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Critique my SF Trip so far...

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Hi Everybody,
My hubby and I are coming for a trip 3 nights in SF, one in Sausalito, (3 in Sonoma but we're pretty sure we've got that covered). We've done a bit of research both on the CH board and thru our friends who live in Sonoma. We're staying at the Westin Market St. We don't mind spending $$ on vacation, but blanched when we checked out the prices at French Laundry for the wine country part of our trip. So, here's where we're at so far...

Saturday -arrive around 12 noon -
- lunch - sushi...can't seem to get a consensus from the CH boards on this topic. Can anyone suggest a great one for lunch? We live in South Florida, so get pretty good sushi, but would love to have GREAT San Francisco sushi that we always hear about.
- dinner - North Beach Restaurant - Italian

Sunday -
- breakfast - ??
- lunch - Mission district burritos - Deciding between El Toro and Farolito, unless there are other recs. This also seemed to have little consensus on the boards.
- dinner - Slanted Door

- breakfast - Mama's
- lunch and dinner - deciding between B44, Plouf, Michael Mina, Tommy Toy's - what do you recommend when? We definitely want to do a chinese option. Any others that are better?

Tuesday - Sausalito - staying at The Inn Above the Tides
lunch - possibly Sushi Ran? any good? we may just wander and eat lunch wherever
dinner - Christophe or Cacciucco.

We like many kinds of food, except not too crazy about Indian. We'll be doing a fair amount of American in Sonoma, so thought we'd do the more ethnic stuff in SF. What do you think of any or all of the above?


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  1. Sounds like you've given this a lot of thought! I would suggest that you go to Aziza for your dinner on Monday - it is Morrocan with a decidedly California twist. The atmosphere is very nice and they have great cocktails and great food. Michael Mina is very expensive and gets mixed reviews. I've been to both and think you would find Aziza to be both enjoyable and different from anything else you have on your agenda. You can reserve through Open Table. For lunch on Monday, I'd recommend Plouf above B44 - particularly if you enjoy mussels. If you want something that is more of the old-time traditional SF, Sam's is on the corner of Belden Alley. Sam's is very much like Tadich Grill. Enjoy your visit!

    1 Reply
    1. I'm not positive, but I don't think Mama's is open on Monday morning. You can join the queue at Dottie's True Blue Cafe, a Tenderloin (read: sketchy neighborhood) favorite with great breakfast.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pane

        It's a sketchy neighborhood but pretty shut down in the morning and Dottie's is very good. On the weekends the line can get ridiculous so it's nice to be able to go on a weekday.

      2. Man ... I was just going to pass on this but the ... North Beach restaurant ... no, no, no. That cduld NOT have come from Chowhound but a place like Zagat.

        Sunday - breakfast - Town's End on the Embarcadero near the ballpark. Wonderful house-baked muffin breakfast basket with fresh seasonal fruit butter.

        Tommy Toy's - Zagat again? If you must go there, take the prix-fixe menu which I've heard is the most decent of a bad, over-priced lot.

        I'd prefer The Dining Room at the Ritz over any of the other selections.

        Sausalito - Fish ... Fish ... Fish ... that's the name of the joint. I'd do that for lunch and sushi Ran for dinner.

        7 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          Town's End has always been one of my favorites for breakfast--I loved that basket of breads and muffins. I'm glad to hear it's still great. http://www.townsend-restaurant.com/

          EDIT: Another option, if you want "upscale" Chinese, why not do Yank Sing in Rincon Center (neat old building with WPA era murals) for dim sum for your Sunday "breakfast"? http://www.yanksing.com/


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Tthe even improved. The mimosa is now organic as are a lot of their dishes. Let's say for dinner they were serving Berkshire pork which you could get as part of a three-course prix-fixe for $20. Had a great grapefruit organic raspberry scone there last week and some wonderful fresh-squeezed lemonade.

