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From SF to LA

I moved from SF to LA when I started working. In SF I was a poor college student making no $$ and now I am making the big bucks. That being said I have eaten at all of the stellar places in los angeles and now know my way around food quite well (ethnic and haute). After reading countless reviews it seems that SF is supposedly far better than LA (which I can believe). I wanted to get some suggestions about where to eat in SF.

I went to crappy places like Scoma, Bacar, Tommy's on Geary for mexican, circolo, etc..

Dont list chez panisse, manresa, french laundry, or any other far flung place. One great thing about SF is that it is centralized, so I want to keep it in the city.

I hear good stuff about Frascati and Aziza. If you can give me places that are just as good, preferably BETTER, I would be indebted.

It is time for me to return to SF a more educated foodie. I have already eaten at the popular places, tourist magnats and such. I want the best of the best in haute or european cuisine. No asian, indian, or other ethnic unless its haute ethnic.

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  1. Delfina
    Perbacco
    Sebo
    Bar Crudo
    Myth
    Piperade
    Slanted Door
    Bar Tartine
    A16

    it don't stop...

    5 Replies
      1. re: Husky

        Then dont. I want at least 30. I will research them and widdle them down, but really, the more the merrier!

        1. re: jlrobe

          How about a hundred?

          http://sfgate.com/food/top100/

          There are a number of restaurants in "far-flung" places, but the great majority are in SF proper. Otherwise, the list's focus seems congruent with yours.

          1. re: daveena

            I dont want 100. I have been to alot of those places and dont like them. Even in NYC, I dont trust a top 100 list by a newspaper. The Consensus chowhound foodie top 30 is prefered. What are your favorite 10-20 from that list?

            1. re: jlrobe

              I like how rworange structured her list below... I'll do the same.

              Favorites:
              Bar Tartine
              Incanto
              Canteen

              Liked, and plan to go back, but not until I've hit other places on my list:
              Perbacco
              A16
              La Ciccia
              Poleng Lounge
              Boulevard
              Rubicon

              Underwhelmed by, but plan to retry given the overwhelmingly positive reports:
              Delfina
              Quince

              Underwhelmed by, and no plans to return:
              Gary Danko
              Michael Mina
              Slanted Door
              Scott Howard
              Town Hall
              Greens

              Haven't been, and want to:
              Aziza
              Range
              Myth
              Zuni
              TWO
              Coi
              Ame
              Jardiniere
              Bar Crudo
              CAV

      2. Yeah but you have not lived until you have been to Apple Pan and Yuca stand in LA also not to mention all the good sushi amd Mexican food.

        What is Haute?
        What you might be interested in is good local seasonal food that is done well. I don't think of SF as being European or Haute cuisine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lori SF

          I have been to ALOT of authentic ehtnic in LA. It is fantastic. I dont want to imply that I dont like the ethnic or edgy hole in the walls, I just dont need to eat that in SF at the moment.

          Haute cuisine in my mind is a restaurant that offers a tasting menu, or is similar to restaurant that offers a tasting menu.

          In my mind, Aziza would be "haute" although it isnt haute in the traditional sense. It is more "inspired" cooking with creative menu offerings and eclectic use of ingredients.

          A16 and delfina are good suggestions. I had those both on my radar.

          keep them coming!!!!!

          I love it

          Also, I mentioned european because Indian, sushi, mexican do not really interest me at the moment. What I meant to say was Italian, modern french, fancy asian fusion, American New, True California Cuisine, and creative Seafood (especially crudo or tasting menus) are what Im looking for I guess. Preferably no steakhouses unless they are VERY creative.

          PS: be as selective as you can. I have gone ot dine about the town and not everything is good, so give me TONS of places you think are great, just dont name drop!

          Cant wait!

          Thanks everyone

        2. Places I've been, liked alot and return (or would like to return)

          The Dining Room at the Ritz Carleton
          Michael Minna
          Coco500
          Chez Spencer
          1550 Hyde
          Slanted Door (Haute Vietnamese to match Aziza's haute Morrocan)
          Zuni
          Chapeau
          Yucatasia (haute Yucatan)

          Places I've tried but not for me though everyone else loves them
          Boulevard
          Piperade
          Gary Danko
          Fringale

          Places I want to go based on reports and are high on my list
          Masa
          La Folie
          A16
          Acquerello
          Alfred's Steakhouse
          Coi
          Farina (very mixed but I want to go and if you are interested in burning bucks ... )
          Fleur de Lys
          Jardiniere
          Jeanty at Jacks
          Maverick
          Range
          Canteen
          Rubicon (recent excellent report)
          Presidio Social Club
          SPQR

          Since some of this seems intent on burning bucks, don't eat at the restaurant, but one of my favorite places to get a glass of champagne while shopping downtown is the lounge at Seasons in the Four Seasons Hotel.

