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San Francisco - City of mediocre ribs, sushi, dimsum... (PLEASE HELP!!!??!)

  • r

OK chowhounds please please advise,

I just moved to this city and need a culinary pep talk
and quick. While i wound never say that SF is a lousy food city, my experiances have not validated the hype that i heard across the land about this holy land.

I gave my name and waited patiantly at Ton Kiang on Geary; Good, but does ungreasy and fresh validate spending twenty five dollars a person on dimsum? In Manhatten it would make it empty.

I gave away my change on the way to Tu Lan; Should tasty and cheap make a vietnamese restaurant so wonderful that it wins rave reviews for eternity. In Queens it would make it dependable.

Truly mediteranian had pricey if slightly above average fallafel that were tasty and scraply shawarma that would pale in the shadow of any one of the cheap lebanese restaurants in Montreal. The next day I sat on a lit patio on Filmore and ate the only "shawarma" I ever had that was flavored only by grease for 12.95! I guess I know why Truly Mediteranian is held as an sf jewel.

As for BBQ: Brothers Barbeque had Korean barbeque that could be on any block in Fort Lee, NJ and the brother and laws bbq on divisidaro had faty ribs and overcooked chicken in a bland brown sause that would make it only in the most desolate of South Carolina truck stops.

I waited on line to try the chopped liver and maza balls at the famous Jewish Delicetessen... Oh wait, there are none.

I skepticly waited on line at ebisu sushi: A combination plate unvieled a delicious garnish of tiny fish slices atop rice that was being disguised as nigiri and turned out to be by meal. Should moderate portions of meltingly soft tuna and tender (if slightly too cold) salmon pieces formulate a best of San Francosco sushi restaurant?

What is it about this city that elevates a genuinely acceptable restaurant to a bonefied institution? The only reason I am so harsh is that everywhere in the country including NY, they say the bay is the supreme food city. SF is definintly not a bad food city- its above average. But it took me and my friend 12 months and 20 pounds to drive from our hometown (NYC) to San Francisco and all i heard in every city is the majesty of San Francisco.

So far I found a bakery on Irving and 9th that has the best baguette in the country (finaly) and was the only diner at Mas-San sushi, a small sushi bar on 8th and Clement that had cheap sushi as good as Ebisu. I also ate delecious beef brisket for 6 dollars at Tommys Joint better then my Nana used to make.

Please chowhounds, in a city as famous as San Francisco where the "best of the bay" winners are supposed to often double as the best of America winners, help me; contemplate the good places--i mean the places that would make SF deserve such a reputation and let me know. Have i hit some overrated joints, or is the nation simply wrong about this city?

- Ryan

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  1. Dearest heart: I could SERIOUSLY do without the "things were sooooo much better in NYC" attitude that makes SF-ers want to puke. This is a very expensive and rough place to live -- if you're not into it, move away! Right now! And let us have your apartment! Transplanted New Yorkers are so vomitously stuck on their ex-city, and it's annoying as all get out.

    That being said: no, there ARE no good delis in SF. Max's is OK but if you feel like paying $14 for a turkey sandwich you must make more than I do. The mistake I think you're making is looking for the same kinds of places you find in NYC. Nope. We have different wonderful things. Unbelievable Asian food, (particularly Hakka, Szechuan, Vietnamese) wonderful African food, sublime Mexican food. If you'd like recommendations in each of these categories I'm happy to give them to you. but only if you promise not to insult our lovely, yummy city in the context of asking for help. SF-ers tend to adore our city and we're very sensitive when newbies show up and start loudly and unfavorably comparing our city to their ex-hometown.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Superfly

      Superfly,
      Thank you.

      1. re: Superfly
        l
        Leslie Brenner

        While I think you're right to suggest Ryan seek out the kinds of foods San Francisco excels in, rather than, say, deli, in his defense, he did discuss two underwhelming sushi experiences and a disappointing Vietnamese experience. I do, however, understand why you bristled.

        Since I'm about to make a trip up your way this week, I'd sure (for my own selfish reasons) love to hear someone meet Ryan's challenge!

        1. re: Leslie Brenner

          The thing is that his challenge sounds like he's saying simply "prove to me SF is a food city." How can we do that when we don't know exactly what kind of food Ryan (or you) is looking for? Gimme a category and I'll give you a recommendation.

          I just object, now and forever, to those who come to us from other cities and whine whine whine about what they left behind. This place has gorgeous weather, stunning scenery, friendly natives, fascinating culture, etc. etc. Not to mention the *wonderful food!* Yes, it has its downsides -- every place does. But on balance this is an incredible, vital, exciting place to live and I feel lucky every single day to be here. Which is why I get annoyed when my true love SF is dissed by some New Yawker.

          1. re: superfly

            I just think Ryan is a bit homesick. When you're feeling this way, you want comfort foods that remind you of home -- hence the constant comparison of dishes to those he had in NY.

            Ryan, I think you have to move on a bit -- experiment -- try new foods, different dishes from the ones you had in NY. Open yourself to new tastes and have fun.

            Here are some recommendations:

            Mexican burritos, tacos, etc. -- La Corneta in Glen Park on Diamond St. or in the Mission on 24th St. or any of the zillion tacquerias and taco trucks mentioned in posts here over the past few months.

            Handmade tortillas and wonderful tacos, etc. -- La Palma Mexicatessen on 24th St.

            Dim sum -- South Sea Seafood Village on Irving near 15th Ave. or for really inexpensive dim sum takeout TK's on Irving near 23rd or 24th Ave. Also, on the Peninsula, Fook Yuen or Seafood Harbor in Millbrae. This area of Chowhound is also a wonderful place to look for recommendations for Chinese dinner places.

            Thai food -- Jitra Thai on Ocean Ave. in the Lakeside Village neighborhood or Regent Thai on Church and 29th St.

            Noodles and really good Chinese bbq meats and poultry(with a Vietnamese touch) and excellent rice plates -- New Hai Ky on Irving at 23rd Ave. -- try the orange duck noodle soup with wonton (ask for the "thick" noodles) or Cheung Hing (lots of branches in SF and the Peninsula including one on Irving, one on Noriega, and one in Millbrae.)

            Ice cream -- some of the best and most unusual ice cream flavors you'll ever taste are available at Mitchell's on San Jose at 29th St. or at Marco Polo on Taraval.

            You might also consider just walking along Clement St. or Irving St. or Mission St. (and the area around 16th and Valencia) and checking out some of the restaurants in the area for yourself, or just check out the listings here over the past few months . I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

            --NancyB

            1. re: Nancy Berry

              re: inexpensive dim sum takeout TK's on Irving near 23rd or 24th...could you be refering to TC pastry?

              1. re: Limster

                You are absolutely right, Limster. It's TC Pastry. Senior moment, I guess. Anyway, it's cheap and good takeout dim sum. There are a few tables inside the shop, but it's mostly takeout.

