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Family of 6 from NYC needs a few SF pointers

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fress Mar 10, 2009 02:48 PM

I've spent a lot of time browsing the board and will try to keep my questions focussed. By way of background, we're eating with our four kids, aged 8-18, at Zuni Cafe Saturday night lateish (hamburger time) after we arrive; Sunday night Aziza with the two oldest; Monday night we're leaving the kids to fend for themselves (room service...in ' n out) while we go with friends to Cafe at Chez Panisse. Questions are the following:

For dinner Tuesday night for all six of us, should we go to Slanted Door, Beretta, or NOPA? I was excited about Slanted Door until I read some of the slams here; Beretta sounds fun, but I'm worried that its pizza might be a letdown for our kids reared on di Fara's, Grimaldi's, and Sal and Carmine's; NOPA sounds perfect, but is it too much like Zuni Cafe?

Dottie's True Blue sounds great, but the warnings about the neighborhood have got me worried. Don't mind an iffy neighborhood, but don't want to wait on line in one w/ the kids. Anyone have an idea whether there's usually a line early on Sundays - say 9am? If not there, how about Nob Hill Grille?

Sunday afternoon we'll probably go to Golden Gate Park and maybe walk across the bridge. Is there a good bakery in the area where we could get a snack to refuel?

We'll probably be going to the Farmers Market at the Ferry on Tuesday morning before heading to Alcatraz (unfortunately we won"t be there on Saturday). Most posts here on the market talk about Saturday - anything particularly good that we should be on the lookout for late breakfast/early lunch Tuesday?

Tartine Bakery sounds like a good place for our carbloving family to have breakfast Monday - do they have tables big enough for six to sit?

Many thanks in advance.

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    Darren804 RE: fress Mar 10, 2009 02:57 PM

    I say try Nopa.....you have to get the pork chop!

    Tartine isn't a very big place but on a Monday it might not be that bad. Mission Beach Cafe is blocks from Tartine too and they have a good lunch menu.

    1. BernalKC RE: fress Mar 10, 2009 03:52 PM

      Beretta does not seem like a good fit. Not many tables for 6, not a family scene. Without tossing in a bunch of alternative choices, I'd go with Slanted Door. Really gorgeous setting on the SF waterfront and who cares if it isn't 'authentic'? The food is really delicious.

      Tartine will be a chore for a family breakfast. It takes extreme cafe karma to seat 2 people together there on a typical morning. Six? That would take an act of god. My personal favorite brunch for larger groups is Townsend.

      Are you thinking of walking all the way from GG park over the GG bridge? Sounds like a Von Trapp family outing! Or, more likely, are you driving from one to the other? In either case, check out Richmond district guides here and think Asian / dim sum. Tons of great options that I'll let others pick up on.

      -----
      Town's End Restaurant & Bakery
      2 Townsend St Ste 2, San Francisco, CA 94107

      3 Replies
      1. re: BernalKC
        Pei RE: BernalKC Mar 10, 2009 10:02 PM

        It may just be me, but I'd rather take food from Tartine to the park across the street and eat it while watching the dogs run around than go to Townsend. I know Townsend is popular for brunch but what I had just wasn't very good. Whereas I've been to Tartine dozens of time and always been happy.

        1. re: Pei
          rworange RE: Pei Mar 24, 2009 11:28 PM

          I'm just the opposite. I ate at Townsend almost every weekend for over five years and was rarely disappointed. Loved that mini muffin basket. Can't work up any enthusiasm for Tartine. In terms of take out, I probably dropped by weekly there for a few years because it was on my route. After all those years and all that money, I honestly can not remember a thing I ate at Tartine without dredging up my Chowhound notes ... and with exception of the bread which I haven't tried ... my travels were in the morning ... I pretty much went thru everything. I have put the croque there on my to-try list just because I've been trying various versions lately.

        2. re: BernalKC
          BernalKC RE: BernalKC Mar 13, 2009 09:38 AM

          FYI: I've learned that Beretta will take reservations for large parties. Not sure if six qualifies or not. I still think it would not be a good fit -- unless you're looking for a fun coctail and people watching place where the kids can be happy with the pizza.

          Also: miracle of miracles - I dropped in on Tartine this morning around 8:15 and there was no line and the big table of 8 was empty. The sky must be falling. Or else Tarinaires don't do 8AM. Or it was a total fluke. I vote for fluke. With less than 30 seats indoors and long lines the norm, take out would be the best bet if you crave une mourceaux de la Tartine a famille.

        3. m
          mick RE: fress Mar 10, 2009 03:58 PM

          Forget the slams go to the slanted door over others,great food,good hood, takes res. Breakfast enjoy the hype and go to Sears fine foods, touristy yes but a classic and locals DO GO! On tuesday if your talking 11ish try hog island oyster.

          1. daveena RE: fress Mar 10, 2009 04:53 PM

            I'm not a big fan of Slanted Door, but I've been trying to keep an impartial eye on visitor reports, and the vast majority of reports from NYC visitors on Slanted Door have been positive. Most of the negative reports from visitors have been from people coming from areas with bigger Vietnamese populations and good neighborhood Vietnamese restaurants. The view is definitely a plus.

            1. s
              sfbing RE: fress Mar 10, 2009 05:13 PM

              I would stick with Slanted Door, since it will add more variety to your schedule.

