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Apr 29, 2009 10:29 PM

LA Hound in SF for 4 Days

I know San Francisco is a great restaurant town but i havent spent much time there. I will be in SF for 4 days and am looking for places to eat. Money is not an issue really but Im not necessarily looking for expensive, fine dining only. Any great spots would be greatly appreciated. I am a very adventurous eater and love all ethnic cuisines.

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  1. i have already done my research and these are the places that all sound good. Again, im just as happy with a hole-in-the-wall as i am with an expensive fine dining experience. The quality of the food is the only thing that matters.

    Here is what i have:

    Gary Danko
    Swan Oyster Depot
    Great Eastern
    Coi Palace
    Shanghai 1930
    Zuni Cafe
    1550 Hyde
    Slanted Door
    Jai Yun
    The House
    Yuet Lee
    Blue Mermaid Chowder House
    Scomas Fishermans Wharf
    Hog Island Oyster Bar
    Fluer De Lys

    Am i on the right track? Am I missing anything that i shouldnt miss? Are any of these places not that good??


    12 Replies
    1. re: carln

      Yes on Swan (not open for dinner or Sunday)
      I have not been to Gary Danko or The House but would love to, have heard really great things.
      R & G just for the crab. Yuet Lee excellent food but crummy atmosphere and crummy dishware.
      One place I adore (lunch) is Yank Sing at 101 Spear at Mission -- dim sum.
      Go to Koi Palace but expect a wait (you have a car, right? It's in Daly City, about 15 min on the freeway from downtown.)

      1. re: carln

        That's quite an assortment--all over the map in almost every sense. Here are my comments:

        Gary Danko-expensive, excellent. You'll need reservations well in advance unless you get there early and sit at the bar. Price wise it's similar to Fleur de Lys which hasn't gotten great reviews lately. It's one of the prettiest restaurants in town, in my opinion.

        Absinthe is also very good--French, obviously. Near the opera house and symphony hall so on performance nights it's kind of a zoo.

        Zuni Cafe is a San Francisco original and I highly recommend it. Funky interior and location. The roast chicken is one of it's signature dishes and has been on the menu for all of it's 20 years.

        1550 Hyde is a wonderful, unpretentious neighborhood restaurant with excellent food right on the cable car line.

        Slanted Door gets lots of good reviews but I haven't been all that excited about it of late.

        Blue Mermaid has some good chowders, but that's all I've ever had there.

        Scomas is probably among the best of the Fisherman's Wharf bunch. popular, no reservations taken except for large parties. If you want to dine on the Wharf, that's where I'd go.

        Hog Island Oyster Bar in the Ferry Building has good oysters. Go at lunch on Saturday or just drop in for a few Oysters before dinner somewhere else. Incidentally, they have the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever had.

        Bushi-Tei--Haven't been but plan to go. Please report back if you go there.

        Other than Bushi-Tei, I have no comments on the others because I've not been to them.

        Let us know where you go and what you thought.

        1. re: bobpantzer

          I found Gary Danko more affordable for the amount of food you get for a fine dining establishment compared to others that weren't as good in terms of service.

        2. re: carln

          Here's some additional ideas

          Visitng SF. Eat like a local not a tourist.

          I recommend Scoma's but only if someone insists on eating at Fisherman's Wharf. If you read the list, you'll see why. i don't like Aliotos as much as Scoma's, but I do like their creme brulle and espreso. Again, Blue Mermaid probably isn't worth it unless for some reason you MUST eat at Fisherman's Wharf.

          While LA might have better overall Mexican, SF is a little pocket of Yucatecan cuisine, the best being Poc Chuc.

          Check out the farmers market at Ferry Plaza if you are here on Saturday morning.

          Instead of FDL or Gary Danko,IMO The Dining Room at the Ritz is a better choice.

          I'm a fan of 1550 Hyde and Zuni. As someone mentioned, Aziza is another good option.

          1. re: rworange

            I always respect RWO's opinion, but having been to The Dining Room, Danko, and La Folie I'd rank them in almost entirely different levels.....La Folie being the best - 5 stars by ANY stretch, Danko and Dining Room not quite as good in terms of food and similar in service. If I had to rank them in terms of quality for the dollar I'd say La Folie > Danko > The Dining Room.

