what MUST I eat before I move away?
I was born and raised in Oakland, but I will be going to grad school in DC this fall. I know the food scene there isn't totally wretched, but I don't think it's likely to be anywhere near what I'm used to here. (I visited a friend there earlier this year... she suggested we check out "this great Mexican place" -- it turned out to be Baja Fresh.)
But this isn't about DC; this is about SF & environs. What do I just have to try before I go? I eat everything and am very adventurous, but I don't have a lot of money, so don't all tell me to go eat at French Laundry. Holes-in-the-wall are more my style, although I will allow myself a few well-planned splurges.
Thanks for helping me to shore up great memories of the Bay Area!
There is also really good Thai and sushi in the DC area, so those are two others I wouldn't worry about (I've had far better Thai in DC than here).
I'd second the recommendation above about getting more than your fill of our good bread. and while it may seem obvious, I'd also concentrate on California cuisine. I imagine you will miss the abundance and variety of fresh, locally farmed produce.
I just moved here from DC after living there for 7 years. There is no good Vietnamese in DC proper. There is good Vietnemese in Virginia (Eden Center), but it is not accesible by metro(subway), only by car (about 25min drive). I would hit Tenderloin for good Vietnamese before you move (Hung Ky has the best banh cuon, much better than any resto in Virginia; it is not listed on the menu though). Most of good Chinese food is also in BFE so I would get my fill here. Good Italian food is pretty expensive in DC so you might wanna hit places here like Osteria del Forno. Good luck with your move and stay safe in DC.
Pizza, and bread, for sure, esp. at Pizzaiolo at 51st and Telegraph (Oakland). You'll have 2 Amys and Pizzeria Paradiso in DC, but I didn't think Pizzeria Paradiso approached any of the best pizza I've had in the Bay Area.
When I lived in DC, I would also have killed to have some good bread - I had to go to Whole Foods (!!) to get my sourdough fix (and not a very good one, at that). I've heard Bread Line in DC might be a good source for bread, but not positive (their sandwiches are excellent though). So make sure to fill up on Acme (levain, baguettes), Cheese Board (delicate and crispy sour baguettes, cheese rolls, wolverines (sour rolls with cherries/apricots/raisins/nuts) and great cheese), etc. while you're still here.
I moved back from DC 2 years ago and these are the things you should eat in the Bay Area:
- Bread, good bread. It is hard to find really good bread like Acme's in DC. The Breadline is a good choice since their bread is considered some of the best in DC, but it is hard to find since only a few limited stores carry it. I would also add good desserts that you like from local bakeries to this since there are not very many good bakeries in DC.
- Mexican, burritos, tacos, etc. I had to resort to Chipotle for my burritos in DC and the Mexican food at Salvadorean restaurants in DC was not good. There is a huge Salvadorean community out there, so you will get your fill of pupusas.
- Coffee - if you like coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, then get your fill here before you go. The Bay Area has a pretty sophisticated coffee culture, which you don't realize until you travel somewhere that only has Starbuck's.
- Salads - if you love salads and enjoy making nice meals out of them at places like Intermezzo in Berkeley then go there. I missed really good, hearty salads out there.
- Indian & Vietnamese & California cuisine. DC has excellent Thai and Ethipian, so you can skip those two.
Hope that helps!!
Really ... coffee ... most of the East Coast is awful in that regard ... and when you ask for a regular coffee out there, it comes with cream and sugar.
In fact, bring beans with you.
Definately fresh veggie/salad type things. Enjoy the fruit this summer at the farmers markets.
And, even with a limited budget, California wines.
For your well planned splurge: Aziza. One of the board's faves, and deservedly so.
I'd also grab lunch at Gregoire on Piedmont. The chicken sandwich is excellent this month and the potato puffs are incredible.