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Please critique my itinerary!!

This is a quick weekend trip for my hubby and me. This will be our first time to San Fran. We’re into experiencing fresh (creative or simple) food usually in unpretentious atmospheres. I love breakfast, which explains Mama’s and Canteen in one day. Can you help me fill in the holes for this long weekend?

Friday 12/14
Check-in at Omni (500 California St.)
DRINKS The Hidden Vine

Saturday 12/15
BREAKFAST - Ferry Building - I’m so bummed we’re missing Cocina Primavera!!
Any alternate suggestions at 8am - we'll only have an hour?

San Francisco Comprehensive Shuttle Tour (9am – 2pm)
LUNCH near ferry stop in Sausalito (walk to Fish or something else?)
Tour ends back at Ferry Building (musts for snacks or gifts to take home?)

DINNER Bar Tartine

Sunday 12/16
FOR LATER Liguria Bakery


LUNCH Canteen for brunch

Jersey Boys Show (2pm)


Monday 12/17
BREAKFAST Dottie’s True Blue Café

LUNCH La Taqueria & Bi-Rite Creamery

FOR LATER La Palma Mexicatessen & Tartine Bakery

Flight at 5:50pm

APOLOGIES I know I'm missing the asian influence but Slanted Door isn't in the budget. I keep ending up in the Mission District but there's so many places to hit. Where does this leave us for Sunday night?

THANK YOU FOR ANY AND ALL COMMENTS!! We can't wait to experience your city!!

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  1. Liguria Bakery is closed Sundays.

    1. You said that Slanted Door isn't in the budget -- it's about the same price range as a lot of the moderately priced (nice, great food, but not super high end) restaurants in San Francisco, so then my question is about what your price range is for dinner? It's not going to be any cheaper than Bar Tartine, so are you thinking low budget for your Sunday night dinner? And yes, the Ferry Building is a must for snacks/gifts to take home -- are you sure about doing that 9 am to 2 pm tour? Because then you miss spending a lot of time at the market, and that's a shame, especially since you could head to the market early, take the ferry yourself over to Sausalito when you choose, eat there and take the ferry back, and still have time to wander around the city on your own.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JasmineG

        I also think you might consider bagging the 9-2 tour and spending more time browsing at the Ferry Building, and then walk around Chinatown. Those two things will be a lot of fun and definitely fill that time. Of course, if there are mobility issues, perhaps the tour is a good idea.

        1. re: Atomica

          Completely concur with Atomica. What is it you are hoping to see on a "comprehensive" bus tour? You'll have a lot more fun just wandering the Ferry Plaza and surrounds without the "necessary" sites that bus tours and society think tourists must see.

      2. I think that trying to do Mama's and Canteen in the same day is kinda nuts, even for someone who loves breakfast. I've never been to Mama's, but I liked Canteen better than Dottie's - I would do Canteen on Sunday and then do either Mama's or Dottie's on Monday.

        A lot of the good breakfast stands at the Ferry Building might not be open before 9 AM. But some will be.

        What about Asian on Sunday night? If not Slanted Door, then there are a lot of great Chinese and Vietnamese places that could fit any budget.

        Also, depending on what kind of tacos and/or burritos you want, La Taqueria may or may not be the best bet. Perhaps you can visit multiple places to compare! If you are walking between La Taqueria and La Palma, you'll pass LOTS of great places.

        Also, where are you visiting from?

        Sounds like it's gonna be a great trip, you really can't go wrong with the places you've listed.

        Dave MP

        5 Replies
        1. re: Dave MP

          Here's what a carne asada taco from La Taqueria looks like, guess you have to like beans as filler,

          Can't recommend the place, especially to someone coming from Texas who wants good salsa. My mother really wanted to try it and was soooo disappointed, even though I tried to warn her. She pointed to the "Best tacos & burritos in the whole world" neon sign and said, "that's a lie".

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            OP if you like good salsa I would try a taco truck see post

            I was pretty happy with the carne asada burrito from the burrito shop on Church/at Doboce. There are two places on the same block, I like the one next to Burger Mister better. I order the carne asada with pinto beans, cheese, no rice, hot red sauce and jalopenos.. its pretty darn good.

            1. re: Lori SF

              The name of the one next to Burger Meister is El Castillito. Their green sauce is my favorite!

              1. re: lanersg

                yes thank you. I don't know why I draw a blank with the names of the places on that street especially since I walk by all the time..it took me a year to finally remember Golden Produce which is my favorite place to shop for produce.

