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m
middyboo Jan 29, 2008 01:26 PM

Hiya fellow foodies,

I will be in San Fran on business for four days, staying at Holiday Inn Golden Gateway (1500 Van Ness Ave). I will not have access to a car, and I do not want to waste my food money on overpriced taxis. I'm fine with walking, as long as I don't run any risk of being mugged or starving before I get there. Please tell me what my best dinner options are. My fav restaurants (of the moment) to give you an idea of my tastes: Au Pied du Cochon, Montreal (a MUST); Heartland, St. Paul; Chino Latino, Minneapolis. I've been disappointed with the rave restaurants in NYC & DC. Raised in MD, so crabcakes are like hamburgers.

I love trendy original food, but it has to be substantive (no tenuous towers of garnish for me). I'm a sucker for an incredible saucier. I once asked one to run away with me. I like gamey food and I'm willing to try anything once. (Ever had ostrich teriyaki? Or pickled whole octopi? I have.) I absolutely adore sushi, but I've had so much that it would start to get boring, if it wasn't so orgasmic.

I've heard San Fran is known for its seafood, local/organic produce, and Thomas Keller. Can't afford FL or Denko's joint, but am willing to spend $2-300 on a great meal.

p.s. - My dad's a chef, now a chef instructor. He says I've eaten like royalty all my life. I don't think I'm picky, but some do.

  1. Pei Jan 29, 2008 01:50 PM

    The two things that immediately come to mind are:

    The Dining Room at the Ritz: some say it's the best tasting menu in SF, and you can spend under $200 there depending on what you choose to drink. It's been awhile, but the sauces were amazing in general.

    Kokkari: I don't know where you're from, but good Greek isn't found everywhere and when I went to Kokkari a few weeks ago I had lamb (sheep?) innards for the first time. It might not be exciting for everyone, but for me it was a nice first because I love lamb.

    Skip sushi in SF. It's expensive and not exciting if you've had it so much it's gotten boring.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Pei
      m
      middyboo Jan 29, 2008 01:57 PM

      Thanks! I haven't heard of either of those yet. I love lamb. Def check out Kokkari.

      Really?! No sushi recommendations?

      1. re: middyboo
        Pei Jan 29, 2008 02:08 PM

        Well, I haven't been but Sushi Ran in Sausalito is supposedly where all the Bay Area top chefs go when they have a craving. It's hard to get to without a car (care to ferry?) and difficult to get in because of odd hours. It's worth researching if you really want top notch sushi.

        I actually haven't lived in SF for over two years, but while I was there the only place I went that I'd consider exciting sushi was Ame. It's slightly fusion and portions are precious beyond believe, though, so it might not be what you're looking for. Where was your best sushi meal? That might help. For me, it's a toss up between a few places in Taiwan and Sushi Zo in Culver City (Los Angeles). In general I find SF sushi more expensive than LA sushi, which is a big turnoff for me.

        At Kokkari, the grilled octopus is also exceptional.

        1. re: middyboo
          Lori SF Jan 29, 2008 02:48 PM

          I love your post! Kiss Seafood for sushi not that far, small cab fee great sushi.
          Kiss Sushi
          1700 Laguna St (at Sutter)
          (415) 474-2866

          Helmand Palace-yes!
          Incanto- yes yes

          others
          Ame
          Coi

          This town is 7 x 7 and you are staying in the middle so cabs will not cost too much.
          So close to Swans for counter style good seafood lunch. Order crab and oysters.

          1. re: Lori SF
            Windy Jan 30, 2008 01:46 PM

            Kiss about six blocks from the hotel. No need for a cab.

      2. Robert Lauriston Jan 29, 2008 02:16 PM

        Given your mention of Au Pied de Cochon, consider Incanto. The chef, Chris Cosentino, has a similar appreciation of unusual pig parts and was one of three chefs Anthony Bourdain mentioned in his introduction to the English edition of Martin Picard's book, the other two being Fergus Henderson and Mario Batali. You can get there cheaply on public transportation.

        http://incanto.biz/sample_menu.html
        http://www.offalgood.com

        Helmand Palace nearby is a great Afghan place.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          c
          Calvinist Jan 29, 2008 02:31 PM

          From your location your can take the J-Church Streetcar to either Incanto or a little further to La Ciccia.

