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Oi vey, not another one of these...

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OK, DC Chowhound coming your way.

So, instead of asking you to pick spots for me completely out of the blue, I've created a far-reaching list complied from a wide variety of sources to which I would love your help in whittling down.

Feel free to slash and burn. I trust the consensus majority here. I've rarely been steered wrong by the hounds. I should note that I'll be in town with a group of people, so some nights we'll be expense-happy and others winging it.

One further note before dropping the list, I am originally from L.A. and am craving some good soft tacos, so any comments there are quite welcome. I have a few spots listed that might fit the bill (?).

Thanks! Here's the list:

Burger:
Burger Meister
Zuni's
Barney's
Mega Mouth
Joe's Cable Car

Italian:
Delfina
Incanto
L'Osteria del Forno
Rose Pistola (is this still good?)

Pizza:
Tommaso's
Little Star
Goat Hill
Arnelli

Breakfast:
Mama's
Dottie's
Pork Store Cafe
Campton Place
Canteen
Los Jarritos
Boulange de Polk

Chinese Dim Sum:
Ton Kiang
Dol Ho (no-frills)
Good Luck
Yank Sing

Upscale:
Jardiniere
Postrio
Michael Mina

Atmosphere:
Fog City Diner

Seafood:
Pesce
Hog Island Oyster Company
Farallon
Aqua
Pacific Cafe
Swan Oyster Depot

Moroccan:
Baraka

Steak:
Harris'
C&L
Acme Chophouse
House of Prime Rib

Mexican:
Taqueria Cancun (Burritos)
Pancho Villa Taqueria (Burritos)
El Metate (Tacos)
La Taqueria (Burritos)
Mamacita (Haute Mexican)
Mission Taco Trucks (Cheap!!!)

Late Night:
Sparky's

Coffee:
PEET'S!!! (How I miss the fresh, store-brewed joe!)
Ritual
Farley's

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  1. I think you ought to at least CONSIDER Tadich Grill (for seafood). It's just simply prepared, beautifully cooked food.

    As for soft tacos, I personally like the ones at Taqueria San Jose.

    You ought to toss Aziza on the Moroccan list, it's quite good (I'm a fan of the lamb shank).

    Try branching out the Asian influence beyond just Chinese. There are PLENTY of great places for Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, etc. all over the city. I personally like the CTM at Naan'n Curry the best for Indian, and I'm not too up to date on Vietnamese, Japanese, or Thai in the City.

    Hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!

    1. Burger and fries: Zuni
      Italian: Incanto
      Pizza: Pizzaiolo
      Breakfast: Canteen
      Upscale: DR at the Ritz
      Moroccan: Aziza
      Steak: New York
      Mexican: Southern California

      4 Replies
      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        LOL on Steak and Mexican. Just being in the state of California automatically qualifies SF as a worthy destination for Mexican. There's NOTHING here. I had a great burrito in the Mission years ago, can't remember where. And no way does NY have the monopoly on steak. All the diplomats dining here in DC at the 100-odd steak spots will bribe your vote on that one.

        1. re: biscuit

          If you have good steak in DC then youshould definitely not bother with the steak houses here. Instead, go to Incanto AND Delfina.

        2. re: Morton the Mousse

          I'm so tired I was trying to figure out where New York Restaurant was.

          I agree with Morton on all of these except for Italian I'd consider Delfina over Incanto. It's my favorite restaurant; the food is more California focused but really consistently fantastic.

          For pizza, I love Pizzaiolo but if you want to be in SF rather than Oakand (where Pizzaiolo is) I'd suggest Pizzetta 211 or A16 over your other choices.

          For seafood, I think Tadich is the best choice. Very old school but stick with the sand dabs and the cioppino and you can't go wrong. It also meets the "atmosphere" requirement.

          For upscale, The Ritz, or consider La Folie.

          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            >>> Mexican: Southern California

            God bless you for posting that.

            G

          2. Your post cut and pasted, plus my thoughts. I took out the places I don't have an opinion on, and my add-ins are in bold.

            Burger:
            Zuni's--you are aware that it's delicious but non traditional, right? Blue cheese, funny bread, not a round patty...
            Joe's Cable Car--I feel like every city in America must have a burger this good. Don't bother.
            PEARL's: the best rare buffalo burger in the city. So good, and worth a trip as it's just off Union Square. Get the fries, a freshly made shake with real ice cream, and get ready for the food coma. Specify that you want the burger rare and it'll be incredible. It'll make you never want a beef burger again. Their beef burgers are good too, but again it's like any great burger in any city.