                --NancyB

              2. re: Nancy Berry

                Trying to get the low down on good restaurants in SF. We are going to be in town for Chinese New Year in Feb. We enjoy good Mexican food, but have no access here in small town British Columbia.

                1. re: nelson

                  Hey, Nelson!

                  I can't help you specifically with tamales (I'm sure someone will), but the best Mexican food in SF is in the area called the Mission District (named for Mission Dolores). Don't worry about it not being "downtown" -- it is very easy to get to "the Mission" by public transit: just hop on BART (westbound toward Colma or Daly City) at one of the downtown stations and get off at 24th Street in just a few minutes.

                  I particularly like the Mission in the day time -- it's one of the sunniest parts of the city, and the palm trees and the bright colors make it look almost tropical.

                  Here's a link to an earlier tamale discussion -- a couple of these are right near 24th St. BART:

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        2. Don't take this personally, Ryan. You just hit a nerve.

          I admit I'm prejudiced -- I'm a third generation born in the Bay Area. But people who complain that they can't find a good NY deli, or a great Middle Eastern Restaurant, or great BBQ (even assuming that this is true) and therefore SF isn't a great food city are totally missing the point.

          What I rarely, rarely, rarely hear discussed here is that the Bay Area has it's own cuisine. Sure "California cuisine" has become a cliche, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist and we shouldn't be proud of it. Fresh local ingredients prepared in simple ways that highlight the the quality of the ingredients is what makes the food scene unique, and yet people complain about how it's not like NY or London, or whereever.

          It's stupid. It's like complaining that Hong Kong isn't a great food city because it doesn't have a great KC style BBQ joint or that Paris isn't a great food city because the dim sum is only so-so.

          It astonishes me that many of the people who come here from around the country and around the world come here with the idea that they should eat "ethnic" food and are rather dismissive of the indiginous culinary traditions. Maybe as few as 20 years ago you couldn't get good ethnic food in most US cities, but that's less true now. Certainly I wouldn't expect that the foods of ethnic groups outside the Pacific Rim would be any better than they would be in the east -- that's just common sense.

          Maybe it's our own fault -- we're ashamed of the cliche and too quick to downplay the "Californianess" of the food. We describe is as French, or Italian, or Asian -influenced, and people rightfully note that it's not "authentic" to those cuisines. Maybe we should stop making a fetish of "authenticity" since I'm not sure that any cuisine uprooted from both its culture and its original ingredients can ever be "authentic." Maybe I'm not expressing myself very well and someone can help me [g].

          The Bay Area has good-to-great food options in almost every imaginable cuisine plus, and amazing diversity of foods and cultures (sure the BBQ is good in North Carolina -- if you like North Carolina BBQ -- but how's the dim sum?), it has a culinary tradition of its own. That's what makes it a great food city.

          And if people want New York Deli food, I suggest they look for it in New York, where most people have never heard of Meyer lemons, let alone have them growing their backyard.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler
            l
            Leslie Brenner

            Your point is very interesting and well-taken, Ruth. But as a person who recently moved from NYC to LA, I've remarked that while much of the so-called ethnic food, especially Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Mexican, is far better (generally speaking) than what you find in NY (of course there are cuisines that are better in NY, such as middle eastern and a number of others), the higher-end restaurants, those that serve what you refer to as California cuisine, but include French (and other Mediterranean) and Asian influences, (those that can also be called contemporary American) are generally a notch or two lower in quality than contemporary American places in NYC. That is in L.A., anyway, and in my very humble opinion. And I feel I'm pretty unbiased, as a California native (25+ years) who spent 15 in NYC.

            I feel that cities go through very positive times in terms of their food energy and creativity, and then less positive times. NYC's was in a real high during the mid 1980s when I moved there, then in my opinion it went through kind of a food slump during the late 80s through mid 90s, and then it came roaring back, and now it's amazing. San Francisco's well-deserved reputation has a long and illustrious history, but I've certainly noticed ups and downs, observed during my five year stint living in the Bay Area, and assorted visits since. Sorry to be so long-winded, but do you, Ruth, and others feel that San Francisco is up to its usual high food standards at the moment? Is it a good time for food in San Francisco (and the Bay Area in general) right now? I'm not talking about the quality of ingredients, which is always A-1 in SF. I'm talking about that more subjective, less easy-to-define synthesis that happens in the kitchen and shows up on the plate. I'd really love to know what you think.

            1. re: Leslie Brenner

              Interesting question. I can't say that I eat out enough to tell, but my impression is that you could be right -- that there was an economic slump in the early '90s that drove away a lot of talent followed by a big boom, which meant that the restaurant business inflated at a rate that outstripped talent and creativity and there were a lot of "outsiders" on both sides of the restaurant equation (restarateurs and diners) that diluted the "Californianess" of the food scene (one example of that could be the sudden ubiquitousness of non-local luxury ingredients like fois gras). Also, the growth of the food scenes in other cities (Las Vegas, for example) has siphoned off some of the talent and energy.

              If what I posit -- and this was just off the top of my head -- is true, then this period of retrenching could actually be a good thing. The wheat will be separated from the chaff, there will of necessity be new ideas, and people will be in the restaurant business in the Bay Area because they the have a passion for region and its foods, not because it's a hot place to make money.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Well, a lot of those chefs were using Sonoma duck foie gras, which IS a local product. I agree, though--it definitely felt that a lot of the restaurants that hit big in the mid-to-late 90s were all serving the same menu. Chiogga beet salad, Niman pork chop, Liberty duck breast, creme brulee....And did I mention the garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed dino kale?

          2. Welcome to SF, Ryan. Here's the input of a transplant who's been here for nearly 15 years about the local food scene:

            The dim sum is good here, though perhaps not as good as in Vancouver, Toronto or perhaps even NY (I had a good meal at the 888 last year). I wouldn't say it's bad though, you'll have to try the best half dozen places to settle on your personal favorite.

            As far as vietnamese, the best places are probably in San Jose, home to a large community.

            Middle eastern: quite poor overall, one of the weak points of the local scene. Montreal, which you mention and which I know well, has in contrast the best mideastern food in N America. You will find absolutely nothing in the same class as Daou or Alep here, or backlava like Mahrouse's (arguably the best in the western hemisphere).

            BBQ: good scene in the east bay (Oakland mostly): Flint's, Dougs, Everett & Jones, KC BBQ. Also several Korean BBQ joints down Telegraph ave which my Korean friends endorse.

            Jewish delis: not an local forte, unfortunately.

            Sushi: Ebisu used to be great, perhaps it is a victim of its success. Just like dim sum, there are many other great places and you will eventually settle on your personal favorite.

            Overall, SF is still a great culinary mecca, with tremendous variety, but the spectrum of local offerings isn't quite all-encompassing.

