San Fran recommendations for a Philly chowhound
I'll be in San Francisco on business early in April, and i'm looking for some guidance through the maze of highly-recommended and well-reviewed places in the immediate SF area.
My co-workers and i lack nice fat expense accounts, so the more high-end places are out. Mid-priced is fine, though. No picky eaters here, we're all pretty adventurous. We're staying near the Moscone Center -- while we're very (very) happy to grab a cab and hit someplace in a different neighborhood, we're not planning to go, say, all the way to Berkeley for dinner.
So which restaurants can we simply not afford to miss? What are the big favorites with you regular Chowhounds? Which places get a lot of hype but don't deliver? Suggestions, please!
Nathan's linked you up with some recommendations in the immediate vicinity of Moscone Center. Also keep in mind that San Francisco is a great walking city. From where you're staying it's an easy walk down Kearny to Belden Place in the Financial District where you'll find Plouf, Sam's Grill, and B44 - all chowhound favorites.
If that doesn't suit you, head a few blocks further and you'll be in Chinatown. Young's Cafe, R&G Lounge and Hon's Wun Ton house await you here and will be very easy on the pocket book.
Keep going and soon you'll hit Columbus Ave. and North Beach for an after dinner coffee.
I'd suggest hitting the Mission. BART from any of the downtown stations will get you there.
Hit the tacquerias; some favorites include El Farolito, Can-cun, San Jose, El Toro. Chow on good homey Japanese food at Minako (Mission & 18th Ave). Tamales at La Palma Mexicatessen. Ice Cream at Bombay Ice Cream or Mitchell's.
Or just take any streetcar/subway down to the Van Ness. Zuni for oysters (the rest of the stuff gets opposing opinions), Destino for Peruvian-style small plates, Absinthe for good desserts in a very comfortable and swanky dining room.
Walk out to the edgy tenderloin (should still be safer than certain parts of Philly) for 7 kinds of beef at Anh Hong, Pakistani food at Shalimar or Dottie's True Blue Cafe for great breakfasts.
Good luck on chowing and let us know what you liked.
Having explored the 'edgy' Tenderloin last time i was in San Francisco (two years ago), i'm not worried. Philly's safer that it looks, but you're absolutely right about the Tenderloin being safer than certain parts of Philly.
At the risk of sounding culturally uninformed, how different is Pakistani cuisine from Indian, or Afgan (with which i'm familiar.)
I seem to recall hearing something about a good noodle shop in the Tenderloin that's open very late? Anyone know what i'm talking about?
Peruvian small plates -- sounds absolutely divine. Destino just moved way up on my list.
Also, where would you all recommend for sushi? The lushly decorated four-star places are undoubtably delicious, but out of my range. But i bet there's a cute little place with great sushi somewhere, if i only knew about it. :)
re: Pakistani vs. Indian vs. Afghan
Based on 1 trip to Helmand in North Beach, I think Afghan relies less on curries than Pakistani/Indian. Apart from regional differences, I think that Pakistani cooking is similar to what I usually think of as Northern Indian food (rich thick curries, less heat, more spice). Hopefully more knowledgeable folks out there will correct me if I'm wrong and offer more details, as I am no expert, and this impression is mostly empirical.
For sushi, Kabuto on Geary is a good bet. Murasaki on Clement is another pristine little corner that is very good. If you're willing to brave long waits for food and service in return for excellent and very reasonably priced sushi, try Hama-Ko on Carl and Cole (ask for ankimo sushi, smoked salmon and insist on their recommendations to get the best out of this quirky and somewhat "sushi-nazi-esque place).
Blowfish for sushi -- go for lunch. You'll spend about 20-30 per person (and that's if you really chow down), but everything will be impeccably fresh and wonderful! Enjoy. A very cheap, new, and also ultra fresh sushi place opened here in the Marina not too long ago. Misleadingly it's called Soku's Teriyaki 2280 Chestnut Street. -- but why get teriyaki here? It's small and narrow and has a drinks cooler in the dining room, but the sushi is first-rate. It's cheaper than Blowfish, and when I was there the food was fantastic -- and I couldn't finish it all. You might also enjoy the Marina neighborhood after dinner -- some good bars and dance places nearby.
so, for that: (1) Timo's on Valencia and 21st Street. They have Flamenco dancing on Sunday nites (no cover charge, but tiny showroom). They serve Frog's legs.
(2) Andalu on 16th. almost at the corner of Guerrero. Tried their lamb osso bucco the 1st time; would like to go back again.
(3) Will try Isa in the Marina soon.
All of the above are mid-priced.