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Restaurants you've been to repeatedly?

grocerytrekker Jan 10, 2007 03:17 PM

You know about being a repeat customer.

A die-hard loyal fan, you keep promoting your favorite restaurant, wondering why more people wouldn't try it.

Then there is the one which is so precious you'd like to keep it to yourself, worried that popularity might hurt it. You tell your close friends about it. (Or chounds)

Then there is the one everyone knows about, it may even be too crowded, but the food is so good you've got to have it now and then.

There is that one you habitually go to without even thinking. Reliable, always good, like eating at home, only better.

And then there is that upscale restaurant where your wallet is not completely happy, but it's such a good value that you don't really care.

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  1. jbyoga Jan 10, 2007 03:29 PM

    Those who read my posts know I am a die hard Tu lan fan...I live in Asheville NC now and whenever I am in SF it is my fist stop.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jbyoga
      u
      uptown jimmy Jan 10, 2007 04:59 PM

      I'm with you. Love Tu Lan. I go there immediately after checking into the hotel, and the Cha Giao Bun is always perfect.

      And I love the atmosphere. ;)

    2. b
      brokergal Jan 10, 2007 03:49 PM

      Kokkari, hands down. I've eaten there at least a dozen times over the past handful of years and whether for business or pleasure it has been consistently excellent.

      1. jupiter Jan 10, 2007 03:55 PM

        The die hard local fan restaurant and the oh so precious one i don't tell anyone are one and the same so i can't tell you....

        However, the one everyone knows about would be Chenery Park; more for convenience sake (it is close to home) and for the excellent warm chocolate desert.

        The one i habitually go to without thinking : Taqueria Cancun at Mission and Valencia

        3 Replies
        1. re: jupiter
          u
          uptown jimmy Jan 10, 2007 05:00 PM

          With due respect, it would be awfully ironic if a great little place went out of business because fans were trying to keep it a secret.

          ;)

          1. re: uptown jimmy
            jupiter Jan 10, 2007 11:10 PM

            yeah yeah i know, and in all honesty, this place is not about to go anywhere. i tell people about it, and it has been discussed on this board before, (in fact someone mentions it in this post!)
            but the last few years i have been, there has been a line out the door and at least a half hour wait each visit. So i spread the joy and the love with discretion now....
            ;)

            1. re: jupiter
              u
              uptown jimmy Jan 11, 2007 12:56 AM

              Figured as much. Just sorta teasing. If it needed help, I'm sure you'd be cheerleading... :)

        2. r
          RIChowderhead Jan 10, 2007 05:18 PM

          I've only been to the west coast once. I was lucky enough to go to the peninsula (is there an actual name for the peninsula that SF is on?). I was only there for a few days, but I went back to the Steelhead Brewery (Burlingame). Food and beer were good.

          The time I went back to the brew pub I met Angelo, one of the owners of Trattoria la Siciliana in Berkeley (my 18 month old daughter was running around the restaurant with his 2 year old nephew). He asked me to visit their restaurant. Told me to be sure to call ahead (I was going to visit my cousin's family in Alameda that evening). Unfortunately we couldn't make it. From what I've read, the "Trat" is definitely worth going back to. The food is excellent, but it can be difficult to get in at times. And there I was with a personal invitation from one of the owners. Hopefully next time.

          2 Replies
          1. re: RIChowderhead
            Robert Lauriston Jan 10, 2007 06:34 PM

            Lots of reports here on La Siciliana. Good food for the price but can be a long wait for a table.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              r
              RIChowderhead Jan 10, 2007 09:21 PM

              That's what I've read. And that's why I was disappointed that we couldn't make it. I think Angelo was basically offering us a preferred customer pass.

              Oh well, next time.

          2. m
            Maya Jan 10, 2007 05:33 PM

            Luella. I've been there with friends, parents, in-laws, work-related out of towners, and as a couple, and everyone is blown away. Parking can be a real pain though.

            1. l
              LisaLisaSF Jan 10, 2007 05:39 PM

              Gary Danko - more than a restaurant, an experience. Worth every penny.

              Consistently good, better than home:
              Garabaldi's on Presidio
              Rose Pistola

              1. m
                mchan02 Jan 10, 2007 05:43 PM

                one of my favorites which doesnt get mentioned enough - Ristorante Milano

                so precious I'd like to keep it to myself - Mekong Restaurant at Larkin and O'Farrell

                The one everyone knows about thats always too crowded but I eat there anyway - Dottie's and Burma Superstar

                Habitual go-to spots: Mariachi's on Valencia, Cordon Bleu on California

                1. m
                  Mick Ruthven Jan 10, 2007 06:08 PM

                  My two "close getaway" lunch places that I've been to many times are Water Street Bistro in Petaluma and Olive & Vine in (just south of) Glen Ellen. In both cases, better food than you might expect from the venue. I also take visitors to both places and they always love them too.

                  1. c
                    Calvinist Jan 10, 2007 06:15 PM

                    Lotus Garden. Much discussed, it's the best vietnamese that is local for me.

