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Montrealers in San Francisco!

My girlfriend and I will be visiting San Francisco for a week. Would anyone have any recommendations on must-eats, whether they're lunches, dinners or snacks?

Also, we plan on having at least a couple dinners at more upscale places and would love to know what is at the top of the local foodies' lists!

Thanks everyone!

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  1. Here are some suggestions given to some of your countrymen from Toronto. Additionally
    some very nice repots from grayelf of vancouver .
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/523320
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/512584

    1. You've asked a very broad question, so it might help to elaborate a bit on what you are looking for. "Must-eat" because of tradition, or because of excellence? Any or all ethnic cuisines?

      1. As a Montrealer myself who likes SF, may I suggest Boulevard & Ame for your higher end meals?

        16 Replies
        1. re: gerbera

          I was thinking Boulevard, too since Nancy Oakes loves pork as much as Martin Picard. If the OP is fond of offal, Incanto should also be nominated, from what I hear.

          I guess a "wet" Mission burrito would be our poutine-like excess.

          1. re: gerbera

            I completely second Boulevard and Ame. My two favorite very expensive, but not through-the-roof-priced restaurants in SF.

            But I'll also second the notion that we could help a lot more if you gave us some general guidelines of what sort of foods you like, price ranges, etc.

            1. re: whiner

              I'm sorry to squat this thread but here's another Montrealer who's coming to SF in a couple of weeks for 10 days. Money is not really an object but I prefer value to hype. Here's what we have so far. We love italian so I booked Perbacco on the first weekend and A16 on the last. We'll be out of SF for 3 days, of which 2 will be in Napa/Yountville where I reserved Ad Hoc and Ubuntu.

              As for SF, I've put a few names on my list such as El Faro ou El Farolito for burrito and Rite-Aid for ice cream. I'm also considering Canteen, Delfina for pizza, 1550 Hyde Café for casual wine and bites, Town Hall, Bix, Colibri, Burma Superstars, The Monk’s Kettle, Range, and Mijita.

              Anything I should consider or remove of my list?

              Also, we'll be staying right around the corner from Chinatown, any reccos where to go? I know some places don't have english menus and my GF is very allergic to any kind of fish and seafood so we'd need a place where we can make sure they understand that.

              Thanks in advance.

              1. re: Campofiorin

                Bi-Rite, Rite-Aid is a pharmacy

                -----
                Bi-Rite Creamery
                3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1. re: Campofiorin

                  Rite-Aid has ice cream, but I think you may have meant Bi-Rite ;-)

                  I'd pick El Farolito over El Faro unless it's for historical reasons (El Faro invented the Mission Burrito).

                  Bring some St. Viateur bagels as good-will offerings!

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    Thanks for directing me towards El Farolito, I was thorn between the two of them.

                  2. re: Campofiorin

                    I'd skip Colibri; I went once and had no desire to return. Bix is sophisticated and very loud and you need to reserve. People like Range and Maverick but I have not been, yet. I like La Taqueria and Papalote. Love dim sum at Yank Sing at Mission/Spear (near Ferry Bldg.)

                  3. re: whiner

                    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! I took a look at Ame & Boulevard and they both look very good and reasonably priced.

                    I know I'm being pretty broad about what we would like to eat.. simply put, we eat everything and anything! Perhaps I would like to know what's really unique to San Francisco, not necessarily in terms of restaurants (I think we'll do just fine with all the suggestions and references to other posts!). As an example, anyone coming to Montreal would absolutely have to swing by St-Viateur bagels... Seattle has Salumi... etc... what about San Francisco?

                    1. re: architorture

                      Great things that aren't common elsewhere:

                      California cuisine a la Chez Panisse, Zuni Cafe
                      dim sum
                      Mission-style burrito
                      Indian pizza
                      cioppino
                      sand dabs
                      Dungeness crab (season Nov. 15 to June)

                      Mediocre to bad local specialties not worth bothering about:

                      It's It
                      soup in sourdough bread bowl
                      Hangtown fry
                      Joe's Special
                      Mitchell's ice cream
                      Bud's ice cream
                      Joe's ice cream

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Indian pizza is interesting and unique. Where would you suggest we should go to experience it? We love pizza and this would quite different.

                        1. re: Campofiorin

                          Interesting, unique and greasy. But no more a desecration than poutine, I suppose.

                          Try Zante's. $3.50 for a "Slice Indian Meat." It's in a great neighborhood to explore.