          2. re: Dave MP

            All of the breakfast stands outside at the Farmer's market Saturday morning will be serving by 7:30 or so. Inside the ferry building is another matter. With the OP's schedule, they'll have to skip the caviar and scrambled eggs at Tsar Nicolai this time.

          3. Paul H - Thanks for that important info...

            JasmineG - We're kinda locked in on the tour for Saturday (and a stop for lunch in Sausalito is included so I figured I'd ask for recs). We wanted to do the tour on Day 1 so we'd have a good feel for the city. You're right about SD being in the budget...I guess I'm just trying to incorporate some lower cost options so as not to break the bank. I'm thinking I'll try Out the Door for dinner on Saturday and switch Bar Tartine to Sunday?

            Dave MP - You're right on breakfast...so Canteen on Sunday and Dottie's on Monday (since Mama's is closed). Also, what places are your favorites for tacos (we are less into burritos) btw La Taq and La Palma? We're hailing from Houston / Corpus Christi TX so we know TexMex and want to experience CalMex. My husband has a thing for salsas, the lime and onions, etc. He's not afraid to try much since he grew up with barbacoa and menudo.

            Thanks guys!

            8 Replies
            1. re: texasciaohound

              I say if you like breakfast that much try it all. Hell I went to two lobster roll joints in the same day while I was in Manhattan would of had a third one but they were closed. They don't call us chowhounds for nothing. I would not bag La Taq. I think if coming from Texas this place will be heaven, just order the super tacos.

              Give a bit more on what you want for Sunday dinner?

              1. re: Lori SF

                If I switch Bar Tartine to Sunday - would it be good to snack around FBFM on Saturday night...either Out the Door or eat at the bar at Slanted Door? Also, Taylor's Refresher ahi burger might be good? Then, grab dessert somewhere afterwards (ie Miette, Riechutti, etc)?

                Or do you vote for ethnic in Chinatown, we're also big Greek fans....

                And, we love wine btw...so hidden vine will be great!

                1. re: texasciaohound

                  If you are talking about Out the Door for dinner in the Ferry Building, then I think they close pretty early. You should double check that. If you must eat at Out the Door, then you can visit the one at the Westfield Mall in downtown SF. Another consideration for good, and cheaper, Vietnamese is Bodega Bistro in the Tenderloin. The neighborhood isn't fancy or anything, but the restaurant has similar dishes to what they offer at the Slanted Door in a bare bones setting. I haven't been there in about 2 years, but it has received favorable reviews on the board.

                  1. re: Mari

                    I think Bodega Bistro is a good idea as well. I would probably choose this over the Out the Door in the Westfield.

                    1. re: Mari

                      Bodega Bistro was what I was thinking too.

                    2. re: texasciaohound

                      Why Bar Tartine just curious, I like this place but it has been a while. I do like Universal Cafe much better for both brunch and dinner a true SF kinda of place. http://www.universalcafe.net/universa...

                      Just walk around Ferry Plaza and see what hits your fancy. I am not a fan of Taylor's I think it is so medicore.. You can get a better burger or ahi style elsewhere and I am sure Texas has some good burgers, I would skip that.

                      Ethic in the Tenderloin or in Richmond/Sunset neighborhoods will be better. There are some gems in Chinatown, you will not find good Greek food here so don't bother.

                      if you like wine then Hidden Vine is a nice spot!

                    3. re: Lori SF

                      I guess so....but eating multiple lobster rolls is easy and quick, while eating two meals at super popular restaurants can be much more filling and definitely not quick. So while I think breakfast is great, I think doing Mama's and Canteen in one day would take up a lot of time and would fill you up so much that there wouldn't be room for much else, except maybe a late, light dinner.

                      I agree that La Taqueria is worth trying. Also consider:

                      tacos al pastor at Taqueria San Jose
                      any of the tacos at Taqueria Vallarta on 24th St.

                      1. re: Dave MP

                        I've tried La Taqueria once and that's they only try I needed. I agree with tacos al pastor at Taqueria San Jose. The salsa verde there is pretty good.

                  2. Hidden Vine is a wine bar, just incase you were wanting a cocktail.

                    Where does the Shuttle pick you up? If it picks you up at the hotel you could get into a cab at 7:45, go to the FP everything is going by 8:00 AM get your Primavera fix and get a cab back well before 9:00 to meet the shuttle. Living on the edge but do able and all in close range.