                    1. Lori SF Jan 10, 2007 06:26 PM

                      Swans for the last 16 years or more, although have not been this year.
                      Zuni about the same amount of years
                      EOS

                      Several places for business lunches- Aqua, Kokkari, B44.

                      1. Robert Lauriston Jan 10, 2007 06:35 PM

                        Incanto, Pizzaiolo, Dopo. No big secrets there.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          Lori SF Jan 10, 2007 06:46 PM

                          oh new favorites
                          Little Star pizza and A16 how could I forget

                        2. s
                          Sebby Jan 10, 2007 06:57 PM

                          NOPA is my new upscale one in the neighborhood. Or should I say the ONLY upscale one in my 'hood. Great food and service, I just have to keep going back.

                          Also, more casual but well known is Poleng Lounge. I just can't get enough of that Monkey Love cocktail and the happy hour chicken wings.

                          Same as above poster on Burma Superstar. Sometimes it's worth the wait to have the rainbow salad and the pumpkin and pork stew.

                          My local/home like place is Kezar Pub on Cole. It's kind of divy and loud, but I'm always surprised how diverse their specials menu has become. They also just switched to a sustainable menu with grass fed beef, which is alway a plus.

                          1. pane Jan 10, 2007 07:11 PM

                            I'm on a limited budget and (or because) I eat out almost every night. My go-to fabulous, friendly, affordable places are Yummy Yummy, Turtle Tower, Il Pollaio, Loi's, Lahore Karahi, and Zushi Puzzle (when I've got a bit more dough). For the record, that's Vietnamese, Vietnamese, Chicken, Vietnamese, Indian and Sushi. I visit each one at least every other week.

                            If (or rather, when) I have enough money to become a regular at higher budget places, I would definitely put Incanto and Cav high on my list.

                            1. m
                              Meredith Jan 10, 2007 09:07 PM

                              Once a week we usually hit:

                              Assab Eritrean on Geary - it is closed on Sunday and every few weeks we get such a craving on Sunday to try another Ethiopian/Eritrean place, and every time we regret not just waiting till Monday

                              Lotus Garden - after a year of trying to talk my boyfriend into occasionally eating Vietnamese, he found Lotus Garden and has become an addict. We usually go into the restaurant once a week together, and on nights I am not around he always orders delivery. They are closed on Mondays, so have tried most of the other places in Little Saigon for his chicken pho habit, but even Turtle Tower couldn't knock Lotus Garden out of the top spot.

                              Warakabune - it is sushi boat, but the best and freshest I have even seen. We tend to go early where it winds up being more of a sushi bar than a sushi boat as you just order direction from the chef/owner.

                              Once a month or so:
                              Burma Superstar
                              Wooden Charcoal BBQ
                              Delfina
                              Pagolac
                              House of Prime Rib (and yes, I know once a month is far too often for that much prime rib)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Meredith
                                susancinsf Jan 10, 2007 09:41 PM

                                You might want to check Lotus Garden's hours: if I am not mistaken they are no longer closed on Mondays (?)...

                                I don't go as often, but it is on my regular rotation also.

                                1. re: susancinsf
                                  m
                                  Meredith Jan 11, 2007 11:35 PM

                                  I certainly will! For some reason we always crave whatever happens to be closed that day.

                                  1. re: Meredith
                                    chaddict Jan 13, 2007 10:46 PM

                                    I do the exact same thing on Sundays w/ Yamo.

                              2. swag Jan 10, 2007 09:31 PM

                                Excellent "staple" restaurants? I think I've single-handedly put the children of Cote Sud's and Pazzia's owners through college by now.

                                1. Porthos Jan 10, 2007 10:13 PM

                                  Bar Tartine
                                  Koi Palace
                                  Back-A-Yard (Menlo Park)
                                  Santa Ramen
                                  Incanto
                                  Oliveto

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Porthos
                                    josquared Feb 3, 2007 04:09 PM

                                    Wish I could make Back-A-Yard a regular destination myself based on my first visit there today (had a trail run in Woodside this morning.)

                                    Kept it simple with the the basic Jerk Chicken meal (though the goat curry and oxtail specials were tempting), but it was so very good. And more than enough food to bring some home as well.

                                    1. re: josquared
                                      Porthos Feb 3, 2007 04:31 PM

                                      My biggest problem with Back-a-Yard is jerk chicken vs pork vs goat curry vs oxtail. I liked the oxtail enough, meaty, rich...but the jerked chicken and jerked pork usually end up winning out. I have yet to make it to the goat curry. Also give the corn festivals a try.

                                  2. Paul H Jan 10, 2007 10:29 PM

                                    Fringale (local)
                                    COI
                                    Piperade
                                    Boulevard
                                    Sanraku Sushi (both Sutter & Metreon)
                                    Maki
                                    Kappa
                                    Ino Sushi
                                    Minako (hmmm, I'm beginning to see a pattern)
                                    Aqua
                                    Ame

                                    1. f
                                      funmarysf Jan 10, 2007 10:36 PM

                                      Osteria on Sacramento and Presidio is my local go to... its fantastic italian food.
                                      Shimo on Clement and 25th for japanese.
                                      Gordos for burritos.
                                      Bay Watch on Lombard for brunch.