            1. re: rworange

              Sounds fantastic--I don't recall if they were doing the organic focus back when I was a regular a couple of years ago, but it's possible they were and, since that wasn't MY focus then, I didn't notice. I'm glad they are doing that. Is that three-course prix-fixe dinner the thing they're doing on Tuesday nights now? I recall they were doing something along those lines a couple of years ago.


            2. re: The Dairy Queen

              Good call, if not Yank Sing, dim sum lunch somewhere is a must.

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I've checked out Yank Sing but DH isn't that into Dim Sum. I'm going to keep trying to convince him for breakfast. :)

              2. re: rworange

                Actually, NB Italian and Tommy Toy's were recommended by people who have lived in and/or traveled a lot in SF. I knew they were a tad touristy which is why I came to chowhound to find out.

                1. re: rworange

                  Please, for the love of god, do not go to North Beach Restaurant.

                  That is all.

                2. Yeah, if you want Italian on Saturday night, there are many many many good places in San Francisco to choose from that aren't North Beach Restaurant. I agree with the idea of Aziza for dinner on Monday, and Plouf is a nice place for lunch.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JasmineG

                    Concur on Aziza. Also, bear in mind that Slanted Door's menu is the same for lunch as it is for dinner, but most of the best sushi restaurants are only open for dinner. If you flip around some of your desires, do Slanted Door for lunch and sushi for dinner.

                    My favorite Italian in North Beach is Rose Pistola. My favorite sushi is Kiss.

                    Again, consider Aziza (which prefer over Slanted Door anyway - but that is like comparing Apples and Oranges).

                    1. re: Carrie 218

                      Have you been to Rose Pistola in the last few months? I didn't mention it because of recent mixed and negative reports:


                  2. Definitely not North Beach Restaurant. If you want Italian in North Beach, L'Osteria for cheap, Ideale for moderate.

                    If you want the best Italian in SF, A16, Incanto, or La Ciccia.

                    Chinese, Jai Yun. Nothing like it anywhere else.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Oh yeah, I love Ideale. Also for top-class Asian fusion, you might consider The House, just down the street from Ideale.

                        1. re: PulledPork

                          Perbacco's good but I rank it a notch down from the three I mentioned. Some reports here suggest they're inconsistent when the place (huge) is full.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Fair enough. Well I absolutely love the three that you mentioned. I've just been shocked each visit to Perbacco (been once for lunch and once for dinner) that the quality of the pasta, the cured meats, and the entrees have stood up to those top tier Italian joints but I can't really speak to their consistency.

                            Great call on Jai Yun by the way - love the BYOB aspect. We'll roll in there with 4 bottles of wine and make a night out of it.

                      1. By the way, it's not too surprising there isn't more consensus on Mission District burritos--every place does them just a little differently, and everyone has their favorites and their peculiar preferences. You can spend a wonderful couple of hours just exploring the Mission if the weather's nice and you feel comfortable in the neighborhood. You could even try a couple of tacos at one place, and a couple of tacos at another. If you want an SF-style burrito (no one does them quite the way they do in SF,) you could even split one with your husband so you have room to try more things.

                        Not that you've asked for MORE things to put on your list, but there's a fantastic bakery, Tartine, in the Mission and even Mitchell's ice cream that you might be able to work in, depending on your schedule and sense of adventure. (If I could only do one of those, Tartine would be my pick.)


                        In any case, have a fantastic visit. And, of course, please report back.


                        8 Replies
                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Yes, but if doing Tartine, I'd definately go for Bi-Rite creamery up the street over Mitchell's ... though I don't know the ice cream situation in Florida these days.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Yeah--good point. Maybe they get good ice cream in Florida. You know, I never made it to Bi-Rite (very embarrassing. Some 'hound I am.) I always meant to. I should put that on my list for my next visit.

