2026 16th St, Sacramento, CA 95818, (916) 448-0088

If you venture to the outskirts of the grid (U & 16th-ish), at the edge where the sparkle of Midtown fades into the shabby, there hides a diamond in the rough. Harry's Cafe, run by Harry Luong, is a small establishment reminiscent of the tiny mom and pop diners of days gone by. But rather than serve up the tired old menu of club sandwiches, fries and burgers; Harry's offers a more exciting fare of home cooked Chinese and Vietnamese dishes that are equally filling and that are just as easy on your wallet.

I held off on reviewing Harry's for quite awhile, thinking that the luster of the place would shortly fade or that the food would soon disappoint. But then I found myself, after several visits, holding off on writing about Harry's because I didn't want to divulge this secret gem to others. So far, each time I've patronized this small eatery, there's always been a consistent sprinkling of customers and a few empty tables. Perfect! Immediate seating, no wait! Orders are taken promptly and the food is always delivered quickly. I've had both Harry and a woman, whom I've over time dubbed as "Mrs. Harry," wait on me. Harry's talkative, friendly and always ready with a smile or a wink. Mrs. Harry is less chatty and tries to hide behind a gruff facade, but you can tell she's all about the warm fuzzies underneath. Harry's Cafe is definitely not fancy; it's small and narrow much like a vestibule and teeters the fine line of being cluttered but not messy. However like mom's kitchen, its warmness envelopes you and you fall into a feeling of ease within seconds of arrival. There's no pretentiousness at Harry's Cafe. It's just a great place to chat with friends while dining on some good eats. In addition, the restaurant has always been spotless during my visits (even the bathroom), winning extra brownie points in my book.

As for the food, they have a standard menu, as well as an ever changing specials board (for example tonight, the lead on the specials board was oxtail soup). I, myself, have tried several of their stir-fry dishes when I've popped in there, oftentimes solo on nights when I haven't had the energy to cook, and my favorite so far is the asparagus and shrimp with a black bean sauce (I've also had this same concoction with snow peas and that's equally as yummy). On other visits, I've indulged in their piping hot pho as well as their delicious shrimp/vermicelli noodle dish. The pho there is great on those chilly or rainy nights. Now that the weather's turned all warm and sunny, I've been craving their vermicelli like crazy. Consistently, everything I've ordered there has been fresh and tasty and just as a heads up, the servings are quite large. I've never left hungry. In addition, Harry's is great about modifications and during one visit, Harry informed me and my dinner companion that if they have the ingredients, they'll make it, regardless of whether it's on the menu. How's that for service! And true to his word, he came through for my dinner companion.

Next time, your tummy grumbles, "Feed me!" wander over to Harry's for a bite of some Asian comfort food. Remember though, once you fall in love with this quaint little cafe, mums the word-- as I don't want to have to wait for a table on my next visit.
2301 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110, (415) 282-4663

John Wayne was once quoted as saying, "I never trust a man that doesn't drink." I think the Duke would have felt right at home at Homestead, as every patron had at least one drink in hand.

On a recent social call to SF, we ended up here; which turned out to be a perfect choice for knocking back a few rounds while waiting for the stragglers to meet up. The bar wasn't too crowded during our visit and we were able to grab a table by the window. Drinks prices were reasonable and the pours fair. The bartender that I ordered from was friendly and had no issue when I had to bring a drink back for correction (it was my bad, my friend wanted a vodka & tonic, I ordered a vodka rocks). Although he did raise an amused eyebrow when I confirmed that the Knob Creek shot was for me. I not look like your typical whiskey imbiber?

The atmosphere was mellow and the crowd ranged from hipster, indie to a little WT. Everyone seemed laid back and to be enjoying the mellow vibe. Homestead's definitely not a meat market, more of a nice neighborhood watering hole to gather with friends and shoot the sh*t. The decor is reminiscent of early western saloons and it makes no qualms about being a bit divey (part of its charm). Also, there's a nice warm fireplace to gather around should you incur a chill or find a cute gunslinger to converse with.

Definitely a place that I'd like to give another whirl.
3005 Freeport Blvd # B, Sacramento, CA 95818, (916) 448-3988

The Yummy Guide has that cute frou-frou feel of a teenage girl's room. It has X-mas sparkly lights dangling from the ceiling, sunny yellow tabletops and various posters and whiteboards tacked up on the wall. It has such a cheerful vibe that I felt that I should have liked it more than I did.

When you walk in there are several dry-erase board menus written in Chinese on the walls, but don't flip as they have a laminated english menu that they'll hand you. The menu consists of pages and pages of various small dishes running the gamut from spaghetti to intestines to a whole page of appetizers ending with the words "balls." The one that struck my fancy was the "shrimp pumpling," soup. It just sounded too cute to pass up and a good dish to help remedy my recent cold. Alisha and I both opted to check that out along with the salt/pepper tofu and the sesame dumplings. I wasn't crazy about the sesame dumplings, which resembled heated mochi with a peanut buttery black paste inside but the salt/pepper tofu was pretty good. It consisted of fried sugar-cubed sized tofu mixed with scallions and jalapenos slices. An interesting combination, but it worked. I also ordered some strawberry juice, which turned out to be delicious! My other dining companion, Josh, decided to indulge in a spaghetti dish with a meat and cheese sauce. He was kind enough to let me sample the fried rice and hot buns that he got. I really like the buns, which were crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside, the accompanying sugary dipping sauce made me lick my lips. It'd make a great breakfast snack, especially if coupled with coffee.

