Pizza at Cupola in the Westfield Centre mall food court San Francisco CA (courtesy Westfield Centre on Facebook)

Pizza at Cupola in the Westfield Centre mall food court San Francisco CA (courtesy Westfield Centre on Facebook)

It’s depressing to be hungry at lunchtime in a touristy part of an expensive city like San Francisco.

You know that there are good restaurants all around, but they’re pricey with a long wait, and for crying out loud what’s there to eat that isn’t a fast-food burger or Subway?

My friend and travel companion Troy Thompson and I had grumbly stomachs as we poked around on various trusty phone travel apps, on a nice sunny day a few blocks from Union Square near the Powell Street BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station. Yelp is my go-to way to find a place to eat when I travel, and this time it was bringing back results that sounded good (and affordable,) yet when I looked around where they were supposed to be, there was nothing there but a giant Bloomingdales department store.

The secret was revealed by the best app of all; a local walking by who saw us looking a little confused, stopped and asked if we needed anything. She explained that the Bloomingdales was part of a mall complex called Westfield San Francisco Centre, and under the maze of stores it also housed a fabulous, affordable food court.

Lunch was right under our noses, as long as we didn’t mind carrying a tray.

I dithered around choosing between fresh seafood from Catch Isle or giving into beef cravings at Buckhorn Grill. Troy wandered off to explore all the options – there were ramen places, Italian, gyros and falafel, burgers, Korean BBQ, vegan, sub sandwiches, and Thai. Many prepared the entree only after you ordered, so dishes were nice and fresh.

Other than San Francisco’s Ghirardelli chocolate, a Chipotle, an Auntie Annie’s pretzel place, the ubiquitous Starbucks and one or two others, I didn’t recognize any of the restaurants, which was fine because I wanted to try new things (without breaking my budget to do it.)

For variety, location and affordability, you couldn’t beat it; stop by for a quick meal the next time you’re on the run near Union Square and the hungries hit.

Do you have any food courts that are much more than anyone might expect? (I could also go on about the Ala Moana Mall food court in Honolulu.)

Please share down in the comments!

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