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Need Dining Suggestions - Please Help!!!

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My wife and I will be visiting San Fran. in December for the first time. We will be staying four days and we would love to chow down on some really good food. With so many choices, we have had a really hard time narrowing down where we want to eat. Thus, could anyone rec. any great places to eat? We are really open to any type of food in (almost) any part of town. We would prefer casual dining, but if there is somewhere that is amazing, we will certainly hit. Thanks so much for your imput!

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  1. I also highly recomend going to the Ferry Building for food treats. Go in the late morning to roam and shop. There are several places to choose from; anything from Taylors Refresher (burgers) to The Slanted Door (amazing Vietnamese) to a Tzar Nicoulai caviar bar and the Wine Merchant. Local breads and Cowgirl Creamery are also fun stops. I love the Ciao Bella Gelateria.

    1. I posted these for someone else- my suggestions

      Breakfast-
      Tartine- on 18th Street, great bakery and good coffee
      Croissant, Frangipane Croissant with brandy and almonds
      Pain au Chocolat with Scharffen Berger Chocolate

      Ella's
      500 Presidio Ave (Cross Street: California Street)
      Always a line but well worth the wait, one of the best breakfast places.

      You could go to the Ferry Plaza on Sat. several vendors have good breakfast dishes and get Blue Bottle coffee at their stand. We often do this on a Sat before shopping the farmers market.

      Lunch-
      Zuni is good for lunch
      Swans Oyster Depo on Polk @ California street- best crab, oysters, I have been going here for 17 yrs. never get tired of it
      Saigon Sandwich Shop. 560 Larkin St (Cross Street: Eddy Street) BBQ pork Vietnamese sandwich about $3.50 super good

      Tadich Grill
      240 California St (Cross Street: Front Street- historical place, gold rush days.. I like sitting at the counter and getting the crab louey, good crab cakes.

      Dinner-
      Mission neighborhood
      Bar Tartine-561 Valencia, very pretty place great food, lot's of good wines by the glass
      Dosa- Southern Indian on Valencia/21st street

      Above union square
      Bar Crudo
      603 Bush St (Cross Street: Stockton Street) excellent crudo, raw fish. Tiny, modern, cozy very San Francisco in my opinion. You can get a drink at the Tunnel Top bar near by an old time SF bar.

      Bong Su- SOMA good Vietnamese.. better than Slanted Door

      If you feel like taking a drive Mankas in the Inverness is spectacular. Here is the website I will let you marinate on this
      http://www.mankas.com/mankas/intro.html

      Near by Point Reyes Station- Best diner Pine Cone Diner, Cowgirl Creamery, there is the a great bakery in town Bovine Bakery-
      11315 Highway 1
      Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
      All walking distance.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Lori SF

        Unfortunately Bovine Bakery has gone downhill, nothing special about it any more.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I agree that certain things are not as good, like that coffee cake that use to be insane, very moist.. now it's very dry and too sweet. On the other hand we recently stayed up in Tomales and stopped in and had some yummy things like the cheese twist, blue berry scone and jalapenos cheese scone.

          1. re: Lori SF

            If you're in Tomales, Seaweed Cafe in Bodega Bay is a better destination than anyplace in Point Reyes Station.

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

      2. You must stop by the Farmer's Market in the Ferry Building. Not only is there local produce, bakeries and cheeses, you have an incredible selection of restaurants. Right there at the end of Market Street, in the Embarcadero.

        http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/

        This will help to guarantee a delicious time in San Francisco.

        1. Such a great eating town....very spread out though. Be prepared to take public transportation/taxis/drive in order to hit a variety of places. Just some highlights that go beyond what you usually read about.

          If you like great French food, try Chapeau! which is a small restaurant located in the Clement neighborhood (near Golden Gate Park). The owners are present and social and create a wonderful Provencal dining experience. Be prepared to spend a few hours here; in the French tradition the courses are not rushed.

          On a recent trip, I visited A16 in the Marina. Also a small restaurant, this has great Sourthern Italian food. Homemade salamis, thin crusted pizza, melt-in-your mouth fresh Mozzarella, perfectly constructed housemade pastas. It is a loud but jem of a restaurant.

          Must check out the Ferry Terminal. Just about any food here is incredible for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Taylor's Freeze (upscale burger joint) serves great Ahi burgers. MIJITA is a taqueria that serves authentic Mexican food right down to the Mexican coke. Their fish tacos are savorly sauced and their pinto beans are warm and yummy. You will also see the abundance of locally available produce grown throughout the San Francisco region. Visit on a morning when the full market is in swing (definetely Saturday and one other day). It is a foodies delight. Both esthetically beautiful and delicious!

