Tried and true, R&G Lounge in San Francisco is unanimously agreed upon as one of the top Chinese restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is Michelin Guide recommended, written about in numerous publications, and even featured in Anthony Bourdain’s (my hero’s) show No Reservations on the Travel Channel as a place to go while in the City.
Located at the edge of Chinatown in San Francisco, R&G is a completely modernized space that is smaller than led to believe from the outside. There are three levels – the upper “nicer” level, the ground floor level with tables behind the bar, and the lower “slumming it, maybe share tables with strangers” level. I personally like sitting downstairs since its less formal and sharing tables with strangers is nothing new to me. Maybe that’s how I’ll meet my future wife.
I usually visit R&G once a week (at least) during lunch since it’s only a ten minute walk from the financial district where my office is located. Without fail, my coworkers and I always order the lunch special beef (more on this later) and the hot & sour soup. It’s really quite a deal – the lunch special costs $7.50 and the soup is $1.50 (Mon, Wed, Fri only for soup). You can’t really beat that price for the quality and amount of food you’re getting.
A few tips for a successful lunch at R&G:
- Go earlier if possible. Arriving around 11:30-11:45am will most likely get you a table without waiting. If you have a big party, make a reservation.
- THERE IS A LUNCH SPECIAL MENU. Be sure to ask for the lunch menu. The booklet is the regular menu offered during both lunch and dinner service. The lunch special menu is a big, laminated one page menu.
- If you’re a party of one or two, be open to sharing a table with strangers. It’ll be awkward only if you make it awkward. So please don’t longingly stare into a stranger’s eyes while they eat.
There are a couple signature dishes offered at R&G. By far the most popular is the Salt & Pepper Crab. During dinner service, you will literally see this dish churning out of the kitchen every minute or two. Almost every table with have a whole crab and every person will have delicious enjoyment on their face while eating it. The crab is perfectly battered with salt and pepper, there is a lot of crab meat, and at ~$38 a crab (depending on market price) it’s actually quite reasonable. Unless you hate crab, you need to order this (see top of post for delicious photo).
And then there is the R&G Special Beef. According to the menu, it is a secret recipe with a secret sauce. The fact that my coworkers and I come to R&G each week to get this beef is a testament to how good it is. The beef is super tender and juicy, the special sauce is a little sweet glaze but nothing too overpowering. It is marinated through so every bite is succulent and delicious. And remember that lunch special I mentioned above? For $7.50, you get a good amount of beef and a side of fried rice. Can’t beat it!
One other staple is the Soy Sauce Chicken. You can order half a chicken or a full chicken. It is also part of the lunch special menu that comes with white rice. The chicken is super juicy (even all the white meat) and the soy sauce is great with white rice. Very flavorful and excellent.
If you can’t tell from this long post, I obviously love eating at R&G. My parents have been bringing me here since I was a little boy and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. If you have a hankering for Chinese food, this is the first place in the Bay Area I recommend.