            Italian:
            Delfina: the others on your list are fine, but Delfina is a cut above, both unique and satisfyingly familiar.

            Breakfast:
            I would do Dottie's or Canteen, followed distantly by Mama's and Washington Bar and Grill.

            Chinese Dim Sum:
            Ton Kiang--never
            Dol Ho (no-frills):eh, I'm not a fan
            Good Luck
            Yank Sing--never ever

            Upscale:
            Of your list I'd go to Jardiniere, but for upscale in the city I can think of dozens of places I'd go to before any of those. Any particular reason they appealed to you?

            Seafood:
            Pesce--very good. Italian tapas. Unique style, good food, not too $$. Friendly staff.
            Hog Island Oyster Company--fun, lively, of course great oysters.
            Farallon--overhyped, beautifully decorated, $$$$

            Moroccan:
            I'd do Aziza (mid-range) or Tajine (divey) any time. Tajine is an INCREDIBLE value and I've yet to find another place that has such delicious food at such low prices. You can eat for $15 for dinner, easy.

            Mexican:
            Taqueria Cancun (Burritos)
            Pancho Villa Taqueria (Burritos)
            El Metate (Tacos)
            La Taqueria (Burritos)
            Mamacita (Haute Mexican)
            Mission Taco Trucks (Cheap!!!)

            Late Night:
            Sparky's

            Coffee:
            PEET'S!!! (How I miss the fresh, store-brewed joe!)
            Ritual (you MUST MUST MUST go to Ritual Roasters!)
            Farley's
            Consider Blue Bottle if you're in the Hayes Valley or Ferry Building farmers market on Saturday.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Pei

              Thanks for the recs. Now my list is getting longer, instead of shorter! Haha.

              I had a feeling about Zuni's burger. I saw a comparison to L.A.'s Campanile, so I could see that. The upscale spots were ones I found that seem to keep popping up. Probably because they have a lot of buzz around them, but we know that's not always good. If you have more, I'm list-ready.

              1. re: biscuit

                If you're willing to shell out Michael Mina prices ($100+ just for food), go to The Ritz Carlton Dining Room for a four hour eating marathon. The food is of course French, but with a significant Japanese twist.

                Speaking of upscake Japanese, Ame is newish and delicious, but very spendy. I think it's also a fairly new/unique concept, sort of the opposite of The Ritz (Japanese with a slight French twist instead of French with a Japanese twist).

                1. re: Pei

                  Don't think I'll be able to get a group to go for a four-hour marathon, but we will definitely have an expense account meal or two. Ame sounds great.

              2. re: Pei

                I'd go out of my way for Blue Bottle - but that's just me... One of the best lattes I've ever had.

              3. I'd substitute A16 and/or Capannina for Osteria and/or Rose Pistola.

                1. C&L for steak is no more.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: NoeMan

                    is c and L steak gone for good? i heard a lot about it, and did want to try the chicago steak with the new orleans side, sounded like an interesting concept, and sf isn't really much of a great steakhouse town to my knowledge (i'm of course bypassing chain steakkhouses (like chris and mortons), and tad's and house of prime rib).

                    1. re: kevin

                      The Web site says they'll reopen in a new location.

                      http://www.aqua-sf.com/cnl/

                  2. Yank Sing is really, really, really bad. And being overpriced just adds insult to injury. Try Koi Palace in Daly City -- ain't cheap either, but there's a reason the Chinese grandmas are elbowing you out of a place in line.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: sumi

                      The reasons I don't tell more tourists to head to Koi Palace are it's far and CROWDED. You have to wake up early, find a way to get to Daly Cit 20-25 minutes away, stand in line, eat, and then get back to the city. Basically your entire morning and early afternoon are gone. Since there's no good dim sum in DC, I think Gold Mountain, Lychee Garden, Y. Ben House (CHEAP and crazy filled with old people), would all satisfy.

                      1. re: sumi

                        I eat at Yank Sing several times a year and the food's really good. Some people really hate the place with a passion but do they eat there often enough to know the menu well?

                        But someplace like Y Ben House is probably more fun.

                        1. re: sumi

                          I don't think the food at Yank Sing could be characterized as "bad." It may not be completely authentic dim sum and you may dislike the "commercialization" of the dim sum there, but the food is not bad. That's like saying Slanted Door's food is bad. It's not, it's just that it may not be everyone's cup of tea.

                          1. re: farmersdaughter

                            I can't imagine that any chowhound who loves traditional dim sum would complain about Yank Sing's turnip cake, taro dumplings, or custard tarts if you could somehow magically transport them hot and fresh to a place like Y Ben House.

