Honeymoon is SF from DC suggestions?
- ktmoomau Dec 29, 2008 12:36 PM
Coming from DC, Northern Virginia and will be spending Sunday May 17 through middle of the day May 20 in SF, before heading to Australia for our honeymoon. I have been looking at threads for advice on where to eat and have some ideas, but wanted your advice. We will have dinner Sunday night, full days of eating Monday and Tuesday and probably just breakfast on Wedneseday.
I would like unique and fun SF experiences as this is my first time. They don't all have to be high end or romantic, but for dinners I would like someplace we could make reservations or that don't have ridiculous waits as Fiance gets impatient with that, but all ranges would be fine, I just want the best unique food I can't get in DC/MD/VA. We enjoy all types of cuisine, and will eat about anything. We will probably do some normal tourist things and lots of just perusing neighborhoods as I have never been. We are staying at the Fairmont.
Northern Virginia has very good Vietnamese, as we have one of the larger populations in the country, so we can get that here, but the food critic here said really good things about the Slanted Door, and I saw pretty good posts on here, thoughts?
Also we love seafood and really would like some fresh seafood, especially dungenese crab, something we don't get fresh on the East Coast.
I saw posts about good Mexican food what would be specific recommendations? We have very limited good Mexican in DC.
Also what would be good high end honeymoon appropriate eating? I would rather not go with La Folie as we have excellent French restaurants here. Gary Danko looked good as it had interesting game options would it be a good choice? If not what else?
And to top it all off, what are some great spots for well made interesting cocktails? Or some fun lounges or bars that have good cocktails?
DC area has very good: Middle Eastern, Soul Food, French Food, Thai Food, Heavier American Food, Meat and Potato types of places, Burgers and Pizza
DC area has poor: Chinese Food, Casual Italian, Mexican Food (Our Indian food is pretty good)
Thank you 1. for reading my long post 2. for taking the time to respond
If you come to DC I will repay the favor.
If you eat a lot of Vietnamese, don't bother with Slanted Door. If you want something with a similar vibe and view, then I'd recommend La Mar Cebicheria (just 100 yards up the waterfront).
For you "high-end honeymoon" meal, I'd suggest a day in the wine country (including a gourmet picnic) finished off by dinner at Cyrus. The wine country in the spring is beautiful and romantic!
I'm not sure what constitutes "casual Italian" but regional Italian is very trendy in SF at the moment: La Ciccia (Sardinia), A-16 (Campagnia); SPQR (Rome); Ducca (Venice). Our "causal" Italian is slanted toward Northern Italy (most of the Italian immigrants to SF were from Genoa, Lucca, etc.).
You get a two-fer on your crab/Chinese request: go to Chinatown and order live Dungeness crab at one of the higher-end restaurants (Great Eastern, R&G Lounge).
re: Ruth Lafler
While I agree on The Slanted Door, especially since spending several weeks eating in Vietnam a few years ago, I will disagree on La Mar. Despite going as a guest of an owner, I found everything except the ceviche to be rather uninteresting and somewhat apathetically prepared. The chef is leaving after a very short time, or has left. For Vietnamese, I much prefer the more "authentic" Bodega Bistro but if you are not comfortable in rougher urban neighborhoods, take a cab.
I think Quince is our best Italian place, with Beretta and Delfina as casual alternatives.
And for crab, the local season will be over but R&G Lounge is a great place to have it. I may be an exception out here, but I think the crab I've had in Maryland is better than Dungeness.
Canteen, referenced in another post, is a wonderful restaurant.
For really good Mexican, try Mexico DF or Maya. Maya has been on a downhill trend but just went through a chef replacement and should be in good shape by the time you get here. Both are quality upscale Mexican, similar to what you might find in Mexico City. There are plenty of taquerias for cheap and good Mexican food.
Chinese is tricky, other than the R&G Lounge. Do you want dim sum, noodles, dumplings, or major feasts? The good Chinese restaurants here tend to be somewhat specialized. Also, if you want great and unique Japanese, Koo is an excellent choice, and it's in a neighborhood you might not find if you weren't going to eat.
For cocktails, Alembic seems to be in the in spot now and definitely has good drinks. However, the New York Times wrote it up this past weekend and it may be really busy from now on. I like the margaritas at Colibri, which has a great tequila selection and makes great drinks, but the food there isn't exceptional, except the phenomenal guacamole, which is made to order and served with fresh-made soft tortillas. The most well-known margarita spot in town is Tommy's, but the food isn't anything special. The margaritas, which are somewhat non-traditional as they don't have any orange liqueur, are excellent.
Canteen is a great place for a low key, but great and very San Francisco dinner. It's a tiny little place, the food is delicious, you can see the chef cooking the whole time, and it's close to your hotel. You have to make reservations by phone, they're not on Open Table. If you go to their website, you'll be able to see their current menu (and can look again in future weeks) to see if it appeals to you, but the place is a lot more than what it seems from the menu.
