Pakwan is a cheap, simple, Pakistani-Indian option in the Mission. The menu is classic (tandoori, chicken, nan, etc.), and the prices are reasonable. It is a basic restaurant. And yet it comes through for us all the time.
Why? Because of the annoyances that come part-and-parcel with dining out in this town. Nothing is open late. Nothing is reasonably priced. Nothing allows for an unplanned entrance with a party of 8. Pakwan? Pakwan solves all of these problems. It's open until 11, most of the menu comes in at $6-8, and the space is voluminous. It's also within shouting distance of 16th and Valencia, or, as we like to call it: the Center of The F*cking Universe.
So now that you know that this magical sweetspot exists, what to order? Garlic naan, to be sure, and some sort of curry with which to douse rice. We also recommend some biryani and tandoori, to mix up your meat preparations. Everything we've tried has come in fresh, hot, and spicy.
The space that Pakwan chose for housing ain't much to look at, but that's no problem. It's consistently packed until closing with crops of savvy consumers — many of whom take advantage of the friendly BYOB policies. Sure, your meal might get interrupted by some drunken yelling, but that's a small price to pay for an experience this dependable.
So if your friend calls you up at 6:30 on Friday, asking for a joint that'll satisfy a group that has somehow morphed to 10 people, that has vegetarian options for her new boyfriend, and that serves beer and is close to next-step drinking options, you can say with confidence: Pakwan. Pakwan solves all of your problems.
At its best, fresh out of the oven and potent with fluff. At its worst, just okay. Usually top caliber.
Some spicy meat on top of nicely-seasoned rice. A classic worth enjoying.
Sure, you've had this a million times, but everyone at your table will like it, and you can dump the sauce all over the pod of rice you've been accumulating on your plate. Never a bad call.
Mmmmm...that orange chicken coating is like a red flag to a bull. GO.
A more "fragrant" curry, according to the menu. Look, you're not going to go astray, so just order whatever sounds good. This, not surprisingly, is good. Relax and enjoy the meal.