                        2. Burger:
                          Burger Meister (the Cole Valley location is da bomb. And don't forget to order a malt)

                          Italian:
                          Delfina

                          Pizza:
                          Little Star (the juke box rocks)

                          Breakfast:
                          Canteen

                          Chinese Dim Sum:
                          Yank Sing

                          Upscale:
                          Michael Mina

                          Atmosphere:
                          Frisson (it's like dinning on a Star Trek set)

                          Seafood:
                          Hog Island Oyster Company (mainly because you get to go to the Ferry Building to eat here)

                          Moroccan:
                          Aziza

                          Steak:
                          House of Prime Rib (I love the "Meat Zepplin" that they roll around the joint)

                          Mexican:
                          Colibri

                          Late Night:
                          Taqueria Cancun

                          1. I see everyone ignored Fog City Diner and I agree. Maybe for drinks but the food was at its peak about 15 years ago. The same group runs Bix which is close by and loaded with atmosphere and good food. I just posted about the marrow bones but everything I have had there is really good, a bit on the expensive side, especially with cocktails or wine added in. For a double dose of atmosphere, a drink at FCD and then the Tadich for seafood and old SF style.

                            1. You gotta put Blue Bottle on the list for the coffee! Especially if you like freshly brewed joe. Each regular coffee is individually made via drip cones.

                              Other suggestions:

                              Taco: La Altena (al pastor) also open late night

                              Late night: El Farolito

                              Pizza: Pizzetta 211

                              Upscale: Nix Postrio (waaay past its prime) and add Myth or something

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: celeste

                                Ditto on Blue Bottle. I was waaaaaaay sceptical about it, being a fanatic fan of Mr. Peet's, but I have had two cups of BB coffee at the Saturday Berkeley Farmers' Market and am now a convert. I still love Peet's, but BB is actually better...and I haven't even been able to score beans yet. They're always sold out before I arrive.

                                Add my vote for Taddich as well (keept it simple, though - avoid their Crab Diablo or whatever it's called - saucy dish served in ramekin - blah).

                                I also love Incanto and A-16.

                                In addition, be aware that Canteen, although it'd be on my best breakfast in SF list, does not have a huge selection of items - I think there are 4 or 5 choices. Their lattes are also fab.

                                1. re: oakjoan

                                  >haven't even been able to score beans yet. They're always sold out before I arrive.

                                  Call BB on the phone on Fri. or email them and they will reserve whatever beans you want. Easy as that.

                              2. Burger:
                                Zuni - nothing to do with buzz, it's just a damned superior burger, with the best pickles in the world. I've never had it with blue cheese. The only thing not traditional about it is that it's served on foccacia rather than a bun.

                                Italian:
                                Incanto or Pizzaiolo
                                L'Osteria del Forno is great if you're on a tight budget but it's kind of a funny place; no pasta except baked

                                Pizza:
                                A16, Pizzaiolo, or Tommaso's
                                Little Star only if there's no good Chicago deep-dish in DC

                                Atmosphere:
                                Tadich
                                Fog City Diner's a tourist trap

                                Moroccan:
                                Aziza or Tajine

                                Steak:
                                why waste a meal on steak? can't you get that in DC?

                                Mexican:
                                taco trucks or Taqueria San Jose

                                Late Night:
                                Nopa (1am)
                                Wooden Charcoal BBQ (3am)
                                Sparky's - nothing special diner

                                Coffee:
                                Blue Bottle

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  good point. steak nixed. i am salivating right now over that Zuni burger. sounds magnifico!

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Is it true that the burger is available only during lunch and late at night?

                                    1. re: Tobias

                                      Right. Before 6pm and after 10pm.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        And after 10pm even though it's not on the menu, they'll still make it? I've only ever had it at lunch, when it's clearly on the menu.

                                        1. re: Frosty Melon

                                          Yes.

                                  2. You're in for some treats. I lived in DC for a bit and missed SF restaurants terribly.

                                    Skip the Boulange and all the other Boulanges in SF. They are similar to Patisserie Poupon in Georgetown, and I think that Poupon is better.

                                    You can include the Tadich Grill, as suggested above, for a comparison of seafood in SF vs. seafood at Johnny's Halfshell in DC.

                                    Canteen didn't do much for me, although I haven't been there for breakfast. I would keep Dottie's or Mama's on your list since there is nothing like those in DC.

                                    As for Mexican, stick to tacos and burritos. My favorite tacos are at Taqueria San Jose for the al pastor (pork) and the carne asada and chorizo tacos at La Taqueria. Don't miss a Mission burrito either since there is nothing like that in DC.

