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SF food tour for NYC chowhound (3-days)

inmandarin Apr 10, 2007 12:14 PM

i am a taiwanese from NYC. i will be visiting SF for the first time, purely for the food. and I was hoping that you guys can help direct me to some of the "best" and "must-do" eats of SF! high quality and authenticity are a must! decor means nothing. it's all about the food.

i'll be using the BART and trolley/cable car as means of transportation. FYI, i don't mind walking a great distance for a worthwhile meal/snack/etc., only if it's worth the hike. i don't mind travelling outside of SF (like oakland, etc.), as long as the BART/bus can take me there. so if there's anything you feel is worth the trek for (whether it'd be a sit-down meal, snack, quick bite, drink, etc.), feel free to inform me! thanks !

please comment on my itinerary (pos/neg). and feel free to add to the list:

-best dongbei chinese (everyday beijing, little potato, shandong, )
-best xibei chinese (?)
-best taiwanese (Joy,168, won stew, ... from what i've found, most of it doesn't seem promising. or am i wrong?)
-best filipino breakfast (carmen's, ling nam, )
-best tacos (el zorro, el gordo, where are there quality taco trucks?)
-best fish tacos (nick's crispy, ?)
-best bakeries (damavand, emporio rulli, delassio, villa del sol, cinderella, mee mee)
-best desserts (?)
-best exotic fruits (?)
-best cantonese (?)
-best ramen (halu, santa)
-best black sesame snacks/dishes (?)

is fisherman's wharf worth checking out? too touristy? any quality snacks in the residential areas?

THANKS SO MUCH!! i should also mention that i am not visiting SF to be a tourist. i don't drink/party/club/bar-hop. so no bars or clubs for me. again, i'm purely there for the food culture. i love you guys.

  1. Robert Lauriston Apr 10, 2007 12:33 PM

    I'm not generally a fan of Naia's gelato, but their black sesame's an exception.

    Most of the best food is in residential neighborhoods, particularly the Mission and the inner Richmond.

    Except for the free and beautiful walk along the Bay, Fisherman's Wharf is purely a tourist trap.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      rworange Apr 10, 2007 12:52 PM

      Well, there IS Gary Danko in Fisherman's Wharf. However, I don't even like GD, so if your purpose is food, then skip the Wharf ... only if you must eat there.
      http://www.chow.com/digest/577

      The Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmer's market is a must stop.
      http://www.cuesa.org/
      http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/

      Filipino and Russian are not strong points in the city. I'd skip Cinderella and Carmen's. The best Eastern European baked goods are at Crixa in Berkeley.

      You might consider concentrating on California cuisine which SF does very well.

      Here's a recent dessert tasting post
      http://www.chow.com/digest/2510

      Searching thru the Chow Digest will give some good ideas.

    2. a_and_w Apr 10, 2007 03:53 PM

      Considering how hard it is to find a quality burrito in NYC, you might want to try one in SF. Favorites include El Farolito (super al pastor), Taqueria San Jose (super al pastor and super pollo), and Taqueria Cancun (vegetarian and al pastor). All three are located in the Mission near the 24th Street BART stop, though Cancun and San Jose also have branches in other parts of SF.

      18 Replies
      1. re: a_and_w
        Steve Green Apr 10, 2007 05:54 PM

        Let's add La Taqueria, on Mission nr. 25th to that list (carnitas or carne asada burritos; agua fresa).

        1. re: Steve Green
          a_and_w Apr 10, 2007 06:47 PM

          I'm not personally such a fan of La Taqueria -- I prefer rice on my mission burrito. I agree, however, that their carne asada and carnitas are tasty. And given that the OP specifically requested tacos, a burrito at La Taqueria might be a good compromise.

        2. re: a_and_w
          Robert Lauriston Apr 10, 2007 05:58 PM

          Taqueria San Jose's al pastor is tops, but if you ask me it's much better appreciated as a taco.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            a_and_w Apr 10, 2007 06:51 PM

            You might be right about that -- pastor flavor tends to get overwhelmed in TSJ's super saucy burritos. I actually prefer the pollo, as I think I've mentioned previously. Still, NYC has some decent taco options but is a burrito wasteland. I say, try the mission burrito experience while you have the chance in SF!

            1. re: a_and_w
              inmandarin Apr 11, 2007 08:56 AM

              i'm glad for your taco help, guys. honestly, thanks! NY-tristate mexican food is laughable compared to the quality of cali/LA. i've yet to try SF tacos, but i'm sure it'll kick the crap out of any east coast taco.

              any thoughts on El Tonayense taco truck in Mission?

              last year, my friends and I had the priviledge of eating goat stew taco in LA (pictures below). is there such a thing in SF?

               
               
              1. re: inmandarin
                Gary Soup Apr 11, 2007 10:00 AM

                El Tonayense has two or three trucks out there, and reports have been positive on all. I hit the one at 13th and Harrison because it's on my shopping path, but it night not be the easiest to get to by BART.

                BART will also quickly get you to the Fruitvale district of Oakland, and if Ruth (Taco Truck) Lafler isn't asleep at the switch she'll have plenty of valuable guidance to offer on that locus.

                1. re: Gary Soup
                  a_and_w Apr 11, 2007 06:47 PM

                  A Fruitvale taco tour is something I've long wanted to do. Based on what I've read, if you're going to do tacos in the Bay Area, this is where to get them -- and readily accessible by BART as Gary notes.

