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Feb 3, 2009 12:08 PM

Questions from a San Francisco first-timer

I'm looking for anyone who wants to weigh in on the following questions for a first-time visitor:

1) Greens vs. Millenium for a fairly (to us at least) pricey vegetarian meal - which one and why?

2) Is Saha a good option for a Valentine's meal that won't simply be an overpriced prix fixe with no veggie options for me, or should I look for somewhere else?

3) Do people who live in the city think Liguria Bakery deserves the recommendation it gets in Time magazine's San Francisco guide, or should somewhere else garner that sort of recommendation?

4) I'd like to hear people's suggestions for their favorite Indian and favorite Thai places in the city, with reasons why. We're staying in the Hotel Carlton where Saha is located, but we could travel anywhere fairly accessible by public transport for a place that comes highly recommended.

I have been browsing through the archives for some suggestions and ideas, so please go easy on the instant accusations of laziness! I'm just excited to sample the city's restaurant options and looking for some enthusiastic guidance from people who know what they're about.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

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  1. I don't know exactly how Time magazine describes Liguria Bakery, but it is certainly worth a visit. It is a very minimalist & old-school place. The specialty of the house is foccacia baked in 3 or 4 varieties. Try either the green onion or the tomato.

    1. my thoughts:

      1. Greens. At least the view will be great (haven't eaten there in a long, long while and reports are mixed, but I've never heard anything good about Millenium).

      2. Most probably, though I would call and ask if they are doing a prix fixe and if so, what it is (I suspect they are not). As I think I mentioned in another thread, Cafe Zitouna would also be a good option. I did think about Saha on that other thread too, and definitely think it is worth checking out (very good food, nice ambiance).

      3. haven't tried it , I am ashamed to admit :-(

      4. Favorite Indian: Sultan, favorite Thai: Thai House Express (though there have been some recent reports on a new place or two I haven't tried. Reason: the quality of the food.

      Thai House Express
      901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Greens Restaurant
      Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123

      Saha Arabic Fusion Restaurant
      1075 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

      340 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      1 Reply
      1. re: susancinsf

        Thanks to you both, especially susanc, for the replies. The Time description is here:

        I thought it might be somewhere to grab an on-the-go breakfast. But I'm also open to other suggestions for that.

      2. Reading between the lines, it looks like you're vegetarian. If so, Bang San Thai does a good honest job of making their food veggie or vegan if requested, in other words they'll leave out fish sauce, oyster sauce, eggs, whatever isn't desired and will substitute tofu, fake chicken, etc.

        I like Thai House Express at least as much for meat dishes, if not more, but I don't remember overhearing waiters taking orders for veggie or vegan changes to dishes on the regular menu there--they may do it, but respecting dietary restrictions is not emphasized at Thai House like it is at Bang San, where the meat is all Halal certified.

        Bang San Thai Cuisine (Second Location)
        791 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        1. 1. Greens for the Fort Mason ambience. I would definitely eat in the restaurant and not grab a snack in the cafe. If you had a car and wanted something amazing and vegetarian, I would go to Ubuntu in Napa. We (a party of four) tried everything on the menu for $80pp including tip and drinks and the food was incredible.

          3. The focaccia is amazingly good and has been there forever. You'll need to go early for the full selection. When they run out, they close shop. The most depressing time is when a bunch of fire trucks pull up and clean out the shop before you can get inside. They'll cut it up so you can walk and eat at the same time if you ask. Tomato is most popular, intensely tomatoey with olive oil and green onion. The other flavors are pretty similar to each other and different from tomato: plain, mushroom, olive, onion, rosemary. I think I might be forgetting a flavor. Umm...they're not exactly the friendliest people, so don't take it personally.

          4. If you are a vegetarian, Udupi Palace and Dosa are good choices.

          3 Replies
            1. re: betterbeheaven

              There is usually pizza available at eleven, with some of the others available as well. Unless the aforementioned firemen get hungry. I usually get 2 slabs whole and 1 cut up to snack on while I walk through north beach and chinatown. They told me once that you can call early and reserve the ones of your choice for pickup later, if you're worried about that.

              I should mention that unlike most of the other foccacia I've had in SF, it is very soft, yeasty, and olive oily. Which I love because I've been eating it since I was a tot, but may not be to every one's taste. Its like the Dorian Gray focaccia shop--they were old and crotchety thirty years ago and they're exactly the same today.

              1. re: sfbing

                Just to be really clear, at Liguria, if you order one "for now" they will slice it into sticks and make a sort of paper cup wrapper thing so its easy to eat out of hand.

                I always order "___ sheets to go and one garlic (my fav) for now".

          1. 1) Greens (I haven't been in awhile either) but they don't try to serve you veggie "meat". I actually had a nice meal at Millenium with vegan friends but I would go to Greens even if I weren't with vegan friends.

            2) sorry, I'm can't help.

            3) Can't comment about Liguria, but I think Arizmendi is worth a trip to the Inner Sunset. And while you're in the neighborhood, you can check out Cafe Gratitude -- it's one of those places where nothing is cooked.

            4) Favorite Indian is Dosa. Haven't been to the new location in the Filmore, but LOVE the one in the Mission. Great food, great service. As for Thai... don't hate me but I like Osha Thai (several locations... mostly go to the one in SOMA). If you're vegetarian... they make a pumpkin curry that's wonderful!

            1 Reply
            1. re: sfwork

              Is the Osha youre talking about on 2nd street near mission? I get confused by the different Osha's. Had a wonderful beef and artichoke salad at the one on 2nd St over the summer. Nice ambiance too, but a little $$ than most thai places. Had some lackluster noodles at the Osha at Geary/Leavenworth. Is it the same people?