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Nov 20, 2007 12:18 PM

Dining in South San Francisco -- suggestions?

Help! My grandparents live in South City, and their idea of dining out is an evening at Gulliver's. We used to take them to Scoma's, but because of my grandfather's back problems, we can no longer dine anywhere that does not take reservations and has long waits for a table. Also, a shorter drive is better.

Can anyone suggest a nice place for dinner in the area (South City, Millbrae, Burlingame, etc.), that has at least one vegetarian dish for my husband, that won't break the bank? I came up with the following from CitySearch, but I trust the Hounds better!

Stella Alpina Osteria
Zen Peninsula
Red Ginger
Anabelles Hob Nob

Don't be distressed if I don't reply to your suggestions right away. I'm on the road between family holiday celebrations and have only spotty access to the internet, but I will be sure to see your recommendations before Saturday night dinner! Thanks, everyone!

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  1. This site has a feature called Places that can be sorted geographically to take you to individual restaurant entries with maps, contact info and links to discussion threads. Here's the search result for "South San Francisco" to give you a start, and you can vary the search term for Millbrae, Burlingame, San Bruno, etc. You might want to check out the Basque Cultural Center or Sodini's Bertolucci. Please post if you have questions about specific places or need more ideas.

    P.S. If you are referring to Red Ginger in El Granada, it might have closed. Likewise, Annabelle's has been reported as out of business too.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      The restaurants featured under Places, are these ranked or listed in any particular way? I was just looking at the L.A area as I will be visiting this December. Thanks!

      1. re: ceekskat

        Look up at the top left side, and you'll see that the search above is sorted by "relevance". You can also select "newest first" or "oldest first".

        And, do remember that the restaurants in the Places database are only there because a chowhound manually entered it (and a big thanks to rworange for all the time she has put into this) by using the Link to a place url. It doesn't make them special recommendations, and in fact, some are there because they're notoriously bad and often discussed. The feature that I like is that it keeps track of current threads that mention the place, so that the information renews itself.

        If you have more questions, please post to Site Talk.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Well, back at you, Melanie ... you've been putting a lot into Places too ... Polynesian ... never would have thought to use that category for Hawaiian. For me it is selfish. I just want an easy way to find info of joints I have been or want to go and Places fits the bill. Besides for me, the boards are now so slow, Places is about all I can get into. I can read about one post every half hour ... hence the long delayed response to this post. Any page with a video on it brings my pc to its knees.

            Anyway ... back to this question. One place I really liked in South San Francisco ... and hear me out before you dismiss it ... was El Charro Mexican/Bolivan restaurant.

            It has a vetegarian menu. It has a surf and turf ... if your grandparents don't like mexican ... it does come with rice and beans, but you can substitute. The drinks are good ... well, my margarita was.

            If you go on Thrusday night there is a soulful guitarist. The owner is an older gentleman and there's a kind of sweetness about the place. The waitresses in their Mexican costumes have been there since the place opened and while it isn't fancy, it is nice and comforatable and I liked my dinner very much. Give the Bolivian food a try. It is simple, but very satisfying.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Eh ... actually I should have linked my post to places since I have a link to my report and I'm probably the only one on this board who ate at this joint.

              El Charro Mexican Restaurant
              257 Grand Ave, South San Francisco, CA 94080

        1. Safsap,

          The Basque Cultural Center meets all your criteria except one: I don't think a non-meat-eater would have an enjoyable meal there. Yes, that person could subsist entirely off the sides, but I doubt they'd be terribly enthusiastic about the experience.

          Two suggestions: Please try the Chowhound search function to find three longstanding threads on the Basque Cultural Center's offerings (it really varies by the day). And please consider something along Millbrae's "Miracle Mile" of dim sum. Be aware that on the latter, timing is going to be key. If you have an elder relative who is going to have a problem waiting 20 mins. for a table, it may just take some tactical planning. (There are many, many threads on Millbrae's dim sum temples. Again, the search function will reveal all...)

          Best of luck to you.

          Sushi Monster

          4 Replies
          1. re: Sushi Monster

            Clicking on the Places search result for South San Francisco I linked above, the first one on the list is Basque Cultural Center. Here's the Places link for BCC, . You'll see that it has complete contact info, link to its website, currently two linked threads with thorough reports, and also picks up all recent mentions on the board. It a shortcut for searching and hopefully will be a little easier to use.

            The dim sum temples of Millbrae nearly all take reservations for busy times on weekends, and I'd recommend that for the seniors. Here's the Places search result for dim sum in Millbrae,
            And specifically for Zen Peninsula mentioned by the OP,

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Hi! Yes, I checked out the BCC. Sadly, since my internet access is spotty, BCC seems a little high-maintenance. Since we are dealing with my grandparents, I'm erring on the side of conservative, and I'd like to be sure that my husband can have a good experience.

