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Mar 23, 2008 08:46 AM

Best Of SF (need tips)

Hi all -

I'm heading out to SF in a few weeks and I'd like to know some recommendations for the genre's below. I'm also gluten free and would love to know of any bakeries, or restaurants that cater to people with celiacs. I live in NYC and usually go to places like Risotteria and Sambuca for GF food, but I do no limit myself to eating at strictly gf places so please feel free to suggest anything. :-)

Looking for the best:
--Vietnamese (specifically Pho)
--Thai (looking for awesome Red Curry, but I'm open)
--Dosas/Uttapams (with coconut chutney)
--Mexican (I've been to Farolitos, but I don't know if that's the best place)
--Cocktail lounge (like Flatiron Lounge or Milk & Honey in NYC)
--Fine dining (I'm thinking of going to the Fifth Floor)

I'm also planning on going to Napa and Santa Cruz during my trip so if anyone knows of any places in those areas please let me know.

Thank you in advance! :-)

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  1. I was reading your post, thinking about answers, and then I saw that you were considering Fifth Floor! And that's when I decided to start typing. Don't do it! It's way past its prime. There are far better fine dining meals in the City, for example Masa's and The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton immediatley come to mind. I've been to both in the past year and had world-class experiences there. You might also consider Gary Danko, Michael Mina and La Folie. All are far superior to Fifth Floor, in my opinion.

    As for Mexican, don't rush back to Farolito's. Instead, try Tommy's, Don Ramon's or Tres Agaves. If you want the best burrito-shop taco in town, run straight to La Taqueria on Mission (at 25th). Order a carne asada crispy taco "with everything" and then sit back and enjoy the ride. Be sure not to steal the bottle of green sauce on the table! It's housemade and it's the best hot sauce you'll find in SF, in my opinion. If you're an authentic crispy-pork carnitas fan, you'll need to head over to Oakland. Dona Tomas has some of the world's best carnitas, and some of the most delicious new-Mexican food in the Bay Area.

    For brunch, I'd recommend Canteen hands down.

    For dosas, you might try Dosa on Valencia. The place is always crowded and many of my friends swear by it. I've been a few times and though it's so-so, but it could be that I've ordered wrong.

    I don't feel that I can offer you a true "best of SF" option on your other categories. So I'll leave that to others. Have a safe, fun trip!

    Tres Agaves Restaurant
    130 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107

    817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    La Folie
    2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

    995 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Gary Danko
    800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Tommy's Mexican Restaurant
    5929 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

    The Terrace at the Ritz-Carlton
    600 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108

    Michael Mina Restaurant
    252 California St, San Francisco, CA

    Masa's Restaurant
    648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

    Don Ramon's Mexican Restaurant
    225 11th, San Francisco, CA 94102

    16 Replies
    1. re: foodiesf

      Thank you! I just made a reservation at Coi based on some other posts I've read on here. Would you recommend it?

      1. re: Syphrite

        Yes, I would recommend Coi. But I don't think of it as classic "fine dining," which is why I didn't recommend it. But if you can work it in to your schedule here, you should definitely go to Coi. But only after you go to either The Dining Room at Ritz-Carlton or Masa's!

        1. re: foodiesf

          Masa's is looking pretty good too. I'm checking out their site right now. Thank you! =)

      2. re: foodiesf

        Foodiesf, have you been to Fifth Floor since the most recent chef change? Early reports on the new Gascony-influenced menu have been quite positive.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I was last there about 6 months ago, with some friends. And that was my third and worst visit. Each time it got progressively worse. So, if the change occurred recently, I haven't tried the "new" menu.

            1. re: lexdevil

              The last time I was in SF, which was about 3 or 4 years ago, I ate a couple of small dishes at the Fifth Floor bar and I thought the food was phenomenal. I don't want to go back and drop $200 on dinner only to leave disappointed. I've done that too many times at places here in nyc.

              Are there any places similar to Blue Hill or Little Owl in SF? Those are two of my favorite places and it would be great to find something similar.

              Thanks! =)

              1. re: Syphrite

                Drive to Berkeley and hit Chez Panisse, the birthplace of the locally grown focus at Blue Hill. That said, the CP influence on local dining is so great that you will find that its focus on carefully sourced local ingredients defines much of the local scene.

                1. re: lexdevil

                  Chez Panisse sounds awesome, but I'm reluctant to book a reservation until they release their menu for the week I will be in town. My gluten allergy makes it difficult to eat at a restaurant with a fixed menu for the night. Do you know if they are accommodating when someone has an allergy?

                  1. re: Syphrite

                    Yes, they are accomodating. You could also eat upstairs at the cafe, where there will always be something you can eat.

            2. re: foodiesf

              I understood the recent changes to be more than menu changes and closer to a pretty complete re-vamp. I haven't been to Fifth Floor in years and having heard and read good things after the changes, thought of trying it again.

              How about Ame? I find their food to be excellent.

              1. re: dinnerout

                Ame sounds yummy also. If one had to choose between Ame and Coi which would be the better choice?

                1. re: Syphrite

                  Although Ame is quite good, Coi is better. Better ingredients, better wine pairings, more creative. Coi was picked by Frank Bruni as one of his best 10 new restaurants outside of NYC & it was recently listed as one of the top 50 fine dining restaurants in North America in the Opinionated About survey ( )

                  1. re: Paul H

                    Thanks for that link! I saw that Manresa and Blvd were on the list also. I went to Blvd the last time I was in SF and I thought it was good, but nothing to write home about. Is it still a scene?

                    Manresa seems interesting. Is it worth checking out?

                    1. re: Syphrite

                      Manresa is right up there with French Laundry. Right now I'd have to say it's better. If you have a chance and can get down to Los Gatos, I'd go. Here's a report from Feb:

          1. Since you live in NYC, you might as well skip Indian food in SF.

            Best Thai:

            Thai House Express
            901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

            1 Reply
            1. I would have to say that FoodieSF's take of Fifth Floor is horrifically out of date if he/she there over six months ago. The re-vamped Gascony menu is stunning and significantly better than what was there in the past.

              Also, I ate 18 courses at Ame last evening and was completely blown away - nary a mis-step with the most phenomonal wine pairing I've had in this city in ages (my experiences at Dining Room and Coi had some major problems).

              I think Boulevard is one of the most over-rated restaurants in this city and Canteen is one of the best.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Carrie 218

                I'm sorry I "horrified" you, Carrie 218. Six months is not usually out of date around here. I'm sure you've posted here based on experiences far older than that. Still, somehow, I'm "horrifically" out of date. Please accept my apologies. In my defense, however, please note that when it was pointed out that there was a concept change between my last experience and my post, I quickly acknowledged that and re-posted.

                Surely it takes more than that to qualify as "horrific," don't you think? Maybe starving children or mutilated corpses...or something like that? Your post is dramatic to be sure, but decent or fair...not so much.

                1. re: foodiesf

                  After chef Melissa Perello left at the end of 2006, Fifth Floor went through a long period with no replacement. As of last month, it has a new chef (Laurent Manrique) and a radically different menu.