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SF Food Tourgasm Oct.5-8 Here's what I have so far...


Okay here's what I have:

Chez Panisse Cafe
Hog Island Oyster
Memphis Minnie
Taqueria Cancun
Citizen Cake
Ferry Building Marketplace & Farmers market
Scharfenberger Factory
XOX Truffles
Fog City News - for the Chocolates
Recchuitti Chocolates
Richart Chocolates
Tadich - worth it for the cioppino?

A little background - I work in the industry both FOH and BOH in the past, now I'm a pastry chef. You can probably tell by my list I like good seasonal, (just a little dressed up) rustic food. And pastries. So If I missed anything, or you have an opinion one way or another about something on the list - let me know. I also wanted to check out food related things like cheesemaking tours, but I couldn't really find it. Suprisingly.

After Sunday my Hubby is joining me for Food Tourgasm Part II... Sonoma and Napa, haven't pinned down my list yet. I will follow up later.

Thanks very much fellow hounds.


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  1. If you are going to the Scharffenberger Factory and Chez Panisse Cafe (as you well should be) consider spending a day in the East Bay.

    If you are into seasonal desserts and working as a pastry chef, you must visit Sketch Ice Cream on 4th st in Berkeley. The owners are seasoned pastry chefs, they make each item themselves, from scratch, using impeccable ingredients and every single thing in the shop is delicious. The chocolate caramels, salt toffee, macaroons and chocolate chip cookies are my current favorites.

    4th st has a nice little shopping area with a few notable food related shops to spend time digesting: Sur la Table, The Pasta Shop, the Cafe Rouge meat market, Napa Style, the extensive food section at Cody's books and the Stone House olive oil tasting room. And a few blocks south of 4th st is the Takara Sake which has a tasting room. The whole area is in West Berkeley, near the Scharffen Berger factory (a note on the tour: get a reservation now. If they're full, they take walk ins every day on a first come first serve basis, sign up when the gift shop opens in the morning.) The tour is more fun on a weekday when the factory is operating.

    Consider a dinner at Pizzaiolo in North Oakland. It's my favorite restaurant, and perfect if you're looking for great seasonal, just a little dressed up rustic food. The menu (available on the website, posted below). speaks for itself. It's also less expensive than dinner at Cafe at Chez Panisse, which is a wonderful place for lunch. If you are commited to Cafe at CP for dinner, consider Eccolo on 4th st for lunch.

    Only downside to Pizzaiolo is that their dessert menu could be stronger (they're between pastry chefs). Any fruit from the wood fire oven is fantastic and definitely should be ordered but if none are available consider doing dessert at Ici, a newly opened ice cream shop by an ex-Chez pastry chef (reviews have been mixed, but I've been impressed and I love the ice cream sanwiches.) Or, for something a little more elegant, have dessert and a digestif at A Cote, where the pastry chef is doing amazing things right now. Both are less than a 10 minute drive from Pizzaiolo.

    If you love cheese you MUST visit the Cheeseboard in North Berkeley, across the street from Chez Panisse. It is a truly outstanding cheese shop. Lunch at Cafe at CP followed by a little cheese shopping at Cheeseboard is a Berkeley tradition.

    Lastly, if you want to spend a whole day on this side of the bridge, 900 Grayson does the best breakfast in town.

    As for SF: Memphis Minnies is closed. Incanto should be on your list.

    That should keep you full and happy for a day. I can't wait to read the reports from this trip.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Morton the Mousse

      Memphis Minnie's closed? I had brunch there two days ago . . .

      1. re: nsheth

        Jeez, I was thinking of Miss Millies.

    2. Rechiutti Chocolates : make sure you try the pearl mint tea.

      one of the best man made things that i have ever put in my mouth. (i.e. tomatoes off the vine, fresh peas, etc...don't count)

      Also, which Taqueria Cancun do you plan on visiting? They vary slightly from place to place. i am partial to the one at Mission and Valencia one block South of Army (Cesar Chavez). We go weekly and i get the same thing everytime: super burrito with carne asada and extra avocado.
      yum. but last time i went they changed the tortilla's on me, so i will have to go back and made sure this isn't a horrible trend....

      Also, if you are going to do Hog Island at the Ferry building then you can follow it up with a trip to rechiutti, but make sure, since you are a pastry chef/baker that you stop at acme for some fantastic crusty bread and then go next door to cow girl creamery to pick up some good neal's yard dairy cheeses, or better yet some local humboldt fog or something to spread on the bread as your afternoon snack while strolling....

      now i am hungry again.

      1. The above suggestions, as well as your own, are all very good. However, I need to bring up a point that's been bugging me for some time about travels and food.

        Your suggestions and the follow-ups are almost all tres chic. I don't mean that they're not wonderful, but they're mostly pricy-ish and upscale. I have been depressed in various cities because the guidebooks all touted elegant (even if relaxed) places and I never felt I ever saw places that regular people went (and I DON'T mean Denny's, etc.). It's sort of like spending a whole trip to NYC in SoHo (or whatever's IN these days).

