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Jun 23, 2008 10:02 PM

Girlfriends Weekend Reqs for hound-abees

I am traveling to San Francisco for a Girls Getaway in October (Thur nite/Fri/Sat/Sun am)and am looking for some specific reqs. My friend is not a chowhound, and I'm probably just a hound wannabe: while I always make a point to read the boards and try the reqs when I'm in a new city, but I'm not the type to spend $100 to try a quail egg and nettle salad with fiddlehead fern foam on the side (no offense to those who do--I've just a much less sophisticated palate!)

My friend and I prefer a moderate budget for our meals--appetizer, entree and a glass of wine/cocktail for under $50 each for dinner, lunch under $30 each with a glass of wine, and breakfast under $20 each. But willing to spend more for the right place. We are old friends who see each other a couple of times a year and like to spend our time together in conversation. Consequently, ambience is a big part of dining out for us! We prefer quaint/quiet/charming to hip/loud/trendy.

Anyway, we're excited to see that we are arriving in time for the Fleet Week and Columbus Day Italian Heritage Parade festivities. As a result, we're interested in exploring the North Beach area one evening for a great dinner and maybe dessert somewhere else after, also in NB. I'd prefer a place we can make reservations for dinner, as I'm assuming the festivities will result in a huge crush of tourists like ourselves!

We also would like to have a meal in the Mission district that, while representative of the local cuisine, doesn't consist of a giant, sloppy burrito...I know, I know, it's tradition, but burritos just aren't my thing. I love Mexican food of all kinds...I just like to see and taste the individual ingredients. (Not trying to hate on burritos, though!)

Another area of interest for lunch would be a lovely bistro, preferably with outdoor seating.

Lastly, any good breakfast reqs within walking distance of the Bush/Powell area...preferably AWAY from Union Square.

We are staying at The Orchard hotel and are comfortable with public transpo after dark.

So, any recommendations?

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  1. I totally hear you on the burrito.....indeed, my dislike for them led me to grouse about Mexican food in SF in general on a recent thread. However, there is one notable exception to my general lack of enthusiasm for Mexican food in SF, and the Mission in particular, and that is Poc-Chuc on 16th. Near the 16th Street BART Station. Get the assorted botanas appetizer plate. It also meets your moderate budget and quiet criteria. Sounds like it would be an excellent fit!

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      Since we stay across the street at the Vintage Court when we visit, thought I'd chime in with a couple of visitors' breakfast suggestions nearish by:

      Cafe de la presse: this is one of our favourite places in San Francisco, although it gets somewhat mixed reviews here, partly I think because of the higher prices. We always go at least once for the Gallic atmosphere, the bols de cafe Colombe and the tasty egg dishes (benedict, meurette will run you about $12-13). I understand the charcuterie is also worthy though we've not tried it. It does get busy, like every other decent breakfast/brunch place in this fair city, so go earlyish, especially on the weekend.

      If you're here on a Saturday, you can't do better in my book that the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, and specifically a plate of chilaquiles from Primavera. Again, go early to avoid the line ups, take your victuals and grab a bench looking out over the water. Oh yeah. A can't miss for us.

      Another option nearer your hotel is Café Bean. We've only been once on another visitor's recco but would definitely return. There's some sort of Dutch connection in this tiny, funky but efficient and friendly coffee shop serving full breakfasts including the Dutch Smasher for $7.25 (melted Edam, fried onion, tomato, ham and over easy eggs on toast) and chicken apple sausage and eggs with toast for $6.95. The eggs were perfectly scrambled and the sausage delicious (housemade or at least very local I think). We saw some Dutch pancakes on another table that looked mighty tempting too. They were serving Chester’s coffee in the urns but something else for the lattes which the SO deemed very tasty. No lineup, tasty, creative food at a good price a short walk from our hotel – what’s not to like?