          Places I despise
          Aqua
          Aqua
          Aqua

          Just to aclimate to the Bay Area a bit more you might substitue 'upscale' for 'haute'. SF is more about the food than the scene ... there is some of that but it's a different dining culture from LA.

          Isn't European ethnic cuisine? I was just joking about Yucatasia ... but I hope you'll eventually consider some of the deliciousness on the other end of the dining spectrum to broaden your education. After a while there's a sameness about all the upscale places ... especially when focusing on American and European ... and often the real deliciousiness is at the mom and pops ... but that's just me.

          And the perfect place to spend those big bucks is at the Saturday Farmers Market at Ferry Plaza.

          Looking forward to your reports as you explore the SF dining scene. Welcome back.

          6 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            well, I have trouble with semantics so interchaning haute and upscale is common for me. From now on I will call it, unique, inspired, global cuisine perpared for food lovers.

            I was born and raised in the Bay, so I dont really have to aclimate. I know SF is more about the food than the scene. In SF, thank God, there isnt a scene, except for the crappy plaecs like cosmopolitan that draw the investment bankers (yucko!), and scoma that draw the tourists from Concord (double yucko!).

            In LA, there are ALOT of sceney places, but I have never been to them, so I have no idea what they are like. I havent tried, patina, cut, spago, etc. I like places like Hatfields, Angelini Osteria, Joes, Grace, AOC, Lucques, Mako, Orris, babita, etc. It is hard for me to put into words what type of places these are. They are somewhat seasonal, with great ingredients, smaller portions, and an inspired chef. Most of them use alot of Latin American or Asian ingredients.

            I agree, upscale food can get boring, but tasting menus always keep it interesting. Everyone who has a tasting menu down here mixes it up. Unless it is a french place like Ortolan, everyone here uses european, latin, and asian techniques in their tasting menus, and that is why I just call them "haute". They are far from boring (in my opinion). Quite fun and nice!

            I just dont want clement st, irving st., or sunset district style ethnic places. I have eaten plenty of those while up there and TONS of those while down here. I also went to a really popular vietnamese place on judah (by the ocean). I dont want that either. That is why I limited my search to "haute". It isnt that I dont want to eat authentic ethnic, its that I always do. I just want to try A16, Delfina, Aziza, etc. Global, inspired, unique, high quality cooking.

            Your list was AWESOME by the way.

            1. re: jlrobe

              Yeah ... but I like Scoma's.

              Well, to qualify, in terms of Fisherman's Wharf. What I like is the fish itself and very little else. Because they have thier own boats. it has always been top quality and super fresh. And to further qualify only for the three-course lunch special where the price is reasonable (about $21) and the portions are not overbearing. The other thing that CAN be good there is SOME of the pasta which is from Phoenix Pastifico or maybe the Pasta shop. Anyway, if there is a flavored ravioli like Meyer lemon there's a good chance it will be good. The sourdough has declined since Parisian went out of business and they started using Boudin.

              Now that I've established how trashy my taste can be ... that being said ... you might check out Silks. I ate there quite often a few chefs back when I worked in the neighborhood and was a big fan. Occasionally I've tried them with a few of the many chefs they've had since then. I'm kind of interested in the current chef but haven't been there yet. It is on Michael Bauer's top 100 though my taste in food more often than not doesn't match his. Still, I've always had good experiences at Silks.

              1. re: jlrobe

                Something tells me you might be a good candidate for Le Colonial or Bong Su - not necessarily my styles.

                1. re: poulet_roti

                  there is a Le Colonial in LA being the first one. Bong Su is a good call.

              2. re: rworange

                Like daveena I like rworange's list... here are my picks:

                Places I've been and liked alot:
                Canteen
                Incanto
                La Folie
                Michael Mina
                Nopa
                Pesce
                Quince
                Range

                Places I've tried but not for me though a lot of people like them
                A16
                Ame
                Aziza
                Bar Crudo
                Chapeau
                Delfina
                Fringale
                Gary Danko
                Greens
                Jardiniere
                Perbacco
                Slanted Door
                Town Hall
                Zuni

                Places I want to go based on reports and are high on my list
                Acquerello
                Bar Tartine
                Coi
                Fleur De Lys
                Frascati
                Myth
                Piperade
                SPQR
                Spruce

                1. re: gemster

                  I second Nopa. I had another great meal there a couple of weeks ago. It has ALWAYS been wonderful. This was the fourth time.

                  I also loved Incanto, but haven't been there in a while.

              3. Aziza's unique. So is Jai Yun, come to think of it.

                A16
                Acquerello
                Aziza
                Bocadillos
                Boulevard
                CAV
                Canteen
                Delfina
                Incanto
                Jai Yun
                La Ciccia
                Mochica
                Nopa
                Perbacco
                Pesce
                Piperade
                Tartine (bakery-cafe, same owners as Bar Tartine)
                TWO
                Zuni

                5 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Thanks for the list Robert. Actually, I have been trying to go to Aziza for awhile. It is 6 blocks from my mother-in-laws home, so, ..... that will be first on my list.