For casual (well, mid-range) Italian, SF has lots of great options: Delfina, A16, Incanto, La Ciccia are some of my favorites (there are lots of posts on these restaurants, so you can search and look at their websites for the menus to see what appeals to you). The most romantic of those is definitely La Ciccia, and the service is just lovely, so that might be a great place for honeymooners (definitely tell them it's your honeymoon), and you can reserve there on OpenTable.
You won't get fresh Dungeness crab in the summer time, the season is right now. I like Slanted Door a lot, but there are a lot of people who aren't thrilled with it, so you can look at some different posts and see how you feel. It's open and is great for lunch, so that may be a good option (it's also open on Sunday night, which a lot of places aren't), and you'll have a nice view at lunch. It's nice to link it to a morning or afternoon around the Ferry Building, which is a fun place to explore.
Aziza is great for visitors, and has a very romantic dining room (though parts of it are a bit loud); it's a Moroccan/Californian place (not traditional Moroccan) . It's also a trek from downtown, though, and takes a while if you're not renting a car, so that may be something to consider, especially since you have limited time. They do have great cocktails there, so that may be something that you'd really enjoy.
Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111
5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121
291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131
2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123
817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109
3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
We are a town with great cocktails. I would recommend excellent cocktails at Nopa (a restaurant) and Alembic (a bar with a limited menu of good quality food). Range (a restaurant) also has great cocktails and good food.
I very much like Bar Crudo, a raw fish restaurant, which is next door to Tunnel Top, a pleasantly divey bar.
Alembic was just covered in this NY Times article about the cocktail renaissance in SF: http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/...
655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117
1725 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Wow thanks everyone for not only responding but doing so very quickly, I can tell this is going to be a good honeymoon.
Thank you pane for the cocktail places I was looking at the Alembic sight and that place looks great! It reminds me of the places we like to go here.
If you ever come to DC find PX our speakeasy of choice or Restaurant Eve right across the River in Virginia and get a Todd Thrasher concoction trust me on that one.
Ok so this ferry house it is like a farmers market with permanent food stalls?
My pleasure. I love a good cocktail.
Ferry building: there is a farmer's market with stalls on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The other days of the week, the interior of the building is like a super high-end food mall, with a Sur La Table, Far West Fungi, Recchiuti chocolate...many delightful (and expensive) options.
First of all... If you think DC has poor casual Italian, PLEASE GO TO DINO IN CLEVELAND PARK!!! I used to live in DC and I *love* Dino. http://www.dino-dc.com/
However, one thing that SF has is casual *regional* Italians. Specifically, A16 (Southern) and La Ciccia (Sardinian). I've still yet to get myself to La Ciccia, but all my friends love it and I've had their food in a catered environment and it was exellent. A16 is one of my favorite places in town. Absolutely wonderful food. And a pretty decent value, too.
Ok, that having been said... There is nothing like Slanted Door in DC. It is upscale Vietnamese in a way that nothing in DC is lik and it is a very 'San Francisco' type restaurant. I highly reccomend it. (Though, to be fair, its prices have gotten a bit high.) If you go, order the shaking beef -- yes, yes, I know you've had that dish in a million different restaurants in DC, but Slanted Door does it better than anyone. I promise. http://www.slanteddoor.com/
I would go to the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton over Gary Danko based both on atmosphere (more romantic) as well as upon food. Danko, is very good, though. (As is La Folie -- and I don't think DC has anything quite at that level.)
Another higher end restaurant in SF that is NOTHING like you can find in DC is Ame. It is Japanese/Italian (with French accents) Fusion. It is not super-romantic, however.
I LOVE the Afgahni food at the wonderful and moderately inexpensive Helmand Palace on Van Ness in Russian Hill.
For Mexican I would go to the Mission and get a burrito at Papalote (very non-traditional, but my favorite) or else La Tacqueria or Tacqueria Cancun.
For seafood, there is always Aqua - quite expensive, not very romantic. But very good.
For less expensive really San Francisco-y type food and atmophere, there is nopa. I love the food there, but it can be *very* loud.
Medjool is a good, young crowd as far as lounges go:
In regards to the most expensive places in the area:
We've been to both Gary Danko and the Ritz Carlton several times each and while Danko is very good, we would place the Ritz above it in every category. It also seems much easier to get into for whatever reason.
While the French Laundry remains the pinnacle, it is extremely hard to get into, is extremely expensive and is more of a one-time deal IMO. If you are going to be traveling north of the City, I would highly recommend Cyrus which I think is at least as good as any of the others here with service just as good as the food.
