Where to take the folks?
Looking for spots to take my parents (mid-late 50's ) on their visit this weekend. I have lived here for about a year and a half, and still at times feel like a tourist. Especially when walking / riding my bike around the Ferry Building and Embarcadero areas.
I have never been in the City with my parents so this is an extra special event. i know they have been caught in the tourist traps and I want to show them the other side to life in S.F. especially the good food side!
My parents are pretty hip and are up for most adventures. My mom loves sourdough bread and is already talking about eating a "bread bowl" at Boudins. But I think I am going to take them over to Acme in the Ferry building because I really have been wanting to try it, and it sounds like it passes the hound approval. I'm hoping they get in early enough to check out the Alemany Farmers Market because I have not gotten a chance to check that out yet! I have never been to Ghirardelli either but after reading some recent reviews on here I will make it a point when we are down there.
I don't think we will spend all day at the Embarcadero / Wharf area ( just a walk through, check out the seals of course!) so I was thinking for dinner maybe driving over to the Cliff House. Is that a total tourist trap? Or is it a good spot for the folks? My dad loves sea food, so I thought it may be a good spot with a great view. What do you think?
Then I'm thinking Chloe's on Sunday morning for breakfast. Unless I can find a really cute place that serves up crepes. I considered The Crepe House, but I think Chloe's is a nicer atmosphere for the folks. Then maybe we can head over to the Height / Golden Gate Park area to check out the summer of love festival. and I have no idea what to eat for lunch over in that area! Maybe we can hit something in Hayes Valley on the way back?
Thats all I've got so far. Can't wait to check out some of these spots! I'll keep you posted.
So here's the scoop. We walked through the Ferry Building, which we loved. We picked up a round loaf of sourdough from Acme. It was very tasty but my mom made a comment about liking it more "sour" but we enjoyed some of it as we walked down to Pier 39.
I cannot wait to go back and get gelato from Ciao Bella and cheese from The Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop! It looked really good!
We decided to check out the menu at Aliotos and Nick's Lighthouse. We walked up to Aliotos but decided to go down to Nick's because I had been reading how it was one of the best picks if you had to eat at the wharf, and Aliotos seemed a bit pricy (now I know why!). There was a line outside of Nick’s, so we figured it was going to be either very good OR just a cool inexpensive spot in the hustle and bustle of things. And my dad was hungry after his drive from L.A. so we needed to eat!
All I can say is that if Nick’s Lighthouse is one of the BEST PLACES to eat at..... I will NEVER eat at the wharf again. It was horrible!
The place is tiny. They were seating parties of 4 and 5 in these tiny little round booths. It was also very warm inside. But I thought if the food is good, it's worth it right? WRONG. The place was very dirty. The tablecloths were dirty. It smelled a little weird. The Iced Tea tasted like plastic vinyl. When we finally got service, we had one of those waiters who like to impress you by not writing anything down. Which always frightens me! And of course, we were missing some things that we ordered or asked for.
The salads were horrible! My dad actually said, “This is the worst Cesar Salad I’ve ever had!” My girl said, “The rice pilaf was nasty! A nasty greasy mess. I can’t find words to even describe it! Kinda chemical-like. I don’t know! Just yuck!” The crab cakes were served a little differently from what my parents are used to, but they did enjoy those. Thank goodness!
The half steamed Dungeness Crab was so poor in quality. The clams were great. My dad was really enjoying the sauce that they were served with. He started dipping his bread in it!
And the part I enjoyed the most was the fried zucchini appetizer. That’s not saying much!
All and all, not worth anywhere near $100. Avoid this place at all costs.
So I just talked to my dad and he wants crab cakes? Where do I take him for crab cakes? He is asking if there is a Ruby Tuesday's around? He says he really likes their crab cakes. I don't even know what Ruby Tuesday's is. I think it's a chain of some sort? Is there a good place in walking vacinity of the wharf to get him good Crab Cake? They are all about going to the wharf?!?
We had a yummy fish and chips lunch at the Cliff House...the less fancy part, and ate near sportscaster, Gary Radnich. Then my parents and I had lunch at Cafe for all Seasons and saw Gary and his family again! That place changed hands so I don't know how the quality is now. If you go to Five Star, don't miss the caramel truffles. My dad likes the clubby atmosphere of Luna Park, and for fun, retro Southern food, try Front Porch. Dessert? Gelato at Naia in the Castro, cupcakes from Citizen Cupcake or Noe Valley Bakery, or salted caramel or Ritual ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery.
The Buena Vista lists crab cakes on its menu. It's not crab season, so they'll be frozen, but at least you'll have avoided Ruby Tuesday's. Years ago, Fog City Diner (not far from the Wharf) had delicious crab cakes. No idea if they still do.
Otherwise, foodwise, get away from the wharf before you spend the day at Hooters and In N Out. Maybe steer them toward the Ferry Building, with its higher end local treats, or any of the new restaurants in the Presidio.
I was just out by the Sutro Baths and Cliff House with visitors. I talked them out of eating there, but we all enjoyed walking around, including the area by Lands End near Ft. Miley.