                  1. re: Gary Soup
                    inmandarin Apr 11, 2007 06:53 PM

                    ohhh i see. hmm, i wonder if there's a bus route that can take me there. perhaps it's along the way to some of my other destinations. i'll definitely look into it, and see if i can at least make it there for one taco. thanks for the response!

                    it seems like fruitvale district is generally a pretty interesting area for latino eats.

                    1. re: inmandarin
                      Gary Soup Apr 11, 2007 07:00 PM

                      If you are referring to the 13th and Harrison El Tonayense, there are several buses that will get you within a couple of blocks, including the 9, 47, and 12.

                      If someone can come up the the other Tonayense location(s), though, I'd bet that at least one is more quickly accessible using BART.

                      1. re: Gary Soup
                        Robert Lauriston Apr 11, 2007 09:20 PM

                        The one at Shotwell and 16th is three short blocks from 16th St. BART.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          b
                          badbatzmaru Apr 12, 2007 10:13 AM

                          Since we have a taco/burritor thing going, and I was lazy creating another post, can someone quickly give a recemmendation for a beef tongue (lengua) burrito. I've only had it a La Taqueria and loved it. Thanks.

                          1. re: badbatzmaru
                            Robert Lauriston Apr 12, 2007 10:26 AM

                            La Cumbre's used to be good but I haven't tried it since the most recent makeover.

                      2. re: inmandarin
                        m
                        Maya Apr 12, 2007 10:32 AM

                        Do you want to take a bus rather than BART for some reason? It really couldnt be easier or faster to take BART (basically the subway).

                        1. re: Maya
                          inmandarin Apr 12, 2007 04:10 PM

                          i don't mind taking buses. obviously i'm not all that familiar with SF's public transportation. but if it can get me from one food destination to the next, without taking up a whole lot of my time....then i'm all for it!! by all means, please inform me of bus routes if you have some in mind!! thanks in advanced.

                          one of the first things i'll need to do when i arrive to SF is to pick up maps of bus routes, BART, muni, cable car, etc. but for now, i've been studying maps downloaded from the internet.

                          1. re: inmandarin
                            m
                            Maya Apr 12, 2007 05:22 PM

                            BART (underground) is by far the easiest way to get from San Francisco to Fruivale, as well as many other locations in the East Bay and connecting the Mission District to Downtown SF, etc. I think buses between SF and the East Bay would be considerably more complicated.

                            1. re: Maya
                              chaddict Apr 16, 2007 12:09 PM

                              BART is by far the fastest way to get to the Mission from downtown, East Bay.

                              You can get a pdf of the MUNI system map here: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mmaps/official.htm

                              BART map online:
                              http://www.bart.gov/stations/map/systemMap.asp

                              And a trip planner that works with all the Bay Area transit systems here:
                              http://transit.511.org/

                              Have a blast!

                        2. re: inmandarin
                          a_and_w Apr 12, 2007 12:13 PM

                          Are you, by any chance, flying into Oakland? If so, Fruitvale is actually only a stop or two from the airport via BART.

                          1. re: a_and_w
                            inmandarin Apr 12, 2007 04:11 PM

                            yes! you read my mind! Oakland is where i'll be flying in. and yes, fruitvale is one of the few stops i'll be making along the way to my hotel. thanks for the reminder!

              2. daveena Apr 10, 2007 04:46 PM

                What fun!
                A few questions to help us come up with an itinerary for you - are you on a budget? How much per day (food only)? Are you at all interested in French, Italian, or Californian? Are you looking mostly for styles you can't get in NYC? Are you from Manhattan or an outer borough (asking because while Bay Area regional Chinese is way better than Manhattan's, it may not be significantly superior to Flushing's)? And are you travelling alone (have to take serving sizes into account if you're planning on eating at a lot of Asian restaurants)?

                6 Replies
                1. re: daveena
                  inmandarin Apr 11, 2007 09:18 AM

                  just to answer the few questions you had before, i'm not on a tight budget. at the same time, i'm not really looking to splurge on a single meal, unless the authenticity is top notch. i plan to hit up an average of 8 food destinations per day (given that i eat one thing at each spot). however, friends will be meeting up with me sporadically throughout the tour. so there will definitely be extra mouths present. yes, most particularly, i'm looking for styles i cannot get in NYC (or better versions of what is offered in NYC). i'm not quite sure i'm familiar with "californian" food, so if you can teach me more about that, that'd be great!!

                  i'm glad to hear somebody in SF is familiar with flushing! the (bei-fang) northern-mainland chinese community has been growing stronger and stronger in flushing, while styles of cantonese, shanghainese, and even taiwanese (to a degree) have been lacking within the last couple of years. is it true that there's a higher concentration of cantonese chinese in SF (resulting in better quality of cantonese food in all of california...maybe even all of USA)?

                  thanks for the interest!

                  1. re: inmandarin
                    Robert Lauriston Apr 11, 2007 09:37 AM

                    To me, "California cuisine" means cooking driven by fresh, local, seasonal ingredients pioneered here by Chez Panisse, basically a local version of the kind of simple rustic cooking you find throughout rural Italy, France, and Spain. Other places that do that sort of thing include Zuni, Cafe Rouge, and, in a more Italian and less French vein, Oliveto, Incanto, Delfina, Pizzaiolo, and Dopo.

                    Here's a topic on NY counterparts:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/314968

                    1. re: inmandarin
                      Gary Soup Apr 11, 2007 10:21 AM

                      Your grazing regimen sounds a lot like mine, especially when I'm sniffing out new things to try.