            9 Replies
            1. re: garçon

              I think a lot of people have already expressed the view that you can't come to a city and then get pissed off because it doesn't have the "comfort foods" you remember from home. But Ryan hit a couple nerves for me in bashing both SF and New Jersey. Yeah, I'm from Exit 114 and 98 originally, and it's tiresome how people have to compare stuff to NJ whenever they want to make the point that something sucks. Now, I'm not going to haul off and say that NJ is a culinary mecca. As an avid home cook and fan of eating, I died and went to heaven when I moved here. But I do miss Jersey tomatoes and corn in the summer, pizza, fresh cut fries from Martell's on the Point Pleasant Boardwalk, and a fried egg, cheese, and pork roll sandwich at 3:30am at any Jersey diner. Italian food in NJ ain't bad either, eh Guido? So I'm echoing the sentiment of others when I say, "Stop whining about what you can't have, and let us know when you finally find something to like." And since I'd like you to have something good to talk about, my suggestion of the moment is a burger at Absinthe with fries and all the condiments and one of their killer cocktails. The Coq Au Vin is great too. But don't go looking for a cheap meal. Oh and one more thing, speaking of BBQ. My husband's lived in the South and eaten BBQ in Memphis, Nashville, Savannah, etc. Guess where he had the best ribs of his life? Marlin's Cafe in Pt. Pleasant, NJ. See, you never can tell...

              1. re: Babyfork

                Ay Rocco... lay awff da kid, huh?

                I've gotten used to people knocking New Jersey. I lift weights to get myself in shape for the next time some wag tells me the "two weeks in New Jersey" joke.

                Don't say NJ isn't a culinary mecca. It is. Ever wonder why there aren't very many Perkins/IHOPs or very many Olive Gardens in NJ? Because we (and I speak as someone who grew up at exits 11 and 127, though I hate identifying myself by exits and perpetuating that stupid joke) have incredible diners like nowhere else (having grown up six blocks from the Reo makes one pine for diners when on the Left Coast), incredible Italian food, and Eastern European food like you can't believe.

                New Jersey is a mecca for those who love Portuguese food (Newark Ironbound), Swedish bakeries (southern NJ, near Swedesboro), Indian food (ever been to Iselin and North Edison?). Boardwalk fries with vinegar and waffles with ice cream, salt water taffy, clams, and the best damn tomatoes in the entire world bar none... that's NJ.

                It's annoying sometimes having to search for great pizza when I'm used to having incredible pizza on every street corner. That's the Jersey I miss.

                It's a great food mecca...don't youse kid y'selves.

                1. re: PRSMDave
                  b
                  Burke and Wells

                  I'm another New Jersey native transplanted to San Francisco. I've written comparing and contrasting the two on this board before, so I won't deal with that question again.

                  This is probably going to get burried, way down here, but I have a theory to advance that perhaps says something about the "region" and "authenticity" questions that crop up on this board frequently.

                  Food is area, yes. But food is people, and I find that trumps area. Can you spot the preparer in the dish? Is the owner's spirit lingering in the decor they designed and built, no matter how prefab or inexpensive?

                  I don't think of "New Jersey pizza," I think of Sal, owner of Sal's Pizza, where I grew up. Sure he's in NJ, sure he's got those local ingredients, but Sal is Sal, and he's no artist, but his place and his food are only to be found at his old address a few blocks from my high school. Sawa sushi here in the South Bay is all about the man and his wife--they ARE the experience. Thus I never find myself thinking about "the great sushi in the Bay Area," but rather I think about Steve Sawa and his wife. Even when I contemplate visiting another place, like the oft-recommended Hamma-Ko, I'm eager to experience the people and place, since if all I want is great fresh fish I know where to get that, clearly.

                  Folks have noticed I'm gregarious in restaurants. I want to meet the owner, the chef, the servers. I want to see if there's friendships to be had, information to share. Even if I never speak to anyone but the waiter, and even then only to order, I'm trying hard to "hear" the food, the place and the service--to have a conversation with the creators through these elements.

                  I'm moving soon to San Diego, against my will, I fear. I'll miss the familiarity and convenience of having all these favorite places, but I'll be thinking of it as a collection of places, rather than an "area" per se. It's a subtle difference, perhaps, and it doesn't extend to ingredients, which I know to be area-centric and seasonal.

                  I suppose this makes me a romantic, and I can feel when it betrays my "objectivity" (note the quotes) when it comes to reviewing and rating restaurant experiences. I don't mind--when my bubble is burst it's a learning experience.

                  Thus though I miss NJ places like Arthur's steaks, Thomas Sweet's ice creams, Jerusalem Pizza and the glatt deli next to it, Sal's Pizza and the Sub Shop in Princeton, though I miss China Bull and Bear in Hillsdale and brunch at the Ho-Ho-Kus in, though I miss MY FATHER, I don't actually miss "New Jersey food," because I never cultivated a sense of it.

                  And when I move next month, I'll miss the glories of Sawa Sushi and the pho at California Noodle House in Sunnyvale, the Cheese Shop in Carmel, Cafe Kati and Bay Bread and the croque madame at the Curbside Cafe and countless others in San Francisco, and heavens knows I'm gonna miss this board and its get-togethers, but I won't miss "SF Bay Area Food" becuase, in the same way, I never truly cultivated a sense of it.

                  All this is a little subtle--after all, what is a food culture or an area but the sum of its places, climate, ingredients, time and people? Perhaps I'm arguing in circles. Still, this perception comes to my aid, because I find myself less attached to an area--which leaves me free to get excited about the people I'll meet in my new home, San Diego. And I know whenever I visit the Bay Area I'll have places I want to go, that I know and love.

                  Peter
                  wells@emusic.com

                  Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                  1. re: Burke and Wells

                    T-Sweets! I miss their bittersweet hot fudge, getting a fresh strawberry "mix in" with their sweet cream ice cream...I also miss fried clams along the boardwalk, going crabbing for blue crabs "down the shore", the excellent pizza from LaStrada's in Millburn, Carvel ice cream cakes, cherry cheesecake and coffee at any diner, and yes--the best damn beefsteak tomatoes you'd ever want to eat. while I don't really ever want to live full-time in New Jersey again, there was some good food to be had there, as Rocco attests.

                  2. re: PRSMDave

                    Maybe I have a blind spot, but this is the second time people have complained about someone "knocking Jersey" when I have been unable to find where this supposed knocking occurred.

                    Do people from Jersey automatically assume that when Jersey is mentioned in a food context it is being knocked? Maybe New Jerseyites and Bay Arean's have a heretofore unknown common bond: we go on the defensive when NYC types talk about our food [vbg].

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Absolutely, we hate it when people from New York say anything about us... it's ingrained. :) (Once upon a few years ago, David Letterman put up a billboard on the West Side Highway that said "Attention motorists: New Jersey is closed.")

                      It's probably a gut reaction... New Jersey is so rarely portrayed in a good light by the rest of the country that the likelihood of a comment being positive isn't very high.