                            Another place I really like for Chinese, assuming it's still very good (better than Tommy Toy's I've always thought), is R&G Lounge (Kearny Street, financial district/Chinatown, depending on how you look at it.) You can order the salt baked crab and knock out yet another SF treat!


                            1. re: rworange

                              amyvc you could spend some time on 18th street alone- tartine bakery although the line is out of control on the weekends..I would go to Pizza Delfina, we were just there last Sat. and had a wonderful lunch..then go across the street for Bi Rite Creamery Ice Cream..then head over to the Mission..just a thought

                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Quite true, there are some radical differences among people's preferences. Some insist that the burrito be toasted on the grill, others want it plain steamed. Some people prefer whole beans, or even black beans.

                              To me, the canonical Mission burrito is carnitas at La Cumbre, regular (with beans, rice, and salsa) rather than super (also has cheese, guacamole, and sour cream), with plenty of hot sauce from the squeeze bottle on the table.

                              Though I've never had a burrito that was as tasty as the tacos al pastor at Taqueria San Jose.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                I had my first "real" burrito at La Cumbre and, for that, it will always be one of my favorites.


                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  While that's not my preference (I don't like rice in my burritos, and really am a taco girl most of the time), I agree on your canonical Mission burrito and La Cumbre is one of the better places to get it. That and the veggie burrito at Taqueria Cancun are the archetypes.

                                  Good reading on your burrito hunt here: http://www.burritophile.com/directory...

                                  1. re: bernalgirl

                                    In my book, the canonical Mission veggie burrito has broccoli, tofu, and black beans.

                              2. On my recent trip to SF I ate at the Slanted Door. I love Vietnamese food and was really excited about eating there. That said, if I had it all to do again I would not take up a vacation meal with SD. Don't get me wrong the food was good, but not nearly as good as some of the local mom and pop places I frequent back home. I suggest you consider swapping out Slanted Door for Bar Crudo. I had a lovely meal there.
                                If you really want to taste something from Slanted Door, they have a casual take out counter around the corner inside the Ferry Building.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Honey Bee

                                  Oh, yes! The Ferry Building is a wonderful place to visit if you can. You'd likely miss the Farmer's Market Day (Saturday), but you might be able to do the happy hour Monday night at Hog Island Oyster Co. But, that might be pushing it with a visit to Slanted Door take-out, too. http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.c...


                                  1. re: Honey Bee

                                    I know Slanted Door is not the neighborhood mom and pop. The only thing I would comment on is that SD uses top quality ingrediants ... sort of the Chez Panisse of Vietnamese food with a wine and dessert list you won't find at a mom and pop. Of course, all of that doesn't matter if it doesn't taste good, but I've had some really wonderful dinners at Slanted Door.

                                    This is someone coming from Florida, which IMO has seafood far superior to anything I've found in SF, so that would be my only comment on considering Bar Crudo .. though haven't been.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      Even though it's not "neighborhoody," Slanted Door is still family-owned, is it not? (To the extent that sort of thing matters to people. As rwo points out--what's most important is that it tastes good!) http://www.slanteddoor.com/


                                      Slanted Door
                                      Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                    2. re: Honey Bee

                                      I also ate at Bar Crudo on my recent trip. It was fantastic! You may want to eat there instead of a sushi place. They have the freshest sashimi (crudo) with innovative toppings . At first, my teen daughter,who is used to Japenese sushi, was commenting, "where is the soy sauce"? After a few bites, she was happy!

                                      Take a look at their menu to see if it intrigues you: http://www.barcrudo.com/menu.htm

                                      1. re: fdb

                                        This is a great suggestion -- definitely try Bar Crudo instead of (or in addition to!) sushi.

                                    3. Thanks everyone for comments thus far. We will definitely look into something other than North Beach for Italian. We'll also check out Aziza as a possibility.

