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I posted on here a while back about recs for dining downtown while on business (I think the original post was titled "limited time and neighborhood").

Here's my report, as promised. First place I went to was Swan's Oyster Depot. Great spot, staff was incredibly friendly and fun (Sicilians, not Italians. Be aware of the difference!). Oysters were fresh, shucked right in front of you. The drake bays were the best. Had a beer, ate oysters, dungeness crab w/mayo/horseradish/pepper, and clam chowder. Wasn't too impressed with the chowder. As a MD girl, I was quite impressed with the crab. Huge lumps of crabmeat, looked astronomical after picking blues all my life. I ate at about 3pm, so there was no line. Every other time I walked/drove by there was a line out the door and up the block. I suggest going at odd times.

First dinner out was at Fior d'Italia on Mason st. Bf and I were wandering around North Beach neighborhood. Everything was closed for blocks at 6pm! It was a shocker. This place was open and busy however. Food was decent. Bread was good, but olive oil was better. The salads were generously portioned. Pasta was fresh. A trifle overpriced for what it was, but a good meal.

Went to Ame expecting excellent sushi, only to discover they don't serve sashimi! It's all the asian fusion type. Excellent ambiance, service was impeccable. Sake selection was the best I had seen in my life. Food was memorable, but bill was even more so. I'd go again, but just make sure you aren't craving sushi.

Also went to Kan Zaman with local friends to see the Haight. Very good middle eastern cuisine. Belly dancing show late night. The curries were run of the mill, but the spiced wine was great! Hookah bar within, but we went to a hole in the wall downtown that was much better for hookah selection and atmosphere. Kan Zaman was full of tourists, the one our guides took us was full of Arabic speaking locals. I wish I could remember the name. All I do know is that it's in a very sketchy neighborhood, crackheads and massage parlors abound. Worth every bit of the sketchiness though, because a casual dance party erupted - the people were so cool and everyone was pretty sober. It's a byob place.

Fabulous find of the trip was Tajine on Polk street. Excellent persian cuisine. I ordered this lamb kabob sandwich. Bread was flavorful and toasty. Lamb was bursting with spices. Tomato herb chutney and cucumbers inside topped it off.

Ended my trip with In-N-Out at Fisherman's Wharf. So glad I did. I love their fresh cut french fries. Yum! Thanks so much for everyone's help. It was a great trip. I totally fell in love with the people AND the food.

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  1. Swan's chowder is canned. Sorry we neglected to warn you not to order it.

    Was the hookah bar Nile Cafe? It's in a somewhat funky part of the Tenderloin.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Yes! It was Nile Cafe. The four of us, double-dating whiteys, had an absolutely fabulous time there. The people were very welcoming. Someone had brought a drum. Big beautiful hookahs. We ordered peach and jasmine. The jasmine was very nice, but the peach was more palatable.

    2. Thanks for the report! I'm glad you ate well on your visit. Just a couple of things: Tajine is Moroccan (not Persian) and were there really curries at a Turkish/Lebanese restaurant?

      Sounds like the other hookah bar was in the Tenderloin.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        You're probably right about Tajine being Moroccan. Excellent and affordable lunch spot. There were masala curries at Kan Zaman. My bf ordered it twice. I was a trifle more adventurous and went with the recommended vegetarian dish. Mine was much more flavorful.

      2. " I wish I could remember the name. All I do know is that it's in a very sketchy neighborhood, crackheads and massage parlors abound. "

        aren't those always the best?

        Swan's: that's the difference between Dungeness and Blue - still a bitch to clean properly either way you go. I used to live around the corner on Sacto and that is very good advice about going on off hours, but would add for anyone reading, they close early.

        1. Thanks so much for reporting back. Glad you had a good time.

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

          Ame Restaurant
          689 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

          Tajine Moroccan Restaurant
          1653 Polk St, San Francisco, CA

          Fior D'Italia
          2237 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          Kan Zaman Cafe
          1793 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

          1 Reply
          1. re: rworange

            Plus:

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            Nile Cafe
            544 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102