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Vancouver chowhound looking for unique Bay area cuisine

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Will be visiting the Bay Area for a couple of weeks in late May/early June. Any recs for food I would not find in Vancouver?

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  1. Oh, wow! Vancouver has great food, Vij's, Rangoli, Chambar, Banana Leaf Malaysian. If we're on the same page, Cafe Colucci on the Oakland/Berkeley border has great Ethiopian. Breads of India (two locations, Berkeley and downtown Oakland) and Ajanta at the top of Solano Ave. in north Berkeley for Indian food. We like the cafe upstairs at Chez Panisse (get reservations,now) for special occasions. Sea Salt on San Pablo in Berkeley for fun seafood and great atmosphere. Our neighborhood standby for homey food is Rick & Anne's across from the Claremont Hotel. Great breakfasts with long waits on the weekend. But a nice place to hang out with Peet's coffee and Bread Garden Bakery in the same block. Enjoy!

    8 Replies
    1. re: GloriaDunn

      Thank you for the suggestions. How about Mexican places? Also, I am curious about beef seven ways at a Vietnamese restaurant?

      1. re: squiphie

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/46034...
        Bihn Mihn Quan oakland down town

        1. re: ThaDu

          BMC is my favorite Vietnamese in the East Bay but I wasn't thrilled with their beef seven ways and somebody else recently reported a similar experience. Pagolac on Larkin in SF is probably a better choice for that meal.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Has anyone been to Pagolac lately? It was very, very good last time I was there, but that was before they changed owners, I think.

            1. re: pilinut

              Same family.

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              have you tried the new pagolac on international in oakland. I was there today and they feature fire pots and the Bo 7 course deal, so I want to return

              1. re: stutzco

                I had the bo 7 mon there a few years ago and it was very good. The big-screen Vietnamese karaoke was a bit much.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  They changed owners around two years ago and it might ahve changed a little. I only ever had the pho bo kho, which definitely changed after the handover.

      2. Which of these do you not have in Vancouver, will you have a car, and how far are you willing to drive?

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32042...

        10 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Hi Robert,
          We may have a car for a few evenings, but I will be travelling during the daytime for 2 weeks by public transit/train while my fiance is a working in San Jose. We will be based out of San Jose.
          The following are intriguing and I do not believe I have tried them in Vancouver:
          - Basque
          - Basque tapas
          - Burmese
          - Breton crepes
          - Guatemalan
          - Hakka
          - Lao / Laotian
          - Muslim / Islamic Chinese
          - Nicaraguan
          - Salvadorean
          - northern Thai
          - Turkish
          - northern Vietnamese

          1. re: squiphie

            Yikes.

            I think of San Jose as more Asian/Indian/Rusisian/Mexican ... how's the Azorean Portuguese food in Vancouver. If not that great, you might want to head to Alum Rock in San Jose. Also, there might be a few Mexican places in SJ that specialize in goat. If you are interested in that let me know and I'll look it up.

            I would frankly write a new topic and specifically ask for those cuisines in San Jose ... which is somewhat of a treck from SF / East Bay. And although it is not my favorite restaruant I would say if you want Basque, a trip to Piperade in SF would be worth your while.

            Though I have not tried many of these, just heard positive comments, here's some San Jose ideas. Hopefully San Jose-ites will comment

            Basque

            Picasso's Tapas Restaurant (really more Spanish Tapas, but a basque dish or two)
            http://www.picassosrestaurant.com/

            Guatamalan
            The only place I know is in SF. Though my Guatamalan in-laws like it and I haven't tried it, quite frankly, I wouldn't drive from SJ to try it. However, if you want ...
            San Miguel Restaurant 3263 Mission St

            The only Nicaraguan places I know are in SF, but again, quite frankly,not worth the trek.

            Salvadorean.
            Sabor Salvadoreno
            2045 White Oak Ln
            Santa Clara, CA 95051

            El Chalateco Salvadorian
            280 N Capitol Ave
            San Jose, CA 95173

            Wherever you eat, hope you will report back about what you ate and how it was.

            1. re: squiphie

              Ah, thanks for letting us know you'll be based in San Jose . . . closer to the good stuff. For north Viet, you must try Nha Toi. Here's a link to get you started.
              http://www.chowhound.com/search?item_...

              1. re: squiphie

                - Basque - Piperade in SF

                - Basque tapas - Bocadillos in SF

                - Burmese - Burma Super Star or Mandalay in SF

                - Breton crepes - Ti Couz in SF (near 16th St. BART)

                - Guatemalan - Acaxutla, Mission St., SF

                - Hakka - http://www.chowhound.com/search?item_...

                - Lao / Laotian - Champa Garden in Oakland

                - Muslim / Islamic Chinese - Darda in Milpitas (great), Fatima in San Jose, New Ma's in San Jose, Old Mandarin Islamic in SF - contact info: http://www.zabihah.com/_subregion.php...

                - Nicaraguan - La Nicaragua in SF

                - Salvadorean - http://www.chowhound.com/search?item_...