                                      1. chaddict Jan 10, 2007 10:49 PM

                                        The following are the habitual, no brainers: Yamo, Il Pastores, was Hung KY (let's see where they open), Il Borgo, Swan's Oyster Depot, A16, Yucatasia, Ton Kiang for delivery, St. Francis and Universal for breakfast (although I must say that Weird Fish does a great brunch, will have to frequent more often).

                                        Nicer, not as often due to $$: Zuni, Ame, Hime, (and will be adding Perbacco once I have gone more than 3 times).

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: chaddict
                                          chaddict Jan 11, 2007 03:46 AM

                                          Crickey! After tonight's dinner at Presidio Social Club, this will definitely will become a regular spot. I'll write more later when I can do it justice.

                                          1. re: chaddict
                                            chaddict Jan 13, 2007 04:13 PM

                                            OK, definitely Perbacco. Twice in one week and I am already thinking about trying to squeeze it in again this weekend. Word to the wise: you think you will eat in the bar because they are all booked? It took almost 3 hours till the bar yielded 2 seats. Packed, packed, packed!

                                            1. re: chaddict
                                              Robert Lauriston Jan 13, 2007 04:18 PM

                                              They take reservations. Booked up tonight and closed tomorrow, but opentable has prime-time seats every day from Monday on.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                chaddict Jan 13, 2007 04:22 PM

                                                Yes, last Monday, I booked a table. But weekend-wise, I was naive to think that the bar wouldn't be too bad.

                                                1. re: chaddict
                                                  Robert Lauriston Jan 13, 2007 04:31 PM

                                                  The Chron published a rave review last Sunday, that usually means places are mobbed for at least a few weeks. But Perbacco's the kind of place that may be packed every Friday and Saturday for years.

                                          2. pane Jan 10, 2007 11:27 PM

                                            Yamo! I should have added Yamo. I've lived in the Mission only two weeks now and I've been there twice. I certainly plan to become a regular.

                                            1. k
                                              karrybee Jan 11, 2007 12:01 AM

                                              I am a die hard loyal fan of Pezzella's on El Camino in Sunnyvale. The food is as Italian as it gets and so are the wonderful owners. It is family owned and they make you feel a part of it. From pasta and meat to salads and seafood. You can order anything just about anyway you want it, and they have a good wine selection and the price isn't too bad. The fun is eating in the lounge area by the fireplace, but the actual dining room is nice also.

                                              The one that breaks our wallet and we don't care is Sundance (formerly Sundance Mining Company)also on El Camino but in Palo Alto. They have a HUGE wine list as well as some pretty interesting specialty cocktails. The atmosphere is dark and cozy. A great place for a cozy dinner for two, or eat in the lounge area for a group of four or more. The food is AWESOME. My favorite is the prime rib, it's their specialty. You will not be disappointed.

                                              1. anna Jan 11, 2007 02:57 AM

                                                Here are the places we're loyal to:

                                                Chouchou
                                                Taraval Okazu Ya
                                                Tangerine
                                                Amber India
                                                Roti
                                                Bursa
                                                Hard Knox
                                                Jardiniere
                                                Matterhorn
                                                Mandalay

                                                I have a feeling B44 and Amelie will join this list soon.

                                                1. rworange Jan 11, 2007 04:58 AM

                                                  Well, it is not sit down, but Lola's on Solano just totatally rings my chow bells. I haven't had their chicken in a while and when I did recently it just blew my mind all over again. I love the baked goods. I love the jellies. I love the granola. I love Lola's.

                                                  I'm more likely to repeat at Sea Salt. I'm surprised since moving to the East Bay that I don't get to Chez Panisse as often as I would like, but the parking is a bear.

                                                  It is gone, but for over a decade I went to Bizou at the very least once a month and it was the restaurant love of my life. I am happy that Coco500 is there. Some of the same food is there, but for me Bizou was the whole deal with a great staff and comfortable ambiance and mind-blowing, for me, food.

                                                  The place I frequent a lot in the East Bay I can't report about because the old bartender from Bizou is there and we've developed enough of a friendship that CH might think it would color my opinion ... sort of a Sam Malone/Norm thing.

                                                  In SF, TownsEnd rings by chow breakfast bells.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: rworange
                                                    Paul H Jan 11, 2007 06:48 AM

                                                    I've never been to Lalime but it know it is a popular place to return to for some folks.

                                                    1. re: rworange
                                                      Robert Lauriston Jan 11, 2007 04:49 PM

                                                      Oh yeah, Sea Salt's another regular spot for us. Open late and it's the only good non-Asian seafood in the area.

                                                      Daimo's another regular spot.

                                                    2. Eugene Park Jan 11, 2007 03:47 PM

                                                      Cheap - Capp's Corner (osso bucco), Ozone Thai, Osha Thai Noodle Cafe (fried chicken over fried rice), New Gold Medal fka Sun Hong Kong (NGM chow mein, roast pork & oyster clay pot), No Name Sushi/Yokoso Nippon, Sui Sui K, Bacar (oyster happy hour on Th & F)

                                                      Not so cheap - Boulevard, Espetus, Sushi Sam's (always the omokase at the bar)

                                                      1. m
                                                        Maya Jan 11, 2007 05:36 PM

                                                        What's this Bacar oyster happy hour??