                          -----
                          Zante Pizza
                          3489 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                           
                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            I'll trade one of my bi-annual poutine for a slice.

                          2. re: Campofiorin

                            Zante's, yeah. It's kind of junk-foody but great. Not the best choice for Indian food in general.

                            There's a sort of spinoff on Haight called Raja. I'm not sure if they sell slices.

                            -----
                            Raja Cuisine of India
                            500 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                        2. re: architorture

                          Mission burrito, Burmese, Vietnamese (high and low), high end dim sum (Koi Palace), Shanghai soup dumplings (xaoi long bao or XLB), artisan goods (coffee, cheese, baked goods) and produce.

                          You'll be able to get similar quality stuff elsewhere like Mexican, Vietnamese, dim sum and XLB in LA but SF is on par with these, except different. The burrito is a big debate between SF and LA but whatever. The produce and artisan good however won't be found elsewhere.

                          If you get to Berkeley I'd check out the holy trinity of chow (coined by RW Orange) - Acme Bread, Berkeley Bowl and Gourmet Ghetto (Chez Panisse, Cheese Board). It's not really restaurant eating however, except for CP...for food tourism and munching. Or a stop at the Ferry Building on Farmer's Market day will get you this.

                          1. re: ML8000

                            Motnreal is pretty strong on Pho (a.k.a. Soupe Toinkinoise) but anything else Asian or SE Asian is likely to be better here in SF than Montreal (Chez Gatse escepted). Likewise anything Mexican or Central American.

                            1. re: ML8000

                              I'm not sure someone coming from Montreal needs to bother with the Cheese Board.

                      2. campofiorin,

                        I think Town Hall has gone downhill. I used to LOVE it. Now less so.

                        1550 Hyde is good, but I wasn't WOWed.

                        I keep hearing that I must try La Ciccia (Sardinian), but it would be out of your way. Also out of your way but very tasty is Aziza (Moroccan).

                        As I said, I think Boulevard and Ame (and Quince), though quite expensive, are worh the hype. (So is The Dining Room at the Ritz, but that is even more expensive and quite formal.)

                        Also, I haven't been in a long while, but I'vealways liked Fringale, which doesn't get talked about much on these boards, but which, as I said, I've never been let down by.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: whiner

                          I wouldn't send a Montrealer to a Moroccan restuarant; Montreal is rich in that cuisine (RestoMontreal lists no less than 15 Moroccan restuarants in Montreal). The same goes for other North African and Middle Eastern cuisines.

                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            I thought the knock on Aziza, that it wasn't authentic enough was also it's strength in that it was a unique twist. Might be a change of pace.

                            1. re: wolfe

                              It seems interesting but I must admit I live in a part of Montreal called Petit Maghreb (little Maghreb) so I have access to plenty of Moroccan food of really good quality. By the way, and off topic, I replied in my post on Quebec City and don't worry Wolfe, it's all good.

                            2. re: Xiao Yang

                              The Bay Area has a lot of other Moroccan restaurants too, but what Aziza does is quite different.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Yeah, it's Fusion, which I call the F-word.

                                "A lot of other Moroccan restauarants" is news to me.

                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                  What Mourad Lahlou does at Aziza isn't fusion in the sense of combining Moroccan cuisine with French or Japanese or whatever. His food is a personal version of his homeland's cuisine inspired by local ingredients and modern dining habits.

                                  Some other Moroccan places:

                                  http://www.chow.com/search?search[que...

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Cal-Moroccan? If that's not fusion, what is? Anyway, I don't think the posters are going to scour the 9-county Bay Area, Thomas Guide in hand, looking for Moroccan-themed restaurants when they have more authentic options at home within walking distance or a short Metro ride away.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Just curious how that's different from what's going on at, say, Vanessa's bistro in Berkeley. I like Vanessa's a lot, but recall that you don't. (Never been to Aziza.)

                                      1. re: Glencora

                                        Vanessa Dong characterizes her food as "Vietnamese tapas with a French twist." That's fusion: mixing two distinct cuisines.

                                        Adapting a single cuisine to local ingredients and habits, as Mourad Lahlou does, seems like a very different thing to me.

