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Once more unto the Bay, dear 'Hounds: Vancouverites looking for SF bites

We are booked for our fifth jaunt to our favourite place for a gastronomic getaway (Thur-Tues end of March, five dinners, many snacks I hope) and I've been trying to think of a way to ask for help that will be a bit more interesting for the Bay Area 'Hounds who get questions like this about every 10 seconds. So here's my attempt at variety: instead of asking for recommendations of a type of restaurant, I'll list places/foods that have intrigued me in poring over your board. Full disclosure: we're staying at Bush and Powell but love your transit, we have no major food hatreds/allergies (omnivores) and budget is not a major issue but clothing could be as we don't bring "dressup" clothes and long waits/lineups are a dealbreaker. If you have opinions pro or con (or better ideas), please do tell! Anticipating your thoughts, I remain your servant here in Vancouver and thank you kindly in advance.

Beretta for caponatina with burrata

Coffee-rubbed pork shoulder at Range

Cheeseburger at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher or burger and fries at O-Izakaya

Pho ga at Turtle Tower (sfbing says don't ask for basil, good tip!)

Meatballs with grapes at Aziza

Los Pastores for chicken flautas, chilaquiles but I fear the heartbreak of a closed sign

El Buen Sabor for carnitas tacos

El Delfin for a sitdown Mexican dinner with the volcán en molcajete front and centre

Seven courses of beef at Pagolac

fried buttermilk spring onions ($5.00) at Magnolia Pub

shrimp hush puppies at 1300 Fillmore

izakaya night at Sebo

Jeanty at Jack's or Restaurant Jeanne d’Arc

Canton Seafood & Dim Sum (SOMA) or City View (Chinatown) for dimsum or Yank Sing for xlb and sesame balls just to see what the fuss is about

Maverick for brunch

Nob Hill Grille for breakfast

Café Zitouna for breakfast

Cento for BB coffee and a breakfast polenta

Yellow Pa Taut, Mandalay or Pagan for Burmese -- I'd really love your thoughts here as I've read every report I can find and I still can't decide

Lers Ros for reportedly very authentic Thai dishes

Bund Shanghai for braised pork belly/butt, rice cakes with spinach and bacon

Basil Canteen for duck curry

Da Beef for a Vienna beef dog

Sentinel for chai/sandwiches

Liguria Bakery North Beach for focaccia

XOX for a cup of Graffeo and a free truffle

Cavalli Books and Cafe for filled to order cannoli and grilled sandwiches

Sotto Mare for sand dabs

an early 52nd floor view cocktail at the Carnelian Room (but note lack of dressy clothes?)

pint o' Guinness in one of Johnny Foley's snugs

Mission Pie for (duh) pie

Citizen Cupcake for (duh) cupcakes

Spiced-chocolate doughnut at Dynamo Donut with a Four Barrel coffee (or should we go to Four Barrel and get a doughnut?

Vanilla ice blended from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (I know, not an SF chain...)

Golden Boy at Grant and Green for Sicilian pizza slices

I may be on my own for one day in which case I will try:
Burmese By The Bite stall in the “food dungeon” , Holly Li's tamales at Sutter Café and look at Le Sanctuaire molecular gastronomy store because I'm intrigued and the SO would be oh-so-bored :-).

Tried and true favourites:
Canteen
Café de la presse
Poc Chuc
Utopia
Tadich
Larkin Express Deli
Roli Roti

And here's some links to give you an idea what we liked from our November trip:
Tadich Grill http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573854
Blue Bottle http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573858
Lime Tree http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573860
Canteen dinner http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573864
Farmers Markets http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573868
Mission http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573869
Bar Tartine http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573872
Canteen and Café de la presse breakfasts http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573873
Bodega Bistro http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573874
La Ciccia http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573876
Fruitvale http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/571843

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  1. A couple of quick notes:
    Zitouna is no longer open for breakfast. It's closed Mondays; other days it opens at 11:00, but on Fridays, for some reason, not until 1:00 pm.

    The "food dungeon" has been closed for at least 6 months.

    lmarie.

    t

    1 Reply
    1. re: lmarie

      Many thanks for this intel, lmarie, duly noted.

