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Nov 24, 2008 08:35 AM

Recent Boston Transplants Make Bad Choices in SF

Hi Hounds,

I desperately need your help! My boyfriend and I recently located to SF from Boston. We love our new city - nice people, great weather, kick-ass farmers markets. However, we're stumbling when it comes to eating out. I KNOW there is incredible food here, but we just can't seem to find it and have had one mediocre meal after another.

A few of the places we've tried are: Jitlada and Assab (2 brights spots), Paxti's (realized I don't love Chicago-style pizza), Absinthe (decent), On the Bridge and Shabusen (meh), Pizzaria Orgasmica ($30 for a pizza??!), and Borobudur (just okay).

We live in the Lower Pacific Heights/Japantown/Hayes Valley area and we're looking for:

1. A few go-to places for those nights when we don't want to cook (For those familiar with the Boston scene, our regular haunts were Taiwan Cafe, Rod Dee, James Gate, Reef Cafe, Cafe Belo, Vee Vee, Cafe D, etc) These are the places that are inexpensive and very, very rarely let you down. Ideally they are in the neighborhood, but they don't have to be.

2. The place(s) you take your parents (or your parents take you). These are a bit nicer than your regular spots and have well-prepared food that price-wise won't freak out the parents (in Boston, this was Lala Rokh, 10 Tables, Penang, Aquitaine, Helmand, etc).

3. Neighborhood joints that deliver for when we can't muster up the energy to leave the house.

4. A great neighborhood bar - comfortable space not filled with meat heads or scene-sters. Good beer and wine list.

Any advice will be most welcome and appreciated! Thank you!

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  1. You might scroll through the Chow Digest (and sign up for the email). While it does cover the whole Bay Area, there's quite a a bit on SF.

    Here's a search of the Places database for Japantown

    There should be reports linked to many of these places. You can change the search critera to Pacific Heights or Hayes Valley for those neighborhoods.

    It is just a start. Hope you report back on where you go so we get familiar with what you like .. and don't

    BTW ... having grown up in New England, should you ever get a craving for Lobster or fried clams, there's Woodhouse and North Point Lobster Shack. is great for finding places that deliver to your zipcode.Waiter on Wheels is a paid delivery service should you be interested.

    1. For a neighborhood bar, you might want to check out Solstice @California&Divisadero. No promises it will be to your taste, but it is worth a look.

      If you want to give deep dish pizza another try, go to Little Star (on Divisadero near McAllister). They make a thin crust pie as well, but the deep dish is awfully good.

      1. I used to live in Boston, and I particularly loved Taiwan Cafe and Reef Cafe.

        Here is a link to a post of top 10 tastes for 2007. Several of my favorites are listed there in my post.

        Other places that come to mind, which I have eaten in more recently:

        Category 1: Cafe Zitouna, Sultan, Il Borgo, Cordon Bleu, Shanghai Dumpling King, Spices II, Layaly, Poc Chuc (or Popul Vuh?), El Delfin, Lotus Garden, Angkor Borei, Yummy Yummy, Pagan, Yellow Pa Taut, Larkin Express Deli

        Category 2: Bar Jules, Suppenkuche, La Ciccia, Incanto, Aziza, Canteen...

        I can't help as much with categories 3 and 4 since I don't go to your neighborhood that frequently.

        There's a Chinese place in Japantown that is known for seafood soup. I ate there once and reported on it, but I currently forget the name. Also there are some other places in Japantown that people like.

        Hope this helps! Also, keep reading chowhound, since people here won't steer you wrong!

        Dave MP

        1 Reply
        1. For Japanese in Japantown, Maki, Ino Sushi, and Takara are far superior to On the Bridge. For Category 2, see if you like Cafe Kati.

          1. Shout out to the east coast - went to school in RI myself, have lots of family & friends boston way.

            Out of curiosity, what's keeping you from eating at lots of the "best of" kind of restaurants, just to get a feel for the town? Places like Zuni and Jardinere and Boulevard and the like? Eating the Tandoorloin? And the mexican places?

            It might be the navigation and parking. That got to me for the first 6 months. You just have to bite the bullet. It gets easier each time you do it - you'll learn when you should hit a garage, when you should take the valet, and when there's a spot right around the corner.

            Go use Yelp's distance search. Try every place within 0.25 miles. You'll laugh, you'll cry, but in a year you'll know a huge amount about your 'hood.

            And how do you feel about the height, distance-wise? It seems that between the upper and lower there's a few good neighborhood joints.

            About delivery - FAIL. WOW has already been suggested, it might be your best option, but in general it's just not a delivery town. Sorry about that.