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Nyc chowhounds need some help

My husband and I will be staying in the city sans child for 2 nights next month. I am trying to plan the dining part of the trip and while I have scouted out other threads I was wondering if I can get your thoughts on a couple of our choices. We are staying near the Yerba Gardens.

Right now this is how things are looking
Day One
Land at lunch time, check in, head to late lunch at Slanted Door
Late dinner at Quince

Day Two
Breakfast-Pork Store or Dim Sum
Lunch ??????

Morning Three
Breakfast-Pork Store or Dim Sum

My questions to the board are:

1. Quince worth it or not? Heard it is boring. If there are two other places better for our two night stop, we'll cancel.
2. I need another place for a lunch? We are looking for more local or ethnic that we can stop in to while we are wandering the city.
3. Second Dinner-I have been recommended A16, Town Hall and Antica Trattoria...any thoughts on these or others?
4. We have a French Laundry reservation that we would rather replace with somewhere in the city-is there a similar tasting menu-esq experience in town? Gary Danko?
5. I love cheese, and wine for that matter. Any place in particular stick out above the rest for our second dinner where we can have some nice wine and cheese?
6. Are there are places you would recommend to eat in the area after some margaritas at Tommys (is that the Richmond area)?

Ultimately we are looking to recreate the days before we became parents-fun time, late dinners and potential "overserving" of wine in places where locals go to eat fresh, good food in a nice, fun environment. We are not looking for stuffy or over serviced places-bring the loud buzz of a room with the ipod on random.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions!

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  1. You've got a French Laundry reservation and you think there is something similar in the city?
    Think again.

    Gary Danko is not even close to the same league as FL (3 stars vs. 5 stars).

    If you are headed to wine country, I would recommend General's Daughter in Sonoma for the most amazing cheese plate I've had in a long time. I was there a week ago and the cheese plate had nine different cheeses, many of which were acquired young and were aged by the chef himself. Stunning (and I eat cheese plates at EVERY restaurant I go to).

    Quince is far from boring - it is probably the most high-end haute cuisine pasta restaurant in the city.

    Just my two cents.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Carrie 218

      Somebody who likes "the loud buzz of a room with the ipod on random" might find Quince stuffy.

      1. re: Carrie 218

        Thank you. Unfortunately we are not going to the wine area at all so will be focusing on places in the city.

        1. re: NYCFORKER

          You said that you had a French Laundry reservation. That is in the heart of wine country, NOT in the city... And if your FL reservation is for dinner, you should have accommodations in that neighborhood as the last thing you are going to want to do is drive back to the city after a dinner like that...

          1. re: Carrie 218

            Right, I think that her point was that she's planning on cancelling the FL reservation, and is therefore not going to wine country.

            1. re: JasmineG

              <sing-song> Mistaaaaakkke..... </sing-song>

              NYCForker, if you have a FL reservation, do what you can to keep it - seriously.

              1. re: Carrie 218

                Perhaps they don't want to expend half of a 2--day trip getting there and back, when they have Per Se in New York to go to for the same cuisine.

                But maybe they could auction those reservations on Ebay.

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  How about a Chowhound-hosted essay contest... entitled "Why I Deserve This French Laundry Reservation"?

      2. Gary Danko is said to have good cheese platters, so maybe you can kill too birds with one stone for your first dinner. I don't know anything about GD's wine list (not my department), but they are known for less excessive markups than The French Laundry.

        For ethnic, it's hard to top NYC, but Mexican and Vietnamese come to mind. You'll be hitting the Slanted Door, but for a blue-collar snack you can't beat one of the banh mi places on Larkin Street above City Hall (Saigon Sandwich, Wraps Delight, Baguette Express) or a taco at the Taqueria Cancun outpost (inpost?) on Market near 6th.

        There's not much "haute" near Tommy's, just a lot of budget ethnic (mostly Asian) in that neighborhood.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Xiao Yang

          Aziza is fairly close to Tommy's, and it might be nice to do a margarita at Tommy's and then one of the specialty cocktails at Aziza (especially if they have anything lime based, or with a great tequila). Aziza is also somewhere I bring people from New York since I feel it is almost more California cuisine with a Moroccan bent than Moroccan food.

        2. at the Ferry Building:
          Acme Bread for Pain Epi
          Cowgirl Creamery for cheese
          Boulettes Larder/breakfast 8am - 10:30 M-F

          Canteen - another dinner option
          817 Sutter Street @ Jones/Leavenworth at Hotel Commodore
          San Francisco, CA 94109
          TEL (415) 928.8870

          Sens for lunch/dinner
          request window view of the Bay Bridge/Ferry Building
          4 Embarcadero Center, Promenade Level
          at Sacramento and Drumm Streets
          San Francisco 94111
          at the top of the spiral walkway, "inspired by the Southern Mediterranean, focusing on Turkey, North Africa and Greece."

          - fun time, late dinners, where locals go to eat fresh, good food in a nice, fun environment:
          560 Divisadero at Hayes Street
          San Francisco, CA 94117
          (415) 864-8643

          near your hotel:
          Samovar Tea Lounge
          730 Howard Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets, above the waterfall on the upper terrace, in Yerba Buena Gardens

          Beard Papa is nearby, for cream puffs, but, you have this in Nyc, too
          99 Yerba Buena Lane on Mission Street between 3rd & 4th Streets ... Mon-Thur: 10am-9pm Fri-Sat: 10am-10pm Sun: 11am-8pm
          also, in the Westfield Center

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cynsa

            Beard Papa wouldn't be worth a visit even if weren't a chain but that's a topic for the Chains board.

