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Noe Valley?

  • m

Suggestions on MUST restaurants, cafes, etc. in and around Noe Valley? We'll be there next month for 5 days staying in the area. No preference re style, price, cuisine, just excellence important - kick-ass gourmet to hole-in-the-wall is fine.

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  1. I replied in another topic as the title of this one doesn't relate to your question:


    1. I'll throw in Lupa for simple neighborhood Italian, and LeZinc if you have time for an authentic (slow-paced) Paris vibe. Pasta Pomodoro works well for a quick, good counter meal, and eating at the bar at Fresca (Peruvian ceviches etc.) is a great way to avoid their service/seating issues and still get the great food. We always go for the bar at La Ciccia (Sardinian) and Pescheria (Italian seafood in SF Chronicle's newest top 100).

      I also recommend Swatdee Thai and MiLindo Yucatan on 24th for cheap good ethnic the MUST OP may not get at home.

      Down the hill I'd add Front Porch (southern comfort) and also eat at the bar for quick service and fun vibe.

        1. re: sgwood415

          Seconding Incanto; the place is stellar. Lovejoy's Tea Room is a fun place for well-drawn Taylors of Harrogate and excellent scones.

          1. re: mizchalmers

            It's been a little while since I've lived near or visited San Francisco. Incanto has also been previously recommended to me. We will be there in October, staying right by the Moscone Center. Anyone know travel distance time between there (Marriott) and Incanto/Noe Valley area. Reasonable taxi ride? Thanks.

            1. re: markabauman

              Incanto's about a 20 minute ride on the Muni Metro J line (longer if you have to wait a while for a train), and in the non-subway portion of the ride you get a great view out over the city as it goes over the hill. Four miles / 15 minutes by cab.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Gotta agree on that train ride; I look for any excuse to ride the J out there, for the twists and turns in between houses in addition to the view.

        2. I wouldn’t say these are a must but just to give you different options other than what’s already been posted.

          Brunch/Lunch: Eric’s on Church St. for a cheap Chinese lunch special Mon-Sat until 3pm, all dishes around $5, Toast on Church St, Kookez on 24th at Castro, Hamano Sushi on 24th & Castro, sit at the sushi bar for better service and cheaper lunch specials, Barney’s Burgers at 24th and Castro.

          Dinner: Firefly at 24th and Douglass St, Lupa on 24th at Castro for Italian, Pomelo on Church.

          Extras: Noe Valley Bakery on 24th St for a “Mostess” Cupcake, Chocolate Covered on 24th St for inexpensive, great tasting chocolate, Saturday’s Farmers Market 8am-noon, rain or shine on 24th at Sanchez, Lehr’s German Specialties on Church St (check expiration dates if you want to buy anything first!).


          3 Replies
          1. re: morgan_66

            Eric's is sort of yuppified Cal-Chinese. Food's very good for what it is but if you like hardcore traditional Chinese it may disappoint.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Agreed, but there isn't any other Chinese in Noe Valley other than Alice's which are the same owners. Like I said, I was offering other basic options, not necessarily upscale. I think Eric's lunch specials are a good value for the money even though it's not traditional Chinese.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                You are right-on in regards to Eric's. Perfect description.

                ...I went there once and wouldn't go back.

            2. I'd second the Firefly recommendation and also suggest Pescheria on Church. It's a little small, but the fish in parchment is excellent.

              1. Not long ago, there was very little to recommend Noe Valley culinarily, fortunately that's no longer true. Assuming you will be leaving the neighborhood for various meals, the only must-stop places in Noe Valley, in my opinion, are Italian: La Ciccia and Incanto. Bacco is also very good, but not as unique as the first two, and also Italian (although their fava bruschetta... ahhh). While it may not be totally unique, I am also very fond of Firefly for their interesting menu, cozy space and delightful service. But opinions do vary on this board.

                Other good options, but by no means must-visits, are Fresca for the ceviches, and Pomelo (Church & 30th, near La Ciccia) for brunch. Noe Valley Bakery makes the best coffee drinks on 24th St, in my opinion. I don't care for the burnt brews at Martha & Bros. and Starbucks is, well, dependable.

                2 Replies
                1. re: bernalgirl

                  speaking of the fava bean crostini, has it arrived on the Bacco menu yet?

                  Nick's ode to the crostini:


                  1. re: susancinsf

                    yeah, whoops, crostini. it's clearly been too long...

                2. I third Incanto and La Ciccia (and add that La Ciccia is extremely warm and welcoming--the sort of place you're very happy to support); add that I've found the food at The Front Porch to be good to great (and stylistically novel--San Franciscofied Southern), and the place itself lively and fun; and then add (with some disbelief that no one else has, since the topic of brunch has come up) . . . Chloe's! It's a great little place for traditional breakfast/brunch food, which they serve 'til mid-afternoon seven days a week, bless them. The lines are quite bad at prime brunch hours Sat. and Sun., but it's great (and manageable) to go on a weekday morning. They also serve lunch food, but I've never gotten past the pancakes, french toast, and eggs.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: readingstand

                    Front Porch is not far from the southeastern edge of Noe Valley but it's in the Mission.

                    Nearby are Blue Plate and Angkor Borei, also worth the slight detour.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      IMO, Lotus Garden (Vietnamese) next door to Blue Plate is more worthy of a detour than Angkor Borei. On the detour list, I'd also add El Delfin, which I think has been mentioned..