        Fourth Street is lovely (if crowded with folks from Iowa and Florida as well as from Berkeley), but Crate and Barrel, Sur La Table, etc. are chains. Why go there unless you live in North Dakota miles from the nearest city? These places are all selling the same LeCreuset pans, Wusthoff (sp) knives, Batali spatulas, etc. There are only a couple of stores on 4th St. that are unique - the magical paper/card/pen store and the Japanese store (both near Bette's).

        Pizzaiolo is great and a wonderful addition to my Oaktown. We're actually taking NY friends there next week, but it draws a certain crowd which is the same crowd you'd see at similar places in Park Slope or Ocean Park.

        If I were making the list, I'd put Vik's Chaat Corner on top. It's a place you WON'T see anywhere else - the combo of old folks and babies and students all sitting at wobbly tables eating delicious Indian snacks.

        I WOULD def put Taddich on my list. The atmosphere is unique to SF. The old wood counter and bar, the whole room, the waiters, the tourists mixed with the regulars. I wouldn't miss it. Cioppino is good. Sauteed or grilled fish is better in my op. Plain is the rule here. Sit at the counter.

        I'd also do Fruitvale rather than Mission. You don't say where you're coming from...or at least I didn't notice it, so I don't know if you have loads of taco trucks and sidewalk vendors where you live.

        Although I haven't been there, I'd back Marlon's 900 Grayson suggestion. It's a weirdly wonderful idea - they can't stay open past late afternoon due to space and parking or something like that.

        I'd also go to Canteen for breakfast (in SF). It's upscaleish as well, but it's so tiny that it qualifies as unique.

        I felt I had to rant a bit because all the suggestions given out here to visitors seem so similar to me. Zuni, Azziza, ChezP, Incanto, Delfina, Ferry Bldg. End of rant.

        3 Replies
        1. re: oakjoan

          One of the best posts I have read in a while, and I have "reported" it as such.

          1. re: oakjoan

            I agree on most of these points!!
            Also if you are looking for a great Tacqueria, you might want to venture out just than Cancun...
            Try the list below from the SF Chronicle

            In particular, El Matate, La Tacqueria and Papalote might warrant a visit. Good luck :)

            1. re: oakjoan

              I thought about Vik's, which is raved about in Zagat, Patty Unterman, and just about every guide to Bay Area food. But, the poster is looking for "good seasonal, (just a little dressed up) rustic food" which is a specialty of this area, is basically unavailable in Washington DC, is almost always "pricy-ish and upscale"(ish) and is most definitely not Vik's.

              If someone is looking for the holes in the wall that the locals frequent, that's what the board gives them. But if someone only has a few days in the area and is looking to have some good Cal-Cuisine at nice restaurants then Zuni, Aziza, Chez, Incanto, Delfina, Eccolo and Pizzaiolo are all sound recommendations. If I were visiting the area for only a few days, those are the restaurants I would eat at.

              And I third Canteen. The eggs benedict and pancake on the brunch menu are always excellent.

            2. I'm sorry to say this, but Merenda is closed. There is an Italian restaurant in it's spot, but I've never eaten there.

              1. I hear what you're saying and agree for the most part. I guess I was just trying to jar the op into thinking about some other stuff. I didn't realize she was from D.C.

                It just brought back memories of dinners at various foreign locations that were filled with folks just like us, trying to get the "local" feel.

                I also meant to add Luka's Taproom in Oakland. It's such a great scene. Rarely have I come across a place where so many different ages and races relax together and have a good time. My husband and I love going there for that alone. The food is icing on the cake....or mayo on the frites.

                1. Excellent list. However, based on too many posts here, even though I haven't been, I'm in no hurry to go to Zuppa. Actaully I'm just waiting for the restaurant that replaces Zuppa to open. It's probably inevitable.

                  I'd replace Zuppa with Coco500 a block away.

                  You ARE going to the Saturday mornning Ferry Plaza Farmer's market, right? Except for Chez Paniisse, it trumps everything on your list.

                  Yeah, if Tadich isnt' the best cioppino in town, it is up there near the top. Add the atmosphere and I'd do it. Probably the best sourdough in town.