                      I always budget time for Flushing on my annual swings through New York and this year I wil probably have several days worth; I intend to cover the food courts, street snacks and dumpling joints like a blanket!

                      San Francisco doesen't really have street food per se (save for the occasional hot dog or churro vendor) but Chinatown and our neighborhood Chinatowns have a richness of Cantonese-style walkin' around food. Check out the walkaway dim sum/bakery establishments on Stockton Street, Broadway, Washington and Jackson Streets in Chinatown. Steamed and baked pork buns, chicken buns, chicken pies ("gai pies"), Chinese sausage in a steamed bun, egg custard tarts, Chinese crullers, etc. are all very hand-friendly if sometimes messy, and they'll usually give you a plastic fork on asking for daintier items like siu mai.

                      1. re: inmandarin
                        m
                        mshih Apr 19, 2007 12:54 AM

                        Well having lived in nyc for 16 years and SF area for 10 years, I kinda know the asian population areas. The SF chinatown has pretty much the same population make up as before(Cantonese/Toisan). Most of the new immigrants are living outside of Chinatown in Sunset and Richmond districts. This is why Chinese food is better out there than in Chinatown. As a result of the asian population moving to the suburbs, there are less people going to Chinatown for Chinese food. It's not like 15 years ago where the only place to get real Chinese food was SF Chinatown so you went there. Now you get better food outside and chinatown has become a tourist area and the cuisine has shifted to cater to the tourist crowd. since the mid-80's migration of Taiwanese to the bay area, they settled in the south bay so you tend to get more Taiwanese places in the south bay. Although some cantonese places are poping up in the south bay because variety was needed.
                        In contrast Manhattan chinatown keeps getting new immigrants there. So the traditional cantonese places are being replaced. I personally have not eaten in chinatown for a few years and the last few time was because of wedding banquets. the Taiwanese never liked the Chinatown area so they were out in the Flushing area. I still remember it as Taiwanese and Korean food area way back when. 8th Ave in Brooklyn has some good cantonese places from my days there.
                        For Taiwanese food in the Bay area, I found a good place called Joy in Foster City. I would just stick to the Taiwanese food in the weekend. Their normal Chinese cuisine is subpar. Probably hard for you to get to via public transportation.
                        For dumplings, hsiao lung bao, and beef noodle soup I like Sung Tung Restaurant in San Mateo. All of their dumplings and hsiao lung bao are hand made. The beef noodle soup is a mix of beef pieces with tendons on them. It's cooked very long so the meat and tendon is very tender. The soup is very flavorful. It's right near the San Mateo caltrain station.

                        1. re: mshih
                          Melanie Wong Apr 19, 2007 01:00 AM

                          To offer a counterpoint, I didn't think much of the xiao long bao at Sun Tung in San Mateo. Much better to be had at Shanghai East in San Mateo. Or in SF at Shanghai Dumpling. Here's my post on Sun Tung,
                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45519...

                          1. re: mshih
                            Gary Soup Apr 19, 2007 07:54 AM

                            I've lived within close walking distance of San Francisco Chinatown for 40 of the last 45 years and can offer some of my own assessments of Chinatown.

                            Chinatown today is primarily a transitional area for immigrants from China; the typical immigrant family spends less than a generation in Chinatown. As a result it retains a closer connection to, and fresher memory of, mainland cuisine and shopping habits. While earlier immigrants and their offspring may prefer to dine in the neighborhoods, a surprising number of them flow into Chinatown evry day to shop for the freshest produce and meats; Stockton Street is a 10-hour a day, seven day a week farmers market once removed, you might say; produce, fowl, fish and porcine meats are delivered fresh, or even live, from the source daily.

                            You'll also find a lot more Mandarin, Shanghainese and other non-Cantonese dialects spoken on the streets of Chinatown now than you did 20 or thirty years ago. As a result of China's educational system's requirement for Mandarin use, most of the people staffing Chinese markets have at least a working knowledge of Mandarin. My wife, who speaks Shanghainese and Mandarin but not a lick of Cantonese, has no difficulty shopping at any of Chinatown's markets; twenty or thirty years ago she would have. The "lingua franca" of Mandarin, as it were, has led to a wider cultural cross-fertilization and a broader range of products offered; the sole Shanghai specialty food market in Chinatown perished a few years ago because there was no longer a need for it; the Cantonese-run markets eventually began offering most of the same products at lower prices.

                            The Cantonese focus of Chinatown restaurants is as much a reflection of real estate ownership patterns as the local population mix. The vast majority of commercial real estate in Chinatown is controlled by the Chinese Family Associations under the Sam Yup and Sze Yup umbrellas, and they tend to rent and sell to homies, whom they know and trust. This is why you will usally find non-Cantonese Chinese Restaurants in what I call the "Pale" (peripheral areas, especially the Kearny St. fringe).

