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Dec 18, 2007 09:17 AM

Visitor looking for Specific Dining Tips

Hello everyone,
We'll be making a trip to SF next week to visit family. Staying in the NW corner of the peninsula (maybe 4 blocks up from the water, near Divasadero? and Chestnut streets). We do have a car although would like to mostly stash it and take public transportation around.

Could you rec some places falling into these categories? Thanks!

1. Walkable from where we're staying, on the evenings when my husband and I can leave the kids with my parents, or during the day when we all want to grab lunch together. I have heard good things about A16, but haven't been. What else is on this stretch of Chestnut?

2. Tasty casual ethnic places in the Tenderloin, and whether to stick to them during lunch or is it safe enough to go for dinner? Is it a bad idea to drive and park there?

3. European influenced continental/pastry breakfast? We have been to Tartine. Looking for more of the same. Not americanized oversugared brick Starbucks-esque pastries.

4. Dim sum! We've been to Yank Sing, and the food although pretty good was way too pricey. We're used to feeding 2 adults and 2 kids on about $30.

5. Finally, an upscale place that my husband and I can bus or drive to, romantic, great preparations, either regional American (emphasis on fresh ingredients well prepared) or even a tapas/small plates thing so that we can sample (not necessarily Spanish). Chez Panisse cafe, Zuni come to mind. Does SF have an equivalent of AOC (LA)? And how far in advance should I be making reservations?

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  1. I thought I knew SF, but where is the peninsula (in the city proper)? Do you mean the Presidio?

    It may be a bit late for Zuni or CP Cafe next week as far as reservation goes. But Aziza isn't too far from you (if I understand correctly where you will be), and would be well worth the bus trip or drive (parking can be difficult in that neighborhood; valet is $10).

    7 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      I second Susan's suggestion for Aziza and on the confusion of your location. "The Peninsula" is generally regarded as South San Francisco and abounds. No where near Divisidero and Chestnut. Where you are is the Marina district.

      1. You are probably pretty close (walking distance) to Plumpjack. I ate there before the chef change and loved it but have no idea what is going on there now.

      2. Better ethnic places are in the Mission vs. the Tenderloin, IMHO. I'd recommend steering clear of the Tenderloin in general.

      3. Tartine is the best in the city. Others which might intrigue are Bay Bread which is up on Fillmore (a great area to walk, shop, and eat). There, you can consider S.P.Q.R. which is owned by the A16 folks and getting rave reviews across the board.

      4. Since you have a car, I would recommend heading to Daly City and having Dim Sum at Koi Palace. Incomparable.

      5. There are TONS of restaurants in San Francisco like AOC (I used to live in LA so I know it well). I wouldn't bother driving over the Berkeley for Chez Panisse cafe but here you could go to Myth, Coi, Amé, or Aqua. On the tapas-like question, refer back to S.P.Q.R.; my favorite part of that restaurant is that all starters are $7.00, 3 for $18, or 5 for $25 (best deal in the city as 5 is more than enough for two people!)

      Have a great time!

      1. re: Carrie 218

        Myth is changing owners shortly after the first of the year and loosing some top personnel. Not sure how that will affect quality between now and then. Reservations can be tough to get there on short notice, though again, the changes might have an impact on that too.

        I am not sure that Koi Palace is a lot cheaper than Yank Sing. and, though it pains me to say so, if my last visit is any indication I am not convinced it is that much better either: at least, my last visit was mediocre at best. (I do plan to give it another try soon, and I have had great success at dinner there).

        For the OP: I hope you will report back!

        5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121

        Koi Palace Restaurant
        365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

        Tartine Bakery
        600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

        Cafe Myth
        490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

        Plumpjack Cafe - closed for remodel
        3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

        1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

        1. re: Carrie 218

          Can I just say that the description I read of the food at Plumpjack totally threw me for a loop given the name. I don't think I was expecting much more than a straight ahead pancake house or something. But it sounds very innovative and exciting! What market research went into the naming of this place?!

          And the descriptions of SPQR sounds amazing. I'm going to try to make that a definite date night destination.