                  1. Let me give you a head start on your Napa trip. My brother lives in Yountville, and I visit often. First, pardon my YAWWWWN as the thought of ricocheting "up valley" to various eateries; the Napa Valley food scene has grown tired and in desperate need of a shake up. The obvious ones--TFL, Bouchon, Bistro Jeanty, Hurley's, Brix, Mustards, Rutherford Grill, Tre Vigne(really tired),Wine Spectator,and Brannan's Grill are all 10yo. or older, coasting on reputation and tourists who think Micael Ciarello is the shiz-nat...not so. Instead, read between the lines and don't overlook the City of Napa itself. Napa has a great, can't-miss little French- Mediterranean place called Pilar http://www.pilarnapa.com. Leaving Napa (if it's lunch) Bistro Don Giovanni makes one of the best damn hamburgers I've ever eaten. In Yountville...while it is played out, the tomato soup en croute at Bistro Jeanty is good--eat it at the bar along with a pasitis and get the frech bistro fantasy out of your system - move on. If your looking to slum it...Pancha's is a dive bar, seriously, one block north of TFL. It has pool tables,loud music, and smoking. This is where all the off duty wine-pourer chicks and local chefs go to get their freak on after work. Buy 'em a beer and get some insider cooking tips from one of Thomas Keller's whipping boys. Skip Cyndi Pawlcyn's Mustard's Grill and go straignt to her "Backstreet Kitchen" in St. Helena. She just opened a new fish place--haven't been. Martini House is good as is Wappo Bar in Calistoga. Good Luck

                    1. In the words of Cristopher Walken as 'The Continental'-
                      WOWIE WOW WOW !!!

                      Thanks for all the feed back fellow hounds. Just got in your lovely town. A little snafu at the airport, where I found out I forgot my ID at home...DOH. But I learned something new, they will let you board the plane without one. Suprise. You just have to do a little extra pat down in security. Whew.

                      Anyway, Yep I'm coming in from the DC area.
                      Thanks again for all the updates and opinions, I will add Pizzaiolo, Incanto, Canteen, and Vik's Chaat Corner to my list.
                      Nix Merenda as it's closed, and One vote no for Zuppa. I did mean to add Cheeseboard to the list I must have just spazzed out. And of course I will be going to the Farmers Market on Sat. I am so looking forward to that one. Just a little sad I can't really buy fresh produce as I don't have a kitchen here to cook in. But I look forward to the breads and cheeses, and perhaps some preserves. You guys are so lucky.

                      orangeplow, thanks for the heads-up on Napa. I did have Pilar and Backstreet Kitchen on my list. Through much deliberation I decided to skip TFL. Though not really my type of food, I like to eat at those places sometimes just to see what they're doing and as a food lover I feel I need to find out. But I was going to go by myself, and read some reviews that unless you were going to be ringing in a bigger check than the $200 per person tab by order mucho wine, the service was less than warm. That sort of turns me off, and while this might be singular occasions, I know having served both FOH & BOH, that the food can be really great, but if the service makes you feel unwanted, you are gonna leave thinking the experience sucked. I've been to Bouchon in Vegas and that was good, so I might try that again. Any comments on Ad Hoc or Terra? Also was planning to visit COPIA.

                      WOWIE WOW WOW. Thanks again.
                      I'll be eating with y'all in mind.


                      4 Replies
                      1. re: e.argent

                        For a perfect Saturday morning Ferry Building farmers' market picnic go to:

                        The Fatted Calf for pate
                        Andante for cheese
                        June Taylor for preserves
                        Acme for bread (their shop is inside the building)

                        Don't miss Sketch while you're in Berkeley. And, on the off chance that you'll be in Berkeley Saturday night, Pizzaiolo will be closed for a prinate event.

                        1. re: e.argent

                          Note that the Cheeseboard cheese counter is closed on Sundays and Mondays...

                          1. re: megek

                            If it's stopped raining and is a nice day, Bistro Don Giovanni is a lovely place to lunch. On the veranda. I had a reallllllly great peche melba there last year.

                          2. re: e.argent

                            Forgot to chime in on Ad hoc. It's new and was just opening the last time I was there...delayed because the Exec Chef got thrown in jail opening weekend. Evidently it's Keller's stab at non-chalance. A walk-in place to grab fried chicken and meatloaf. Ya right! Be prepared to pay 40 bucks for that frou-fee diner fare. Like all things Keller...it is never cheap or easy. Really, all those crown jewels of the Zagat Survey right at their feet, the people who live in Yountville would kill for a Domino's pizza...simple fast and cheap. No formula restaurants allowed.

                          3. Sorry my previous post sounded a little negative. Trolling around Yountville, I begin to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. All the restaurants I listed really are good (except for Tra Vinge--a leftover vestige from the late 80's early 90's "wine country cuisine" trend. Ciarello's long gone and it is oozing with complacancy). Bistro Jeanty is cozy, and Bouchon served me the best soup of my life--a cream of leek and celerac that was airy and topped with minced, carmelized pear. Also, when you're in Napa, around the corner from Pilar is a great wine merchant called Bounty Hunter. They carry boutique wines that just don't make it too far out of the valley. Bounty Hunter is popular with locals and serves amazing Beer-Can Chicken and BBQ so good it has a cult following. check em out http://www.bountyhunterwines.com

                            1. Thanks again. I will list my review (whatever that's worth)soon.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: e.argent

                                Yes, please do. We love reviews from the out-of-towners.