                - northern Thai (Issan) - Ruen Pair in Albany, Thai temple in Fremont

                - Turkish - A La Turka or Gyro King in SF

                - northern Vietnamese - Nha Toi in San Jose

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Have you tried Acaxutla and know how much of the menu is Guatemalan? I'll put it on my list to stop by to scope out for my inlaws, but the one review on yelp says it is pretty awful and the focus may not be Guatamalan.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Haven't been there myself yet. The two reports on Chowhound are favorable.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Thanks. I'll have to try the pupusas since I haven't been able to wow the inlaws yet. Here are the links for the OP.
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/21090
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/35605...

                      Though it might be hard to get them to try another place besides San Miguel

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Fatima had a fire and is closed.

                    Any interest in Central Vietnamese (Hue)?

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I am not familiar with Central Vietnamese. Can you explain or describe it?

                      1. re: squiphie

                        Here's a link to a report (with a link to an earlier report) for Quang Da in San Jose, which will give you an idea of Hue-style food.
                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45354
                        I've not been there yet but hope to try it soon. I have tried another Hue restaurant in San Jose that I should write up.

                        For Vietnamese food, San Jose is the place to be. I've been offering these up so that you can take advantage of your base. When you come up to SF, try another cuisine.

              2. Burritos. Eat as many as possible.

                Where will you be based?

                4 Replies
                1. re: cfarivar

                  Eat burritos? ...And as many as I can? That sounds like a very good plan, but where? I will be based out of San Jose and will be travelling during the 2 weeks by public transit/train. Willing to travel far and wide for a good burrito. I have also never tried taco trucks before, but am alway up far good cheap eats. Please suggest.

                  1. re: squiphie

                    "As many as possible" isn't necessarily very many, if you are talking about Mission Burritos; they weigh in as heavyweights.

                    As Mr. Carfree here, I can assure you that you can do plenty on public transportation. It will be worth it to do a little research on our transit systems (including the Caltrain/BART and Caltrain/SF Muni interfaces, as you will be most likely starting your day trips on Caltrain.

                    In some instances, it will be best to transfer from Caltrain to BART at Millbrae. This strategy would apply to Mission Burritos and the various Central America cusiines available in the heart of the Mission District, as well as to taco truck research in both SF Mission District and Oakland Fruitvale District.

                    In other instances it will probably be best to stay on Caltrain all the way into San Francisco, where three lines adjacent to the train station will take you directly to Chinatown, North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf areas, for instance.

                    1. re: squiphie

                      La Taqueria downtown San Jose for excellent burritos and tacos (especially carnitas):
                      http://www.google.com/maps?hl=en&...

                      1. re: Husky

                        If you want great taqueria food, you have to check out Super Taqueria. Their venerable downtown San Jose (10th St. near williams) has recently reopened after being torn down and rebuilt. I just hope they have the same grills and cooks. What I always order: carne asada super taco, but the burritos are good too.

                        Also, if you're based in San Jose, try Vung Tau on Santa Clara St. Considered one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the city.

                  2. Some restaurants that might be a bit unique to SF...

                    Slanted Door
                    A16
                    Ame
                    Piperade (you mentioned Basque)

                    1. Most of my recommendations are in SF and the East Bay, quite a schlep from San Jose on public transportation. Since you're down there, you might want to check out Tirupathi Bhimas, Zeni, Swathi Tiffins, and Real Ice Cream:

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/351087
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/37278
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/326129
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/333089

                      Current general topic on San Jose:

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/383561

                      1. If you're going to be dining out in San Jose, stick to Vietnamese and Mexican. Others have mentioned good places like Nha Toi or Vung Tau. I would also add Anh Hong for 7-course beef. It's a small chain but I find it consistently good. There's also another vietnamese place that does 8-course fish but the name escapes me. I haven't been there in a number of years.

                        I don't recommend Picasso's for spanish. It's ok but I wouldn't consider it to be a destination restaurant. I'm not an expert on mexican food but I like La Taqueria. If you don't mind driving a bit further north to Mountain View (between SJ and SF) you should try Uncle Frank's BBQ. It's as authentic as it could possibly be for Calif. You didn't mentioned this but there are a lot of good shanghai style restaurants around here that you might want to check out. Just do a search.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: KathyM

                          Hi Kathy,
                          The 8 course fish sounds very interesting. I've had 3-course fish before, but didn't know you can make 8 courses out of one fish. I will be sure to try Uncle Frank's. Southern food is something difficult to find in Vancouver.

                          1. re: squiphie

                            The 7-courses of fish will include dishes made from a variety of fish, not just the flesh from a single fish. Often for the beef or fish dinner there's a 2-person minimum. If there isn't, try to get away with ordering just one set for the two of you, as it's usually a lot of food. Should that not be enough, you can order another entree or appetizer for more variety.

                            1. re: squiphie

                              Here's info on the 7-course fish from another restaurant which I've never tried.
                              http://pekoepeony.blogspot.com/2006/0...

                              I used to go to Miss Saigon in Milpitas but that was a while ago. I have no idea if they have the same menu or not.

                              1. re: KathyM

                                Here's another report on the 7-courses of fish at My Canh,
                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44449...

                          2. Oh, as long as you're in San Jose, you should stop by Stan's Donuts one morning... I just finished slamming an overhyped "artisanal" donut shop on the Manhattan Board, and now I have donuts on the brain. Stan's glazed yeast-raised donuts are my favorite.

                            Stan's Donuts
                            2628 Homestead Rod
                            Santa Clara, CA