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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. :)