This week location #3 of the famous Turtle Tower Restaurant offered a glimpse of their food with a limited menu. A sort of test run before the June 1 official grand opening. SFoodie was lucky enough to take a peek while the employees were enjoying their staff lunch. The space is smaller than the original Larkin street location, but without the grime that builds up after a decade in business. Lean and Clean, we like.
We were told the menu will include many new items, but after extensive research we concluded that only 3 dishes are new: Lemon grass braised beef over bun noodles (it's a rice plate at Larkin), fried chicken (not breaded, soy sauce marinade), and custom made banh mi (Geary location already has banh mi). We're thrilled about the last item. The banh mi (price yet to be determined) includes butter, mayo, cilantro, carrots, jalapenos and your choice of 3 proteins: pate, ham, sausage, fried egg, chicken, and pork. It's a buummer for vegetarians, as there isn't a veggie version. Maybe once they're up and rolling?
Currently, only Little Green Cyclo food truck, Banh Mi Ba Le in Oakland, and Bun Mee have fried egg as an option. We're aware that Out the Door on Bush St. also had it once as a brunch special, but that's not a regular menu item. During the day, this area is an untapped goldmine of prospective diners with Hall of Justice employees, people stuck on jury duty, policemen, and escapees. Yet this corner has been a revolving door for previous restaurant tenants who failed to lure enough customers, perhaps dissuaded by the volume of speeding cars zooming along Sixth street. If that weren't enough, they face competition from McDonald's, Subway, and Grab N Go Vietnamese Restaurant (without having to cross 6th street). We know that Turtle Tower's food is superior, but except for the new banh mi, most dishes take some time to prepare, and those other places have speed on their side. Will customers pick a good meal, or a quick fill-your-tummy lunch just to get back to jury service in time? Only time will tell.
Turtle Tower Restaurant: 501 Sixth Street, 904-9888. Hours: Daily 7a.m.-5 p.m.