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        Taqueria San Jose's also worth the trip down the hill.

                    2. re: readingstand

                      It may be that I'm not enough of a fan of traditional brunch food, but I really don't get the popularity of Chloe's. I much prefer Fattoush (a few doors up) for brunch. I also really like Fattoush for dinner, there are some great dishes there.

                      That said, I'm not sure I'd add it in the must-visit mix unless you don't get good Lebanese/Middle Eastern food at home. It's a cozy, enjoyable neighborhood place but I'm not familiar enough with the cuisine to say it's best of breed.

                      1. re: bernalgirl

                        Fattoush for dinner is good, not outstanding, so I wouldn't put it in the must-visit mix....I've never been for brunch, really should try it one of these days. I don't get the popularity of Chloe's either, but then, I hate the idea of waiting around on the sidewalk to eat! Perhaps during the week?

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          Chloe's is one of those places that make me wonder whether some people feel waiting in line is an essential element of brunch. Nothing wrong with the food but there must be half a dozen places a few blocks away where you could sit right down and eat just about the same thing.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            indeed. hubby claims specifically that it is the social element of seeing and being seen by one's neighbors that appeals...whereas for me, the thought of having to interact socially before breakfast, and specifically before my second cup of coffee, simply does not appeal. I've had a similar reaction to Mama's Royal Cafe in Oakland: only so-so to good food, and completely undeserving of the long waits in line on a weekend!

                            Among the half dozen or more places near to Chloe's that I much prefer for breakfast or brunch: Pastores on Mission near Cortland (very good huevos rancheros and chilaquiles) and Nena's, across the street from Pastores.

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              Ah, but back in the day Mama's was much better than "so-so to good." I agree it no longer justifies the wait.

                              24th Street Cafe (at Vicksburg) was also very good for brunch the one time we went, I wonder if it's held up? He offers some Middle Eastern-inspired brunch dishes, which we enjoyed.

                              1. re: bernalgirl

                                I believe Chloe's went through an ownership change a few years ago. It was a bit more special previously, but I've always been in the anti-waiting for breakfast camp.

                                1. re: Calvinist

                                  It's funny reading this thread after reading the one on French Laundry where people are sharing their stories about going through all kinds of machinations to get a reservation at FL. Is breakfast just not worth the wait? Perhaps. While I love eating breakfast out, I do get a little cranky if I have to wait. Having said that, I will always wait as long as it takes to have breakfast at Zachary's in Santa Cruz. Love that place.

                                  1. re: kresge86

                                    Obviously I triggered a lurking issue re Chloe's lines that didn't really have much to do with my post, but I'd like to reiterate for the record that I warned the OP that lines are bad at prime weekend brunch hours and recommended going on a weekday morning (or late on a weekend--say after 2:00). I've probably done so at least a hundred times in the last few years and usually had no wait, and only rarely more than 5-10 minutes. (More than that and I don't bother.) While their brunch items aren't as ambitious or meticulous as, say, Foreign Cinema or Universal or other weekend-only brunch places of that level, they are very well executed basic classics. (Well, at least I can say this of the scrambled eggs, french toast with strawberries, and pancakes--I've never ordered anything else. (Why would one?)) Their coffee is decidedly mediocre, but that's my only significant gripe.

                    3. Thanks for all the great suggestions. I'm salivating just reading the menus of the various places mentioned.

                      1. Breakfast: Chloe's Cafe
                        Afternoon Tea: Lovejoy's Tea Room
                        Dinner: Firefly
                        Snack: 24th Street Cheese Company

                        1. I'll add my faves, most of which are already on here.

                          Noe Valley Bakery (chocolate cherry bread and cheddar chive scones are amazing)
                          Chloe's - I don't agree that you can get the same food anywhere else - worth the wait!
                          Lovejoy's Tea Room - their high tea is scrumptious
                          Herb's Diner - classic diner food, usually with one or two interesting twists like jalapeno and cheddar omelette, portugese sausage and yummy corned beef hash from a can
                          Regent Thai - excellent Thai food
                          Eric's takeout is great (try their Eric's spicy eggplant - egglant, shrimp, chicken, basil, jalapeno slices in a sweet soy sauce!
                          Noe Valley Deli - great Shwarma, Falafel and classic grilled and cold sandwiches
                          24th Street Cheese Company (unique European groceries)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: sweetdreamsoffood

                            Chocolate cherry bread sounds good, I may have to try it sometime. However, I have never found what I've tried at Noe Valley Bakery to be exceptional or even all that interesting, and I've had service problems there, (last time I ordered a cake there for a party they messed up the writing, even though I had printed it out, and to be honest, I've gotten cakes from the Safeway bakery that are just about as good) so I guess you could say I am not a fan.

                            What do you like at Regent Thai?

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              Some items are hit or miss at the Noe Valley Bakery, but I think their cookies are terrific for a quick little treat. Unfortunately, they are rather pricey and I kick myself for paying for such small-ish cookies. My favorite is the Cherry Chocolate Rugelech.

                              1. re: Mari

                                I like their apricot-ginger bread and some of their scones, but (at the farmers market) I'm always put off by the high prices compared with Downtown Bakery and Della Fattoria.