Eatin’ by the side of the Bay: help us whistle a happy tune on our SF Bay area trip
WARNING: long and obsessive post follows!
Hello again SF Bay Area Hounds. Now that I have more or less nailed down my Fruitvale fiesta – http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/562094 – it’s time to flesh out the rest of our 4.5 day eating itinerary.
We have a few must visits marked with *asterisks*, but the rest are the result of a fair bit of research and just plain old curiosity. There are two of us and we’ll be walking and Muni-ing/BARTing. Any suggestions or comments are most welcome.
We arrive from Vancouver at 6:08 on Thursday night and hope to be on our way to our first meal by 7:30/8 if the planes behave. We’ll be staying at Bush and Pine and figured on a localish spot post-flight.
--- Thursday night: We had a great meal at Sam’s our inaugural evening in April and so thought we might try Tadich for a slightly different take on the old San Francisco grilled fish meal. Praying for sand dabs though would happily make do with petrale sole :-).
---Friday morning we thought we’d scope out the line at Dottie’s. If it’s too long we’ll continue on to the Blue Bottle at Mint Plaza for the fried egg thingy I keep reading about and of course some java.
After some lurking and ogling of architecture etc in SOMA we should be hungry enough to do a modified version of rw orange’s suggested
--- food crawl:
Da Beef to share a Vienna beef dog, just cuz we can.
Basil Canteen to ogle the architecture and share a duck curry if it’s available at lunch.
Sentinel to see what’s on offer and because I have a Chow crush on Chef Leary.
Yank Sing for xlb and sesame balls (and the added bonus of the Old Post Office building)
Tadich for some sand dabs (if we didn’t go on Thursday night)
North Beach for focaccia at Liguria Bakery, XOX for a cup of Graffeo and a free truffle,
Cavalli Books and Cafe for filled to order cannoli and grilled sandwiches and Sotto Mare for sand dabs if Tadich didn’t pan out
Grant Avenue for a custard tart and baked bbq pork bun from Golden Gate Bakery, plus a Chinese temple or two for reflective pauses
Poke noses into BonBonSF on the way back to hotel to freshen up for… dinner!
(Happy hour at Orson or an early 52nd floor view cocktail at Carnelian Room before we dine maybe?)
--- Dinner on Friday is at *Canteen* where I long ago booked the coveted 7:30 seating. Love Canteen. Will shut up now before I enter restraining order territory.
--- Saturday a.m. is reserved for the *Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market.* This will be our third time and I just can’t imagine not going. If I can stand not to have the Primavera chilaquiles, I foresee a ham and cheese turnover from ACME in my future and a pain au chocolate from della Fattoria for the SO washed down with a Gibraltar from Blue Bottle. Rolli Roti’s porchetta sandwiches also beckon if they are ready before lunch.
A walk along the Embarcadero toward the ball park should burn off a few calories (Red’s? Pier 31?). Will figure out transit to next port of call which is Portrero Hill to see the real crookedest street :-) which happily ends in the Mission.
--- Saturday late lunch will consist of taco tastings in the 24thish part of the Mission. Yeah, I know, we did this last time, but damn it was great and there seems to be an endless supply of taquerias. No way I’m going to get sick of such Mexican treats! Our current targets include: Taqueria Guadalajara for carnitas, El Delfin for guacamole and a volcán en molcajete because who can resist eating out of a mortar?, Rancho Grande for cactus tacos and pupusas, Philz for a caffeine fix because Blue Bottles will have worn off by now, El Buen Sabor for more carnitas, Papalote for something veg friendly, and if we’re not dead by now, *La Taqueria* for a taco dorado
--- Sunday morning sees us back at *Canteen* for breakfast with the BIL. Did I mention how much I lurve this place?
