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A couple of hounds in from Toronto looking for some casual eats.....

Hey SF Hounds,

My wife and I are in SF for four days in the middle of April and we are looking for some great local places to eat . . . we are staying at the Carlton Hotel on Sutter Street close to Van Ness Avenue . . . We will be traveling very light and will be looking for casual places to eat... so no dressing up.... Here's what we are looking for while we are in town:

1. Mexican food . . . Toronto does not have any decent Mexican and we miss it dearly!!!

2. Seafood/Fish Places...I'm assuming.. as you guys are close to the ocean.. there will be some great spots for fresh fish and great seafood.

3. A few good watering holes that have some good Micro Brews on tap w/ some good eats as well

4. A good breakfast spot close to the hotel to start our days that has some good coffee

5.and finally...A decent place to get some good BBQ . . . That is another area Toronto is very weak in...

We are really looking forward to visiting your great city and any suggestions you guys have will be much appreciated by these two Canadian Hounds...

Thanks in advance


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  1. For BBQ Memphis Minnie's on the 500 block of Haight street.

    1. Four blocks south on Van Ness is Tommy's joint. It's been around forever. Great beers from around the world. They also have the best hand carved sandwichs in The City. Ever try Buffalo? The best stew you'll ever have. Welcome to our City and when you get home, tell us about your adventures.,

      1. Just so you know, San Francisco isn't a very dressed up city when it comes to dining, so the great majority of places that you'd see on this board you could go to in jeans with no one blinking. For seafood, I'd recommend Bar Crudo -- great place all around, and you can get reservations on Open Table (and it's pretty near your hotel). There have been some good reports about the beers (a little up and down about the food) at the new Monk's Kettle on 16th St. in the Mission.

        Bar Crudo
        655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

        The Monk's Kettle
        3141 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. Good seafood-
          Bar Crudo as mentioned (dinner)
          Swans -has the best crab, good oysters, decent beers this is a small counter and always a line but get there on the early side (lunch)
          Hayes Steet Grill good seafood as well (lunch or dinner)

          Cannot beat the Toronado Pub- Lower Haight Street- crazy amounts of beers, this place is on the map of great beer pubs. You can get one of the best sausage sandwich next door Rosemunde and bring into the Toronado. Rosemunde is high quality sausages and great buns..love the lamb sausage, each of these places are a distenation and Memphis Minnie's across the street.
          IMO Tommy's Joint mentioned is a tourist spot and medicore food why bother when there is the "T"
          Monk's Kettle a new spot has a great beer selection and some good bites, on the expensive side.

          Breakfast- nothing on Van Ness, Van Ness is a wasteland..about 8 blocks or so is Dottie's True Blue Cafe- cannot speak for this place but it sure gets mentioned all the time, have no idea about their coffee
          Canteen- would be the best option
          Brenda's French Soul Food- another place about 8 blocks away, the neighborhood might be less desirable for a visitor.
          Good Coffee- Cafe du Jour on Geary at Larkin, I don't live in this neighborhood so there might be other good coffee houses.

          Without knowing what kind of Mexican food you like have experienced try a search and see what appeals to you.
          If you are wanting a basic taqueria, head down to the Mission district, here a few-
          Papalote Mexican Grill -on 24th near Valencia
          Taqueria Cancun- Mission at 18th
          El Farolito- Mission/24th street
          El Delfin- 24th at Treat
          Los Jarritos- S. Van Ness at 20th street- I love the breakfast

          Have a great time, cheers

          6 Replies
            1. re: Lori SF

              El Delfin is sitdown--not a taqueria. It is very good. Chichen Itza, a Yucatecan restaurant in the Mission, is excellent.

              Very little good Mexican where you're staying or downtown, but you're less than a mile from the Mission. There's a Pancho Villa taqueria next to the Ferry Building with a nice view, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

              Saha (Middle Eastern fusion) is in the Carleton. Also nearby: Tajine (Moroccan), Bodega Bistro and Pagolac (Vietnamese), Bob's Donuts. You might look into the Anchor Steam tour.

              1. re: Windy

                I'd consider Chichen Itza at lunch as opposed to dinner, when the focus is a bit more on Mexican antojitos, which I would crave if I lived in Toronto....OTOH if you do go at dinner they have an excellent sampler plate for $10.

                You might also want to check out Helmand Palace on Van Ness.

                Hog Island Ferry Building which has been mentioned has a happy hour from 5 to 7 Monday and Thursday with $1 oysters, and when I was there the other night they also had an amazing razor clam appetizer on the happy hour menu

                Helmand Palace
                2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

                Poc Chuc
                2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                1. re: Windy

                  you are correct I met to add for sit down style-
                  El Delfin- 24th at Treat
                  Los Jarritos- S. Van Ness at 20th street- I love the breakfast

                2. re: Lori SF

                  I had forgotten about Brenda's, which I definitely recommend. Not too bad a neighborhood in the daytime, and only one block from VanNess. Dottie's is good, Canteen is even better. I think all three of these outshine most other breakfast places I've tried in San Francisco, so you would probably be happy at any/all.

                3. Hey Hounds,

                  Thanks for all the replies . . . They all look great!! . . . Bar Crudo looks awesome as does . . . Minnies and Tommy's . . . They are all right up our alley . . . Keep the recs coming . . . any good Mexican places around that area?

                  It is much appreciated!!


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: snackboy

                    I can't think of any decent Mexican around that area. There's a taqueria on Polk near Washington that's only okay. It's mostly a lunch place however. Some people like it...can't remember the name.

                    The best nearest might be Taqueria Cancun at 6th and Market and not too far away and if you're going near downtown, it's on the way. It's a small hole-in-the-wall but best to eat there...they toast their tortillas on the griddle and it makes a difference. It's a semi-shady area but Market st is safe and totally fine during the day. The al pastor should slay. $4 bucks for a burrito.

