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Boston Hound seeking advice for trip to San Francisco [moved from Boston board]

I know this sounds like I posted to the wrong board, but from time to time in our discussions, we see it mentioned that this, or that is better in San Francisco than it is in Boston. I'll be be there for only a few days so I want to focus on things that either we don't have here or somehting that we do have but is executed far better in SF.

So can you fellow hounds point me in the direction of the things that I should be seeking out during my visit? TIA

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  1. I'll be in SF for the Fancy Food Show in January and the first restaurant on my list is Manresa in Los Gatos. If you haven't done Zuni Cafe, you should. Avoid Gary Danko. The Slanted Door is very popular and delicious. But as you said, the SF board has the most current 411.

    http://manresarestaurant.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: almansa

      I live in SF and would say the opposite - The only way I would ever go to Manresa again is if someone else is paying but I'd find any excuse at all to return to Gary Danko.

    2. I always enjoy a walk through the Ferry Building - great cheese, funghi, etc. - nothing like it here in Boston (wouldn't it be great if Quincy Market was like that?). FWIW, I have had great meals at Michael Mina and Gary Danko. Also really liked Bacar.

      5 Replies
      1. re: hsquare2southend

        You know, I wouldn't trade Quincy Market for the Ferry Bldg- The Ferry Bldg is wonderful but pricey.

        I would hit the Mission for tacos. You can get a decent burrito even in Boston at Ana's, but they don't have al Pastor (as far as I remember, and certainly not on the spit).

        1. re: P. Punko

          Aww...I used to work next to Ana's in Porter Square. I may hit up the Mission on my trip, since good burritos are scarce in Maine.

          I'll do a search, but any standout places to get a great taco or burrito?

          1. re: P. Punko

            anna's does have al pastor. i recently moved from boston and have gotten burritos at el farolito. my very first one (with al pastor, of course!) in sf was easily twice the size of a super burrito at anna. and they use real avocado hunks here instead of the "guacamole" that is slapped on with a spatula.

            1. re: lschow

              Yeah, but the Anna's guys are pros with the spatulas. I don't think they have the Al Pastor spit at Anna's- that is what you can get around here. I do find that quality at SF taquerias is much more variable, as with a lot of restaurants in SF. Highs can be a lot higher, but if you really want to know a place, you have to give it more than one shot and be prepared for a wild card. All of my fave taquerias on the peninsula are this way about some things.

        2. Since San Francisco's Chinatown is so much larger than Boston's and since we are at the peak of whatever sort of crab season we're stuck withhere, I can't think of a better recommendation than a trip to Yuet Lee (Stockton and Broadway) or R+G (600 something Kearney) for Salt and Pepper "roasted" crab, or some other saucier version of same.

          1. As a transplanted San Franciscan living in Boston--do as I do...every meal Mexican or Asian when in SF. No comparison! The yankee palate is in full effect here in Beantown.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Trumpetguy

              A 3rd or 4th on Mexican food (stick to the taquerias) and Asian food. Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese and Thai should be better. Beyond that -- the artisan foods and produce should be eye opening.

              Coffee, baked good, chocolate, etc. might be hard to round up so you might hit a couple of coffee places (Peet's and Blue Bottle) and then the Ferry Building to get many at once (oh right, there's a Peet's in the Ferry Bldg).

              If you have time, head to Berkeley Bowl. The produce section and bread isle (where they carry at least a dozen, maybe 2 dozen, artisan breads) could be interesting. You won't find those two anywhere else in the U.S., not to that magnitude and quality.

              Also do a search on Aziza.

              1. re: ML8000

                Thai is not better in SF, and Vietnamese is a tossup- depends on the place. If you want Thai, there are good places, such as Thai House Express (Geary and Larkin) but it isn't a whole lot better than Rod Dee or Dok Bua (in Brookline, MA). This is because they are all excellent.

                If you do go down to the Mission you can try some Yucatecan places (lots of mentions on this board- there are 3-4 different places).

