Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Aug 31, 2007 08:12 AM

2 and a half days by the Bay!

I am visiting San Francisco October 12-15 with my boyfriend. We are 22 years old and from the east coast. I am trying to find the best San Francisco experience possible for while we are there. So far I have found a couple of places to go, but am at a loss for the big hitters. For breakfast one day we are probably going to go to Ti Couz Crepery and for lunch/dinner one day we are going to go to Arizmendi for pizza's.

I am looking for the Fisherman's Wharf experience of seafood with a great view of the bay. I don't want to fall into the tourist traps where they charge you an arm and a leg for halfway decent entree`s and a mediocre view... if that is possible in such a gorgeous place. I want to have AWESOME seafood in decent portions for moderate prices... with a great view- is that too much to ask? If you know of any, please list, or list your favorite seafood places in the wharf vicinity.

I also want to do some sort of Asian/Asian fusion meal while we are in San Francisco.

Lastly, we know that San Francisco is known for it's Sourdough. Where is the best Sourdough bread to be found?

Any advice on the above, or if you know a "must hit up while in the area" please reply. Like I said we are early 20's so Dinners should run under $35/ person and lunches under $20/ person. Breakfasts should run under $15/ person. We generally get water with meals and are very into experimenting with new tasting foods. We are staying in Union Square vicinity and are avid walkers willing to go a little ways to get to the good spots. Thanks for your help in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You should definitely go to the Ferry Building for the Saturday morning farmer's market. This is a good place to try bread - go to Acme Bread (they have a small stand outside, and their main store is inside.) The sourdough is good, although there are so many good baked goods here that I wouldn't necessarily recommend a plain sourdough as a first choice. But in my opinion, you can't go too wrong with Acme bread no matter what you get.

    If you can handle waiting in line (or are willing to go at off hours, like early/late lunch on Friday or Monday) I'd recommend Burma Superstar for Burmese. It's kind of a trek out to that neighborhood, but it could be combined w/ a visit to GG Park and/or Haight Ashbury.

    I haven't spent much time in Fisherman's Wharf, but my gut feeling is that you should skip it completely. In my opinion, if you want "awesome" seafood in decent portions for moderate prices with a good view, then you are indeed asking too much. I think this could be found easier on the east coast. But I don't really speak from experience, since I have never tried to find this in SF. However, other people might have better recommendations about good food if you really want to go to that neighborhood. This link might be helpful:

    Hope this helps

    Dave MP

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dave MP

      Acme Bread, good as it is (and I love it) does not make the traditional sourdough bread that San Francisco is famous for. Boudin has long held the crown for best San Francisco sourdough, even when they still had competition. A visit to the Boudin's Bakery/Bread Museum will kill two birds with one stone, as I believe all first-time visitors want to and should visit Fisherman's Wharf for the views, the smells and the history. Heck, it's worth a trip to the Wharf just to ogle the sea lions, and Cost Plus World Market is an unsung shopping resource for gourmet items that travel well at bargain prices. For the curious, there's also a Trader Joe's at FishWharf and SF's only In 'n' Out Burger is located there (appropriately, I would say), right next to our only Hooters.

      I agree that SF, for all its pretty pictures and fragrant sea air, is not a great seafood city, with the only must-try being Dungeness crab, which will not be in season in Oct.

    2. I moved here from the East Coast 17 years ago and have only been to Fisherman's Wharf against my will - it's a total tourist trap. Go to the Ferry Building instead. If you want the "San Francisco experience" you'd be better off exploring neighborhoods like the Mission District, Clement Street in the Richmond, the Castro (Woodhouse Fish), and Haight Ashbury (Magnolia pub, Blue Jay Cafe). You'll find all sorts of reasonably priced places in the Mission (including super tasty burritos) and a great selection of Asian food on Clement (and Geary). I don't understand why you would want pizza here if you're from the East coast...Have fun!

      1. The best old-fashioned SF sourdough is probably the special dark bake at Tadich Grill.

        That is a local specialty worth trying, but it's no longer what San Franciscans eat most of the time. Our best bread bakers are Acme (served in many of the best restaurants) and Tartine.

        I think Bistro Boudin is the only Fisherman's Wharf place to get positive reports here in recent years.

