4 days in SF from a NYC foodie point of view
I found many fellow chowers with titles of "NYC couple going to SF for a few days whats good to eat" or a derivative of that when I looked up options for dinner for my trip with my mom to SF so I figured I'd give my New York City opinion on some places that I visited in hopes that it gives some insight to fellow New Yorkers who ask the annoying question of the SF chowers "Where to go for good food and things to do in SF".
1st disclaimer, though it's February the weather has been PERFECT the past 4 days which has given us alot of flexibility on where to go and what to try, and usually in SF in Feb the weather is terribleThe first day we went to Muir Woods and checked out the Redwoods there...not to be missed, then we went to Rouge et Blanc for a glass or two of wine. Nice spot, a little loud and okay wine list, but not as extensive as you would expect for a city wedged between the Central Coast and Napa/Sonoma. My mom and I each had a glass of white and red. Nothing to write home about.
Then we walked to Colibri, it's good...actually the Guac, is quite good, not Rosa Mexicano good but good. The Carnitas were also tasty, not fried quite as much as you would expect, and portions a little small but good. Fish Tacos are good as well. Tamales are good but the mole was lacking slightly in flavor (a litte bland) as well as texture...the beans were disappointing. Very disappointing. It seemed as though the got a can of Goya black beans heated them up, cubed some queso fresco in it and served it...all in all a good meal but there is better.
The next day we had lunch at a hole in the wall Japanese restaurant Dojimina (on O'Farrell) Delicious Udon, great Unagi (freshly grilled) and the rice curry smelled great! Reminded me of Japan and my grandmother very good and authentic but not fancy. After a trip to Alcatraz (also wonderful but don't even think about going in the rain) we had a drink in the hotel bar and headed to Incanto.
Incanto is a culinary "experience"...perfect in almost every way...wonderfully executed fresh food, with astonishingly good texture and flavor, super creative. The wine list which was mostly italian rivaled Roberto's in Little Italy! The offal was to DIE FOR and I am a huge offal fan, the service was great, atmosphere wonderful and Chris Cosentino is a DOLL...he is so down to earth and sweet and real! We really appreciated everything about him. This chef does something to offal that is almos inexplicable. It was one of the 10 best meals that we ever had...seriously. Pay the cab fare, drive over, do whatever you have to do to score a reservation at this restaurant you won't be disappointed...At the end of the meal (and since we are New Yorkers you know it was late) Chris treated us to come culinary secrets of which I will highlight now.
1. Dynamo Dounts in the Mission on 24th and York - the best dounts I've ever had...BACON DONUTS!!!! and the chocolate spice wasn't bad either. My mother said the coffee was excellent as well.
2. The ferry market (once again on a nice weather Saturday) was so much fun, organic produce, grass fed meats, kiosks with organic and freshly made breakfasts and lunch! local blood oranges and artichokes and fruits and veggies and nuts and cheeses etc...Union Square Market on steriods...you can graze like a cow through all of the samples...and the Rancho Gordo beans are not to be missed...Christmas Limas and Heirloom beans! Crazy!
3. El Cachanilla taco on 21st off of Harrison in the Mission - they didn't have eye tacos or brain tacos today but the cow head, and lengua were to DIE FOR! at a $1.50 you can't go wrong, and for the faint of heart my mom said the fish taco was great too...these taco's are better than any NYC taco spot in the Bx, Yonkers or Corona/Jackson Heights...they are really really good! I'm still sad that I missed the eye tacos but maybe next time...
4. Humprey Slocombes - This amazing Icecream Shop in the Mission on Harrison Street...the Secret Breakfast a delectable creation of bourbon and cornflakes and the carmel balsamic were the best 2 flavors to me, but there is salt & pepper and foie gras and honey thyme etc...you get the point...amazing ice cream and super rich.
One disclaimer on the Mission...not as dangerous as the guide books would have you think, its a transition neighborhood, think Williamsburg, Authur Ave, LIC, Ave C (you get the picture). Maybe not the best at 2am but at 2pm its 100% safe!
Ok on another note we went to Canteen...get your reservation a month in advance - the food is also a part of an experience...from the brioche to the vanilla souffle...perfectly done, with a chef, and a sous and a cook in an open kitchen the size of my kitchen my Riverdale apartment...go figure, but it works. The flavors in the halibut dish that I had melded perfectly and the artichoke dish my mother had was almost custard like in texture...really a wonderful expreience not to be missed.
The only mediocre dining exprience that we had was at City View for Dimsum...don't bother, no better than most places in NYC and worse than some in Flushing. We didn't do Koi Palace because my mom was turned off thanks to our concierge by the thought of swarms of out of control Chinese huge parties clamoring for a table and service...but Cityview wasn't impressive and really can be skipped. We hear that Yank Sing is good if you want to empty your wallet.
We got lazy tonight, wanted to go to Sebo but will have to do it on our next trip...we stayed in the hotel and went to the rooftop bar for appetizers and a bottle of wine.
Off to Monterey and Carmel tomorrow I will post about that in a couple of days
Thanks for putting out the word that the Mission's not that bad, as well as reporting back on the eats.
I'm a little surprised about your aversion to rain. Doesn't it rain in NY all the time, so we're wimps about it? Muir Woods' actually quite nice in the rain, very atmospheric, more primeval. When I go there, I seem to end up frequently at the Pelican Inn, a little B&B with a very cozy restaurant / bar with warming drinks and good west coast beer. Especially nice after a damp tramp.
How did you get around?
I tend to think every place is so close, cabs are so plentiful, that when asked for Union Square recs we should often branch out include that corner of the city - everything from Marina to Mission - but I've owned a car and learned all the parking secrets of the city - maybe it's worse than I think. We certainly don't have a "cab culture" like other large cities - even Boston has more/better cabs.
We have a car. And I think the cab fare would rack up quickly without one going back and forth to different places. No aversion to rain...It's just a pain in the butt, especially in Alcatraz which is cold and damp in 67 degree weather and sun. It rains about once or twice a week in NY on average (but we can go spells with no rain at all)...Right now we get snow/ice turning to rain and then back to sleet and snow. NY isn't where you want to be in Feb unless you go upstate and want to ski. We are just spoiled in NY with indoor garages and indoor malls everywhere, so the rain is something that we can make a choice not to deal with.
Thanks for the report -- we appreciate that YOU appreciate the number of similar requests we get from NYers.
You also managed to turn up a couple of lesser-known gems: Dojomina and El Cachanilla, so thanks for that as well. And you confirmed my feelings about the mediocrity of City View, which I personally appreciate!
>>> though it's February the weather has been PERFECT the past 4 days
Ah, you jinxed yourself.
Great report and nice to hear some places that don't get reported on much if at all. Have fun on the rest of the trip
Colibri is like the weather on the East Coast. If you don't like it wait an hour. They seem to always be changing who is in the kitchen and redoing the menu
So, El Cachanilla was a Chris Cosentino rec?
219 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131
817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109
City View Restaurant
662 Commercial St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Colibri Mexican Bistro
438 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94102
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA
Rouge Et Blanc
334 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA
Dynamo Donuts and Coffee
2760 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110
2948 21st St, San Francisco, CA 94110
El Cachanilla and Dynamo and Humphry Slocombe were all Chris Cosentino recs. We loved them all. Now we are in Monterey and I must say I'm not too impressed with the choices in Cannary row. We will go to Esteban tonight, Passionfish at some point and I'm determined to find a good Mexican spot.