For that you get a pretty-good-size bowl of, say, chicken noodle soup (with plenty of wide, fettucelike noodles) and a turkey and cheese sandwich on soft whole wheat bread. This is just the sort of lunch your nutrition-involved mother would make you eat, if she could still make you do anything.
A plaudit too for the turkey burger ($8.89), which was cooked through as is essential with poultry but not dry. Turkey burgers need a secret ingredient; I use an egg yolk, which helps keep the meat moist and also provides a binding effect. Could this be the Stacks' technique? I couldn't tell, but the kitchen knows what it's doing here.
For years a noontime stalwart was Sage, one of those Chinese restaurants that seemed as if it had always been there and always would be. Then, one day last fall, it wasn't. Now it is a Middle Eastern place called Hayes and Kebab. Not much has changed except the cuisine, and the fact that there is no longer full table service: you order at the counter, take a numbered placard, and wait for the food to be brought to you.
The falafel ($5.95) is served burrito-style, wrapped in lavash instead of the usual pita bread, and this is an improvement. There is also, squirting gently from the cylinder, a tasty sauce of yogurt spiked with paprika a nice touch, since falafel can be dry. We liked the charcoal-grilled chicken shish kebab ($9.95), in part because the marinated meat remained juicy and because it was presented with tasty little salads of bulgur wheat and rice pilaf dotted with green peas, raisins, and slivered almonds.
Hayes and Kebab serves dinner, if you can't get into Essencia next door or you overlooked Stacks' daylight-only policy. Said King Théoden as he led the Rohirrim into battle before the walls of Minas Tirith, "Fear no darkness!"
HAYES AND KEBAB
Mon.Thurs. and Sun., 11 a.m.10 p.m.; Fri.Sat., 11 a.m.11 p.m.
406 Hayes, SF
Beer and wine
Daily, 7 a.m.2:30 p.m.
501 Hayes, SF
Beer and wine