20 cheap eats for under $20 in San Francisco
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6. Lers Ros Thai( Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )
A family of six got up to leave just as we sat down. "Have you been here before?" a member of that party asked us.
"No," we answered.
"This is the best," he said, "and we're Thai."
Lers Ros (my waitress translated this to mean "excellent tastes") is close to Civic Center and is a no-frills contemporary Thai restaurant crowded with tables and diners. It opened only about a year ago and quickly became a favorite of San Francisco reviewers, who like the food and the hours; it's open until midnight. So if you have a sudden craving for green chicken curry during the late-night news, you can rush out for a steaming bowl of it.
The restaurant's claim to fame centers on its inventive dishes; flavors are crisp and clean and seem more distinct than at many Thai restaurants. Most dishes on the menu — there are 115 items — cost less than $8, which makes it a good bet for budget travelers.
We coupled Pad Thai Prak ($7.25) with a spicy-flavored tilapia, a whole fish topped with a chilies-based sauce ($12.95). The preparation was flashy, the tastes intriguing.