          2. re: carln

            greetings carln -
            As there are many LA-savvy readers here (I'm not one of them), you could discuss a few of your LA favorites, and what you'd like to experience that's similar or different.

            Tops on my to-try SF list at the moment is Humphry Slocolme, but I love ice cream with an unyielding passion and have largely given up that passion in the last 20 years of living "out west".

            There's a lot of interesting pizza out there right now, too.

            You're long on oysters - I'd personally skip swan's and do only Hog Island and Zuni.

            Upscale, there's some buzz about Michael Minna's new place with a lousy name, MN47 or something.

            1. re: bbulkow

              Search works better with correct name, RN74.
              301 Mission St San Francisco, CA

              1. re: bbulkow

                Im a huge seafood fan so Providence is probably my favorite place in LA along with sushi bars like Sushi Zo.

                I know there is a huge Chinese community in SF but find it interesting that most people seem to say that you wont find good Chinese food in Chinatown. Where are teh good Chinese restaurants?

                Also, I certainly do appreciate recommendations for things that you all believe are either unique to SF or better in SF than in LA.

                Thanks again.

                1. re: carln

                  teh good Chinese restaurants are in the immigrant-oriented communities. Chinatown fossilized years ago, although there's still some goodies there. Geary street has a number, the richmond in general, but the good stuff's outside SF proper, down the peninsula, going south about 15 miles to San Mateo. Longtime CH favorite China Village is in "north berkeley" (technically, a town called Albany).

                  Try searching this board for "sichuan" "XLB" "beijing" "har gow" "dimsum" and similar.

                  Here's a few to get you started:


                  1. re: carln

                    SF Chinatown and Chinese food isn't much different from LA Chinatown and Chinese food. Like LA, the better Chinese food is located out in the 'burbs.

                    In SF, that means San Mateo, Daly City (basically near SFO). In LA that means SGV. The places near the airport are; Koi Palace, HK Flower Lounge, The Kitchen. The recs in the Richmond are also solid.

                    Also, mentioned it below, Japanese won't equal LA, although Ame (which I also mentioned) is Japanese fusion and that might be of interest.

                    1. re: ML8000

                      The only place on ML800's list that is worth it for an LA person is Koi Palace, imho.

                      Eh, no need to go to Ame, imho.

                2. re: carln

                  Personally, I would skip the Slanted Door. The view is nice and the food is ok but for the price you can find better food for less. Instead of the Slanted Door, you should go to PPQ Dungeness Island on Clement St and try the garlic roast crab, garlic noodles, and the imperial rolls.

                  Slanted Door is more of a "tourist" restaurant and not where the locals go. It may have been featured on Rachael Ray but that doesn't mean it's good. Also, try Good Luck Dim Sum instead of Yank Sing.

                  Gary Danko is great but you'll need reservations. I've been there for three anniversaries just because it's that good. Chapeau and Clementine are other restaurants to try that will run about $30.

                  Scoops in LA is probably comparable to Mitchell's and Bi-Rite Creamery in SF.

                  I wouldn't necessarily skip Mexican since it does vary by region. The Chipotle chain uses an SF style burrito and you'll find that in the Mission district. It's different from the San Diego style burrito and everyone has their own preference as to which one is more superior.

                  Katanaya is also a good ramen place to try.

                  San Tung is known for their chicken wings.

                  Oola's is open late (only dinner time hours) and has great ribs.

                  If you haven't already looked, you'll find more recommendations on

                3. If you're from LA, skip Mexican, Thai and Japanese. Not on the list Aziza (Cal Moroccan) and Burma Superstar.

                  Instead of Gary Danko might consider Coi or Ame on the high end, Danko is good but not particular to SF.

                  Great Eastern, R&G, Koi Palace are all solid picks but Koi Palace is the only place better then the best LA. Chinese. If you're into XLBs, Shanghai Dumpling King better the Din Tai Fung.

                  Slanted Door, I think it's worth it but if you're not sure, go for lunch.

                  The House is solid, deserves praise but I put it in the very good neighborhood category

                  Yuet Lee, hole in the wall, but the seafood is worth it

                  Fluer De Lys, skip it, reports of very bad service and food has not kept up

                  1. "I am a very adventurous eater and love all ethnic cuisines."

