Seafood and Mexican/SF
I will be visiting SF in a few weeks and I am looking for a good seafood restaurant that is not too outrageously expensive (a la Aqua).
Also, where can I find the best Mexican restaurant in SF? (not counting the burrito places in the Mission) Can anyone recommend Cafe Marimba on Chestnut?
I would appreciate your suggestions. Thanks.
For seafood you can't beat Sam's - get the sandabs with a side of creamed spinach. Tadich's is great, too. Both of them have the kind of true, time-tested atmosphere that you can't get from a designer (sorry Mr. Kuleto). If you get over to Berkeley, check out Downtown.
Mexican: Taqueria San Jose #1 on Mission between 24th and 25th - go on a weekend and get the birria. Otherwise get anything with the pollo adobado in it (I'm partial to the tortas). For a cool variation, go to El Zocalo on Mission nr. 30th - it's Salvadoran, not Mexican, but really good pupusas and fish dishes.
I think the best fresh seafood in SF is often at Asian restaurants.
-Crabs and garlic noodles with Vietnamese flair at Thanh Long (Judah and 42nd)or Crustacean
-Anything at Koi Palace in Daly City
-Great sushi in virtually every neighborhood.
Pacific Cafe out on Geary near the beach is modest and traditional, and everything is fresh.
Or lunch at Swan Oyster Depot on Polk.
The best Mexican is the taquierias.
While the Tadich Grill (on California St.) and Sam's Grill (on Bush St. at Belden) have been in business for a million years, they still do a very good job at a reasonable price with grilled fish. Stay away from the more complicated preparations. I usually order whatever grilled fish they have as special of the day. I prefer Sam's.
For seafood, could I suggest sushi? Some of the SF favorites on this board include Hama-Ko and Kabuto.
For cooked stuff, pricey Farallon near Union Square isn't a bad deal but I think you're paying more for their beautiful underwater-themed decor than for the food. Swan Oyster Depot has been on my list for a while for an oyster lunch but I haven't been there. Plouf on Beldon Lane is a great place for mussels and fries, but I thought the rest of the menu was merely OK. For simple well grilled fish with your choice of sauce, there's Hayes Street Grill in Hayes valley. I had a good chinese dinner with all kinds of seafood at Great Eastern in Chinatown a few years ago; perhaps others can chime in here with updates.
On the Mexican side of things, I liked Casa Aguila up around Noriega and 20th when I ate there about 2 years ago - the fried catfish was deliciously grease-free, and the fish soup was tasty and tangy with tomatoes and cilantro. San Miguel in the Mission is really a Guatemalan restaurant, but the food is excellent and totally worth trying. If you're going for burritos and the like, do a search for Syre's comprehensive post a few months ago on Mission Burrito places and follow the thread.
Do let us know where you ended up eating and how the experience was. Happy eats!
Papalote Mexican Grill, on 24th Street just west of Valencia, has good food. Besides the usual, they have dishes with mole sauce (made with chocolate)and not on every restaurant menu. It's not upscale--you order at a counter and it's not expensive--but the decor is cheerful and it's usually full of people in the evening.
I like Cafe Marimba lots. Reasonable prices and lively fun atmosphere. The made to order guacamole is excellent. I also like the queso fundito appetizer and the roasted chile rellenos. The chipotle beef is good and the roast pork although I forget how it is seasoned. Also the Heradura margaritas. I have only a couple times had a dish not so good. I like to get lots of dishes to share. Once I had a really good fish with pineapple salsa, but I don't know if they still have it.
re: Anne H.
I liked Cafe Marimba lots too. Less so now, after attending the same dinner as Celery on Sunday night (Rachel, where are those notes? (g)).
Yes, the guacamole is a must. You've hit the highlights, with the exception of the queso fundito. I had a special mariscos - shellfish stew with coconut milk that was delicious even though the shrimp were overcooked.
There were several signs of slippage since my last visit about a year ago. Marimba used to have ultra-thin chips, now these are merely thin, still good but not as special. I was looking forward to dining there with a big group to get the full range of salsas. I was expecting 4 flavors, and was very disappointed when only 2 were available and the tomatillo one was weak and dilute. The two moles I tasted, the negra and roja didn't seem as complex and interesting as in the past.
I will still return, but will have to be more careful about ordering.
Skip Cafe Marimba - it's definately not the best Mexican in the city. Had a group dinner there last nite (fabulous & fun company but not great food) and it was definately more Miss than Hit.
Some of the appetizers were good as were a few entrees, but I was not impressed at all. My husband's carnitas were way overcooked, the tomatillo salsa was really watery and the moles weren't that great.
The restaurant itself has seen better days - a lot of our glasses were cracked - and worst of all, there were no paper towels in the women's bathroom all nite. Made me wonder where else they were skimping.
As to good Mexican, I'm sure folks will chime in. You might try a search from the main page as well - all the places in the Mission aren't necessarily burrito joints. A few people have mentioned a place in Glen Park recently that was recommended.
Good luck and have fun!