                      In any case, it was a different poster who accused Ryan of knocking New Jersey (just reread the original post that spawned this and the only mention of NJ is of commonplace Korean BBQ). My post was occasioned by the poster who said NJ isn't a culinary mecca.

                      1. re: PRSMDave

                        I tried to make it clear in my message that NJ has some wonderful food to offer. I could have gone on and on about it, but that wasn't the point of my message. But, unfortunately, as a NJ native I still don't think you could describe it as a "culinary mecca." What I meant by that was a place that draws people because of its food. You just don't hear people champing at the bit to go to NJ to sample the cuisine. Anyway, since I'm here again I'll add some more to PRSMDave's list. The subs. Along with pizza, a good sub is something you just can't get here. The guys at Jersey Mike's may have not seen me for 6 months, but when I walk in they don't have to ask for my order. Mike's started in 1957 in Pt. Pleasant and they've started a chain. I'm hoping a Jersey Mike's makes it out here real soon. Also, I'm going to say it again: Jersey tomatoes. They are simply the best. Cluck U. makes great wings. And hey, Dave, I could have been serving you those fries on the boardwalk if you had any 10 years ago. Ah, those summer jobs...

                    2. re: PRSMDave

                      "the best damn tomatoes in the entire world bar none"?

                      Have you been in Sicily, Tunisia, Greece or Lebanon in midsummer? Or if you haven't renewed your passport in a while, how about the Berkeley farmer's market in august?

                      Fuggedaboutit! ;)

                      1. re: garçon

                        Yes to all of those places in the midsummer except Lebanon, and I live off Berkeley farmers market tomatoes in the summer.

                2. I think you fell into the trap of going after the obvious hypey favorites in the media. Don't be deceived by the "Best ofs"-- there's better stuff to be had. I think you've drawn some fire because many folks don't consider those places as the best (or near).

                  Here is my tip of the iceberg (browse and search through the archives -- I can't possibly sumarize here):

                  Sushi: Hama-Ko I can vouch for personally. Other places that have been mentioned a lot here, Kabuto, Hamano, Murasaki. I'm going to be missing lots of places. Browse through the SF message board or do a search. (Ebisu has decent rolls, but the sushi isn't very good.)

                  Go to Maki in Japantown if you want excellent cooked japanese food -- the salmon oyako wappa meshi (salmon and roe steamed with rice in a bamboo basket) is my favorite.

                  Dim Sum. Much better options in the penninsula. Once again, do a search. Major presence of HK-based chains. In SF, Yank Sing is also rather pricey but has more delicate dim sum. Harbor Village is another option. I like South Sea Seafood Village because it's walking distance from where I live and the quality is very high for relatively low prices.

                  I assume that the bakery you've mention on 9th and Irving is Arizmendi. Try their pizzas. For good baguettes, some of the folks here swear by the Bay Breads chain - there's one on Cole and Parnassus. But better than the bread is the cannelle.

                  Then mexican. The Mission. Read Syre's post on mission burritos.
                  http://www.chowhound.com/california/b...

                  Also check out San Miguel on 20th and Mission for some really good Guatemalan food. Get pan dulce at mexican bakeries -- I actually kinda liked La Victoria on 24th and Alabama.

                  Don't forget to shop and cook at home. Not only is the produce significantly tastier, they're also a lot cheaper.

                  1. Wow, your post has certainly hit a nerve. Granted, the few places you mentioned are generally seen as pretty good Bay Area places, but people have different tastes and maybe you've hit a off night. My suggestions would be for you to stick around a bit and see what other posters will say about restaurants in this area. After a few weeks, you'll see many more suggestions. I have not been to all the following places, but from being in this community I've gleamed the following placesn (a small sample):

                    Chez Panisse (for California)
                    Gary Danko (for high end French and California)
                    French Laundry (really high end French)
                    Hama Ko (Japanese)
                    Swan Oyster Depot (oysters, clam chowder)
                    Shalimar (hole in the wall Indian)
                    R & G Lounge (Chinese)
                    Golden Star (Vietnamese)
                    Kokkari (Greeek)
                    Taco trucks in Oakland's International Blvd.

                    1. Ryan,

                      First off, full disclosure: I'm not a SF-er, I just play one during work. You're likely to get a bunch of nastygrams in return with varying levels of legibility and tact.

                      And here's mine. >:>

                      Just because a restaurant is hyped doesn't make it great or the best in its category. "The best" is a very, VERY subjective term and should be avoided at all costs.

                      The thing you complain about most vocally, I think, is cost. You are going to have to adjust to the fact that San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in the country... more expensive than Queens, more expensive than Fort Lee, more expensive even that a great deal of Manhattan. With the cost of housing is pegged the cost of food. It's just plain expensive, and going to hyped restaurants will only exacerbate the ripping sound heard from your wallet.

                      The home page of this website says Chowhounds are impervious to hype. How I wish that were true... but the truth is that under all the Derridean deconstruction of the hype that goes on here, there is still hype.

                      Next, you complain about lack of certain foods. San Francisco is famous as a city that loves food, not a city that has every possible kind of food. Barbecue isn't everywhere like it is in the Carolinas or Texas. New York deli, like its name implies, is best left to New York. The few transplants that have tried have died, cf. the Stage Deli in Los Angeles... feh! (A separate rant is why people in California refer to the appy counter as the 'service deli' when it is not, in fact, a deli at all.)

                      San Francisco is a great food town because there is more Chowhound gold hidden in the Bay Area than just about anywhere I can think of. You would do well to find the great unknown holes in the wall... the Saigon Sandwiches (do a search from the main page) of the various cuisines represented in San Francisco.

                      If you're looking for the food you had in New York, save it for Christmas break when you go home and have the pizza and the New York-style Chinese food and the Eastern European food.

                      Next, your rant about Ebisu. There are hundreds if not thousands of sushi restaurants in the City and County of San Francisco. You went to Ebisu with your expectations raised by the hype, and you were disappointed. The thing to do in that case is vote with your feet, get home, and write a scathing but literate review and post it here so the rest of us hear the 'nay' in the chorus of 'ayes'. This doesn't mean that you should pan all sushi in San Francisco - in fact, I can't think of a better city for sushi, and I lived for a long while in Sushi Gulch, Studio City, California. Remember - all poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles.

                      Your challenge to us was to point you to good food in various categories. I think you'd do better to do a search from the main page and find out what's been said before. I will, however, step off my boîte à savon au miso (French-influenced Asian fusion soap box), unbend, and tell you that the bun (vermicelli bowls) and canh chua (sour soup) at Malee at Lombard and Van Ness is incredible, that the fesenjon at Alborz on Van Ness is a study in intense flavours, that the banh mi at Saigon Sandwich at Turk and Larkin are things of beauty, and that for atmosphere and well-prepared Moroccan you can not beat Pasha on Broadway between Van Ness and Polk.