          2. If you want to make a meal of cheese and wine, there are some great wine bars with excellent cheese.

            Which days of the week are you talking about?

            Cav Wine Bar
            1666 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

            Hidden Vine
            620 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109

            Wine Bar & Shop
            2 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111

            6 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Will be in town on a wednesday and thursday.

              also, I forgot to mention in my original post, my husband loves pig. whether it's salumi or roasted morsels, if there are any places that you know that are all about the pig, we would love to know about them (not bbq though-more like what michael symon at lola can do with a pig).

              1. re: NYCFORKER

                aha, that explains the Pork Store breakfast!
                I've also had pork chops and eggs for breakfast at J's Pots of Soul
                203 Octavia Street at Page Street
                San Francisco, CA 94102
                (415) 861-3230

                - loved the Pork Prime Rib at Canteen - the menu changes weekly:

                1. re: NYCFORKER

                  Incanto knows and treats pig right - their salumi is wonderful (among many things). Its my pig-lovn' husband's favorite place. Perbacco also has nice salumi.

                  Cav has a particularly good cheese plate -- proper temp, nice portion size, plus they have some of the best "okra frites" I've ever had. And you could go next door to Zuni for dinner if you want.

                  Pork store is a basic diner with food you could find anywhere in the United States, I would not recommend wasting a meal there much last dragging yourself there from downtown. If you need that kind of meal got to Dottie's True Blue.

                  Eating after margaritas at Tommy's is not a good idea, eat BEFORE (I know from much trial and error). There's plenty of good places out there Azizza (Med), La Vie (Viet) and even Gaspare's (cheesy old style pizza joint).

                  1. re: NYCFORKER

                    Incanto's all about the pig. They also own a salumi factory. Check out the chef's blog:


                    Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
                    1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                    Boccalone Factory - Not Open to Public
                    1924 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Thank you Robert, my husband thinks that place looks amazing. Would you recommend that as our second night's dinner as it seems like a pork mecca?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I second that, yeaaa Incanto!!! The owner is also really nice and I like what he is doing at his place!!!

                  2. For a unique lunch, I can't imagine anything better than getting some terrific wine, cheese, baguette and heading off to some scenic bench with a view--on Broadway overlooking the Marina, or at Chrissy Field (near Marina and GG Bridge) or...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: walkoffdinner

                      In November the weather's often unsuitable, best to have an indoor plan for backup.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        "Depending on the weather" is always a precaution in SF!

                    2. Still debating our Quince reservation-my husband does not want to be reminded of being at a work dinner which this place seems like it would be (men in ties/suits etc..) not a bad thing but we are on vacation away from work and junior so we'd like to have some fun! Any last minute thoughts?
                      I think based off the web sites we like the looks of A16, Canteen, Delfina, Incanto, Town Hall>>maybe we just leave it up to the concierge at the St Regis.
                      Thanks so much for everyone's feedback.
                      also, were is the best wine store to ship wine back east? thank you.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: NYCFORKER

                        Hmmm...Quince may be a bit to "work-like" for you guys. It is quiet, skews a bit older I felt and saw a lot of suits and ties. The others you suggest, not so. I've never been wowed by Town Hall, my meals there have been average so I wouldn't bother with them personally. Like A16 and Delfina and am wanting to get to both Canteen and Incanto. Have you looked at Ame in the St. Regis? Great food but that may be a bit quiet for you as well. How about Nopa - pretty young crowd and I like both the food and the cocktails!

                        1. re: NYCFORKER

                          for wine, you have to trust the folks at K&L. www.klwines.com
                          vinovenue is an interesting place to taste wine; I do love those auto-dispensers.
                          BTW, I found the winelist at A16 a lot more interesting than Defina, imho.

                          1. re: NYCFORKER

                            Of your list, I think Incanto holds the most hope for a truly memorably meal if you order some of their "challenging" ingredients. I still remember the duck testicles as one of the best dishes I have ever had. Ever. I'm looking forward to going back next month for a full five course offal meal.

                          2. has Coi closed ? or is there some other problem that no one mentioed it. I had one of the best meals I've ever had in SF there this past summer. an adventurous tasting menu with some alternate approaches. inventive and extremely well executed with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients and not a lot of meat. If you aren't going to keep the FL reserations(and logistics is the ONLY reason I can comprehend that decision, Coi would be the closest in concept in SF, IMHO

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chazzerking

                              I second Coi. What a fun dining experience! We chose to eat "a la carte" in the bar area and were thrilled with our choice. I also love Quince and don't think of it as a "work" environment. It's a little gem of a restaurant in an upscale neighborhood. For more low key ethnic food, you can read about Burma Star all over this board - it's a real crowd pleaser. I've heard the Burma Star people opened another restaurant on Clement street, though I have not been. I would skip French Laundry on this trip. It's amazing, but if you only have 2 days in SF, you'll lose an entire day eating there.
                              Lastly, we just got back from a similar excursion to NYC (with kids, though). Got a sitter one night and sat at the bar at Blue Hill - loved it!
                              Have a great trip!

                            2. I can offer a fantastic little wine bar with a very good cheese selection. Go to the Hotel Byron, on Rose Street (well, an alley really) and Gough, right behind the Zuni Cafe which is on Market. Actually the Zuni Cafe isn't a bad place at all to eat! And I also love EOS which is in Cole Valley, the area where I grew up so it is close to the heart. Go to their wine bar for dinner, the restaurant I find a bit cold. The wine bar next door is cozy and yummy food and drnk wise.