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May 1, 2009 03:25 PM

Help with proposed itinerary--looking for casual restos.

My first trip to San Fran 6/17-6/21 for a conference. We’ll be staying in the Fisherman’s Wharf and will have a car. I can comp ½ of all meals, so price really isn’t a factor. That said, we are looking for more casual meals. Something we can wear jeans and a t-shirt/polo. BUT, we still want chow worthy food :-), and prefer reservations. Here’s a preliminary itinerary and would love suggestions!

Wed: Getting in late (our time), so will stay near the hotel. Maybe a quick bite at Bistro Boudin or Blue Mermaid Chowder House. And if too tired, In-N-Out burgers (we don’t have these in the MW)

Thurs: Breakfast at Mama’s or Dotties True Blue or Home Plate.
Then off to Sonoma for the night. We are staying at the Sonoma Inn and have reservations at the Girl and Fig. Still figuring out what wineries etc.

Fri: Probably fall in somewhere for a light breakfast. Maybe a snack and beer at the Russian River Brewing Company. Maybe dinner at Fish in Sausalito on the way home. Or maybe one of the below restaurants, depending on time.

Sat: Lunch at the Ferry Market. Dinner at:
Café Claude?
Which would you choose?

Sun: Brunch reservation at Foreign Cinema.
Flight at 10PM, so maybe light dinner at the San Fran Brewing Co or Thirsty Bear Brewing..

What do you think? Any other recs? Will report back upon return.

Mama's On Washington Square
1701 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Cafe Claude
7 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

Blue Mermaid Chowder House
471 Jefferson Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

350 Harbor Dr, Sausalito, CA 94965

Russian River Brewing Co.
725 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Dottie's True Blue Cafe
522 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

40 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

3324 Steiner St., San Francisco, CA 94123

Home Plate
2274 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123

Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe at Bakers Hall
2890 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Girl & the Fig - duplicate
110 W Spain St, Sonoma, CA

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  1. For Saturday you might try Firefly or Chenery Park, since you have a car.

    1. Saturday dinner I would reccomend several other restaurants in those price categories:

      A16 (trendy but casual)
      Laiola (trendy but casual)
      La Ciccia

      7 Replies
      1. re: whiner

        Thanks for all the great recs. Laiola seems to be the most interesting to me out of all those listed. Better than my list of three? I'm open to anything!

        How about for breakfast? Of Mama's, Dotties and Home plate, which should I hit?
        Good beer and bar food...San Fran or thirsty bear?


        1. re: SaraPA

          YES! Mch better, imo. Laiola is my favorite restaurant in SF taking atmosphere and price into account. This is their website if you've not already seen it:

          1. re: SaraPA

            SF brewing company has an older more relaxed atmosphere. Thirsty Bear has better food and is glitzier, neither is particularly great any way you slice it. Rather pedestrian and safe. For dinner destination I'd take Thirsty Bear. I'd also consider the 21st Amendment, although many recommend trying a sample before committing to a pint. On a warm day the watermellon beer can be a thing of beauty.

            If you're got a 10pm flight, and it's domestic, you can dine between 6 and 8 and make your flight no problem. Even if you're crazy and want to walk out the door at 7, there are lots of places to have a good meal. Just choose a place that's open through the afternoon, or even a place like Nopa, that serves bar food from 5. Delfina opens at 5 on sunday, as does A16 (both previously recommended). Or do yourself some mission burritos. For example, you could get burritos at El Faralito and drag them into The Attic, a dive bar I happen to have a soft spot for. That would be typico SF. Or Cancun burritos and Amnesia beer (strong on belgians).

            But. Beer recs.

            The best beer in san francisco is at the Toranado. It's a mecca. No food, but it's worth it. Sausages next door, perhaps they let you bring them in?

            Second choice would be Zeitgeist, which is another "only in SF" kind of place in a completly different way. Glorious if it's a sunny day. They have burgers.