                      Now, my challenge to you is this: Go try these restaurants and disagree with me. Write a well-thought-out, literate, whine-free rebuttal to my opinions of these restaurants. Don't disagree? Write a well-thought-out, literate, whine-free agreement.

                      You are in a city where nearly any produce you want is grown within 200 miles of where you sit. You are in the only city in the country where more wine is consumed than beer. You are in a city where the discussion of where to eat lunch can take an hour and involves passionate debate.

                      You are in a city that loves food. Welcome.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: PRSMDave

                        Dear PRSMDave:

                        What you said. I want to come to your dinner parties, hon.

                        1. re: PRSMDave

                          Well said PRSMDave. I wish I can write this well sometimes...

                          1. re: PRSMDave
                            n
                            notmichaelbauer

                            Thanks for saving me the effort. Very well said.

                            1. re: PRSMDave
                              b
                              Burke and Wells

                              Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. THIS is why I love chowhounds, and this is what makes a chowhound. Heck of a post.

                              Oh, and do I detect a fellow post-structuralist theorest? Derrida mentioned on Chowhound.com! Vive la difference/differance!

                              Peter
                              wells@emusic.com

                              Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                            2. I forgot to mention:

                              Vietnamese: 7 kinds of beef at Anh Hong in the tenderloin. Pho - everybody has a favorite - I pop into PPQ on Irving and 19th once in a while. La Vie on Geary is great for all kinds of tables, some with cool tableside cooking. Probably just as good Jasmine House on Clement and 20-something.

                              While you're on Clement, duck into King of Thai #1 (preferably not the branches) for a bowl of Thai soup noodles.

                              1. I want to ask you something...

                                Have you considered the possibility that part of the reason the Bay Area has such a good reputation for food is because it manages to sustain a wide range of cuisines at a quality level that is, by your own admission, "above average"--at a relatively small population level?

                                is it really fair to fault San Francisco for failing to match the resources of New York, when I would guess the latter is at least three times its size?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: km
                                  c
                                  Caitlin McGrath

                                  If by size, you mean population in the city proper, then NYC is more like 17 times the size of SF, with 9 million residents.

                                2. Lived in SF all my life and finally realized after moving away, how much I miss it. In the early days, the only place most people would get dim sum was in Chinatown. Recently, the good dim sum restaurants can be found in the peninsula area. The closest being Koi Palace in Daly City. Quite possibly the best and most unique dim sum. Fook Yuen in Millbrae has some of the best basic, tried and true dim sum. I always tell people that SF has great food. But don't discount all the other great food you can find right outside of the city.
                                  Favorite Picks
                                  Thai: Royal Thai (great curry), King of Thai (Taraval, best flat noodles w/ground pork, basil, and chili)
                                  Chinese: Koi Palace (dimsum), Hing Lung (congee)
                                  Vietnamese: Golden Turtle, Van Ness (crab is fresh)

                                  1. In defense of Ebisu, I still find it to be one of the consistently best sushi bars around. If you sit at a table and order off the menu, you may find that the restaurant is nothing special. If you sit at the sushi bar, order off the special board, and let the chefs' guide you, you can have a wonderful experience.

                                    Other sushi bars are good, but Ebisu is a place where you will always get the heads if you order ama ebi, the spider roll will be hot and crunchy, the chef will give you the best cuts of hamachi if you show an interest in his skills, and all of the fish is always fresh. Not all sushi bars, even in SF, can consistently perform at this level.

                                    Btw, I notice that you didn't mention burritos in your post. I gather the Mexican food in Fort Lee, NJ isn't worth writing about...

                                    1. Please everyone...allow people to have their opinion. An opinion, even if it is counter to your own, does not rock the very foundation of your choice to live in the Bay Area. It is not a challenge of your choices. You don't need to be soooo defensive. This gentleman had a very reasoned, intelligent and open opinion. It is his first post, and I for one, would not like it if it were his last. I would appreciate seeing a little more empathy of people and positions that are not our own. My personal rant...I like differing opinions, they interest me, they don't challenge my basic belief system, or my love for my chosen home. Ryan, please come back and share!

                                      1. Yo, Vinny. Dat emperer dere -- da one wit da big earring, love beads & Birkenstocks -- got no clothes.

                                        Ah, but you are misinformed, my dear Lorenzo. His clothing is exquisite. Because your mind has yet to befog, you simply are unable to discern its nuance, its je-ne-sais-quoi.

                                        Je ne say dis, Larry. No last-meal ribs, no love. Show me da sushi.

                                        1. b
                                          Brandon Nelson

                                          The lessons in old fables...

                                          There was once a very learned student of philosophy. He had read it all, and absorbed it all. He was very proud of this. He made a pilgrimage to see and old master, merely as a social venture, there wasn't much the old man could offer him. On arriving at the old masters home he was greated warmly and offered a seat at the table and a cup of tea. The old master poured and poured until the cup ran over. Startled the student told the master to stop because he was spilling his tea. "Yes" the master said "you need to empty your cup."

                                          I'm glad I read the rest of this thread in it's (so far) entirety before responding. There has been enough venom spent on this post. Your subject header can, and has been taken a a thinly disguised insult by many who are long standing and respected Bay Area Chowhounds.

                                          You mention points of geography in your post that range from Canada to the Carolinas. That is an unreasonable yardstick to measure any one city by, don't you think? How long have you been in the City? You seem to want to condemn it after what would would seem to be a brief experience.

                                          I will second a few of the recomendations made previously. King of Thai #1 is a long standing favorite of my fiance and I, and it won't break the bank. Saigon Sandwich is worthy of it's hype. There are enough little dim sum joints on Clement St. to keep you tasting till you are an old chowhound. Most of them are much less pricey than Ton Kiang. I highly recommend you try the mexican places that have been mentioned, as taqueria food (I just finished some) is on of the great bargains for those of us with lighter wallets.

                                          I will also second the challenge made to you earlier. Report back your findings, good and bad. Dissention is always welcome. But make no mistake about this us Cali surf bums are just as fiercely proud of our home turf as anyone from Queens, Manhattan, or the Bronx. It is much easier to welcome a new Hound when he politelty knocks on the door, rather than kicks it open.

                                          Chow!!!

                                          1. If I could make an additional point: the Bay Area is light years ahead of NYC & environs when it comes to the ready availability of absolutely top-notch and affordable foodstuffs to anyone who feels like opening a cookbook or doing a little improv in his or her own kitchen. Fish, meats, produce, wine, spices...it's no contest.

                                            Tell you what, Ryan - I won't pretend there's any really good deli food hereabouts if you won't pretend there's any edible Mexican food in the Five Boroughs.

                                            1. As someone who loves living and eating in San Francisco, I can understand your frustrations. I lived in New York for a time several years ago, and miss some of the great food options. I was on a student budget, but was very happy stuffing myself on pizza, bagels, falafel, and pirogie (sp?) I have not been able to find the cheap and delicious perfect equivalent of these things in SF.

