Two NY Hounds in May
We're coming to your fine city from May 14-19. We're staying in Union Square. Looking for recommendations for cooking that is fresh, spicey or seasoned with a talented hand, inventive (no foam). Places that have earned your return visits for the flavors and vibe. We are open to most any cuisine mentions.
We can't afford places that charge $35-$50 for entrees, although one or two splurges would be ok. I've been looking at the posts so I have some suggestions. I've cut and pasted a bunch from R. Lauristen (?) and others who seem to be quality hounds.
We are also looking for good cafes that serve top shelf coffee. Thank you in advance.
May 14-19 2007
I’ll try to be brief and to the point.
Each morning we started out at the Emporio Rulli Caffe @ Stockton. The cappuccino and latte are first rate and the pastries fresh and decadent. I bought a panini for the flight back and it was good hours later. In our limited time, this was the best coffee that we had.
Still somewhat blitzed from the long flight, we wound up at Maverick for an early dinner. We spotted it and decided that the menu looked interesting. Kathy (K), my spouse, had an excellent salad, The Maverick, w/ fresh baby greens, ruby red grapefruit, pickled red onion, capers, champagne vinaigrette. Her entrée was shrimp stuffed sole w/ fresh red potatoes, English peas w/ tarragon glacage.
I hade the house signature southern fried chicken w/ mustard greens, Nora Mill “Georgia Ice Cream” grits w/giblet gravy. The sole was fresh and well prepared and seasoned with a delicate hand. The fried chicken was good, but I’ve had much better from local churches here in Albany, NY. The batter was a little too thick and beyond golden brown, but the chicken was moist and flavorful. The Sutton Cellars 2004 Zin was from a small producer and well crafted. We were seated right away since we were early and had to vacate the table by 7:30. Mondays all bottles of wine are 40% off.
May 15 Lunch
The Slanted Door
Since we were at Ferry Plaza, we opted to try The Slanted Door. We started with the Crispy Imperial Rolls that were excellent. K had the Lemongrass Chicken and I had the Grilled 5 Spice Chicken. K’s chicken dish had more flavor than my 5 spice did. Other than the Imperial rolls, the food was good, but not outstanding. You are paying for the window views and ambiance. The wait staff annoyingly circled the table, but we took our time. We had arrived just as the Slanted Door opened. For $75, we would not return.
520 Columbus Ave.
We walked into this outpost of Naia (I think they have others in the Castro, Berkeley and ?) and found some very good gelati. Some of the flavors are a stretch. We stuck with the fruits, nuts and chocolate. Intensely flavored and good texture. Very friendly staff. Would return.
Decent pizza with good thin crust. The toppings were of good quality, but strangely lacked taste. The oregano and hot red pepper helped. Wines by the glass were well chosen. I would go back for dinner, but would not go again just for the pizza.
Very welcoming staff and the place was full. From the “Hanoi Street Food” selections, I had marinated grilled pork that was tender, lean, flavorful and ample. We shared the succulent spring rolls. K. was not thrilled with her Pad Tai Shrimp dish. It somewhat non-descript. I wanted a sandwich down the street, but K wanted to sit down at a table. I think the sandwich was the way to go, although my pork dish was very satisfying.
Thai House Express (Larkin)
Abundant well seasoned portions served at warp speed and no rush out the door by the friendly staff. Shared Toong Gern Yueng. K had Gang Koor Goong and I had the Gai Ga-Prow. I asked for medium heat which was just right. The incendiary sauces are right there to amp anything up. Probably the best dinner price/value ratio that we had while in San Francisco. Lagniappe are the street people visible through the large windows.
K was not satisfied with the limited choices at L’Osteria del Forno. I was skeptical of the Italian places in North Beach after what I had read. It’s true. We had pasta at Caffe Delucchi at 500 Columbus Ave. Good but ordinary pasta with vongole (tiny Manila) and pasta with shrimp and tomatoes. Ok, but not worth a return visit. Should have known better.
The cannoli and wickedly moist chocolate cake here made us forget the disappointment of Café Delucchi. A must stop in North Beach.
