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Visiting San Francisco from Ireland for 4 Days

Hey all

I'll be in San Francisco for 4 days this August with my family (4 of us). We're visiting from Ireland and we're staying in Hayes Valley. We'd like to get a good idea of the kind of foodie experience SF can offer. I've been trying to narrow down the eating options over the past few days and I've come up a list of places for dinner - how does this look to everyone?

1. Zuni Café
2. La Ciccia
3. Aziza
4. Ame

We don't have any particular preference for cuisine types - basically anything that isn't excessively expensive (Ame would be the upper limit "splurge" level). We're willing to travel to places by car and walk a couple of miles.

Some other places I had on my list: Colibri Mexican Bistro, Incanto, Delfina, Tadich Grill, Slanted Door, Burma Super Star. What are people's opinions on these compared to the ones I've chosen?

We'll have already been in Chicago and will be travelling to Los Angeles afterwards if that affects things.

I haven't really looked at any lunch or breakfast places - we're not big lunch eaters, we'd generally be looking for light snacks at lunch rather than sit-down meals. Although we've never had Dim Sum so I think Chinatown in SF would be a perfect place to rectify that!

Any comments and further recommendations much appreciated.

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  1. I think you have a very great, strong list.

    I really like all of your back-up places as well and many can be had for lunch with equal success (Burma Super Star mostly). And I prefer Ton Kiang for Dim Sum and it is out in the Richmond district (towards the water) versus Chinatown.

    1. Good list. I would substitute Incanto for La Ciccia, for Italian in Noe Valley. There are some great places on your back-up list. Note the wait for dinner at Burma SuperStar can be long. Best dim sum is outside of Chinatown: Ton Kiang in the Richmond district, Yank Sing downtown, and Koi Palace just south of SF are well-regarded options.

      5 Replies
      1. re: bernalman

        I disagree about substituting Incanto or Delfina, as good as they are. La Ciccia is definitely unique -- not easy to find good Sardinian cooking.

        I also would definitely keep Zuni as being classic SF.

        Colibri is okay, but not really in keeping quality-wise with the others on your list.

        1. re: Joan Kureczka

          To me, La Ciccia vs. Incanto's a toss-up. They're both great.

          Sardinian food is rare outside of Italy.

          Incanto's one of the best places to get Italian food strongly focused on Northern California's local, seasonal ingredients. There are a few other Italian restaurants in the Bay Area that work in a similar style, but it's unique to the area.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            "Incanto's one of the best places to get Italian food strongly focused on Northern California's local, seasonal ingredients. There are a few other Italian restaurants in the Bay Area that work in a similar style, but it's unique to the area."

            Huh? Doesn't Delfina fit this description, and perhaps better fit it?

            1. re: Paul H

              Someone else might make that argument. I don't find Delfina quite as Italian or as quite as focused on seasonal local ingredients.

          2. re: Joan Kureczka

            Ditto on all counts (though I haven't tried Ame yet). Have your Mexican food in either Chicago or LA, and don't skip La Ciccia (or Aziza).

        2. I LOVE your list... I would opt for Slanted Door over Zuni, though.

          I also like Ton Kiang best for Dim Sum.

          6 Replies
          1. re: whiner

            I'd put Slanted Door last out of the places mentioned. Good food and great wine list, but to me the overall experience doesn't justify the price. Best times I've had there have been lunch on a sunny day in the glassed-off back room they use for private parties. It's not as noisy as the main dining room, which is like a 60s airport departure lounge.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Yeah, a second vote against Slanted Door over the other options... even though I really like Slanted Door. Also, please don't consider Irish food in SF. That would be like me looking for California cuisine in Ireland ... it might be there, but it isn't going to be as good and a waste of my travel calories and time.

              If you are here on a Saturday morning the Ferry Plaza Farmers market would be a good place for snacks. It is nearby Yank Sing so you cold stop by for a bit of dim sum and get the full experience with dim sum on carts and a beautiful building. It is also very novice-friendly. I had my first dim sum there and it made me a fan. You don't have to order much. I like their sesame balls for dessert.

              Lots of the bakeries in Chinatown serve many dim sum items for take-out ... like dumpling and pork buns and egg tarts. Golden Gate Bakery is one a lot of peole like.

              1. re: rworange

                I third the motion on skipping Slanted Door. Food is good but the atmosphere/service on each occasion I've been there hasn't justified what you are paying. If you really want to do it, make a lunch reservation.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                I guess it depends what type of restaurant experience you enjoy. Slanted Door, overall, may be my favorite restaurant in the city and I certainly dine there more than any other "upscale" restaurant in the city (of course, part of that may be due to their stellar wine list that is perfect for the food they serve). I don't find the main dining room too loud at all, and I like that it is a bustling type place. But, my standards are only that I want to be able comfortably to hear everyone at a 6 person table and I do not want to to be knocked into by other guests and servers -- if you are looking for a serene expereince, I will surely grant you, it is not that.

                1. re: whiner

                  Both lists are great - I prefer Delfina to Incanto. Comment on the Slanted Door: try it for lunch some day. Make a reservation for sure but wander around the Ferry Building (fun SF foodie stuff) and grab a small snack, a nice drink, and enjoy the view.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Normally I'd agree. But I can't imagine there's much -- if any -- good Vietnamese food in Ireland. How about Slanted Door for lunch? Enjoy the view, check out the Ferry Building, etc.

              3. Great list, nice combination of restaurants. I also like all of the places on your backup list (except for Colibri, I haven't been there), so you're doing great. You might want to come up with some ideas of places to grab snacks at lunch (depending where in the city you are), since 's easy to accidentally grab some bad or boring food.

                1. Good stuff - won't empty your purse:

                  For a fun time, stop by the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar for Happy Hour - check the twice hourly indoor rain storm - http://www.yelp.com/biz/tonga-room-sa...

                  When the band floats to the center of the indoor lagoon, you'll know you've had a San Francisco experience.

                  Also, munch at Rose Pistola just before seeing Beach Blanket Babylon - you really haven't seen this town until you've attended a performance. Note that Club Fugazi [Beach Blanket B.] serves no food - only drink
                  http://www.rosepistolasf.com/
                  http://www.beachblanketbabylon.com/ ---> Reservations required!

                  Up for oysters or more? Check O'Reilly's Holy Grail - the place is entirely decorated with antiques you might enjoy - parking readily available across the street in multi level parking garage, a huge plus in San Francisco
                  http://www.oreillysholygrail.com/