                                      Re: Slanted Door, the upscale aspect appeals to me. We have good Vietnamese here but mostly mom and pop places. One of my best friends is Vietnamese, so I'm reasonably familiar with smallish Vietnamese. I think we'll stick with it, though may consider doing it for lunch. Good suggestion...thanks! Now, since the sushi places are all open for dinner, bring 'em on!! Where do you suggest??

                                      Thanks for the tip on Mama's. We'll figure out when it's open and might check out True Blue and Town's End.

                                      Can't wait to check out the bakery and ice cream suggestions!

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: amyvc

                                        Don't get me wrong, Slanted Door was very good. I was just hoping it would knock my socks off, but it didn't. I just assume pay the $6.95 at my local place for food that I believe is just as good (although served in a less chic enviroment and without the cold cocktails). However, it is tatsy and I am sure you will still have a lovely meal there. Since I live in a land-locked city, I wish I had used my meal spent there to eat more seafood. Living in FL, you don't have the same issue.

                                        I should have been more specifc when I mentioned "mom-and-pop" places. SD may very well be run by a family, but to me mom-and-pop implies a lesser-known casual place.
                                        Enjoy your trip.

                                        1. re: amyvc

                                          Aziza is really good and definitely an only-in-SF place.

                                          Most of our seafood comes from the airport!

                                          5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121

                                          1. re: amyvc

                                            Just came back from a weekend visit to SF and dined at 7 restaurants. Slanted Door turned out to be one of our favorites. Sure there are "more authentic" places in every city, but going to SD is truly a San Franciscan "experience" for out-of-towners like us. First, you arrive at the legendary Ferry Building after meandering through a sea of taxis, buses, trolley cars on Market St., then you stroll through stall after stall of colorful and unique local food and gift shops, then you turn to discover the ferry, the water, and the Bay Bridge before you open the glass door of SD and there you are in this modern space bustling with energy and filled with aroma. You are seated by a courteous, professional server at a table with a perfect view of the Bay Bridge on a sunny day. You are served with the freshest ingredients cooked cleverly light and tasty. From appetizer, entree, to dessert, tea and coffee....nothing disappoint. If you like upscale places like you said, you'll like the entire Slanted Door experience. Enjoy and savor!

                                            1. re: amyvc

                                              amyvc- all the suggestions here are right on the mark and you won't go wrong with any of them and you got some good saves from your first options.

                                              You asked for some sushi places, SF is not really a sushi town and I love sushi... Here was thread that you can read-
                                              I like Kiss, Sebo, Sushi Ran in Sausalito, Murasaki is best for more traditional style and pristine fish and Grandeho's Kamekyo.

                                              1. re: Lori SF

                                                I am also not sure that SF is the great sushi town OP mentioned she had heard about...indeed, I've had sushi in South Florida as good or better than I've had here....but I would also go to Sushi Ran for my fix, especially since Sausalito is already on the list.

                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                  As the OP, I have to say "my bad" or whatever's the cool way of saying it these days. I had heard that CA is the place for sushi. I had also heard the SF is a good place for seafood. Thus, I made the assumption that SF sushi would be better than sushi in South Florida (which is great, but not as good as New York - haha). So, apologies to all for my assumptions which were off the mark. Sushi Ran in Sausalito it is...and we'll nix it in SF. Thanks to Lori who posted sushi spots anyway. I'm almost finished with the negotiations with DH who doesn't understand why I need to have all my meals planned ahead of time. Of course I tell him it's so we don't end up at the same crappy tourist holes that we shun in Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Anyway, will post again within a few day with our final choices and then I'll post again after our trip Aug 4-11 to let you know how it went down. :) Thanks again, all, and keep the suggestions coming....

                                                  1. re: amyvc

                                                    There are some great sushi spots in the South Bay, but with just a few days in town I probably wouldn't make the trip given where you are coming from...now if you are ever in LA, that's a different story...

                                                    1. re: amyvc

                                                      Easy mistake to make, we *are* on the ocean after all. Sad that SF isn't more of a seafood town, really. But your list is really shaping up to expose you to the best the city has to offer.