Haven’t decided what to do today but maybe a CityGuides walking tour or perhaps the Civic Centre Farmers Market to see a different side of the Bay Area’s FMs and get in a tour of City Hall while we’re at it. The Conservatory of Flowers in the Park also beckons…
-- Lunch on Sunday will depend where we end up but there are tons of places in the Tenderloin I want to try if we end up near there. Golden Gate Park is a bit of an unknown quantity – any thoughts for lunch nearish the Conservatory would be welcome. Last time we went to Lime Tree which was very good.
-- Sunday dinner is a bit of a toss up with Sebo for the izakaya style communal meal if it’s still on offer, or Incanto for some fun with offal (and assuming we can get resos at either at this juncture). We have pretty decent Japanese and solid Italian in Vancouver but I’m always up for something different which both of these restos seem to proffer. Once again, your thoughts are welcome.
--- Monday morning will be a quick snack at the hotel and then taco nirvana in Fruitvale per the great suggestions from my earlier posting. More Mexican, oh yeah, can’t wait.
-- Monday night we may not need dinner at all if our Fruitvale foray is successful but I thought maybe a lighter Asian (Thai or Vietnamese) cuisine might be in order: Bang San? Sai Jai? Manora? Ar Roi? Pagolac? Bodega Bistro?
--- Monday am will see us back at our original favourite breakfast haunt *Café de la presse* which is the SO’s choice (but you won’t hear me complaining)
We’ll stroll around Union Square for some shopping at Alessi and Cody’s, maybe Citizen Cupcake for a sugar rush or Morrow’s Nut House for a blast from the past.
-- Lunch will be either Burmese by the Bite or Larkin Express Deli if we have time to go back to the Tenderloin.
Then it’s off to the BART station for the trip home, if we are not comatose from eating. Now to make it through the next 22 days...
What a gloriously long and obsessive post. :-) So many good replies already, I don't have much to add.
First, I'm a bit confused. You say you're staying at Bush and Pine? I think those are streets that run parallel. They don't intersect. So it will be easier to recommend a nearish place if we have the actual cross street.
You mentioned your desire to experience Grant Street in Chinatown, which I endorse. But I always insist upon taking visiting tourists one block up along Stockton Street in Chinatown if they are available during the day. Grant Street is full of wonders, but Stockton Street feels (to my non-Chinese perspective) like the more authentic Chinatown, with people busily going about their actual daily business, doing their daily shopping, etc. The markets are teaming with produce and products that I can't identify, not to mention shoppers who know what they're doing while I stand by hopelessly intrigued. Plenty of bakeries and other food joints as well. But it all shuts down around 5 or 6 or so, after which Grant Street is the place to go.
Regarding the possibility of lunch in the Tenderloin, it is only a fifteen minute walk or so from the Union Square area (depending on how fast you walk). From there, you are just a few blocks from the Civic Center BART Station. If you actually do a tour of City Hall, then you'll have been to the area. And if you don't, then be sure to swing by City Hall on your way to BART, because just standing in the rotunda is a gorgeous experience.
re: Ruth Lafler
Thanks, weem. I've said elsewhere that planning a Chow trip to San Francisco is almost as good as actually going on one (almost).
My bad on the Pine/Powell typo -- let's blame it on some sort of geographic aphasia :-).
I should have made explicit this will be our fourth trip to the city by the Bay in the last five years. We always stay at the Vintage Court and have developed an absurdly proprietarial air toward SF Chinatown. I get quite exercised when I see posts dissing the food there because I just enjoy the hood so much -- I have to remind myself that I am only a visitor and the local hounds know best ;-). We stumbled on the difference between the two streets early on and have even more or less learned which shops on Grant sell worthy souvenirs. Last trip SO bought me an exquisite sleeping porcelain pig (sounds odd, absolutely beautiful) which I treasure. Our favourite place to eat is the Utopia -- love their afternoon tea snacks.
