Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 5, 2008 10:53 AM

Boston CH seeks SF advice: Add to: Aziza, For.Cinema, B44....

Disclaimer: As my moniker explains, I am decidedly opinionated about food, but I'm hoping you could still help!.
We come to SF every March and , in between time spent in carmel and elk, we have maybe 4 or 5 dinners in SF area. Would you take a look at my list of good experiences and not good, and if you seem to have my taste, offer away any suggestions you are generous enough to share? I would really appreciate your time:

Positive: Aziza, Foreign Cinema ( we always eat at these two) ;B44, Postrio, Azie,
Cafe Kati, Beetlenut, Yank Sing for dim sum,Sea Salt and Gregoire in Berkeley, Fog City Diner,Cortez, Hog Island Oyster Co., taquerias on mission,Elizabeth Daniel (no more), Chez Nous( no more)

Not positive enough to return:Masa, Michael Mina, la Folie, Quince, Slanted Door, Limon, Plumpjack Cafe, Chez Panisse downstairs, Boulevard,Jardiniere, Buddhukan.

In the past,I have been tempted by what I read of: Farallon,Luca, Coi, Bocadillos,Gary Danko, 5th Floor,MC squared,.A 16, Campton Place, Zuni Cafe, LuLu. O Chame, Oliveto, Furenzu, Zarzuela , Bay Wolf.

In the Napa area, we are huge fans of Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen( and not of Terra.)

To explain further, I am just not interested in 'the best simple roast chicken'(which is why I can't get myself to try Zuni.) I am interested in robust flavors, unusual ingredients and combinations/fusion,particularly Mexican, Spanish and Asian. Boston is Italian saturated so I stay away from Italian if there are other choices. I do like small plates. Every time we have spent the BIG bucks, we have regretted it, so I think we have had our best experiences in more bistro feeling places. We dislike haughty , stiff, over- fussy service and we really enjoy friendly people.

O.K , I'm done!. We arrive in SF this coming Sunday and all our SF area meals will be weekday, not weekend.
I really do appreciate your time on this.Thank you.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The Daniel of Elisabeth Daniel is Daniel Patterson, the chef at Coi. That's probably the place in the area for unusual ingredients and combinations.

    The just-opened Orson seems to be more or less in that same vein.

    For small plates, I love À Côté, partly because of their huge and adventurous selection of wine by the glass. The menu's online.

    How about ethnic cuisines you don't have in Boston? Check out this topic for some possibilities:

    Please post on the California board about any good places to eat circa Elk.

    A Cote
    5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      hello again, robert. elk food? hahahaha! as far as i know there's nothing worthwhile except The harbor house where we stay. and then in mendocino . but i always post our experiences after our annual trip, so will do again this year. thanks again for your help.

    2. From your temptations list, if you do want to go the big bucks route, Fifth Floor has a new chef and a new focus (inspired by Gascony), and early reports have been very positive. Otherwise, Coi seems like the obvious choice. I would say Bay Wolf falls into the Chez Panisse/Zuni category, so maybe not your thing.

      1. Try's wonderful, I think. I've never had a bad meal and the staff is truly excellent.

        A Cote is very fun-- great atmosphere.

        3 Replies
          1. re: opinionatedchef

            That first letter is an "r": RNM.

            RNM Restaurant
            598 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              If you go to rnm, definitely order the grilled romaine salad -- consistently a fav! I'm also fond of their roast duck and last week I had a great hunk of veal there as well as a spectacular charcuterie plate.

        1. I would second(or at this point, third) the Coi recc. Danko was excellent in the past, but IMO, has slid a little.

          1. You can not miss Ubuntu in Napa ... you ... can .. NOT .. miss ... Ubuntu.

            This is one of the most important restaurants to open in the Bay Area. I have rarely eaten better and had such comfortable wonderful service.

            Even if you think this will not apeal to you ...get over any pre-conceptions. This is just one of the best restaurants in the bay area period.

            I'm not clear if you will be in Napa or just referenced Cindy's as an example. If not ... well, poor you.

            7 Replies
            1. re: rworange

              rw, we will be in napa 2-3 nights.cindy's backstreet kitchen 1 or 2 dinners; mustards lunch,....
              Auberge de soleil, jeanty, and terra disappointing.. what about martini's or other? th you for your thoughts.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                RW's right -- you must go to Ubuntu. I think Martini House is just like all the other haute wine-country establishments and in that regard, not that remarkable. Go to Ubuntu for a lunch and/or a dinner. You will not be disappointed.

                1. re: Carrie 218

                  carrie and rw, i made a reserva at ubuntu but they don't even post a menu.
                  plse tell me more about the menu and what you loved. thanks much

                  carrie, you have BEEN to martini house? all the wild mushroom
                  dishes really appeal to me..... And zuzu's menu looks right up my alley....
                  thank you

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Ubuntu has their menu online

                    If you click on restaurant, at the top of the page next to the words "your restauant" there's a menu link. It is more of a sample They rely on fresh and seasonal. Here's the dinner menu in pdf formant


                    The menu looks sort of simple and not exciting and that unfortuantley put me off from stopping by for a long time ... big mistake.

                    I would order the marcona almonds, lavender sugar, sea salt and then check out the other tables to see what looks appealing. That's what sold me on the beets and the dessert. Actually the dessert of bergomot and white chocolate mousse wasn't even on the lunch menu but it was served at another table. Both dishes were so beautiful and the taste exceeded the looks. I have a reservation with a friend to try the tasting menu at dinner. I'm excited about that.

                    You might stop by the new Oxbow Market (heh, and only two months ago I didn't think I'd recommend it to visitors). It is sort of Ferry Plaza light at this point. Most of the restaurants are fine for locals, but the wine merchant / cheese shop is an excellent place to stop for a drink and snack.

                    1. re: rworange

                      I agree about Oxbow. I thought it would be terminally precious but they seem to betrying to get beyond that. Not that precious isn't available. They want to include locals in the produce. We'll see if it works. However, the best thing is a retail outlet for The Fatted Calf! It is not so obvious in terms of location since it is across the parking lot and around a corner from the market, next to Taylor's Refresher. There is a Peruvian Cafe inside that looks good but I haven't tried it.

                      1. re: zenki

                        It is Venezuelan. I liked it but the consensus on the board seems to be 'eh'.

                    2. re: opinionatedchef

                      Opinionated -- I lived and worked in wine country for four years (and was a "professional reviewer" for that area during my tenure). So, yes, I have been there and it is actually ONLY during their Mushroom extravaganza that I really appreciated Martini House. But those items are usually only available for a short time and would be the only reason I would seek out MH. Zuzu was a perennial favorite and I dined there often, especially craving their paella, sautéed chard with pinenuts, and pomegranate-glazed quail (which I think is now off the menu). Zuzu was a fabulous addition to wine country because we were so inundated with Cal-Mediterranean food that having anything remotely different was thrilling and it was one of the first small plates establishments to come to the area.