They won't all be open this weekend, and I can't vouch for all of them, but there's:
Presidio Social Club
Pres a Vi
and the usual daytime spots like Acre and Dish.
With the Warming Hut closed, the Crissy Field Center (especially the upstairs outside terrace) is a gorgeous stop for a cup of juice or coffee.
If you are taking the time to go to the tourist trap of Ghiradelli Square and the Wharf, you might as well make it more enjoyable with a stop at The Buena Vista for an Irish Coffee. THAT is about the only thing in that neighborhood worth ingesting as every other spot is quite mediocre.
I'm also in the "Cliff House is another tourist trap" camp and wouldn't bother with it other than for a cocktail.
For interesting gastronomic adventures (besides the obvious Ferry Plaza), near to Golden Gate Park is all of Clement Street. Besides Burma Superstar, there are fabulous shops with a bounty of kitchen ware, great ethnic restaurants, and a slew of really interesting Irish bars.
If you like Chloe's, then you might like Toast.
Toast (chicken fried steak, waffles, french toast)
1748 Church Street between 29th Street and Day
San Francisco, CA, 94131
other local breakfast eats:
941 Cole St
San Francisco, CA 94117
3122 16th St
(at Valencia St)
San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 626-5523
Savor - patio dining
3913 24th St
(between Noe St & Sanchez St)
San Francisco, CA 94114 (415) 282-0344
St. Francis Fountain - (Chef's Mess)
2801 24th Street
San Francisco, CA, 94110
Valencia Pizza and Pasta (eggs+ham+great home fries $4.95, corned beef hash, eggs benedict! $6.95)
801 Valencia Street
(between 19th St & Cunningham Pl)
San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 642-1882
J's Pots of Soul (pumpkin pancakes)
203 Octavia Street
(between Lily St & Page St)
San Francisco, CA 94102 (415) 861-3230
Pastores on Mission St. near Cortland
Los Jaritos on South Van Ness & 20th St.
Red Cafe 2894 Mission Street at 25th St.
Mission Pie (yes, you can have pie for breakfast
) 2901 Mission St (door is on 25th St.)
then take a walk to see the Balmy Street murals (from 24th St.)
other seafood restaurants for your dad:
Hayes Street Grill - 320 Hayes Street
Alamo Square Seafood Grill
803 Fillmore Street between Fulton & Grove
then, walk to Alamo Square at Hayes Street to view the Painted Ladies
On Sunday: take a picnic lunch to the Summer of Love fest in GG Park (stop and shop at DeLessio - Broderick & Oak St.) truffles at 5 Star Truffles on Divisadero at Oak
... dinner at NOPA (Divisadero & Hayes) or Ziryab ... Green Chile Kitchen on the corner of Baker and Fulton Street.
and in spite of many neg reviews here about the Cliff House... I had a lovely dinner at Sutros and since we were seated at the window, the view was spectacular.
Enjoy the family visit!
wow thats a great post! Thank you! I am overwhelmed and so excited to try some of these places with my folks. After looking up the menues for both Cliff House and Alamo Square I think we'll try Alamo Square. I'll still drive them to the Cliff House though ;)
Great idea about the picnic for Sunday! And my mom loves Truffles so I will make it a point to stop by 5 Star Truffles!
Cliff House is best for a cocktail in the bar. The food isn't as bad or tourist-trappish as some will say. It's fashionable on this board to bash the place. The bad rep isn't totally deserved although the prices are high for what you get. Out of town visitors can easily have one of those, "I'll never forget this meal as long as I live" experiences there however when the view is good.
I like Chloe's, too. My favorite? Valencia Pizza and Pasta - breakfasts on weekends only. I love their home fries that are deep-fried potato chunks... mirroring my fondness for fried yuca ...love the plantains and the breakfast sandwich at Red Cafe... oh, pie for breakfast at Mission Pie. Pumpkin pancakes and fried chicken wings at J's Pots of Soul. Let's add Seal Rock Inn to the local breakfast list.
A good (but pricey) breakfast place to take the parents for crabcakes: Cafe Majestic at Hotel Majestic at 1500 Sutter (white tablecloths, linen napkins, coffee in china cups, formal service -for a change of pace)
Ah, there we go again!
Am I the only one who cringes every time someone recommends taking out of town visitors to Burma Superstar? My niece, a schoolteacher from Watertown, NY and her SO, an Army lifer, visited SF (while I was travelling and had no part in recommending venues) and THEY somehow ended up eating at Burma Superstar. At that point I decided the handwriting was on the wall for BS. I'm not usually one of the "let's keep it a secret" proponents, as good places need enough business to survive and prosper, but at some point they'll find them staring in the face of the House of Nanking phenomenon.
re: Gary Soup
Get use to it...with the explosion of web info, the many travel books/site (ex: Lonely Planet, etc.) it's not going to stop. OTOH, SF is now a different food city with many, many more options. I know few people who will wait in a line outside any longer because there's usually somewhere else to go. Also BS opened another place not far away.