              In the daytime, the neighborhood around Dottie's is not that bad, especially if you're from NYC. Maverick's in the Mission takes reservations for brunch, which might be a nice alternative for a party of 6.

              If you are on the Sunset side of the park, there is Arizmendi's, which is a popular local bakery. There are also plenty of restaurants. For example, South Sea which has decent dim sum. There is also Yummy Yummy, if you wanted to compare high end Vietnamese to a more down to earth Chinese-Vietnamese place.

              -----
              South Sea Seafood Village
              1420 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

              Yummy Yummy
              1015 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

              Arizmendi Bakery
              1331 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA

              1. m
                ML8000 RE: fress Mar 10, 2009 05:45 PM

                That's a nice list and you're done the homework....thanks. Okay, seriously, I'd also pick Slanted Door since it's not as likely to have the same thing in NY.

                For breakfast/bakery near GG Park, there's Arizmendi. There's also a nice neighborhood around there, 9th and Irving. There'll be quite a few options. On the "bridge" side of GG Park, not as many options for bakeries...although there's a bunch of other options. (There are bakeries but nothing that stands out and I use to live on that side). If you have some time, look for a taqueria.

                -----
                Arizmendi Bakery
                1331 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA

                1. Ruth Lafler RE: fress Mar 10, 2009 07:46 PM

                  Just a note that the Tuesday market at the Ferry Building is a midday, 10-2.

                  If you're thinking of doing the GG bridge Sunday, and if you have a car, an alternative is the Marin Farmers Market on Sunday morning, which is second only to the Saturday Ferry Plaza market. I don't know if you realize that it isn't realistic to walk from GG park to the bridge (about four miles), and that it's not practical to walk all the way across the bridge and back (about 1.5 miles each way, and the curve of the bridge is surprisingly steep). I recommend driving across the bridge, parking on the Marin side, and walking partway across and then back, then head into Sausalito or other Marin destinations.

                  1. a
                    annabana RE: fress Mar 13, 2009 04:12 PM

                    If its a nice day, think about driving over the GG and to Sausalito for world class views of the Bay and SF. Great fish of all kinds at the casual water side Fish. Pricey but tax is included and the tip jar at the order counter is optional. The fish and chips are great and so are the specials. Very casual, very good but bring cash, they don't take cards. Look for numerous posts about Fish from fellow hounds. A little further up the road is Buckeye Roadhouse, really good food, they do brunch and lunch, a Mill Valley institution. In Mill Valley proper, a wonderful town square, interesting shopping and a wide variety of good eats. Breakfast or lunch at the Depot cafe and bookstore, Bungalow 44, Buckeye's sister resto, D'Angelo's for ital, Toast for really good diner food and lots more. Enjoy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: annabana
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                      fress RE: annabana Mar 13, 2009 04:42 PM

                      Thanks much to everyone for all your tips - particularly appreciated the endorsements of Slanted Door and the cautionary note on the unfeasibility of walking from GG Park to GG Bridge - saved us a major family meltdown! I'll post when we return...

                    2. f
                      fress RE: fress Mar 22, 2009 04:26 PM

                      Quick report on our recent visit; apologies for the laundry list nature of the post, but we ate a lot and I want to memorialize it while it is fresh in my mind.

                      Highlights included roast chicken at Zuni, broccoli rabe pizza and grilled asparagus w/ pancetta and bread crumbs at Pizzeria Delfina, meatballs, spreads and couscous at Aziza, morning bun at Tartine, salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite, mandarin oranges and the chile cheese tamale from the Tuesday farmers market at the Ferry, Taylor Refresher's black and white shake, delicious cappucino at Caffe Trieste, the tomato foccacio from Liguria, and everything at dinner at Slanted Door. The last was probably the most interesting for us New Yorkers, unaccustomed as we are to Vietnamese food (even if many on this board dismiss it as dumbed down.) We particularly enjoyed the cellophane noodles with crab meat, the whole fish, the manila clams with ginger, and the ribs. The wine list was excellent and we loved our 1994 Riesling, which was superb value at $39 - perfect with the spicy food. Amazing how crowded it was on a Tuesday night!

                      Our "disappointments" were few, but included Cafe at Chez Panisse: the food was fine, but by no means inspired (the nettle pizza, for instance, was not a patch on Delfina's); I felt like we've had much better and more interesting variations on the theme at Union Square Cafe in NYC. Fine if you're there, but definitely not worth the trek to Berkeley from SF. The coffee at Blue Bottle Cafe was annoying because neither the drip nor the cappucino was hot enough (even though the waffle was amazing). And In 'n Out did not impress our kids, being seasoned veterans of Shake Shack.

                      All in all a wonderful trip to your beautiful city. Thank you for your advice - we probably would have skipped Slanted Door without your encouragement. And yes we did find time to do things other than eat: hiking in Point Reyes, for instance! (See my separate post for details on food there).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: fress
                        JasmineG RE: fress Mar 23, 2009 01:05 PM

                        Thanks for reporting back! I'm glad that your family liked Slanted Door so much.

                      2. n
                        normalheightsfoodie RE: fress Mar 23, 2009 11:57 AM

                        I will be traveling with my family to the city, please let me know your thoughts, and what you choose.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: normalheightsfoodie
                          Ruth Lafler RE: normalheightsfoodie Mar 23, 2009 01:44 PM

                          She already did -- see the post above yours.

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