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Mar 1, 2008 08:31 PM

Newbie 'Hound requesting specific recs in SF

Hello SF Chowhounds:

I have spent a number of hours reviewing your replies to requests like mine and have narrowed the field. What I am looking for are specific recs as follows:

arriving 7:30ish on a Thursday evening to stay at Bush and Powell: considering Tadich or Sam's Grill for "old SF" resto experience but partly picked these joints as they are close to hotel. Which is better? Or where would you go in this area for non-Chinese without a reso on a Thursday night when you’re tired from flying?

heading to Berkeley on Friday a.m. (probably after brekky at Cafe de la presse) to check out the gourmet ghetto, Scharffen Berger, bookstores and (gulp) outlet Crate and Barrel. Chez Panisse the obvious choice but any lunch reqs that don't require resos?

Friday night locked in for 7:30 seating at Canteen (woohoo!)

Saturday a.m. is all about the Farmer's Market (chilaquiles from Primavera, mmm), followed by some shopping around Union Square, then maybe Bodega Bistro or Pagolac for lunch in the Tenderloin. I've read solid reviews for BB here and elsewhere but not as much on Pagolac. Thoughts? Preferences?

Saturday night: Chichen Itza (or whatever name it's going by at the moment!) in the Mission for dinner

Sunday: Café de la presse or Le Metro (haven't tried Le Metro yet but may branch out, other, brekky options near hotel a bit thin on the ground) then Mission murals with tacos for lunch (I'm afraid to ask for favourite taquerias as I don't want to start a riot) and Bi-Rite for ice cream
Alternatively, we may go check out the Cliff House and the Richmond with maybe Mandalay or Burma Superstar if the line up isn’t too grim for lunch (hit Larkin Express last trip and loved it; we don’t have Burmese in Vancouver), followed possibly by the Cherry Blossom parade which conveniently ends up in Japantown (anyone recommend a resto that serves onigiri on a Sunday afternoon??)

Sunday night: considering Thep Phanom if we can get a reso (bit worried about the wait even then) but also have heard good things about Brothers Korean. Your comments will help me decide!.

Monday: may try Dottie’s for breakfast as we keep hearing it is great but wondering if we need to get there before it opens to avoid/minimize lineup even on a Monday??

then thought we'd do the view thing at/on Russian Hill since I was a big fan of Tales of the City and the SO craves pre-earthquake architecture. Any good lunch spots in this nabe? If not we might head to Chinatown as I think it is nearby so recs for lunch spots there open Monday would be grand. Finally we'll hit SF MOMA for a return visit before BARTing off to SFO to return to Vancouver.

Thanks in advance for any and all input.

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  1. Looks like you did some pretty good research for a "newbie" hound.

    For your Russian Hill trip, uphill a block from the top of Macondray Lane (where I assume you'll be headed) there's a batch of restaurants like Zarzuela and Frascati on Hyde St., though they may be more dinner-ish than lunch-ish and may not be open on Monday. Once you get down to the foot of Macondray Lane, you're a hop, skip and jump from North Beach, so you might want to re-research some North Beach options.

    As denizens of Vancouver you probably won't find anything epiphanic in Chinatown, but it offers a lot of inexpensive lunch options and it's fun to cruise the delis on Stockton St. and the side streets. You might want to check out Hon's Wun Tun house on Kearny, the blue-collar cousin of the Vancouver Hon's mini-empire, just for the heck of it.

    Another tip for TV fans: when you get to the foot of Macondray Lane, hang a left and go 3.5 blocks north to Lombard St., and just around the corner is the junior mansion that was the setting for a season of MTV's "The Real World."

    Hon's Wun Tun House
    648 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

    1. The menu and food are similar at Tadich and Sam's. Tadich has more tourists, a longer wait, and more impressive decor.

      1. Friday in Berkeley:

        Lunch: casual, comfort food - 900 Grayson. Elegant, upscale Californian - Eccolo (Chez Panisse alum). Fast, cheap, and tasty - Gregoire. 900 Grayson and Eccolo are near Crate and Barrel. Gregoire is in the Gourmet Ghetto. All are googlable. None require reservations.

        As you'll be visiting Crate and Barrel, you should check out the rest of 4th St - Sketch Ice Cream, Pasta Shop, Teance, and the Cafe Rouge butcher (in the back of the restaurant) are all worthwhile. Depending on when you visit, Cody's books may still be open with an excellent, new food and cooking section.

