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May 16, 2008 04:17 AM

Please critique my San Francisco weekend itinerary

We have arranged a spur-of-the moment weekend trip to San Francisco next weekend. We haven't been there in 15 years, and we loved the food scene last time we were there. We won't have a car, but we are happy to walk, cab, or take public transportation. We will be staying at the Omni San Francisco. Please make edits to this tour.

Since the trip is so last minute, we weren't able to get reservations at some of the temples like The French Laundry, Chez Panisse or even Gary Danko, though I know this restaurant gets mixed reviews. What do we like? Good value, unusual food, alot of vegetables, ethnic cusine (though we didn't pick many ethnic restaurants). We picked The Slanted Door because we fell in love with Vietnamese food when we were there two years ago. We haven't been able to find a Vietnamese restaurant that captures the great food of Vietnam in Boston or New York. I am not attached to the itinerary and happy to make changes.

Thursday: Bar Tartine for dinner

Friday: lunch at the Slanted Door
dinner at Delfina

Saturday: breakfast at Primevera
dinner at Luce

Suncay: brunch at Greens
dinner at Zuni Cafe

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  1. Slanted Door's not the most purely Vietnamese in style but you've been there before so you know what it's about.

    The Ferry Plaza Primavera stand is the only place to get their pork tamales.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I don't think they said they have been to TSD. In fact, they haven't been in SF in 15 years.

      1. re: Xiao Yang

        Ah, you must be right. veggielover was in *Vietnam" two years ago.

        In that case, might be better to go somewhere where they cater primarily to a Vietnamese clientele:

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I agree. Slanted Door isn't bad, but it's not "about" the food there. It's quite a scene, but I think the food is sorta not the best Vietnamese I've ever had. The space is fabulous, but they're sorta getting away with something with the food.

    2. You say you haven't been to SF in 15 years and then that you were at Slanted Door two years ago??? Or do you mean you were in Vietnam two years ago? If that's the case, Slanted Door is not authentic to what you had in Vietnam. Try some of the places in "Little Saigon" (Mangosteen or Bodega Bistro) -- the 'hood isn't appealing, but not as bad as it looks. The food is more authentically Vietnamese and much less expensive than SD. Zero ambiance however. The rest of your itinerary looks good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Husky

        We were in Vietnam two years ago. I will look into your suggestions.

      2. Looks solid. I hope you've done some research on Sat Ferry Building vendors. The only thing I would change is Sunday brunch at Greens to Sunday brunch at Canteen.

        Slanted Door is great. Not necessarily "authentic" but delicious nonetheless.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Morton the Mousse

          I read a few posts but I welcome all suggestions. I am bringing a mostly empty suitcase with me from Boston. Thanks for your brunch suggestion.

          1. re: veggielover

            Sat FPFM: Since you wont have a cooler, here are some good places to check out (exclamation points after my personal favorites):

            Outside: Rancho Gordo!, Marshall's Honey, June Taylor!, Fatted Calf! (some of their items don't require refrigeration), Tierra, Flying Disc Date Ranch, The Apple Farm

            Inside: Recchiutti!, Boullette's Larder!, Far West Fungi, Scharffen Berger

            I should clarify: my recommendation for an alternative brunch is based on a general consensus that the quality of the food at Greens has slipped quite a bit in years past. So, if you have it on your itinerary due to fond memories from 15 years ago it might not live up to your expectations.

          2. re: Morton the Mousse

            Greens has had its ups and downs over the almost 30 years it has been open. If there are any recent reports here, I can't find them. Mentions of the place often get a bunch of replies from people who haven't eaten there in years.

            Greens Restaurant
            Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123

          3. I think your itinerary looks great and diverse. Go to the Slanted Door. Don't be persuaded to go to San Francisco's Little Saigon. The restaurants there are ethnic Chinese owned Vietnamese cafes that are very similar to what you will find in Boston's Chinatown or New York's Chinatown. The SD (as well as at least two other contemporary Vietnamese restaurants in this City) are preparing food very similarly to what you will find the exploding middle class in Saigon eating. Updated classics and new dishes with traditional ingredients are their speciality. Often posters on this board will direct visitors to the Tenderloin's Vietnamese cafes as a substitute or because they are cheaper. Those that do that are doing a disservice in that Viet cafe food is ubiqutous in almost any big metropolitan community in the U.S. San Francisco's version is not unique and even far inferior to what you will find in San Jose. What you can't get anywhere else in this Country is wonderful contemporary Vietnamese food represented by Slanted Door, Bong Su and Ana Mandara. (New York's weak Bao 111 is not even in the same league). If you were in Saigon recently then you will know what I am speaking about.

            2 Replies
            1. re: grubber4

              FWIW, The Slanted Door is ethnic Chinese-run too (not that there's anything wrong with that).

              1. re: grubber4

                I'm skeptical that Slanted Door's cooking is similar to the latest trends in Saigon, since they've been doing pretty much the same thing since they opened the original on Valencia in 1995, and Charles Phan cites as his primary inspirations Chez Panisse, Zuni, and his mom's home cooking.

                I always eat well at Slanted Door, and they have a killer wine list, but I've had better versions of some of their dishes elsewhere. E.g. I think Bodega Bistro's papaya salad is much better. That it's also cheaper is not of much concern to me, but I do like that BB is quieter and easier to get into.