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SF Must Tries

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My husband and I are visiting SF for a week in October. We are on something of a budget but would like to splurge once and try a fabulous, landmark restaurant. For us a splurge is a main course of around $30-35. A good, varied wine list is also important to us.
We both love Italian, Spanish/Basque, Thai. There is nothing we really don't like, although my husband is not crazy over raditional French cooking. Some places I have heard of and would like opinions on - Zuni, Slanted Door, Absinthe, Gary Dankos. Are any of these worthwhile?
Also, we are staying in North Beach. Any place there we should definitely try?
I am a new Chowhound, so I am sorry if I am totally going over old ground but I would really appreciate any advice! Thanks!

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  1. Hi Claire, ideas for a couple places that you can walk to from North Beach.

    Piperade - French Basque, excellent value
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    Helmand - Afghan, $10 lunch buffet is a great deal and sampling
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    And, if you'll be here Saturday, Oct. 7, please join us in Golden Gate Park for the Chowing with the Hounds picnic. You can sign up here -
    http://www.evite.com/pages/invite/vie...

    More information -
    http://chowingwiththehounds.com/picni...

    I peeked at your My Chow to find out where you're from. Texas bbq on the potluck table would be very welcome!

    1. I currently reside in the Bay Area (I will be moving to L.A. soon) where there are many great restaurants within your price range. I absolutely adore Gary Danko however, the least expensive menu is $41 for 3 courses. It then becomes $65 for 4 courses & $85 for 5: nevertheless, a superb dining experience not to be missed.

      For Italian, try Dopo on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. A diminutive menu, 3 appetizers/3 main courses/3-6 different pizza styles, all ingredients are freshly purchased that morning, prepared and served. Very authentic in style and flavor.

      Spanish: Cesar: located next door to Chez Panisse, this is one of the best meals for the money. Cesar displays one of the most prolific wine and spirits list in the bay area. Many sommeliers and wine professionals are awed by the list. If you go, inquire about the black book.

      Slanted door resides in the ferry building on the Embarcadero and is just lovely. You will not go wrong .

      In North beach try A16 in the Marina by Fort Mason. For lunch try Lo Cubano.

      Other restaurants to consider are Myth, Bay Wolf, Aqua, Boulevard, and of course Chez Panisse..........

      Enjoy, the food is great...........

      1. Zuni.

        Not so thrilled about Danko. Do a search on Danko and you will see positives and negatives and you can decide if it is what is good for you. There are certain recommended dishes there.

        I'd go to Zuni.

        1. i suggest to musts ... first is boulette's larder in the ferry terminal (which is also a must) i think it might be open only for lunch & then of course, zuni

          1. Coco500 is amazing.
            Limon is great also.

            Both are on OpenTable.com, so you can make reservations online.

            1. Incanto (http://incanto.biz ) never ceases to amaze...

              1. I know I am going to get flamed for saying this but if you can deal with a noisy dining room, then I say go to Slanted Door if you can get in, if not, sitting at the bar is fine. Some highlights, the yellowtail sashimi, spring rolls, caramelized prawns. I think the food is very fresh, and solid from appetizer to dessert.