                            I also think it's disingenuous to say that Chinatown restaurants are more tourist-oriented than before; you should have tried to get an authentic Chinese meal in Chinatown 40 years ago. With the exception of places like House of Nanking and, to a certain extent, Brandy Ho's and Hunan Homes, you have only to do a window survey of Chinatown restaurants to see what market drives them. (And that's a conservative sampling; non-Chinese diners are far more likely to be seated where they are visible from the street). Some argument can also be made for the fact that tourists have a more sophisticated palate vis-a-vis Chinese cuisine than ever before; some of the non-Chinese faces may mask as great an appreciation for Chinese food as some of the Chinese faces. It's a lot easier for a short-term visitor to the City to find Chinatown than to find Joy Restuarant in Foster City (whose menu. I'll snarkily add, exploits stright-up-and-down Shanghainese food as much as "Taiwanese food", whatever that is). Some of those non-Chinese faces might even be Chowhounds ;-)

                      2. c
                        chuckl Apr 10, 2007 04:51 PM

                        you might check out sfgate.com; they just did a top 100 restaurants. Although I can't agree with all of them, it can serve to whet your appetite.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: chuckl
                          Robert Lauriston Apr 10, 2007 05:29 PM

                          Given specifications such as "decor means nothing" and the list of prospects in the original post, I think the only Top 100 place that fits the bill might be Tartine.

                        2. sgwood415 Apr 10, 2007 05:27 PM

                          There is a quality taco truck that parks at the corner of Battery and Pacific during the weekdays. It's called San Beuna. They serve very good tacos and burritos. They have horchata and other Mexican beverages. Lunch is about $7 there. It's in an area that has a lot of good restaurants and is walking distance from Chinatown and Northbeach. So if you're in the area, and it's lunchtime, and you're craving a taco, head to Battery & Pacific. Their Al Pastor is good and a lot of people order the Cabeza and really like it, but I haven't had that one myself yet.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: sgwood415
                            inmandarin Apr 11, 2007 09:20 AM

                            thanks for the tip! with the little spanish i learned in high school, when you said "cabeza" ....is that meat from the head of an animal?

                            1. re: inmandarin
                              m
                              Maya Apr 11, 2007 09:42 AM

                              As far as I understand, "cabeza" does mean meat from a heat (like beef cheeks) and brains is another word.

                              1. re: inmandarin
                                sgwood415 Apr 11, 2007 11:12 AM

                                Beef cheeks. Super tender and delicious.

                                1. re: sgwood415
                                  inmandarin Apr 11, 2007 06:56 PM

                                  oh really? interesting! thanks a lot

                                  1. re: sgwood415
                                    f
                                    flavrmeistr Apr 16, 2007 12:09 PM

                                    ...or eyes, aka ojos.

                              2. daveena Apr 10, 2007 07:07 PM

                                Ok... here's a start. I'm assuming you're looking for low-key eateries, and you're planning to spend all day travelling and grazing. I'm also assuming this is a first trip to SF.

                                DAY 1: Embarcadero/Little Italy/Chinatown - I would get out at the Embarcadero BART station and cover this entire territory by foot.
                                - Ferry Building, as mentioned above - if you're in town on a Saturday, definitely go to the Farmer's Market! Yes, it's insanely crowded, and stuff is pretty expensive (relative to the Bay Area, that is... relative to NYC, not so much) but you will see vegetables you have never seen in your life.
                                - my picks for North Beach - XOX truffles (I love caramel and cognac), Liguria Bakery's focaccia (get there early), Osteria al Forno for anything (get there when it opens), Rose Pistola's farinata (Ligurian cuisine isn't well represented in NYC).
                                - Chinatown - er, I don't know SF's Chinatown at all. Maybe other people can chime in here.
                                - kind of in the same corner of SF, walkable if you really like to walk - Canteen, for affordable delicious California cuisine; further (prob too far to walk) is Thai House Express, which I haven't been too but consistently garners raves.

                                DAY 2 - Mission, Inner Sunset, Richmond (lots of time on the bus on this day)
                                Mission:
                                - I don't have anything to add to the taco/burrito recs people have already made
                                - maybe some pupusas? I can't remember where I've been... need help for that one
                                - Ti Couz for authentic Breton crepes
                                - Bar Tartine or Delfina for California-ized European food
                                - Tartine Bakery, Bi-Rite ice cream
                                Inner Sunset: this neighborhood always gets named one of the best chow-centered nabes, but since I've never eaten here, I'll have to count on other people to fill this in.
                                Richmond:
                                Mandalay or Burma Superstar for Burmese
                                La Vie for roasted crab

                                DAY 3: Berkeley/Oakland
                                Ryowa for ramen - unfortunately, both Santa and Halu are way too hard to get to by public transportation - the highest ranking ramen place on Melanie's list that's accessible by public transportation is Ryowa.
                                Cafe Chez Panisse - if you're going to make a trip to the Bay Area specifically for food, you kind of have to go to Chez Panisse. The Cafe has more options, is open for lunch, and is way less expensive.
                                Cheeseboard - across from Chez Panisse.
                                Epicurious Garden - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45893...

                                Then on the way back (or, conversely, on the way there) get out at the 12th Street/Civic Center BART station in Oakland.
                                Shanghai Restaurant - xiao long bao, on a good day, rival Din Tai Feng in Arcadia; on a bad day, are still way better than either Joe's Shanghai or Evergreen
                                Shandong for knife cut noodles (spicy meat sauce hasn't been as great as the first time I had it, but I like the preserved vegetable and pork version too... probably too filling if you're trying to graze
                                )BC Deli for Chui Chow style rice cake with scrambled egg - I'm not an expert on this dish, but I think it's unusual that they use a Vietnamese steamed rice cake (with coconut milk). They also have a rice noodle dish with shredded pork and coconut that I love.
                                Spices 3 - Taiwanese-style Szechuan - most dishes are too large to order without sharing, but I like their beef noodle soup
                                Battambang - Cambodian - most dishes are probably too big to order without sharing, but excellent soups and salads should at least give you a taste. I can't think of any Cambodian restaurants in NYC off the top of my head.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: daveena
                                  sgwood415 Apr 10, 2007 08:22 PM

                                  XOX for chocolate. Yes!