              And while I LOOOOOOVVVEE dim sum, my hubby finds it difficult to find truly veg options, and my grandparents are at the age where the noise and chaos of dim sum is a bit too much for them. I wish I could go on my own, but alas that's not an option! Thanks for all the references, though...

              1. re: safsap

                At the dim sum houses in Millbrae, you still have the option of ordering off the regular menu. I'd suggest getting a plate of seasonal greens sauteed with garlic (ask if pea shoots are available) and a veggie chow mein for your husband, and the rest of you can have dim sum from the circulating carts. Get an 11am reservation, ask for a table against the wall because you have seniors with you, and it should be manageable.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I took friends to HK Flower Lounge recently (I'll admit it was a Tuesday, so not a hectic weekend), and the restaurant was full at 12:30. Despite this, the experience was quite relaxed. Not a lot of noise and chaos, so it's probably a good pick for those who are noise and chaos averse.

          2. sixteen mile house on broadway in millbrae has reopened under new ownership and was very good. surprisingly the service was exceptional.

            3 Replies
            1. re: gfsf

              Cool, what did you order?

              Sixteen Mile House
              448 Broadway, Millbrae, CA 94030

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                had the rack of lamb. i've been ordering that at sixteen mile house forever and had to test the new owners version. it was cooked to perfection. the chef came out to chit chat which was very nice and turns out he used to be the chef at house of prime rib so he knows how to cook meat. his most recent stint was at the now closed burlingame prime on burlingame ave.

                1. re: gfsf

                  Thanks for the suggestion. Is it veg-friendly for my husband? I can't find a menu online.

            2. Thanks to everyone for writing in. One last question for those in the know -- I ran a search for Straits on the board, and while reviewers weren't entirely enthusiastic, I thought it could be a safe, middle-of-the-road option, and the veg choices look good to the husband.

              Anyone have more info on Straits?

              6 Replies
              1. re: safsap

                The san francisco Straits is likely worth a try. I have a fondness for the place, although I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The food is decent, it's hard to explain much more. There full crab is kind of fun, and that doughnut salad thing.

                As you mention, middle of the road, some veggie. It's probably better than Scoma's, and has a decent fun atmosphere. Since it's not all hawt and au courant there shouldn't be a problem getting a table. Their alcohol selection is decent, which always helps me when dealing with family.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  Okay, thanks for the advice. I'm pregnant, though, so using alcohol to get thru a family event isn't an option right now! Oh well...

                2. re: safsap

                  Here's the corporate website with a sample menu, but probably best to call ahead to check options,

                  Straits Burlingame
                  1100 Burlingame Ave., Burlingame, CA 94010

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I'm fully confused. Straits is above bloomingdales? And they don't have the doughnut salad any more? Boo.

                    I now fully dislike the Straits in Palo Alto, after going there about a year ago and getting bland small portions for too much money. They're fully on the no-fly list. If the whole thing has gone mini-chain... brrrrr .... I can't be held accountable.

                    Please report back about the Burlingame one if you go... and consider making the trip to Millbrea. There's always old standards like HKFL. For dinner it's all off the menu, not dim sum.

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      The Straits location in Palo Alto has been under separate ownership for a couple years now from the other restaurants.

                      1. re: bbulkow

                        Sorry not to follow up earlier! I have been off Chowhound until recently.

                        We had a mixed experience at Straits in Burlingame. My grandparents ended up with a very negative impression, while my husband and I found parts of our meal enjoyable and parts not so thrilling.

                        First of all, their coffee machine was broken, so my grandfather could not have his usual coffee with his meal. Worse, they said that they could not even boil water for tea. Huh?!?? A restaurant that can't boil water?

                        My husband initially thought his veg. dish was bland, but he warmed up to it as he ate it, and by the end declared it delicious. My grandmother and I both had the sea bass. I thought the sauce was too sweet and not enough bite unless I had a piece of ginger with it. My grandmother loved the shiitake mushrooms that came with it, but they seemed to be divided unevenly between our two plates, so I had a lot while my grandmother felt she did not get enough. I can't remember what my grandfather had, but he was underwhelmed.

                        It may have been an okay evening for them but for dessert. My grandmother got the three sorbets. One was perfect, delicate and flavorful. The mango, however, seemed very off and didn't taste a bit like mango. The scoop was piled on top of the pina colada scoop, so my grandmother couldn't taste what I thought was a decent pina colada flavor for the lingering mango that contaminated it.

                        On the other hand, my husband and I had the banana fritters with mango sauce, coconut cream, red beans, and I can't remember what else. We thought it sounded too complicated and with too many ingredients, but everything was balanced nicely, and we ended up relishing every bite.

                        In the end, my grandparents were adamant about never going there again. My husband and I thought it was okay, but not necessarily a good value for what you pay. I would still prefer it to Gulliver's, but sadly it isn't up to me!

                        I may try HKFL next time.