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Maya
                                                          Mari Jan 11, 2007 08:30 PM

                                                          They have a happy hour Thursdays & Fridays until 6:30 with $1 oyesters. Their cocktails are very good too. http://www.bacarsf.com/lunch.html

                                                          1. re: Mari
                                                            choctastic Jan 14, 2007 01:46 AM

                                                            what kind of oysters do they usually serve at the happy hour?

                                                        2. The Dive Jan 11, 2007 05:53 PM

                                                          the usual weekly/bi-weeky/semi-weekly:

                                                          Oliveto
                                                          Soi4
                                                          Barclay's
                                                          Cesar's
                                                          Chow (Lafayette)
                                                          Lanesplitter

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: The Dive
                                                            Morton the Mousse Jan 11, 2007 06:21 PM

                                                            Can you tell me more about Chow in Lafayette? At first glance, it strikes me as a restaurant I would enjoy - casual, comfort food using organic ingredients at a reasonable price. However, I've read some mixed reviews on long waits and inconsistent food and service. And Mrs. Mousse is convinced that there is no good food beyond the Caldecott.

                                                            As a regular, do you find the food hit or miss? Are there specific dishes you find consistent? Do they have good beer on tap? What is the usual tab for two? Do you think it's worth the drive from Berkeley?

                                                            Thanks.

                                                            1. re: Morton the Mousse
                                                              Glencora Jan 11, 2007 10:12 PM

                                                              I had breakfast there recently. The room was nice, with a fire and Christmas decorations. It was pretty crowded for a Tuesday morning, mostly women. The eggs Benedict I had were not good. The yolk was solid and the sauce came in a little boat. I've never seen that before. I guess those women are all dieting. I saw a lot of them eating fruit plates! My SO had something Mexican, I can't remember what. He thought it was pretty good. Since the staff and cooks all seem to be Latino, that may be your best bet. Honestly, though, it's not worth the drive from Berkeley--at least not for breakfast. I was glad to have the place recommended to me by another Hound, though, because it was warm and cozy on a very cold morning and I was stuck in Layfayette.

                                                              1. re: Morton the Mousse
                                                                o
                                                                Oakland Barb Jan 12, 2007 02:36 AM

                                                                We drive thru the tunnel for Chow. It fills a particular niche for us. It wouldn't be for breakfast, but for a Cobb salad for dinner or for their won tons, it hits the mark.
                                                                By the way, these aren't "normal" won tons. Give them a try and get back to me!
                                                                I think it has a specific "place" in East Bay eating.

                                                              2. re: The Dive
                                                                The Dive Jan 12, 2007 04:32 PM

                                                                We're on the other side of the tunnel pretty frequently, so I don't know about "worth the trip" or not. I will say, like Oakland Barb, that Chow fills a niche that we don't have in the Rockridge/Piedmont/Oakland area (though Somerset is close) -- good, fresh, healthy comfort food. We always get the potstickers (steamed little pork ones with a light spicy sauce--excellent). Meal-wise, I tend to get the short ribs, the burger (on a baguette) or the seasonal pasta (two spring ago it was a meyer lemon cream sauce with spring vegetables -- so good I still talk about it). The Dive-ster almost always get the egg sandwich. I like that some dishes come in small and large sizes, and I like the pies. Beer-wise, they pick the beers very well (Racer 5 is almost always on draft), but it is a small selection (this isn't Barclay's). That being said, I tend to always get a beer (rather than wine), as the selection tends to be interesting. Overall, I like the place.

                                                              3. m
                                                                Missmoo Jan 11, 2007 06:35 PM

                                                                For the past few years our go to was Nizza la Bella, we still go but not as often. Now, we're more likely to go to Fonda (although it is expensive) Seasalt and Sushi Sho.

                                                                1. s
                                                                  sensi63 Jan 11, 2007 06:44 PM

                                                                  For special occasions and with out of town guests, Chez Panisse Cafe. We go about 4 times a year, and they always treat us like regulars. Really nice.
                                                                  For cheap to go, Chaat Cafe for chicken curry onion naan and eggplant on sunday nites.
                                                                  For spicy delicious cheap but divey, Kabana on University. The tandoori catfish and Karahi chicken, yellow daal and eggplant are as delicious as anything anywhere. Mr Choudry is very nice.
                                                                  For the great wines by the glass and cool vibe, Cesar. The servers are always knowledgeable about the wines, they give us tastes, though I am starting to tire of the food...
                                                                  For tasty udon and the yummy pancake/omlette O Chame on 4th. Always friendly service, you can make a same day reservation and its relaxing.
                                                                  Kirala 2 for really good sushi to go. Go in and order it and they make it to order, take it home and eat. Much cheaper than getting it at the restaurant because beer and sake are cheap at home!
                                                                  Place I want to go to more, having been for the 1st time last week A Cote. Really loved it. Yummy mussels, alot of wines by the glass, the nicest bartender (he let us have multiple tastes...

