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Union Sq/Sunset District/Healdsburg spots of Chowhounding

tanno Aug 22, 2006 02:31 AM

My girlfriend and I are going to San Francisco in a few days to box up all of her elderly parents' belongings and I want to find some Chowhound opportunities in our neighborhoods.

The house is in the Sunset District.
Our hotel is in Union Square (Hotel Rex).
Then we're spending a few days in Healdsburg (Duchamp Hotel).

I'm particularly eager to hear of any breakfast/lunch spots nearby, though dinner spots are also very welcome. Any price range, any style of food, though we know about Zuni, the Slanted Door, and the more well-trafficked and widely-reviewed type of spots.

Thanks for any help.

  1. m
    meg944 May 14, 2007 11:30 AM

    We were just at the Hilton near Union Square and then wine country. My husband is supposed to be writing up our dining notes, but I can say that we had a really good breakfast at Dottie’s True Blue Café (I had a tasty breakfast special that included pulled pork, and a coconut muffin from their list of baked goods, and was full for the day.) We also had a pleasant and inexpensive dinner one night at Bodega Bistro (great papaya salad and squab!) These restaurants are in the Tenderloin, which is definitely not the prettiest part of town, but we weren’t aware of any real danger there. At a friend’s suggestion we also happened upon the nearby speakeasy Bourbon and Branch, and I had the best sidecar of my life (look online for reservations/password.) We were not wowed by the dim sum at Yank Sing’s (it may have been partially our fault for coming early on a weekday, but at $130 for lunch before tax/tip, I am not ready to try again to find out.) We had Basque tapas one night at Bocadillo’s and thought the food was plenty enjoyable, but unfortunately weren’t hungry enough to try much. I think it would be worth a stop again.

    Unquestionably our favorite dinner of the trip was at the General’s Daughter in Sonoma – well worth the trip, and the cheese course should not be missed. We had some wonderful bone marrow and heart-stopping beet/goat cheese ravioli at Willi’s Wine Bar. Some dishes were a bit inconsistent, but overall we were pleased the wine selections and the small plates concept meant we didn’t waste too much money on stuff that didn’t wow us (like the Mongolian-style lamb chops.) I’d try Syrah again – we weren’t able to try the tasting menu because we had a non-chowy guest, but the chef had the best sides I’d had in some time, a great crab cake and really memorable smoked salmon. Neither of those restaurants would be too far for you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: meg944
      tanno Jun 7, 2007 08:32 PM

      I'm a big fan of Dottie's -- it's the kind of place where I'll order three or four different items at breakfast just to try a bit of many things. The last time I was there, I was finishing off my meal (some pancakes, coffee cake, an egg dish) with a ripe fruit salad, when I turned over a big half-strawberry and inside the hull noticed something moving. OK, it happens, right? Just shows the fruit was fresh. When the waitress came around to offer a refill, I showed her my tentacled little friend, and they took $1 off my bill. I'm not sure what I expected, but that sure didn't seem like a satisfactory solution.

      I'd certainly go back to Dottie's. But I probably wouldn't read the paper while I'm eating my breakfast.

    2. t
      TofuGirl May 13, 2007 06:00 PM

      We have a house in Healdsburg and pretty much know everything there. The ultra-chic places (Dry Creek Kitchen, Cyrus, Barndiva, Willie's Seafood) tend to be overpriced and unnecessary. For great moderately priced wine country food in Healdsburg, go to Manzanita, Ravenous, or Zin. Excellent Italian food a bit north at Santi in Geyserville. Terrific hole-in-the-wall Mexican food at Taqueria Guadalajara across from the McDonald's.

      7 Replies
      1. re: TofuGirl
        LikeFrogButOOOH May 17, 2007 02:20 AM

        I agree about Taqueria Guadalajara being terrific. I've heard Douglas Keane, the chef at Cyrus, mention Taqueria El Sombrero in multiple interviews as if it was some goldmine. I don't quite understand what all the fuss is about, though, and choose Guadalajara every time.

        1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH
          kare_raisu Jun 7, 2007 08:43 PM

          where is Guadalajara in relation to the square and what do you recommend?