Regarding the specific question of dim sum, yes, you can get it weekdays for lunch. Yank Sing is the commonly sited SF destination joint - more expensive, consistent, easy - and a number of others scattered around the city. For the highest quality you have to go south out of the city (where the chinese actually live) a few miles. Koi Palace, Zen Peninsula, etc. Search "dim sum" here.
For dumplings, the most discussed are Shanghai style Xao Long Bao, so search that phrase or "XLB" as we say. Most of the good places are in the Richmond district or down the peninsula (a short drive if you have a car, a hassle otherwise). You'll also find a few purveyors of northern style (like, beijing style) dumplings, as well as a comeback for water dumplings (there were a few discussions a few years ago). In particular I always seek out the won tons in soup with BBQ pork and extra vegetable, and won tons are somewhat dumpling like although not true dumplings. So it depends on what dumplings you're looking for.
Regarding crab, I'm a huge believer in the blue crab. I enjoy the sweetness of a dungeness, but I think the blue has a richer, deeper taste. Can't get blues out here in any freshness or reasonable quality, so enjoy your local crab season. In a more general sense, san francsico has a certain paucity of dedicated, stellar fish places. Most places have fish on the menu, it's often great (my personal top might have been a certain day at Boulevard), but visitors often think of this as fish heaven - not so much.
Although I'm temped to get into a discussion of DC vs SF, I'll try not to, other than to say SF's strength is there's not just one or two good restaurants, but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them.
Many cities these days have a few good restaurants that rival what's in SF or NYC, and from everything I hear, DC is doing quite well, but I've never lived anywhere with this level of day-by-day vibrancy. My example would be my current home town of palo alto, considered somewhat of a wasteland by bay area standards, where in one shopping district there are 150 restaurants in a 20 block area, and you'd do well to eat at each one a couple of times to pick out the few dishes they make well - every one does something decently or they go out of business. And that's a lousy eating town compared to, say, Mountain View and I'll drive once a week up to San Mateo for chinese.
As another example, you'll see discussions here of TFL vs Manressa vs Ubuntu (with TFL not fairing well currently). If your town has three places of that caliber, bully for you too. We all win.
Thank you so much for all this information. I am so excited to come to a city so passionate about the food. You are right that DC doesn't have that type of food scene, we have been lucky that is has been getting much much better as of late, and we have a very active Chowhound board which is nice in finding what you want, but I am really enjoying the food enthusiasm that this board has, I can't wait to gain all the weight back that I lost for the wedding in a couple days! We will probably try to find some Xao Long Bao dumplings as we don't really have that at all here. I am excited to search for these things on the boards thank you.
I'm one of those who loves Yank Sing. (I go to the main one near the Ferry Bldg, 101 Spear at Mission.) They take reservations (try not to go later than 1pm -- they will start to run out of stuff later) they close at 4 pm. (Sit inside, not in the lobby to get the food as it's coming out of the kitchen.)
This place is pretty, clean, very popular. I've enjoyed every meal I've had here. If you don't see something you want, just ask the supervising staff and they'll make sure you get it. (I always get: shrimp dumplings, soup dumplings, chicken in lettuce cups, peking duck (individual portion is served) egg custard tart.) The tea is served in beautiful German glass tea pots.
How do you feel about Peruvian? It's super tasty and we have great Peruvian. Mochica, Limon etc.
1550 Hyde might be a good restaurant for Sunday night.
it is right on the cable car line and not far from your hotel. After a long flight it might be nice for something nearby and not a hassle. it is very good California cuisine and they have an excellent, reasonable wine list It is one of my favorite restaurants in the city.
The Tuesday farmers market at Ferry Plaza is just a shadow of the Saturday market with maybe 20% of the vendors. It is ok for locals doing their shopping, but really not worth a special visit. It will give you no feel of the massive Staurday market.
However, the Ferry Building has some nice foods shops.
You could take the Califorfnia cable car to the building and have a light breakfast at Boulette's Larder which has excellent food and a swell view of the bay. After shopping around at Ferry Plaza you can walk two blocks up to Yank SIng for dim sum. It is controversial on the board, but even many of the naysayers admit they make excellent xlb. It is in the lovely restored Old Post Office Building which has a pretty fountain that rains from the ceiling.
You could then take a street car ride along the waterfront. which runs from the new ballpark to Fisherman's Wharf.
The Wharf foodwise ... meh (with the exception of Gary Danko).
Seriously ... if anyone has tried to find something worthwhile at Fisherman's Wharf it is me. It is worth marginal time there. The maritime museum where you can board old boats is one of the nicer things to do. The sea lions at Pier 39 are fun to watch. It is interesting to watch the people making bread at the Boudin display bakery (but skip the food)
Get an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista (but nothing else). Yeah, it's touristy, but locals stop by for the coffee too.