                                                      On the Italian side, do consider the trip out to Delfina, La Ciccia or Incanto -- it may depend on where you can get a reservation but you won't go wrong with any of the three. If I were visiting, I would want Delfina over Pizzeria Delfina -- it's good but the signature stuff is all at Delfina proper. The octopus app is outstanding (and at La Ciccia, too).

                                                      If you find yourself with an extra dinner, consider Zuni. There's lots on the menu other than the famous roast chicken, it's a delightful space, and very, very San Francisco.

                                                      Have fun!

                                                      1. re: bernalgirl

                                                        I mentioned pizzeria delfina you just described it better, LOL

                                                        The mention of breakfast places has been limited-
                                                        here are a couple more-
                                                        Ella's on Presidio/California great breakfast. head into the Presidio after, beautiful parkland, views, nice walking area..home of Lucas Films and few new wonderful restaurants, then walk down to Crissy Fields for Golden Gate Bridge and Bay views along the water.
                                                        Most of the Bay Bread places offer a nice breakfast and great baked items, good croissants, eggs benie, good coffee, etc here is a link for all of the locations. My favorites are Le Petit Robert on Polk fun hood and Boulange De Cole Valley in my hood and close to Golden Gate park.

                                                        Or down in Hayes Valley Modern Tea is a good breakfast spot and fun neighborhood for shopping.

                                                        If you want great brunch spots for the weekend, do a search-
                                                        My favorites-
                                                        Universal Cafe, Maverick, Slow Club.

                                              2. True--no board consensus on Mission burritos, but La Taqueria (Mission nr. 25th) often gets recommendations here. Carnitas and carne asada tacos and burritos, and great fresas and other fruit drinks. They've been around for 30-odd years, so they're doing something right.

                                                1. Hi Amy! Since everyone is giving their two cents, here is mine.

                                                  I think Aziza is a must, so unique, reasonably priced, and truly wonderful ingredients make it delicious. The drinks menu is also amazing.

                                                  Dottie's True Blue, while always a wait, is so worth it. Very well-priced and their portions are large and extremely tasty.

                                                  Good chinese open for lunch and dinner is R & G Lounge, located right near North Beach and China Town.

                                                  Italian in N. Beach, check out Da Flora, quiet corner restauarnt, authentic Italian food, great wine list, and completely romantic. A much better experience than Rose Pistola (which I recently went to and officially crossed off my list of eats), Delfina or Incanto, or if you are mobile, I love, love, love, Pizzaiolo (5008
                                                  Telegraph Ave, Oakland).

                                                  Sausalito-try Fish for lunch. Beautiful scenery, located on the marina, great sustainably caught fish and shellfish with both traditional and unique presentation, plus they serve their drinks in mason jars which is way too cool. Lunch and Dinner, cash only

                                                  Mission Burritos-I love Taqueria Cancun,and Farolito, but I also like La Cornetta...unclassic because it is clean and huge portions, but also clean and delicious food!

                                                  Enjoy and please report back!

                                                  1. I didn't see a "no no no!" about Plouf, so I'll add that.

                                                    I am extraordinarily fond of mussels. I'm not terribly picky, but did spend a few days in southern belgium eating nothing but mussels.

                                                    Plouf should be good, just reading the description. Mussles in the classic fashion. A bunch of good sauces and proper double-cooked fries. A focused restaurant. And outdoor seating.

                                                    It's never, ever, as good as one hopes. The quality of the mussels is OK, but the sauces are nearly flavorless. The fries lack a certain something. You're packed so close they have to move the tables so you can sit down - the booths on the side are better, but I rarely have that many companions.

                                                    If I lived close, I might stop by once a month. But it's no destination.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                                      I ate well at Plouf the other night. My moules marinière were good but my friend's in coconut milk with lime were better. The version with bacon and cream is also really good. Fries were excellent as usual. Inside it wasn't crowded at all.