                                                                  20 Replies
                                                                  1. re: sensi63
                                                                    Robert Lauriston Jan 11, 2007 06:50 PM

                                                                    I really like the new Cesar on Piedmont, both for the longer menu and the larger space. The original on Shattuck I like only when it's half-full.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                      z
                                                                      zin1953 Jan 12, 2007 04:05 PM

                                                                      When it's full, it's way too noisy . . . and when is it ever half-full? ;^)

                                                                      1. re: zin1953
                                                                        Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2007 04:24 PM

                                                                        Mid-afternoon.

                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                        The Dive Jan 12, 2007 04:35 PM

                                                                        I completely agree about Shattuck v. Piedmont. I doubt I'll be back to the Shattuck one.

                                                                        I like A Cote, but I've always found it so crowded that I have to wait forever. I really would love to add it my usual rotation, but I hate always eating at the common table.

                                                                        1. re: The Dive
                                                                          JasmineG Jan 12, 2007 05:08 PM

                                                                          I tend to get to A Cote either on the early side or the late side, and have good luck -- also, they take reservations before, I think, 6:30.

                                                                          1. re: JasmineG
                                                                            Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2007 05:09 PM

                                                                            We usually go close to 10 and never have to wait long, if at all.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                              JasmineG Jan 12, 2007 05:20 PM

                                                                              Yeah, I usually get there either before 6 or after 9, and don't have to wait.

                                                                              1. re: JasmineG
                                                                                Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2007 05:28 PM

                                                                                The wait at 9:00 has often been so long that we give up and go somewhere else.

                                                                      3. re: sensi63
                                                                        susancinsf Jan 11, 2007 07:41 PM

                                                                        I'd only consider the sushi at Kirala2 if it was made to order. The stuff they have there made in advance looks old and unappetizing.

                                                                        A Cote is somewhere I might go regularly if I lived closer.

                                                                        I must have had good luck at the Cesar on Shattuck, or go only at odd times,because it never seems too crowded to me. I've very much enjoyed sitting at the bar, great bartenders. But again, I'd go more often if it were closer to home.

                                                                        1. re: susancinsf
                                                                          s
                                                                          sensi63 Jan 11, 2007 08:00 PM

                                                                          When I order sushi at Kirala2, I watch them make it, it only takes 10-15 minutes, and I mostly get uni, nigiri and sashimi and oshinko rolls which are not premade. But I must say, the turnover on the stuff in the freezer looks very high, as they do a brisk business around dinner time. If I was not satisfied with something I purchased, I would return it.

                                                                        2. re: sensi63
                                                                          z
                                                                          zin1953 Jan 12, 2007 04:10 PM

                                                                          My problem with Chez Panisse -- both the restaurant and the cafe -- is the "time warp" aspect. There is no one I respect more than Alice Waters. But it often seems to me that the restaurant is stagnant, that they are doing the same (kind of) foods they've been doing for decades. Other places have surpassed Chez Panisse long ago.

                                                                          It is what it is, and it's good, but -- for me -- rarely exciting. I've felt this way for years.

                                                                          It was summed up best by my wife, who is the better cook between the two of us. The last two times we've been there, she said she thought there wasn't anything we ordered that she couldn't make at home just as well. And I agree.

                                                                          1. re: zin1953
                                                                            Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2007 04:38 PM

                                                                            I've been eating at Chez Panisse for 30 years and a meal last January was the best of the bunch:

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

                                                                            They're still tops at procuring the best of the best ingredients and cooking them in such a way as to maximize their natural flavors. I don't think anybody else has surpassed them at that. Oliveto's at about the same level.

                                                                            It would be physically impossible for me to duplicate that meal at home as I can't get some of the ingredients and don't have a wood oven or grill.

                                                                            There are other places where you'll get more innovative, chef-driven food, but that's been true all along.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                              z
                                                                              zin1953 Jan 12, 2007 09:02 PM

                                                                              Ingredients (or VERY close in quality) are available; I don't have a wood oven at home (that's what Pizzolio is for!), and the rest is just expertise in the kitchen.

                                                                              This is NOT to say that Alice couldn't taste the difference between the fodd form her chef and from my wife & I -- but it would be close enough that I'd certainly be really happy to save the price of the meal at Chez Panisse and go out to dinner elsewhere . . .

                                                                              1. re: zin1953
                                                                                Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2007 09:12 PM

                                                                                I buy from some of Chez Panisse's purveyors, but they get first pick. And they have other suppliers I don't have access to. I always notice the difference in quality.

                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                  z
                                                                                  zin1953 Jan 13, 2007 01:30 PM

                                                                                  Well of course they get first pick . . .

                                                                                  Robert? Let me say this again:

                                                                                  "This is NOT to say that Alice couldn't taste the difference between the food form her chef and from my wife & I -- but it would be close enough that I'd certainly be really happy to save the price of the meal at Chez Panisse and go out to dinner elsewhere . . ."

                                                                                  I do not think Chez Panisse is not a bad restaurant, Quite the contrary, I think it's very, very good. OTOH, I've rarely been excited by the meals I've had there in several years. Good food? Absolutely. Fantastic experience? No, I'm always left feeling that something -- a "spark" -- was missing.