    2. Impressive, well researched list grayelf. As my wife and I will also be visiting the city soon, I'll look forward to your always interesting and detailed trip report.

      1. Rosamunde and Toronado tandem. See prior discussions.
        House-made sausages (Rosamunde) can be carried next door to Toronado.
        Good happy hour pricing for an extensive selection of beers(many/most not available in Canada)

        -----
        Toronado Pub
        547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA

        Rosamunde Sausage Grill
        545 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

        4 Replies
        1. re: tranewreck

          Thanks, tranewreck, maybe the Haight for Magnolia, Toronado and Rosamunde (be still my arteries)? What do you love at Toronado?

          1. re: grayelf

            I'm partial to the Russian River concoctions and cask conditioned ales. There are always Magnolias on tap if you want to consolidate your visits. Rosamunde's sausages marry well with the potables next door. I go for the wild boar, beer, lamb, but have had them all and they all work.

            1. re: tranewreck

              and if you decide to do both it is an easy walk, about 10-15 minutes and downhill if you hit Magnolia first.

        2. Wow. I'm impressed. I'm planning a trip to NOLA and haven't gotten nearly as far as you.

          Just some notes:

          If going to turtle tower, go to the one in the tenderloin and wait to eat in the main room. The branch in the richmond doesn't rinse their noodles enough (kids these days) and the back room in the tenderloin can get stuffy.

          Try a cocktail at Aziza--they're very original. But then I'm a girl. If you want manly classic drinks, go to Bourbon and Branch.

          I'm a pig at Pagolac--in addition to 7 courses of beef, add the sugarcane shrimp and get the hot taro pudding. I prefer Pagolac's 7, but sometimes it is inexplicably jammed with people and when it is crowded service is still sweet but flaky. Anh Hong is an alternative 7 courses place which is preferred by my Vietnamese relatives, but trickier for ordering especially with just two people. If you're interested, I could elaborate on Anh Hong (but the beef in their sausage preps isn't quite as fresh--there. I've said it.)

          The bitter melon stirfry is very good at Sebo. Four people can allow you to try the entire menu, but I should mention that it may not be the best place to go to if you are watching your blood pressure.

          If you're from Vancouver, skip dim sum here. Really.

          Don't skip the donut holes if you go to Maverick for brunch. And eat them hot.

          I like Yellow Pa Taut because the food seems very homey, but if you're taking public transportation, I would go in the daytime. Pagan is a safer choice for night time dining. I think both are much better than Burma Superstar.

          There are vicious cupcake wars around here and a branch of Kara's Cupcakes (which I think is less sweet and frosting crazy than Sprinkles) is in the Marina if you want to participate.

          5 Replies
          1. re: sfbing

            I'm also a fan of Pagolac's 7, I enjoyed it more than Anh Hong. My favorite course was the beef carpaccio, very nice harmony of flavors.

            Berreta usually has a wait, but if you go early you can snag a table easy. My favorites there are the chicken liver crostini and the sardines en saor. Nice cocktails there as well.

            1. re: sfbing

              Thanks, sfbing, for another good TT tip -- I've gotten so many great ones from SF Bay Area 'Hounds I suppose I shouldn't be singling you out but what the heck :-). I am going to try to keep track of who recommends what so I can give proper credit in my report (famous last words).

              Since we're hoping to hit Aziza this time, we'll definitely try the cocktails or at least I will as I am a female elf.

              Anh Hong sounds cool and I would love to hear more about it but I'm kinda stuck on Pagolac for this trip -- we missed it last time because it was closed the only day we could go IIRC. My BIL lives in SF so we sometimes have an extra stomach with us and I know he loves the 7-beef at Pagolac so I'm sure we could convince him to try it elsewhere.

              Never developed a taste for bitter lemon, more's the pity, but I'd try it again for sure. I take it you are talking about the Sunday menu at Sebo.

              We've been for dimsum a few times in SF and in fact had the best dim sum of our lives in 2003 before I got into taking notes etc so sadly no name (though I believe it was on Geary, not that that narrows it down much) -- I've certainly never been offended by the yum cha experience in your city but I take your point.

              I'm so at Maverick if there's doughnut holes -- how did I not know this??

              Thanks for the heads up on Yellow Pa Taut. Is the nabe sketchier than the Tenderloin? We've only been spooked once and it was going to that Vietnamese place that Julia Child liked back in 2003 -- same area?

