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Jun 5, 2007 09:15 AM

July vacation to SF- advice?

We live in Manhattan and are going to SF in early July. So far I have come up with the following, and I would appreciate some feedback and advice: Ferry Building for Farmers' Market (Fatted Calf, Andante Dairy); TWO; Tres Agave; Bar Crudo; Perbacco; Incanto; Firefly; Frascati; Michael Mina; Dining Room at the Ritz; Scala's; Plouf; Zuni; Chez Panisse; PlumpJack Cafe; Hog Island Oyster Co.; Swan Oyster Depot; Range; Boulevard. I realize that it will be physically impossible to do all of this in the time we have (although we're pretty much here to eat). So, any suggestions, subtractions, additions, etc., would be most appreciated. We are not constrained by area and are willing to splurge, at least a few times. Thanks!

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  1. It really depends on what area you are interested in. You should try to the Slanted Door in the ferry building. If you don't have rezzies sit at the bar. Also, don't miss the Acme bread there. It's amazing and they serve the same bread at Michael Mina (which I also just hit up for the apps/drinks in the bar area) Chez Panisse is great but in Berkeley across the bay. A yummy and fun place to go that is downtown in The Salthouse. Hard to get into so make rezzies. Also, brand spanking new in the Mission is a place called Spork from the guys of Range. I think it hasn't been discovered yet and no rezzie taken. Incanto, honestly, I'd skip. We live right by Firefly and Incanto and I think Firefly is better but for a visit I don't think I'd head out to our neighbor. It's pretty low key.

    2 Replies
    1. re: beshug

      Thank you! Sitting at the bar at some of these places is a great idea.

      1. re: sed231

        Yes, it is. Also, Bar Crudo can be reserved through now and you should to go to the Tunnel Top next door for a drink. Have fun. Bring your layers!!! It's been the really foggy in May/June so far.

    2. sed231,
      Looks like we are switching places in in NY, you in CA.
      If you are interested in Chez Panisse I say try to book a resi now and then take a look at the menu the week before to decide whether you actually want to dine there. It is across the bay though, so quite a trek. I definitely think you should visit the Farmers' Market...just so interesting! If you have the time, I'd say take a stroll through the Marina and take your time window-shopping, but also maybe stop into one of the more casual restaurants etc. for a bite. There is a good organic place called Lettus Cafe that does good salads and paninis...also up one of the side streets is a cute little shop called Kara's Cupcakes. Cute, expensive, but they try to use local ingredients, which is cool. Hope you have fun!

      2 Replies
      1. re: lj2899

        Thanks lj2899. We are trying to do as much food research as possible- thanks for the tip about Chez Panisse. When you come to NY, you'll be psyched about the food selection- if you have time and want to have a really fun NY Italian experience, go up to the Bronx to Arthur Ave.- the "real" Little Italy- and eat at Roberto's.

        1. re: lj2899

          The trip to Chez P isn't so bad from SF; it's a BART ride and a few short blocks!

        2. It really depends how long you will be here. Of the places listed, I'd eliminate TWO, Tres Agaves, Scala's, Plouf, and Plumpjack Cafe. I'd also definitely add some good ethnic food you can't get in NY, depending on your preferences (but I'd make a point to visit El Delfin for amazing sit-down, homey Mexican). I'd skip Slanted Door except for a drink and hit Bodega Bistro instead, unless you really want to do only upscale-ish places for dinner. I'd also add some dim sum and a trip to Aziza.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Maya

            Thanks, Maya. We are definitely into amazing Mexican, and thanks for the rest of the tips. We will be in town for five nights, so we should be able to do some serious (and varied) eating. Can you recommend places for dim sum?

            1. re: sed231

              Dim Sum is a super-devisive issue in SF and on this board. I am firmly in the Ton Kiang camp.

              1. re: whiner

                I was in the Ton Kiang camp until my last visit a couple months ago. It was pathetically sub par and insanely overpriced.

                1. re: Maya

                  To be fair I haven't been there since November. I hope you just caught them on a bad night, but sorry to hear about your experience.

            2. re: Maya

              Have you been to Plumpjack since the chef change?

              1. re: Chris Rising

                I had PlumpJack on my original list because I had read that the new chef had made a big difference. Any thoughts? Also, for a couple of splurges, what about the following: Fleur de Lys, Quince, Gary Danko, Manresa? Worth it?

                1. re: sed231

                  Stick with the Ritz for your biggest splurge. Or, head up to Cyrus in Healdsburg.

              2. re: Maya

                i second aziza. it's a can't miss, imo!

                dim sum has several major camps on this board: koi palace (of which camp i am a member; it is in daly city, but mostly bart accessible), yank sing, and golden mountain. everyone has an Opinion (capital "O") on this issue, but i think you wouldn't go wrong at any of these.

                i'm not sure of the ethnic food situation in nyc, but thai house express remains a superstar in my book. and maybe old mandarin islamic for muslim chinese?

              3. Favorite restaurant in the city: Fleur de Lys. In this price range, you can also look in to La Folie and the Dining Room at the Ritz. I would scrap Michael Mina.

                Expensive: Boulevard, Ame -- both are very SF-y

                Moderate to moderately expensive: Slanted Door (a must for visitors), A16, Myth, Delfina, Range. Aziza, Chapeau! are both also very good, but out of the way. Fringale, moderately priced, is an awesome value.

                Scala's is great IF you have a specific desire to eat on/near Union Square. There is better stuff out there for the price, but it is certainly good enough that if location is a factor.

                Bring a sweater.

                6 Replies
                1. re: whiner

                  Thanks to Artemis for the dim sum ideas (it seems like it's a pretty hotly contested issue in SF!). Whiner- thoughts on Gary Danko or Manresa?

                  1. re: sed231

                    Manresa, and bring layers because it might be really hot down there even if its freezing in SF.

                    Aziza may be somewhat farther afield, but it's superb and unique- and no more than 15 minutes cab ride from wherever you'll be staying - probably no farther than Incanto. You might also consider La Ciccia - Sardinian - in the same area as Incanto. Personally, I'd take visitors to Luella instead of Frascati.

                    I'd also recommend Burma Superstar or Golden Mandalay for Burmese. Wandering along Clement St is quite a treat, too.

                    Fancy dim sum - Yank Sing.

                    1. re: Maya

                      Skip Zuni. Its the most over hyped restaurant in the U.S., and overated.

                      1. re: donaldkeys

                        Zuni is hotly debated as well. If you're in the mood for some amazing roast chicken and fresh oysters, and ask to sit upstairs, however, you'll have a fabulous time.

                        I'd agree with the recs for Delfina and A16.

                        1. re: donaldkeys

                          Why do you say that? What was your experience? As Maya said, it is hotly debated, but in the decades that I have eaten there and brought visitors, I have rarely been disappointed ... though I'm still ticked about a pink apple salad that I ordered years ago ... four thin slice of pink apple you could almost see through. But other than that, its been great. And even on that visit, the person I took there loved it.

                      2. re: sed231

                        Manresa gets nearly all raves (but the least expensive wine on the list is apparently $80 and there is a high mark-up). Never got down there, though. Danko is an institution, but to me, FdL is noticably better -- I also prefer Alsatian food to modern CA cuisine, though.

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