You might enjoy Cellar 360 at Ghirardelli square. It is owned by owned by Australian wine giant Foster's. Its a wine retail store, wine education centre, tasting room and deli. They really are a nice place for wine tasting with a very friendly staff. There is another small wine tasting room at Ghirardelli but I haven't tried it yet.
Other than a tea shop there is not another worthwhile thing there ... though ... Gary Danko is scheduled to open a more casual restaurant there this year. Don't know if it will be up and running by spring.
You could board the cable car again and stroll through North Beach and Chinatown and then catch the cable car back to your hotel ... or have the crab at R & G in Chinatown. Another interesting restaurant is The House which is Asian fusion. Worthwhile stops in North Beach are XOX chocolates (free truffle with excellent Graffeo coffee which is roasted across the street), Linguira bakery (making foccacia forever, but they close early), Cafe Trieste (one of the earliest coffee houses with lots of history). In Chinatown Golden Gate Bakery is a popular stop for dim sum to go especially the egg tarts and bbq pork buns.
Some of the other places mentioned are in this list. If you click on the name of the restauant it will take you to the place record which has websites, hours and links to Chowhound reports
My choice for the high end dinner would be The Dining Room at the Ritz. It is across the street from the Fairmont and just wonderful ... food, service,wine ...everything. I liked it much better than Gary Danko. Chef Ron Siegel who won “Iron Chef” in Japan in 1998 produces California Cusine with French and Japanese influences. The champagne cart is lovely too. One of the tasting menus would be the thing to order and let them do the wine pairing.
There is a Maya in NY. Even when it first opened, I found nothing noteworthy about this restaurant and at the time I was working in Mexico City. Maya has nothing to do with the food served south of the border. .
It would be better to head to the Mission. Poc Chuc on 16th St has some of the best Yucatecan food in the Bay Area.
You could also head up to 24th street for some of the flavor of the MIssion. The street is going through a gentrification process currently (though it is far from fancy)
There is anything from house-made potato chips and tortillas at La Palma Mexicatessan, to the quirky Philz coffee house, to designer donuts (bacon / apple) at Dynamo to the new upscale ice cream shop by a well-known pastery chef serving ice cream such as Andante chevre -strawberry jam, Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee and secret breakfast which is bourbon ice cream with caramelized corn flakes. Coming soon will be Foie gras ice cream and government cheese ... I'm kind of fantisizing about putting those two flavors together in a dish.
One of the SF posters, Melanie Wong, put together this SF Mission Murals and Antojitos Walk
Here's a list I put together of tacos and burritos and tips for what to order at these taquerias
The best way you can repay anyone is to report back after your trip and tell us where you ate and how you liked it. It keeps the info fresh on the board.
I ate in NOVA/DC for 10+ years before moving here, so here's some quick thoughts on some of the rec's given so far as compared to DC establishments.
If you like a place like Palena (my favorite western cuisine in the DC area), then I think you will be happy at Canteen where the chef is a "chef's chef".
If you like a place like Komi and want to celebrate in grandeur, I'd recommend Manresa if you're willing to drive south an hour. To me it is the best restaurant I've had at that price level, period. Think of the food as something of Komi + Palena, meaning there's incredible and purposeful flavor combinations mixed with exceptional technique, not for show. It also happens to be uniquely "San Franciscan", as you'll be hard pressed to find another restaurant of that caliber with it's own biodynamic garden full of produce. If you don't want to drive and stay within the city proper, opt for the Ritz. The truly unique thing about the Ritz is that they will prepare you each a different course for their chef's tasting. Nowhere else I've been has done that for every course. But seriously, I would choose the food at Manresa over what I've had in the same price range at the SF Ritz, TFL, Citronelle, Komi, Palena, Restaurant Eve, Galileo, CityZen, or even Tetsuya. Just note that they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so your only shot would be Sunday dinner.
On Italian/Pizza: All of A16's food is very good, and as far as pizza their crust is not quite as sturdy as 2 Amy's, but the flavors are very good. For pizza, I prefer Pizzaiolo, though I can't say that either it or A16 has significantly better pizza than 2 Amy's. Incanto can be very good but it is inconsistent. I really like the place, but my trip a month ago had a horribly overcooked signature tuna-heart pasta dish (read: burnt garlic ruined everything, which was quite inexplicable with chef Cosentino in the kitchen that night).
The one new suggestion I'll make is mandatory if you enjoy bread (or pastries), you must go to Tartine Bakery. They make what I consider the best bread I've ever had (and even J. Steingarten considers it among the best of its style globally), and will put anything in the DC area to shame (Breadline is a joke). The trick is you must go after 5pm when the bread is baked, and you're better off reserving a loaf ahead of time as they sell out quickly. They make an extremely rustic loaf with several variations on their regular "Country" base: Walnut, Sesame, Olive & Herb, Wheat, etc. If you want a unique San Francisco experience, preorder a loaf (or two, even though they're big) then head down 18th St to Bi-Rite grocery and pick out your choice of cheeses, cured/force meats, wine, and other accompaniments before continuing down 18th to Dolores park for a sunset picnic and watch the Missionites (this is all within one block of each other). Then double back for brioche bread pudding from Tartine for dessert.
