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Where do take visitors to the Bay Area?

If you want to show friends and family truly SF/Bay Area food, where do you take them? I would like to compile a list of what locals feel are the best restaurants to "show-off," there city. I for example would consider El Farolito taqueria, in addition to the Slanted Door on the higher end. I would even include a trip to Berkeley Bowl market and cook for the guests. But seeing what hidden away (or blatantly obvious) restaurants others consider "don't miss," may help us all expand our local horizons.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I like to take people to the Berkeley Bowl, too. It always blows their minds! In that vein, a couple of farmers markets would be good: Ferry Plaza because it's "the" farmers market, and Alemany or one of the others that's more downscale and has more ethnic vendors, where you can show them tables full of weird vegetables they've never seen before.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Yes I have to agree. I have lived and spent much time in both SF and East Bay and I am still amazed at the produce. Ferry Plaza is a little upscale for me (but good for visitors) I love the simplicity and basic produce available at Alemany. As I prepare to move to NY, I know I am going to miss the produce of California.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Nothing tops a stroll down Stockton in Chinatown St. at high noon for mind-bending, though.

      2. Depends where they're visiting from...but yes, produce at Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market usually has eye popping results. Most people just can't believe the variety and price.

        Beyond that, ethnic (Mexican and Asian), I think the artisan stuff is sets the Bay Area apart. A bit harder to bring people to that but there's the Scharffenberger tour in Berkeley, Acme Breads, Blue Bottle (the $15k coffeemaker), Bi-Rite and Anchor Steam brewery.

        For a half day of hanging out, I like Clement St. Great mix Asian, produce, nick-nacks, kitchen stuff but you can also eat at Clementine. Also a short drive to 19th/20th and Geary where there's an interesting mix of Russsian, Asian and a few others. Someone else can give the Mission tour blurb.

          1. re: Dave MP

            Thanks for the links, Dave -- I missed a couple of these as they predate my discovery of Chowhound and your great reports!

            1. The "where are they coming from" is a crucial question -- no reason to bring someone from SoCal to a Taqueria, for example. North Beach would be a joke to a Bostonian.

              My Go-To Wow 'Em restaurant is Aziza as there is nothing like it anywhere else I have been, is affordable, and blows everyone away that I have brought.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Carrie 218

                On that note of nowhere else, if money wasn't a huge issue, I'd bring people to Manresa in Los Gatos. Mind blowing (pine needle ice cream), better then French Laundry (but less expensive). Perhaps the best restaurant in California.

              2. A walking tour of Chinatown with stops at some of the bakeries for snacks. If you read Hammett while at the pole you need a stop on Bush just behind the Sutter-Stockton garage at Burritt Alley for a look at the brass plaque commemorating the opening crime in "The Maltese Falcon".

                1 Reply
                1. We have a wealth of Indian retaurants on the peninsula and in the south and east bay, more and better than most places have. Amber India, the original, never fails to wow. And while Japanese food is well represented on the east coast, my guests from those parts are impressed with Japantown in San Jose, which is completely un-disneyfied, has several delightful very down-to-earth restaurants and lots of history. As much as I have complained on this board about the service at Zuni, the food and the atmosphere are somehow very California, and IMO Chez Panisse is quintessential. In the right season, our farmers' markets are fantastic. I took guests from Vancouver to the Sunday market in Campbell and they loved it.

                  1. burger and string fries at zuni. maybe start with a dozen oysters on the half shell and a vodka gimlet. some would argue for the bloody mary and they wouldn't be wrong. all-in-all, a mighty fine lunch.

                    sand dabs and martinis at tadich. go for a late lunch. 2 p.m. or so. sit at the bar.

                    incanto is a terrific dinner destination. taking mass transit (j-church line) just makes it that much better.

                    bar crudo is a moderately priced dinner destination that makes me happy. drinks next door at tunnel top add up to an evening that captures san francisco. very cool.