                  The beer list at Aziza looks AWESOME. One of the better lists that I have seen. Are there any other places that have specialty beer (belgian) lists like Aziza?

                  I am getting quite excited!!!!!

                  1. re: jlrobe

                    Toronado has a lot of Belgian beers.

                    -----
                    Toronado Pub
                    547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Robert, you are the SF food nazi! Any other cool belgian beer houses in less busy neighorhoods like Noe Valley, inner Mission, Laurel Heights (California @ Divisadero), filmore area, etc.? Similar to places like Solstice on California @ Divisadero.

                      All these tangents!!! But the list everyone is generating is GREAT so I want to keep this thing going.

                    2. re: jlrobe

                      I think that Luka's in Oakland (Grand and Broadway) has a fabulous beer list. They also have fantastic soups. It's very good food, but not really upscale. Just had their corn soup with dollop of red pepper and bacon. Amazing.

                  2. I can't believe no one has mentioned Quince, which to me, the most elegant and special restaurant for people who truly know food. The chef has a Chez Panisse-level reverence for ingredients and a more formal French-Italian approach to his dishes. Pastas are best in the city, hands down. Wine list is sublime. Expensive.

                    Other go-to's are similar to what's been listed already: NOPA, Delfina, Bar Tartine, Range, A16, Zuni. Also, Salt House: fabulous and fun. Boulette's Larder for lunch.

                    You sound really excited about Aziza. Not to burst your bubble, but it may be best to keep expectations in check. The board loves it, but I've been 4 or 5 times and have never been wowed. Some of the food is interesting, but as a whole is uneven. A lot of sweet/savory interplay, which can be good, but often doesn't work. Plus the decor is cheesy and service can be beyond slow.

                    I grew up in LA, and am in agreement with most of the places you listed. Lucques is still my favorite restaurant. After three years here in SF, I would say there's a lof of great food, but there's also a lot that doesn't live up to the hype. I ate great food in LA on a more regular basis.

                    RE: Frascati: it's on my corner and used to be delicious. The recent ownership change hasn't done any good. I'd skip it.

                    Best,

                    Melissa

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mbaldauf

                      Wow great suggestions. I did read one reviewer of Aziza that did mention the sweet savory thing. There is a place in midcity LA that has a lot of similar sounding stuff, and i didnt like it much. Alot of things had a sweet twinge to them, but I could obviously taste some of the savory spices overlayed. Also, so many places down here do the sweet/savory dessert thing and I dont really care for it except the few occasions that it blows me away.

                      I guess I will go to each restaurant with NORMAL expectations. I have had some awesome cuisine down here, and I do tend to shoot myself in the foot with WAY to high of expectations.

                      I went to Vancouver recently and had some lovely food but I ruined it for myself. Everyon kept saying Vancouver had superior asian cuisine. I went to the best plaecs in vancouver and was expecting to be completely blown away. Alas, it didnt even live up to the options within walking distance (and that's LA walking distance!) Granted it was still good, just not better.

                      I cant wait to try everything out. I will try everything and try my hardest not to have the expectation that the food will completely blow me away. I am SUPER EXCITED!

                      Thanks everyone

                      1. re: mbaldauf

                        Glad you enjoy Quince; however, it's clearly a personal preference. I'm comfortable claiming that I "know food," though I was beyond disappointed in what I ate at Quince... pastas or otherwise. I will strongly disagree that the pastas are the best in the city.

                        As for Aziza, I think the whole package works very well... and it's become one of my favorite restaurants in the city.

                        Just another example of "what floats your boat": people don't always see eye-to-eye. :)

                      2. I would add Ame and Myth to the lengthy lists of others.

                        1. Well, I know this is not the thing to say on this board, but I love Gary Danko. I have eaten there about 8 times now and it has been stellar every time. What I like about it: obviously I must love the food. The service is what I consider perfection, which to me means professional and not snobby or intimidating at all. I have often exchanged info about the dishes with other diners sitting nearby and it's fun to compare. I notice others taking photos of the food: that's a good sign to me, that the place isn't so stuffy that you can do that and feel comfortable, and it also means that the others are also there for a special occasion. I really love the cheese cart course; they will pair wines for you which is less expensive than buying an expensive bottle and if you are wine-adventurous you will get to try wines that you might never have had. The tray of petit fours at the end is icing on the cake. I love mixing and matching from the 5 course menu; if you don't want a meat course, you can substitute one of the appetizers (in fact, you can do this for any of the courses.) I can tell them to pair wines but then give them specifics, such as "I don't really like port too much, so pair something else with the chocolate souffle". If you like fois gras it is fantastic there.

