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Looking for a San Francisco equivalent of a Portland American Dining Restaurant


My girlfriend and I ate at Wildwood restaurant in Portland, Oregon a few years back and really enjoyed it. Myself being not to keen on food, cannot seem to figure out what would be a comparatively good restaurant here in San Francisco.

Wildwood specializes in using pacific northwest ingredients locally, but other than that I can only guess that the type of food is "American" food. It doesn't seem to be French, Italian, or any other European type food. The items on their current menu that come closest to what we ate there a few years back are:

cauliflower gratin, lacinato kale, roasted plums and gypsy peppers

creative growers buttercup squash, golden raisins, baby turnips and brown butter harissa

The restaurant is linked here: http://wildwoodrestaurant.com/aboutus...

Here are a list of places I've been recommended both by these boards and by friends... I know most are obviously french.

Cortez, Canteen, Acquerello, Michael Mina, La Folie, Jardiniere, Chapeau, South Park Cafe, Clementine, Fleur De Lys, and Masa

Any help is much appreciated,

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  1. How does this menu look to you?

    Fish and Farm
    339 Taylor Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe

      thanks for the suggestion. I like the menu at that one and definitely will put that one on the list to consider. However, trying to figure out how casual of a place this is.. I am looking to go beyond the "jeans + dress shirt" attire and not look odd.

    2. The restaurants you listed are wildly different in style, atmosphere and price. What kind of overall experience are you looking for?

      The style of cooking you're looking for is called "California cuisine" in California. Chez Panisse Cafe (not the more formal restaurant downstairs) is the restaurant all the others are modeled on.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Chez Panisse Cafe came to mind for me too, but of course it is in Berkeley, not SF. In San Francisco proper, I'd check out Zuni for what you are looking for; probably closer than most of the places you've listed.

        Zuni Cafe
        1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

        1. re: susancinsf

          I'm not a fan of Zuni. Besides, all anyone ever recommends at Zuni is the chicken, the hamburger/fries, the oysters the caeser salad and the espresso granita -- none of which sound like what the o.p. was looking for.

      2. You might look into NOPA.

        560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

        1. You should check out Boulevard. I think the food there is closest to your examples.


          Wild Rice with Chanterelle Mushrooms & Spring Onions
          Roasted Red Beets with Pecans Foie Gras Sauce, Roasted Duck Jus with Calvados

          Boulevard Restaurant
          1 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105

          2 Replies
          1. re: Paul H

            It's been a few years since my own visit to Portland's Wildwood, but I think the local target is somewhere in between Zuni and Boulevard. Zuni is simpler food and a more casual room; Boulevard offers more detailed preps and a more special occasion atmosphere. Or maybe Jardiniere though I've not been there since the remodel.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              thanks again everyone. I was also told Boulevard by another friend from the city in fact. Thanks Melanie for mentioning that Zuni is simpler, because I'm trying to further narrow down a place that is a bit more upscale as splurging is the theme this time around.

            1. Have you looked at Cortez's online menu? It seems very close to what you want. I had dinner there Tuesday. Lots of local meats and seasonal, mostly organic produce. I had the duck pate and apple three ways, and the scallops with potato and corn risotto, house made crispy pancetta and tiny, tiny cherry tomatoes. My friend had the lamb. The room is elegant, dimly lit. You could absolutely dress up and not feel out of place. Oh, the "taste" of corn foam with tomato and basil was pure late-summer.

                1. re: carfeng

                  La Folie? While it doesn't fit the description as given, with the "french" label I actually find that they are quite sensitive to local produce, etc. It certainly meets the "upscale...special occassion"

                  1. re: estnet

                    Being from the Pacific Northwest and having lived in NW Portland a few blocks from Wildwood (I moved to SF for four years ago), I would say that it's tough to find a restaurant with the same "feel" in San Francisco. Mostly because of the unique nature of Portland itself and the neighborhood where Wildwood is located.

                    But there's still plenty of good food to be had. If you want to go Frenchish, Chapeau and Clementine are intimate but aren't quite fancy enough for your purposes, I would think. Quince would be a better match in both level of cuisine and location.


                    And of course Chez Panisse if you want to go to Berkeley. This will feel the most like NW 21st Ave where Wildwood is. Splurge factor is high, and while sometimes I don't think it's worth it others will vehemently disagree.

                    As for Zuni and Jardiniere. I live close to each, have eaten at both and think they may not be what you're looking for at all in atmosphere (though both serve yummy food). Neither is Fleur de Lys (stuffy and formal) or One Market (giant business man's cafeteria IMHO, mediocre food).

                    As an aside about the whole Northwest cuisine thing. Restaurants in Portland and Seattle that once described themselves as serving Northwest cuisine used to make everything with salmon, duck and/or mushrooms (at times in the Italian vein, or sometimes with a gingery Asian touch). Meals were served with Washington bordeaux blends, microbrews, Oregon pinot noir and coffee. That's what all we do up there, and it's mighty good. (Plus so much cheaper than in SF.


                    Now it seems Northwest cuisine has evolved into something more like Californian cuisine or perhaps just gone New American route in general. I'm noticing lots of heritage pork lately.

                    That's not to say this evolution is bad. (Just ask wine scribe Eric Asimov of the NYT who is always crowing about Portland and thus crowding it with super aggro foodie tourists from the East Coast -- damn you, Asimov!)

                    It's just not the Pacific Northwest Cuisine of old.