        Long topic on view restaurants:

        5 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          If you go to Bistro Boudin, you kill two birds (old SF sourdough, wharf/view) with one stone. Everything at the Wharf is touristy -- there's no way around it. Restaurants in tourist areas don't have to be good, because they don't expect repeat business, and they're expensive, because you're paying for the view (very high rent location). Go for lunch, you'll spend less money, and the view is better in the daylight anyway!

          Robert may or may not be right about "what San Franciscans eat most of the time" -- there's still plenty of sourdough being eaten, and it's still damn good ("San Franciscans" don't eat bread from Tartine "most of the time" because it's very limited production and almost impossible to get!). I do recommend checking out and doing a comparison between Boudin and Acme at the Ferry Building. Acme does a bunch of different small "roll" versions of some of their breads, so you can buy a bunch and get a good overview of what they're producing.

          As for Asian fusion, it depends on what you want, as there's a spectrum (basically Asian food with American influences to basically Western food with Asian influences). I'm going to suggest The House, which is reasonably priced and not at all touristy, even though it's in a tourist neighborhood (North Beach).

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I haven't seen sourdough in a restaurant in years except at old-school places like Tadich and Original Joe's. These days most restaurants use Acme or Pan-O-Rama.

            Local supermarkets used to have whole sections devoted to various bakes of sourdough (regular, dark, extra sour, half-baked) from half a dozen bakeries. These days those sections are mostly devoted to a wide variety of breads from bakeries such as Acme, Artisan, Grace, Metropolis, and Semifreddi's.

            Tartine's production is quite limited, but if you care about bread, it's a must-try.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              What time are the breads at Tartine usually ready?

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                You have to admit, though, that most locals eat sourdough, not other bread, with crab. However, I almost always have it at home and around the holidays. I agree it's not served in restaurants much.

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                At Acme, I recommend the cinnamon currant roll. I also recently tried the onion slab for the first time and was very very impressed. The onion slab was a full-sized bread though.

            2. For that sourdough taste you are wondering about, I would recommend Bistro Boudin in Fisherman's Wharf or Tadich Grill. The food at Bistro Boudin is quite tasty, particularly given the location. If you really want to see/eat at the wharf, that is what I would recommend. A couple of months ago I ate with family in from out of town who insisted (my neices anyway) on every meal at FW - the only place I would recommend that we went to is Boudin. You can watch them bake the bread also.

              Tadich is very old fashioned SF, do a search of this board to see if it appeals to you. The key is that you should order something simple - sand dabs, petrale sole, something like that. Dungeness crab won't be in season when you are here, unfortunately.

              Someone recommended The House - I second that - must try the salmon roll.

              Enjoy your visit.

              1. Thank you guys- Okay, we canceled the pizza trip- definitely going to bistro Boudin... more suggestions for Asian welcome- we went to the house's website and couldn't find prices. Again, i appreciate all of the advice- We are REALLY looking forward to this trip and have so little time to do so much.

                3 Replies
                1. re: jmckeev

                  Here's my post on The House from a year ago,
                  At that time, our entrees ranged from $17 to $24. The portions are big here by SF standards.

                  And my ancient post on Tadich Grill,
                  But this place is timeless.

                  Tadich Grill
                  240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  The House
                  1230 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe at Bakers Hall
                  2890 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  1. re: jmckeev

                    Some great and reasonably priced Asian restaurants (name, cuisine, neighborhood)
                    *=my favorites

                    *Spices II (Szechuan) - Richmond
                    *Bodega Bistro (Vietnamese) - Little Saigon/Tenderloin
                    *Mekong (Thai)- Tenderloin
                    Marnee Thai (Thai) - Inner Sunset
                    Sushi Bistro (Japanese) - Richmond
                    San Tung (Chinese) - Inner Sunset
                    Thai House Express (Thai) - Tenderloin

                    Bodega Bistro
                    607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                    Spices II
                    291 6th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

                    Thai House Express
                    901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                    Mekong Restaurant
                    791 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                    Marnee Thai Restaurant
                    1243 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

                    Sushi Bistro
                    445 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                    San Tung Chinese Restaurant
                    1031 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                    1. re: mchan02

                      Thai House Express is a must. Lots of reports in the archive.

                      What's good at Mekong and Marnee? My impression is that they're pretty Americanized.