                    When you return to Ferry Plaza go to-
                    Frog Hollow Farm at the Marketplace heavenly everything. Pick up some jams and a pastry for yourself. Also, Boulettes Larder is a great spot to visit in the Marketplace. Bluebottle coffee is a good gift and get a cup while you are there. Out on the back plaza go find the kettlecorn popcorn guy outside at the farmers market if he is still there, good snack. Also, in the back plaza on the opposite end behind Sur La Table at the far corner of the farmers market is Eatwell organic lavender products- they sell lavender rock salt and rosemary, pick up one of these if you can they make great gifts and I love the lavendar salt on eggs, potatoes, etc. In the front plaza look for Happy Quail Farms if you like spices, pick up some they make good gifts too.

                    Suggestion get to Mama's very early so you won't miss brunch at Canteen.

                    For your dinner help what would you like to spend? What type of food?
                    You can go for asian or other ethnic influences and not spend a lot.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Lori SF

                      Lori SF - one more note - our tour picks up at the Ferry Building at 9am. But I think that Cocina Primavera opens at 10:15am.

                      1. re: texasciaohound

                        I don't recall the time they open sorry, I go to the other Farmers market for my mexican fix on Sat.. You can get something from Boulettes Larder or Frog Hollow for breafast they both open at 8:00

                        1. re: texasciaohound

                          If Cocina Primavera is the stand in the back SE corner its open much earlier. I am rarely there that late and I enjoy their breakfast.

                          1. re: Chris Rising

                            I have bought tamales from them before 8.

                      2. Go to Out the Door's Westfield Mall location (not the Ferry Building one) instead of Slanted Door. Fantastic food, similar style to Out the Door but more casual and much cheaper ($20-$30 pp inc. tax, tip and drinks). The Westfield location has full table service.

                        Agree with others that you're not spending nearly enough time at the Ferry Building. As soon as you arrive you're gonna be kicking yourself for not budgeting adequate time to truly experience the one-of-a-kind market.

                        1. Thank you again...you guys are so incredibly helpful. Trust me!! I am kicking myself about the tour...but I've decided to keep it. Here's the revised:

                          Friday 12/14
                          DRINKS The Hidden Vine

                          Saturday 12/15
                          BREAKFAST - Ferry Building – Rose Pistola
                          LUNCH near ferry stop in Sausalito (any recs?)
                          DINNER Out the Door (Westfield Mall) or Bodega Bistro
                          <<For all Bodega fans, what do you order?>>

                          Sunday 12/16
                          BRUNCH Canteen
                          DINNER Bar Tartine
                          <<I've considered many options here...Range, Zuni, Delfina, kinda celebratory splurge dinner. I'm open to ideas.>>

                          Monday 12/17
                          FOR LATER Liguria Bakery (if we get up early)
                          BREAKFAST Dottie’s True Blue Café
                          LUNCH La Taqueria / Taqueria San Jose / Taqueria Vallarta & Bi-Rite Creamery
                          FOR LATER La Palma Mexicatessen & Tartine Bakery

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: texasciaohound

                            Put me in the Slanted Door detractors camp -- especially Out The Door, which I think it high priced for not much food that just smacks of mediocre mall cuisine. I think there are so many better meals you could have on a budget for dinner that would be far more satisfying.

                            My suggestions: Burma Superstar, Jitlada Thai, or Aziza.

                            1. re: Carrie 218

                              Isn't Jitlada Thai in LA? Edited: never mind, I was confused, yes there is one in SF (no, I haven't tried it)

                              But I do think that Aziza is a good recommendation.

                              1. re: susancinsf

                                There may be on in LA, but also near SF's Japantown. Here's the Places link.

                                Jitlada Thai Cuisine
                                1826 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  the beef salad at Jitlada in LA is perfect. I am now wondering if they are the same.

                                2. re: Carrie 218

                                  Have you tried the Westfield table service location? It's a completely different expeirence.

                                  I've had four or five meals at OTD Westfield. The portions are generous and the food is excellent. I usually spend $20-$30 pp for more than enough food including tax, tips, and drinks. I certainly don't think that's overpriced, especially considering ingredient quality. I'd easily spend twice that at Aziza.

                                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                    Morton, I have eaten at the table service location at the Westfield OTD a number of times and just been underwhelmed. Over all, I find the food too disparate between being either too sweet or too spicy - I miss a sense of balance.