          -----
          La Ciccia
          291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

          Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
          1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            m
            middyboo Jan 29, 2008 02:32 PM

            Yay, thank you Robert!

          2. Carrie 218 Jan 29, 2008 02:45 PM

            Given your location, the best restaurant you can walk to in the city (and one of my favorites), is Canteen at 817 Sutter St - a little more than a half-mile and a little more than six blocks. This is the Chez Panisse of the city, offering a different menu each week (versus each day) and the most impressive, fresh ingredients in imaginative ways.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Carrie 218
              Pei Jan 29, 2008 03:34 PM

              I heart Canteen, and it's a lot of fun for a solo diner.

            2. m
              ML8000 Jan 29, 2008 04:29 PM

              Seafood - Swan's Oyster Depot...crab, shrimp louie, etc. On Polks street, one block over from Van Ness. Pretty much a lunch thing however...10 seats at a bar. Old school but they get the best shellfish and seafood.

              1. rworange Jan 29, 2008 04:42 PM

                Whatever you do don't eat the complimentary (still?) breakfast at that Holiday Inn.

                I would walk down to Geary and catch the bus to Aziza (Cal-Morrocan) for one dinner. Long-ish ride. Or walk up to California Street and catch the cable car to 1500 Hyde which is a good example of fresh and local Cal-cuisine.

                Danko is really one of the least expensive in the top-tier dining options ... maybe slightly over $100 with a decent glass of wine for one. I'm not a Danko fan, but others are.

                If you don't want to run any risk of being mugged or starving ... or at the least tagging yourself as an out-of-towner ... don't call it Frisco ... or San Fran.

                Hope you will report back on where you ate. Then next time you are in town we'll have an idea on better recs in relation to the local food scene.

                1. d
                  dinnerout Jan 29, 2008 08:12 PM

                  I would suggest Ame, Bar Crudo, Canteen and Aziza. I've never been to Incanto, but it sounds as if it is something you may enjoy. Your neighborhood is not the greatest, but it is not the worst, either. You can easily walk to Bar Crudo and Canteen. You can take a bus to Aziza if you don't want to hop a cab, but if you take the 38, don't go at rush hour! Also watch out for the 38L (Limited, which doesn't make the same stops). You should also be able to get to Ame easily by bus. Helmand Palace was mentioned - you can easily walk, straight shot down Van Ness. Enjoy your stay!

                  1. Ruth Lafler Jan 30, 2008 10:26 AM

                    Another seafood option might be Pesce on Polk St. -- a 9-10 block walk or short cab ride. Actually there are a lot of good-but-not-destination places on Polk St.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      rworange Jan 30, 2008 09:07 PM

                      You could always get on the cable car and ride it to the end of California. Then take the street car that runs along the Embarcadero to the just-opened Waterhouse. Pretty impressive looking from what I saw tonight (didn't eat there) and killer view ... could Roast Haus and Waterhouse break the good view-bad food curse?

                      1. re: rworange
                        Melanie Wong Jan 30, 2008 09:18 PM

                        links:

                        -----
                        Waterbar
                        399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

                        Epic Roasthouse
                        369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

                    2. Xiao Yang Jan 30, 2008 09:42 PM

                      "Can't afford FL or Denko's joint, but am willing to spend $2-300 on a great meal."

                      Gary Danko's tasting menu is $96 and the wine pairing is $65.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Xiao Yang
                        m
                        ML8000 Jan 30, 2008 10:04 PM

                        Actually FL is $240 per/person including service. I'd guess for $60 more you could get a couple or three glasses of wine. Of course if you mean for 2 people...that's another deal.

                        1. re: ML8000
                          Xiao Yang Jan 30, 2008 10:17 PM

                          This couple, responding to another thread, spent $900 at TFL without undue extravagance:

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/48393...

                          (Since the OP doesn't have access to a car, The French Laundry is moot.)

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