                                  1. re: daveena
                                    inmandarin Apr 11, 2007 09:37 AM

                                    thanks so much for you itinerary!

                                    just so you'd know, Joe's Shanghai has progressively gone way downhill within the last couple of years. it's a complete tourist trap now. but they're still generating insane business.

                                    i'll definitely keep in mind of Battambang if i end up dining with a larger group at some point. cambodian cuisine is almost unheard of in NY. are the owners of Shandong, originally from Shandong province?

                                    aww, i was actually looking forward to Halu and Santa for their ramen. i've only had NY/NJ ramen (and from what i hear, it's nothing like how they make it in cali/seattle/japan). if ryowa is the next best thing then i'll certainly make it there!

                                    robert lauriston also mentioned Tartine as a worthy bakery to check out. from what i hear, Tartine made it into the NY Times. and the long lines have been unbearable since then. is this true?

                                    i will definitely check out ferry building now. thanks again!!

                                    1. re: inmandarin
                                      daveena Apr 11, 2007 06:37 PM

                                      Oh good, you'll have people. If you can get people to help you eat, it'll be a lot easier to do Burmese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Cambodian. And Chinese (although some of the Oakland Chinatown places I listed are doable for a single person grazing). Oh, I don't think I mentioned this, but La Vie is Vietnamese (possibly the best Vietnamese that I've had), and the garlic roasted crab is this San Francisco thing where Dungeness crabs are roasted in butter and covered in crunchy brown bits of garlic and (I think) crab bits. Served with spaghetti doused in butter, garlic, and what has to be Kraft Parmesan. Bizarre but fantastically delicious when done right.

                                      Tartine is definitely worthwhile - the lines are fine as long as you go off-hours, on a weekday.

                                      One more thing... if you're in Oakland Chinatown, do not allow yourself to be tempted by the sweet eggy fragrance wafting out of Shooting Star Cafe, nor by the sign advertising "egg puffs!" You will lose half an hour of precious time, and gain only a mediocre lumpy waffle. Egg puffs are better at Yummy Guide across the street, but not superlative.

                                      1. re: daveena
                                        inmandarin Apr 12, 2007 04:15 PM

                                        any thoughts on turtle tower for vietnamese? i've added La Vie as a possibility. thanks!

                                        speak of puffs, is there a cream puff specialist in SF (other than Beard Papa)?

                                    2. re: daveena
                                      a_and_w Apr 11, 2007 06:54 PM

                                      This is an awesome list (I esp. echo the Cambodian and La Vie recs) but I'm going to spout a bit of heresy here and dissent from the suggestion of Chez Panisse Cafe. I've only eaten downstairs once, and it's been a while since I've been to the Cafe, but I never felt like meals upstairs were all that remarkable. Solid certainly, but not necessarily destination dining, at least not now that the farm-to-table thing has become so widespread.

                                      1. re: a_and_w
                                        Robert Lauriston Apr 11, 2007 09:22 PM

                                        Chez Panisse is still best at what they do, but it doesn't seem like the kind of place the original post is describing.

                                      2. re: daveena
                                        b
                                        badbatzmaru Apr 12, 2007 10:23 AM

                                        " Liguria Bakery's focaccia (get there early)" I assume this is the one on corner of Stockton and Filbert Street. If it is, I say try the focaccia there, freshly made daily, finger food/snack, like $4.00 for a 10" x 10" slab? Yummy. Bring your own bottle of wine and enjoy it at Washington Square or walking around North Beach, etc.

                                        1. re: badbatzmaru
                                          larochelle Apr 12, 2007 01:23 PM

                                          Note that you can ask them to slice it for immediate eating and instead of wrapping it in a flat package, they'll cut it into "fingers" and make a paper cup. No matter what else I get, I always order one garlic focaccia for immediate consumption - its wonderful.

                                          1. re: larochelle
                                            inmandarin Apr 12, 2007 04:19 PM

                                            that's a good tip to know! since time is precious, i'll most certainly be eating while i trek to my next destination. so this will be perfect! thanks

                                      3. Gary Soup Apr 10, 2007 08:06 PM

                                        Some thoughts:

                                        -best dongbei chinese

                                        Neither Shandong (Oakland) nor San Tung are (San Francisco) really dongbei (they don't get north of shuijiao). I haven't been to the other two places (being somewhat burbophobic).

                                        -best xibei chinese

                                        Nothing I'm aware of, certainly not as authentic as Brooklyn's Cafe Kashkar

                                        -best taiwanese

                                        You might want to try the hole-in-the-wall Tea Garden at First and Mission; both the Beef Noodles and the pork chop/rice "Railway Bento" have been judged the most authentic in the area be people who know more about Taiwanese food than I.

                                        -best bakeries (damavand, emporio rulli, delassio, villa del sol, cinderella, mee mee)

                                        I'm not into carbs much, but Mee Mee will show you what a really fresh fortune cookie can taste like (assuming that's a pressing concern)

                                        -best cantonese

                                        That's certainly our strength, when it comes to Chinese food. Koi Palace is probably the best of the best, but difficult to get to on public transportation. You'll find volumes of posts on Cantonese Chinese food here, with heated debates. For the record, I vote up on Great Eastern and down on R&G Lounge, and up on Gold Mountain, down on Yank Sing for dim sum. (Be sure to work in dim sum, too.)

