What should you do when you are visiting the Asian Art Museum and discover you’re hungry?
First, the Asian Art Museum has its own Café Asia and the food is delicious. The line moves quickly so you can get right back to the galleries, resource room, North Court or Samsung Hall activities — and of course the gift shop — in no time. If it is a sunny day you are in luck because you can sit outside on the terrace –– one of the very few al fresco dining options in the neighborhood.
If you are done for the day or Cafe Asia is busy, there are a number of nearby eateries that are pretty tasty — too many to list in one post. However, the Asian Art Museum is located just outside San Francisco’s official Little Saigon so the selection of Vietnamese food is particularly impressive. Here are some nearby places to try this cuisine:
If you need a quick meal to go do not miss the Saigon Sandwich shop at 560 Larkin (at Eddy). Don’t be put off by the line out the door. These sandwich pros take orders for a dozen people at a time and make the sandwiches in efficient batches, and they never forget whose sandwich belongs to who. I go for the roast pork, but there is also roast chicken, pate, tofu, and various combinations to be had. You can take your banh mi (and a can of mango or coconut juice) back to the Museum and grab one of the outside benches.
Sing Sing sandwich shop 309 Hyde Street (between Eddy St & Ellis St), is another nearby banh mi option (perfect with an iced coffee). You can try and grab one of the 4 tables inside. I have not actually tried this place yet, but it has good buzz.
For a sit down Vietnamese dinner after a day at the museum, try Pagolac at 655 Larkin St (between Ellis St & Willow St) . The 7 course beef is ridiculous; the menu has many veggie dishes as well.
My absolute favorite place for a group lunch is Bodega Bistro at 607 Larkin (at Eddy). The green papaya salad is da bomb, garlic noodles and tiger prawns make a great combo, and the “shaking beef” (bo luc lac) is to die for. This restaurant can be crowded at lunch time so try and get there before noon. The atmosphere at dinner evolves into a white tablecloth affair. Unlike Pagolac, there are not a lot of vegetarian options here.
On a cold and foggy San Francisco summer day, head to Turtle Tower at 631 Larkin St (between Eddy St & Ellis St). Some say TT has the best pho in SF –– pho for breakfast anyone? One of our recent distinguished visitors from Japan went to TT every day during his visit with a mission to try all the different pho variatons. He loved every one of them.
If the line is too long at TT another nearby pho option is Pho 2000 at 637 Larkin (near Eddy).
Look for more chow tips for our museum visitors in future posts.
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