          1. re: kare_raisu
            LikeFrogButOOOH Jun 7, 2007 09:04 PM

            Guadalajara is on your left before the main square if you're coming North and get off the freeway offramp. It's in a complex next to the gas station, I believe. To be perfectly honest, I haven't been too adventurous with the menu at Guadalajara. Between El Sombrero and Guadalajara, I always choose Guadalajara, but I don't head out to Healdsburg for Mexican food all too often. All the staples are well represented and really quite good, and I'd be curious to see what more interesting options you like there.

            1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH
              kare_raisu Jun 7, 2007 09:13 PM

              I noticed that the restaurant in Lola's off Sebastapol - offer quite a few interesting daily specials such as puerco en salsa d'arbol, chuletas en mole verde, an awesome looking cocido de res as well - have you tried here?

              1. re: kare_raisu
                LikeFrogButOOOH Jun 8, 2007 09:06 AM

                No, I totally forgot about Lola's on Sebastapol. I'll have to check it out. I went twice to La Texanita this past week and have decided to really delve into its menu. I'd love to read your report on some of those or, when I get back in town in a couple of weeks, I can do one myself.

                1. re: kare_raisu
                  Melanie Wong Jun 8, 2007 09:14 AM

                  The supervisor at the tire shop down the street recommended the soups at Lola's to me. I had something else I didn't like there, but have been meaning to go back for the cocidos. Let us know if you try it.

          2. re: TofuGirl
            kare_raisu Jun 7, 2007 08:42 PM

            I have to concur about Manzanita - I have had excellent pizzas there - and I never order pizza. The 'winemakers' prix-fixe at $29 is not to be missed! The first course of cornmeal fried oysters and pickled asparagus was not memorable but the cotlette steak with mint sauce was entrancingly addictive and the apricot-ginger bread pudding was the best dessert I have had in recency.

            Willies is really good but way overpriced.

          3. rworange Aug 25, 2006 03:01 AM

            Oh, you old sweet talker you.

            The restaurant in the Hotel Rex is Cafe Andree. I have heard good things about the breakfast there and the menu looks good, but never tried it. I did have dinner there once. It was ok, but a little busy. Not enough to make me want to go back.

            Canteen is so nearby and keeps getting lots of raves for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Haven't been yet, but it is high on my list.

            If you can, get down to Ferry Plaza Farmers market for breakfast on Saturday morning. Great pastries and vendors and a wonderful way to start the day.

            Coco500 might be worthwhile for dinner. It is on Fourth street and not terribly far from the hotel.

            1. tanno Aug 25, 2006 01:48 AM

              Those are all wonderful suggestions. Thanks. And they make me realize I've set my sights too low -- this is Chowhound! It's full of knowledge and expertise and opinions. Why would I limit my request to breakfast and lunch spots? Do I need to go back to Zuni or the Citrus Club again? No, I do not.

              So if you have favorite dinner spots in those areas, please do let me know. Our flight leaves in the morning, but I'll log on from the hotel over the weekend.

              1. c
                ChrisG Aug 22, 2006 08:42 PM

                Forget the name of the restaurant attached to the hotel, but have eaten there several times and never disappointed.
                I think it's Peruvian, and nothing in particular I can remember but good food, very reasonable.

                1. k
                  kay06 Aug 22, 2006 08:01 PM

                  definitely stop by arizmendi bakery on 9th (btw Irving and Judah) for lunch or bfast. great muffins, scones, breads and thin crust pizza (past 11am, I think). good coffee too.

                  1. c
                    chocolatetartguy Aug 22, 2006 07:43 PM

                    Not too far from the house are Win's on Judah for duck and San Tung on Irving for everything.

                    1. tanno Aug 22, 2006 01:45 PM

                      The house is at 18th Avenue between Noriega and Moraga -- I'm not sure what that area is called.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tanno
                        Robert Lauriston Aug 22, 2006 04:36 PM

                        That's a great location, there's a mostly Chinese restaurant row along Noriega from 19th to 23rd. Search for Noriega and sort by date to find recent posts.

                      2. Robert Lauriston Aug 22, 2006 03:01 AM

                        Canteen's a couple of blocks away from the Hotel Rex.

                        Where in the Sunset? That's a big area.

                        Healdsburg, check out the Downtown Bakery & Creamery, which now serves breakfast and lunch.

                        http://www.downtownbakery.net

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