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Aug 8, 2006 03:59 AM

Consensus On Best Restaurants in SanFrancisco???

I'm going to be going on a trip to San Francisco next week and will be staying along mason st. I've spent VERY little time in the area and really have no idea where to eat and where to go. There are obviously a huge number of restaurants in the area. However, reading the boards, I can't seem to get a feeling as to what are really widely considered to be the GREAT restaurants of San Francisco. What are they?

My family and I are pretty adventurous eaters and are open to most. However, I'm not really looking for anything that is hugely pricey, just some relatively fun places with great food. I'm looking for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In particular, I'd like to know of great asian food and great seafood, although I'm open to and would love to know absolutely everything.

I'll only be on town for about 5 days, so I'm looking for a consensus on a few of the GREATS in the area that you would think we MUST visit before leaving.


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  1. I think you are going to be asked to be a lot more specific - particularly about price. San Francisco is full - FULL of great asian and seafood restaurants but price can be a problem.

    1. I'm really not too picky. I plan on having maybe one high end meal. Other than that, I would probably keep cost down to average of about $15 per entree or less. Money isn't really the limitation. I'm more interested in getting really good food, but probably mostly more places where it would be acceptable to walk in as is, wearing whatever without making reservations a week in advance (although I really don't mind relatively long waits). Hope that might clarify.

      Also, what I'm getting at is, in my neck of the woods, if someone were to come to me and ask "what are some standout restaurants around here which have fantastic food and you will likely rarely hear a negative word about?" I could probably rattle off numerous restaurants for every catagory (breakfast, lunch, seafood, chinese, etc.) that immediately stand out as incredible with few equally great alternatives.

      1 Reply
      1. re: crsin

        Okay, bringing it down to $15/entree narrows it quite a bit -- that's pretty low priced for SF.

        Of the places I mentioned, I think you'd like Helmand and Bodega Bistro, and they'd be in that price range. When you say you're staying on Mason I assume one of the hotels off Union Square. You might like Sultan, which is one of the best Indian restaurants in the city and is in that area.

      2. Besides price range, try to be more specific...if you are traveling with children, their age, and what their likes are. How adventurous eaters is your family? San Francisco has good food from every country in Asia. Plus all the pan Asian restaurants sprouting up everywhere. Chinese restaurants run from inexpensive hole in the wall serving good down home food to large Kong Kong style restaurant serving whole fish, dried abalone, fresh water prawns, etc. where you can drop $50 per person without any trouble. Seafood restaurant is a little more problematic.
        Consenus doesn't exist in San Francisco. For many of us, GREAT restaurant means great service, great food, excellent wine list...Gary Danko, Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton?

        1. You're not going to get a consensus. SF has probably 300-500 good restaurants; nobody has been to them all, not even the critics.

          Also, if it's next week you've already eliminated some options because you don't have reservations.

          For breakfast, I'd recommend Ella's, Kate's Breakfast and/or The Pork Store.

          8 Replies
          1. re: TheFuzzy

            See, you gave a perfect example of lack of consensus.

            I live right by Kate's Kitchen but refuse to go there it went downhill a long time ago, now most of their food is mediocre and their breakfast potatoes SUCK. I stopped going to the Pork Store for breakfast because the grease they douse EVERYTHING with has been rancid one too many times. And while Ella's has decent food, I never go there because of the long lines, snotty clientele and poor service.

            1. re: larochelle


              I'll admit that Kate's isn't what it used to be, but it's still impressive to someone from out of town. Ella's is better on the weekdays; I won't go on the weekends anymore either. As for the Pork Store, I'm a local so maybe they give me better food. I don't know.

              Where *would* you recommend for breakfast?

              1. re: TheFuzzy

                Canteen's probably the best breakfast in town right now.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I was at Canteen two weeks ago--I'm a tourist too--It's fine but not great--My eggs (salsaed were fine--my husband's pancakes--mediocre--I like Dotties True Blue better even if it is touristy

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I really like Canteen, but as a local don't really understand the current breakfast raves either. I thought it was a competent but not extraordinary at breakfast.
                    (I LOVED a luch I had there, though)

                  2. re: TheFuzzy

                    Suppenkuche Sunday Brunch -
                    I’ve been inconsolable since they took the quark & boiled potatoes off the menu but the ravioli & eggs dish is good, as is the Emperor's Pancake. Not to mention it’s the one place in SF where I can have breakfast & coffee while the spouse has excellent Jägerschnitzel & beer.

                    Bambino -
                    good basic egg breakfast without the wait or attitude of Zazie next door

                    Citizen Cake -
                    the creamy anson mills grits, bacon, soft egg yolk, cheddar, scallion dish with a champagne float is an awesome way to start the day

                    Saha -
                    Two words - Yemenese Fouel

                    Mama’s on Washington Square
                    Awesome french toast, nice omelettes

                    Tartine -
                    Way too crowded so I rarely go anymore but the spouse dreams of their gougeres (sp?). Maybe a visitor wouldn’t mind the wait.

                    Puerto Alegre -
                    I wouldn’t really recommend this to a tourist but Puerto Alegre has a dish I love – “verde chilaquiles”. They’re the closest thing to my favorite breakfast dish in the world -- Austin Migas – that I’ve ever found outside of Texas. I never order anything else. And their coffee & margaritas suck so I stick to beer.

                    Memphis Minnies –
                    Best biscuits & sausage gravy in the bay area. Excellent grits. The other dishes (hashes) are now “special treats” ‘cause they’re really big & caloric.

                    Canteen -
                    Best Eggs Benedict I've ever had in large part due to the incredible hollandaise

                    1. re: larochelle

                      That's an excellent list. I always forget how good the brunch is at Suppenkuche when asked for breakfast recommendations. All the dishes I have tried with the exception of the meatloaf and eggs dish have been great. And thanks for the tip on that dish at Citizen Cake. In general, don't care for the place but I will try it this weekend thanks to you.

                      I would add the soft scrambled eggs at Universal Cafe (other dishes are great too), the pumpkin pancakes at J's Pots of Soul, and the chef's mess and bacon-cheddar-green onion pancakes at St. Francis (not the hotel) as great breakfast dishes.

                  3. re: larochelle

                    Breakfast - Dottie's True Blue Cafe on Geary near O'Farrell. Best breakfast in town. Home made cinnamon rolls. Great waitresses.

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