          As a side note, check out the food court adjacent to Bloomingdales. It is a great spot for lunch and so many incredible choices not found in your typical food court. Here you can have Thai food, Barbecue (The Buckhorn is my favorite), pasta, burgers, soup, crepes, etc. followed by some indulgent Gelato. There is also a Pete's Coffee which is a nice break from Starbucks.

          I look foward to seeing what other people post since we are within 1 hour of the city.

          2 Replies
          1. re: CharlaK

            Taylor's and Mijita have gotten more negative than positive reports here.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I have not tried the Taylor's at the Ferry Terminal, but I love the original(?) location up in St. Helena.

          2. Thanks so much for the help! Any more??? We are stsying in Union Square.

            1. Here are some of my casual dining recommendations:
              - Bar Crudo - Very San Franciscan loft interior serving raw bar cuisine. Tasty fresh oysters, fresh crab, clam chowder, etc. Walking distance from Union Square.
              - Dottie's True Blue Cafe - Probably one of my favorite breakfast/lunch spots in the city. Doesn't look too charming from the outside but don't let that discourage you! Once you step inside and smell the fresh baked goods and egg specials, you'll never want to leave. Also walking distance from Union Square.
              - The Blue Plate - Cozy neighborhood restaurant in the Mission District (10 minute cab ride from Union Square) serving American cuisine from local and organic farmers.
              - Mamacita - Lively Mexican restaurant and bar in the Marina District (10 minute cab ride from Union Square). The atmosphere is always a scene and the food is delicious! The chef uses local Oak Hill Farms produce and updates classic Mexican dishes to perfection. Don't forget their smooth margaritas.

              Have Fun!

              1 Reply
              1. re: shnigglebob

                Yes, yes, yes - please do go visit Dottie's True Blue Cafe for breakfast. We are from Chicago, but it is one of our favorites in San Francisco and we always try to eat there once when we are in town. If you have to wait for a table, just do it. It will be worth the wait.

              2. The best i've had was Incanto, on Church st in noe valley. Great italian, offering some offal dishes. The chef will also be on Iron chef america next season. Definitly worth the trip.

                1. I can recommend Isa - a small restaurant in the Marina area - the chicken and risoto are fabulous. Others rave about the sea bass, but I'm not a fish person. It is small plates so you can try a few things between you. Second on Zuni. For something a bit unusual, consider Aziza - it is a big fave with this group - it is out in the Richmond, but you can either take the 38 Geary bus or a cab out there. Good luck and have fun!

                  1. Brandy Ho's Hunan on Columbus, not too far from the Transamerica Pyramid has been a favorite restaurant of mine for over 20 years. It certainly qualifies as casual dining. If you wish, they will serve you VERY spicy food, but will tailor it to your preferences.

                    The Hunan smoked ham, stir-fried with whole garlic cloves, medium spicy, is one of my favorite dishes anywhere! My wife favors the smoked duck, minus the garlic, mildly spicy. Several lunch combos are available on weekdays that are good deals. I like to sit at the counter and watch the cooks work.

                    1. You will love San Francisco. It's a great place to visit with lots of fantastic restaurants. Here are a couple of my favorites:

                      1. SWAN OYSTER DEPOT ,1517 Polk St, located beteween Calfornia and Sacramento Streets. No reserverations. Lunch only. The speciality is fresh seafood-right off the boat: crab, oysters, shrimp, chowder & smoked salmon. This is a classic S.F. dining experience that you shouldn't miss. It is a hole in the wall with seating for only 16. You can't miss the place, just look for the line that has formed outside. Unless you get there early, expect to wait about an hour. It's well worth it.

                      2. BOCADILLOS,710 Montgomery St., At Washington St, Spanish tapas. Lots of creative choices. http://www.bocasf.com/site/start.html

                      3. A16, 2355 Chestnut St., Between Divisadero and Scott sts, The Marina/Pacific Heights/Cow Hollow. This is a great Italian place that is lively and fun. Pizza is very popular, but we had pasta and rosoto. Excellent. http://www.a16sf.com/

                      4. ACQUA, 252 California St., Near Battery, The Financial District. This is upscale seafood at it's best. Some consider this S.F.'s best seafood restaurant and they wouldn't get any arguement from me. It's worth a splurge. http://www.aqua-sf.com/

                      5. Others have mentioned the Ferry Building and I agree. Outside is a great farmers market. Inside, the Slanted Door is worthy of consideration. Not far away on California Street is Tadich Grill. It is wonderful seafood. No reserverations here. It's been in business since 1859. The best sourdough bread, too.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cawino

                        There were some pretty negative reports on Aqua recently:

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/334500