Top 5 Restaurants in SF
- D. V. Diers Jan 3, 2002 09:57 AM
Looking for recommendations for the best restaurants in the greater SF area. I already know Chez Panisse and French Laundry. What else is a must-eat-at. No restrictions on cuisine or geography (but nothing too much farther than the Napa Valley).
Friends of mine, who are very much into the food scene in the Bay area, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary at Aqua, in San Francisco. Pricey, but they raved about it - over and over!
Bistro Jeanty (cant wait for Jeanty @ Jack's)
**tie between Danko & Elisabeth Daniel
**would like to see how Gras' cooking at Fifth Floor compares when he's cooking his own menu
Definitely, Masa's and Gary Danko. I'd add Martini House (in St. Helena, in the Napa valley)-- new place that's really marvellous. Haven't been to Aqua or Jardiniere in quite a while, so can't weigh in there, but they have very high-quality reputations.
I'd add another vote for Elisabeth Daniel in SF.
For sushi, my pick is Hama-Ko, also in SF. (BTW, now's a good time for sushi - cold winter = fatter fish!) I've had cuts of fish there that were simply out of this world.
for some ethnic variety
Brother's Korean BBQ
Ton Kiang for Dim Sum
R&G lounge for Chinese
Taiwan Restaurant for Taiwanese "petals of pork soup" On Sunday, they have "yam cake" on their dim sum menu. Yam flour outside, meat inside and 3 sauces.
for spending money: Fifth Floor, new, great service, don't order the tasting menu if you want to choose your own dessert (crepes suzette is an option, I think. But I don't know b/c I ordered the tasting menu and didn't get to choose)
South bay: Sent Sovi
Locals only, anti-fancy, avant garde list.
1. Tadich Grill (ok so tourists frequent it. where/what else would you consider the quintessential San Francisco spot?)
2. Caffe Sport - Sure you can get better Italian food but what a zany spot and they still have fabulous pasta.
3. Zarzuela for tapas- You betcha. Russian Hill, cable cars clanging by-if its a foggy night, Dash Hammett would have loved the scene.
4. Venticello- I've said it before and I'll say it again, this place looks and feels like New York and you'll think its your own private trattoria.
5. Original Joe's- 'Nuff said. Real original, not faux.
Another vote for Elizabeth Daniel - outstanding. Also a big fan of Boulevard, especially for appetizers.
re: michael (mea culpa)
La Toque - perhaps top 25 but not top 5. food is too precious and too inconsistent.
Pane e Vino - i don't know if i would count it as top 5 Italien much less top 5 in the Bay Area.
Farallon - the only thing more over the top and representative of "form over function" than the design of the room is the food. maybe top 5 right near Union Square?
Just my $0.02 worth.
re: recovering chef
Just my $0.02 worth.>>
You are obviously closer to the action and therefore probably correct. I do find it curious that Bistro Jeanty is so highly regarded. I'd say it's about the equal of a Pinot in LA. Likewise, the comment about La Toque serving precious food is hard to decipher. I find most two and three star restaurants tend to have such food. That's why I, and presumably others, like them. As for consistency, I have repeatedly found the work of Ken Frank and his brigade to be consistently top notch.
re: michael (mea culpa0
Fleur de Lys is currently closed after a kitchen fire.
Hawthorne Lane is still around. When people comment on it, the comments are always positive, but somehow the name doesn't come up as often as the other three-stars in town.
I've never been there, but the fact that it is participating in the upcoming prix fixe dining around town promotion is very tempting. I also promised myself I'd take myself there if I got my taxes done before Valentine's Day (a powerful incentive!).
Definitely Elisabeth Daniel, Aqua, Jardiniere, Boulevard and for a less expensive but excellent restaurant, Clementine.
In Marin, I love the following, even tho they don't end up on top of cuisine awards lists.
El Paseo in downtown Mill Valley. Despite the name, it's a good approximation of a French country-inn. It is the most charming and romantic place around -- perfect for a small intimate celebration. You often see local celebrities enjoying a quiet meal there. They also have a tres impressive wine cellar.
Guaymas in Tiburon. Great water view. Interesting Mexican menu - heavy on the grilled seafood. Fine margaritas and all kinds of tequila and beer choices. Good happy hour with generous food freebies. Great place to take a group of out-of-towners to watch the sunset over the city.
Caprice in Tiburon. Probably the best bay view of any restaurant in the SF area. Intimate, romantic and expensive. Continental food. Haven't been there lately, think they may have changed hands, but no matter what happens in the kitchen, the view remains. Good place to take someone you want to impress.
If you don't mind going all the way to Santa Cruz, the BEST Asian is at O'Mei. At the north end of town on Mission. Doesn't look like anything on the outside.
I haven't eaten at Chez Panisse or French Laundry, but I would put O'Mei as equal to Masa's (which I've eaten at several times and love.) Much less expensive too (that is, it's high for Chinese but nowhere near anything French.)
Several people who have traveled more than me say O'Mei is the best Chinese restaurant in the world. Must have one of the seabass dishes.