The Castro is a great neighborhood to explore when looking for a nice, moderately priced meal and some of the nicest weather in San Francisco. Particular restaurants that I’ve been to in the neighborhood definitely stand out, and I’ve yet to be disappointed. Whether it’s pizza or Thai spring rolls that you’re craving, the Castro provides many options to satisfy your stomach all within a few blocks of each other.
Thailand Restaurant, a few steps from the intersection of Market and Castro St., is one of my favorite places to get Thai food in the city so far. A brightly-lit sign leads the way to the entrance, which is followed immediately by a flight of stairs taking you to the second floor. The dining room has a perfect view of the Castro Theater, which is especially lovely at night when the sign is colorful and lit. I usually order chicken or tofu Pad Thai (noodles, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, shredded carrots, peanut sauce) and share an order of the Thailand fresh roll appetizer (rice paper, clear noodles, cucumber, carrots, tofu, tamarind sauce). I’ve had their Thai iced tea before, and I highly recommend it. The tea is sweet but also refreshing. Their pineapple fried rice is also incredibly good, and is served in half of a hollowed-out pineapple. The inside has rice cooked together with pineapple pieces, diced tomatoes, shrimp, green onions, and cucumber. I recommend trying it with peanut sauce on the side. They have good lunch specials for less than $10 before 3 p.m. during the week. Thailand Restaurant is definitely worth a visit and is great for lunch or dinner. It has a nice sit-down atmosphere, a historic view, and serves flavorful and fresh Thai. They also deliver, which I’ve found useful quite a few times. Check their website for the full menu and specials: http://www.thailandrestaurant.net
Another go-to spot in the Castro is Orphan Andy’s, the colorful 24-hour diner that was established in 1977 and sits on the corner by Castro, Market, and 17th St. During my most recent visit to Orphan Andy’s, I met one employee, Bill, who began working at the diner since it opened 35 years ago. He stood by the counter handing out menus and directing customers to their respectable booths while he conversed with co-workers. He sipped on a cup of hot coffee and we made small talk about what we enjoy doing in the neighborhood. On a previous and rather memorable trip to Orphan Andy’s a few months ago, all three of my housemates and I drove there in our big, blue 1983 Mercedes after we descended the windy roads from Twin Peaks. After the four of us admired the stunning view of San Francisco late at night, we indulged in classic comfort food. I ordered a grilled cheese with tomatoes and avocado and it came with French fries. It was perfectly satisfying and delicious. The tiny restaurant is painted with bold colors and has incredible and colorful animal sculptures hanging from the ceiling, which added to the experience. It is also across the Castro and Market street car stop, which transports passengers in painted vintage railway cars. Next time I find myself at Orphan Andy’s, I plan to try one of their milkshakes and make more conversation with the interesting and friendly folks that work there. Orphan Andy’s is more than just food. It’s the people and the experience that make it an awesome place to see in San Francisco. Contact them at (415) 864-9795, or stop by and check out their menu.
(more to come, and photos!)