                          Ok, so besides GD, I really like the Hog Island Oyster Bar which is in the ferry building (slightly hidden in the back). The clams there are phenomenal. They have two preparations, one called chowder (but really a big bowl of steamed clams in a cream based broth) and another that ususally has white beans and sausage but can vary. They serve Acme Epi, which is the best bread in the world (IMHO) and that is heavenly to dip into the clam broth.

                          I have had 3 meals at Delfina, 2 were good and 1 was phenomenal out-of-this-world. They had marrow risotto, wow I can still taste it.

                          Chapeau is good but too crowded (think bumping elbows) but the value is good for what you get and they are very nice people.

                          The pacific cafe is a casual place with rough exposed beams - looks like a throwback to the 70s - large portions of simple grilled fish, very good and too filling. No reservations, so get there at 4:40 and wait to be one of the first to be seated at 5 pm (I like to skip lunch when doing this so I'm hungry there.) and it's fun to start off with a crab cocktail there.

                          I have now eaten twice at Nopa and loved it both times; service was great, and interesting dishes. Fun to share with others at the table (it's not family-style, but it just is fun to taste what others are getting.) They made a martini with basil and thyme at the bar for us - interesting and again, fun to try.

                          Aziza is great but if you go much it can be repetitive.

                          House (is it still in north beach? The inner sunset version closed down a few years back) has this sea bass to die for. I know it's a very bad thing to eat, environmentally, and yet I can't resist it, it is that good.

                          For low key/semi-budget, I really like the short ribs at chow; they are more like pot roast and served with mashed potatoes. Very reasonably priced; I like to go to the 9th avenue (inner sunset) location and sit on the enclosed roof.

                          Haven't been to Boulevard in a few years but did like that quite a lot, though not as much as GD.

                          Kokkari is a greek place downtown (near embarcadero center, maybe on washington or jackson st) and it is very nice - very welcoming environment, warm and the huge fireplace is great.

                          And though this is more a breakfast thing, the frangipane (almond) croissants and tarts at Tartine are really fabulous.

                          Can't think of anywhere else. Zuni was only so-so, seemed over-rated to me. I hated La Folie, stuffy, pretentious and the food was nothing special.

                          27 Replies
                          1. re: atjsfo

                            Fantastic list. There are 10 or so that I am REALLY interested in trying. Thanks everoyne.

                            PS: How come SF yelpers are so easy on restaurants? They give everything a 5! Some of the places that I would consider a 3.5 have a much higher average. How am I supposed to cross reference this excellent list everyone has given me :(

                            Thanks everyone

                            1. re: jlrobe

                              Its like anything else or even these boards, you read the reviews, figure out the persons profile and likes/dislikes, apply it to your own preferences, and take it all with a grain of salt. That is what lead me to suggest you might be a good candidate for Le Colonial and Bong Su. Frankly, neither of these restaurants appeal to me but based on the preferences you describe, you might find them appealing. Also may want to try Supperclub on Harrison.

                              1. re: poulet_roti

                                Supperclub's not a place to go for the food. The original chef quit over that issue.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Understood, was making suggestions based upon the prescribed preferences of jlrobe.

                                  1. re: poulet_roti

                                    I don't understand: jlrobe asked for great food, do you think that the food at Supperclub is great?

                              2. re: jlrobe

                                House is still in North Beach is still open and getting consistently great reports here. No tasting menu but excellent food.

                                The focus at Yelp isn't food. If you get the weekly email that becomes apparant. Also, in the class of restaurant that you are talking, most of those places have the restaurant paying for an ad in the upper right of the page, so those restaurants are sorted by the highest rated first. Yelpers are actually harsher on the non paid restaurants but a lot of times it is for service or ambiance other than food ... the waiter was weird ... one star ... the best food I've ever eaten in my life ... sort of thing. I like Yelp, but you need to know what's going on to pick out the reliable stuff.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  Thanks for the great tip, and great list. You have been very helpful.

                                  1. re: jlrobe

                                    So I finally made my rounds to some of these places that were mentioned. I have some mixed reviews.

                                    Aziza was decent, but nothing special. I love fun SF neighorhoods and nice simple decor, but Aziza is in MY neighorhood (the outer mission), and I have never really felt like this neighorhood is special or particularly fun. The decor was a let down. I know decor shouldnt play a role, and I dont think it played a big one, but the decor was a cheesy.

                                    The food was average. The chef cooks well enough and uses fancy enough spices, but I think we just didnt order the right things.

                                    We got a goat cheese and cherry tomatoe reduction appetizer. The cherry concoction was just really sweet and the goat cheese, was ..... goat cheese. A few bites was interesting, but the nothign special. We then got the bread appetizer with dipping sauces. THe dipping sauces were decent enough, but no flavor combination really won me over. It was just grilled pita bread and a few spreads that werent particularly good, just interesting.

