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Returning for a visit after 15 years

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I lived in San Francisco for many years until having to leave and we are now visiting again for the first time in 15 years. I remember my favorite neighborhood places but not their names and am wondering if they are still around. There was an awesome burrito place on the corner of 16th and Valencia (I think)... is it sill there? The best dim sum ever was in a place in Chinatown, upstairs off the street (an east/west street I think) with a fairly large wide staircase leading up to the restauarnat right off the street? Does anyone recognize this and can provide a location and name? There was a family style Italian place over in upper North Beach, absolutlely nothing special food wise but oh-so-memorable in my mind...with the bottomless salad bowl and shared tables....it was a store front type place on a corner is all I remember.

I know SFO has changed a lot over the years, so any must-have meal recommendations would be welcome. My fave fine dining back then was (of Course) Chez Panisse, Zuni, Stars, and a trendy place named Redux on Van Ness (which I'm sure isn't around any more. I know it has been a long time. Any suggestions for our trip over Labor Day would be welcome. We like authentic and non-fussy most of the time, but are occasionally surprised by the value/price ratio of the best upper end places. Thanks!

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  1. I think the burrito place might be the one on the corner of 17th & Valencia, called, El Toro. It was remodeled recently and now has nice plate glass windows. It's not where I go but plenty of people seem to like it. (I prefer La Taqueria on Mission near 25th.)
    Perhaps the Italian place is Capp's Corner, Powell & Green. Not my favorite but it's a lot of food for the $$.
    Dim Sum: I don't know the place you used to go to but my favorite is Yank Sing, Mission/Spear, which is near Embarcadero and Ferry Building.

    1 Reply
    1. re: walker

      Many thanks Walker. Can anyone recommend good, locals-only neighborhood places for: Italain? sushi? Thai? We are staying at the Orchard Garden near Union Square, but will venture out into all/any of the neighborhoods. Thanks!

    2. If the burrito place was literally right on the corner, it wasn't 16th and Valencia.

      If the North Beach family-style place you're thinking of isn't Capp's Corner, it doesn't matter, as it's the only one left.

      Chez Panisse and Zuni are still great. If you like those, you should consider Incanto. Other great Italian places are La Ciccia and A16.

      The best Thai by a long shot is Thai House Express at Larkin and Geary.

      Sebo for sushi.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        You also might have been thinking of Michaelangelo's, in North Beach. What i remember about it was the big bowl of gummi bears and amaretti cookies they brought by for dessert. Taqueria on 16th by Valencia is Pancho Villa--very big, high-ceilinged place, still pretty good.

      2. You should definately plan to stop by the Ferry Plaza Farmers market on Saturday morning. In addition to the farm stands there are lots of great prepared food vendors. There are also many restaurants now in the Ferry Building. Further up the Embarcadero toward the ballpark is Towns End which has a great breakfast and a nice dinner special - 3 courses for $22.

        You might like a restaurant called 1550 Hyde. The cable car stops right in front. If you like Zuni and Chez Panisse,you would like 1550 Hyde. Aziza way up on Geary is pretty good value for a fine dining experience.

        The websites and linked reports for these and other restaurants can be found in the Places database
        http://www.chow.com/places/regions/1

        You might scan the Chow Digest for recent finds. It covers the whole Bay Area so there is lots of SF tips in there along with other cities.
        http://www.chow.com/digest/tag/san+fr...

        Welcome back. Hope you will report back about where you ate.

        1. 16th and Valencia -- I think you might be thinking of La Cumbre...famous in the past for their carne asada (steak) burrito. It's still there and still good...but the slower turn over of product on the carne asada makes it not as good...unless you watch them grill it or ask for it fresh. Closer to downtown, Taqueria Cancun at 6th and Market is very good for the al pastor burrito.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ML8000

            I don't think it's La Cumbre. From the corner you have to walk past five or six other businesses to get there.

            Pancho Villa, the aforementioned El Toro, and El Buen Sabor are all on nearby corners.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              If it's exactly on the corner, you're right. Can't tell if the OP meant literally or used 16th and Valenica as a geographic marker.