Last I checked, DC has poor selections for Ramen. I realize that SF proper isn't much better, but Katanaya is a decent bowl. The best I've found is Santa Ramen in San Mateo...which could be a convenient lunch stop on your way to Los Gatos and Manresa.
jeez KT congrats and you ought to cross-post on the DC board - a lot of ex-SF perspective there..
your instincts on regional strengths are spot on
Mexican: people in DC try to approximate a CA burrito, but just don't get it right. wander down between 16 - 25 streets and Valencia and you'll find a ton of modest family taquerias that just blow anything here (DC) out of the competition.
Asian: you can find dim sum daily.
it's not that the VN is better or worse than Eden Center there's just SO many more choices all over town, not just concentrated in one area.
plus all I've met who've been to Australia report fantastic choice and quality across all regions of Asia.
the Ferry building - imagine Gordon Ramsey ran the Eastern Market.
Italian: DC has nothing like http://www.losteriadelforno.com/ tiny room, even smaller menu. I also liked this place when I lived there http://www.caffemacaroni.com/index2.s... annoying name. there are more high end, and while in North Beach grab a Cannoli at Stella or Mara.
I'd save the seafood for Australia unless you're around Swan's on Polk or Anchor in the Castro for classic oyster house vibe.
although DC does have plenty of it I wouldn't pass on the French, Spanish (ok Basque) or German choices (thinking Bastille in Belden Alley, Suppenkuche in Hayes Valley is Pintxos still in the Mission?) light, modern, casual very much a CA take on these dishes
cocktails: DC doesn't have many mildly scary dives anymore. given that some open at 6 AM in SF I always wanted to do a dawn pub-crawl thru the TenderNob. but if you maintain more respectable hours and since you will be a tourist, start somewhere like Top of the Mark (for the view) and immediately move on after 1 or 2 wandering down the hill into ever more louche surroundings until you find yourself at closing time on Geary and Polk in a drunken screaming match with a transvestite hooker. oh wait this is your honeymoon. scratch that.
Pane - Bar Crudo, is that where Ricky's creepy corner store was? (and for trivia fans a couple of doors from where Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal crashed into the costume shop in What's Up Doc across Bush from the alley where Dashiell Hammett lived)
justtryit is right - a baguette in SF is the best in the US. even crappy supermarket in-house brands (although some are better than others) are just phenomenal compared to here - Marvelous Market wishes it could come close and it's amusing how defensive posters get about Breadline. just get a few minis, some cheese and prosciutto and have a picnic on the Bay (at the end of the walking pier on the Embarcadero near the foot of Pacific Street is my rec).
re: hill food
Yeah, I should have cross-posted I just then didn't want it duplicated when they moved it. I didn't realize we had so many ex-pats.
I am so excited about the bread. You have no idea. After growing up with an amish nanny, where bread was a very farm to table experience and was amazing, my Mother also made homemade bread when I was little, then studying in France, where bread is a religion, DC is a disappointment. I am lucky that I live near the only two good bread places I know of Patisseries by Randolph and Hiedelberg bakery. The first being the only place that makes croissants that taste like they should and the second has some decent German breads. But really DC is very lacking in bread, which is strange since Bethesda has a huge French population. It's funny how much people like Breadline bread, they have good sandwiches, but the bread is just ok. You can find a few places that do good yeast rolls and Southern breads, but harder French and Italian breads... forget it.
Thanks for all the cocktail advice. Is Top of the Mark like a Hotel Washington type place? Is there anywhere like PX? Or Round Robin or trendyish like Oya/PS7?
I will have to compare what are the good food I can get in Australia- Asian/Italian/etc, and decide what to do... this is going to be tough.
Fiance loved your description of the Ferry Building. He loves CA cuisine, so will have to get some tacos, and some CA food, really that is something that we both crave when we travel out of here, it is the main thing we don't have.
I have no advice on Australia.
as Wolfe points out, Bix is cool, not a speakeasy, but given the alley entrance feels like one. It's too bad Bruno passed on to the Church Triumphant and now Persian aub Zam Zam is in new hands - just not the same. Tosca is a classic if only for the opera on the juke and the memory of (then) Mayor Willie Brown smoking cigars AFTER the ban.
the Mark has stunning views but the bill can be equally stunning and actually decent service quite unlike the Hotel Washington. it's amusing to look down on 20 story buildings (and that's at street level) plus the California cable car stops right out front and hardly anyone except locals ever take it. across the street in the Fairmont the Tonga room overdoses on the kitsch, but heck why not? not a hangout,nothing to recommend it except for the decor.
