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Coming to SF mid Oct

My wife and I are coming to SF Oct 16-21, and will be staying on Van Ness near Fisherman's Wharf. We will be without a car so looking for cheaper eats around that area. Burritos, Seafood, sushi, local places we need to go to???

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  1. Nothing around that area is going to be super cheap, but you can take a bus adventure to other areas - or a cable car if you don't mind paying the fare. It's hard to find cheaper foods around the more popular sights in San Francisco. If you don't mind wandering, try the Mission for burritos or, if you are truly adventurous, the Tenderloin area for excellent Indian food. Be aware, though, this is kind of a dicey part of town, so don't go if you're nervous and stay away at night.

    Hayes Valley is down Van Ness about a mile and has a bunch of nice little restaurants and great boutique shops. There are busses that run straight down Van Ness. You can get off at City Hall and check that out, too. It's beautiful inside. In Hayes Valley, if you're in the mood to pretend that you're in Chicago, Moishe's is great for huge deli sandwiches and Patxi is perfect for deep dish pizza. If not, Flipper's is excellent for extensive burger options and has an outside patio. Frjtz has inexpesive crepes and excellent Belgian french Fries with a patio, as well. There's a new place called Cafe Grillade that is good, albeit kind of chain-y feeling. Arlequin Cafe has excellent sandwiches and a super secret huge back patio. They also have a wine shop. The owners are very nice and helpful and the wine prices are surprisingly reasonable. All of these places are on Hayes Street between Franklin and Laguna - about 3 blocks. Very convenient if you want choices for food and fun shopping. Your wife will die for the shoes on this street. They're too expensive for me, but great for window shopping. Try Haseena on Hayes between Laguna Octavia and Laguna for affordable, cute clothes.

    1. As far as food, the north end of Van Ness is a mostly good neighborhood to get out of. Not a great place for a food-lover to stay.

      1. What they said. The only good thing I can think of in that area is In N Out, which is not unique to San Francisco, and anyway is in the heart of the tourist madness. On the other hand, if you've never had an In N Out burger, you should definitely give that a try -- it's FAR superior to McDo and BK.

        2 Replies
        1. re: dunstable

          In-N-Out is a Los Angeles-based chain. It's the kind of hamburger you might make at home if you bought your ingredients at a supermarket and didn't have a charcoal grill.

        2. There is one good place north on Van Ness called Ya-ya. I think it's iraqi. It's unique and very good and not too pricy ($12-18 for an entree). Check it out and let us know what you think.

          2 Replies
            1. re: Jakubo

              I think this is the reincarnation of the old YaYa around 9th Avenue. I had the best braised lamb shank there I've ever had in a restaurant. I remember that the posts for the new place were as Melanie says.

            2. Sad to say, I agree with the poster who said its a neighborhood to get out of food-wise (and in other respects as well). Try to get out into the Mission, lower Haight, Inner Richmond... lots of suggestions for those neighborhoods on here.

              1. Oh come on now, you folks need to come out to this neck of the woods sometime. True, Fisherman's Wharf is a culinary wasteland, but Van Ness is very near to both Polk St. and Chestnut St. If one doesn't want to schlep out to the Mission, there is a good burrito place on Chestnut near Filmore (can't think of the name, sorry) - on Steiner between Chestnut and Lombard there about a zillion places including Isa (one of my very faves, though not cheap) and Asqew (which I've not tried but have been told it is good). I wouldn't recommend Izzy's though, had a horrid meal there. A16 is a short hop down Chestnut. I don't frequent Polk, but very much enjoyed Yabbie's Coastal Kitchen which is out here on the north end. If I were staying in this area and wanted to walk rather than deal with Muni, I'd give all of these serious consideration - and would go to Isa for sure!

                13 Replies
                1. re: dinnerout

                  Exactly. Do I need to put smiley faces on everything? I agree. We are not talking outer Siberia. Please let us know where exactly you are staying.

                  Polk Street is one block away. There are great eats there. There are good reasonable eats in Fisherman's Wharf. You are not far from Chestnut or Union Streets. You are near North Beach. San Francisco is VERY cab-able, especially if you are staying, where I suspect, near Lombard.

                  I can't imagine that you will be tied to your hotel. Where will you be visiting and we can give you good recs near those areas. If nothing else, walk one block up to Polk, take a bus down that VERY chow-able street or ask about Polk Street recs in a separate poste.

                  1. re: rworange

                    A16 is as far away as North Beach.

                    Polk Street is a block away from Van Ness, but the north end of Polk is as dead as the north end of Van Ness.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      At the risk of getting deleted again, let's hear where they are staying. That hotel at Lombard is not that far away from EVERYTHING. That might not be where they are staying, but it is the closest to the Van Ness/Fisherman's Wharf reference.

                      What is wrong with North Beach or A16? For my money that is a short cab ride, probably under $5 and the bus system at that area is great. Also I can think of a number of great places near the hotel. Why focus on the negative? It is so suprising on what can turn up. Neither you nor I know all the possibilities. I'm always surprised by what Chowhounds turn up.

                      For all we know, they could be staying at one of the places on Lombard a block away from A16. You know hotel hype. I wouldn't exactly consider any place on Van Ness as in the Fisherman's Wharf area.

                      1. re: rworange

                        We are staying at The Heritage Marina Hotel between Filbert and Union on Van Ness.

