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Jul 13, 2008 11:41 PM

Union Square Breakfast and Chinatown recs

Hi, I will be visiting San Francisco for a weekend vacation with a co-worker pretty soon, and I was hoping to receive some insight on good breakfast places and Chinatown lunch spots. I have visited San Francisco in the past and have always been overwhelmed by all of the dining options, so hopefully you guys can narrow my scope a little bit. I will be staying at the Hotel Nikko, and although I am driving, I plan on walking to my destinations, but am definitely up for a trek if it's worth my while.

I am traveling with a co-worker, and we are both adventurous foodies that work in the restaurant industry. We are not nearly as concerned with ambiance as we are with finding tasty, unique food. Nothing is off limits so please feel free to throw any suggestions our way. Thanks so much!

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  1. What have you liked in the past, and when was the last time you visited?

    Lately, I've been trying to go to new restaurants, but unfortunately the new players to the game (Jack Falstaff, Salt House) have not stood up to the old favorites (Delfina, Zuni). The one place I did love was Orson for cocktails and desserts, but I have not been for dinner.

    Breakfast requests near Union Square almost always gets Canteen as a reply. Since you are both adventurous eaters, I think this is a great suggestion. You can get pancakes anywhere; at Canteen you might find curried duck confit on the menu, or fresh beef or fish hash. The homemade chai and ginger ale are also both delicious.

    Brenda's French Soul Food on Polk gets some good reviews, but in my experience only the grits and latte are worth getting. I've had a lot of salty entrees and muddled flavors there. I found the beignets tough and the fillings uninspired the one time I tried them. But the grits are a real treat unless you're coming from the south where they're plentiful.

    It's not a breakfast place or near Union Square, but I often think about going to Epic Roasthouse right when they open (11 am?) and making a brunch of their beignets and latte. It's a dessert item, but I don't see why it couldn't be a perfectly lovely brunch: four piping hot New Orleans-worthy beignets and a piping hot mug of coffee and milk, enjoyed while sitting at one of their windows with a book or newspaper.

    1. Food in Chinatown SF is pedestrian when compared to the Chinese food available in the suburbs of San Francisco or Los Angeles. On the other hand, if you're coming from someplace that doesn't have much authentic Chinese food then the following thread might help you.