                                                                                  1. re: zin1953
                                                                                    Robert Lauriston Jan 13, 2007 04:20 PM

                                                                                    Right, you made that clear, I'm just saying I've had the opposite experience.

                                                                                    1. re: zin1953
                                                                                      grocerytrekker Jan 13, 2007 05:00 PM

                                                                                      Sadly, I have to agree with you, zin1953, although I WANT to rate it high. I live in Berkeley, after all. First-rate local ingredients, sure, but it cannot compare to some of the restaurants popping up elsewhere with superior food. And when I have to compare it to Oliveto, and Oliveto is better in my mind, something is wrong here. A spark is definitely missing. And Oliveto -proudly- doesn't aspire to be a fine dining venue, and perhaps CP doesn't, either, and we have to stop rating it as being one.

                                                                                      1. re: grocerytrekker
                                                                                        Robert Lauriston Jan 13, 2007 05:15 PM

                                                                                        Which other restaurants do you have in mind?

                                                                                        Of the places in the Chez Panisse tradition--e.g. Zuni, Cafe Rouge, Incanto, Delfina, Eccolo--I rank Chez Panisse downstairs and Oliveto upstairs as tied for #1.

                                                                                        I can understand why some people prefer more chef-driven, creative, haute cuisine places such as French Laundry, but Chez Panisse has always been controversial on that score.

                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                          z
                                                                                          zin1953 Jan 15, 2007 08:55 PM

                                                                                          I'm not grocerytrekker, but I just thought I'd through in that I sort of put Zuni and Cafe Rouge in the same category. I enjoy all three (Chez Panisse, too), but they all seem somewhat "stagnant" -- though that's not quite right, either. There is something of a time warp to them, in that -- yes, they do something and they do it quite well -- but it seems to me, at least, that they're still doing the same thing . . . over and over.

                                                                                          Robert, I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here, but I do want to make sure you understand I like and dine at Chez Panisse (and Zuni and Cafe Rouge) -- um, not "frequently" but "regularly," say 2-4 times a year at least; more at Cafe Rouge, less at Zuni (as I live in the East Bay now) -- but I don't go there for "exciting" or "creative" meals. Thus, and especially at Chez Panisse (I think because of the added expectations), I often feel that a certain "spark" is missing.

                                                                                          So I recommend Chez Panisse to friends/acquaintances who've never dined there on a regular basis, but I also add my little "proviso."

                                                                                          1. re: zin1953
                                                                                            Robert Lauriston Jan 15, 2007 09:27 PM

                                                                                            All depends on personal preference.

                                                                                            To my taste, creative, chef-driven food is shallow and boring compared with a really well-executed classic, such as Chez Panisse's turkey and chanterelle mushroom ravioli in brodo, Incanto's finanziera, or Oliveto's pork scallopine.

                                                                          2. c
                                                                            cali5189 Jan 11, 2007 06:58 PM

                                                                            I have to say Eccolo is one of my favorites. I am very suprised of its lack of mention on these posts. The service is always phenomenal, they use great bread (acme of course), their cocktails are great and the food has always been amazing. If you have not been, it is great for brunch (you can't miss their bloody mary's).

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: cali5189
                                                                              Morton the Mousse Jan 11, 2007 07:29 PM

                                                                              Eccolo's dinner prices are a bit too spendy for me, but I completely agree with you about brunch. The Mrs. and I eat Sunday brunch at Eccolo at least once a month. The Marco's burger is the best burger I've had, and the chicken crisped under a brick, eggs benedict, and french fried are always excellent. I just wish they had a better selection of beer.

                                                                              1. re: cali5189
                                                                                Robert Lauriston Jan 11, 2007 10:19 PM

                                                                                Eccolo's good but Oliveto's better and dinner costs about the same.

                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                  z
                                                                                  zin1953 Jan 12, 2007 03:58 PM

                                                                                  Agreed.

                                                                                2. re: cali5189
                                                                                  z
                                                                                  zin1953 Jan 12, 2007 04:06 PM

                                                                                  Eccolo was much better when it first opened (IMHO), in the kitchen but especially on the floor. We used to be regulars, but . . .

                                                                                3. r
                                                                                  rtmonty Jan 11, 2007 08:35 PM

                                                                                  Have to have lunch at Tadich at least once a quarter. Have been to Luella a number of times, likewise Rue Saint Jacque. For upscale, Boulevard, Ame and the Dining Room at the Ritz with La Folie being pretty darn close.

                                                                                  In the east bay, Ortaez Mexican in Alameda along with East Ocean for dim sum in Alameda.

                                                                                  1. w
                                                                                    weluvitslow_in_sf Jan 11, 2007 09:35 PM

                                                                                    Anchor Oyster Bar is the THE BEST seafood. We go at least twice a month. Catch is also very, very good - we go there about 6-8 times a year. We're not vegan, but Millennium is a sensational experience we hit about once a year. Sauce is becoming a nice little habit, too. Tsar Nicolai, in the Ferry Building, the day after Thanksgiving - to kick off the holiday with some decadence- is a tradition my best friend and I like to keep up every year. Not in SF, but in Healdsburg - we always visit Zin when we go up there about three times a year.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: weluvitslow_in_sf
                                                                                      Melanie Wong Jan 11, 2007 10:01 PM

                                                                                      What makes Anchor the best in your view?