                                    OP, I also concur with others that if you are in Texas, you will probably find our Mexican severely wanting and would heartily suggest you gear towards the Asian-influences or haute cuisine offerings within your budget.

                                    1. re: Carrie 218

                                      Not all Texas is created equal. Most likely being closer to the border you can get some good types of Mexican food.. But when I was in Dallas and Houston nothing close to our just ok Mexican food, it was texmex all the way.

                                      If they cross the bridge to the EastBay or go North or slightly South the options are much better. Otherwise, it is random places with a one hit dish here in the city. As far a good salsa like the OP mentioned forget it.

                                      I think OTD is fine when in need of a spot before a movie or on a work day and you want light, not a distination.

                                      1. re: Lori SF

                                        my comment on Texas was based partially on the quality of the food in Texas (and given the large increases in numbers of Latino immigrants in recent years in that part of the country, I'd question whether it is still really true that in Dallas and Houston you will only find texmex), and partially on the fact that, as you say, the Mexican food in SF is for the most part only ok. (Though I did really like my meal at Chichen Itza....)

                                      2. re: Carrie 218

                                        I agree w/ Carrie on Out the Door at Westfield. I thought the food was decent but not too interesting.

                                        1. re: Dave MP

                                          I think that the Out the Door food is great for food court food, or for food in that general area, but it's not a place that I would recommend to a visitor who was asking for food all over the city.

                                  2. re: texasciaohound

                                    My general reaction is that your itinerary is pretty heavy on Mexican for someone coming from Texas....but I suppose it depends on where in Texas you are from. Still, I'd put more emphasis on Asian and seafood, unless there is a reason you don't like those two....

                                    Re: your dinner on 12/16: you may be too late for some of your choices if you don't make reservations yesterday (especially Zuni or Range, unless you go at some very off hour).

                                    Why Rose Pistola for breakfast? My last breakfast there was very disappointing. If they are open that early and have it, I'd go for the pork at Roli Roti:


                                    I would choose Bodega Bistro over Out the Door.

                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                      Texas has mostly Southwest type of Mexican, well that is what I know from 10 years ago.
                                      I agree about Rose Pistola very ordinary and not worth it.

                                      Bodega Bistro if you want Vietnamese because there are not a lot of good choices for this type of food it gets mixed with Chinese rather than French or true Vietnamese. It is a hole in the wall, I think the green papaya salad is pretty good and the imperial rolls are good, I loved the grill pork, greens and noodle dish. I think their pho's are boring, not flavorful I like Turtle Tower for pho.

                                      I still think Universal Cafe or even Zuni over Bar Tartine.

                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                        Bodega Bistro is in a kindda sketchy area, just so the OP will be prepared.

                                      2. re: texasciaohound

                                        For 12/16 dinner, I'd check availability of Aziza if you want to switch. I looked on Open Table. For a table of 2 (I'm assuming here): Range has only 5:30; Zuni has 5:00 and 9:00. Delfina will be booked solid, so I'd forget that. Aziza may be full too, since you're talking *this* weekend.

                                        Adding Taqueria San Jose is smart.

                                        I don't know if you realize you can't eat *at* La Palma Mexicatessen. You have to take everything to go. It's a grocery store. Get their homemade potato chips if they have them that day. You can take your food to the lovely 24th St. mini-park (24th & York). There are picnic tables in the back of the park, and you could get some excellent shakes or malts across the street (from the mini-park) at St. Francis Fountain (24th & York).

                                        St. Francis Fountain & Candy
                                        2801 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                        1. re: Atomica

                                          Looks like the OP has made the smart decision to pick up food for the flight home at La Palma and Tartine . . . though by that point, the other Mexican food tried earlier might put them off their feed.

                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                            I see that now, but yecch and a little urrrp thrown in . . . I think food from La Palma would be at its best if consumed immediately. It will be pretty awful eaten cold. I don't know of any microwaves in the airport. We very often get banh mi to take on flights, which would be my suggestion.

                                        2. re: texasciaohound

                                          I really love Bar Tartine and vote for you to keep it in. I don't know what it is - not a lot of SF Board regulars seem to love it the way I do, but most of the reports from visitors have been very positive.

                                        3. I love La Taqueria, always get the crispy (dorado) tacos. Last week when I was there I noticed a sign on the door that they were going to close for vacation. I THINK it said
                                          Dec 17 for 10 days.
                                          If you get to the Westfield Mall, try the vanilla Beard Papa Cream puffs. (There's one more 2 blocks away at Mission near 4th.)