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Top 5

Im visiting the bay area from Norman, OK. I would like to be informed by the folks who know. So, what are five places that someone shouldn't miss that duck the tourists? Any help in this would be appreciated. Thank you.

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  1. People are happy to make suggestions, but this question is almost too broad to answer. A few suggestions - we get asked this all the time, so if you do a search and get some ideas of what might appeal to you and ask for comments on your choices, you are likely to get a lot more info. In any event, please let us know what your price range or restrictions are; what type of food you like and don't like; are you looking for different ethnic cuisines? Local hole in the wall type places? Lots of really good restaurants have a tourist trade, so I wouldn't let that scare me away! The more info you give us, the more we can give you.

    11 Replies
    1. re: dinnerout

      Basically, you are correct, I should have clarified, but I am looking for broad answers. I want a top five. I am asking you, the question recipient, which five experiences are not to be missed. Is it a dive? thats cool. Do you want me to drive to Yountville and eat at the French Laundry? that's cool too. I just want to eat where the locals eat. I may or may not be able to make it to a spot considering price, but if I hear overwhelming praise for a place, I might splurge a little bit. Where are you going to take family or friends from out of town? Top 5. Rattle them off! Have fun with it! I guess it does require a lot of thought, if I had to pick five places I would want people to experience around Norman I would have to think and rethink about it. What I am looking for is a first draft of that top 5. Type and price are flexible.

      1. re: meutron

        There's actually a Top 5 field in the user profile page. Click on the "avatar" images next to my username on this post to see one. Not everybody fills it out.

        1. re: meutron

          >>> I should have clarified, but I am looking for broad answers . . . <<<

          1. Food.
          2. Wine.
          3. North Beach.
          4. Cable Cars.
          5. GGNRA.

          (Not necessarily in that order -- YMMV.)

          Those are broad answers. Now, if you want specifics . . . .

          1. re: zin1953

            "Those are broad answers. Now, if you want specifics . . . ."
            We are on a site dedicated to food and drink, no? That kind of limits the topic to begin with. If you want more specifics, I want food prepared by other people for my consumption that you think might be delicious,preferably at a restaurant, but I might be flexible with that as well if you can convince me that your aunt flo makes the best fried chicken in the bay area.

            1. re: meutron

              OK, so if you want my Top Five restaurants . . .

              and if you want me to limit those to places within the limits of the City and County of San Francisco . . .

              and if there is no restrictions on cuisine . . .

              I'll tell you that what follows in my very personal "top five," but I will also hasten to add that I do not disagree with any of the restaurants already named . . . .

              Restaurant Gary Danko
              Michael Minna

              (Note: I also deliberately picked restaurant not previously [I think] mentioned. The list would be slightly different if I was the first poster; the list would be very different if the geographic scope were enlarged to include the East Bay.)


              126 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

              Gary Danko
              800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              Quince Restaurant
              470 Pacific Av, San Francisco, CA 94133

          2. re: meutron

            Alright I'm game- I think it's an interesting way to ask the question.

            El Farolito @ 24th & Mission. Classic SF taqueria, nothing fancy here, at least one burrito should be on your list.

            Burma Super Star- 4th & Clement, you've probably never had food like this before (I sure hadn't before I whent). This place is casual but nice and it's super crowded cause it's too damn popular for it's own good. Go for lunch or go early or go anytime you want but be prepared to wait (if you go at peak hour, you can leave a cell-phone number and go have a drink while you wait, which really doesn't suck at all if you ask me).

            Truly Mediteranean- 16th and Valencia. This is one of my regular lunch spots. I go on for the Chicken Schawerma (Tuesday's and Friday's only) but the lamb is also good which is served every other day of the week. Falafel is also good if you or your friends are veggie.

            Memphis Minnie's- If you like good BBQ, this is the only spot in the Bay Area that's really worth it (I'll probably start a fight with this claim). If you have a million good BBQ spots in Norman OK (I don't know the local cuisine of Norman too well) then you might not want to bother, but the place is damn good. The owner focuses on several different regional styles. The brisket is amazing, the pulled pork is also good, and so are the pork ribs. The sides are also very good.

