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May 13, 2009 06:49 AM

NY hound in SF for 1 night only - HELP

Hi everyone! I am a NY Chowhound and I've got one night in San Fran on June 4th (driving to Sonoma the next day for a wedding). I haven't been to SF in about 12 years, and would love to try something that I can't get here in NY...any price range, any style - I just want to be blown away! One dinner only! I am staying at the Westin Saint Francis if that helps, and I like to eat everything (especially ethnic or locally grown food).

Thank you so much in advance!
Crepe Suzette

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  1. Aziza. Haute Moroccan. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the country and the chef is impressing so many that he was offered a show by the Food Network but has accepted doing a show for PBS instead.

    When I have friends visiting from other cities, Aziza is consistently my go-to restaurant and never fails to impress.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Carrie 218

      oh wow, checking out their menu and that does look incredible...

    2. Looking at your blog, you might also want to consider Coi and Zuni.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sfbing

        Coi looks really good - like the sustainable ingredients theme - sthg we don't get here in NY (except maybe Blue Hill). I think I'll stay away from Italian only b/c I think that's a cuisine NY does well - of course that's debatable ;)

        I will also research pho places in case my flight's delayed. We definitely are lacking in stellar Vietnamese here.

        1. re: Crepe Suzette

          Turtle Tower--Northern style free range chicken pho (they serve no basil, that's a Southern thing). You can have it for breakfast, if that helps.

          Saigon Sandwich--banh mi

          Pagolac--7 courses of beef

          Bodega Bistro--Vietnamese with a slight French twist

      2. Thanks for everyone's help! I ended up at Aziza, which was perfect. The menu was exotic, unlike anything I've had before (especially the basteeya) and made great use of local, seasonal ingredients.

        You can read my review here:

        Thanks again!

        5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121

        12 Replies
        1. re: Crepe Suzette

          Thanks for reporting back! We had a couple of recent negative reports on Aziza, so I'm glad to see one more typical of what we've come to expect.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Wow, Ruth - really? I haven't seen any negative reports and dining at Aziza about once a quarter, I have not found any slippage in quality.

            1. re: CarrieWas218

              Yeah, I was surprised, too. But I was concerned because there were two that there might be some actual slippage, not just an off night or a "not really her thing" situation:


            2. re: Ruth Lafler

              Yeah, definitely some negative reports from longtime fans lately. That first link is from just last weekend.

              Permalink to Crepe Suzette's review:


            3. re: Crepe Suzette

              Basteeya is a really tasty classic dish which is standard on Moroccan menus.
              Aziza's version is pretty traditional, and fusion versions of this cuisine are easy to find.

              1. re: sugartoof

                Where else have you seen fusion Moroccan?

                Things may have changed, but Aziza's basteeya was by far the best I've had.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  It was good, but not a standout basteeya to my mind.
                  I personally thought the version at the now defunct Ya Ya (who may still have a location somewhere, but I can't vouch for anything he's cooked in the last 10 years) was much superior, and more inventive. Aziza's tends to be dry and molded together.

                  Fusion Moroccan? I think we've been over this, and the distinction you're looking for is California Moroccan fusion, because there's absolutely nothing original about the concept, and it's not unique to San Francisco, otherwise. I'm pretty sure I came up with a more extensive list the last time this topic came up, but Sasha, and Cossu come to mind and there are a couple more.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    I agree about the bastilla -- I humbly think mine, which is made from a recipe in the San Francisco a la Carte cookbook (SF Junior League from the '70s), is better: moister and with more distinct layers.

                    I don't think Aziza is "fusion" as much as California-influenced, that is, not so much incorporating ingredients and techniques from other cuisines as reinterpreting Moroccan cuisine with California sensibilities.

                    At any rate, with three downhill reports, I'm concerned.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Ruth - I'm going to Aziza next Friday. Since I dine there about once a quarter, I'll report back if I detect any changes.

