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Apr 1, 2008 04:21 AM

Recs from recent Conde Nast Traveler

A recent issue had an article about San Francisco which included some practical suggestions in the "Places and Prices" section of the magazine. The restaurant recommendations included the following:

Chez Panisse
Coco 500
A 16
Slanted Door
R & G Lounge
Yank Sing

Do any of these recs resonate well with SF Chowhounds? If not, what restaurants would you recommend? (Incidentally, I'll be with my husband for a business meeting. We'll be staying at the Fairmont and will not have a car.)

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  1. All of them are pretty solid. Though I'm one of the few who isn't a fan of Limon (too much of a meat market scene - I feel the need to shower when I leave the place, dark, noisy, iffy service, not a big fan of "Nuevo Latino fusion", and too much kitchen smoke upstairs).

    1. These are all good suggestions. Presumably Conde Nast described each one? Here's a thought or two: Chez Panisse is in Berkeley, has a fixed menu, is difficult to get a short term reservation for and is tough to get to from the city. Ozumo's innovative chef left about two years ago and the food hasn't been as good since. This list is mostly in San Francisco's sweet spot of mid-priced casual restaurants, if you are looking for something more upscale, let us know.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Paul H

        Your comments about innovative Japanese cooking at Ozumo particularly intrigue me. In my hometown, we can get good traditional sushi, but nothing that I'd recognize as innovative. Since my husband and I will be visiting Tokyo in December and since the CH Japan board consistently talks about this style, I'd love a chance to sample it before our trip. Can you recommend a SF restaurant with good contemporary Japanese food?

        And, yes, I'd love to hear about upscale recommendations. Thanks.

        1. re: Indy 67

          For innovative Japanese, consider Ame.

          Ozumo's old chef, Shotaro Kamio, is now at Yoshi's.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Yoshi's needs help -- BADLY. They at least used to serve what I would describe as college cafeteria sushi. I liked Ozumo's for the food I had the two times I was there a year ago (not to mention the good sake), so I'd be curious to hear if Yoshi's became worth eating at -- and not just a place to drink and listen behind the dining room.

            1. re: swag

              Yoshi's in San Francisco is quite interesting. Here is the menu (though I understand this might be changing REALLY soon)

              and Bauer gave Yoshi's SF three stars with three and one-half stars for the food.

              1. re: swag

                I was at Yoshi's in San Francisco last Friday and the food was very good. While the sushi was not out of this world, it was certainly fresh. The real winners were the cooked dishes which included an excellent organic vegetable tempura and a succulent kurobuta pork prime rib. It felt a lot like Ozumo's actually- good food, small portions, pricey and horrible service. Don't go before a show however because they will never get you out in time.

                1. re: IanW

                  On my visits, if I was also there for a show, they wouldn't seat me for dinner any later than two hours before.

                  Agreed that it isn't a great value, but it the food is quite good and inventive. Last night the "Aroi Ika Squid 'Ravioli'" (uni sandwiched between two pieces of squid with shiso pesto) was especially good.

                  1. re: IanW

                    just wanted to add an update because we decided to try Yoshi's before the ten pm show last night. Our dinner reservation was at eight, this gave us more than enough time; even 8:30 would have worked. We lingered over coffee for quite a while...

                    Service was excellent: our server was professional, attentive and informative. We asked a relatively quiet and well-spaced table when booking, and were seated in the side room, which was very nice.

                    Unlike Yoshi's in Oakland, (when I last went there, it could have changed) there is no advantage to dining there in terms of grabbing good seating for the show, as all seats are specifically reserved in advance (ie your ticket is for a specific seat) and the show venue is entirely separate from the restaurant.

                    Highlights of our meal were a sea bream carpaccio with mozzarella, roasted pork loin and belly, and some truly lovely vegetables (zuchinni, eggplant, shitake mushrooms, white and green asparugus) roasted in cedar paper. Hubby had a dessert with chocolate cake and beet ice cream that was both very tasty and interesting as well. Nice sake flights.