                    Also - very close to where you're staying - Swan's Oyster Depot on Polk (one block east of Van Ness). Stick to oysters, crab, shrimp and fresh fish and it should be very good. It's basically 12 seats at bar.

                  2. Hey Lori,

                    Thanks for all your recs as well . . . I was typing when you were posting . . . Toronado looks great as well . . . So many choices so little time!!


                    1. Oh I just remembered, Toronado http://www.toronado.com/ has a great beer list and is close to Memphis Millie's. Enjoy!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chefj

                        Tadich or Sam's for the old style SF seafood experience.

                        Hog Island (new style in the Ferry Bldg) or Swan's (old style near your hotel) Oyster Bars.

                        Pastores for great simple home-style Mexican food. Call before you go. Hours are a bit erratic.

                        La Ciccia for Sardinian. Not as dressy as, say, Incanto, but
                        can be very special.

                        La Trappe, a Belguim rest. and bar has just opened in North Beach. I haven't been yet, but I'm very interested.

                        And Suppenkuche and Walzwerk both have good German beer lists.

                        Sam's Grill & Sea Food Restaurant
                        374 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104

                        Tadich Grill
                        240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        Hog Island Oyster Bar
                        Ferry Building,, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        525 Laguna St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                        Swan Oyster Depot
                        1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                        Pastores Restaurant
                        3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        La Trappe
                        800 Greenwich St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                      2. I second the fact that Toronto lacks good Mexican. For burritos, El Taqueria is supposedly the best. But, I like Pancho Villa for the selection and the veggie-friendliness. It's on 16th and Mission OR at the Ferry Building.
                        There a good BBQ place on Embarcadero near ATT park, called Pete's.

                        For brunch, (another weakness in TO) I highly recommend Crepes on Cole or sister restaurant Crepevine. Both are easily accessible on the N-judah, the Muni streetcar that stops at Van Ness and Cole Valley.
                        For fish/sushi, I like Ozumo. It's a dining experience, but casual clothes are welcome, of course.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: yyzsfo

                          I find Crepes on Cole the worst food, this is in my neighborhood and only wish something else would go into that prime spot in the hood.

                          1. re: yyzsfo

                            It's not a given that La Taqueria is the best place for burritos. Some consider it to be yuppified and over-priced compared with the likes of El Farolito, Taqueria Cancun, Taqueria Jan Jose, etc. which also have their fans.

                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                              Last time I went to La Taqueria was I not only disappointed with their carne asada taco but angry with the price, two tacos, one beer (3.50) 14.89. Their buritos are not good at all.

                              Taqueria Cancun is 7 times better and for less money.

                          2. Thanks everyone for your great recs . . . We'll definitely try to hit as many of them as we can . . . Looks like it's going to be a tasty trip!! . . . I'll report back after the trip

                            Thanks again...


                            P.S. If you have any more recs . . . Keep em coming as I'll be watching for them...

                            1. Hi Snackboy. Looks like we're going to be down in SF around the same time as you so my apologies for hijacking a bit of your thread for some inquiries of my own!

                              SF hounds: we haven't been back in 5 years so can you tell me if Kate's Kitchen for breakfast, Pork Store for breakfast, PJ Oyster bed for seafood, Zarzuela for tapas, Axum for african, Zuni for lunch and Phuket for Thai are all still good? We'll be stopping in at El Farolito for sure, not sure if we can still smuggle a couple of burritos in our carry-ons anymore with the new security measures :-( I think it'll be too chilly for the Foreign Cinema in April. Slanted Door is gone now right? Any recs for a replacement? We're staying with friends at Haight & Fillmore but know the city well (lived there for 5 years) so can travel for good chow. I vaguely remember a place called Eos around the corner from our place on 17th and Cole that we had always wanted to try, is it still around and worth it? Thanks!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: fickle

                                Kate's Kitchen and Pork Store remain the same not much has changed, I have only been to the original Pork Store on Haight. Both are quit busy, on the weekends and you can alway expect a line at the Pork Store. Both great for hangovers so if you get there before 9:30 the lines are less.
                                PJ Oyster is gross and I would never go there, did once..blaah-
                                Go to Swan's instead
                                Zarzuela is pretty good, one of the only true tapas places in the city. I was there about a year ago or less and I enjoyed it.
                                Have not been to Azum for a long time
                                Zuni for lunch is always good
                                El Farolito- yes!
                                Slanted Door is not gone just at a different location and in a very different space now in the Ferry Plaza :(.. I had a good meal there three months ago. Another option for Vietnamese in the city not as upscale as SD and not california/vietnamese fusion is Bodega Bistro on Larkin.
                                EOS is near where I live and although it changed hands about 9 months ago still remains a nice spot to chill at the wine bar. Across the street is Kezar if EOS is too crowded, the menu is ever changing and good comfort food in a pub/bar style kinda style place.

                                Since you are going to be in the lower Haight go to Nickie's decent bar pub food, nice atmosphere. Rosemunde for a great sausage sandwich and Toronado if you like beer both up the street.
                                Walking distance is Metro Kathmandu on Divisadero at Page is Nepalese style food worthy to mention, cute place.
                                Modern Tea is on Hayes walking distance from where you are staying, good for breakfast.

                                Here is the latest Slanted Door thread- enjoy!

                                1. re: fickle

                                  No sweat fickle . . . The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned . . . Thanks again to all the SF hounds helping us out!!


                                  1. re: fickle

                                    It shouldn't be a problem to bring a burrito through security at the airport. Unless there is some new security measure I don't know about? But unless you get a LOT of sour cream, it's not liquid, so it should be OK.