                                        We're also strong in the Shanghainese department, especially for small hole-in-the-wall places serving home-style food. Shanghai Dumpling King and Shanghai House in SF plus Shanghai Restaurant in Oakland are good close-in options. All three also serve very good xiaolong bao of the true Shanghai style (quite different from Joe's Shanghai's "soup dumplings").

                                        You should hit Fisherman's Wharf once just to see it and to compare notes with your Aunt Millie in Rahway. Clam chowder in a fresh sourdough bowl at Boudin's (the originator of the gimmick) is probably the guilty pleasure of more chowhounds than care to admit it.

                                        I hope we treat you good. I'll be hitting the NY boards with a similar request before mid-June, as I hope to have a week to 10 day to graze there this time around, and you and your buds can return the favor.

                                        1. daveena Apr 11, 2007 08:07 AM

                                          Oh, I should add that Little Potato was ok when i went (to be honest, I think most of its popularity lies in the fact that it's insanely cheap) but not so great that I would spend an hour travelling there and back by BART (plus a bit of a walk - it looks like under a kilometer on the map, but Union City's not a walking town... I'm not sure there are even sidewalks between the BART station and the strip mall with Little Potato).

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: daveena
                                            lexdevil Apr 12, 2007 12:50 PM

                                            The corner of Decoto & Alvarado Niles that houses Little Potato, New China (the artist formerly known as China Tofu), and Little Sheep is a short walk from the Union City BART station. And yes, there are sidewalks.

                                            Here's a map:
                                            http://www.bart.gov/stations/stationG...

                                            I think you're looking at a half mile walk.

                                            1. re: lexdevil
                                              inmandarin Apr 12, 2007 04:22 PM

                                              is little sheep the hot pot chain? i believe there's one in san gabriel valley. there's also one in shanghai, taipei, ny. not sure if it's the same business we're talking about though.

                                              1. re: inmandarin
                                                lexdevil Apr 12, 2007 07:18 PM

                                                Yes it is. http://www.xfy.cn/en/DingShow.asp?did...

                                                If you decide to do Union City, this is definitely a day to bring other diners. The eggs w/ shrimp and yellow chive at New China are very more-ish, but the serving is massive. Lots of threads on this place. Good food and cheap.

                                                1. re: lexdevil
                                                  h
                                                  Han Apr 19, 2007 02:56 AM

                                                  This stripmall is loaded with GEMS IMHO. I would hit at least Little Potato (check my last post and others on the Dongbei spareribs and other faves) for couple dishes and then New China couple doors down for their famous claypot pork and fried tofu dish(all in one dish), the eggs mentioned above, the authentic Szechuan boiled fish soup special on the wall and the well known sizzling beef with green onion. Smoked pork here is also great. All these are cheap dishes less than $6 and large portions to share. You can in theory hit both places in one trip and just told them it is for a class. Both places have some waiters who speak decent English.

                                                  The Marina market can provide a break in between food. Many interesting food and shopping items for sure.

                                                  Then you can try the Little Sheep hotpot so you know what authentic hotpot in Beijing taste like.

                                                  1. re: Han
                                                    DezzerSF Apr 19, 2007 07:33 AM

                                                    I would second all those recommendations and add the lamb in sour soup at New China.

                                              2. re: lexdevil
                                                Gary Soup Apr 12, 2007 06:43 PM

                                                Carfree me and my Senior BART discount thank you for that info. According to my trusty Microsoft Streets software, it looks like only a 1/3 mile from BART to that corner as the feet fly.

                                                http://carfree.com/

                                                1. re: lexdevil
                                                  daveena Apr 12, 2007 07:11 PM

                                                  Good to know. Didn't mean to disrespect Union City in any way : )

                                                  So, the question is, do you think the chow is good enough to warrant the travel time? I've only been to Little Potato, and can't think of anything off the top of my head that would do it, but if you can construct a grazing itinerary from those three, do tell!

                                              3. Melanie Wong Apr 11, 2007 09:44 AM

                                                In SF, you can get a wonderful, housemade (not from powder) black sesame dessert soup at 100% Health Desserts. Here's the link,
                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/330310
                                                Also, we have a few chowhound group dinners coming up though I don't know if they coincide with your schedule. If you'd like to join some fellow eaters for a meal during your visit, please email me, MsWine@onebox.com , for details.

                                                1. k
                                                  kc72 Apr 11, 2007 10:02 AM

                                                  if you're in the mood for Asian dessert, you might want to try Creations.

                                                  http://www.creationsdessert.com/about...

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: kc72
                                                    Gary Soup Apr 12, 2007 09:30 AM

                                                    Creations (usually flying under the Hui Lau Shan flag) has several branches in New York.

                                                    1. re: Gary Soup
                                                      k
                                                      kc72 Apr 12, 2007 09:36 AM

                                                      thanks.. couldnt read the other site.