                                    Visit the Ferry Building too for a fun experience.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Mari

                                      Tadich Grill is great for the atmosphere and overall experience, but no way is it the place to go to experience the best seafood in the SF area.

                                      1. re: Mari

                                        Done! Thanks! Ferry building sounds awesome. I am hoping to make it over there.

                                      2. Well I have enjoyed their cioppino and sourdough.

                                        1. I don't understand why Aquerello is so rarely mentioned. It is, together with Delfina, the best italian restaurant in SF.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: mc2

                                            I like Acquerello, and the prix fixe with wine pairing's a great high-end value, but to me it's more French-Italian fusion.

                                            I prefer the more straight-up Italian of Incanto.

                                          2. Baraka isn't Moroccan although they have a few Moroccan-influenced things on the menu. It's okay but a bit pricey for what it is. Go with Azziza.

                                            You can also do better than Goat Hill Pizza. Consider Pizzeria Delfina and Paulines for your list.

                                            The carne asada soft tacos at Pancho Villa, already on your list, are good.

                                            1. Burger:
                                              No opinion on this, though I do like Burgermeiester burger and was jealously guarding my Oola burger.

                                              Italian:
                                              Delfina - fantastic
                                              Incanto - also fantastic but for a more adventurous group. My bf doesn't eat any type of offal and always only can choose from one or two items of each course.

                                              Pizza:
                                              Little Star - very good, just had my first one a few days ago. However, it is Chicago-style, which is great and something there is little done well of in SF. But I would guess that DC probably also has a Chicago-style place. I would go to
                                              Paulines - great pizza with very CA style toppings, I usually just get whatever thier vegetarian special of the day is and love it.

                                              Breakfast:
                                              Tartine for pastries/quiche/bread pudding
                                              Canteen
                                              I think the other breakfast places, while good, are no better than good breakfast places in any city in the US.

                                              Chinese Dim Sum:
                                              Ton Kiang - I like for parents
                                              Dol Ho (no-frills)
                                              Good Luck - if Dol Ho is no frills, this has even less. It is more a bakery counter than a restaurant though there are tables in the back. I like it more to grab and take with me to a friend's house than for eating there.
                                              Yank Sing - never been. I think the board's virulent disaproval has seeped into my psyche. That said, I still think I need to break free and try it for myself.

                                              I would add Mayflower to this list. It is near Ton Kiang, but the food is better. You do generally have to wait in line, but they have a number system (get a number from the host). They have both trays being brought around and a menu you can order from if you have specific items you crave.

                                              Moroccan:
                                              Aziza - my favorite place in the city for a few years now. People from out of town are always shocked and thrilled by how great the food is at such an affordable price. Terrific value, but even when the company is paying, this food is worth heading deep into the Richmond for.
                                              Tajine is very good if you want an inexpensive place to do lunch.

                                              Steak:
                                              House of Prime Rib - I would imagine that most cities have something like this (Lawry's in LA but with the side dishes included). But if DC has nothing like that, I have to admit how much I love this place. A few of my guy friends make it their birthday dinner every year, and I have been known to have one or two of my own there. The martinis are great and come in shaker, the fire in the bar area is a great place to wait and all you have to choose is how you want your prime rib cut, and whether you want baked or mashed potatos.

                                              1. My list is finally getting shorter, thanks to your wonderful comments. I always remembered SF as being one of those places that always had some of the most memorable meals I've ever had. I only wish I had a month to go to all the places you've suggested. It'll probably end up we make to 5-10 of them. I dumped steaks because yes, I can get them here and yes, it is a waste of an otherwise great meal.

                                                Maybe what I should have posted was what are the must-have quintessential SF dining experiences.

                                                Burger:
                                                Zuni's (foodie burger)
                                                Burger Meister
                                                Barney's
                                                Pearl's (Buffalo)

                                                Italian:
                                                Delfina
                                                Incanto
                                                A16
                                                Capannina

                                                Pizza:
                                                Tommaso's
                                                Little Star
                                                Arnelli

                                                Breakfast:
                                                Dottie's
                                                Canteen
                                                Mama's

                                                Chinese Dim Sum:
                                                Ton Kiang
                                                Mayflower

                                                Spendy:
                                                Michael Mina
                                                Jardiniere
                                                Postrio
                                                Gary Danko

                                                Seafood:
                                                Tadich
                                                Pesce
                                                Hog Island Oyster Company
                                                Aqua
                                                Pacific Cafe
                                                Swan Oyster Depot

                                                Moroccan:
                                                Aziza
                                                Tajine

                                                Mexican:
                                                Taqueria Cancun (Burritos)
                                                Pancho Villa Taqueria (Burritos)
                                                El Metate (Tacos)
                                                La Taqueria (Burritos)
                                                Mamacita (Haute Mexican)
                                                Mission Taco Trucks (Cheap!!!)