                                              With that said, there have been more than enough wonderful options. And, as a working person now, I can afford a wider spectrum-which certainly helps. Here are a few of my neighborhood-y favorites, that you can eat at and still pay your rent (and maybe these will help you understand what SF does well):

                                              Mexican: Mom Is Cooking. Well, the name should be enough. But if that alone doesn't sway you, the menu and the food should. You'll get a great introduction to items you likely have never even heard of, or had a chance to try, and some great renditions of old favorites. I can't recommend the nopales (cactus) highly enough-in enchiladas, on the side, whatever. They also have a sampler plate where you can try lots of the different options so you can figure out your favorites.

                                              Sushi: Mokis. Haven't eaten here in a while, but have always enjoyed the fresh and inventive rolls. It's not your traditional sushi restaurant, but is tasty and very cozy. Especially the tempura'd roll with tuna & avocado-forget what they call it.

                                              Italian: Ponte Vecchio. Tiny, cozy and lively. The menu is simple, with great lasagna, pasta puttanesca, and other usual suspects. I also like Mangio Fuoco (sp?), though it's a bit more expensive. They always have a lasagna special, that has never failed to impress.

                                              Burritos: So many choices in the Mission. There is Papalote that is not your most traditional tacqueria, but has fun, less-heavy options like grilled veggies, red snapper, etc. It is traditional in the huge burrito that weighs more than most newborns.

                                              Bagels: OK, I do have recommendation here that you may or may not agree with. Maybe my 1.5 years in New York may have not totally spoiled me after all. But I have a soft spot for Katz Bagels. They do the best bagels in SF in my opinion, have tasty cream cheese flavors, a friendly staff AND you've only lost $2 if you find they don't do it for you.

                                              Pizza: Pauline's Pizza is definitely like nothing I had in New York. Thin crust, fancy cheeses, fresh vegetables and herbs-many grown in their own garden I think, homemade chicken sausage, and expensive. And totally worth every penny in my opinion.

                                              Yeah, you'll be just fine.

                                              1. I rarely ever trust "best of" lists no matter what city I'm in, especially when they're the results of readers' polls (further proof that there are a lot more stupid people than smart ones out there). As others have mentioned, it's usually best to strike out on your own to find your own favorites. San Francisco has a huge number of restaurants, so you're just as likely to find as many bad ones as excellent ones. Keep looking.

                                                I've lived in NYC, L.A., and S.F. (and currently reside in L.A.) and have found that each city has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. But while I've given up hope on finding authentic NY pizza in L.A. just as I gave up trying to find a place in New York that compared to Renu Nakorn or Thai Nakorn in L.A., I've also discovered favorite places that are unique to each particular city.

                                                I thought I'd pass along info on a few of the things about San Francisco (and thereabouts) restaurants that I miss the most:

                                                1) the huge selection of fresh oysters at the Zuni Cafe on Market St.
                                                2) excellent Cambodian restaurants (Angkor Wat on Geary St., Che Sovan in Campbell).
                                                3) cioppino at the Tadich Grill (sitting solo at the counter and being served by the surliest and most professional waiters this side of a Brooklyn seafood joint).
                                                4) Indonesian restaurants on Post St. (go with a crowd and order the rijsttafel).
                                                5) Indian pizza at Zante's on Mission (no, it's nothing like a New York slice, but still unusually good).
                                                6) Flint's barbeque in Oakland (I still can hear the pounding of the cleavers and envision the flying bits of bone and flesh as they hack the ribs). Service with a scowl--the de rigeur bbq experience.
                                                7) albacore tataki salad at Toraya on Fillmore between Pine and Bush--even better than Nobu's sashimi salad. Expensive but exceptional sushi, a cool yakitori bar, and great cold sake, too.
                                                8) sampling all the different burrito joints on Mission St. and the surrounding area (Valencia, etc.).

                                                These are just a few of my favorites and I found them through my own explorations--not by consulting a "best of" list. Do a little of your own exploration and you'll find some of your own favorites that you'll miss as well when you've moved away from SF.

                                                And thanks for the tip on the baguettes!

                                                17 Replies
                                                1. re: Chris G.

                                                  - Zuni charges outrageous prices for only OK oysters.
                                                  - After all these years I've come to the conclusion that Mission burritos suck, and they have for a while now (except for 2 or 3 places). San Francisco lacks taco trucks and such, the good stuff.
                                                  - Angkor Wat has gone seriously downhill.
                                                  - How can one really judge a place on one raw fish dish?


                                                  ------------------
                                                  1) the huge selection of fresh oysters at the Zuni Cafe on Market St.
                                                  2) excellent Cambodian restaurants (Angkor Wat on Geary St., Che Sovan in Campbell).
                                                  3) cioppino at the Tadich Grill (sitting solo at the counter and being served by the surliest and mostprofessional waiters this side of a Brooklyn seafood joint).
                                                  4) Indonesian restaurants on Post St. (go with a crowd and order the rijsttafel).
                                                  5) Indian pizza at Zante's on Mission (no, it's nothing like a New York slice, but still unusually good).
                                                  6) Flint's barbeque in Oakland (I still can hear the pounding of the cleavers and envision the flying bits of bone and flesh as they hack the ribs). Service with a scowl--the de rigeur bbq experience.
                                                  7) albacore tataki salad at Toraya on Fillmore between Pine and Bush--even better than Nobu's sashimisalad. Expensive but exceptional sushi, a cool yakitori bar, and great cold sake, too.
                                                  8) sampling all the different burrito joints on Mission St. and the surrounding area (Valencia, etc.).

                                                  1. re: franklint

                                                    This response is EXACTLY why there are so many lurkers who will NEVER post anything on this board. Every time I post something, I have to ask myself if I feel convicted enough about my statements to put up with any abuse that i will receive from another person because they don't agree with my opinion. I say abuse here because i really feel like your opinions were completely baseless and not backed up by any hard core facts. Disagreeing by backing up your statement with coherent facts is one thing. Disagreeing just because you think "mission burritos suck" except for one or two (unnamed) places is not helpful to anyone.

                                                    I, for one, will be trying the albacore tataki salad at toraya as soon as possible.

                                                    thanks for the great post, Chris G.