                    For a cuisine in which SF probably outshines L.A., I suggest you try Indian. For casual-upscale dining, there is Amber India or DOSA. A branch of the successful original in Mountain View, Amber is a N.Indian restaurant that also has a daily lunch buffet ($20). Love their buffet in Mtn. View & haven't had it in a while, but also love their Frontier Lamb (chops). Definitely not to be found in L.A., DOSA is a hip, contemporary S.Indian restaurant which also serves non veg. dishes (haven't been here).

                    (Fillmore location is newer & has full bar


                    In addition...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ceekskat

                      Dosa is extremely expensive, plus, LA has all those dosa shops in Artesia, where you can get great dosas for about a fifth of the price. SF Bay people always say Indian food is better up here, but honestly the only decent South-type Indian food I've had in the Bay Area has been in the Cupertino and Fremont areas. LA rocks in this category, no need to go.

                    2. Since you are adventurous, I bet you'd really like Ame. Japanese/Italian/French fusion. Similar to Bushi-Tei (on your list) but better... worth its star in the Michelin for sure.

                      I *love* Slanted Door... take all my out-of-town guests there.

                      Ethnic there is Aziza which is Cal-Moroccan and a bit unusual. Also, I *love* Helmand Palace and it is quite wll priced.

                      Coi is very expensive ($120 tasting menu only) but pretty unique to SF.

                      Skip Scomas, Aliotos (the entire wharf in general, actually) and Fleur de Lys.

                      I prefer NOPA to Zuni... similar ideas.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: whiner

                        Any recs for places in Sausalito? I want to take my gf over their as she has never been and am wondering if any of these places are that way.

                        1. re: carln

                          Also, I just checked the michelin guide and looked at a few rated places. Aqua, Range and Boulevard all sound pretty good. Any opinions on those?

                          1. re: carln

                            Boulevard is *awesome*. Aqua has very good food but is business-y. Range I still need to get to but I hear good things.

                            1. re: carln

                              Guides get quickly outdated and Michelin never had a solid take on Bay Area food, IMO. You might read this about Aqua

                              Are you driving to sausalito or taking the ferry? Two places that it is easier get to by car. Both are on the water. Le Garage is casual French fodd. Fish is seafood.

                              1. re: carln

                                Boulevard's Lunch is/was one of my most memorable meals in San Francisco - I wrote a review of it - it was excellent.

                                1. re: uhockey

                                  Its going to be pretty tough to whittle this down into a manageable number of restaurants for a 4 day stay. Im getting close though. Boulevard sounds like it should be on the list as does Aqua (their menu had my mouth watering). As soon as i have narrowed it down, i will let you guys know and when im back I will post about my experience.

                                  1. re: carln

                                    Aqua is good - but being from LA you should just go to Providence (repeatedly) and skip Aqua especially when it is in a state of flux.

                                    1. re: uhockey

                                      Really? Providence is one of my favorite restaurants down here. Do you think im going to be dissapointed with Aqua after visiting Providence many times?

                                      1. re: carln

                                        IMO, yes, absolutely.

                                        I've been to Trotters, Alex, The French Laundry, Manresa, Aqua, La Folie, Danko, Spago.....a lot of "Michelin Starred" places - ONLY The French Laundry topped Providence IMO, and in terms of quality/value for the dollar I'd say Providence may have been better.

                                        1. re: uhockey

                                          I really appreciate that feedback. What are your thoughts on La Folie?

                                          1. re: carln

                                            Loved it - I wrote a long review on here. My blog (see my profile) has a lot of fully-pictoral reviews of SF places I went to.

                                            1. re: carln

                                              uhocky's comments on La Folie can be found via link here:

                                              As far as fish goes, and originality, I highly reccomend Ame, who's menu can be viewed here:

                            2. here is the lineup for this weekend...its finally here:

                              Friday - Zuni Cafe (lunch) and Boulevard (dinner)
                              Saturday - Hog Island Oysters (lunch) and Ame (dinner)
                              Sunday - Scomas lunch (gf hasnt been to the wharf before) and Aziza (dinner)
                              Monday - Fish (lunch in sausalito) and Range (dinner)

                              I will post when i get back on tuesday to let you all know what i thought.

                              Thanks for all the comments.