NYer visiting Aug. 21-24
Hello all. I have never been to S.F. and just found out I'll be going to the music festival. The first thing I did was try and get rezzies for The French Laundry, no luck yet but I'll keep trying. Any advice? Also I would love 3 or 4 places that are a must for dinner, any cuisine, any budget. I prefer Japanese, American, Spicy, Seafood, and Eclectic, not overly enthused about steakhouse, Italian or Indian. I want to experience the best of S.F dining. I'm sure I might have a hard time getting reservations so as many suggestions as possible would be great. Thanks so much in advance.
Grew up in the Bay Area and now live in Brooklyn. One thing we can't get here is yummy crab and garlic noodles like they have at Thanh Long on Judah (Vietnamese food). It's expanded since I lived there but it's still delicious.
If you can't get into FL (reservations 2 months in advance I think) try AdHoc or Bouchon, which are both also by Thomas Kellern and are nearby.
Also check out the Ferry Building, which is similar to Chelsea Market or Essex St. Market. They've got this fab bakery called Miette, and their candy store is in Hayes Valley. Macarons yum!
I'll post more when I think of them.
I liked Chelsea Market and all when I lived in new york (only 8 months ago), but comparing it to the Ferry Building isn't too accurate I think. The Ferry Building is so so much more, especially during the Farmer's Market (beats the Greenmarket by many miles). Since you like seafood definitely stop by Hog Island Oysters at the Ferry Building, awesome oysters and a killer view.
Definitely don't restrict yourself to just fine dining (e.g. French Laundry, Ame, Coi, Manresa...) because creative new American Californian mid-range is some of what SF does best (such as Bar Tartine, Incanto, Range).
I agree that Ferry Plaza on the morning of 8/23 is worth stopping by, especially in the full swing of summer. Plan on having breakfast and lunch there. I will disagree with Miette, which is so hit and miss for $$$ ... and the misses are way more than the hits. It looks better than it is.
Aziza is a good choice. The new Murray Circle has a former pastry chef from French Laundry and the Chef won two Michelan stars at a different wine country restaurant last year which he left for MC.
Are you planning to go to wine country? You do know it is quite the trek to FL and you can pretty much get the same thing at Per Se ... just a different setting. You can try opentable.com which sometimes has FL reservations.
You can look up restaurants mentioned via Places. The menus and links to reports will be available
Hope you report back about what you choose.
Don't bother with FL -- they take reservations two months to the day in advance and are usually fully booked within minutes. If you really want a wine-country, tasting menu type experience, it might be worth (and little easier) trying to get into Cyrus. But really, there are plenty of good places to eat without renting a car and venturing into the wine country.
You might also want to search for some trip reports from other NYers -- there are quite a few of them -- to get an idea what impressed them (and what didn't).
re: Ruth Lafler
I agree with Ruth. I was recently at FL and the waiter said that cancellations at FL don't happen like they do at Per Se as FL tends to be a destination restaurant. Our trip was contingent on getting that reservation. Once people make a reservation, they will keep it. He said that cancellations happen at Per Se more frequently as it is less of a destination restaurant and because it's in NYC where you have a lot more dining choices than in Yountville. I did go to Cyrus in Healdsburg and thought my experience was superior to FL. Apparently, there are others on this board who view it the same way. You may want to think about that.
However, if you've never been to San Francisco before, I would just stay there. There's a lot to see and do in that city. You won't be in SF for very long. The Ferry Building is indeed a must. Try to go on a Tues or Sat when the farmer's market is there as well.
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First of all, for your personal tastes and coming from NY, my top rec would be Ame: http://www.amerestaurant.com/home.html
I would almost reccomend A16 (Southern Italian) - http://www.a16sf.com/home.html - or La Ciccia (Sardinian) - http://www.laciccia.com/ - to challenge your view of Italian cuisine, but I recognize you have specifically removed Italian from consideration.
I am a HUGE fan of Slanted Door (modern, upscale, Vietnamese) and eat there more than any other upscale restaurant in SF - http://slanteddoor.com/index.html --- like any other wildly popular restaurant in a major city, it has its vocal detractors on this board, though.
My current favorite spot is Laiola (modern Spanish; mostly small plates) - http://www.laiola.com/ --- you should be aware on the weekends it can get noisy and it is avery much a "going out" type place; the type of place where the servers are wearing blue jeans and old rock band t-shirts, and the clientele is dressed to impress.
I also really love Aziza (Moroccan) - http://www.aziza-sf.com/
Other great (expensive) restaurants inlude
Boulevard (CA; expensive; business casual
)La Folie (Modern French; very expensive; business casual)
The Dining Room at the Ritz (CA-French; very expensive; elegant)
Fleur de Lys (Alsatian; very expensive; jacket suggested) ---- recent reports are that FdL may not be as good as it used to be, though.