Russian - that's something hard to find in DC anymore, vibrant area out in the Richmond along Geary and Clement (forget the exact cross streets).
pick up a SF Weekly or Guardian while there or go online - far better coverage of the local food scene than the DC City Paper does here.
Okay if you like bread, I'll reiterate that you really must go to Tartine Bakery for their 5pm bread. The crust is strike-a-match hard and splintery, but the inside is a moist pillow with incredible hole structure. I have faith that a hot Tartine Country loaf with some cheese/pate/salumi/Wine from Bi-Rite and a picnic at the park could be the only food experience another place won't recreate. Though in truth, if you really like bread, you can skip the extras and just dig into the loaf by itself. It's a world apart from The Breadline, Marvelous Market, Baguette Republic, etc. and all the other "bread" in DC. Tartine also makes good pastries.
The same goes for Manresa. I went for the tasting menu on Sunday, 14+ courses
I spent some time in much of Australia's eastern half and would just recommend that you enjoy the seafood. If you can manage to fit it in, Tetsuya in Sydney is probably the most coveted reservation in the country. I went in 2003 so I can't comment on the current quality, but he is regularly considered Australia's finest chef. I imagine the cuisine is still heavily weighted towards seafood (as are Manresa and the SF Ritz).
one other thing, sort of food related, there are 2 wild flocks of parrots, one on Dolores Street and one on Telegraph Hill. I can't remember when the Cherry trees blossom in SF, I think later than DC's bloom, but don't quote me. When the trees in Walton Square blossom, the T-Hill birds come down (on Jackson Street in Jackson Square, but there is no actual Jackson Square - don't ask why unless you want to read all the collected work of Herb Caen) it's an hysterically funny sight with parrots hanging upside down in the trees squawking and munching on wads of pink flowers in their mouths. I usu. saw them around 5 or 6 PM.
another pleasant way to kill a few hours on a Sunday (or a play-hooky day) is the N-Judah streetcar out to the beach (not for swimming, too cold) and walk up the hill to explore the ruins of the Sutro Baths and then a Bloody in the Cliff House. alas no more Pronto Pup, about the only corndog I found in SF. still a nice view if a total tourist trap locale.
once you're up there the Geary bus can get you back downtown (pick an express) or that or the Balboa local can take you by the Russian area I was describing - I think you can even find Kvass someplaces, not that I recommend it...
I love the parrot advice.
So slight change of plans, we got a reservation for the French Laundry on Tuesday so we will go out towards their maybe go to a winery in the afternoon then head to dinner (seriously don't know how I am going to eat all this food after my wedding diet, hopefully the stomach stretches fast). I thought about doing the Ferry building in the morning to hit the Farmers Market and grab some breakfast/lunch and some snacks to take on the way.
Amex recommended a winery, I can't remember what it was, I will post back later this evening.
So Monday I was thinking Chinese, Vietnamese or tacos. I know Fiance wants to go to Chinatown, so we might try one of the recs for dim sum, as really it isn't great in the city here. I guess his parents recommended Empress of China, probably because it is pretty, thoughts? I want to go somewhere with good, authentic food, as corn starch sauces, and Americanized Chinese really aren't for me. So if you have good recs for dishes to get at any above mentioned places, or a new places with recommended dishes I am all ears.
Apparently we get in pretty late our time, Fiance said something about going to the bar nearby with the good view, I think he must mean Top of The Mark (we are staying at the Fairmont). They don't seem to have much food, is there any other place close that might be a good snack?
I am maping out all the places recommended on a google map and saving it to my iphone so I can pop it open and see what is close to where we are that you guys recommend.
The Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market on Tuesday doesn't open until 10, and doesn't have the same wide scope (nowhere near) as the Saturday market does, so won't have the same amount of possibilities for breakfast and snacks. I'd recommend a good bakery for snacks, or stopping at one of the good weekday breakfast places before heading up to Wine Country, and then having a very light lunch.
If you have to stay in the city for dim sum on Monday and since it is a special occasion for you, I would do Yank Sing. I'm not exactly a fan because it is quite expensive, but the atmosphere, quality and selection will probably be best in the city.
If you want to go specifically to Chinatown, consider Great Eastern instead of Empress of China. They have dim sum (not as extensive as Yank Sing, but all the basics) and you could also get Dungeness and other Cantonese dishes there. Alternatively, you can try Shanghainese and xiao lung bao at Bund Shanghai across the street.
After lunch, pick up some custard tarts at Golden Gate Bakery. If you are a tea fan, I highly recommend Red Blossom.
