Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 28, 2008 07:35 PM

Show some pride SF

I live in Seattle and take great pride in showing guests the best our town has to offer. I'm coming down to SF for a few days and need some help from the proper authorities. I have 3 days and I want to know what places I would be a fool to miss during my stay. Lunch, Dinner, Bar, Mid-Range, Expensive, Fine-Dining, etc. it doesn't matter, I'll try anything. I want to know what are your 'home runs'. The only thing to leave out is Italian. One of the people I'm meeting is obsessive about Italian food so I'm sure I'll be getting plenty of that.

I eagerly await to see which places you are most proud of.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: ML8000

      Point taken there, Webmaster. I didn't want to stifle peoples creativity but I guess I'll narrow it down for you.

      I hear about the old standbys (Tadich, Zuni's, Slanted Door) and wanted to see if they were still worth the trip. I know that a lot of places develop reputations as 'the place to go if you're in Whatever City' simply because they're 'the place you go if you're in Whatever City'. But I want to know where the LOCALS go. Everybody seems to recommend Slanted Door, but nobody raves about it. So in the opinion of the experts, what can't be missed?

      Also, I want to go to at least one and maybe two Fine-Dining joints. Which of these would you consider your #1 & #2 choices and we'll see how they line-up?

      The Dining Room
      Fifth Floor

      And I've heard Manresa is comparable to the French Laundry. That's rarefied air. So if anyone would like to de-bunk or confirm that claim, I'm all ears.

      Also, I like Mediterranean and tapas so I'm thinking Andalu or Baraka.

      Dim-Sum - Yank Sing or Hong Kong Flower Lounge?

      And if it helps, I think I'm staying in the Marina (Mission?) area, but the people I'm meeting with will drive so I can travel.

      Is that better?

      1. re: YoungHova

        I post on/read the San Francisco and Vancouver boards, and I gotta say the SF Hounds have the patience of saints. The number of requests they get for recs is just insane. So their Read this First approach and happiness when out-of-towners (note I avoided the dreaded "tourists") do their homework is I think understandable. The more info you provide, the better feedback you will get. Makes sense, no?

        PS I think the Marina and the Mission are kind of on opposite sides of town.
        PPS I'm from Vancouver, so what do I know from geography?

        1. re: grayelf

          greetings grayelf, I love your home town and thanks for the kind words. Your sense of the SF layout is accurate, not that it would take long to make that crossing even by public transport in off-peak hours. regards

          1. re: moto

            You're welcome and thanks for YOUR kind words about Vancouver. I can't wait to get back to the City on the Bay in April to try out more of your great restos. We just really haven't had a bad meal there yet and as my friends could tell you I can be rather picky. I'm looking forward to reading responses to the OP's post for sure.

            1. re: grayelf

              I just returned from Vancouver and I do have to say that I did get some really good recommendations and friendly posts from the Western Canada board (including grayelf himself~).

              I really really love Yank Sing, the food is spectacular and the service is the BEST ever in a dim sum restaurant. Highly recommended!! I would definitely go to the Rincon center location, they validate parking on weekends, and you can also make a reservation which makes the experience extra enjoyable. And you could also wonder over to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market after dim sum for fabulous produce afterwards if you go on a Saturday.

              1. re: liujenny

                I too used to think that validation was offered on weekends only; however, website states validated parking everyday at Rincon Center.


                1. re: ceekskat

                  I somehow remember that it says that during the weekends it's completely free. I'm not sure of course... maybe someone who's been during the week can verify.

                2. re: liujenny

                  Glad you had a good time here in Lotus Land, Jenny. FYI, Grayelf is a female elf ;-).

            2. re: grayelf

              Thank you on behalf of the SF hounds for you kind words, grayelf. I'm looking forward to the reports from your upcoming visit, and I'll look for your posts next time I visit your lovely city (where I ate very well!). It's true that we get requests similar to YoungHova almost every day -- sometimes even more frequently!

              Okay, now for YoungHova's more specific questions. I'm in the Hong Kong Flower Lounge camp for dim sum. Yank Sing can be very good, but it's also verrrrrry expensive. I'd rather spend the difference on more chow. I think you'd be happy with any of the choices on your "fine dining" list, except that Canteen doesn't really belong there. Not that the food isn't great, but it's not a "fine dining" experience the way the others are. Locals eat at Zuni. Locals eat at Tadich, although probably more for lunch than at dinner, but I'm not sure it's a must-eat for someone from Seattle, where there's plenty of West Coast style seafood.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Oh oh, pressure's on! Will have to remember to pack a notebook :-). Can't wait to eat and talk about it, but in the meantime, read, read, read...