                                                Late Night:
                                                Sparky's

                                                Coffee:
                                                PEET'S!!!
                                                Ritual
                                                Farley's
                                                Blue Bottle

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: biscuit

                                                  An enviable list, to be sure. I can't wait til you report back (you'd bette!).

                                                2. By Arnelli you mean Arinell? Some homesick New Yorkers find it comforting, but surely you've got some mediocre NY-style slice pizza in DC?

                                                  Similar story with Sparky's.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Yup -- typo. Thanks. And just like that, the list gets even shorter. Yeah, I'm not even really sure I need to eat pizza in SF, since I go up to NY a couple of times a year and eat some of the best the country has to offer.

                                                    1. re: biscuit

                                                      Certainly no reason to try the NY or Chicago style pizza here. It would be worthwhile to try Cali style pizza, though it would require a trip to the East Bay for Pizzaiolo or Cafe at Chez Panisse.

                                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                        Great New York style pizza at Gaspare's on Geary near 20th.

                                                      2. re: biscuit

                                                        RL: Have you had DiFara's in Brooklyn? Screw Arinell. Right around the corner from it in Berkeley is Pie in the Sky on Center. Heads above Arinell.

                                                        1. re: AJL

                                                          Absolutely:

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

                                                    2. If it's quintessential you're after, your list might be leaning in a slightly wrong
                                                      direction. It's pretty heavy on the trendy and expensive side -- most of your
                                                      Italian, Breakfast, Moroccan, Spendy, and Fish places either didn't exist 5 years ago or
                                                      won't exist in another 5 years or both (exaggerating slightly, I know ...). Nothing
                                                      bad about any of them, but they could just as well be anywhere.

                                                      You're missing chinatown, north beach, and both upper and lower haight.
                                                      Lots of eating gets done in these places. Lots of it the sort of eating
                                                      you cannot do in DC.

                                                      For Italian, I'd go to North Beach, hit the Trieste for coffee, Mario's Bohemian
                                                      Cigar Store for a house campari, and then either L'Osteria del Forno or
                                                      Da Flora. Drinks afterwards at either Vesuvio or Specs.

                                                      Breakfast at the Pork Store on upper Haight. All the hippiness nostalgia aside, upper
                                                      Haight in the early morning is a very special place. The chill, the eucalyptus, the
                                                      diffuse light.

                                                      Sparky's is terrible, but you only go there for a 3am powerup before hitting the End
                                                      Up and you're drunk and famished. Raise your hand if you know what Sparky's looks
                                                      like straight? Anyway, if you're all of those things at that time, then go. Otherwise
                                                      maybe not.

                                                      I love Farley's cafe, but the coffee is bad. Go for the scene but don't get your hopes up
                                                      about the coffee. Peet's has spread to Boston, so you don't have to come all the way
                                                      out here for a dose.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                        Agreed on Sparky's...really does not belong on any "must" list for SF. Late night is a tough area here...It's Tops (Market & Octavia) is much better for that time period I think, though not really worth patronizing otherwise.

                                                        1. re: Frosty Melon

                                                          If you're looking for a more interesting late night place..perhaps the Grubstake would meet your needs!

                                                          http://www.sfgrubstake.com/

                                                      2. With the caveat that it's been over a year since I've been to Mayflower, I'd have to say that S&T Seafood's dim sum is much better. However, you order from a menu for hot from the kitchen plates rather than circulating trays or carts. Here's a current report
                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
                                                        and if you check the referenced earlier link, you'll find the image of the menu (if you want to study up!).

                                                        1. Burger:
                                                          Mo's Burgers

                                                          Italian:
                                                          Quince

                                                          Pizza:
                                                          Pizzetta 211

                                                          Breakfast:
                                                          Mama's on Washington Sq.

                                                          Chinese Dim Sum:
                                                          Yank Sing

                                                          Upscale:
                                                          Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton

                                                          Atmosphere:
                                                          ??? certainly not Fog City Diner

                                                          Seafood:
                                                          Pesce

                                                          Moroccan:
                                                          Who cares???

                                                          Steak:
                                                          Harris'

                                                          Mexican:
                                                          La Taqueria (Burritos)

                                                          Late Night:
                                                          Bagdad Cafe

                                                          Coffee:
                                                          Caffe Trieste

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Paul H

                                                            Thanks!