                                                    1. re: franklint

                                                      Thanks for the updated info, although I wasn't expecting a sort of Spanish Inquisition. Your response is a perfect example of why I'm glad I don't live in SF any more (too many spoiled no-class new money yuppies, way overpriced rent, snobbish attitude up the ass, lazy Gen X and Y "hippies," negative people who always whine and don't appreciate just how great it is to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and on and on--reasons why I'll always prefer NYC or LA any day). First of all, I haven't been to most of these places in three years or more, so I can't judge their current quality and whether they've gone downhill. Second, I'm entitled to my own fond memories of these places, even if you don't agree. Third, I didn't formulate my opinion of Toraya based on one dish--I've always had consistently good and even great sushi every time I've been here (and it's one place that I have been to recently)--I mentioned the albacore tataki sashimi because it's a standout item that I can't get everywhere. Fourth, I was just trying to help a brutha out. Fifth, if Mission burritos suck so much why are there still "2 or 3 good places." Even while I lived in SF places were inconsistent, which is why I always was on the search. And a bad SF burrito beats a great NYC burrito by a long shot. Try living in Manhattan for five years after arriving directly from SF and see how you feel about the Mission then. Yeah, the taco trucks are cool, but I enjoyed traipsing around the Mission trying out the different places, too, and it's one of the things that makes SF what it is (like it or not).

                                                      Instead of being so negative, why don't you make some positive suggestions of your own? Or are you too afraid we'll criticize your suggestions as well? Where do you reecommend for oysters (good quality, great selection, reasonable prices)? What are the 2 or 3 Mission burrito places that don't suck?

                                                      Sorry to hear that Angkor Wat has gone downhill as Cambodian restaurants are hard to find. I hope that Che Sovan is still as good as I remember.

                                                      1. re: Chris G.

                                                        I apologize for my harsh, negative characterization of SF folks--I'm just having a rough Mercury in retrograde day and the post got me going. Actually I love SF and its people--even if there are a tad too many yuppies there ;-). In fact, the woman I love lives there and is trying to drag me up north again. Didn't mean to spark some sort of Civil War . . . (Can't we all get along?)

                                                        1. re: Chris G.

                                                          First, I'm sorry I don't have the time to always post lengthy reviews. Brevity is not impolite.

                                                          Second, my post should certainly not be taken as a personal attack on your fond memories, god forbid, or to discredit your enthusiasm. This is a message board, a discussion forum, and I was merely continuing the discussion. Discussion sometimes involves disagreement. My disagreement is light-hearted, as all food discussions should be! It's fun!

                                                          Burritos: La Taqueria, Cancun, Botana (lower haight), and that big shiney yuppy place Tlaloc (FiDi) are still great.

                                                          Oysters: Hog Island (sat. farmers market), Swan's, Anchor. (I've spoken with many people who were recently disappointed by Zuni -- we need to be critical of great places when they slip!).

                                                          For Cambodian, you go to Oakland or Berkeley, there are several places.

                                                          Toraya. I'm sorry, my bad. I love the place. Actually I like both Torayas (no longer same owners). I go for the noodle soups usually, but the sushi is good too. I've just gotten wary of people's claims that they had the "greatest tuna tartare" here or there. Everyday dadburn restaurant in SF has tuna tartare on the appetizer menu now and it's all the same (good or bad).

                                                          Boss is coming... more later.

                                                          1. re: franklint

                                                            Cool! This is much better. I'm all for disagreement, but the brevity of your previous response didn't make your post seem lighthearted at all but more like an attack (sometimes it helps to balance things out with some positive input).

                                                            Cancun was one of my favorites as well. I could never figure out why the burritos at the SF La Cumbre never came close to the burritos at La Cumbre in San Mateo (maybe Eddie was the difference). Great or not, SF is world famous for its burritos - I remember one place in Manhattan that boasted that it served San Francisco-style burritos. Like a New Yorker would do about any place that claims to serve "New York-style pizza" or "New York bagels," I took great delight in telling them why what they served was not an authentic SF burrito (and like any good New Yorker they refused to change).

                                                            It's a drag that Zuni has slipped (and, yes, we do need to be critical when this happens), but it's good to know that Swan's is still good. Now I'm thinkin' about oysters (one place where SF has LA beaten hands down)!

                                                            Can you recommend any specific Cambodian places in Oakland or Berkeley (or steer me in a general direction so I can explore these places myself)? I have an office (and a girlfriend) there, so any suggestions would be appreciated. Once again, it's a bummer to hear that Angkor Wat has slipped, but I have to admit that the last time I ate there was in 1995. Personally, I think that Che Sovan is much better but who wants to drive down to Campbell?

                                                            Regarding Toraya, the dish I was talking about is the albacore tataki sashimi salad (although if you order sashimi or salad you'll usually get the same thing). It's a rather large portion of seared albarcore sashimi placed on top of assorted baby greens and topped with a delicious miso-based dressing. This is not the sort of thing I see everywhere (although maybe lots of places have copied it since I left SF). I'm so fond of Toraya that when my friends tried to take me to Ebisu, I would protest and offer to buy them all dinner at Toraya instead. After they ate there, I never heard them mention Ebisu again.

                                                            Please note that none of my recommendations were meant to be considered the "best" or the "greatest" - by making such claims you're really asking for trouble (just ask Ebisu). They were simply some of my own personal favorites, the places I miss and think about from time to time just like an old friend.

                                                            1. re: Chris G.

                                                              Thanks for your suggestions and input-I agree, NYC can't make a burrito worth a damn!
                                                              Personally, I think Zuni is just swell. I went there twice recently, and we had some great oysters, those awesome puffy ricotta gnocchi (although I now know how to make these at home, thanks to Fran Gage's recipe in Bread and Chocolate), a lovely plate of house-cured anchovies, celery, and parmesan, a very potent squid-red wine ragout; and that yummy roast chicken (stay away from the bread salad, though--too much chicken grease). Awesome espresso granita and a beautiful plate of tangerine and blood orange slices with fresh fleshy dates stuffed with mascarpone and pistachio. I really go to Zuni for the whole experience. Cancun's burritos are a bit hit or miss--sometimes awesome, sometimes sloppy and overloaded with crema.

                                                              1. re: Chris G.

                                                                I have been waiting for an excuse to talk about this place! I'm gonna butcher the spelling: Phnom Penh in Oakland's Chinatown is the best Cambodian in the Bay Area. Order the barbecued chicken and you will see the face of God. MMMMMMMMM. Perfectly smoky, tender, falls apart on the plate, trimmed of fat.

                                                                1. re: Pointybird

                                                                  Thanks for reminding me it's still there.

                                                                  As I remember the BBQ pork was good, too. And the spicy chicken soup.

                                                                  It is (or used to be) a bit of a dive, though. The only place I've actually seen a cockroach on my table. The casualness with which the waiter disposed of it (after we had trapped it under an overturned glass) suggested that cockroaches were not rare occurrances [g].

                                                                  We stayed for lunch, and it was great.

                                                                  Phnom Penh House
                                                                  251 8th St.
                                                                  Oakland
                                                                  (510) 893-3825

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                    n
                                                                    Nathan Landau

                                                                    Cambodiana on University Avenue near Oxford in Berkeley (two blocks from Berkeley BART) doesn't have Phnom Penh's funky charm, though it may be cleaner. The food is good, if a little more French-influenced. They have an interesting menu organized by the sauce the food comes in, and cheap lunch specials.

