Some lunches are long and leisurely and some are short and sweet. This week we explore your options for delicious, healthy (well mostly) and quick lunches in Union Square. Whether you need to grab a bite before heading on a power shopping trip or taking a jaunt to other parts of San Francisco or you work in Union Square and are constantly seeking casual, inexpensive lunch choices, we have a place that will hit the spot.
Fresh and Light Meals
For health nuts and those of you who just don’t want a heavy lunch there are many light and flavorful options in the area. We recommend Urban Picnic for California fare with an international flair. Try their lemongrass tempeh banh mi for a healthy take on the Vietnamese favorite or their pepper lime quinoa salad for a protein packed power lunch. We also love their salty, savory Pho noodle soup on a chilly San Francisco day! If you’re looking for something a bit more posh but still quick, find a spot at one of the outdoor tables at Neiman Marcus’ Fresh Market and nosh on lean dishes like their grilled salmon fattoush salad with olives, pita and artichokes or their veggie melt sandwich with zucchini, grilled peppers, provolone and pesto on ciabatta. If you’re looking for some nutritious takeaway, look no further than Boxed Foods Co. The folks behind B Restaurant and Bar have some seriously palatable adult lunch boxes that you can take to go. We suggest the turkey artichoke panini with chevre or the pear and brie press. We also like the jalapeno marinated tofu and noodle salad with citrus soy vinaigrette.
Spicy and Exotic
Sometimes you’re in the mood for something with a little international spice, and we have plenty of lunch ideas from around the world to suit your fancy. Local chain Osha Thai just opened After Osha, a new concept with a fun assortment of Thai lunch options in an assembly line fashion. You can choose a light bite from their appetizer bar, such as fresh spring rolls with house-made peanut sauce or go for a noodle soup with either Tom Ka (coconut milk curry) or Tom-yum (salty and spicy) broth with veggies and your choice of protein. They also offer traditional Thai entrees like pumpkin curry and volcanic beef (with something called lava sauce) in rice bowl form. If you’re up for a little Mexican adventure, duck into the tiny Taqueria Mana. This place packs a full authentic Mexican menu with local favorites like the carne asada burrito, grilled vegetable tacos and chorizo tortas. It’s a little slice of the Mission in Union Square. For falafel action, you’ll want to go to Theatre Too…Café. This hole in the wall serves up some of the best falafel in town, wrap style in lavash bread with all the fixings - hummus, cucumber, yogurt and spicy sauce if you want.
If you’re more of a traditionalist, don’t worry we’ve got you covered too. How about a nice juicy burger from Burger House on Powell St.? Hot and fresh cheeseburgers, onion rings and garlic fries are served up all day long at this lunch counter. Sourdough lovers will need to stop by San Francisco favorite Boudin Sourdough Café. Grab a classic tuna salad sandwich on their signature bread or go all out with a giant bread bowl filled with clam chowder, tomato soup or the soup of the day (Monday is vegetarian chili day!). If all that isn’t enough choice you can always grab a hot dog from one of Stanley’s Steamers four carts parked around Union Square. You have a choice of original Niman Ranch hot dog or Aidell’s poultry sausages, and you can also get pretzels or popcorn for a special treat in the park.