        Since you're into chocolate, you might consider visiting the Charles Chocolate factory in addition to Scharffenberger. It's just down the street. Fantastic chocolate covered almonds.

        Saturday FM:

        Have you done your research on requisite vendors? Fatted Calf, Andante Dairy, June Taylor Jam, Rancho Gordo Beans, Rechiutti Chocolates (indoors), Acme Bread (indoors), Downtown Bakery, Cap'n Mikes Smoked Fish (I'd actually be really curious to hear how his smoked salmon compares to what you can get in Vancouver.)

        1. Friday in Berkeley down near Scharffenberger: Riva Cucina, esp if the weather's nice. Great and affordable Italian, lovely owners.

          11 Replies
          1. re: lintygmom

            Thanks for the great replies so far. I did do a fair bit of research but I can see I need to do more, especially on Berkeley. I still get a bit confused about which neighbourhoods abut, so will revisit North Beach options as suggested. We went to the Ferry Farmers' Market in November but found the crowds a bit overwhelming once we had secured breakfast -- hoping to go even earlier and check out all the vendors listed and more (we did manage to check out all the indoor shops). Particularly keen to check out Rancho Gordo; will try to convince the SO to give you a reading on the salmon. As a born and bread Vancouverite, I love salmon every way except smoked :-(.

            One additional query: any scoop on Cafe Fanny?

            1. re: grayelf

              Cafe Fanny has really good café au lait served French-style in a bowl. Food's good though you don't get a lot for the price. The counter staff can be remarkably slow, even a not very long-looking line can mean a half-hour wait.


              1. re: grayelf

                I don't think Cafe Fanny is worth your one lunch in Berkeley. Gregoire does a better version of casual sandwiches, soup and salad with organic ingredients (no coffee at Gregoire, though).

                Rancho Gordo is in the front of the Ferry Building market (west of the actual building). Since most of the action takes place in the rear, it's easy to miss the front-side vendors.

                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                  I second no Cafe Fanny since the ambiance is so bad: sitting outside mostly in a parking lot off San Pablo. A Mexican breakfast/brunch might be just the thing. I love Montero's at Solano and San Pablo for a spicy Mexican breakfast with a side of nopalitos done just right or to Tacubaya, which I think is serving breakfast.

                  1. re: lintygmom

                    Tacubaya now serves breakfast from 10-12 on weekdays and 9-4 on weekends (when they also have menudo). Lunch menu starts at 11am.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      How are the breakfasts at Tacubaya? The dinners can be hit or miss with occasionally things being a bit old/dried out, but breakfast should be safe from that. Montero's breakfast is great as is their mole (and at Talavera Taqueria, which could be Taqueria Talavera.)

                      1. re: lintygmom

                        I had chilaquiles at Tacubaya that I loved, and companions have enjoyed their breakfast a lot too.

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Dios, NOT Tacubaya. They do some things ok, but in light of every other wonderful option in the area ... no, noTacuba. The souffle omelette at Bakesale Betty in that area is the best breakfast option, IMO ... haven't tried Eccolo's brunch yet.

                        1. re: rworange

                          You mean Bette's Oceanview Cafe, not Bakesale Betty, and the souffle pancake, right?. I like the souffle pancake but I like breakfast at Tacubuya a lot too, especially since I tend to prefer savory, and not sweet, for breakfast. Bette's does sweet well, but the savory is often a little boring.

                          1. re: JasmineG

                            I've always had uninspired breakfasts after long waits at Bette's. Iffy potatoes, my main reason to eat that meal out. Usually I went because visitors wanted to go.

                            1. re: lintygmom

                              I think that the only reason to have breakfast at Bette's is the pancakes -- their pancakes are really good, but I'm usually not a pancake person, so I haven't been to Bette's since I found 900 Grayson.

              2. If you don't have a problem with small, delicate sand dabs swimming in butter, it's Sam's Grill. Some poor souls seem to be paranoid about butter. If so, Tadich.

                3 Replies
                1. re: OldTimer

                  Cafe Fanny out, Gregoire in. Rancho Gordo pinpointed. Sand dabs at Sam's targetted (thou shalt eat butter s/b the 11 commandment IMHO).

                  1. re: grayelf

                    A couple notes on Gregoire:

                    It's a really small storefront, and seating is limited. If you arrive during prime lunch hours, be prepared to sit on the nearby steps.

                    Order the potato puffs.

                    If you go in March, I strongly recommend the corned beef, the lamb patty, and the rhubarb bread pudding for dessert.

                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      Another vote on Gregoire over Cafe Fanny.