Lunch and Dinner suggestions
- dan goldberg
We are coming to SF for three days, and are looking for interesting not-to-expensive good-value-for-money places to eat. We are using many internet resources (Zagat, fodors etc.) but suspect that they are not updated. We have gathered the following list of places, and would like to get comments from you people:
Yank Sing, Swan oyster depot, The Slanted Door, Zuni Cafe, EOS, House on Ninth.
If you can recommend any other places (50$ max) please let us know.
House is a pretty good restaurant with an Asian Fusion theme, although it gets quite crowded and very noisy. The parking is VERY difficult so I would recommend taking a cab or bus.
The appetizers are quite unique so be sure to sample more than one.
The wine list also has some unusual selections and are reasonably priced.
On the same block as House, I recommend Avenue 9. I really like it for lunch. Nothing flashy, good prices, very very solid tasty appetizers and entrees and at least one stellar dessert, the gingerbread. It's my neighborhood and Avenue 9 is one of my favorite neighborhood places.
Also: Slanted Door for lunch.
Also: not cheap but delicious and unique - Millennium for dinner. Vegan food taken to a highly refined and delicious level. While not cheap, good value for the money and for a really enjoyable dinner. Great setting (not noisy!).
Yank Sing's a pretty good dim sum place but it's pricey. That sort of goes with its high end feel. Fairly good variety and the dim sum can be quite delicately made. It's a safe choice and a great bet if you're only going to be in town for a few brief days. However, if you're a bit more adventurous, there are less good-looking dim sum places can sometimes offer better value than the obvious Yang Sing or Ton Kiang. Mayflower on Geary and Ocean on Clement come to mind.
Eos is quite stylish, but I suspect that you'll be paying more than $50 per person when you count 3 courses, wine, taxes and tip. I've eaten there quite a number of times and feel that it's good but overpriced. Their signature catfish on lemongrass risotto is an excellent choice if it's on the menu. I tend to use Eos as a dessert stop these days - eat somewhere else and sit at their counter for dessert. It's actually a lot more fun, because the counter seats are right in front of the dessert chef's work area, and you can see him at work.
I think House on 9th is the best choice on your list that I've been to. They do an excellent job with fish - complex flavors like soy and miso fit naturally into their fish dishes. It is really loud on weekend, especially since the walls are all bare concrete. I'd strongly recommend eating there on a weekday.
Outside your list, I'd strongly recommend Liberty Cafe in Bernal Heights. A bit out of the way, but pristine and very well prepared American food - salads, savory tarts, a well known chicken pot pie. Anything that involves baking on their menu is likely to be a good bet.
I'm a regular at Chaz on Fillmore and Chestnut and really like the simple but flavorful French/Californian cooking there. The sauces are very well-tuned and almost always elevate the dish. Desserts are all made to order and the chef creatively steers away from the usual suspects like warm chocolate cake (he has a warm vanilla cake instead, which I just had about 2 weeks ago - great texture!).
I liked Ma Tante Sumi on 18th and Diamond for Asian-Fusion (ate there a few months ago). Not as sophisticated as Eos, but also significantly cheaper. Cute, relaxed atmosphere. I had a very good crepe stuffed with crabmeat there.
The Slanted Door is outstanding, wonderful food. Book ahead as its hard to get a table, even in today's environment.
I'd be inclined to do Slanted Door at lunch - I think the service has deteriorated enough to not waste a precious dinner slot there. But the food definitely makes it worth a trip.
I also recommend Watergate restaurant. It's a small little place you won't find written up anywhere, and it's not pretentious by any means. But it's one of the finest meals I've had, at an incredibly reasonable price. They offer only prix fixe dinners, $25 for 3 courses, $35 for four.
And you should also try 42 degrees - it's a really unique mediterranean restaurant, not your standard SF tourist trap. But wonderful food, and there's actually parking. It's tucked behind the Esprit outlet store in potrero hill. I don't often see posts on it on this board, but it's truly one of my favorite places.
And finally, I also recommend Absinthe in Hayes Valley(for a more romantic atmosphere, if you're interested in that). Wonderful ambiance, great service, spectacular food.
Heck yes Watergate! Glad you mentioned it, and I agree. Great food and really good value for the money and a very special unhyped, consisted, high quality, inventive place. I'd feel like I were discovering something if I went there and then saw it a year later written up nationally, which I think you will.
re: randy salenfriend
Watergate is quite good and they have always been very nice to us each time we have gone there.
They were reviewed in the Chron a couple of months ago, which said they had streamlined their menu in response to the dot-com implosion. The Chron review was very favorable.
I have not been there in a while (no baby sitter for our 19-mo.-old) but I look forward to going back.