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Touring SF with family for one day, where to eat lunch?

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I have some family coming from Guatemala and we will be touring San Francisco just for one day on Mother's Day.

Of course they want to hit up the tourist spots, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, etc. But I flat out refuse to eat at the tourist traps since I'm a snob. :-D

I don't venture to those areas too often but I used to live in the Mission. I doubt they will want to eat in the Mission and hence, I am at a loss of where to get lunch.

I was thinking eating in Chinatown but I have only been to Great Eastern and another place that has a green awning and I think "Snow" in the name. I want to say Snow Garden or something like that. I'm not sure if there are better places. Any recs?

What are some places near Fisherman's Wharf where we can eat at that isn't going to break the bank and can accomodate 8-10 people?

I need a list of options since they haven't finalized their itinerary so I'm not sure where we will actually be come lunch time or when they get hungry.

Thanks for the help.

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  1. Mother's day, eh? Swell.

    What does 'not break the bank' mean to you?

    OK, realistically they are going to want a view at Fisherman's Wharf so here are some of the best options.

    No real good view, but Nick's Lighthouse gets the most positive reports and probably has the best prices. Boudin Cafe has a nice view and decent if not extrodinary food. Don't know if this exceeds your 'break the bank budget' but until 3:30, Scoma's has a 3 course prix-fix special for $21. It's stellar fish, ok sides and Fisherman Wharf atmosphere up the kazoo. I'm not sure about Sunday's but Alioto's has some decent enough lunch specials, but is too pricy for the regular menu.

    In Chinatown R & G gets good recs on the board, especially there salt and pepper crab.

    Please report back on where you go and how they liked it. My S/O's side of the family is from Guatamala, so I'd be curious about what they think should I get in a similar situation.

    5 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      "Not break the bank" meaning less or around $20 a person since my parents will be picking up the bill.
      My concern is that since we'll be out on Mother's Day, we'll get trapped into getting some "Mother's Day Brunch" food that will be expensive and not tasty.

      My parents have basically left the itinerary up to my sister and myself and we eat a lot of ethnic foods but my parents and relatives don't. My parents have never had dim sum so I wanted to take them to try it but not sure how the rest of the pack will feel about it. I need options since we don't know where we will be eating.

      Are there any places going up to SF that would be good for brunch/lunch? We'll be travelling from the South Bay.

      1. re: Margo

        OK, I took my Gautamalan in-laws to dim sum (I went to Yank Sing which might be pricy). Most liked it and for the one person who didn't, there was regular Chinese food on the menu ... he was like ... "are we having more than appetizers?" He was happy once we ordered him some sort of noodle dish. I will caution for anyone bringing new people to dim sum to tell them that dishes are shared by the table and how to pace. One family member took a plate off the cart and at all four dumplings himself, thinking how it was done. The others in the group have since asked me the name of that Chinese restaurant so they could go again.

        There's all those dim sum places near the SF airport that everyone mentions, but they are crowded.

        Seriously, I'd go for Scoma's if eating at Fisherman's Wharf given the price point since there's three courses. Also, there is free valet parking at the door. They don't take reservations so you don't need to worry about being booked. At lunch there's usually no wait. Lunch is served till 3:30 so it gives you time.

        The other thing as far as dim sum you might walk around Chinatown and buy it from Chinese bakeries. This way if people don't like it, it is no investment. So maybe tour Chinatown snacking (definately custard tarts and baked BBQ pork buns from Golden Gate). Then go over to Fisherman's Wharf and if you eat are 2:30 - 3 at Scoma's that could double as an early dinner.

        1. re: rworange

          Scoma's special Mother's Day lunch menu is $40. Lots of places that usually don't take reservations do for Mother's Day.

          http://scomas.com/index.asp?page=MomS...

          Yank Sing can easily add up over $20 a person if you don't know to avoid the expensive specials.

          One of the cheaper but halfway tourist-friendly dim sum places in Chinatown might be a good bet for staying under $20.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Thanks for looking that up. Major mother's day rip-off. It's pretty much the regular prix-fix substituting lobster bisque for clam chowder, upping the desserts slightly and five choices for entrees rather than three ... with a meat option ... at twice the price.

            1. re: rworange

              It's not necessarily a ripoff, or at least it's not necessarily any more profitable than usual. Restaurants typically have to add on extra staff for those crazy days, to make it manageable they do a set menu, lots of people want something more fancy rather than less.

              Opentable has a list of places open Mother's Day. Town's End and Chouchou, among others, have their regular menus.

              http://www.opentable.com/promo.aspx?m...

    2. For some touristic impact, your family might enjoy Kan's on Grant Ave. Be sure that you're seated in the main dining room and not one of the hovels. Note that it's up a flight of stairs. The dim sum comes around on trays. Not everything is good (e.g., avoid the eggrolls), so eye the plates carefully and go with your instincts on what looks hot and fresh. Here's a chowdown report to give you an idea of the locale and the food,
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32040

      1. You might consider Houston's on the Embarcadero. It should not be too expensive for lunch, but it is rather pricey for dinner. If you think you have people who don't like anything too different (i.e. dim sum) then Houston's might be a safer & more enjoyable experience for all.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mari

          Lunch or dinner, entrees go up to $32, so not a good choice if the goal is to keep the tab under $20 a person.