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Visiting San Fran next week..where should I go?

Hi Chowhounders,

This will be my first trip to California...what do you suggest for a first timer? I'd prefer the downtown core...steaks are always good but of course I am open to the "local" cuisine...i would prefer NOT to have Asian/Thai food and am alergic to shellfish...I will be travelling alone and probably don't have enough notice for the really high-end places.


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  1. You can sit at the bar at a lot of places. What days will you be here?

    You might search the places database for the areas of Union Square, Nob Hill, Financial district, Soma and Embarcadero.

    All of these will have a Place record with website and reports if you enter them in the above link.

    I took a quick peek at one of your reports on the Ontario board. It seems like you like burgers. Zuni has a good burger according to most reports. They are known for the chicken but it is a prep for two. Burgers are lunch or late night.

    Some places to consider: Canteen, Farmer Brown, Piperade

    Skip: Faralon, Lori's, Sears

    SF (never San Fran, Frisco or SFO) is not known as a steak town. I've read that the steaks are good at the Leatherneck steakhouse. Alfred's has had good reports,

    A nice place might be Slanted Door which is in the Ferry Building and has Cal-Vietnamese. The shaking beef is very good. The view is lovely and there are other restaurants in the building. Some people like Taylor's Refresher for burgers.

    You can hop a cable car which stops right outside one of my favorite restuarants - 1550 Hyde ... a real California cuisine neighborhood place. Wonderful rabbit if it is on the menu.

    Epic Roasthaus is also on the water with a view, but I'd skip it from what I'ver read. Pretty expensive and while a few people were happy, it is the negative stuff that sticks in my mind.

    You might enjoy the tomato soup at Jeanty at Jack;s.

    In SOMA (South of Market) you might like the new Orson. One of my favorites up that way is Coco500. Other positive mentins: Ame, Two, Fringale,

    1. "never San Fran, Frisco" no one will correct you, but they will cringe.

      rwo does have good advice, but Lori's has amusing homeless drug addicts working the room.

      even better is the Wendy's on Market, near 8th or 9th on X-mas eve around 6 PM. homeless hustler drug addicts having Holiday dinner!

      but I guess bleak isn't on everyone's itinerary.

      for a first timer downtown, graze Belden Place between Pine and Bush just off Kearny. lot of straightforward French and some spanish cafe fare. good poulet roti.

      1. Thanks..very helpful

        SF...thanks for the tip...

        1. Aziza...great Cal-Moroccan

          1. The dining bar at Boulevard is a great way for a single diner to experience great SF food. It is higher end, but you can usually get in without a wait.

            1. First time to California...get some Mexican food, in particular burritos.

              There's a lot of taquerias in SF, they're inexpensive (usually around $6 bucks), huge and everyone has an opinion, with each place usually doing one or two items very well.

              The usual suspects on where to go are: El Faralito, Taqueria Cancun, La Taqueria and many more.

              Close to the downtown core, Taqueria Cancun has an outlet at 6th and Market, not far from Union Square. I'd get the al pastor burrito. Los Compadres Taco Truck (at Spear and Folsom on week days) is very good...I order 3 or so tacos. You can get a few different types easily and figure out the best.

              If you do a search here, you'll find pages of opinions. You might check out: http://www.burritoeater.com/main.php

              3 Replies
              1. re: ML8000

                yeah thanks...i noticed while researching that Mexican food is very big in San Jose/San Francisco...I was a bit surprised considering my pre-conceived notions of "Califonian" food (I guess I was basing it on LA??)...

                who has the best chicken fajitas?


                1. re: loftman

                  I don't really know. Chicken fajitas aren't big in SF. Grill chicken tacos and burritos are common. I like La Cumbre for grilled chicken.

                  1. re: loftman

                    Fajitas are Tex-Mex, which is not big in this area. Mission-style burritos are the local specialty.

                2. Check out the Ferry Building for a great food selection (especially fun on Saturday mornings/afternoon due to the huge farmers market). If you want a burger, you can get one at Taylor's Refresher that's pretty good. For steak, consider Acme Chophouse (delicious, grass-fed beef). Solid downtown options - Boulevard, One Market, Town Hall, Salt House, Sens (interesting mediterranean menu), and Kokkari (fabulous Greek). Colibri (upscale Mexican) is close by in the theater district. I also suggest you walk over to North Beach through Chinatown since this will be your first trip to SF, and enjoy something at one of the Italian cafes and/or pick up some focaccia at Liguria or truffles at XOX.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kresge86

                    Some of Acme's beef is grass-fed, some isn't.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Thanks Robert. I thought they carried all grass-fed beef, but I see that's not true. In any event, I'd order the grass-fed meat. It tastes decidedly different from the corn-fed.

                      1. re: kresge86

                        The only place I've had grass-fed steak I really liked was at El Raigon.