                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                                                        augustiner Jan 12, 2007 01:09 PM

                                                                                        the first and only time i ate at anchor, i ordered the special roast dungeness crab with a garlic/wine sauce. it was also seasoned with tarragon and i thought it was delicious. that crab seemed fresh, with good meat to shell ratio. this was about a month and a half ago. i've heard good things about their crab salads from others. both in terms of the freshness of the crab and the greens (not limp, browning gross iceberg), and in terms of portion size. i'm usually really skeptical about restaurants in the castro. when i went to the aforementioned catch for a birthday last week, for example, i was really underwhelmed. the most exciting thing i had there was the breaded deep fried olive app, of all things. but i enjoyed anchor oyster bar very much. i wouldn't say the best, but comfortable, friendly, and tasty, yes. although i wondered about the chowder, too. then again, swan's has lines like a dickensian orphanage with canned chowder...

                                                                                        1. re: augustiner
                                                                                          Lori SF Jan 12, 2007 04:46 PM

                                                                                          "like a dickensian orphanage" LMAO

                                                                                      2. re: weluvitslow_in_sf
                                                                                        Robert Lauriston Jan 11, 2007 10:20 PM

                                                                                        What have you had that's sensational at Millennium?

                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                          w
                                                                                          weluvitslow_in_sf Jan 12, 2007 03:32 PM

                                                                                          Many things over the course of the seven years we've lived here. Most recently we ate there for New Years and all of the courses were great - most notably was roulade they served as the main course, as well as the amuse bouche. They also do desserts extremely well, especially since there's no dairy involved. I looove their Chocolate Almond Midnight. They have a very nice wine list as well.

                                                                                          1. re: weluvitslow_in_sf
                                                                                            Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2007 03:54 PM

                                                                                            What was the amuse bouche? And what was in the roulade?

                                                                                      3. w
                                                                                        weluvitslow_in_sf Jan 11, 2007 10:08 PM

                                                                                        Re: Anchor - the food is always perfectly prepared..they manage to make mahi mahi melt in your mouth. It's also in the details - their vegetables are perfectly cooked and seasoned, their salads are extremely fresh. They even slightly blanch their carrots for their salads just to pull out the natural sweetness. Their clam chowder is the best on a rainy day, too. =)

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: weluvitslow_in_sf
                                                                                          Robert Lauriston Jan 11, 2007 10:20 PM

                                                                                          Isn't their clam chowder canned?

                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                            w
                                                                                            weluvitslow_in_sf Jan 12, 2007 03:51 PM

                                                                                            To my knowledge, it's not canned. My husband and I are likely to pop in sometime this weekend. I'll ask.

                                                                                            1. re: weluvitslow_in_sf
                                                                                              Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2007 03:55 PM

                                                                                              Sorry, I was confusing Anchor with Swan.

                                                                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                              j
                                                                                              Jim Jan 13, 2007 06:48 PM

                                                                                              A friend of mine worked at Anchor years ago and said that the clam chowder was actually Campbells and they doctored it up a bit. I'm not sure if that's still the case.

                                                                                              1. re: Jim
                                                                                                w
                                                                                                weluvitslow_in_sf Jan 14, 2007 08:21 AM

                                                                                                I'm happy to say that my husband had the clam chowder this evening, as a side to the crab cake entree. As of tonight - and every other other week for the past year and a half - it was fresh, house-made, not at all Cambpbell's. =) As always, both of our meals were perfect..which is probably why they have a healthy wait for tables every night. This thread is about loyalty to ones favorite spots - this is definitely a love of mine, through and through.

                                                                                          2. d
                                                                                            drobbia Jan 11, 2007 11:42 PM

                                                                                            O Chame on 4th streetin berzerkeley - can be busy, worth the wait - beer is bottled (only negative)- all on menu is super- also,try the bento box for lunch to go.

                                                                                            1. a
                                                                                              Alba Jan 11, 2007 11:54 PM

                                                                                              A16, Saha, Il Borgo, L'Amour dans les fours (sadly now closed)

                                                                                              Same successful formula for all of them - consistently delicious, well-executed, straightforward dishes, warm/gracious service, unique atmosphere, non-sceney (A16 excepted).

                                                                                              1. l
                                                                                                Lil_Miss_Foodie_SF Jan 12, 2007 12:21 AM

                                                                                                I love Pizza Delfina. It is a lot of fun to sit at the counter and talk to the chefs or just watch the action. Also, Alsam Rasoi has really tasty, very fresh Indian. Another fave, for lunch, is Medicine. The soboro rice bowl is delicious and nutritious. For sushi Koo is a favorite.