                                                          2. Cannot recommend Farallon. Very disappointing experience, all butter and salt, no real food flavor.

                                                            1. So what I guess I really should be asking you guys is which 3 or 4 places would you pick for breakfast, lunch and dinner (overall total about 12 spots, if we even make it to that many).

                                                              I love doing this, btw. This fine-tuning technique has rarely failed me.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: biscuit

                                                                I have to add another encouragement to go to Pizetta 211. It's a great place and will get you out to a part of town you don't have on your list.

                                                                Dottie's, Mama's, and Canteen are all excellent places for breakfast, but keep in mind that they are very very small and extremely popular. Don't even think of going on a weekend unless you get there a few minutes before you open. Otherwise, you will be standing out on the sidewalk and could be in for a very long wait.

                                                                Avoid Zuni if you have any desire to carry on a conversation with your dining companions. The place is loud enough to cause permanent damage to your hearing. I've had their hamburger and it's just a hamburger.

                                                                I would add Katia's Russian Tea Room if you have any interest in Russian food. Great place, reasonable prices.

                                                                Go to Farallon for a drink. You can't beat the decor/atmosphere.

                                                                1. re: Bay Gelldawg

                                                                  Some of Zuni's rooms are loud, some aren't. For a quiet dinner, specify a table in the back room upstairs or alcove over the kitchen. The really loud tables are the ones near to the bar.

                                                              2. I hate Tomasso's. My favorite pizza in SF is Pizza Orgasmica's Cornmeal crust.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: SamuelA.L.

                                                                  What specifically bothers you about Tommaso's?

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    I'm just not a big fan of their crust. Some people like that kind of smokey thick crust, but I don't. I'm a Neapolitian pizza guy.

                                                                    1. re: SamuelA.L.

                                                                      There are thicker crusts around than Tommaso's, but it's not as thin as in New York or Naples.

                                                                      NOPA's "flatbread" is one of the thinnest-crust pizzas in town.

                                                                2. Have you tried Nick's Crispy Tacos near Polk and Broadway. I just tried their soft tacos last weekend. Yum! They have a triple soft taco basket, one each of beef, chicken, and fish.

                                                                  1. I moved from DC about a year ago, so thought I might offer some advice re. what you can't get there.

                                                                    Burger and Fries: I do like the one at Zuni. Usually end up getting the anchovies and roast chicken, though. Try Taylor's Automatic Refresher at the Ferry Building for a burger. And the bar at the W has a good burger, too.

                                                                    Mexican: Carnitas Burrito at La Taqueria. Maya (sister to NYC outpost) and Mamacita are good for more concept Mex. There is no real mid-range Tex-Mex a la Austin Grill. I would also consider getting the fresh pork rinds at one of the Mexica-Tessens in the Mission as a snack.

                                                                    Italian: Checkered tablecloth place: The Nob Hill Cafe has delicious lasagna and a real raw-egg and anchovy caesar. For the higher end, try Delfina or Acquerello. And though not really Italian, CAV wine bar makes its own salames which are quite good.

                                                                    Steak: Really, don't bother. DC is stuffed to the gills with that. The rec. for the Prime Rib, though, is a good one. It's a very funny and old-fashioned ritualistic event. And the prix-fixe is a great deal, actually.

                                                                    Pizza: Pauline's is good for Cal-style pizza. Nicky's Rustic Pizzeria is also very good. Owner used to work at the Inn at Little Washington. He is also the Nick of Nick's Crispy tacos next door, but I like the pizza better. Very nice crunchy thicker (but not doughy) crust--different than the NY-style crispy and thin. There is no slice like the NY slice here. Za on Hyde street is pretty close, though.

                                                                    Atmosphere: Tadich Grill is a good rec. Fun and old-fashioned. But Frisson is a good rec. too. It is, indeed, like eating in a spaceship. If they have the oxtail ravioli in the celeriac and parsnip soup, get it. They also have a separate bar menu, so ask for that as well. And for pure kitsch value, there's nothing in DC like The Tonga Room. It's a Tiki bar with a floating lounge band. Get the Bora Bora Horror and skip the food. And I would definitely get a drink at Farallon. The blown glass sea-creature light fixtures are really something. And for the exact opposite, Zeitgeist's back "patio" is a great place to get a bloody mary and a sunburn on a sunny afternoon.

                                                                    Upscale: I am fond of Jardiniere, Fleur de Lys, and DR at the Ritz-Carlton. And Rubicon.

                                                                    Chinatown: I would take a stroll up Stockton and buy some spices to take home. Great prices on things like star anise, peppercorns, and sesame seeds. Haven't tried enough of the Dim Sum places to give you a good read. For quick take-out, Yee's and Gourmet Delight are both good for the barbecued meats, and Golden Gate Bakery for turnovers and custard buns.