                            3. As another Montrealer, I wouldn't steer you away from Boulevard but be aware that it's a much bigger and more formal restaurant than PdC; and not nearly as boisterous. Although I like the Monk's Kettle, there are better versions to be had in Montreal, so not a must. La Ciccia's food is very simple and we love it for that, but as an out-of-towner who can only try so many place, I would recommend Incanto (a few blocks north). The decor is a bit too "italian" but the food is excellent with many ofal choices. Another top notch food place in the area is the Blue Plate, long a hang out for off-the-clock chefs. One place that surprised me was Bushi-tei ... we went there expecting to be underwhelmed but the food was solid all the way and a nice balance between Japanese & French. A also second Quince.

                              In the downtown area, a couple of good Basque choices are Bocadillos & Pipperade. Both run by the same chef - the former a tapas bar, the latter a traditional restaurant.

                              -----
                              La Ciccia
                              291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                              Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
                              1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                              Piperade
                              1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

                              Blue Plate
                              3218 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              Bocadillos
                              710 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                              Bushi-Tei
                              1638 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: brrruce

                                For reference, the closest thing to Piperade in Montreal would be Pintxo. That said I had a terrible time with the service at Piperade though the food was excellent. Apparently I'm not the only person who had this experience.

                                1. re: brrruce

                                  Thanks for the list. Blue Plate is actually on my short list. I must admit we're not too big on offal so Incanto is losing some of its appeal right there. La Ciccia, although we already have two italians with Perbacco and A16, seems interesting. I'm also interested in a chinese restaurant where we're sure to be understood because of allergies if you know any. We're staying next to Union Square so Chinatown is at our doorstep.

                                  1. re: Campofiorin

                                    I mentioned offal because not many places offer it, but please don't think that that's all they have. Recently we had sukling goat three ways, a glazed squab & braised rabbit combo, and great seafood starters.

                                    Haven't been yet, and have heard both extremes (great / way over-rated) ... but it's not often that one finds a Chinese restaurant like Jai Yun. Might be worth you while: http://www.sfweekly.com/2008-01-16/re...

                                    1. re: brrruce

                                      Thanks for the rec but the chinese restaurant won't do as my GF is very allergic to any kind of fish and seafood so we need and menu and also need to make sure to be understood which doesn't always seem to be the case judging by the review you're linking to. But thanks anyway, it's appreciated.

                                      1. re: Campofiorin

                                        Language can be a problem at Jai Yun. The chef speaks no English and sometimes the servers don't speak much.

                                        Yank Sing (dim sum, lunch only) is good at serving people with special dietary requests.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Thanks by the website it looks delicious. Will definitely try it.

                                        2. re: Campofiorin

                                          There are at least a couple of Chinese Buddhist vegetarian restaurants left, including Lucky Creation in Chinatown. These will not have a trace of seafood or fish of any stripe.

                                          -----
                                          Lucky Creation Vegetarian
                                          854 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94108

                                  2. >>Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! I took a look at Ame & Boulevard and they both look very good and reasonably priced.

                                    I know I'm being pretty broad about what we would like to eat.. simply put, we eat everything and anything! Perhaps I would like to know what's really unique to San Francisco, not necessarily in terms of restaurants (I think we'll do just fine with all the suggestions and references to other posts!). As an example, anyone coming to Montreal would absolutely have to swing by St-Viateur bagels... Seattle has Salumi... etc... what about San Francisco?<<

                                    Well... I actually think Boulevard and Ame are pretty "only in SF" (especially Ame) so they work on that front as well...

                                    You should have a burrito when here. IMO the two best Mission-style burritos to be had are at La Tacqueria and Tacqueria Can-cun. My most prefered burrito is actually at Papalote.

                                    Have sourdough bread. Boudin is an institution.

                                    One place that gets argued about a lot on this board, but that I absolutely swear by is Slanted Door. I will defend to the grave that it is the #1 'take out-of-towners' restaurant in the city. Modern Vietnamese, casual but 'upscale', great sweeping views of the Bay Bridge. Prices on main courses, particularly the red meats, have creeped up, however. Still, such an awesome restaurant, and unlike any I've been to outside SF.

                                    SF is also known for its Dim Sum. I prefer Ton Kaing in the Richmond.

                                    The best Regional Southern Italian restaurant I've ever been to is A16. Most Itaian restaurants are either Northern or tomato-based. But A16 really does hit it in a completely different, and wonderful way, imo.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: whiner

                                      La Taqueria does not serve "Mission-style" Burritos.

                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                        All they lack is rice and the meats, etc. are top quality. I prefer the crispy tacos, myself.

                                    2. Thank you everyone for your suggestions! We're flying out tomorrow morning and can't wait to discover San Francisco! Thanks again.