Started with a dozen Marin Miyagi oysters that were very sweet and luscious. K. wasn’t extra hungry so she ordered a the gnocchi with Bellwether Farm ricotta, deliciously deep in flavor, w/ wild nettles and morels. I went with the Niman Ranch hangar steak w/much too little sautéed chard, white beans and chimichurri. The steak was quite flavorful and grilled perfectly. We chose a Domaine Terre Blanches from Les Baux de Provence. For dessert, we shared a dark delicious Pot au Crème. In retrospect, I would have ordered the roast chicken. The service was fine and friendly. Our table looked into the open kitchen and provided a unique vantage point. My only criticism of Zuni is that the portions were somewhat small. I don’t expect gargantuan portions, but I would have liked a little more food on the plate. We spoke to the couple next to us and they pointed out that we were probably the only non-locals in the café. He asked why we came to Zuni. He was interested to learn that we knew some of the history of Bay Area dining. And they shared some of their fine Cotes-du-Rhone with us. That doesn’t happen too often anywhere.
Pancho Villa Tacqueria
Now I know what a good example of a Mission burrito should taste like. Hands down the best burrito that I’ve ever had. Super Sized Pork Al Pastor for me. High quality Chicken enchilada dinner for K. Fresh ingredients, fast efficient assembly. Polite staff.
PM Sweets &Coffee
Exquisite pastries, cookies and excellent coffee !
Smart space with inviting staff on a heavily trafficked nexus of streets.
Mixed fields greens with moscatel vinaigrette
Calamari w/romesco sauce
Assorted phenomenal olives
La Granja 2001 Toro (very reasonable @$45)
Tops most tapas that we’ve had in NYC
Please check out Brick, one of SF's most talented and underrated kitchens. DON'T skip dessert--the pastry chef is awesome. If you go in a small group, sit in the kitchen area at the counter, it's really pleasant.
You can take a (long-ish) walk there from Union Square.
Seems like I'm posting the same list a lot recently ;)... My favorite restaurants in the city where main courses are under $25 are, in no particular order:
My favorite casual restaurants for out-of-towners are A16 and Slanted Door.
Aziza, Delfina, Fringale,, nopa (upstairs), Range, are all also good choices.
l'Osteria del Forno is great for dinner on the cheap.
You can do great in San Francisco by staying in the mid-range priced resturants (entrees under $30, some considerably lower) eg Range, Aziza, Luella, Firefly, A16, The Richmond, RNM... See my post on great neighborhood spots for more of this type.
If you're interested in places with great cocktails, San Francisco is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in this area.
Bars that have great cocktails too (but no food): Bourbon & Branch, Rye.
As for hole-in-the-wall/cheaper spots, you've got a lot to choose from too. A La Turca, Lahore Karahi, Bodega Bistro, Tajine, Burma Superstar/Golden Mandalay (better atmosphere at GM, IMO), Truly Med, El Delfin, Troya, El Nuevo Fruitilandia.
As for finding addresses, I just google the name of the place and "san francisco" and usually get it right away.
re: Robert Lauriston
Thanks. Will do. Also, I'd like to add that we like the more casual non-formal places.
This is what I have so far:
Canteen (800 block of Sutter)
Maykadeh (Persian) in North Beach
A La Turka
Angkor Borei (Cambodian)
Bodega Bistro (Vietnamese)
Burma Super Star / Golden Mandalay (Burmese)
Naan 'n' Curry / Shalimar / Shan / Pakwan (Indian)
L'Osteria del Forno (Italian)
Spices / Spices II (Taiwanese Sichuan)
Taqueria San Jose (tacos al pastor or chorizo)
Thai House Express
Ti Couz (crepes)
Truly Mediterranean (falafel, schawerma)
Zante (Indian pizza)
blue plate - fried asparagus and crab salad
pakwan - chicken tikka masala
go go sushi - $3 hand rolls during happy hour
limon - any of their ceviches
delfina - Pizzeria Delfina 3611 18th St (Cross Street: Guerrero Street
tartine - yummy chocolate croissants
pancho villa - super al pastor quesadilla
el farolito - super carne asada burrito
arinell - ny style slice pizza
EL METATE, on 2406 Bryant Street (near 22nd St
El Delfin 24th St. (Folsom-Harrsion) (Mex)
Ritual Roasters for coffee on 1026 Valencia, also near 22nd St.
Philz Coffee 3101 24th St @ Folsom St (Mission)
“ 3901 18th St. @Sanchez (Castro)
Hounds, what is the easist way to get an address of a place?