Yank Sing Banquet & Catering
101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Golden Gate Bakery
1029 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Great Eastern Restaurant
649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Red Blossom Tea Company
831 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108
640 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA
The top of Nob Hill is not exactly snack type of restaurant friendly. How late is late?
You could still stop by the Ferry Building for cheese, bread, and pastries from Acme, Cowgirl creamery and Frog Hollow. It is just not the big market scene. Boulette's Larder is in the building and you can have an excellent, if pricy breakfast there with a great view of the bay. Another thought is to pick up coffee and pastries at The Sentinal on New Montgomery street.
I think you need to do some thinking not only about where you are coming from, but where you are going as well.
While it may be true as was pointed out above that there isn't anything like Slanted Door in the DC area (though I have had excellent Thai food there, if not Vietnamese), I think there are places like it in Australia, at least in Sydney. Haven't been to Sydney for a while, but the Asian food and pan-Asian food in general was quite good there. If I was looking for something that you can't get in either Oz or in DC, I'd strongly concur with the Aziza recs you've already gotten (I would also second or third La Ciccia but it is closed Mondays and sounds like you get in too late for it on Sunday). They have great cocktails at Aziza btw, and it is unique. Even the setting at Slanted Door will remind you of Sydney (or rather, once you get to Sydney there are places in the harbor that will remind you of San Francisco's Embarcadero more than a bit)..
If you do decide to spend some time in Chinatown, Kan's is an option with an attractive setting (be sure to check out the bar) and dim sum that is probably better than Empress of China, though I am not sure about a weekday. The Yank Sing recommendation isn't bad either. I think I'd probably go with the Bund Shanghai recommendation though.
And yet again, not sure I'd spend that much time in Chinatown with your limited schedule. Sydney has a Chinatown, and while I haven't spent much time there, given the quality of the other Asian food I've eaten there I wouldn't be surprised if you can find good dim sum there as well. I know the eateries in Sydney's Chinatown are varied and open late. You might want to do a bit of inquiring on the Australia board.
I am not a burrito fan, but the suggestion someone made to head to the Mission to a taqueria is a good one. If you want a casual but delicious sit down lunch I particularly love Poc Chuc, which I think was mentioned elsewhere in this thread. I don't think you will find anything like it in DC and I know you won't find anything like it in Australia! It is very accessible via public transportation (BART)
Have a great time! (Australia is one of the few places I love as much as I love San Francisco!)
2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Go to Nopalito for incredible Mexican food: so much more than good tacos. Nothing like it in DC. The review by Bauer (the local food critic) is spot-on. I grew up in Southern California and have eaten a lot of Mexican food - Nopalito is easily in the top 5 best Mexican meals I've had and among the Bay's best Mexican spots. The atmosphere is casual but much nicer than most of the places in the Mission.
Only downside is that they don't take reservations so call ahead day of and get your name on the list (be sure to mention that you're on your honeymoon - I found that got me VIP treatment when I was on mine).
Here's Bauer's review:
and the website with menu:
I'm actually suprised that noone has mentioned Perbacco for Italian which is downtown on California Street. It is quite good, I'd say the equal of A16 (although different). I would second the idea of going to The Dinning Room at the Ritz Carlton instead of Gary Danko. If there is a Lobster course you will see why Ron Siegel won Iron Chef Lobster (on the original IC show in Japan). Also I've never had a problem getting in to The French Laundry but you do need to allocate a fair amount of time and money to the occassion. So I'm not sure it this would be something you would want to take on. While I know some here might be down on Chez Panisse I have had good eperiences there and can recommend it (but CP is across the bay in Berkeley, not in SF).
Yeah, I was a little hesitant because of the price because we are also trying to go to some other high end restaurants in Australia, but apparently going to the French Laundry is the whole reason we have a stop in California. Fiance did his research on it, so it's a go.
We arrive at 7:30 PDT, and have to pick up our car and get into the city. So probably won't get settled in till like 9:30? And it will be the day after the wedding so I imagine there is the possibility we will be exhausted and might not go anywhere. We are hoping our flights run on time so we can grab something to eat at our stop in Atlanta, we will be able to eat lunch at the Greenbrier before we leave for the airport. But if our flight runs late we might not get to do that. But I can't imagine there will be a delay for the flight in Lewisburg, WV...
it's become better, but SF has had a bad track record for good food late at night. (it can be found) and remember time zone wise you only lose an hour flying West.
I lived for 3 yrs. on Stockton and Pine (round the corner a few blocks) and yes, one has to descend the hill a few blocks to find anything outside of a hotel.
the Bauer rec's - I believe he's a pal with Sietsema, if that helps.