                                    The two mains we shared were the lamb shank and the scallops. The lamb shank was like any other really well made lamb shank. The only difference at Aziza was that the sauce was REALLY sweet. I have had excellent lambs all over the place with really subtle savory sauces. This sauce seemed like a huge mash of ingredients that all tended to blend into one big sweet sauce. It was good, but for 23 bucks, it wasnt the type of AWESOME mid-priced cuisine I was expecting. I didnt feel cheated, but I didnt feel like I got a bargian. Lastly, was the scallops. A lot of places serve scallops and it is hard to mess them up. For me scallops are either, eh, or really good. The ones at Aziza were...eh. They were cooked relatively well and the ingredients seemed relatively fresh. It was decent. The safron rissotto was merely average. I have had this dish 4 times. Once at Aziza, once in Vancouver, and twice in Los Angeles.

                                    1) Perfectly cooked scallop and asparagus risotto. This was a perfect combination and very good (LA)
                                    2) Perfectly cooked scallop with mint rissotto. The flavors were awesome and rissotto was cooked perfectly (Vancouver)
                                    3) Decent scallops with a cheese rissotto (LA)
                                    4) Decent scallops with a not so well cooked saffron risotto. (Aziza)

                                    Aziza's versoin of the dish wasnt bad, but it was the worst I have had of its kind. I have had even better scallops, but those dishes were different, so I dont want to compare.

                                    Overall, Aziza is a place I will not go back to. The cooking is fun, but many items are items you found anywhere else, just cooked with different spices. Most spices tended towards overly sweet, so Aziza, just wasnt for me.

                                    Bar Tartine’s café (600 Guerrero) was a fun place. I loved the cool SF neighborhood. It was the kind of hood and crowd that made me REALLY miss “the city”. The restaurant was very tastefully decorated. It was just a nice bare room, with lots of woods, paintings, etc. It was a great understated city bakery. It was just like you would imagine a traditional place from NY to look like. In LA, you see VERY fancy restaurant CONCEPTS, but only a handful of restaurants have this level of graceful authenticity. This just seemed like a place that was serious about the food and had a very comfortable “city” décor to match.

                                    The bread was to die for!!! Many places in LA make fantastic bread, but Bar Tartine’s bread was a small step above the best of the best down south. It was phenomenal. We ordered 4 sandwiches, and most of them were not very memorable. I have had better tasting sandwiches else where (despite the great bread) but the neighborhood, the fun city atmosphere, and the bread won me over. The one thing that REALLY blew me away were the desserts. The desserts almost made me weep. They were that freaking great. I am still dreaming about those desserts. Once again, we have some excellent places to get desserts down south, but bar tartine was a step above the best I have had so far. I was truly impressed. It was awesome!!!! It was the highlight of my trip.

                                    Both Delfina and A16 were overrated in my opinion. It was good enough, but it was too crowded and too hyped for me. They were both solid, but nothing earth shattering. In both cases, I would still rather go to Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza, and Angelini Osteria. To be honest, these places are about equal in price and quality. I guess I just expected these places in SF to be superior, since…, they are in SF. Although, I think the pizza, meatballs, and caprese at the Mozzas are better than Delfina and A16, the lamb and pasta dishes are tied. If my expectations were in check, or if I didn’t go to the Mozzas and Angelini first, I would have enjoyed Delfina and A16 more.

                                    Overall, I had a great time in the city. I love coming back, and I visit once a month. In the end, I don’t care what the food taste like. The city just makes everything better. Average food in the city taste like good food, and good food taste excellent. The crowd was MUCH better at the restaurants than the places in LA. People in SF are just so different and awesome as a whole compared to masses down south. I will try to normalize my expectations for my next trip, and hopefully I will have a better time eating. I just expect SF to be twice as good as the best of the best of LA and that just isn’t realistic.

                                    PS: I decided not to go to slanted door. I have had excellent vietnamese at Judah in Sunset and have had VERY good haute vietnamese in little saigon down south. I dont want to draw too many comparisons because I think it will elevate my expectations too high. I will try bar crudo next. The crudo in LA is quite weak, so it gives me a chance to be blown away without comparing.

                                    1. re: jlrobe

                                      Thanks for the report - definitely makes it easier to tailor future recs. I'm with you on being underwhelmed by Delfina and A16, so I'll reiterate (and strengthen) recommendations for my favorites (besides Bar Tartine, of course) - Incanto (it turns non-offal eaters into offal fanatics... almost always pays off to order the weirdest-sounding things on the menu), Canteen, and now Bar Crudo (had an excellent first meal there this weekend).

                                      I'm a little confused - did you make it to Bar Tartine (on Valencia and 17th) as well as Tartine Bakery? I ask because Bar Tartine does a very good job with much more ambitious food - last time I went for dinner I had braised Moroccan spiced lamb tongue and foie gras stuffed quail. The last sandwich I had there was an open faced brunch "sandwich" of perfectly cooked pork belly with a poached egg on a huge slab of their fantastic bread. Either way, I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it.

