Visiting SF for a couple of Days - Recommendations
Hi...I love reading all your wonderful posts even though I live in Wenatchee, WA...I love good food so much that I can satisfy some cravings just reading about it :).
Anyways...I'm going to be in the city for a couple of days (Monday and Tuesday) next week. I was hoping for some suggestions of meals...my entire day will be planned around the eating (provided it works with my wifes nap needs...she is pregnant). Cost is definitely an issue...SF prices are terribly frightening. Except for those noted, special bonus points are awarded for those places near our hotel which is on Van Ness and Geary (Cathedral Hill or something like that).
First...Monday for dinner. We will be meeting some friends for dinner then my wife and I are going to try and catch the Fabulous Thuderbirds at the Ruby Skye (never been there, but I'm an aspiring blues harp player, so a chance to see Kim Wilson live is a must). I think this is in Union Square area. I was thinking of going to Plouf's. I don't want to make this a huge expense. Does this sound like a good match?
Other meals. We are transplanted Seattleites and we love Dim Sum. Admittedly we aren't terribly adventursome as we are decidely Anglo and we just love the standard ha gow and sui mai type stuff. I'm leaning towards Ton Kaing, with possibly Gold Mountain. I've tried to read through the old suggestions...the Ocean Restaurant sounded intriguing but I haven't seen much recent follow-up on it.
Living in the hinterlands of Eastern Washington, I have a strong hankering for some Noodles...Pan-Asian style. We enjoy Thai, but I'm not adverse to trying Malaysian/Vietnamese/Lao/Burmese/etc. My wife got me the cookbook "Hot, Sweet, SOur, Salty" (some combo of those words anyways) for Father's day and I've read it cover to cover. Just dying to try some of those authentic flavors...any suggestions?
Okay...this has gotten way out of hand. I will only be able to check the suggestions sometime late tomorrow night (Sunday)...so please reply ASAP...thanks in advance.
Hi Chuck, from the Cathedral Hill, you're very close to the edge of the Tenderloin and the many Vietnamese places that line Polk and Larkin street. I hope that another chowhound can give you some advice on which ones have the best noodles. While your wife's napping, you could walk over to Saigon Sandwich for the tastiest bite you can get for $2, a very delicious banh mi. This would also be a good snack to eat on your return plane ride.
Ok, i definitly suggest no to ton kiang. My personal opinion of that place is over priced dim sum in the smallest portion. On the issue of cost, i would recommend doing some walking around clement st. in richmond. Theres always food places that are cost friendly and good. For thai food, King of thai on clement is good for the bucks. For vietnamese, if you do not want to go to Tenderloin area, you can always head towards richmond area. Some decent pho places would be Pho Hoa Ky(correct me on the spelling if i am wrong), this place offers a really big bowl of pho for 5 dollars, on geary right across the street from the car dealers between 3rd and 4th avenue. As for the Tenderloin area, i would recommend Them Ky, on Ellis and Larkin. I find their pho fairly decent since their soup is not msg friendly if you know what i mean. On a side note, you might want to give chinatown a try. Although not a sit down place, there is this dim sum take out place on stockton (cross street sacramento) that offers the best siu mai in SF in my opinion. But besides their siu mai the other dim sum is only decent.
Plouf is not that expensive, because you would go there for the mussels, and if you do get the mussels, you would order beer, not wine, like any self-respecting belgian or northern french would. Unfortunately, they don't have belgian beers on the menu; I usually get the Heffeweisse. If you don't go there for the mussels (or the banana profiterolles), you might as well go to Fringale or Pastis, both of which have better French food and a quick cab ride. The cool thing is that monday is an excellent night for Plouf, I had to wait an hour one friday last year, and I had a reservation!
Dim sum: I like the Hong Kong Flower Lounge on Geary and 21st, but I haven't been in 6 mo and I hear they changed ownership. I recommend New City on Commercial street between Kearny and Montgomery, good and reasonable, without long waits, or Mayflower on Geary and 27th in the richmond district.
Bon voyage, bon sejour et bon appetit!
If you are looking for a place for lunch, and miss coastal seafood, you can't miss that wonderful sf institution -- one that is VERY close to your hotel -- the Swan Oyster Depot. on Polk St. Sit at the counter [there's no place else -- hopefully your wife's condition won't make that an impossibility] and enjoy the fresh shellfish and chowder, with traditional sourdough bread. Not innovative cuisine, but still unbeatable.
Thanks so much for the suggestions.
I think we will stick with Plouf's and make sure we are heavy on the mussels (good thing we love them when they are good...they can be downright nasty though sometimes).
I will most definitely follow Melissa's recommendation on the Bahn mai...sounds like a perfect post afternoon nap snack (man...I just love vacation). Was there a particular flavor to make sure and try?
The Dim Sum location has me stumped still. I'd really like to nail this one as I'm so looking forward to it. I thought Ton Kaing was an easy choice as it seems to be universally enjoyed...I saw the Chronicle just named it their top Chinese restaurant in SF. Seems like a no-brainer....but the response from this group was so luke warm (at best), that I'm now doubting. By the way...I have nothing against those Dim Sum houses that have thrown the carts out. Seems reasonable to me...I've had too many experiences when the carts just weren't making it to my section.
So...here is my preliminary itinerary....
Lunch on Monday...Swans sounds great.
Lunch Tuesday...Dim Sum. Not sure yet where.
Dinner Tuesday...Undecided. Might try to find a good (not GREAT..as I've been told they don't exist in SF ;) ) Italian place. Maybe see if I can get into Delfino's. Is there a place in North Beach that has outstanding simple/basic Italian?
Again...I really appreciate the feedback. THis has been fun. I'll be sure to post back after I get back to Wenatchee and let you know how it went.
By the way...went to the Giants game today. Gotta like those garlic fries :). Very good Pale Ale at the 21st Ammendment after the game.
For your Italian dinner, I strongly recommend Antica on Polk. Much better than anything in North Beach. Of course, if you CAN get in to Delfina, by all means do it. It's only marginally Italian, if at all, but it's a superb experience.
Hope you enjoy Swan [hope it's open on Mondays; I don't recall].
re: Mike Wenzel
I think L'Osteria del Forno is only OK.
Also, the menu is very small so on any given night some people may not find anything they want to eat.
I recently had a very good dinner at Rose's Cafe, which is owned by the Rose Pistola people but is usually much less crowded. Prices are reasonable too.
The chronicle's reviews are completely worthless. Ton Kiang is not really worth going to.
The chron likes Matterhorn, whose service consists of very expensive overpriced dishes of bad cheese, and they also like Thep Phanom, which I consider to be one of the worst Thai restaurants in the city.
I happen to like the Hong Kong Flower Garden at around 19th Ave. and Geary. Give that a try.
Syre, the SF location of Hong Kong Flower Lounge closed a year ago and has been replaced by Parc Hong Kong. With the rapid changes on the restaurant scene, it's best to report on recent dining experiences or add a caveat to your recommendations if a good deal of time has passed since your last visit.
"Thep Phanom, which I consider to be one of the worst Thai restaurants in the city."
Actually, among the Thai places I've been to in the city, Thep Phanom's the one that I thought that's closest to the Thai food I've had back in Singapore. Their dishes still needs a lot more heat but I think they're pretty good for SF. Which Thai place would you recommend?