                    Total for two sake flights, one carafe of sake, two orders of tuna nigiri, one order of roasted asparagus maki sushi, the carpaccio, two cooked dishes, side order of rice, two desserts, one espresso and one coffee was about $180 with tip. I felt sated afterwards but could have eaten more. I agree with Paul H: no, not necessarily a good value, but definitely good.

                    Still, while the prices would keep me from going back too often, I'd go back when I was feeling flush for the food, which was excellent and often very interesting.

                    Indeed, the food was good enough that I'd be interested in trying the bar menu, which is less expensive and can be ordered during the show. The show has a one drink minimum and I ordered their version of a salty dog (called a Ruby something or the other) and it was absolutely delicious, made with fresh grapefruit juice.

                    Yoshi's Jazz Club & Japanese Restaurant
                    1330 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA

                  2. re: swag

                    I went to Yoshi's (in Oakland, for music) for the first time about a year and a half ago and have been back about 4 times. Each time, we've planned to eat there before the show and each time, beforehand, I've mentally prepared myself for oh-no-bad-club-food-for-way-too-much-money. And each time it's been really remarkably good.

                    To the point that I'd consider going there even without the excuse of a show.

                2. re: Indy 67

                  For upscale in SF proper, I'd suggest either Coi or The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton.

                  373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

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

                3. re: Paul H

                  I don't necessarily think Chez Panisse is tough to get to from the city. Hop on BART to the downtown Berkeley/Shattuck Ave. stop, then either walk about a half to 3/4 mile north on Shattuck or take a very short cab ride from there. Even driving isn't that difficult, and its a pretty drive over the bay (although traffic CAN be an issue). The reservation issue IS important: you definitely shouldn't go without one. And remember there are two Chez Panisse restaurants: the downstairs one with the fixed menu, and upstairs (same building) with a varied menu (its less expensive and many people enjoy it just as much; it will also be easier to get a reservation with relatively short notice...but I still wouldn't go without one).

                  1. re: janetofreno

                    In addition to this, I would say that it's not all that difficult to get a short term reservation to Chez Panisse Cafe (upstairs), at least mid week, and I love the food there. I wouldn't go without one, but I've gotten day before and same day reservations during the week there.

                4. You''d find most of those places on any usual-suspects / best-of list.

                  Ozumo and Limon are probably the most dubious entries. Yank Sing and Slanted Door are controversial on this board.

                  The most glaring omission is Aziza.

                  Chez Panisse, call to make a reservation at 9am 30 days before the evening you want to eat there.

                  Those are all relatively upscale places, any sensible itinerary should include some great cheap food from more obscure cuisines such as Burmese, Cambodian, Peruvian, and Yucatecan.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Burmese, Cambodian, and Yucatecan are definitely cuisines I can't get locally. I'd love to hear your recs.

                    Basically, I'm an equal opportunity eater. My first expectation is fabulous food on the plate. As for service, I expect it to be appropriate for the restaurant: polished for a white tablecloth place and homey and enthusiastic for a Mom and Pop operation.

                    1. re: Indy 67

                      How about Peruvian? My favorite Burmese, Cambodian, and Yucatecan:

                      Angkor-Borei Restaurant
                      3471 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
                      452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                      Poc Chuc
                      2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Thanks. I passed on a rec for a Peruvian restaurant because we get very good Peruvian at home.

                  2. You are close to Bar Crudo which has excellent seafood. I'm sure you could have a decent meal at any of the above, though I would not be rushing to get to Range, Ozumo, or R&G. Depending on your particular tastes, I think you can find better on the msg boards.

                    1. Overall the list is solid. You probably have a good quality meal at any of these places and won't have a bad meal. It will probably meet the expectations of a CN Traveler reader. I think that's the key to reading the list...who it's written for. All of these places have nice environments, will be well above average and way better then any corp meal.

                      In context of locals reviews/comment however, the criteria is different, but why get into that. I'd have no problem bringing out of town relatives and friends to any of these places and I know I'd have a good meal. I have to say the list at least seems more up-to-date then the usual travel list.