            Third choice, if you like Belgian beers, is Monk's Kettle. Arguably on the way to the airport. They have fancy food.

            Beers to watch out for: west coast IPA is our home grown style, look for Speakeasy and Lagunitas and Anderson Valley and Racer 5 and I'm leaving some good ones out. We're getting very serious about our belgians, local fav is Russian River (you mention stopping by their brewery: go!)

            1. re: bbulkow

              Toronado definitely lets you bring in the Rosamunde's sausages - in fact, you can order, go next door, and Rosamunde's will bang on the wall to let you know your order's up.

              Definitely recommend Fish. although I think of it more as a lunch place than dinner.

            2. re: SaraPA

              Out of the three breakfast options, Mama's. It is near your hotel and the best of the three. Home Plate always seemed greasy to me. A better option in the opposite direction is Town's End. It is an identical format to Home Plate but with better food, easier parking and a little view of the bay. If you want to eat in the Marina district, I think Judy's is the better option

            3. re: whiner

              I've been to Laiola twice (most recently last night) and in my opinion, it lags far behind A16, Delfina and Aziza in terms of both food and service. Not a bad restaurant but the other three are much better options.

              1. re: tvham

                I second those three, although I would say Aziza is the least casual. It is darker and quieter, and to me feels more like a special meal. A16 is the closest to the OP's hotel.

            4. Of the options mentioned, I would choose Delfina. If there are just two of you, you can do a walk-in and sit at the bar. I also personally really like Thirsty Bear, although I understand the comments made on this post (some people also think that Spanish tapas and beer is a weird combo, but I love it). They have a lamb burger that is awesome (and in the late summer their gazpacho is great too). I'm not sure how many are in your party, but another option is to sit at the bar at Gary Danko's (which will be near your hotel in Fisherman's Wharf). By the way, Girl and the Fig is outstanding; you'll really like it! Other options for Sat dinner would be Coco500 (my favorite restaurant) or South Park Cafe (which has a very reasonable prix fix menu and is rather quaint).

              1. I am in the minority - but Isa is one of my favorite places in SF. I have not been to Laiola but we go to Delfina, La Ciccia and Aziza fairly frequently and prefer Isa to all of them. I love that we can order all the things that sound good though it is just two of us eating, and everythign I have had there (with the exception of the mussels which weren't bad but were just bland) we have really enjoyed. If you like the sound of the menu - go for it!
                We don't go nearly as often as we would like as it is far from where we live and parking can be a bit of a mess.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Meredith

                  Can't wait to report back. I hope to hit many of the beer recs! Sunday Eve we are definitely hitting the Thirsty Bear for dinner and SF Brew for a pre-dinner beer :-)

                  We have now been committed to the Castro area for Sat night. Looking at Cote Sud vs Home for dinner (Remember, we want jeans and polo/t-shirt...)

                  And on Sunday have 1215 at Foreign Cinema with Cat tour at 300 at Pier 39. Does that leave enough time to drive/park? I'd had my heart set for a leisurely brunch and now signed up for a boat tour. *sigh* Perhaps best to search for a good brunch near our hotel on the Fisherman's wharf? (Where parking is already paid for...)

                  1. re: SaraPA

                    You should have time for Sunday brunch. Pier 39 has a big parking garage. If you don't want to do that and since you already have plans for Mama's another day, they consider Town's End on Sunday.

                    1. re: SaraPA

                      Brunch at Foreign Cinema is fantastic! You might want to show up a little early to see if they can get you in, that way you won't have to rush your meal. Make sure and get the pop tarts and a side of bacon (trust me, best bacon EVER) They also have valet parking so that shouldn't be an issue if you're running late in the morning.

