Surprise trip to SF. HELP ME!
My sweet husband surprised me with a trip to SF. Lovely -- but it's left me little time to look into restaurants, etc. We'll only be there March 23-25 (which means we leave tomorrow morning). Here's what I'm looking for:
One splurge meal (around $100, inlcuding tip; neither of us drinks alcohol, so drinks are not a factor). I am more adventurous, my husband more conservative. For this amount of money, it's probably best to "play it safe" (metropolitan cuisine as opposed to Thai, Indian, etc.). It's probably too late to get a reservation at many places, I realize...
A great seafood restaurant that also has excellent non-seafood offerings (my husband loves seafood while I won't eat anything that ever lived in the water).
Somewhere we can get a great sandwich and great ice cream
We are staying on Van Ness and Pine; we're not opposed to going some distance to get to the good grub!
Thank you so much for all of the great suggestions! We're back from our trip now; we had a FABULOUS time and some FABULOUS food! So here's how it all went down...
Our first meal was Monday night. After reviewing the menus from the various suggestions we received from you good people, we settled on Range. We were not disappointed! Though we had a reservation for 8:15, we still had a bit of a wait. Nothing extensive, however, and the hostess was attentive and apologetic. The atmosphere of the restaurant is dark and on the loud side, with the tables close together. This was slightly uncomfortable at first (it sort of gave the feeling of dining at the same table with a bunch of strangers), but we soon got used to it and it wasn't a problem. My husband selected the Massachusetts day boat scallops with shellfish bisque and radish sprouts for his appetizer and Pacific halibut with melted leeks, roasted asparagus and marinated portobello mushrooms for his entree. I was having trouble deciding on what to get. Our server helped me out, giving me details about the dishes I was choosing between. She was excellent, and she obviously was very familiar with the menu. I settled on the goat cheese and sorrel stuffed pasta with lime butter and chives for an appetizer and the roasted chicken with an escarole, sausage, barhi date and pecan bread salad for my entree.
The stuffed pasta was delicious, particularly the sauce. The thicker pieces of pasta that formed the seam of each little pocket were slightly more firm than al dente, making the texture a little more chewy than I would have liked. Still, the richness of the cheese and the butter and the brightness of the lime made for an excellent combination that I really loved. It was reminiscent of some Greek dishes I've had. I didn't taste the sea scallops (you'll recall that I don't like seafood), but my husband went on and on about the sauce that accompanied them. He said he would have prefered the scallops just slightly more cooked -- but also conceded that this was probably due to the fact that he's just not used to shellfish being prepared as they should (we're from Utah, so finding good seafood -- or anyone who really knows how to properly cook it -- is pretty rare). In any case, he was very happy with his selection.
Our entrees were delicious as well. My chicken was cooked to perfection. The skin was evenly golden brown and crispy while the meat was flavorful, tender and juicy (our server informed me that the chicken is brined for quite a while before being cooked). The dressing that accompanied the chicken was a perfect complement; the sweetness of the dates, the slight bitterness of the greens, the spice of the sausage, the buttery crunch of the pecans and the croutons -- the comination of these things made each bite taste slightly different from the last. I would definitely order the same dish again!
Once again, I didn't taste my husband's halibut -- but I did sample the asparagus and the mushrooms, and they were delicious and cooked to just the right tenderness. We were so stuffed by the end of the meal, we opted not to get dessert. It was a lovely evening!
The next day, we took bus 49 back to the Mission district for a taco crawl -- a suggestion I saw in another post. There are enough little taquerias (not to mention Middle Eastern, Japanese, Ethiopian and Chinese offerings) in this area to provide one with an ample menu. We ate A LOT of different foods -- some excellent, and some not worth finishing. Some of our favorites: The carnitas pastoral from the El Tonayense truck; a cup of mango gelato from a little shop on Capp and 22nd St. (I don't remember the name); the coconut cream tart from Tartine Bakery (EXCELLENT! The tart shell was lined with a coating of very dark chocolate and sprinkled with bits of soft toffee before it was filled with coconut custard and topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut. I would have to say that the total effect was nothing short of dazzling); and the ginger ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery (so smooth, so fresh...I will wake up in the night thinking of this, I know). What a great day!
Before going home on Wednesday (sniffle, sniffle), we hit the Heart of the City Farmer's Market. What a cool place! Cart after cart of fresh produce, flowers, etc. I had read somewhere that the waffles from the waffle truck were not to be missed. At $3.50 for a small waffle dusted with powdered sugar, the price was pretty steep -- and, in my opinion, not really worth it. It tasted good...just not $3.50 good. There was a store in Chinatown I had wanted to explore before leaving, so I did that while my husband got our luggage and checked out of our hotel room. Before meeting me at the Powell BART station, he got a few tamales from one of the vendors at the farmer's market. We didn't get the chance to eat them until we were waiting at the airport. Ohhhh, they were so good! We wished we'd gotten more to take home with us. My husband got one beef and one pork mole; I got the pasilla pepper with melted mozzarella. The masa (the soft corn coating on the outside) was so creamy and packed with corn flavor. Wow, they were just really good; not to be missed, in my opinion. Anyway, that was the end of our trip! I hope to make it back to SF soon for more of the delicious food!
Wonderful report. That chicken at Range sounds terrific. The gelato place is La Copa Loca.
I'm not wowed by the waffle truck either. They are ok, just for me not worth the calories more than once. All Star is the tamale vendor.
Well, return the favor and surprise your husband with a SF trip now. Try Humpry Slocombe Ice Cream next time in the Mission. It is just off 24th St.
842 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Oh, that waffle truck is just meh. So glad you had a good eating time otherwise; very sharp of you to work El Tonayense in there, it sounds like you really did a fantastic tour. Heart of the City is a nice market, but there aren't as many food carts as there could/should be, just a lot of produce. Though with the spring happening I imagine you saw a lot of interesting Asian greens there.
Shooting from the hip with some tried and true options... Zuni Cafe would be a good splurge -- or maybe Delfina, Foreign Cinema, or Range. You may push the $100 ceiling at these places, but without alchohol driving up the tab, they should work.
For sandwhiches check out Tartine Bakery. M-W lunch sould not be sooo crowded, but be prepared for a line. If you're not swayed by any of the desert options there you can always walk down the block to Bi-Rite creamery for the ice cream.
I second the suggestion for Zuni to be your splurge meal (call them now!). I like Aziza, but if your husband is more conservative, he may not be a fan of it. You could check out their website, though, to see if the menu appeals to him. You could also head to Bar Tartine, which has great food, and is good for adventurous eaters and conservative ones alike.
If your husband likes oysters, you can check out Hog Island Oyster Co. in the Ferry Building for a lunch spot -- there's a great grilled cheese sandwich there for you, or you can also browse the other offerings at the Ferry Building (Boccolone has great sandwiches too, very porky) for your lunch.
Definitely go to Bi-Rite for ice cream!
Great splurge: I think many will agree that Aziza fits the bill.
I'm not very familiar with seafood, so I'll leave that up to others.
Do the great sandwich and ice cream need to be at the same place? If not, then maybe you'd enjoy Delfina or Pizzeria Delfina for dinner (down in the Mission) and then Bi-Rite Creamery just across the street.
If you're downtown during the day, stop by The Sentinel for one of the best lunchtime sandwiches. It's a short walk from the museums and Union Square.
Have a wonderful trip, and let us know how it goes!
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I saw this on the Manhattan board and thought it was a great idea. Why not check Open Table and see what's available? Then you can search those places and also get more specific with your question here. I'm definitely going to do that the next time we go to NYC in June. Good luck.