                                                                    Coffee: Ritual. Phillz. My last Peet's was burned. Bleah.

                                                                    Brunch/Breakfast: Zuni is also open for breakfast (from 7:30 am). I would skip Dottie's. It's a gross little dive with a constant line out the door in a definitely not tasty 'hood. Ti Couz for crepes (delicious bloody marys too) which are a thing here in SF as is not so much the case in DC (crepes, I mean). Miss Millie's is also good (breakfast only on weekends). Sear's is good for a high-quality standard sausage-and-pancakes breakfast. And I would try Citizen Cake, too, if only to get a german chocolate cookie.

                                                                    And last but not least, Seafood: Zuni, Hog Island, and Swan are all good for oysters. You can get a good piece of halibut or tuna tartare at almost any of the high-end places. Had a lovely piece of halibut at Hawthorne Lane recently. Aqua is also a very good bet. General notes: dungeness crabs are far tougher and blander than blue crabs, IMHO, so skip them. You'd do better at Cantler's at home. Similarly, unless you are in a really great place, skip the scallops and the shrimp since they're more of an Atlantic thing. So actually, I generally avoid the whole cioppino thing.

                                                                    Hope this doesn't confuse you more!

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Sallie

                                                                      Zuni's hasn't served breakfast for a while. Opens at 11:30 Tuesday-Saturday, 11am Sunday.

                                                                      http://www.opentable.com/rest_profile...

                                                                      1. re: Sallie

                                                                        Unfortunately, Miss Millie's closed.

                                                                        1. re: Mari

                                                                          It's in the process of relocating to Rockridge.

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

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            Thank goodness Miss Millie's still lives! Clearly I don't get out for breakfast often enough anymore.

                                                                        2. re: Sallie

                                                                          Thank you. Great feedback. I had Dottie's at the top of the list for breakfast. Consensus kept kicking it up to the top.

                                                                          I passed around my list today at work. I suggested Tadich or Yank Sing tomorrow night since it's close to our hotel. One respondee is leaning towards Mamacita's or Swan for Wed. Another suggested Cha Cha Cha. Is this the same as the chain in L.A.?

                                                                          I am craving some good Mexican, but I suppose I can wait until I go to L.A. in December.

                                                                          1. re: biscuit

                                                                            Swan Oyster Depot closes at 5:30.

                                                                            Cha Cha Cha's maybe OK as a bar, not for a good meal. Does it have any connection with the place in LA?

                                                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
                                                                            http://chachacha.citysearch.com/page/...

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              Thanks for the heads up on Swan. I had a feeling on Cha Cha. Judging from the pictures, I'd say it's unrelated to the L.A. version.

                                                                        3. As a former DC resident, i would suggest that for pizza you try little star. Normally, I would say Pauline's is the best in the city, with super fresh ingredients and delicious crust, but it reminds me too much of Pizzeria Paradiso, so I think you might appreciate trying something a little different. Little Star not only has good pizza, but also a kick ass jukebox and cheap drinks.

                                                                          1. Just noticed while riding the streetcar that the windows on Sparky's are covered with paper. Looks like they are closed. May be temporary for renovation or whatever, but check before heading out there.

                                                                            As others have said, the only thing Sparky's has going for it is its late hours. It is a shame that so few places stay open late.

                                                                            1. OK, so I learned a pretty valuable lesson here. Don't expect a large group of people to follow your lead, no matter how in-the-know you present yourself.

                                                                              As most people aren't chowish, it should have been more obvious to me that some people wouldn't care at all where they eat. Others might have followed my lead if I was pushy enough. And the final rule, always give in easily if your boss is around.

                                                                              That said, I did end up making it to a few of the spots on the list. The best day, of course, was the one I spent on my own, exploring the city and eating where I wanted to.

                                                                              Tuesday evening:
                                                                              Got in around 6 or so and connected with some of the others in the group for dinner. They turned to me and I recommended Tadich Grill, which ended up being a great choice. The group didn't mind waiting 30 minutes, so that was a plus. We got our table and dug into the wonderful house bread. Some in the group ordered wine, which was acceptably good. 2 of us ordered the Cioppino, which was the best I've had. It was full of rich, tomato-spicy goodness on top of a grand heap of fresh seafood. Someone else ordered the scallops and she seemed happy with her order.

