Union Square/SF dining recs wanted
I know that I am opening Pandora's Box here as there is such a mass of good spots to eat. My wife and I will be in SF next week, and will be staying at Union Square. We are looking for places to eat in the area, walking distance, but of course will travel for not to miss spots. I think that the key words for advice would be: Thai, Vietnamese (pho ga), Chinese, Japanese, Seafood, and Do Not Miss Under ANY Circumstance places.
Thank you in advance for all your replies.
Hi, sorry I don't have specific recs, but during my trip to SF in December I found a a really good sushi place near Union Square by searching through the boards on Chowhound. It was someplace Melanie Wong mentioned (what a surprise!) The name escapes me, but it was a few blocks from the Hilton.
I would encourage you to do a search of this board using the search engine on the Chowhound main page, oh you lucky dog I just noticed you appear to be writing from Hawaii.
Ahem. Getting ahold of myself, there has been a wealth of info and tips discussed on this board. Lots of fun to read (though the actual eating was better.)
I like Kuleto's (haven't been there in a few years)--Italianish California wood-fired-oven sort of place.
I don't know if the Redwood Room in the Clift is still closed for renovation; if it isn't, you *must* go have a drink there. Drinks are hugely expensive (they do have a nice selection of brandies and single malts, though), but it's the most beautiful room in San Francisco (excluding rooms with views, which don't really count because it isn't necessarily the room that's beautiful).
I live near the Union Square area, but find it problematic. There are lots of places geared to tourists, so beware. I used to have some little hidy-holes around there to eat at. Some of the places are gawd awful and overpriced-- never, never be tempted to eat at the Cheesecake Factory at Macy's, the Chron says the burger is good, but it is not. The service is unacceptable at any level. I went twice and feel foolish for it. End rant. Some places that are any good, just overrun, ie. Scala's Bistro which I have not been to for a couple years now. Some places just went downhill fast, like E&O Trading company, which I do pop by to snack in the bar once in awhile. They have a wonderful sounding pan-Asian menu, but are overpriced for entrees that are not well executed. Good, really Good, beer made on premisis though is well worth stopping by for the bargain $2 Happy Hour weekdays. Some disappeared, like Akimbo. Here are some interesting places:
Burma's House, 720 Post at Jones: the set menu for $12 per person is a good deal and is distinctly different that the horrid set sweet and sour type menus you get in Chinatown. They show off some of the best dishes at this Burmese and Chinese place for a good price, and for each person they add a dish. I think they give you: the Ginger Salad (a MUST, the whole reason for eating here), the samosa (potato and meat, veg version available, good but an awful dipping sauce), coconut curry soup OK, an ordinary but well executed cashew chicken with a huge scatter of nuts over the top, Burmese beef, fried, I don't like but some do, I would try to sub ginger beef, and a really good black bean sauce fish, I think catfish, best main course.
Shalimar, Jones, off Geary: Just go for great dive Indian, decent atmosphere. Watch out because you are just bordering on the ickky tenderloin area here but safe enough. Lunch too. Very moist tandori, good curry, garlic nan.
Dottie's True Blue Cafe: breakfast and lunch, next to Shalimar. May be closed Tue and Wed.
Armani Cafe: Yes, you can have a nice lunch while sitting and looking at the clothes, and those shopping for them. Get the simple stuff, arugula salad, margarita pizza, Italian wine.
Tempura House, Powell up hill a bit: OK Japanese, up Powell. My daughter loves Japanese food. We mourn the passing of Cho Cho, though and they were the only place that had really good tempura, cooked one piece at a time as you eat.
Hana Zen, Cyril Magnin place: Can get pricy, but not bad, and I like it quite a bit. They have a sushi area and a yakatori or grilled area. Both are good. Don't worry about where you sit. Don't worry about waiting it is usually shorter than they say, and they will come get you from the wine bar at the corner. I like to start with some sushi, and then share one of the 'dinners' that serve an assortment of skewered grilled items. Just don't miss the grilled asparagus wrapped in pork.
I like Tu Lan 6th and Market, but is has been much maligned here. I like the grilled pork with imperial roll on rice noodles with salad and herbs. Very cheap, be careful it is on skid row, I go in the day time.
I am not too happy with most of the Japanese places I find. I have heard that Sanraku, 704 Sutter, is good, but I read they also have a call ahead kaiseki dinner 771-0803, 8 courses. This is from Patricia Unterman's 1997 Food Lovers Guide to San Francisco, where it seems a good bit of the info is now out of date.
I have also not found any Thai food in the area that I am happy with.
It is difficult to determine what would be a not miss for you. Where do you come from, do you eat this sutff often or is it a only a treat when travelling? Toward the tenderloin, in walking distance, there are many, many Vietnamese places, but I don't know which are good. It is not good for walking at night for visitors, though.