            3. re: YoungHova

              You have shamed us YH. We have no pride in SF...except the parade.

              re: Manresa vs. French Laundry, I was at Manresa about 2 month ago and have been to FL a few times. Right now, after time to think about it, Manresa currently is the better restaurant. At the time I didn't think so but after time to process, Manresa is it. Even for the same price, I'd pick Manresa over FL.

              Here's the report:

              1. re: YoungHova

                I love Slanted Door. I eat there occasionally. It is a mix of locals and tourists, but the food is consistent and good. But at just about any well regarded restaurant you will get a mix of tourists and locals. I wouldn't have any hesitation recommending Slanted Door. Since you live in Seattle I wouldn't send you to Tadich Grill but would send you to Zuni.

                My personal opinion is that SF does mid range dining better than fine dining. I've been to all the restaurants on your list except Coi, but Coi is probably the one that to me is of the most interest and is on my list of restaurants that I want to try. The first three you list are good but don't really scream "San Francisco" to me, and while I love Canteen, it's a strong mid range contender and not fine dining. I think if you wanted to try some of the city's best, I'd lean toward the mid range.

                Manresa is better than TFL. I have dined there four or five times and the last time being a week or so ago. The food is more innovative and interesting than TFL and I would go to Manresa in a heartbeat over TFL, particularly when you do a cost/benefit analysis.

                Mediterranean and tapas - if you want small plates, there are a lot of restaurants that do small plates. If you want Mediterranean, there are some restaurants that do Mediterranean. I would not recommend either Andalu or Baraka for a visitor here with just a short time. There are better choices. Try Coco500 or TWO or Bocadillos or Bar Tartine.

                So you need to make up your mind whether you are staying in the Marina or the Mission. They are on opposite sides of town and there are notable restaurants in either neighborhood. Mission favorites of mine include Delfina and Delfina Pizzeria, Foreign Cinema, Ti Couz, Bar Bambino, Spork, Pauline's Pizza, Bar Tartine, Farina and Range. You'd have a great meal at any of these. I don't dine in the Marina often, but there is a great Italian restaurant there called A16 that you may want to check out.

                1. re: YoungHova

                  Zuni's as popular with locals as ever. It's still one of my two favorite restaurants in SF (the other being Incanto).

                  The Mission's got a wider variety of restaurants than the Marina, but the Marina is where the hotels are.

                  1. re: YoungHova

                    I am a fan of Zuni, particularly the roast chicken and Caesar salad. I also like a lot of things about Tadich, but I think of it as an "old SF" type of experience. Good basics - and if you go, stick to the basics, but I'm not sure that someone from Seattle would be that interested as you have so much good seafood.

                    I would toss in another name for you to consider - Ame. The food is excellent. I suspect you are staying in the Marina as there are many hotels out here. The most noted restaurant on Chestnut is A16, and while it is excellent, it is Italian and I note you weren't looking for Italian recs. (But if you change your mind on that, put A16 on the list!) On the block of Steiner between Chestnut and Lombard are a bunch of restaurants - my very favorite isIsa - I also really like Bixtro Aix. There is also a relative new place on Chestnut called Laiola - I've not been but if you do a search, you will find the comments of others. If you are staying in the Marina, those are all probably walkable for you.

                    If your friends drive, you will be in pretty good shape except that parking in most neighborhoods is close to impossible! I hope you enjoy your stay!

                    1. re: dinnerout

                      In the Mission... try the Front Porch on 29th near Mission. Carribe fusion and just wonderful...

                      I love Ti Couz for lunch on a sunny day, sit outside.

                      Fattoush on Church for a wonderful sunday brunch.

                    2. re: YoungHova

                      greetings YH, to expand on farmersdaughter's well-considered comments, the 'locals' keep an abundance of mid-price places thriving. And among the places to be proud of is a plethora of medium size, neighborhood Cal-Ital. trattorias. If you like small plates, one such place is Pesce on Polk St, with a menu based on cicchetti. Good seafood, but that's probably no big deal fro a Seattle-ite, everything I tried there solid and not over-wrought. Much different in styles and neighborhoods are A16 (classic wood fired pizza, great wine list) and La Ciccia (Sardinian). See if your friend who's guiding your Italian options has those on your list.

                      1. re: moto

                        Wow. Great input from everyone! A big thanks to everyone for the masterful counsel.

