Visit to San Francisco
re: Wendy Lai
There have been several threads with questions very similar to yours. Do take the time to browse through the archives, some of threads are only a few months old and you'll find some goodies.
I'll give you a few highlights:
Delfina seems to be favorite on this board for Californian Italian.
A number of hounds are devoted to Da Flora (and their sweet potato gnocchi) for Italian food, but I can't vounch for this place personally because I haven't been there 9although it's very high on my list to go).
For French, people (including me) seem to like Chapeau!, Fringale and Clementine. So that might fall into a personal preference issue. I don't have a super strong preference among the three.
There's been lots of sushi talk lately (will come very close to or even exceed your budget of $40). I'm a regular at Hama-Ko, so that's my bias (do look up one of my posts from June abobut how to navigate Hama-Ko, since it's not particularly friendly to first-timers not on the arm of a regular). Another favorite in town appears to be Kabuto (had a great meal there once; I spent >$70 but it was worthwhile).
For some of my more recent favorites (I've posted on these places-you can look them up for more details) - Liberty Cafe for good modern American food, Walzwerk for hearty East German grub (skip dessert), and dim sum hopping along Clement Street. I just ate at a greek place tonight - Kokkari, that's been controversial on this board - but I liked it.
Do you have any favorite ingredients or dishes or cuisines? Do mention it so that the folks on this board can give you specific places to go or specific dishes to get.
Good eating, and do let us know where you ate at and how the meal was. Many of us would love to hear updates on our favorite places.
Mama's in North Beach next to Washing Square. (see my report on Mama's a few topics down)
Rose's Cafe and wine bar on Chestnut street. They have a good breakfast breads selection and some interesting breakfast pizzas. I especially like their fried potatoes.
Sway Oyster Depot if you like seafood and oysters. Try to go there right when they open. The place is small and dinky, but they serve great seafood with some great "attitude" like eating at a wharf restaurant.
Greens is a vegetarian restaurant in the Fort Mason area. They have weekend brunch as well. The view on a good day is excellent and they make vegetarian food that you won't miss the meat.
I would really give Baker Street Bistro a try. They have really great French food, their prix fix menu can't be beat at $14.99 for three courses (that's the price they had last time I was there a few months ago). They also have a great wine selection. The price there is just SO reasonable for such good downhome French cooking.
For your one big spurlge, think about Gary Danko's, Aqua, Masa's, Charles Nob Hill or Fleur dy Les. Do a seach on these restaurant and you'll see many discussion on all of them. Defintly call at least one month ahead to make sure you have a reservation.
Enjoy San Francisco! It's a great town.