                1. re: P. Punko

                  I would disagree that Viet is a toss up? Where in Boston is excellent Vietnamese food,that would compare to those Tenderloin or Clement St. places?

                  I love Spices (8th and Clement)--have not found the equivalent in Boston for Szechuan food--though I like a few spots in Boston area. Why do shrimp taste better and fresher in SF?

                  Also if you like beer--Go to Toronado for west coast beers you cannot get in Boston( Russian River Brewing!!!)

                  1. re: P. Punko

                    I could see how pho and such is similar but is there a Slanted Door or Bong Su type place?

                    1. re: ML8000

                      Viet food is far superior in the Bay Area (let's remember that Westminster in Orange County and San Jose have the largest populations outside of Vietnam). Boston has some okay Pho joints, including a local chain Pho Pasteur. But, nowhere, including NYC as well as Boston, are there places like Bong Su and Slanted Door. Pho and rice plates aren't not the sum total of Vietnamese food. I highly recommend a visit to one of those two to try something that you can't get in Boston (and I will add a 5th or 6th concurrence on taquieria food).

                  2. re: ML8000

                    They have Peet's in boston. According to their website, just about where you'd expect - harvard sq, brookline, newton center, etc.

                    Blue Bottle's more of a Deal.

                    Agree generally on Thai and Viet - not much better here. Unless, maybe, you're willing to go to east san jose and hit the amazing Pho places. There's a strong line of south indian places through Santa Clara too, don't know if that hit Boston. That kind of trip requires some serious dedication and legwork.

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      Wow! Seriously--the New England palate is IN effect in Boston. Most (nearly all!)Thai places seem fearful to make a dish spicy hot. Not the case at all in the Bay Area! A 3 pepper dish on a menu is much hotter in San Francisco than a 3 pepper dish in Boston...Pho? there is a lot more to the cuisine than just that!

                      1. re: Trumpetguy

                        Well, I've had melt your face hot at Dok Bua in Brookline, and just as hot at Thai House Express here. Brown Sugar will also make larb and Pad Kee Mao as hot as you will find anywhere. I've had great Vietnamese in Boston at restaurants that didn't last (superior to Pho Pasteur). They just didn't have Northern or other regional specialties, like you could find in places in San Jose or the Tenderloin.

                2. Thanks all for your magnificent suggestions. I am flying out today and will be sure to post back upon my return.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Food4Thought

                    For Chinese you might want to go to someplace you really won't find in Boston. If you want to stay in SF rather than going to South SF etc, then maybe San Tung restaurant? It's in the Sunset district, serves food that is fairly authentic for Sandong cuisine, or Korean-style Chinese. Really good noodles, this time of year.

                    1. re: Food4Thought

                      My Hit list for SF;

                      Salthouse (soma) for Chili Fries (made with slow braised beef).
                      Range (Mission) for chicken liver pate & any main.
                      Bar Crudo (Union Sq) for, wait for it, any crudo.
                      Blue Plate (outer mission) best neighborhood american rest, ever!
                      Delfina Pizza (Mission) for antipasti and wine afternoon snack
                      Tartine (Mission) for breakfast
                      Jeanty at Jack's (downtn) for mindblowing Tomato soup under puff pastry.

                      Enjoy our city!

                      1. re: FrenchFryPie

                        I lived in Boston (many years ago) and occasionally visit family there, I can't think of anything that is better in Boston other than cannolis and certain types of seafood that aren't local out here. FrenchFryPie's recommendations are a good start, Range has incredible chicken by the way, brined from what I can tell, but would add Canteen (and Dennis Leary's Sentinel for lunch), I prefer Beretta to Delfina for pizza these days, Dosa and Breads of India (East Bay) for great Indian food (way better than anything in Boston), Koo for innovative sushi, Aqua or Ame if you want to spend a lot on great food, Le P'tit Laurent and Chapeau for neighborhood French, the list goes on and on. I have a hard time remembering any memorable dinner I had in Boston beyond fresh oysters...