Lots of history to these incongruities. In the case of the Tenderloin, 30 years ago it was being rapidly gentrified as tourist hotels spread out from Union Square (the Hilton being the premier example). But that displaced low income residents of the existing "Single Room Occupancy" residential hotels and was thought to be a prime cause of the increasing homeless population so the Board of Supervisors stopped it cold by zoning the area with a height limit of 8 stories (the new hotels were 40+). So these days the Tenderloin begins where the the gentrification stopped, however I don’t mind because the area has since become a focus of southeast and south Asian food as newer immigrants have moved in. An amazing number of new Indian and Pakistani places these days, and the Vietnamese have been around a decade or so.
As for the area around Ti Couz, the worst area is near the BART station at 16th and Mission. That’s because, frankly, BART makes it convenient for drug dealers, hookers and other baddies from all over the Bay Area to come there and set up shop. You would think it would also focus the attention of the police, but to my thinking the SFPD is remarkably inneffective stopping this type of criminal activity, possibly because the force is so small and possibly because of the local attitude of tolerance. But once you travel even one block north and west of this corner, you are into increasingly high-priced real estate, mostly Victorian homes that have been renovated interspersed with commercial strips like Valencia and 16th St (where Ti Couz sits) that cater to the people living in the Victorians.
I guess that’s one of the things that I find interesting about SF—-how the neighborhoods change so dramatically within a block or two. The area around Ti Couz was fine. It’s only when we walked back to the bus stop 2 blocks away that the area turned bad. I think that actually may have been Mission that the bus stop was at. I had noticed the same thing on my last visit—the hotel we stayed at off Cyril Magnin St. seemed to be in a nice area, but when I walked literally around the corner the area changed dramatically. Later I found out I was in fact on the border of the Tenderloin.
The crepes at Ti-Couz are very very Good. Try the carmelized onion, WoW, it is a shakey area of town no pun int. Well worth the trip if your in SF Mission. Also excellent Mexican places in this part of town.
Here, that neighborhood qualifies as "edgy" or "funky"–not so much "dicey". You don’t have to go far for "dicey" (a block down at 16th and Mission will get you there–that corner is one of the city’s premier heroin marketplaces). But 16th and Valencia is pretty clear of actual criminals and mostly populated by 20-somethings, many of whom have embraced the "alternative" but they are harmless.
India Aroma is a completely different "hood". It’s on the Polk St. restaurant strip that sits in a valley between Pacific Heights and Nob Hill–two of the city’s best addresses as you probably know. About 8 blocks down Polk, near my actual favorite Indian place (when cost is no object), Maharani, things are also different (runaway kids selling drugs and themselves), but not on the blocks around India Aroma.
FYI, Polk is turning into another "Little Delhi" with quite a number of Indian places and even a couple Indian groceries (which also rent Bollywood flicks).
C Turner Joy
I wish I liked Indian food. That place is about a 20 second walk from my front door.
The owner of that restaurant has the previous occupant to thanks for the decor. There was an Italian restaurant there prior to the Indian place. They completely gutted the joint and made it what it is. I don’t think they lasted a year.
All the same, glad you like it. I’ve never seen them do a great business though. I’m not sure they’ll last.
As for the lettuce you were looking for… Right across the street is the Big Apple. They’ve got lettuce. There’s also an halal grocer between Clay and Washington that has some limited produce.
Got news for you, BT. Went to Ti Couz again in March. The neighborhood is still a little dicey, IMO, but that’s never stopped me going to one for good food. I’ll put Indian Aroma on my list!
Then you need to learn to think positively. I didn’t name it and I would have named it something else, but I’m sure the owner had positive thoughts in mind. Certainly, I like the aromas I confront when entering most Indian groceries.
Today I discovered a lost love. I was walking up Polk St. between Sacramento and Clay looking for someplace to buy some lettuce and there it was with a big sign proclaiming it to be the reincarnation (Hindus are into that) of my once favorite little SF Indian restaurant, Scenic India on Valencia St. (between 16th and 17th). As soon as I went in I recognized the owner and we reminisced about the old place (lost his lease, building owner doing perpetual renovations . . . the old story). Anyway, I got a takeout order of chicken vindaloo, my favorite Indian curry and it’s as remembered–yummy. And the new location is a lot more attractive than the old (safe even for Ed Sails who was scared off by the neighborhood around the old place and its neighbor, Ti Couz Creperie). Truth be told, even though I liked the food in the old place, the physical space was kind of dark and dank and the building needed the renovation. The new place is bright, airy, clean and attractive. So if you are in SF and want some good Indian food, try Indian Aroma on the west side of Polk St. between Sacramento and Clay.
Indian Aroma Restaurant–SF
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