      Last but definitely not least, I'll echo farmersdaughter's vote for Canteen for a weekend breakfast. We were seated immediately at 9:30 on a Sunday in one of the coveted booths for three (it's a very tiny place). J ordered the omelette with fontina, ham and oyster mushrooms ($8.95), BIL went for the benchmark eggs and sausage ($8.75) and I opted to try the much-vaunted eggs benedict “with all the accoutrements” ($10.75). The boys also had the recommended short lattes ($2.50 each) and we were all very happy with our choices. The sauce on the benny was nicely tart and unctuous, maybe a bit much of it, and the eggs were well poached if a bit runny for my taste (I give a slight edge to the bennies at Cafe de la presse although they are $1.25 more, but both are great). Service was smart and snappy without feeling rushed. We'll be back (oh and BTW the dinner we had at Canteen is in my top three meals ever).

      I imagine others will suggest Dottie's which is near the Square -- we've tried to go three times now but the lineup has always sent us scurrying. One day we'll hit it right to try some of the delightful items they have on offer!

      PS We also loved Poc-Chuc per susancinsf's post above.

      Cafe De La Presse
      352 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108

      Dottie's True Blue Cafe
      522 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
      One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

      Cafe Bean
      800 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      1. re: susancinsf

        I have to 2nd the rec for poc chuc... It's been our sunday lunch place as of late.

        However, I'm not certain they have a liquor license so you may want to treat it as a lunch place rather than an evening dining out w/ drinks (though there are so many places near by to go for a post or pre meal drink, too).

        A perfect day could be lunch at poc chuc followed by a walk to and ice cream at bi rite creamery.

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

        1. re: margieco

          Still no beer or wine at Poc-Chuc when I walked by a couple of weeks ago.

      2. In the Mission, check out Foreign Cinema, which has great Cal-Med style food, and a nice outdoor eating area which is great on a sunny day (October around Fleet Week time is often quite warm). They serve brunch on the weekends and dinner as well, and either one will be excellent. Also consider Canteen for brunch, a tiny restaurant not far from Union Square (great dinners there as well). There are tons of posts on both Canteen and Foreign Cinema on the board, so do a search to see others' reviews.

        Enjoy your trip!

        1 Reply
        1. re: farmersdaughter

          Adding links

          817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Foreign Cinema
          2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

        2. Chiming in on the recommendation for Canteen for brunch, it's one of my favorite brunches, and the set up is great for lots of conversation, intimate booths, a nice little counter for chatting. The food is great, and while sometimes there's a wait, it's usually not that bad, lots of discussion of the food on the board if you click on the place link.

          Also, if you want to travel a bit for brunch, head to the Mission for brunch at Bar Tartine (not the same as Tartine Bakery, though that's a good place to stop for breakfast or lunch any day of the week). I've never had to wait there for brunch, and their savory brunch dishes are fantastic. I also have had a great time there for dinner, and I've gone there with some old friends to catch up and we didn't have trouble with the noise.

          1. Thanks, all, for the great tips! I'd love to hear more as we have a couple more months to plan, and if I leave our meals up to my gal pal, we will be eating at the pizza place across from our hotel every night!

            Any ideas for North Beach Italian?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Vel

              Here's a list of many North Beach eateries.

              Mama's has a good breakfast. It is more overlooked for lunch when it is easier to get a seat. They have a nice quiche.

              Alot of the usual reccomendations like L'Osteria del Forno don't take reservations.

              Ristorante Ideale might be the best choice out of that list that takes reservations.

              Other good choices: Rose Pistola, Firenze By Night, Da Flora.

              If you click on the links in the above list there are links to websites, menus and reports.

              1. re: rworange

                I second Ideale. Excellent saltimbocca, among other things. Another thought that is a bit away from most of the North Beach crush but still in the general area is Piperade.

                I also second the recommendation someone else made for Cafe de la Presse, mostly for their frisse aux lardons salad, which is one of the best versions of that dish in town, IMO.

              2. re: Vel

                Note that the best Italian food is not in North Beach, and at least one of the board-favorite restaurants in that neighborhood, The House, is not Italian.

                L'Osteria dal Forno is good and cheap, but takes no reservations and there's usually a wait.

                Ristorante Ideale is good, the chef is from Rome, and it's moderately priced. Da Flora is in the same price range.

                Rose Pistola is good, upscale, relatively expensive, might be stretching your budget. The menu's online so you can check.