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Dec 12, 2007 08:29 PM

Must Go places in SF?

Hi! My fiance and I are visiting SF this winter holiday and are wondering what places we must not miss. We made res for French Laundry and Slanted Door. Where else should we go? We also like unique spots. How about in Fisherman Wharf, any good market/seafood place?

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  1. If you start with a little search, you will see a plethora of restaurants that get mentioned multiple times (Incanto, Myth, Aziza, Amé, Perbacco, Tadich Grill, Hog Island Oysters, etc.) including the *best* and only market worth visiting, The Ferry Plaza.

    And, generally, there are no restaurants in Fisherman's Wharf worthy of any self-respecting foodie. They are tourist traps with consistently mediocre food.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Carrie 218

      Gary Danko a mediocre tourist trape? And he is opening a new restaurant in the Ghiradelli complex. There's a new Brazilian restaurant in FW and a British place.

      Ok, I've had my fun, given the selections in the OP, I'm guessing the Wharf area is on the agenda. The best deal is there is Scoma's three course prix-fix lunch for around $21 bucks these days. It is one of the best of the wharf restaurants, FWIW, and I'm sorry ... no one ... no one has fresher fish in the city ... we are not talking tarted-up-scale type of fish ... but basic piece of fish on the plate. Now I'm not that thrilled with anything BUT the fish itself at Scoma's, but if ya gotta eat at the Wharf. Dinner at Scoma's is too pricy and not worth it.

      Some more Wharf info

      1. re: rworange

        I think you fingered something Chowhounds often just don't GET. For first time visitors to SF. Fisherman's Wharf WILL BE on the agenda, just as first time visitors to New York would not think about leaving without at least taking a peek at Times Square. The positive approach should be to help them make the best of it, not to feel dirty or square for going there. There's edible and affordable food there for those who want to linger and enjoy the salt air, the smell fo the sea, the cries of the seagulls, the bark of the sea lions and some stunning views. Or buy T-shirts for the kids back home.

        FW is too often dissed based on hearsay, and thanks, rw, for being one of the very few brave and determined enough to vet the food. Learn truth from facts, as the Great Helmsman liked to say, not from attitude. If more Chowhounds had followed rworange's example and accentuated the positive, the Afghan place, the Vietnamese sandwich place and the Taqueria serving some Yucatecan specialties might have survived, and the foot might be in the door to making FW a better foodie destination.

        To close my Sunday sermon and keep this thread on topic, I'll add that some have found worthy upscale Vietnamese kwiz-een at Ana Mandara and a check-off-your-list fast food experience at In-N-Out at yes, Fisherman's Wharf.

        And what's that about a Brazilian place, rw? Somehow I missed that one.

        1. re: Xiao Yang

          It must be the season of peace and goodwill ... we agree about Fisherman's Wharf ... sort of.

          The Brazilian place is Samba Rooms ... 993 North Point Street, at Polk, Ghirardelli Square. A little more here ...

          It must be authentic ... they have pizza. To anyone not familiar with Brazilian food, there's a big Brazilian / Italian connection.

          They have a Brazilian buffet and a bakery.

          Just to be complete, the Irish place is O'Neill's ... same as the 3rd St O'Neil's.

          A little on Danko

          A little more on the subject which opines why ethnic places fail at the Wharf ...

          " Fisherman's Wharf is still a rocky place for a restaurant to flourish, particularly if your restaurant happens to be of the ethnic variety. Support from locals is virtually absent, and during the tourist season, those unfortunate shorts-wearing, sunscreen-touting tourists are more likely to head to IHOP than a dingy taqueria. In other words, Fisherman's Wharf is like a weird pocket of the city where a taqueria is actually considered exotic."

          Ghirardelli Rising

          The above link also mentions the opening of Cellar360, a wine-tasting facility.

          Also coming is Marché on the Square, from a Dean & DeLuca alum. It will be a combination food gourmet shop and brasserie loosely based upon Fauchon in Paris.

          Sneer at FW now.

          Hope the Brazilian place makes it. Will be a must stop next time I'm in the city. Some twit on Yelp gave it a bad review and obviously didnt eat there. They were 'confused' about a place selling both Brazilian and Italian food at the same time. The only blessing was they spelled the name of the restaurant incorrectly.

          I like Fisherman's Wharf and it would be nice if some restaurants good enough to attract locals started opening there. I like the Maritime museum (is it still open?) and the sea lions (did they get the oil cleaned off them?). The carney atmosphere can be fun if they only toned it down a notch. Fun to be a visitor every now and then.

    2. I found Asia SF pretty unique. There's also that place on Haight that has that great sangria. I forgot how the food was but I know the Sangria was outstanding.

      2 Replies
      1. re: HunterJay

        I think you're referring to Cha Cha Cha's.....I have friends who really like it and have tried to get me to go a few times. Don't know about the food, but I hear the sangria IS really good.

        1. re: misscotati

          Yep. Cha Cha Cha's. Thanks for the reminder. I was a little too loopy to remember much about the food by the time it came around.

      2. I'm probably a contrarian, but my first visit to Slanted Door last night (I know, I should have gone when it was still in the Mission) was not all that pleasant. The food was great, of course, service good, view magnificent, but the noise level was awful. Impossible to have a conversation with others at your table (there were only 4 of us) without shouting and even then it was difficult to hear because everyone else in the place was also shouting at the people at their tables. Slanted Door is not alone; it seems to be trendy with new restaurants to eliminate the possibility of conversation (Fresca on 24th street is also guilty, as are many others). French Laundry, on the other hand, is very pleasant in this (and every other) regard. Slanted Door's sister Out the Door in SF Centre is much quieter.

        2 Replies
        1. re: BobInSF

          BobInSf, I am with you on the Slanted Door. As much as a "destination restaurant" it has become for tourists, I say let 'em have it; we locals know and eat much better. I have found it far too trendy, crowded, loud, and mediocre in that -- to me -- the food is either too sweet or too spicy. Overall, unbalanced.

          1. re: Carrie 218

            Completely agree with you. Slanted Door has always been that way at each of its previous locations. We locals DO know better

        2. Not sure what kind of market you are talking about, but if it's a fish market or wet market, there's nothing notable, and the worthwhile green markets like Alemany Farmer's Market have limited offerings this time of year. The Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market gets a lot of gushing mentions, but it's a boutique market with limited scope and appeal, as is the indoor Market Hall. Berkeley Bowl, a private supermarket in Berkeley (natch), is a good place for spotting the exotic, though not all from local sources, and the larger Asian markets are fun to browse through as is the Stockton Street strip of small markets and delis in Chinatown..

          1 Reply
          1. re: Xiao Yang

            I think the OP was referring to fish markets at Fisherman's Wharf and IIRC you were a supporter of the sidewalk crab stands there. As one of the majority who might disagree with you about Ferry Plaza, that limited scope is limited to the top food in the city with all the major chefs shopping there and products that can't be found easily elsewere. That't the limit. On Saturday morning there's a huge farmers market with lots of food vendors. Get the Italian donuts ... bomboli.

          2. Where are you from? "Must Eats" are different depending on what's available in your hometown.

            See this post for the kinds of details you can provide to help us make more useful recommendations:

            Recent similar post:

            And other excellent threads from other visitors that are a good starting point for your research:

            1 Reply
            1. re: daveena

              Thanks for the recs everyone. We're from Manhattan. We enjoy both fine dining and also those random little street/market fares, union square market-ish. We also love great brunch places with great food and good atmosphere.

              When I mentioned market, rworange was right, i was thinking fish market mainly and those sidewalk crab stands. is any of those market stands particularly interesting?