                                                                              Wednesday for lunch my boss was with our group and we all agreed to go to Mamacita's, which was unfortunately closed. My boss had lived in the Marina before, so he suggested a place called Bechelli's, which looked pretty scary to me. I spotted A16 across the street, so I immediately tried to sway everyone over. They hemmed and hawed, but ultimately gave in. We went in, sat down and looked over the limited lunch menu. My boss started making disapproval groans and suggested we leave. I wasn't about to complain, so we got up and went to Bechelli's. Ugh. Bad choice. Lousy food. If it matters, I had greasy eggs and chewy chicken apple sausage. And I could have eaten at A16. Squid ink pasta! Oh well, what can you do?

                                                                              Wednesday night we were at a party, so it got pretty late by the time we were going to eat dinner. At this point I was too fed up to make any more suggestions, so when someone said North Beach, I said fine. I just didn't care anymore. I had been to Rose Pistola and thought it decent, but I knew where we were going. I had been there a few times already. Calzone's. Need I say more? It was awful. I had some luke-warm chicken and asparagus ribbon pasta disaster. I should have put up a fight. Again, oh well.

                                                                              Thursday lunch not worth mentioning. Got late again for dinner and met up with one of the more agreeable members of the group. While waiting for him in the lobby, my boss showed up out of the blue. I asked him if he wanted to come along. We were going to walk to Taqueria Cancun. I had no idea what to expect. The area we were walking through was getting a little dicey, but we were having a good time. When we got in front of T.C., it was super divey and I was like "oops." It would have been OK for some 3am drunk food, but not for a dinner with the boss, who incidentally was dressed to the nines. Once again, he took charge and suggested we go over to the Union Square area to a Thai place he knew of from the dot com era. We ended up at B & O Trading Company. The meal was decent, but felt sort of chain-like. I was unadventurous and ordered the Shrimp Pad Thai, which was fresh and invigorating, an a nice suprise. I know had a little more faith now in my boss' taste.

                                                                              Friday, my last day, I only had time for breakfast and lunch and had to space them out somewhat. I got up fairly early and headed over to Canteen. I expected long lines, but there were none. I sat down immediately. Ordered some coffee and the peach pancakes. Very good, if a little bland. The pancake itself was the best part -- eggy and fluffy with an almost crepe-like texture, supported by the sour creamy topping and fresh peaches. A nice, if not "anything special" meal.

                                                                              Later walked down to the Ferry Building, where my senses went into overdrive. All the sights and smells! A real epicurean's delight! Settled down with a fine cup of Peet's brew to pass the time before lunch. Got up and walked around. Couldn't find Hog Island, which was my destination, but spotted The Slanted Door, which I hadn't realized was at the Ferry Building. I looked over the menu and decided I'd be better suited at Hog Island and to go find it. I did and was rewarded with the best meal of my trip. Started off with their great house bread and Ceylon ice tea. My Kumamoto oysters showed up, looking small, but lovely. The creamy taste and texture of these morsels was sinfully divine. I dunked one or two in the vinegar dressing, but backed off on those succeeding, so I could get the rich, full flavor of the ocean. All in all, the best oysters I've ever had. Period. And I've lived near the sea all of my life. Next up was the clam chowder, which was also the best I've ever had. Tangy and sharp with fresh clams-in-shell, a boquet of aromatic herbs and a rich, buttery base, it woke me up and put a big, satisfied smile on my face. A beautiful, beautiful meal and a nice way to close my trip.

                                                                              Thanks again for all your advice and suggestions. Next time I'll come out with my gf and we'll go wherever our chowish hearts desire.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: biscuit

                                                                                Oh dear. Dragged out of A16. Painful.

                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                  i can relate to be vetoed on my restaurant recs, only to go to a tourist trap, with a "nice atmosphere", and saccaharinely bad food.

                                                                              2. Oops. There are three Taqueria Can-Cun's. It looks like you hit the one on
                                                                                6th and Market? On behalf of all local chowhounds, I deeply apologize.
                                                                                We should have noted that the correct one is at 19th and Mission. Do
                                                                                not go to the 6th and Market location. (But sadly, you were at that moment,
                                                                                less than 50 feet from the legendary Tu Lan which, sketchy-seeming as it
                                                                                may be, is cranking out the best bbq pork and imperial rolls around
                                                                                and is so much better than B&O there's just no comparison ... Next time.)

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                  No worries. It added color and entertainment to the adventure of finding somewhere to dine. Good fun, really.

                                                                                  Sorry we missed Tu Lan then! Sounds great.

                                                                                2. I haven't been in SF for the last couple of years, but I'm wondering why Masa's didn't make your list -- the best meal I ever had in this town. Has something changed?

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                    Ron Siegel moved to the Dining Room at the Ritz.