              I am a peacenik when it comes to cupcakes; I suppose one of the reasons I wanted to swing by was I met Elizabeth Falkner once at the FPFM and she was just so darn nice. Is that a dumb reason to go?

              Dezzer, you've really convinced me about Pagolac by mentioning the beef carpaccio in particular. Thanks also for the warning about lines at Beretta -- I take it they don't do resos. Will definitely try the cocktails if we make it there and the SO is a chicken liver fiend so thanks for that too.

              1. re: grayelf

                If you start to feel stuffed at Pagolac, wrap your rolls up for later. They make an excellent midnight snack or if you're in a movie theater. Anh Hong's service is more brusque but also more efficient (it doesn't take forever to get more herbs, rice paper, water, etc. and they are more generous to begin with). In order to get the grill at Anh Hong, you have to order separately (beef and shrimp is a good one).
                Raw beef salad-Pagolac is much better.
                Vinegar fondue-Anh Hong has a tastier broth.
                banh hoi dishes (try shrimp wrapped in beef), grills - better at Anh Hong
                Sausages and skewers-fresher at Pagolac (although they don't do the labor intensive meatball that Anh Hong has, which isn't my favorite anyway).
                Porridge--definitely Pagolac wins here.

                The bitter melon at Sebo has made a convert of me, a bitter melon hater from childhood. And yes, that is the Sunday menu. No sushi available on Sunday!

                Yellow Pa Taut is totally fine in daytime and the location itself is ok. The problem is getting there from downtown. At night, it is definitely sketchier than the Tenderloin. I wouldn't have a problem hanging out in the Tenderloin, but I would never let someone go south of Market down 7th on their own on foot at night.

                1. re: grayelf

                  Beretta only takes resos for parties of 6, I believe, and their bartenders are from Bourbon and Branch. If you can't make it to Beretta, I just read about a chicken entrail dish at Lers Ros Thai (the fiend in me talking)!

                  1. re: DezzerSF

                    I can already see us whipping out the leftover rolls in our hotel room later :-). Thanks for the comparo btwn Anh Hong and Pagolac, sfbing. Will ruminate further (I do love those meatballs if they are what I think they are -- pork based, right?) but it is the 7 beef I am really set on.

                    One thing we don't pursue in SF is sushi as we have so many options here. Dim sum I'm still willing to try as it can be a snack or a lunch...

                    YPT intrigues for some reason but will take your caution under advisement for sure.

                    Dezzer, I read that post too and I fear I am a bad 'Hound offal wise -- my parents are offal heads and forced kidney, liver, tongue, heart, head cheese etc on me as a child so I'm going to claim early childhood offal trauma as my excuse. Having said that, Lers Ros is heavily in the running for one of our five precious dinners as I have been reading about many other dishes there that appeal (the trout with mango sounds right up my alley).

              2. Not Taylor's.

                However, if it is one of those places you must try like visitors who insist on eating at In-N-Out ... you gotta do, what you gotta do. However, IMO, it is a waste of a SF meal.

                I was at the St. Helena location a few Sunday's ago, and you inspired me to finally post about it.

                St. Helena: No longer a Taylor's Refresher's virgin ... I feel defiled
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/595950

                3 Replies
                1. re: rworange

                  Laughed out loud at your title, rwo -- I think I will take your advice as you've not steered me wrong before. I don't feel that compelled, and actually like the sound of the O-Izakaya burg more. I think Carrie218 is quite a fan of that one, IIRC.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    I think the timing may be off but near O Izakaya, is May's coffee shop which sells tai yaki, fish-shaped dessert waffles.
                    http://www.chow.com/places/24517

                    Don't know if they are common up your way or not. There's a link to a good article about the two places that sell them in the Bay Area in the Place record. I haven't tried them yet, but they are on my to-try list.

                    It might make a nice dessert as these aren't very big from my understanding. However, they are best hot, as is any waffle, and I'm not sure if the hours they come hot off the griddle line up with the hours the burger is available.

                    I suspect May's is worth a special trip, but if you are in the area it might be interesting.

                    1. re: rworange

                      I have heard of tai yaki but never tried them -- duly noted.