I'd appreciate a recommendation for any cheap and cheerful dinner places within walking distance of Davies Symphony Hall, if you know of any. No dietary restrictions involved.I asked B. L. to clarify how much she wanted to spend, how far she wanted to walk, and whether she had specific types of cuisine in mind. She wrote back:
Hayes Valley is fine. Not too far up Van Ness or along Market if possible. And it's for me and an unemployed pal, under $20 each is good. We can eat with our hands, but we want to sit down while doing it.After riding around the neighborhood refreshing my memory, I have a few suggestions:
1. My first instinct would be to walk a few blocks beyond the immediate neighborhood, either visiting Pagolac (655 Larkin at Ellis) for baby lotus root salad and rice-paper-wrapped grilled meats or Burmese Kitchen (452 Larkin at Turk) for tea leaf salad, split-pea tofu, and chicken curry. Both restaurants have invested in decent lighting and flatware, but keep prices well within your limit.
2. If it's a clear evening, you could stop by Arlequin Cafe (384 Hayes at Gough) for press-grilled sandwiches and glasses of wine on the hidden back patio; the cafe closes at 8 p.m. on most nights, well after symphony performances begin.
3. I love the meze plates, adana kebabs, and ― if they still have any left from lunch ― the feta pies at Gyro King (25 Grove at Hyde). I wouldn't call the place romantic, but a recent paint job upgraded the atmosphere from government-building cafeteria to Whole Foods cafe, and the food's much better than at many of the other symphony haunts where diners will spend twice as much.
Season-ticket holders scouted out most of these cheap restaurants long ago, so you'll need to go at least 90 minutes before showtime. If anyone else has a favorite under-$20 pre-symphony meal to pass on, want to add it to the comments section?
E-mail your questions to Jonathan.Kauffman@SFWeekly.com.
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