            Number Five: I dunno some schmooty place that someone else is gonna tell you to go to. Chez Panisse is probably really good and worth a visit (I've never been, but I'm going soon).
            Everyone is gonna tell you to go to Zuni (I've never been there either, but I'm sure it's good).

            At some point it might be a good idea to give some suggestions of what you're not looking for because I don't think most of us know what is available in OK.

            More suggestions:
            If you like pizza Tomaso's is really good (Kearney and Broadway in North Beach) and most of the other pizza in the Bay is not.

            I like Tu Lan on 6th and Market (not for the faint of heart the neighborhood sucks). It's controversial around here but I think they have the best shrimp fried rice and imperial rolls anywhere

            Oh, I almost forgot sushi, get some sushi, there are a million places and I'm not an expert but Ebisu on 9th Ave. and Irving is excellent.

            If you like asian food then you should also go to some of the places that other people on the board will recommend 'cause people know their stuff around here.

            Alright, that's all for now...

            1. re: virtualguthrie

              Thank you so much, this was exactly the type of answer I was looking for. I'll positively check out the bbq and the sushi. Norman is pretty much bunko as far as barbeque goes, most of the good spots require a jaunt to OKC.

              1. re: meutron

                Hah! I was worried the BBQ suggestion would be stupid! Glad the list helped.
                If you do go to Ebisu they have a kobe beef nigiri that is awesome (it's raw beef, which I don't eat too often but), I had it once and I crave it all the time.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    They used to... or at least advertised it as such. Never coughed up the money for it when I'd gone in the past - I'd never been that terribly impressed with Ebisu (couldn't understand its popularity), so I felt it a waste.

              2. re: virtualguthrie

                Please try the El Farolito on 24th Street near Hampshire (towards Potrero from Mission). They have the same food as the one on Mission and it is a lot cleaner (in every way)! Don't forget to order cebollitas (grilled green onions), and remember not to get too much stuff in your burrito. Carne Asada with black beans, rice, and salsa is fantastic.

            1. Incanto, Aziza, Zuni, Out the Door, Canteen

              3 Replies
                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                  Which Out the Door are you referring to? Or both?

                2. Delfina, Myth, La Taqueria, Canteen & Sebo Sushi

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: meutron

                      My top five are listed on my profile (& actually I've listed six)

                      1. re: Paul H

                        ... and here they are (in alphabetical order, and mired in the "M's")

                  1. I'd give 5 very different restaurants...

                    A16 - Modern Southern Italian. A bit 'scene-y' by SF standards. Awesome (largely Southern) Italian wine list. (Markup is a little high, but excellent list and great wine service.) The food is remarkably well priced for its quality, portion size, and presentation.

                    Slanted Door - The only 'touristy' restaurant I'd send you to. But I eat there as often as I can. I LOVE it. Modern Vietnamese food. Best Vietnamese, or Vietnamese-like, food I've had. Great dining room with bay bridge views. Incredibly well thought out wine lists that compliments the food remarkably well.

                    Ame - Cutting edge Japanese fusion. The best Japanese/fusion I've ever had. Expensive but not outrageous.

                    Fleur de Lys - More classic Alsatian restaurant. My bar-none favorite restaurant in SF.

                    #5 is tricky and depends what I'm interested in or what you want... but I think I'd go with...

                    Aziza - Moroccan. And the best Middle Eastern / Mediterannean / North African food I've had outside of Turkey, itself. Reasonably well priced, too.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: whiner

                      If you don't have time to visit Napa or Sonoma but would like to take wine back home, please visit K&L Wines. They are very knowledgable, helpful and have a nice selection from big and small wineries from around the world. Most importantly, their prices are hard to beat.


                      BTW, whenever my sister & her husband come to visit from Michigan, they always have to have some street tacos.

                    2. Let's see. If I was coming from out of town, I would want to find some places I would be unlikely to come across in OK.

                      1. Cioppino at Tadich Grill. SF oldest restaurant. Attracts locals, Mayors, and tourists alike. The Cioppino and sourdough are top notch, and it is very reasonable for a white tablecloth type place. Any seafood grilled over mesquite is also a good choice.