                        also we plan to just do sightseeing ( Haight- Alcatraz, all the tourist stops, plus Muir Woods, perhaps a wine tour)

                        1. re: countgrog

                          That's a much livelier spot than the end of Van Ness.

                          Boulange de Polk is one of the best bakery-cafes in the city and a great value. Capannina is good and moderately priced Italian. Rose's Cafe is great for breakfast.

                          Antica Trattoria's one of the best Italian restaurants but pretty expensive. La Folie is the best French restaurant but ditto.

                          1. re: countgrog

                            Ok, that's not hopeless. The places Robert mentioned are good ones. Also nearby are Nick's Crispy tacos and Nick's Pizza Rustica, the latter being pricy depending on the size of your group, it's a $5 buck piece of pizza.

                            The food Street near you is one block up on Polk. If you travel on Polk away from Fisherman's Wharf there are all sorts of reasonably priced restaurants.


                            I haven't been there, but it gets a lot of love on this board, there's Swan's Oyster Depot. I mention this because if you must have clam chowder (NOT the San Francisco treat), this seems to be as decent a version of canned chowder you will get ... and yes most of the over-priced versions on the Wharf are canned.

                            Yeah, that business about walking to the Wharf from the hotel, stretches it a bit, Van Ness isn't attractive. However, if you do walk it, go all the way down Van Ness till you hit the water. Then you can walk along the beach to Fisherman's Wharf. I wouldn't particularily waste my food money there, but if you must, there's a place that sells Mitchell's Ice Cream that SF is known for. Get the tropical flavors like young coconut or ube. Nick's seems to get lots of positive mentions. Scoma's has a good three course lunch deal, but is horribly expensive otherwise. Here's more.


                            You MUST go the Ferry Building Farmers Market on Saturday. Think of it as free breakfast since there is so much sampling from the top quality vendors. Lot's of great inexpenisve vendors. My favorite is Hayes Street Grill.


                            That is easy from where you are. Take the bus on Van Ness to California (or do the longish walk, but walk up Polk which is more interesting). At California you can catch the cable car that will deposit you directly at the Ferry building ... it is also one of the best cable car rides too.

                            If you go to the Haight on Tuesday, Bambino's on Tuesday night has a $12 three course dinner with deals on wine.


                            I'd pretty much ignore the food advice that your hotel gives you based on the restaurants they recommend on the website (petite robert, excepted).

                            You might do a separate post about the hotel restaurant, Little Joe's to see if it is any good. The Joe's restaurants were old-time SF restaurants known for a scramble called the Joe's Special. I believe at one time Little Joe's was a restaurant in North Beach. It may have relocated here or maybe they are just using the name.

                            Van Ness and Lombard streets themselves are sort of food waste-lands. Polk, as mentioned is the best bet. Other nearby food Streets are Chestnut (but a bit away), Union (kinda pricy and not as good as Chestnut). If you take a bus through the Broadway tunnel, that will land you right in North Beach & Chinatown.

                            You might ask at the hotel which bus will get you to Fort Mason. That is a lovely trip along the marina green. At the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge going toward Fort Mason is the Warming Hut. Not outstanding coffee and sandwiches, but good and it is a spectacular location.

                            I assume you are taking a tour bus to get to Muir Woods since you don't have a car, so no food recs seem needed.

                            I also recommend picking up a copy of The Chowhound's Guide to the Bay Area. It has over 600 recs by cuisine and neighborhood, so you will always know the good places near you wherever you visit.

                            1. re: rworange

                              "You MUST go Fisherman's Wharf on Saturday. ... My favorite is Hayes Street Grill. "

                              That's Ferry Plaza.

                              The best time to go to Fisherman's Wharf is late in the evening after all the tourist traps have closed.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                I'd never read my posts until 30 minutes after I post since there are usually a ton of corrections ... oh for a preview link. Caught that, but thanks. If you go to Fisherman's Wharf at night it is most expensive with the little places closed and just the high-priced joints opened. Again, FW isn't somewhere I would eat as a destination, but if one must go, that link had a few of the better joints. I'd continue up to North Beach to eat if in the Wharf area.

                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Good grief, the three lodgings on the north end of Van Ness (between Francisco and Filbert) are at most four blocks away from Antica Trattoria on Polk Street, and if staying at the motel at VN and Filbert, only two blocks. In the north-south direction, those are shorter blocks too. Go another block and a half and you're at Pesce. Then another block to Nick's Crispy Tacos, go across Broadway and you're at Little Thai. Lots more in between that I skipped over in this illustration.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            You are also very close to Chestnut business section - you can easily walk or hop onto a 30-Stockton bus at Van Ness and Chestnut and get off at Filmore - there are about 6 blocks of shops and restaurants. I would definitely go to Isa on Steiner for dinner one evening. Nick's Crispy Tacos on Polk is also very good and very cheap.

                      2. re: dinnerout

                        Ooh, oooh, oooh. What about Greens? Oops, it's certainly not cheap. Maybe for breakfast (brunch?) on the weekend. Check their website. It's in a gorgeous location right on the water overlooking the marina with boats bobbing in the water and a view of the GGBridge.

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          We might try a lunch on a place that overlooks the water.

                          1. re: oakjoan

                            Recent reports on the food at Greens have been pretty harsh.