Our waitress, an older lady with a friendly smile, gave us ample time to review the lengthy menu and fielded our questions with ease. I think she got a little distracted by the Asian soap operas on the TV because after waiting awhile we had to ask a nearby waitress for some boxes and the check.

Overall, I think the Yummy Guide is a pretty cool place to check out. It's the perfect spot to hit after a late night of drinking as it's open late and is very cheap. Prices run the range of $3.99-$6.99. You could go back fifty times and still not try all the dishes on the menu, it's that extensive. There are also several dessert choices (like egg puffs and jellies), but we didn't have any room left in our tummies. Maybe next visit.

527 A Munroe St, Sacramento, CA 95825, (916) 485-3888

Every time I think of the Thai House, I get p.o.'d at my friend J. all over again. How long J.'s known about Thai House and kept it his own dirty little secret is anyone's guess. Like a sultry mistress on the side, he never gave us an inkling that he had this place squirreled away in his 'hood for his thai food booty calls. According to the hostess, T.H.'s been there for about two years. How it eluded my food radar until now is a complete mystery to me.

Thoughts of this Thai House's dishes make my taste buds bust out in a happy disco (Deney Terrio-style) and my tummy gurgle with fond memories of mouthwatering spices and savory bites. Not to be confused with the other numerous Thai Houses in the Sac area, this little treasure is wedged towards the back of a strip mall at the corner of Munroe and Fair Oaks (aka Loehman's Plaza). Upon arrival, Anna, the waitress/hostess/ all around restaurant extraordinaire will greet you with a 100-watt, beaming smile. Anna's cheerful attitude and expeditious service is one of the primary reasons that I've became a Thai House convert. She's on the mark with recommendations, doesn't bat an eye on modifications and even when the place becomes full and crazy busy, she's able to squeeze in some friendly conversation. After my first two visits, I felt like a regular.

The decor in T.H. is simple but fresh. Care has been taken to accentuate the small establishment with a few bits of tasteful art, without going overboard and verging on clutter. The portions are sizable and non-noodle dishes come with rice. My current favorite dish there is the Koong-Yang, which are delectable, garlic-marinated prawns accompanied by a spicy lime sauce (due to the potent garlic factor-- not advisable if you're on a date and looking for some good night kiss action). To be honest every dish I've had there so far from curry to pad thai to soup has been perfect. I wasn't blown away by the Kuay See Mer (a gravy sauce punctuated by mushrooms/ carrots/bamboo/corn/and a choice of meat over hard, crispy noodles) but that was because it wasn't something I'd normally order (dining companion's choice) as opposed to it being bad. The satay and po-pia tod were delicious and not too oily like at some of the other places in town. My only grievance would be that their wine list is a bit lacking (Kirkwood White Zin? Sigh.). I feel that they could have fun with the list and carry a few inexpensive labels that taste better.

I realize that there are a multitude of thai restaurants currently peppering the grid, but T.H.'s is worth the slight hop, skip and jump to the 'burbs (did that really come out of my mouth?). And should you need someone to help you eat all those dishes you order, I'll gladly volunteer my services.
1453 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, (415) 824-7166

Chez Maman is a small, nondescript neighborhood bistro that's one of those blink and you'll miss it places. The restaurant is long and narrow, consisting of counter seating that runs the length of the tiny eatery, 2 metal bar-height 2-tops by the window and one small outdoor table (Chez Maman's a great place for dining with 1, maybe 2 other friends, not any more than that due to the size of the place). Upon arrival, you place your name and the number of people in your party on the wait list that is taped to the front door. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and the decor sparse. Should you need to use the restroom, there's one right through the kitchen. The entire establishment is probably as big as my dining room and living room put together, if even that. The staff consists of 1 cook, 1 busser and 1 server. The server we had during our visit was courteous, efficient and brisk. Although he didn't engage us in small talk, I liked that fact that he didn't rush us through our meal despite the obvious wait for seating by other patrons.

I opted for the vegetarian crepe while my two dining companions went with paninis. One was the Croque Monsieur, the other I'm not sure (I forgot to inquire). The "mystery" panini came heart-shaped, which was a cute albeit cheesy touch. My vegetarian crepe was decent. It was stuffed with zucchini, roasted peppers, mushrooms and heavy on the tomato...all those healthy veggies that your mom would be proud you're eating. We also got a side of pomme frites with aioli to split and a few glasses of wine to chat over. My viognier was ok, but I felt their wine by the glass prices were a bit high considering what they were serving. The match-stick like fries on the other hand were probably my favorite part of the meal. They were crunchy, tasty and the lemon aioli was the perfect accompaniment.

Chez Maman did a nice job of filling our tummies before we scooted off to grab some drinks, but by no means did I find it to stand out from the vast selection of SF eateries.