                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                        Carrie, was it as good as you remembered? Just curious...

                    2. re: sugartoof

                      fyi, Yahya Silah of YaYa is opening a new place, Jannah, in SF soon.

                      1775 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        First I've heard of Cossu. Menu's definitely Moroccan fusion. How's the food? I don't find any reports here.

                        If you mean Saha, the menu includes only a few Moroccan dishes (the chef's Yemeni). The tagine I had was quite traditional.

                        1516 Broadway Street, San Francisco, CA

                2. I can't say I agree with this recommendation. Good lord. We have so many stellar examples of unique California dining and we cannot do any better for this young lady than Aziza?

                  No, my dear, you most certainly are NOT going to Aziza. It is waaaay out in hell-and-gone; you practically have to bring a day pack and a Sherpa to get there and back from Union Square. And, unlike NYC, good luck getting a cab on the way back to the hotel. Let PBS broadcast about the food. It's average and certainly NOT what you're looking for...

                  Here are my selections for you (in no particular order):

                  Slanted Door ($$$)
                  Michael Nina ($$$$)
                  Gary Danko ($$$$)
                  Chez Panisse (dinner not cafe) ($$$)
                  Coi ($$$$)

                  If you're going for one restaurant only, and a radical departure from the "norm," I would suggest the Slanted Door, Charles Phan's interpretation of Asian cuisine. It is stylish, noisy, and swinging, but it's also unique -- both with respect to the tastes and the view (of the Bay Bridge and water). Think: River Cafe meets the old Vong in NYC. Very different.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Marc Veyrat

                    Aziza's the first place that comes to my mind for something New Yorkers can't get at home, plus it's both ethnic and focused on local ingredients. As numerous past reports from visitors make clear, getting to and from is no big deal. It's a 25-minute ride on the 38 bus from Union Square, and if desired the restaurant can call a cab for the return trip.

                    Slanted Door is an only-in-SF experience, with good food and a great wine list, but to me the restaurant is cold and noisy, and the overall experience just not a lot of fun. It reminds me a bit of an airport departure gate.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      All true, mon ami, Robert. Slanted Door is noisy and crowded. However, one can retreat to the quiet solitude of the water that is just steps away (with the wind sweeping across the shipping lanes and under the bridge). Its location and unique tastes really are quite striking. On the other hand, with Geary Boulevard, whatdya got for ambience? It's a gritty urban Siberia. With a long, long schlep on the 38 bus. (You really want to entrust one of our foodie visitors to MUNI?) Decent Moroccan but certainly no better than she can get in NYC.

                      1. re: Marc Veyrat

                        The Cal-Moroccan food at Aziza isn't like what you'll get at any Moroccan restaurant in New York, or anywhere.

                    2. re: Marc Veyrat

                      Thanks for the help, Marc. I already went to SF in early June and very much enjoyed Aziza, particularly because it was different from what I can get here in NYC. Moroccan food here tends to be much heavier, with less of a focus on seafood and fresh ingredients. It's mostly hearty and meat-centric.

                      Coi was number two on my list, and probably what I'll try next time I'm in town - though I'll be sure to take a look at Slanted Door as well.

                      It's always hard to capture the variety and talents in one city with one meal alone, which I totally understand. If the roles were reversed, it would be very difficult to capture NYC in one restaurant (I guess I would recommend Fatty Crab, Momofuku Ko or Babbo...but these all have their shortcomings too!)

                      The transportation wasn't a big deal as I had a rental car, and it was actually really easy to park nearby.

                      Thanks for all the help! I am already planning on making more visits out west as the BF is going to Stanford in the fall...

                      1. re: Crepe Suzette

                        Moroccan food here tends to be much heavier, too, though Aziza's success and the chef's celebrity may change that.

                    3. La Mer (Peruvian), Pier 1 (next to Ferry Building). Try their ceviche sampler and, for dessert, the creme brulee sampler! Also, great selection of beer!