                                                    2. You might also consider Peruvian, a cuisine that's gotten very popular here in recent years. They do a great variation on sashimi called tiradito. I think Mochica and the Fillmore branch of Fresca have gotten the most positive reports here recently.

                                                      1. Dottie's and TownsEnd both good for breakfast - but Dottie's not open early in the week (monday or tuesday) -- for ALL restaurants i'd recommend checking by phone- websites not always accurate

                                                        Fish in sausalito very pleasant if nice outside - but cash only (and can be pricey) - fish and chips exceptional

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: marinrain

                                                          Just ate at Fish... again!
                                                          We love it! I think the fish and chips can't be beat and the setting is wonderful.
                                                          If I didn't live here and happened upon it, I would be very happy!

                                                          1. re: Oakland Barb

                                                            I third that I love it there too..I go there after my Mt. Tam hikes and it hits the spot like no other.

                                                        2. Thanks to all who've replied thus far. Here's our list. It's been updated a bit. We've nixed the Italian all-together, since we'll be going to a good place in Sonoma. Thanks and very sorry to all who've posted Italian recs. Here's our plan...
                                                          SAT Aug 4 - Arrive.
                                                          lunch - Farmer's Market at Ferry Building
                                                          dinner - Aziza - sounds wonderful

                                                          SUN -
                                                          lunch - Mission burrito at one of the recommended places
                                                          dinner - Quince - intrigued by the menu and heard good things from our Healdsburg friends

                                                          MON -
                                                          lunch - chinese - either Dim sum at Yank sing if I can talk DH into it or chinese at R&G lounge
                                                          dinner - happy hour at Hog Island Oyster Bar followed by dinner at Slanted Door

                                                          Tues - in Sausalito
                                                          lunch - Fish
                                                          dinner - Sushi Ran

                                                          We will work in breakfasts depending on what's open. Definitely plan to do the walk along the bay and do the bakeries, etc. Also plan to hit Mama's and maybe True Blue (depending on if I want to do the tenderloin). I'm taking all the names of all places recommended and we'll hit all as we can.

                                                          Thanks again so much to all and I'll report back after we travel. We're gone thru mid-Aug, so will re-post after that.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: amyvc

                                                            Sounds like you've got just about the perfect plan!

                                                          2. amyvc,
                                                            Do you mind posting your plans for Sonoma? My wife and I will be there for two nights in August and would be very interested in coattailing your plans.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jason a

                                                              Sure...here's the Sonoma plans:
                                                              Wed -
                                                              11 am Lunch at Rosso e Bianco (Coppola) and tasting
                                                              2 pm - Private tasting at Ferrari-Carano - chocolates paired w/red wines
                                                              3:15 - Rued - small vineyard that makes nice zins
                                                              4:00 Rosenblum - tasting room in Healdsburg
                                                              7:00 dinner at Zin

                                                              brunch w/our friends who live in H'burg
                                                              11:00 Jordan
                                                              12:30 Bella - interesting caves
                                                              2:00 Chalk Hill - wine tasting and lunch. tasting is free w/lunch
                                                              4:00 Silver Oak
                                                              8:30 Dinner at Cyrus

                                                              no definite plans. Since you have to make reservations at many of wineries, we're purposing doing a non-planned day. We'll get picnic fixins at Jimtown in H'burg and set out for a winery w/a good picnic spot. We'll stop at other wineries along the scenic route before and after. Also may hit the tasting rooms in H'burg, for which I am pretty sure most do not need a res. There are many tasting rooms from what i hear.

                                                              Dinner that night is at Cafe Citti (italian) - which is far away in the south end of town, but most of our friends highly recommend and they don't take reservations. if you buy your wine at VJB next door, they don't charge corkage. If you want me to fwd you the text of the emails from my wino friend out there, just post your email and I'd be glad to.