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Third time to SF-new ground to cover

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I will be visiting your great city (and Berkeley) for a week starting next week. I'm from NYC and have been to SF only twice before. I plan to keep researching these boards (Maybe some SFGate stuff or Chronicle articles too) but would love it if anyone could chime in with some suggestions. I'm looking basically for two things: uniquely San Francisco food experiences and great meals with moderate prices (probably no more than $30 without wine). Last year, I was only there for two days but had a burrito at El Farolito in the Mission, breakfast at Tartine, dinner at Chez Panisse (parents got that one), cappucino at one of the famous North Beath cafes, and a stop at the Berkeley Bowl to check it out.

On this trip, I hope to try Swan Oyster Depot for crab louis and oysters, Tadich Grill for cioppino, Ferry Market on Saturday (seem to remember people saying there were good stands there to eat breakfast...any recs?), Rosamunde and Toronado for sausages+beer, Jupiter for beer in Berkeley, somewhere good for Vietnamese (have to research that), is Sam's grill any good or touristy? think I read about that somewhere. I remember someone telling me about Delfina last time but it looks like there's some mixed reviews about the hype. I'll eat pretty much anything and don't mind trekking a bit. I'll probably have access to a car at some point as well.

I know these kinds of posts are boring but any help refining/adding/subtracting would be greatly appreciated. I'm interested in the kinds of things that make SF special and hope to base my trip around great eating!

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  1. oh yeah...I forgot to mention I'll be staying in the Noi Valley area and also for a few days in Berkeley. thanks!

    1 Reply
    1. re: tummyache

      Blue Bottle Coffee stand at the Farmer's Market on Saturday for dripped to order coffee
      Chloe's in Noe Valley for yummy breakfast (tiny spot and usually a wait)
      Saigon Sandwiches in Tendorlion for vietnamese (cheap and delicious, but definitely a take it to go and get the hell out of the neighborhood type deal)
      R and G Lounge for Cantonese and ANY of their dungeness crab dishes
      (On a slightly different note) Why not visit Anchor Steam beer's brewery in Potrero Hill?
      Oh, and maybe one night slurge and go "old world" style to the Big 4 restaurant in the Huntington hotel. Definitely a historic San Francisco experience!

    2. I'd replace Jupiter with Lanesplitter.

      Sam's Grill's menu and style are almost identical to Tadich's. Few if any tourists, two-thirds the price. Don't do both on one short trip.

      Delfina's good but not necessarily the first rustic Italian / Cal-Italian place I'd recommend. If you're in the East Bay, try Pizzaiolo. Here are some recent topics comparing the Italian options:

      http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

      Nothing historic about Big 4 except the decor, it only dates back to the 1970s.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        A week gives you plently of meal opportunities. I think you're right on with Tadisch Grill (sit at the bar for the full experience). If you go to North Beach again, hit up Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe for cappucini and panini, or Caffe Trieste.

        Definately go to Burma Superstar - its well-discussed on the board and sumptuously delicious. Should not be missed. Its located in the city's other "chinatown", along Clement Street in Richmond.

        You might want to have dim sum, if for no other reason, for comparison with NYC. I like Koi Palace in Daly City (out by the airport-you'll need a car).

        If grand and beautiful setting appeals to you, consider the sunday brunch at the Palace Hotel Garden Court, or maybe Grand Cafe at Hotel Monaco.

        For Vietnamese, there are lots of places in the Tenderloin, clustered around Larkin Street. I think the area is called Little Saigon now. Pagalac, Mangosteen, Turtle Tower, and others are all right next to each other. Don't bother with bahn mi, as NYC's are better. There's also a nice little hole-in-the-wall vietnamese place near, of all places, Fisherman's Wharf, called Saigon Grill, on Taylor Street, in case you find yourself there and hungry.

        Do take a ferry to Tiburon and have a meal overlooking the marina and bay at Sam's Anchor Cafe (they have an even better cioppino than Tadisch Grill - very crab heavy).

        1. re: Skillet Licker

          Burma Superstar's good, and nobody else makes that wonderful samusa soup, but I think Mandalay's just as good without the lines, and Larkin Express Deli's better than either (but lunch only).

      2. Me and the wife loved Sawn's. We avoided their soups, but a couple glasses of Anchor Steam and many, many oysters shucked to order made for one of our finest times on our last trip to the city. Get their before opening time and prepare to rub shoulders with people sitting next to you. Very crowded, convivial and warm, and we left with big smiles on our faces. Wildly eclectic crowd, some of whom have been eating there for a long, long time.

        3 Replies
        1. re: uptown jimmy

          Thanks for all the great tips! I made a reservation for a tour of the Anchor brewery and am pumped up for it (Anchor Porter is one of my favorite beers) I plan to hit Tadich for Cioppino and maybe Sam's Anchor for a nice view and more seafood. Can anyone recommend good chinese restaurants to get dungeness crab? I'd also like to try some good vietnamese..maybe some that Skillet licker recommended...we don't have great vietnamese in NYC besides bahn mi. what is larkin's express deli?

          1. re: tummyache

            just looked up larkin's and it looks intriguing...have never had burmese food before. What neighborhood is this? Tenderloin?

            1. re: tummyache

              Essentially the Tenderloin, but it's right on the border of Civic Center.

              If you keep heading north on Larkin Street just a block or two past Larkin Express Deli, you'll be in "Little Saigon", the focal point for Vietnamese restaurants in the Tenderloin.