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Jan 15, 2009 01:13 AM

Spontaneous trip to San Francisco this weekend

A friend of mine has convinced me to go with her on a random trip up to the bay area this weekend. We'll be arriving midday friday and staying till sunday evening.

My friend has never been to San Francisco before, and I'm pretty limited in my experience here as well, so I was hoping you guys could recommend a few places to eat that really showcase the area, culture, history, or even just whatever is in season. We're aiming for roughly 3 dinners, 2 lunches, and a nice breakfast or two as well. Any type of food is ok, as is any type of scene.

Budget wise, one, maybe two, places over $100 a person, and the rest under that and we're fine. If the place requires reservations in advance of a few days, please mention that. Any places to visit recommendations are fine as well.

Thanks a lot.

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  1. I've recently made two quick weekend trips to SF and have especially enjoyed these places which combine a local atmosphere, fun walking in the neighborhood and outstanding, innovative food:

    * Lunch (my preference) or Dinner:
    * A16 in the Marina -- Friday lunch, no reservation necessary at the counter. Excellent neighborhood scene (walk along the bay at Crissy Field after lunch) -- enjoyed the flatbread pizzas, prosciutto and meatballs. The Campania-heavy wine list is extraordinary. Very SF.

    * SPQR: Roman style tratoria on Fillmore, cousin to A16. Choose 3 appetizers for $22 or so. Also a fun neighborhood to stroll.

    * Slanted Door: modern Vietnamese in the Ferry Building. Reservations key except at the outstanding bar. Choose many dishes to share and cocktails to complement the food. Shopping the Ferry Building is a must for any visitor to the City.

    Let us know where you ultimately choose for the weekend. Enjoy.

    1. Your timing is perfect, since you'll be in town for the Saturday market at Ferry Plaza. But let's back up a minute. I'm going on the assumption that you're staying downtown, and taking public transportation when possible. If not, you can drive to some of these places but parking can be a pain and/or expensive.

      Now: Others will undoubtedly have different suggestions, but here's what I would do to get started on a great San Francisco experience (in fact I did this exact thing a few weeks ago, so forgive me if the following is overly scripted -- adjust as you see fit).

      As soon as you're checked in, Take Muni Metro to the colorful Mission District (24th St. Station) and walk down Mission almost to 25th. Go to La Taqueria, and order carnitas or carne asada tacos or burrito. Be sure to have an agua fresca (preferably strawberry) with that.

      Then walk north on Mission up to 18th and go left (west) two blocks to Guerrero. That will put you at Tartine Bakery, one of SF's best. Hard to go wrong there. If you're not full yet, mosey over about 2/3 of a block further west on 18th to Bi-Rite Creamery. Order Salted Caramel or some other great flavor.

      Walk off some of that lunch roaming around the Mission ( hope you like walking), then hop back on Muni and drop off your excess baked goods at your hotel -- I defy you to walk out of Tartine empty-handed. There's also Thorough Bakery on Church St -- I haven't been there yet but it's highly regarded.

      Go to Tadich Grill or Sam's Grill for Friday dinner, since Sam's is closed on weekends, and Tadich is closed Sunday. Order a simple grilled fish prep. Both are very old-SF places. Then maybe take a walk around North Beach. If XO Truffles is open be sure to stop in.

      Now: Saturday morning. Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. Do not miss this. Although better in summer, it's a great experience any time of year. I recommend starting early before the big crowds hit. Start out at the Hayes Street Grill stand and get a crabcake sandwich. If that's not your thing, other options abound. Get some great bread at the Acme Bakery inside, roam around and load up on goodies.

      If you didn't hit North Beach the night before, Saturday afternoon is a good time to do that. It's less old-time SF and more of a party scene at night. Alternatively, you could wander around Chinatown -- specifically Stockton St, which is the _real_ Chinatown. R&G Lounge or Great Eastern are good choices. Maybe head out to the Golden Gate Bridge.

      That should get you started. I think I'll stop here and let others make further recommendations. Have a fun trip!

      Tartine Bakery
      600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Sam's Grill & Sea Food Restaurant
      374 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104

      Bi-Rite Creamery
      3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Tadich Grill
      240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      XOX Truffles
      754 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

      La Taqueria
      2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Thorough Bread and Pastry
      248 Church Street, San Francisco, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: Steve Green

        No a huge fan of xox truffles but just wanted to put in a plug that Saturday afternoons are a great time to wander the North Beach offerings. There's usually street parking, and it's the only time I'm aware of when some of the bars like Savoy Tivoli are allowed to have Jazz bands perform. It's a nice walk to Golden Gate Bakery in Chinatown, and the dim sum places around the corner, as well.

      2. 2 of my personal favorites... pricey but outstanding!

        "Aqua" which happens to be located right next door to the aforementioned Tadich Grill. It's been rated as the best seafood restaurant in SF. You can get all the info on the website.

        "Bix" Don't get irritated if you have trouble finding it. That's part of the appeal. Check out the site. Excellent French-inspired NCal cuisine. Enjoy!!!!

        1. So where did you eat. It will help us give you better suggestions next time you visit.