                                                  2. Robert Lauriston Apr 11, 2007 10:06 AM

                                                    Some cuisines that people on this board have previously opined as being either unavailable in NY or significantly better in SF:

                                                    Andhra (Tirupath Bhimas)
                                                    upscale Basque (Piperade)
                                                    Burmese
                                                    California / Cal-Italian / Cal-Med
                                                    Cambodian (Angkor Borei)
                                                    Cantonese (particularly seafood, top place is Koi Palace)
                                                    dim sum
                                                    Indonesian
                                                    Mexican (Oakland more than SF)
                                                    Mission-style burrito
                                                    Peruvian
                                                    Turkish
                                                    upscale Moroccan (Aziza)
                                                    Vietnamese
                                                    Taiwanese-style Sichuan (Spices 1 & 2)
                                                    Thai (Thai House Express on Larkin only)
                                                    Yucatecan

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                      inmandarin Apr 12, 2007 05:23 PM

                                                      thanks a lot for the insight Robert Lauriston. would you happen to know if Koi Palace near the Daly City BART station?

                                                      1. re: inmandarin
                                                        Robert Lauriston Apr 12, 2007 05:42 PM

                                                        It's about two miles from the Colma station. There's a bus.

                                                        That's a place it's best to go with a group.

                                                    2. daveena Apr 12, 2007 09:52 AM

                                                      Oh, another question - what dishes are you looking for, in terms of Taiwanese food? Despite being Taiwanese (sort of), I have a really shaky grasp on what constitutes "Taiwanese food", but if you can name dishes that you're looking for, it might be easier to tell you who does them well. I really like the Shanghai-style rice cakes with pork and preserved vegetable at Spices... they also do a lot of ma la stuff (kidneys, etc), fried stinky tofu, a lot of things I don't remember seeing in NYC.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: daveena
                                                        Gary Soup Apr 12, 2007 10:50 AM

                                                        I found Spices fried stinky tofu disappointing, though the version you cook at the table on skewers is said to be better. I've had better in NY, at a Taiwanese cafe on Prince St. in Flushing several years ago (don't know if it's still there).

                                                        1. re: daveena
                                                          inmandarin Apr 12, 2007 05:29 PM

                                                          well, what i miss most about taiwan is the street food. things like gua-bao (taiwanese burger), o-ah-jian, duck's blood cake on a stick with sprinkles of sesame/peanut crumbs, stinky tofu, etc., would cater to my craving. but other dishes such as san-bei-ji (3 cup chicken), jiuo-cai-ya-hong (duck's blood w/ leek), homemade soggy taro with mifun, etc., would be just as great. i can go on and on.....

                                                          ahhhh taiwan.....

                                                          1. re: inmandarin
                                                            lexdevil Apr 12, 2007 07:55 PM

                                                            Grabbed a menu from 168 Restaurant on your behalf when I was at the Pacific East mall today. Their Taiwanese list includes: Rice in Pork Blood Cake, Taiwan Pork Gua Bao, Fried Bean Curd of Strong Odor, Sesame Oil Chicken, and Pan Fried Oyster w/ Egg & Vegetable among its 44 items. There are nearly 200 other items on the menu, not including the 52 drinks and 14 shaved ices.

                                                            See my post below for advice on getting there.

                                                            1. re: lexdevil
                                                              inmandarin Apr 16, 2007 11:45 AM

                                                              hey thanks so much for giving me some details about their menu. much appreciated! i think i will most definitely venture to the pacific east mall. everything there sounds very interesting. and thanks for informing me about the 43 bus!!!

                                                              1. re: lexdevil
                                                                Robert Lauriston Apr 16, 2007 12:04 PM

                                                                Some reports on 168:

                                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41587
                                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40945

                                                          2. Dave MP Apr 12, 2007 12:26 PM

                                                            Lots of the suggestions below sound great. This is exactly what I do when I go to NYC (I'm always dragging friends out to random parts of Queens to find x, y or z). San Francisco is a great place for this kind of trip.

                                                            I definitely recommend spending a few hours walking through the eastern side of the Mission......for example, get off BART at 24th Street and begin with a taco at Taqueria San Jose or at La Taqueria. Then walk east on 24th....great tortas at Tortas Los Picudos, sit down Mexican at El Delfin, corn on the cob w/ butter and chili sold on the street, various tacos at other places along the way......there might be some new things to discover in this stretch of 24th St. Definitely check out La Palma if it's daytime (they close early)...that's at 24th and Alabama. From there, maybe work your way back to the west side of the Mission (walk back west to Valencia or Guerrero and walk north on those), and end up at Bi-Rite for ice cream.

                                                            Another neighborhood to explore is further down Mission St, around 29th St up till Cortland. Lots of Central American places, as well as some Asian (Lotus Garden, Angkor Borei for Cambodian, Indian Pizza at Zante's)

                                                            Definitely invest in a good muni map that you can carry around with you.

                                                            Dave MP

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: Dave MP
                                                              inmandarin Apr 12, 2007 05:31 PM

                                                              this is definitely what i'm talkin' about when i say food tour. thanks for the tip dave. i'll make sure to get one of those maps! and that's not a bad plan for exploring the mission. much appreciated.

                                                              1. re: Dave MP
                                                                inmandarin Apr 16, 2007 12:03 PM

                                                                in your opinion, if there's one SOLID thing to try at El Delfin, what would it be?

                                                                1. re: inmandarin
                                                                  Dave MP Apr 16, 2007 01:58 PM

                                                                  Shrimp al ajillo. It's a full meal, not just a snack. But that was the first thing that came to mind.

                                                                  1. re: Dave MP
                                                                    chaddict Apr 16, 2007 03:29 PM

                                                                    Prawns al Chile Chipotle is fantastic. I once asked the owner what was the single best seafood dish she did and that was her choice. But really, I have loved everything. Especially fun appears to be the Volcan en molcajete but that looks like a two person operation and I have always gone alone. But other hounds have liked it.

