Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 19, 2007 10:25 PM

Spring Break 07

I will be taking my 15 year old daughter to San Francisco for her spring break the 1st week in April. We are from the mid-west (Michigan and Cleveland,OH). I am staying near Union Square but will be doing the tourist stuff all over the city and want to include the "Don't miss" restaurants, food markets, farmers's markets, food shops etc. I have been to SF a couple times on business but this is her 1st time. What should we be sure not to miss. Thanks for your help

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My current favorite restaurants that aren't super expensive are Slanted Door (Vietnamese) and A16 (Southern Italian). Both are hard to get in to but if you call Slanted Door at exactly 5:30pm on the day you want dinner you can usually get a table (they hold open a few slots for people who do that). Both are casual and A16 is young.

    You can do a search but the other restaurants of that ilk that always come up are: Range, Aziza, Delfina, Zuni, Perbacco, Incanto, nopa, Piperade, Fringale, La Ciccia with near universal acclaim from this board for Range, Delfina and Aziza. (Range and Delfina are both very difficult to get in to, as well.)

    For a cheap dinner, there is a restaurant in North Beach (our Little Italy) called L’Osteria del Forno. No reservations, you just go and give them your name. The wait on a week night generally isn’t too bad. Great pizzas; and the pork roast is awesome.

    If you like burritos, you should check out one of the popular burrito joints in the Mission. I like Tacqueria Cancun and Papalote. Others will tell you that they think La Tacqueria is the best. Papalote is a little more upscale and there is one on Fulton Street, not too far from the Haight – as well as one in the Mission. I would not take a teenage girl who didn’t grow up in a big city to the Tacqueria Cancun that is located on 6th and Market. In fact, I would generally steer clear of SOMA between 5th and 8th (although both of those streets aren’t too bad.)

    Dim Sum is big in SF. I like Ton Kiang the best, but that is a controversial opinion on this board. Seeing as you are from Cleveland… it is definitely better than Dim Sum at Li Wah. (I grew up eating at Hunan on Coventry at least 3 times per month; literally, except when it was closed for fire, I was there for dinner almost every Sunday night, so I can’t make a fair comparison.)

    If you want to do a super-nice dinner, my favorite restaurant in town is – by far – Fleur de Lys. The only note there is that it is Alsatian and might just as easily be located in New York (or Colmar). Boulevard and Ame are both a bit less expensive and both much more San Francisco-y. (Both are a bit more casual, too. Especially Ame.) Of course, you can’t get great Alsatian food in Cleveland but Michael Symon (Lola) does a great job with modern American cooking, so the draw to Boulevard might be a little less. Ame is Japanese fusion and unless the restaurant scene has changed dramatically, you can’t get anything like it in Cleveland.

    You should go to the Ferry Building (where Slanted Door is located) during the day. They have some nice specialty food stores. It is a good place to have lunch, many yummy options.

    The Metreon and the park next door may be worth seeing, for about 2 seconds.

    I'm a kid at heart and love the Exploratorium. It is a very large hands-on Science museum. In the back they have 'The Tactile Dome' which is a series of rooms you feel your way through as it is truly pitch black. You have to order tickets for that separately and in advance. I know some 15 year olds are very much in touch with their inner kid-ness while others try very hard to fight it, so it may or may not be a good idea depending upon your daughter.

    I like walking around the Palace of Fine Arts, which is located right next to the Exploratorium. It should be noted, however, that it is neither a palace nor does it contain fine arts. Rather, it is a beautiful outdoor theatre made to look like a Roman ruin.

    Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square on Fisherman's Wharf are musts for 1st time tourists. If she likes art there are some great galleries facing the water. (There are also some nice galleries on Geary near Union Square.)

    The Asian Art Museum is very good, I think it is known as the best of its kind in the country. While on a map it may look like you can walk there from your hotel, don’t even think about it. The neighborhood in between the Civic Center (where the Asian Art Museum is) and Union Square is the worst part of town (The Tenderloin). (Or, at least, it is the worst part of town that you are likely to encounter.) The Legion of Honor, our standard art museum is very very good, but not spectacular. The same can be said of SF MOMA. The chocolate museum is interesting but not thrilling.

    She will probably love the Haight.

    2 Replies
    1. re: whiner

      The above link is great. I would add Coco500 to the list ... split the vacheron for dessert.

      If you are going to Fisherman's Wharf there are better restaurants in other neighborhoods. However, if you must eat there here's some tips

      The lunch special at Scoma's is the best bet, IMO. Note that since that post Eagle Cafe has changed ownership and has had some really negative posts. Ana Mandara has also been getting some negative posts. Anyway the sea lions on Pier 39 and the Maritime Museum are the best things about Fisherman's Wharf. Whatever you do DON'T take the horrid Red and Gold Fleet cruises. A better bet is the Ferry to Tiberon or Sausalito or the Alcatraz boat. You don't need to be subjected to 'San Francisco open your Golden Gates" being blared over speakers.

