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Coming from Salt Lake City, looking for some culinary experiences in SF. Help?

Sorry if I'm repeating frequently asked questions. I'm from SLC and will be coming to SF for 5 nights in February. Salt Lake is pretty scant on exceptional restaurants (only a few come to mind), so I'm looking for some wonderful restaurants (hopefully every night) while I'm in the Bay Area and can't decide between restaurants on some nights. I love all kinds of food and atmospheres. My transportation capabilities are basically limited to transit and cabs. Money is not really a concern.

Here's what I have so far, any suggestions/help would be fantastic:

--Thursday night: I'll be in the Union Square area. I'm deciding between Farallon and Aqua (I've heard Aqua has better food, but Farallon is more atmospheric and more of an experience. Thoughts?)

--Friday Night: I'll be in the Wharf area, and made a reservation for Gary Danko.

--Saturday Night: I'll be in the Berkeley area, and am planning on making reservations at Chez Panisse. (Is this place all hype or is it really that good?)

--Sunday Night: Still in Berkeley area... any ideas? (Preferably close to Cal campus)

--Monday Night: This is really up in the air. It needs to be a place relatively close to a BART station and in San Francisco proper. I'm deciding between Ame and Boulevard. Thoughts?

Thanks.

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  1. For your Thursday night, I wouldn't go to either Farallon or Aqua. If you want to be in the Union Square area, I'd go to either Canteen (very San Francisco, tiny place, not upscale at all, excellent food), Bar Crudo (great seafood, fun environment), or go just outside Union Square and head over to Zuni, which is a great introduction to San Francisco eating. I love Chez Panisse, and I think you'll have a fantastic meal there.

    Some great places to go to that are near Cal or easy to get to from Cal (and open on Sunday): Wood Tavern (right down College Ave on the Oakland/Berkeley border), Oliveto (just a little farther down College), Corso Trattoria (on Shattuck in Berkeley) or Cesar (in Berkeley, right next door to Chez Panisse, though I like the Oakland location better).

    I would pick Ame over Boulevard for your Monday night meal, but it would also be fun to try another part of the city -- head over to the Mission to go to Bar Tartine or Delfina, both near the 16th and Mission BART station.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      I'm glad to hear Chez Panisse is good, because that's the restaurant I'm looking forward to the most! :)

      1. re: ksj202

        You'll want to look up CP at chowhound to set your expectations. Consider whether you want to eat upstairs or downstairs, and set your expectations correctly. It was cutting edge still in 1985 and is still excellent, has huge history and soul, but you'll find no molecular gastronomy or 12 course tasting menus.

      2. re: JasmineG

        Zuni is not "just outside" Union Square (except in realtor geography). It's well over a mile away.

        1. re: Xiao Yang

          So's Aqua, so I didn't think that the OP was all that concerned about being in the specific environs of Union Square.

      3. This is certainly a list of good restaurants, most of which I have eaten at, but it misses one thing that I think is special in San Francisco, which is the variety of cuisines done so well that we have here. Farallon/Aqua/Danko/Panisse/Boulevard/Ame all fall into a similar category, more or less. In addition to Canteen, which is just a great place with a local feel, I would suggest venturing out, culinary-ly, and look at places like Quince, Slanted Door (I prefer the food at Bodega Bistro, but it's in a pretty rough neighborhood), R&G Lounge, maybe Aziza. Since you are going to the East Bay, try one of the Breads of India locations.

        4 Replies
        1. re: realspear

          Quince really appeals to me, but I'm concerned that I don't have a way to get there. Do you have any idea how I might get to Quince from a BART station?

          1. re: ksj202

            You don't say where you are staying, don't get hung up on BART, there are easy bus routes there. Or, as you mention, taxi. If you're staying in the East Bay, you can take BART to Powell and easily find a cab there. If you're staying downtown, you can take the #3 bus, it's about a ten minute ride.

            1. re: ksj202

              Hi, if you have enough bucks to eat at Quince, you have enough bucks for the $10 taxi ride. Remember you have to *call* taxis, so tell your hotel to get you a taxi in general (coming out of Powell St may be an exception, as are major hotels which have taxi ranks - I've often come out of bart, turned right down to the mariott, and picked up something from their taxi rank), or put Luxor, Yellow, Veterans, whatever in your cell phone. When you're leaving quince, do the same.

              If you're morally opposed to cars, consider either the excellent 511.org transit directions, or maps.google.com directions (where you can select "by transit"). That general direction - down geary or sutter - has exceptional bus service and you'll get to smell, er, see, a different part of SF.

              Oh, and listen to realspear. Good advice. If you're a non-mormon, you might want to consider our fine cocktails as well - something we do a little better than salt lake.

          2. Other folks on the board have offered better place specific recommendations, but I travel to SLC somewhat frequently and would second the recommendation to try Indian in Berkeley. There Ajanta, Breads of India, Viks - all different experiences, and I believe there was a thread about it. Indian (albeit best in the Fremont or South Bay IMO) is something that the Bay Area does very well that isn't done as well in Salt Lake.

            Close to a Bart station if they are open on Monday night is Poc Chuc in the Mission for yummy Mexican in a different style than most SLC places.

            I do like Chez Panisse, but do the cafe myself.

            I also recommend Aziza as something different, yet very California and tastey. I have done public transportation there on the bus from Union Square area, or you can grab a cab.