Thank you all, we had a great time in your city, and I can't wait to go back. Here is my report thought you might enjoy:
R&G Lounge- So I am trying to get into Chinese food, when I was little I had a couple really bad reactions and it has taken a while, but we ordered a bunch of stuff and I had a good time trying things. I had XO chicken with snap peas (I know pretty tame but again you walk into the pool before you dive in) that was very good. And I have to admit I ordered spring rolls as they are pretty safe in my book, and found the ones there very fresh and crispy and not huge in a good way. Unfortunately with all the other stuff we ate I can't remember all the dishes. I know we started with a bit of bbq too (again safe) and it was served with these beans that were brown and a little hard in a good way I really liked those. I am trying to remember what hubby got it was more adventurous but I tasted some and liked it... I should have taken notes or more pictures. I wish I had more people with us for the meal so I could have tried more things because the plates flowing to the tables around us all looked good and I just wanted to go around and sample to see what I liked.
We also had gone to a Chinese Bakery on Grant St. Golden Gate Bakery (I found out later this place is normally packed but jetlag had us up early that morning) we got a moon cake, pineapple bun, egg custard and a bbq pork bun. I liked all of those very much. Those are things I could get more used to.
Top of the Mark- we arrived pretty late our first evening and stayed at the Fairmont so this was across the street and kind of romantic for a first night honeymoon. On our way up a nice gay couple told hubby that my rings were gorgeous and he did a great job so he was in a very good mood. We ordered cocktails- I just got a gin and tonic, he got a martini. The view was really nice. We had seared tuna there that was very good- seared perfectly nice crust of sesame seeds, nicely but not overly sauced. It was a nice late night snack. We also had the cheese plate, which didn't have very adventurous cheese and two blues of which hubby isn't a fan of so I had a lot of cheese, but it was nice for a late night just to unwind after a huge wedding and flights. I know it is a touristy thing to do, but it is nice and rather relaxing and they don't make bad cocktails so I am not complaining.
The next day we headed to the ferry building and did some nibbling- The roast beef sushi from Delica rfi was really good, good marks to cowgirl creamery of course. We were on an off day so it was a little slow and we were leaving to go to Napa for the French Laundry so we just wanted to graze some. We sat down at the Market Bar because my puppies were tired had charcuterie, dugenese deviled eggs and smoked salmon bruschetta with goat cheese. The deviled eggs were so-so, meat was very good and the smoked salmon bruschetta stole the show. The salmon was almost creamy and wasn't so smokey that it overwhelmed the fish. The goat cheese had nice balance with the relish and it was toasted so that the textures and flavors came together quite well. I had wanted to go to the slanted door but life's a compromise.
We then headed out to Napa and Sonoma. Dinner at the French Laundry was worth it. It was an experience not just a dinner. I browsed the garden across the street and sat in the lovely flower garden waiting for them to order as we had 5:30 reservations. We were greeted with Champagne and congratulations. We ordered the tasting menu alternating the choices. What was incredible is that they incorporated flavors from individual things hubby and I are not crazy about into dishes in ways that we liked them (beets, caviar, mushrooms- mostly hubby dislikes but I am not huge on beets). Every dish was memorable in a different way. The pearls, oyster and caviar was rich with a tiny tang and the texture in your mouth with the salty and savory flavors really came together to make this exotic dish almost homey. The salad of hamachi was cool, crisp and refreshing while the fatty fish had nice texture and flavor as it melded in your mouth. The lobster with leeks and beets was rich but the texture of the lobster was perfect and the beet used here just added a fresh flavor and cut a bit of the salt flavor to make it very balanced. The beef dish gave you the perfect portion and in each bite I tried to get a bit of everything as it was just very balanced. The chocolate dessert was decadent and hubby had a very fruity dessert that was a good combination of sweet and tart. We were then overloaded with a whole box of other assorted goodies and then sent home with shortbread cookies that made the plane to Australia very tasty. I won't go through every dish there is no use anyway someone else I am sure has. I know some people say it is overrated, but for us the balanced flavors and perfection of smell, texture, taste and balance paired with absolutely impeccable service that was in no way over the top really made the experience for us. We both commented that we had as much fun as we did at Minibar, which in essence is a fun food experience where the French Laundry just doesn't try to play up the fun as much. So if you get a chance do go. We were lucky Amex plat called as soon as they started taking calls at the first day out they would take reservations for our date we needed so it worked out. I think if you are contemplating going, don't rule it out because other people say it is underwhelming. But I wouldn't go to see something you have never seen before. It is still food on a plate. It will taste like the ingredients in it. But I do think the almost science of perfecting flavor if you really taste it is quite nice.
Anyway those are my thoughts. Hope this may come in helpful for someone.
Thanks for reporting back. Nice report, especially about the French Laundry. Glad to hear you had a nice trip.
The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599
R & G Lounge
631 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108
1 Ferry Bldg, San Francisco, CA
Top of the Mark
Number One Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108