      Aziza would be fun. The mission is great and you have some good recs. Walk along 24th St. Get potato chips at La Palma. Get coffee (if she drinks it) at the eccentric Philz ... get the coffee with fresh mint.

      Or on Valencia, she might enjoy the vibe at Ritual Roaster ... and then a stop for pastries or a Sandwich at Tartine and up the street for wonderful ice cream at th Bi-Rite Creamery.

      If you go to Ferry Plaza you gotta go on Saturday Morning when there is the big Farmers Market. Another fun thing to do is the Chinese Tea at Imperial Tea in that Building.

      Hope you report back on how she liked the restaurants she tried.

      1. re: whiner

        Thanks for all of the great info. We are very excited to try out your suggestions

      2. You've been given some great info here already, so I'll just chime in with a couple of thoughts. You might also take a look at Nopa - hard to get into also, but a fun and young atmosphere and good food. (The cocktails are great, too, not that your daughter will care!) Dim sum is a great idea - my personal preference is Yank Sing, but as noted by others, everyone in SF has an opinion on this topic! If you do go to the Palace of Fine Arts you can also walk along the waterfront at Crissy Field - this is all in the Marina neighborhood where A16 is, so you could combine a few things into one. I love Fleur de Lys, but it would be lost on my 16 year old goddaughter - if I were taking her, I'd choose Boulevard as it is more casual and you might even get a glance at the Bay! Scoma's can be pricey, so I'd consider that for lunch if it is on your list. I've had a disappointing meal (my last) at CoCo 500, but others obviously disagree. You might want to do a search for all of these names and see the sorts of comments you get. As noted by whiner, SF is a great walking town, but get a sense of the neighborhoods before you set out - the maps don't show the hills and parts of town can be a bit unappetizing! You might also consider a ferry ride across the Bay to Sausalito - it is fun to stroll around there and a number of restaurants are often recommended. You'll find them by searching Sausalito. I've only been to Poggio and found it pretty mediocre all 3 times - there are some fish places over there that good comments. Enjoy your vacation!

        2 Replies
        1. re: dinnerout

          Forgot a thought - if you're going to be in the Financial District you should consider Tadich Grill and Perbacco. Tadich is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) restaurant in SF, Perbacco is one of the newest but it gets consistently rave reviews. No reservations at Tadich, so it is best to time things so you don't have to wait long, particularly with a kid. You could easily walk to both (they are nearly next door to each other) from Ferry Plaza.

          1. re: dinnerout

            Lots of raves for Perbacco but recently some less than great experiences too. Seems like maybe they're less consistent when the place is so full that they're seating people upstairs.

        2. A couple of neighborhoods that would be fun for the both you- I know my nieces and nephew have enjoyed this and I still do-
          In the Mission area, the Valencia corridor has interesting shops and places to explore, starting at 24th street and walking down towards 17th street- you will find lot's of local based stores, for home, fashion, art, books and a great bead shop.. you can spend a couple of hours then make your way down to 15th street at Valencia for the best pizza- Little Star Pizza, if you get there around 5:00 PM you won't have any wait and can watch the crowds come in. Then take a cab back to Union Square or a movie somewhere. Furthermore, there are many places to eat in this area but if you wanted a casual night, jeans and sweaters this would be perfect.

          Hayes Valley- is a great neighborhood for browsing and shopping. Several places to eat too. You could do lunch before after shopping or shop later in the day before the stores close and have dinner in that area. Zuni (lunch or Dinner) Citizen Cake (brunch, lunch or Dinner), Sebo for Sushi (dinner only), Frjtz is casual local hangout to sit down and have some Belgian fries and a sandwich or Modern Tea (breakfast or lunch), great to sit outside if weather is nice enjoy some tea and the food is pretty good.

          here is a link to give you an idea of the areas I mentioned with some addresses-
          Hayes Valley-

          Mission- Valencia Corridor specifically-
          part 1-
          16th and Valencia

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lori SF

            One more thing Golden Gate Park is a great way to spend the afternoon-
            Right now you can see the Vivienne Westwood: 36 Years in Fashion exibit it's wonderful at the de Young Museum and then check our beautiful Flower Conservatory both in the park, the go for tea at the Japanese Tea House. After you can go to the Upper Haight and have a nice steaming bowl of noodles at Citrus Club super inexpensive.
            Slow lake is nice to walk around also in the park- just remember to where comfortable shoes and wear layers.. every neighborhood has it's own micro climate and changes throughout the day. There are quit a few places to eat around the park, if you search Golden Gate Park you will see the recommendations
            Citrus Club-
            Here are the links-


          2. If the weather's nice, definitely spend a day in Golden Gate Park! Take in a museum or two, and the Japanese Tea Garden. Spend a few hours at the zoo, especially at the wonderful gorilla exhibit -- the best of its kind I've ever seen, with a population of extremely personable gorillas.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pikawicca

              Thank you all very much. I will report back on where we went and what we ate. We are excited about the trip!