                      2. Vietnamese at Slanted Door. Pricey by Vietnamese standards. If price is an issue than its Bodega Bistro. If it is quintessential hole in the wall (quite literally), then Tu Lan is your choice.

                      3. La Taquaria in the Mission for the famous SF burrito. A buck or two more than your average taquaria, but worth it. Just be sure to use lots of that salse verde in the plastic squeeze bottles.

                      4. Chinese Dim Sum at Yin Sing. You want be disappointed

                      5. Chez Panisse in Berkeley for the birthplace of California Cuisine. Just get your reservations well in advance.

                      1. Here's a topic from last month answering much the same question:


                        1. It doesn't duck the tourists, but the Ferry Building Marketplace, as well as its Farmer's Market, shouldn't be missed.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: scenicrec

                            "Ferry Building Marketplace"

                            Why? It seems okay if you work in the area... but destination worthy?

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              A visit to the Ferry Plaza on Saturday morning is a must for any food-obsessed tourist.


                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                So basically... the Farmer's Market .... not the brick & mortar Marketplace vendors... right?

                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  The shops inside are worth checking out too, as long as you're there. There's no Sur la Table in Oklahoma yet.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    no Sur la Table . . .
                                    no Cowgirl Creamery . . .
                                    no Hog Island Oyster Bar . . .
                                    no Tsar Nicoulai Caviar (retail or restaurant) . . .
                                    no Boulette's Larder . . .
                                    no Taylor's Refresher . . . .
                                    no McEvoy Olive Oil . . .
                                    no Stonehouse Olive Oil . . .
                                    no Far West Fungi . . .
                                    no Frog Hollow Farm . . .
                                    no Recchiuti Confections . . .
                                    no Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker . . .

                                    etc., etc., etc.

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      I could see those being interesting... but I thought the OP was referring to eateries not foodie shops.

                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          Taylor's Refresher = restaurant
                                          Hog Island Oyster Bar = restaurant
                                          Tsar Nicoulai = restaurant

                                          . . . and there are several other places there to eat.

                            2. i've been a tourist/business commuter to san francisco since 1973. we tourists are ubiquitous.

                              places that make me feel good include zuni, a16, fish in sausalito, pine cone diner in pt. reyes station, saturday morning at the farmers' market.

                              hope this helps.

                              1. Ok, here are MY top five. A few in my neighborhood, go figure.
                                1. Mamma's - the best darn breakfast you'll ever wait in line for. Shrimp benedict, cinnamon chocolate french toast, nelson's rancheros. YUM! But seriously, there's always a line. Just bring a newspaper or chat it up with people in line. On Francisco and Stockton in Northbeach

                                2. Sodini's - American Italian food, run by Native San Franciscans, delicious food. "No reservations, no decaf and no dessert" is their Motto.Their seafood linguini is GOOD. On the corner of Grant and Green streets, also in Northbeach.

                                3. The House - insane asian fusion food. Search them out on this site for more reviews. On Grant and Vallejo, I think. In Northbeach.

                                4. Burma Superstar - yes, I get out of my neighborhood sometimes - see above recommendation..... try the tea leaf salad and the sambusa soup.

                                5. Pancho Villa - burritos the size of your head. 16th between Mission and Valencia.

                                I hope this helps!

                                1. 1. Canteen
                                  2. Gary Danko
                                  3. Ferry Plaza Saturday early
                                  4. K&L Wines
                                  5. Liguria Bakery for focaccia

                                  1. I want to thank you all for the wonderful suggestions, I am going to keep several of them in mind, but unfortunately, I am limited to three days in the area. Im sure this trip will prompt a lot of return visits. Now, I realize Norman might not have a lot to offer the seasoned and spoiled food enthusiast, but if any of you are in the area, Ill be able to point you toward some of the better places to eat.

                                    1. Canteen
                                      Jeanty at Jacks
                                      Foreign Cinema

                                      1. Luella- great food in a neighborhood location. Everyone I've ever taken has loved it.
                                        Delfina- Cal Italian in the Mission. Great food, very good SF vibe.
                                        Range- My favorite for better cal cuisine
                                        Pancho Villa- burittos in the mission. Lots of other choices, this is mine.
                                        Limon- I love the cerviche, I take a lot of visitor there, as well.