          1. re: sasha1

            Plumpjack is more of a date-destination restaurant (white table cloths, elegant service) versus S.P.Q.R. which is more bistro-like. S.P.Q.R. does not take reservations and would just make a great stop while wandering the neighborhood (which is a great neighborhood to wander, BTW).

            1. re: Carrie 218

              Given your location, I'd walk to A16. Maybe everyone will be at SPQR (owned by the same people) because of the recent Chron review. Or hit SPQR for lunch.

              I definitely recommend eating in the Tenderloin (esp Brenda's for brunch and Bodega Bistro for Vietnamese or nearby in a much nicer stretch, Tajine for Moroccan). The neighborhood is both sad and not 100% safe. Park on Van Ness or Polk and walk over to your destination. Don't leave anything visible inside the car. Avoid Leavenworth, esp near Market.

              Sounds like you're going to have fun. Based on your description, I'd try to get a reservation one night at Delfina. As far as reservations, some places are booked all the time, while comparable places don't take reservations or have a lot of availability. Take a look at OpenTable to get a sense of which is which.

              The Peninsula is south of the SF county line down to about Mountain View or Palo Alto.

              1. re: Windy

                A La Turka Geary near Polk or Hyde in the Tenderloin is excellent for Turkish. It's a large-ish whole in the wall, but the food is excellent. I usually go for dinner and just be watchful if you venture there. I think the area is generally ok in the early evening.

            2. re: sasha1

              "All sixteen of the PlumpJack business enterprises thrive on the unique philosophy of the company's "core ideology," designed to initiate the roguish spirit of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff (Henry IV), dubbed Plump Jack by Queen Elizabeth-hence the company name. Closer to home, San Francisco composer and philanthropist, Gordon Getty, wrote an opera he called "Plump Jack." The fun-loving and irreverent spirit of PlumpJack clearly excited the sensibilities of Gordon's close friend and business associate, Gavin Newsom." from

        2. Sorry about the bad geographic reference! I didn't know Peninsula had it's own meaning. I guess it is the Marina district, it's in the city proper, near the streets I mentioned, Golden Gate park, water on the north and west sides,etc. To me, in my ignorance, the Peninsula was the three sided part of the city that sticks out into the waters!

          1. I am assuming when you refer to Peninsula that you are referring to the SF itself as being one. Around here we call the area south of SF the Peninsula. If I am right and you are staying in the Marina near Chestnut and Divis, you will have a zillion places to walk to. Chestnut St. has plenty of restaurants and Steiner between Chestnut and Lombard has a ton as well. Of these, my favorites are Isa and Bistro Aix (on Steiner) and A16. There is a new Spanish tapas place - Laoila or something that is near Chestnut and Filmore. There are a couple of places that may fit the bill for your pastry breakfast - a bakery or two in the block on Chestnut between Scott and Divis - one is Emporio Riulli (? sp), the other name I don't recall but you can't miss them as they are on Chestnut. I am sure they will not be better than Tartine, but they are very close to you.

            Someone recommended Aziza - a fave of mine as well. Do not try to take a bus there - taking a bus across SF is an exercise in frustration and will take you an ungodly amount of time. If you are heading downtown (Union Square) or to Chinatown or to the Wharf, you can get there easily on the 30 Stockton. For an upscale place, I would choose Ame. Also check out Coi, I've not been but it sounds interesting. You can walk to Gary Danko from where you are, or take the 30 for about 5 minutes and you will be there. You can also walk to Polk St. from where you are - lots of choices there as well, but you should find more than enough walkable right in the 'hood on Chestnut.

            You should get reservations asap - try Open Table. Some of the smaller places on Chestnut won't require them, but for dinner you will certainly want them.

            1. I had a really excellent meal at Chez Panisse Cafe last week (with very short notice on the reservation), so I'd recommend calling there if you're interested. I really liked Aziza, though, and I think it would be a very fun meal for you and your husband. Ame is also a great idea. I would not recommend Aqua.

              1. 2. Regarding the tenderloin, I have had some people say they felt uncomfortable there. It's a little sketchier than downtown LA at 2am because there's just more loonie druggies wandering around. There's a lot of prostitutes too. That being said, I consider people like that pretty harmless, just smile and nod, and personally have never felt threatened there. I don't personally know anyone assaulted there.

                Hopefully that can set your expectations....