                                      1. re: daveena

                                        I didnt get a chance to go to Bar Tartine for dinner (I responded to another person below), but I really want to. It is a place I really want to go.

                                        Also, Bar Crudo has also been pushed up my list.

                                        1. re: daveena

                                          daveena

                                          I didnt see any pork belly or poached egg sandwiches. Those are the creative sandwiches I am used to. I will have to go back and try the bakery again.

                                          The braised moroccan spiced lamb tongue and foie gras stuffed quail is EXACTLY the type of food I am looking for. Down here I had a similar meal of braised beef tongue with crunchy field beans, and a quail with a little blood sausage and something else in there. Those were very good dishes. Now that would have favored much better than Delfina, A16, and Aziza if the flavors come out well.

                                          Oh boy. Now I am getting pumped again :).

                                          1. re: jlrobe

                                            Hey jlrobe - sorry, I didn't write that very clearly. The pork belly open-faced sandwich was at Bar Tartine, not Tartine Bakery. That's why I was confused, because your post indicated you had been to Bar Tartine, but then cited unexceptional sandwiches - but the only sandwich I've ever seen at Bar Tartine was that pork belly sandwich, which was fantastic. Hope that made sense.

                                            1. re: daveena

                                              I see. Well, Bar Tartine is on my radar, and I will probably get to try it in a few weeks. It sounds delicious and I cant wait!

                                        2. re: jlrobe

                                          Since you apprarently live in LA and visit San Francisco (? ) I am not sure what you mean when you say the Outer Mission is "MY neighborhood" but just to clarify, since the Outer Mission is in fact my neighborhood, Aziza is nowhere near the Outer Mission.(so if you are saying you think the neighborhood around Aziza isn't that much fun, please don't let folks think it is in MY nieghborhood of the Outer Mission, which I do think is a fun place to live, well most of the time anyway...)In fact Aziza is on the opposite side of town from the outer Mission. When I go to dinner there (and as my profile says, I'd go more often if it wasn't such a shlep, as I am a fan) it is often as much as a 45 minute drive. 30 minutes is the minimum amount of time. Perhaps you meant to say Outer Richmond?

                                          I eat in LA fairly often and obviously in SF a lot, (since I live here) and try not to make comparisons, but nonetheless, I don't know why you would think SF should be twice as good. It depends upon the cuisine and the restaurant. In some areas, we do better, in other areas LA has us beat, IMO. One of the biggest indicators of how good the cuisine will be might be the numbers of a particular ethnic group in the region: for example, LA has many wonderful Thai restaurants of very high quality. Not surprising given that it has one of the larger Thai populations in the US.....

                                          It also helps to remember that Los Angeles is a much, much larger city than SF, and most people when they say "Los Angeles" really mean the region, not just the City. The City and County of San Francisco IS the City of San Francisco...whereas the City and County of Los Angeles is much more than just the city of LA. If you branch out beyond the City (of SF) proper the comparison becomes more fair...

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            I was a bit confused by the Outer Mission-Aziza geography as well..
                                            The move that I made from SF to LA was difficult and finding good food was one of my primary difficulties. I continue to lament the fact that in SF I could easily access a wide variety of good food (Mission District) both low and high end. It took awhile to discover that there is great food in LA, but you gotta either pay good money for it or drive far for it. I have learned to appreciate the different ethnic offerings that are not so far away (continue to struggle with the fact that I have to get in my car to get it! ). Very much agree with susancinsf about the ethnic make up. Though I miss my Indian food from the Bay Area, here in my area of LA I have an orgy of great Korean to choose from. There is also great Armenian,Lebanese and Thai, unlike SF...
                                            I continue to miss and crave Mission burritos/ tacos, which I find interesting as I am of Mexican descent and originally from LA! Has anyone figured out why there is such a difference, or where the Misson style burrito started?

                                            1. re: LaLa Eat

                                              Its funny, since I live here, but I don't like Mission burritos. That said, I suspect that they started in the Mission! :-) I am sure someone will chime in....

                                              You make a good point about driving, but even then, you mention Indian food and the best Indian food in SF is in the South Bay (again, IMO), so even here you'd have to drive.

                                              1. re: LaLa Eat

                                                lala Eat

                                                i agree with you there. I hate to be a food snob but average LA food stinks,and I simply wont eat it!! Many friends get rubbed the wrong way when I turn down there offer to go eat, but LA's average food really sucks! I have spent MANY hours finding the best of the best in LA, so I always eat well here, but if I didnt, I would be in a foodie black hole.