                                                                                                1. l
                                                                                                  lmnopm Jan 12, 2007 03:27 AM

                                                                                                  In no particular order
                                                                                                  (1) Tu Lan - a regular stop when over in the City. A handful of things I love, the rest I usually skip.
                                                                                                  (2) Meal Ticket - almost in my backyard, a decent reliable breakfast or lunch.
                                                                                                  (3) Banh Mi Ba Le - how can you go wrong? Quick and delicious lunch.
                                                                                                  (4) Lanesplitter to go - Very good, and can walk home and the pizza is still hot.
                                                                                                  (5) Sophia Cafe - very tasty, homey, convenient food.
                                                                                                  (6) Six Degrees - A reliable above-average meal that ranges from good to a high very good.
                                                                                                  (7) Britt-Marie - for those nights I'm alone and want a glass of wine and can have anything from a salad, to a hearty meal, while reading the paper.
                                                                                                  (8) Lalimes - great service, good to very good food, and so convenient it gets extra marks just for that.
                                                                                                  (9) Tangerine (on Solano) - a great place for lunch - just squeeze into one of the 2 little tables in there, and run into someone you know, or meet someone new, while eating a healthy meal.
                                                                                                  (10) Indus Village - A tasty filling combo meal for under $10. How can you go wrong?

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: lmnopm
                                                                                                    bbulkow Jan 14, 2007 04:00 PM

                                                                                                    I miss Banh Mi Ba Le.

                                                                                                  2. JasmineG Jan 12, 2007 06:57 AM

                                                                                                    I go to Pizzaiolo, Dopo, A Cote, Cesar and Dona Tomas a lot. For weekend breakfast, I drop into Mama's Royal Cafe on Broadway and Bette's on 4th St. not infrequently, though neither of them is my breakfast ideal.

                                                                                                    1. z
                                                                                                      zin1953 Jan 12, 2007 04:04 PM

                                                                                                      My God, there are so many . . . .

                                                                                                      In Berkeley/Oakland, there's the usual assortment: Lalimes, Sea Salt, Fonda, Cesar (both Berkeley and Oakland, though we've shifted a bit and seem to go more often now to the one on Piedmont), Pizzaiolo, Oliveto's . . . .

                                                                                                      In the City: Chapeau!, Restaurant Gary Danko, Pipperade, I Luna Basque, Bacar, Tsar Nicolai and Taylor's in the Ferry Building . . . .

                                                                                                      1. t
                                                                                                        tenmiler Jan 12, 2007 05:24 PM

                                                                                                        Delfina is a perennial fav for me as is Slanted Door. Even after they moved to the Ferry Bldg and have taken on a bit of shi-shi tone, the food is excellent. Delfina, on the other hand, remains a true Mission eatery that is upscale without the 'tude. I always like to return to Zuni on Market St. because it's just the benchmark for New Cali food, and the bread and the Bloody Marys (served with a paper straw!) are fantastic.

                                                                                                        1. michele_corum Jan 13, 2007 08:17 PM

                                                                                                          Pho 84 on 17th in Oakland.

                                                                                                          It's not just because it happens to be around the corner from my office (that's a bonus) but IMO they have really great food. I've been for dinner but am there weekly for lunch. Same menu, better price! Gotta have my #61 Dark!

                                                                                                          1. c
                                                                                                            codywhitney Jan 13, 2007 09:21 PM

                                                                                                            Nan Yang,Shen Hua,Pho 84,Kirala,Uzen and Breads of India... all in Oakland and Berkeley.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: codywhitney
                                                                                                              Robert Lauriston Jan 13, 2007 10:32 PM

                                                                                                              What do you like at Nan Yang? I haven't heard anything good about it in years.

                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                codywhitney Jan 15, 2007 04:55 PM

                                                                                                                I like the thai garlic noodles,the light curry dishes such as spinach and tomato,shrimp and tomato and the (I think the name is) burmese vegetable.I also love the salads (green papaya,green tea)and the 5 treasure bean curd and fried tropical squash appetizer.If mango is in season I order accordingly (green mango too).

                                                                                                            2. j
                                                                                                              Judith Jan 14, 2007 02:56 AM

                                                                                                              Evvia, although Kokkari is even more wonderful, it's just not as convenient for us folks in the south bay. Also Bodeguita del Medio. The food is fine, but for me it's all about the platanos and the rum. And we go to TK Noodle or New Tung Kee at least once every two weeks and have ever since the first one opened on William Street in San Jose. It's our basic nothing-is-defrosted, everyone-got-stuck-at-the office meal. Mucho's is the other quick option.

                                                                                                              1. jbyoga Jan 14, 2007 03:00 AM

                                                                                                                Anyone been to Le Cheval in Oakland lately? Used to be my East Bay Fave Vietnamese....a long time ago!

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: jbyoga
                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                  codywhitney Jan 15, 2007 05:00 PM

                                                                                                                  Yeah..still go alot.Not crazy about the entrees except for the clay pot fish and lemongrass anything.I love the watercress salad(most of their salads),the raw beef salad,the mussel appetizer and the Bun with pork kabob. Make sure you order in segments or everything will arrive at once!

                                                                                                                2. p
                                                                                                                  pony Feb 3, 2007 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                  delfina. you won't regret it.

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