People in San Francisco like waiting in lines for food (a lot). Sometimes, that wait is worth it. While You Wait, SFist's guide for how to pass the time while trying to get into San Francisco's most ridiculously popular restaurants, is here to help.
Minimum wait time at San Tung for party of four, Wednesday, 7:00 PM: "For four people?! Who knows! [click]."
You know what’s great about San Francisco? People don’t just line up for Michelin-starred, famous-chef-run, potentially overrated hot spots. No, in this city, you can count on people to line up for less ostentatious spots, more often than not for one specific, cult food item. Like chicken wings.
I’m talking about San Tung, of course, the Inner Sunset Chinese restaurant that has gotten so known for their wings that they've been driven to open a second outpost in order to contain the hoards of chicken-loving patrons. What’s more, tourists have caught on to the Legend of the San Tung wings, making things even more crowded.
Our advice: show up at an off-hour, rather than a full-blown meal time. But should you find yourself with an undeniable hankering for San Tung wings circa 6 pm on a Saturday, you’ll be fighting through some crowds to get them.
If you get in, you will order the dry fried chicken wings. They’re saucy, much more so than the dry fried description would imply, but meaty, crisp, and brimming with flavor. San Tung has a $7 per person ordering minimum, so plan on ponying up for some noodles, or greens in garlic sauce, or similar. Or, just get another order of wings to go. You waited for them after all, and cold wings are delicious for breakfast.
Now, all you need to do is pass the time until your chicken wing dreams become a reality. Where to do it?
Hour One: Nopalito
Hitting up the Inner Sunset location of Nopalito at the beginning of your wait may seem foolish, but showing up here any later will make you want to eat dinner at the noted restaurant. We can’t say enough good things about Nopalito’s flavorful, seasonal brand of high-end Mexican cuisine — the ceviche is divine, the carnitas even better, and don’t even get us started on their brunch dishes. Since you’re saving yourself for wings, limit yourself to an excellent mezcal cocktail and an order of totopes — the fresh-fried corn chips are doused in a bright, fresh tomato sauce and covered with a generous serving of queso fresco.
Nopalito, 1224 9th Avenue (beween Lincoln & Irving), 415-233-9966
Hour Two: The Little Shamrock
As we learned with much-maligned Mission Chinese, board games are an important key to the restaurant waiting game. Get your Inner Sunset distraction on at The Little Shamrock, a classic Irish pub with pitchers of beer, a respectable cocktail selection, and the aforementioned games to keep you going. If you’re feeling particularly aggressive, you can opt for a rousing game of darts, too.
The Little Shamrock, 807 Lincoln Way (at 9th Avenue), 415-661-0060
Hour Three: Social Kitchen and Brewery
Now that you’ve gotten all your rage out over an aggressive round of Monopoly, take a deep breath and head to Social Kitchen + Brewery for some filling, neighborhood-brewed beer. You’ll find a nice selection of appetizer-friendly snacks, too — just say no to the sriracha hot wings (because that’s just overkill), and try the brussels sprouts chips or mushroom empanadas instead. If you’re lucky, they might be having an in-house brewer event, too — try not to take your hanger out on the nice beer people.
Social Kitchen and Brewery, 1326 9th Avenue (at Irving), 415-681-0330
The problem with waiting at non-trendy, famous-chef-run restaurants? They don’t really care about making their waiting patrons happy. Or, they won’t be texting you when your table is ready, anyway. Which makes it pretty easy to get distracted by the wealth of food-drink-board games abound in the neighborhood (and completely forget about San Tung #2 crap). Lost your spot, and your motivation? No big deal. Head next door to Yummy Yummy, where you’ll delicious, steaming bowls of pho the size of a small child. Their beef broth is some of the best in the city — it’s balanced, flavorful, and delicate. Didn't you really want pho more than wings anyway? Yummy Yummy closes at 9 so plan your dinner, and waiting, accordingly.
Yummy Yummy, 1015 Irving (between 11th & 12th Avenues), 415-566-4722