                                                Indian food is the only ethnic food where LA is merely good, not great. The South Indian cuisine is a lot better than northern style. In LA, you have to follow the good Dosas. There are some restos I would recommend but they have long indian names and I have to consult a list to suggest a few. They arent as good as Berkely, but they are on par with the indian food you find in SF. Also, Nepalese food is quite good down here to.

                                                As for burritos. Taco trucks in the LAX area, highland park, or boyle heights (all in LA proper :)) are phenomenal. They make Gordos on clement look like taco bell. I have a ton of mexican recs too, but you probably know of better places than I do.

                                                PS: You are right about the driving. Its a hassle. What can you do?!?

                                              2. re: susancinsf

                                                It seems likely that jlrobe meant Outer Richmond. But you've got me curious, susan: what makes the Outer Mission a fun place to live? I used to live in the Outer Richmond and I think it's a fantastic neighborhood. Maybe it's just a different strokes kind of thing.

                                                And I think it's fair that SF be held to a higher standard than LA. If you went to, say, Cleveland, I suspect you wouldn't expect food of the calibre of SF. I think it says a lot (positive) about SF that people have high food expectations here. They should. (except for sushi, of course. I don't know why we can't get a really good sushi place here. I still dream about Katsu-ya in Studio city.)

                                                And one more thing I need to disagree with you on: IMHO, just because an ethnic restaurant has a large number of patrons of the same ethnicity does NOT make it a good restaurant. Personally I prefer the chinese food at Firecracker - or even Brandy Ho's - rather than the greasy ducks hanging in the Clement Street shops. To me good Chinese food is using fresh ingredients and not overly greasy. That is NOT my experience in the more "authentic" looking places. This doesn't mean I want or like "live saver" chicken (aka, sweet and sour". So by analogy (or perpaps I should say "by extension"), I'm not certain that the best ethnic food is where a large enclave exists. That may be true of some cuisines, (perhaps even Thai) but it certainly isn't true for me.

                                                1. re: atjsfo

                                                  Actually, SF should retain its high standards. It is a top notch city, unlike LA. LA is extremely fun and has TONS of culture (suprisingly enough) and great food, but it lacks the VIBE of a truly great city. That is why SF has the burden of always pushing the envelope.

                                                  My problem isnt that I hold SF to a higher standard. My problem is that I hold SF to a MUCH higher standard when really LA is so large and diverse that it offers an impressive array of dining and culture in its own right. SF will always be a much more balanced and awesome city in general, but I think the cultural and culinary gap between SF and LA is not the same as the gap between say SF and Cleveland. I need to make the gap a little more realistic in size.

                                                  Also, Mission is way cooler than Richmond, sorry :) I am half kidding. Valencia around 16th is poppin. Also, mission is where all of the diverse, music loving youngsters live. The Mission has some great music venues, and fun nightlife. It is just a diverse and energetic part of town. It is really buzzing right now. Richmond is foggy, and is comprised of old families. It seems sleepier to me.

                                                  1. re: jlrobe

                                                    Jlrobe-

                                                    “I hate to be a food snob but average LA food stinks…but LA's average food really sucks! I have spent MANY hours finding the best of the best in LA, so I always eat well here, but if I didn’t, I would be in a foodie black hole.”

                                                    I could have written that!

                                                    “I have a ton of Mexican recs too, but you probably know of better places than I do.”

                                                    Probably not…cause I lived in close proximity to my beloved Mexican mission style food, I continue to be disappointed. I think I need to let that one go! In my hood I frequent Yucca’s and Villa La Corona. You are right, you can find it in Highland Park and Boyle Heights and I have. I continue to battle my desire for good food with my aversion to getting on a freeway to get it! So good Mexican food in my repertoire continues to and always will be lacking unless I commit pedal to the metal!

                                                    “LA is extremely fun and has TONS of culture (surprisingly enough) and great food, but it lacks the VIBE of a truly great city.”

                                                    Yup. I miss the “city feel” SF has that LA lacks. But LA offers a grander and more varied experience. Compared to LA, SF can seem provincial …

                                                    “My problem isn’t that I hold SF to a higher standard.. I need to make the gap a little more realistic in size.”

                                                    Yup! I need to do this as well..
                                                    Change is hard!

                                                  2. re: atjsfo

                                                    I never said the Outer Richmond wasn't fun....I just was trying to clarify that the Outer Mission was clearly not the neighborhood she was referring to. I wouldn't know if Outer Richmond is fun or not as a place to live, since I don't live there and haven't (well, ok, I lived there for about two months twenthy years ago, but I suspect it has changed since then).

                                                    What I like about the Outer Mission is the fact that there are some great places to eat walking distance from my house...

                                                    I think you may have missed my main point about ethnicities and food, at least as far as the reference to the good Thai food in LA goes: it isn't the fact that a lot of people of the certain ethnicity eat at a particular restaurant that necessarily in and of itself increases the chance of its being good: it is the fact that with more people of that ethnicity, it generally means more restaurants, and thus, more likelihood of some of them being quite good! It also increases the likelihood of regional variation in the cuisine, which is more interesting...