                                                                    1. re: chaddict
                                                                      Dave MP Apr 16, 2007 03:50 PM

                                                                      Prawns w/ chipotle would be my second choice. Last time I was there I determined that I preferred the al ajillo to the chipotle....but they are both pretty awesome and you can't go wrong w/ either. The Volcan is good too, but I like the shrimp dishes better.

                                                                      Dave MP

                                                                  2. re: inmandarin
                                                                    m
                                                                    Maya Apr 16, 2007 03:50 PM

                                                                    The guacamole!!! And the shrimp cocktail...

                                                                2. p
                                                                  Pete G. Apr 12, 2007 04:32 PM

                                                                  Banh Mi: Saigon Sandwich Shop ; Larkin St. (get the "dac biet")
                                                                  http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/profile/863421
                                                                  http://www.yelp.com/biz/hqQoVK0vadOX7...

                                                                  Just about the tastiest thing I ate on my trip.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Pete G.
                                                                    inmandarin Apr 12, 2007 05:34 PM

                                                                    is vietnamese banh mi a high point of SF? NY vietnamese dining is just OKAY compared to what i've had in West Minster, LA. i haven't personally tried banh mi in LA to compare with NY's version (however, i have full confidence that LA's banh mi would destroy any banh mi in NY). thanks for the suggestion. i'll still look into it.

                                                                    1. re: inmandarin
                                                                      b
                                                                      badbatzmaru Apr 12, 2007 06:27 PM

                                                                      Good question, I too wonder whether Saigon Sandwich Shop is worth the trip for you. ONLY if you are already in the neighbordhood or someone drives you there to pick up a few sandwiches. Are they good? Yes, better than some of the newer ones along Larkin Street. But I would not waste time going there just to get some sandiches. If you do go, try not to go during lunch time on weekdays, could be a long wait. And I am guessing they are closed during the evenings, like many places near Civic Center.

                                                                      One thing, you would not believe the sandwich prices are only $2.50-$3.00.

                                                                  2. lexdevil Apr 12, 2007 07:41 PM

                                                                    There's no reason to wait until you arrive to get transit maps and schedules. You can plan all of your trips here:
                                                                    http://transit.511.org/tripplanner/in...

                                                                    Another good option for you is a visit to the Pacific East mall in Richmond. It's not as impossible by public transit as some might think. The 43 bus connects w/ BART at El Cerrito Plaza and takes you directly there. This is definitely worth the trip for the concentration of great Asian options all under one roof (well, Daimo is under a second roof...but it's just across the parking lot).

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: lexdevil
                                                                      Robert Lauriston Apr 16, 2007 12:08 PM

                                                                      Pacific East is only half a mile from El Cerrito Plaza BART, not much of a walk for the average New Yorker. It's not shown on most maps but San Diego St. connects to the back entrance of the parking lot.

                                                                      http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&h...

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                        m
                                                                        mardy Apr 16, 2007 02:26 PM

                                                                        For maximum pleasure, avoid Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown. The former is for out-of-towners, the latter has "cuisine" that will disappoint you. Visit the North Beach area and sample some good Italian, as good or better as you'll find in NYC. For the flavor and ambience of last century's San Francisco, go to the Tadich Grill on California St. Even if you don't drink, grab a seat at the bar and chat with those around you. Menu is OK, good place for a steak and salad.

                                                                        Up the street on Nob Hill, have appetizers at the Fairmont Hotel. They have some good ones, and you'll take in the ambience without spending $85 for a dinner. If you like various ethnics, then make sure to visit Berkeley. And while there you must stop in to Chez Panisse. Great fresh everything.......

                                                                        1. re: mardy
                                                                          Robert Lauriston Apr 16, 2007 03:16 PM

                                                                          As discussed above and elsewhere on this board, while the best Chinese food is not in Chinatown, you can eat well there if you know where to go.

                                                                          And the Stockton Street shopping scene is well worth a visit.

                                                                    2. h
                                                                      Han Apr 19, 2007 03:09 AM

                                                                      Ling Nam is a frequent stops for our family. I had many other Filipino breakfast but LN offers a good bang for the buck. You can get 2 kinds of meat for the breakfast plate. I would choose the sausage and maybe the beef. Sometimes the pork can be dry, take a peek at the steamtables. Ask for the side small bowl of soup - you will need them. Then an order of 1/2 soy sauce chicken or 1/2 roast duck would be good - not as a combo but individual order so you get the good pieces. They are one of the best I tasted. Also, they are all available at all times which helps you in managing time

                                                                      Have not tried Carmen though.

                                                                      I assume you are going to try the LN branch near Daly City with a car ? Then a visit to the Pacific Super mall complex about 5-10 min away is in order. In this complex, there is TC Pastry way in the corner of the strip mall. This is a famous place among locals - some of their dimsums (must know which) are legendary. Inside the PS, there is a steam table which has awesome crunchy fried squid. The fried little fishes are also great. Pick those up for snacks and you will be impressed. Stay away from other "wet" dishes here except for the famous snake/long beans dish which is spectacular here.

                                                                      1. m
                                                                        mlucier Apr 19, 2007 11:27 AM

                                                                        You must not leave San Francisco without going to Burma Superstar on Clement and Third Avenue. You can take the 38 Geary out to Third Ave and walk over one block. It is AMAZING!!

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