Crepe Comeback

The little French pancake is making it big

Again, house potatoes: These were crispier than at Valencia Crepes and in slightly less desperate need of salt, but a starch overload all the same. And the black bean soup ($1.95), while nearly thick enough to qualify as a stew, could have used some spicing: a dash of chili powder and cumin, maybe? Or chopped cilantro, salsa, Tabasco? The beans had a good meaty texture, but they seemed bland.

All these crepes were well and generously made, diverse and tasty, but none of them were special. Nor were they as convenient -- or cheap -- as true fast food, such as a hamburger or a burrito. For one-stop shopping in ethnic variety, the pizza is still a match for the crepe, and it offers the advantage of being communal: An entire table can share a pie. But if the crepe is OK food, it's solid across the board -- freshly prepared and served in handsome places by professional staff, for not much money. Not bad for a humble little immigrant from France.

Valencia Crepes, 1007 1/2 Valencia, S.F., 550-2339. Sun-Thurs 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri & Sat 9 a.m.-midnight.

Crepevine, 624 Irving, S.F., 681-5858. Mon-Sat 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

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