian nights a few times and enjoy it. Walkins are easy, but for a Saturday night, we’d like something a bit different than Middle Eastern (our defacto takeout is from Old Jerusalem, Good Frikkin Chicken, and now Tahini; otherwise pizzeria Delfina or barzotto).

I await your review of Rincon Nayarit!

1 Like

I don’t drink wine at all, so I don’t have that reservation. I would assume it’s vin ordinaire, in keeping with their very proletarian-priced tapas.

The Muela family (of Picaro and Esperpento) also own the SoMa StrEat Food Park and Spark Social, via their son Carlos, the brains behind those enterprises.

Disclaimer: I consider myself a friend of Carlos Muela even though I root for FC Barcelona and he’s a Real Madrid CF diehard.

1 Like

If you’re not looking for sit-down fancy (but maybe you are, date night?) (how’s that baby, anyway!), have you tried Souvla, or Media Noche? I liked both, most dishes (both reviewed, too), but they are casual and busy. but you can have a glass of wine and wait, and in the case of Media Noche, they make a killer white sangria cocktail with vermouth, concocted by the bar-that-was-The-Lexington, across the street.

Staying away from Valencia, I wonder if these places are walk-in-able on weekends:

Heirloom (already discussed)
The Spice Jar (Bryant x 23rd)
Schmidt’s (Folsom x 20th)
Limon Rotisserie (So Van Ness x 21st) – can be busy, but you can get lucky

There’s Buttermilk Southern Kitchen, but I thought it was lousy.

1 Like

Thanks!

Yeah, we’re in date night, cranky and not wanting to wait for food, territory :slight_smile: Atmosphere isn’t so much a concern as food that doesn’t translate well to take out or breakfast/lunch with the baby.

Baby is doing great – – in true post-millennial fashion, loves [to observe or nap in] loud busy restaurants :slight_smile:

Oh, I hadn’t realized the location of media noche. Next time we go to Dolores Park in the day, we will pick up some sandwiches from them. Much easier than schlepping tortas from 24th ( or, if there is seating available, we will check out the sangria)

2 Likes

i’m dying to try Spice Jar! it’s small, though… have you been able to walk in?

Love Schmidt’s.

good to know about Buttermilk - i’d heard the same.

I personally despise Souvla and to borrow your word, I find Media Noche pretty meh; although their picadillo empanadas are admittedly great and I do love the decor. I wouldn’t bother with the sandwiches.

If you’re not in the mood for Oriental/Eastern food, there’s not much for you in the Tenderloin. Sorry I’m not of more help!

1 Like

This doesn’t really meet may of your criteria, other than being nearish AMC VanNess, but I enjoyed a recent meal at RT Rotisserie more than I thought I would for the sort of standard fare they offer. (Pork sandwich and fries were good, though if you’re anti-fatty you might not like the pork).
I showed up within 20 minutes of their 9pm closing time and there were a few seats on a weekday, but a steady line, with lots of Caviar delivery orders (maybe add to your delivery list?).
I’m curious, how busy is Duna on weekends? I haven’t been, but last time I was in the Mission on a weekday early evening it didn’t look too busy.

I ordered in a few weeks ago and while the chicken was well cooked, I thought it was kind of boring and laced with way too many herbs. They dump like half a pound of dill on everything. I much preferred MF Chicken, though that’s for a different thread…

1 Like

I don’t despise Souvla but found it meh and wouldn’t go back voluntarily. I thought Media Noche was good, not great - the Media Noche was a touch better than the Cubano, but their croquetas were really good (especially with their green sauce), as were the agua frescas.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold