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Perfect Foodie Day in San Francisco?

It's our 10th wedding anniversary, and we can't leave the kids overnight, but we can leave them with grandparents for the day, so I'm looking for suggestions for the perfect, romantic? foodie day.

It's been 15 years since I lived in San Francisco, and we only come for brief visits now, so I don't really know what's new and good, and I'm not sure how to fit it all in. We're particularly looking for places that will be more enjoyable without the kids in tow (the Ferry Building is high on our list). I think lunch will be the major meal of the day.

Any recommendations?


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  1. I'm not really qualified to answer your question, since I'm not among the many Perfect Foodies around here, but can offer a suggestion. Since your adventure will be built around lunch it would help a lot to know if it will be a weekday or a weekend day, since the ambience (and the very availability) of restaurants will differ greatly between weekday and weekend in many parts of town.

    1. If you are going to the Ferry Building go to Hog Island Oyster Company. Great views and the oysters are fantastic. It's not romantic, but it's good and you could have a mid-afternoon snack and a nice glass of wine.
      For a romantic lunch, I'd recommend Bix. Ask for a booth upstairs.
      Have fun!

      1. assuming a saturday start, breakfast around 8:30 a.m. at primavera (back of the ferry terminal) should work just fine. later, grab a few snacks and walk up the filbert steps to coit tower. take the greenwich steps down (double secret stuff, very cool) back to the ferry terminal (wine merchants) for a pick-me-up. off to jardiniere for a wonderfully romantic dinner. maybe not perfect. but pretty damned close.

        1. You could start at Swan Oyster Depot for some oysters, then hop on the California cable car to ride it up and over Nob Hill for great views.

          While you're at the top of the hill, maybe you'll like to pop into the Ritz Carlton or The Big Four Bar at the Huntington Hotel for a cocktail?

          From there, you could easily walk down into Union Square, North Beach, Chinatown, or continue on the cable car downtown. It'll end right near the Ferry Building where you can enjoy great views, great foodie diversions. Lunch at Boulevard strikes me as very romantic...

          (hmm...I think I have to do this itinerary myself soon!)

          Boulevard Restaurant
          1 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105

          Big Four
          1075 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

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

          3 Replies
          1. re: Absonot

            Swan Oyster Depot:
            517 Polk St, Polk Gulch, Nob Hill
            (415) 673-1101 Daily: 8am-5:30pm

              1. re: walker

                The OP will be in town on Saturday.

          2. My favorite is sort of a combination of Steve and Absonot: Start at the Ferry Building. Then take the California line cable car to the top of Nob Hill. Have a drink at the Top of the Mark. Then walk down into Chinatown and graze along Stockton as far as Jackson and nip down Jackson to Grant and hit Golden Gate Bakery (egg custard tarts and coconut tarts and macaroons are my favorites). Continue along Grant across Broadway into North Beach. Stroll North Beach cafes and bakeries, maybe walk down Columbus to XOX truffles. Then head up Telegraph Hill and down the steps back to the Embarcadero. There are lots of options for lunch along the way, depending on whether you want a fancy sit-down lunch, something simple but delicious, or want to skip lunch per se entirely and just graze.

            1. Wow - you're suggestions are really, really good! It will be a Saturday, so the market should be going strong.

              Thanks so much for your help!

              1. Since it's a Saturday, definitely start at the Ferry Plaza market. What time will you get there?

                What were your favorite restaurants 15 years ago?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Ha! Last time I lived in SF, I was in high school (OK - that math doesn't quite work out, I guess it's been more than 15 years). We ate at neighborhood places - Yuet Lee, taquerias, sushi, the St. Francis.

                  My family is based in the Richmond now - we go to Ton Kiang, have been to Aziza, Zuni (but the kids were with us, so we didn't fully enjoy).

                  I think we can assume an early start - out the door by 8 am?

                  1. re: lbelber

                    You could hit the Ferry Plaza market for a few hours, then take one of the vintage surface streetcars up Market for a leisurely lunch at Zuni (reservations essential).

                2. No one has reported on it yet, but maybe the new Murray Circle http://cavallopoint.com/restaurant_ba...

                  It is technically in San Francisco, but on the Marin side of the bridge at Marin Headlands, Fort Baker. Maybe take that route home and stop for drinks or dinner.

                  It is a resort so they also have a spa and activities.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: rworange

                    I think they want to have dinner before picking up their kids to head home?

                    I don't think that hotel has been open long enough to qualify for nomination to a "perfect foodie day" list.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      The family is based in Richmond, so this would be one way to drive home.

                      Normally I wouldn't recommend a restaurant that new with no buzz BUT Chowhounds have been lamenting the loss of chef Joseph Humphrey at a Wine Country restaurant where he earned two Michelan stars ... yeah, I know ... but Chowhounds were enthusastic as well. From the website ...

                      "Joseph was the restaurant chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, which earned a place on Esquire's "Best New Restaurants 2007" list and garnered a two-star rating in the "2008 Michelin Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country" -- a rare feat for a new restaurant."

                      So after trotting around SF all day this seems like a lovely way to end it. That area is drop dead gorgeous. If they don't want to commit to dinner, there's it might be nice for a drink at the bar. Don't know if the tea room in the spa is open late.

                      It is actually on my list as the next restaurant I try ... just having trouble freeing up time.

                      1. re: rworange

                        not in Richmond, but in the Richmond

                        1. re: kc72

                          Ah... never mind.

                          It was the talk of crossing a bridge that made me think it was the city of Richmond.

                        2. re: rworange

                          The grandparents, who are babysitting so lbelber and spouse can have a day on their own in SF, are the ones who live in the Richmond. No mention of crossing a bridge.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Murray Circle has had very positive reports on another board by someone whose taste I trust very much--he's been there many times. I can't wait to have brunch there.

                      2. I forgot to report back...

                        We spent the morning at the Ferry Building Farmers' Market, snacking our way through the vendors. (The farmers' markets in DC don't offer prepared foods, so that is always fun.)

                        Lunch at Zuni Cafe (Slated Door was booked) was leisurely and wonderful - we had oysters, apps, main dishes, cheese, and dessert.

                        Then massages (and some swimming in the hotel pool).

                        And that was about all, but it was all leisurely and fun.

                        Thanks for all the great suggestions!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lbelber

                          Thanks for reporting back. Sounds like a great day to me!

                          Zuni Cafe
                          1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102