We've eaten at a couple of places in the Tenderloin (Thai House Express for dinner and Larkin Express Deli for lunch) as well as been to the Asian Art Museum etc. This is another neighbourhood that intrigues -- the Civic Centre with its sweeping architecture lying cheek by jowl with some fairly dodgy zones, and then some of the best value "ethnic" restos all within blocks. What's not to like? We've never felt threatened or unsafe there either -- you just must be sensible and keep your wits about you. Maybe it's because we have what is frequently characterized as the worst neighbhourhood in North America within blocks of my brother's house in Vancouver...
In another post you mentioned your post was in November. If one of those days is Nov 1st that is the Mexican Day of the Dead. You might stop by some of the panadrias and see if they make the DOD bread. Also a joint like Yucatasia might be serving special tamales for that day.
Wolfe: BBQ could work for sure. We have a couple of places here, notably local chainlet Memphis Blues, but I'm not sure how authentic they are -- I'll read around about Ironwood!
Ruth: We were thinking of Incanto on Sunday -- I suspect La Ciccia is more "traditional" (whatever that means) Italian and I've read a ton of great comments on it (on my list for sure) but I've kinda been jonesing to see what Chris Cosentino can do ever since I saw his squab on Iron Chef America :-). I'm definitely leaning toward Bodega if we go Vietnamese, and a "nicer" ambiance would not go amiss as most of our many Viet places in Van are decidedly bare bones. I wish that Larkin Express Deli was open late on Sundays...
cag, thanks for letting me know about Cody's... what a shame.
have to say that the only dishes that have truly disappointed me at Incanto have been poultry: if you order squab, I hope it doesn't have rubbery skin like the squab I had there. I like Incanto, but I Love, Love, Love La Ciccia (which is also my neighborhood spot and just a few blocks from home), so you know which camp I am in...I guess I feel about it sort of like you feel about Canteen :-). OTOH, I do understand the appeal of checking out Cosentino...and fyi, if you go to Incanto, the best seats IMO are those at the bar.
La Ciccia is traditional Sardinian, perhaps, but it may not be what you are thinking of when you think of traditional. In any case, if you do decide to go to La Ciccia and would like company, email me (my email is in my profile)...
If you want to get a bookstore fix, and you can figure out a way to work the Richmond into your adventures (wouldn't be too far out of the way if you go to GG Park), Green Apple Books on Clement is a great bookstore and has a wonderful cook book selection! :-) Troya across the street has good Turkish food.
The part of Portero Hill with the crooked street might be a bit of a challenge without a car; its a bit out of the way....
When susancinsf and Ruth Lafler say jump, I say how high? ;-). La Ciccia it is. I don't believe I've ever had Sardinian food (certainly not on my one trip to Italy which focused on Sicily, a cuisiine I am a convert to) but the menu looks amazing. I could eat a plate of that gnochetti right now.
If we do the Conservatory, I could see a trip to Green Apple working. Believe it or not, it is on my "SF future" list already; you are not it's only fan!
I will be using 511.org, and I'm aware Potrero Hill is a bit out there but thanks again for the excellent info.
Yeah, but it got trashed in the post you linked!
I'm a big fan of Bodega Bistro -- among other things, it's a bit more cushy and relaxing than most of the more bare-bones Viet joints in the Tenderloin.
Did I miss seeing any Italian on your list? I think you and your SO would love La Ciccia. Seems like your kind of place. You can take the MuniMetro from downtown (it's at the end of the J Church line).
re: Ruth Lafler
This is not exactly trashed, " but your attention should be on the excellent ’cue and sides (barbecued beans, coleslaw, salad, or creamy scalloped potatoes)".
The trash reviews were in April. Perhaps they cleaned up their act. In any event it's in the park and one can always stop in or call and ask if the they have altered the preparation schedule.
re: Ruth Lafler
I completely concur with the La Ciccia recommendation....however, while it is at the south end of Church (Where Church ends at 30th) it is NOT at the end of the J Church line, which keeps going a ways past there....I recommend taking a look at 511.org if you decide to go. and don't miss salumi if they have it on the menu!
291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131