                                                                  2. re: Pointybird

                                                                    I'll have to agree with you. We just came back from Cambodia and Vietnam, We had a going away dinner at Phnom Pehn and loved it. Took our trip, had a wonderful time exploring and tasting all the wonderful flavors, and returned again to this Oakland eatery and decided it's the BEST!

                                                                  3. re: Chris G.

                                                                    My boyfriend's Cambodian and he prefers Battambang. It's on Broadway at 9th (?). It's the only Cambodian restaurant that I've tried but I think it's great! My favorite dish is only served at lunch, like wet chowfun in a brown gravy with eggs, beef, and Chinese broccoli. Tastes like a combination of Chinese chow fun and Thai pad see ew. Here's the link to a Chowhound dinner report.

                                                                    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                                2. re: Chris G.
                                                                  b
                                                                  Brandon Nelson

                                                                  Dude...

                                                                  Rants like that don't bolster your credibility. Insulting folks that live in the City is silly. I've met many of the big dogs on this board. They are a great cross section of the people the make the Bay Area such a great home.

                                                                  Then your second paragraph starts off with "instead of being so negative..." Heres a suggestion to both the pot and the kettle. Step away from the keyboard. Grab a smoke, a drink of water, or a short walk. Come back and read "Before you post". Let us all remember why we participate in Chowhound. There are too many bright folks making good readin' and writtin' for Jim to have to drop the hammer on anyone because the tone is getting spirited. We are here to share opinions and experiences ( NONE of which are superior or inferior to the next person), not to stand on each others toes.

                                                                  Chow!!!

                                                                3. re: franklint

                                                                  Even if the albacore tataki salad was the only good dish, and everything else was bad at Toraya, it's still totally worth knowing. I'd go in,order a drink and the said salad (maybe 2 portions if itis as good as it sounds), eat and head over to Chez Nous for a couple more bites at the bar. And then saunter down to Rory's for a scoop of ice cream and/or to Cafe Kati for a fancy dessert. And then up back to Peet's for coffee or tea (if the timing's right and they're still open). Or a sweet crepe at Galette. Especially in situations when I'm a in big group and can afford to share.

                                                                  Even if a restaurant is terrible otherwise, it's very very worthwhile for us to know if a place excels at single awesome dish. While it's certainly not the norm, not everyone always eats an entire lunch or dinner at one place.

                                                                  Therefore, one excellent dish doesn't make a restaurant, but it can be part of a wonderful meal. So don't ever hold back when telling us about a single great dish.

                                                                4. re: Chris G.

                                                                  Chris, I was watching the food channel..."The Best Of"and they interviewed a man who owns "Johnnies New York Cafe and Pizzeria" in Santa Monica, and he swore they do a "real" N.Y. pizza. They have recreated the exact mineral content of NYC water for a real NY crust (crispy and chewy) and they do put olive oil on their pizza. It looked like the real thing. Do you know this place and if so do you agree with its' spiel? I was thinking of trying it when I visited, but if it's all hype, I'll skip it.Thanks,Derek

                                                                  1. re: derek

                                                                    I didn't know about this place, but what the heck, I'm always on the lookout for a good slice or pie. I'll check it out this week and let you know what I think.

                                                                    1. re: derek

                                                                      I used to go to this place when I was in college. While I can't debate whether this tastes like "real" NY pizza, I can tell you that, at the time, it was very very good. I used to go to the one in Malibu, and the pizza was excellent - ingredients always fresh. I am a fiend for thin crusts, and I loved this pizza.

                                                                      Terrific salads, as well. Some of their toppings and such are definitely geared toward a California crowd. Since then, however, they have expanded (7 stores total) and I am not sure if any quality suffered because of that.

                                                                  2. Maybe the original post ruffled a lot of feathers, but I must exclaim that this has got to be one of the most chow rich threads in a long while, with lots of hounds coming out of the woodwork. I'm taking notes big time! Thanks so much you guys!

                                                                    1. sushi? You need to become a regular at Murasaki's on Clement near 3rd ave.

                                                                      1. Let us not forget 8 Immortals for Chinese, out in the avenues. Da bomb baby!

                                                                        1. Before you all get carried away with the SF vs NY stuff, let me just clarify a couple things regarding mexican food in NYC. There IS good mexican food to be had in NYC. In fact, it can be argued that the mexican food in NYC is more "mexican" than in SF. Let me explain. Since about 1994, mexicans have become one of the top 3 (i think) rapidly growing immigrant populations in and around NYC, rising from less than 50,000 to more than 200,000 in 1999. There are now legitimate mexican neighborhoods in NYC from Spanish Harlem, Sunset Park (Brooklyn), Corona (Queens), and in the Bronx, not to mention sections of Long Island and New Jersey. So to argue that there is no good mexican food in the 5 boroughs would be a mistake (although probably more accurate 7 years ago). Unlike in SF or LA, there has been no pre-established community to absorb into (nor any adapted culinary tradition), and so many of the mexicans who have opened up eateries have transplanted their food here as well, mostly from the Puebla region. If you are ever in NYC, try visiting some of these neighborhoods, and you might be able to see what the Mission District probably felt like before the gentrification. And if you do go to these joints, you'll see that the burrito is really a california invention in that it isn't a featured item on the menus here. Instead, you'll find good antojitos, tacos, fried fish, goat meat and other mexican staple items, with burritos significantly in the background. I'm not knocking SF mission burritos -- a great SF tradition, one I kinda miss -- but don't be misled by the mainstream, unadventurous non-chowhounds (e.g., the NYTimes piece on going to Boston for a good burrito??? pleeez) and come get some of the stuff where the Mexicans in NYC eat. Cheer.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Eric Eto

                                                                            Good post.

                                                                            It really points out one of the issues here: lots of times people are not really looking for "authentic" ethnic foods (whatever that means), but instead ethnic foods prepared the way they are used to them.

                                                                            Chinese food is different in NY than it is in SF. So is Italian food. People who go from one place to the other and upon being unable to find food like the food back home exclaiming "there's no good XXX food in XX" are really showing a lack of knowledge about the influences of geography, culture, immigration patterns, etc. on food of different regions.

                                                                            Not only aren't burritos different in NY from the way they are in SF, they aren't the same in SF as they are in LA or SD (and I've seen migrants in both directions complaining about not being able to find the kind of burrito they want in their new locale).

                                                                            I can understand being homesick for familiar foods, but that's no excuse for trashing the local versions because they're not a carbon copy of the food "back home". Vive le difference!

                                                                            1. re: Eric Eto

                                                                              I lived in NYC for 7 years and am half mexican. I think there are a few authentic restaurants in manhattan but you end up paying 13 bucks for guacamole for 2 people.
                                                                              They may have more in the sunsetpark area in Brooklyn but I cant think of cheap eats like you find in LA and in the SF mission area. But San Diego takes the cake for best Mexican in the US in my opinion.