                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                      susancinsf

                                                      I agree with your assessments on regional ethnic cuisine. Maybe I didn't acknowledge it though. I love going to ethnic "enclaves" because of the varied offerings of different regional cuisine. I dont want to eat just pho and rice plates. I dont want to eat just northern thai or korean BBQ. I dont always want to eat Burritos and enchiladas. I like eating other types of ethnic cuisine instead of the same thing over and over. So, I agree with you totally.

                                                      And obviously, not every restaurant is good because its filled with ethnic people. Just becaue every American lines up to eat TGI Fridays does not make it great example of American food.

                                                      At any rate, I have gotten reservations to Incanto and Bar Tartine. I think these places will impress me the most, and I am excited about going.

                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                        Thanks for your response! You make a good point about the increase in number of restaurants and the increase in regional variations being a good thing.

                                                    2. re: susancinsf

                                                      SusaninSF

                                                      Sorry, I wrote my report hastily. I meant outer richmond. SF has wonderfully discrete neighorhoods, so I always try to be respectful and keep them all straight. Collow Hollow should be distinguished from the Marina, etc.

                                                      My family lives on 42nd ave, so outer-richmond is home for me. I want to branch out a bit.

                                                      No one on this board has to convince me of the merits of SF. I love this town greatly. I might sound like I don't, but I do. I am sometimes a booster for LA simply because all of my colleagues from the bay talk bad about LA ALL of the time. My expectations for SF dining are extremely elevated because chowhound, yelp, food critics, blogs, Sf chronicle, etc. make it a point to always clarify that LA doesn’t have really good food. All this talk about the SF dining scene makes me very excited because I really love some of the restaurants in LA, but it also makes my expectations extremely high.

                                                      I really don’t want to suggest that the entire LA area (14 million) is superior to SF (770,00), because I don’t believe that for a second. Even if it were, it isnt a fair comparison. The purpose of my post or eating at these places isnt to prove that LA is better. My purpose is to discover the far superior cuisine that I never knew existed.

                                                      Just yesterday I read a review made by someone living in SF about a fantastic restaurant in LA. They said the following: “I am from SF, so I know what good italian tastes like and this place is quite good. It isnt as good as food back home, but its good for LA.” When I read that I think, man, SF must have some freakin incredible food that I was unable to enjoy when I was up there!

                                                      Comments like those prompted me to find the true SF dining scene and find out what real food tastes like, hence this post.

                                                      I love SF and wine country, and my wife and I go to both often. I don’t want to suggest the contrary.

                                                      I fully expect my subsequent trials of Bar Tartine, Bar Crudo, etc. to be much better, but I still feel underwhelmed with Aziza and company. Aziza has like a 4.8 star rating with over 300 reviews by SF foodies. The SF chowhounders, whom I also have a lot of respect for, also love it. Even Michael Bauer said the following “LA has good food, but they lack the excellent mid-priced cuisine that SF offers like Aziza and Delfina”. This is coming from a man that wasn’t blown away by any meal except Hatfields, Jar, Mozza, and a salad at Lucques. That is why I truly expected those places to really knock my socks off. From now on I will expect most places to be good, but I wont expect every place to be better (to me) than say Hatfields, Orris, Lucques, Mozza, etc. simply because of SF’s reputation.

                                                      Everyone has given me fanstastic suggestions and I intend to work my way through them.

                                                      PS: I do agree with your assessment about LA's ethnic cuisine. That is why I mentioned having "haute" instead of ethnic suggestions in my original post. I dont feel the need to discover excellent ethnic cuisine anywhere but here for now.

                                                    3. re: jlrobe

                                                      I think that you didn't go to Bar Tartine, rather you went to Tartine Bakery; owned by the same people, but two very different animals.

                                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                                        Sorry, I didnt clarifiy that.

                                                        I wanted to go to Bar Tartine for dinner and delfina for lunch. We ended up going to Tartine Bakery for lunch and thus my wife did not want to go to Bar Tartine for dinner. I told her they were different places but she didnt want to go.

                                                        I chose deflina, A16, and Aziza. My gut said Bar Tartine, but it didnt happen. I am very much looking forward to dinner there.

                                              3. re: atjsfo

                                                I second Pacific Cafe. But I would not rush there to be seated as the first group. They give you free wine while you are waiting. On a nice day, it's good to be standing around outside chatting with friends sipping the not-too-bad-it's-free wine. After a couple of glasses, everything tastes pretty good. I like their oyster bisque.

                                              4. If you like the Mission, I suggest Bar Bambino for a casual yet fun dinner. It's laid back and small, but they still have awesome wines and great Italian food ranging from an olive oil tasting, to small plates, to great pastas and mains. It's located on Mission and 16th.