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My two teenage boys who love to eat are visiting San Francisco for the FIRST time. We are staying at the Fairmont for three days around Xmas. With the Chowhound board help I've come up with a few ideas for my family of four. We are open to anything except for a long prix fixed dinner. I have no idea about the distance of the restaurants from the Fairmont. Close to the hotel would be nice but we will travel for a good meal. I want to show my sons what a SPECIAL food city San Francisco can be.
Here is some of the ideas I've dug up from the chowhound boards:
"R&G Lounge" for Xmas eve dinner
"Gold Mountain" or "Ton Kaing" or "Yank Sing" for Dim Sum
"Betelnut" for tour of asian cusine (my kids want to compare it to Typhoon/Chinois in Los Angeles)
"Mifune" or "Oyaji" for Ramen (thanks Melanie Wong for you list. My boys want to compare it to Chabuya in L.A.)
"Tadich" for Cioppino SF style
"Zuni Cafe" for burgers (my sons love the burgers at "The Counter" in Los Angeles and want to do a food challenge)
"Swan Oyster Depot" "Hog Island Oyster Co." "Bar Crudo" for clam chowder,raw seafood
"Plouf" my wife loves steamed mussels
"Range" for moderately priced good food
"Canteen" for breakfast, need more breakfast ideas near the hotel.
Again any comments would be appreciated.
Happy holidays

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  1. You've done your homework, that's a great list. Except skip the canned clam chowder at Swan Oyster Depot.

    1. i agree about the title, but that's not the point of this response!

      definitely for ramen go to suzu noodle house, a tiny place in the japantown mall. it's easy to miss, but please don't! it's one of the only places in the city that makes their noodles in-house every day. delicious and extremely well-priced. a big bowl of noodles paired with a fresh fish and rice bowl for under ten dollars? amazing.

      1. Did you mean Venticello?

        1. I enjoy Nob Hill cafe and go fairly regularly as it is the closest dining establishment to my home. However, it would not be on my list of place to show anyone what a special place San Francisco is for food. I qualifies for distance only. And the enjoyment of being served pasta by a waitress with a good Irish accent. And occasionally spotting the twins.

          1. Chinatown is walking distance from the Fairmont (just a couple of blocks down the hill). I suggest spending some time just grazing through Chinatown. Also, since the Fairmont is at the intersection of all the cable car lines , I suggest getting a three-day Muni pass so that in addition to buses and streetcars you can hop on and off the cable cars (which otherwise runs into serious money). Tadich, for example, is technically walking distance from the Fairmont, since it's only a few blocks down California St., but it's a *really* steep walk -- the kind that's tough both coming and going. Swan Oyster Depot is also easily reached via the California St. cable car line. Plouf and Canteen are also both pretty close to the Fairmont.

            Strike Ton Kiang off your list -- it's nowhere near the Fairmont and I think it's incredibly over rated.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              ruth thank you for your tip about the cable car happy holidays

            2. Most of the best / most famous restaurants near the Fairmont are of the type you do not want to eat at...

              I like your list.

              Dim Sum is debated to death here. I, personally, love Ton Kiang -- it is far from your hotel, though.

              If you can't get in to Range (you would have been cabbing, anyway) NoPa would be a reasonable subsitution (also a cab ride). They only accept reservations at 2pm the day of.

              Betelnut is very good, a serious hike from your hotel but not insane (probably a mile and a half, I would say -- so a possible walk there and cab back). In that same general area, I would include A16. It isn't the best Italian restaurant in town, but it may be the best SOUTHERN Italian restaurant I've ever been to -- don't worry, it is deffinitely not all about tomato sauces. And it is deffinitely a young, hip crowd.

              The chicken at Zuni is supposedly excellent, too.

              Slanted Door is walking distance down the hill, but you're not going to walk back up. I love it and take all my out of town guests there. Some people say the room is better than the view. But don't listen to them. ;-)

              1 Reply
              1. re: whiner

                thanks for comments about A16 and slanted door.

              2. No need to waste a meal on ramen at Mifune, Suzu or Oyaji. Oyaji can be good enough if you can't get out of the City for something better. There's nothing "special" about it. Mifune and Suzu are below average in the ramen department by SF Bay Area standards, and that's a step down from LA. None of them will leave you with a good memory of San Francisco.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  i really enjoy your posts. thanks

                2. Just a note on distances - Betelnut is walkable from the Fairmont, but it is quite a long walk - there are a couple of buses that run along Union St. - I think the 41 goes over Nob Hill; the 45 goes through Chinatown and gets onto Union St. at Washington Square. A16 in the Marina is on Chestnut and not far from Union St. - about 4 blocks north (toward the Bay). I am one of those who likes dim sum at Yank Sing - they have 2 locations, both open on Sat. and Sun. You should get a res, though, they are packed at this time of year. Better check on Canteen - rumors abound about whether or not it is still open as the hotel it is in recently sold. Have fun!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: dinnerout

                    I am clueless about navigating in the city. your comments were very helpful.

                    1. re: dinnerout

                      To walk to Betelnut and/or A16 would be a realllllllly long walk - I used to live a block from the Fairmont, and I'm a runner, and that walk would take me at least half an hour moving at a good clip. There are some hefty hills to contend with.

                      You could catch the 41 as it goes down Union street, but this would involve climbing a huge San Francisco hill at Mason or Taylor to get to the intersection.

                      Unfortunately, public transit is sorely lacking in that particular corner of San Francisco - the cable cars will take you up or down the hill (at $5 a pop, no transfers) but otherwise you'll have to walk at least half a mile to reach any of the major bus routes or to get to BART/Muni.

                      That said, I LOVE that area...the park in front of the Fairmont is beautiful, and it is easy to get to Union Square or the Ferry building (all downhill - key in San Francisco!)

                      1. re: megamalone

                        Don't forget that the 1 California stops right across the street from the Fairmont on Sacramento street and would be less expensive alternative to the cable car runs. I'd suggest walking downhill to Polk Street to spots like Swan, Darbar or Acquerello or to Chinatown for R&G (only a half-block away from the bus stop) and then taking the 1 Calif. street up the hill. The 1 Calif. runs frequently, as do the connecting buses on Van Ness Ave. for cross-town trips.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Taking the cable cars is more fun, though. As I suggested, if you're going to be here three days, a 3-day Muni passport is a pretty good deal: http://www.bestofsanfrancisco.net/mun...

                          The 1 California is a great line, though -- it's actually worth taking just for the fact that it gives you a complete east/west cross section of the city. It eventually will take you through the Richmond District, which has lots of wonderful places to eat and shop for food. Note that despite the name, it runs parallel to, but not on, California St. through downtown.

                    2. As good as the mussels are at Plouf, I always go for the Manila clams, which are even better. The frites are excellent too.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Peter Cherches

                        Heading up to San Francisco. Thanks for everyone on the board's help. Hope everyone has a terrific holiday season.