                  2. Can't believe I'm just now getting to this.
                    Our first day we ended up with breakfast at Louis at Land's End, overlooking the Sutros Bath. What a view! The breakfast was typical greasy spoon and with grumpy, yet fast diner service. Seated right away (it was a weekday). Bill was around $50, which seems typical for San Fran.
                    Then headed out to Sonoma. Had a bottle of champagne and cheese plate at Domaine Carneros, which I highly recommend! Outdoor table service with a great view and 3 locally made cheeses.
                    Dinner at Girl and Fig, which was definitely the highlight of the trip. We stayed at the Sonoma Inn, so just had to walk downstairs. Had an appetiser with locally grown egg, greens and asparagus which was outstanding. Coming from Michigan, we’re not used to having such fresh, locally grown produce. I had short ribs and my friend had halibut, which we outstanding. Service was efficient.
                    One night we had dinner at Blue Mermaid Chowder house, which I would NOT recommend. It was conveniently located on Fisherman’s wharf and not too crowded. The chowders were very good, and apparently what they are known for. The crabs cakes and fried shrimp were downright awful. Bland, grainy, cold with no flavor. Kind of hokey with waiters dressed as pirates or some silly thing. Convenient location, but that’s about it.
                    Dim Sum at Yank Sing after the Ferry Market. Never had Dim Sum before, so this was a good intro. The Dumplings filled with broth were very good, as well was the Walnut shrimp. Some was not so good, mostly the fried stuff (like fried crab claw). Sort of cold, gummy. Also, inadvertently got a $17 piece of sea bass—so be aware of the pricing here. In a non-descript strip mall, but the seating in the lobby is very nice—fountain, and airy. Service can be a bit aggressive—about 10 carts descended upon us within minutes of sitting down. Expensive.
                    Last dinner was at Cote Sud in Castro. Small, quaint place with a great prixe fixe menu for $30. I do not remember the first course. Had the duck for dinner which was light and delicious. Served with puree of vegetables that were intense and unique. My friend had pork, that was just okay—seemed a little dry. The servers seemed a little overwhelmed and looked like one of the owners was waiting tables. But they cracked us up as they were clearly yelling at each other in French the whole time. While not the best dinner of the trip, it stands out in my memory for some reason. Seemed very “French” to me.
                    Had beers at Twin Peaks—what a show!
                    Ended up at Fog City Diner for brunch. We wanted to walk the stairs up to Coit Tower and this is conveniently located a block a way. What a GREAT brunch. Sat outside on a quiet street. The trio of breads/muffins were a highlight—very unique and tasty. The brunches were very large and filling. I had the cheddar biscuit with fennel sausage –fresh flavors. Highly recommend.
                    Only made it to San Francisco Brewing Company. What a disappointment! Food was standard bar food and far less than what’s on the website. The beer was mediocre and the atmosphere was dark and dank. We did enjoy sitting on the street, but it was steep and had to teeter sideways in the chair. Will go to Lost Bear next time.
                    Lastly, had a burger at In N Out, which we don’t have here. My friend insists that was a highlight for her :-)
                    Thanks for the outstanding advice—all of our restaurants fit the “casual” bill. Can’t wait to go back and eat more!

                    Fog City Diner
                    1300 Battery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    The Girl & The Fig
                    110 West Spain, Sonoma, CA 95442

                    Louis' Restaurant
                    902 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

                    Domaine Carneros
                    1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: SaraPA

                      Thanks for reporting back. We tend to forget about Fog City Diner when people ask for recs near the Wharf.

                      1. re: SaraPA

                        Nice report. Good to have an update on Blue Mermaid. I'm guessing you didn't enter the building that Yank Sing is located in from the Mission St entrance. The There are some nice WPA Murals at the entrance. However, with the mostly mediocre shops and stores in there, I guess it would have the feel of a strip mall.

                        Yank Sing Banquet & Catering
                        101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                        Cote Sud
                        4238 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                        Blue Mermaid Chowder House
                        471 Jefferson Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

                        San Francisco Brewing Co
                        155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                        1. re: rworange

                          San Francisco Brewing Company is now closed.