                        And great call on the mid-range places.

                        Here's the line-up I've put together. Any omissions? Replacements?

                        Bar Tartine, Canteen, Azizza, A16, Laiola

                        And for lunch:

                        Burma SuperStar, Zuni, Angkor Borei

                        Manresa sounds better with every new thing I read. I'm now planning a trip back and bringing Mom. Coi's menu is intriguing but it seems like they've lost their way.

                        Seems to be different camps between Gary Danko and the Ritz. What's the call, Friends?

                        1. re: YoungHova

                          "Coi's menu is intriguing but it seems like they've lost their way." Please expand and clarify...

                          1. re: YoungHova

                            Hmm, I don't get to eat in SF as often as I would like, but I would throw some other low-range places in there myself, mostly in the Mission

                            How about lunch from Bi-Rite Market, go eat in Dolores Park, and then mosey back down 18th to Tartine, grab some pastries and coffee/tea and enjoy the people watching? When tired of that, walk back up the street to Bi-Rite Creamery and check out their ice-cream. That is pretty much my quintessential San Francisco afternoon right there. I would avoid Tartine on the weekend if at all possible, way too crowded to hang out. You could reverse it too, breakfast at Tartine, try the bread pudding but avoid the muesli, walk around and then hit Bi-rite, or Pizzeria Delfina. If you go to Delfina, go early to avoid the line and order the tricolor salad and pizza. Last time I got the cream pizza with meatballs, very very satisfying.

                            I notice that you don't have any mexican on your list, so I would recommend the shrimp burrito at Pancho Villa. There are a lot of great taquerias in SF, so others may have better suggestions there.

                            I agree, you've got superlative seafood in Seattle, but if you feel like checking out the Ferry Building, I think Ferry Plaza Seafood is a nice place to sit while watching the boats and the bay. The shrimp louis salad and the smoked salmon platter are mighty tasty. I haven't tried Hog Island Oysters which is right there too, but I know it gets good reviews.

                            Tartine Bakery
                            600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            Bi-Rite Market
                            3639 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            Bi-Rite Creamery
                            3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            Hog Island Oyster Bar
                            Ferry Building,, San Francisco, CA 94111

                            Pizzeria Delfina
                            3611 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            Pancho Villa
                            3071 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                            Ferry Plaza Seafood
                            1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA

                        2. re: YoungHova

                          YoungHova, Manressa is over 1 hour drive from downtown SF. More like 1.5 hours, depending on how you drive --- about like TFL.

                          Marina and Mission are on opposite sites of town.

                          I have previously pooh poohed Slanted Door, then had an excellent experience there. Table of 6, brunch, all excellent dishes. Including two entire "just for you" dishes from the chef - one that was on-menu, but made without fish sauce; one that was just, I dunno, because. Some kind of chard made really tasty. Lunch or brunch - sometime when the air sings and you can enjoy the view. And the coffee. Mmmm.

                          Wood Tavern is very hot right now, and if you think Manressa is in SF, you'll think Wood Tavern is too (it's in Oakland, right at the Oakland / Berkeley line, about 30 minute drive, but far closer in time than Manressa and public-transit-able).

                          I put Andalu and Baraka about 22 on the 1-to-30 scale. They're always good, never great. We do good schwarma here - for example, the Simply Mediterranian stand on 16th near Valencia.

                          The ferry building is kind of a knock-off of pike's market, sort of, and worth a trip. Going with an empty stomach and a nose in the air is a fine use of 3 hours, and you can walk it off by traipsing over to Ft Mason or down to the ball park.

                          If you want a real locals-only, go look up the Oakland Korean threads. And the International Blvd taco trucks (anyone notice that NYTimes' 36 hours in Berkeley this weekend couldn't avoid this? And it's not in Berkeley, not by a long shot.)

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            Yeah, when I found out where Manressa was located, I decided on planning another trip back focusing on fine-dining and just enjoying the "quintessential SF" ,as YSZ pointed out, this time around.

                            I intentionally avoided Hispanic food/taco trucks since I know that's something you all do quite well. I figured I'd let the people I'm staying with fight amongst themselves to decide whose favorite wins out rather than having me the tourist put in my useless 2-cents.

                            And I'm skipping the Korean. I'm 1/2 Korean so I get it like 3 times a week. But I know all about Oaktown. Every Californian that moves up here complains about the utter lack of good Korean food. It's one of the few things Californians are right about Seattle. ;)