HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


LA hound headin' up to NorCal...so what are you folks "hella" good at?

  • n

No seriously, what does SF have that I can't get in LA, UNDER 20pp?

Will be staying at the Sofitel in Redwood City 5/22 - 5/24, with a car.

The only places on my list are...
- Falafel Drive in (San Jose) - close to Shoreline Ampitheater, so good for me
- Top Dog
- Tartine Cafe (sp?)
- XLB @Shanghai Dumpling King

Anything else guys? If you guys have a rec for killer clam chowder, I'd be forever grateful :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well, since clams are an East Coast thing, clam chowder is not something we're "hella" good at. However, since you're in Redwood City, you might want to check out Old Port Lobster Shack.

    1. I must respectfully disagree with Ruth. It would be a bit of a schlep from Redwood City, but a pretty drive, up the coast to Bodega Bay, where Spud Point Crab Shack makes the BEST clam chowder I've ever eaten. (And I have loved clam chowder since I was a child and have had many many versions.) It's SUPER casual, just a little shack with some picnic tables outside. The chowder is divine: it tastes like the ocean, fresh and clean, and every bite has the richest clam taste, and it''s full of pieces of what sure tastes like fresh clams. I assure that it's definitely "hella" good!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Kathleen M

        Thanks, will look into it later. Sounds "hella" delicious :)

        1. re: ns1

          It's a great drive to get there, with many options on the way. The clam chowder is as good as described, and I also liked the crab cakes very much. Very un-touristy; you have to know where it is to get there. Here are two pics of the place, the one that comes up and the next one.


          Spud Point Crab Company
          1860 Westshore Rd, Bodega Bay, CA 94923

      2. What area are you going to be spending most of your time?

        Falafel Drive In is not close to Shoreline, it is near the intersection of 280 & 880. With only a long weekend, I am not sure if it warrants a trip unless you make a slight detour on your way back home (if you are driving). I highly recommend Bi Rite Creamery (salted caramel) in SF for ice cream.

        Shalimar, Lahore Karahi in SF for tandoori chicken, kabobs. If you are going to be near Sunnyvale or Santa Clara, there are several options for Indian food.

        7 Replies
        1. re: ceekskat

          I'll be @Shoreline for a concert on Friday, leaving back to LA on Sunday

          According to google maps, Falafel Drive in (should be) on the drive TO shoreline (please correct me if I'm wrong)

          Will look into the Indian recs. LA proper isn't that good for Indian, unfortunately.

          1. re: ns1

            Falafel Drive-In is 15 miles the other direction in San Jose. Traffic filled, otherwise unremarkable miles.

            1. re: oaktowngirl


              Falafel Drive-in
              2301 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                Quick report. went yesterday on the way to the concert

                - Falafel pretty good, very unique, but would prefer Falafel Arax in LA (a la carte)
                - The SANDWICH was pretty awesome. I craved it again last night. IT's that hot sauce that really did it for me. A sandwich who's whole > sum of its parts.
                - Tahini sauce was kinda runny

                Who knows where today takes us..

                1. re: ns1

                  As a falafel fiend, 'm curious about how you thought the tahini sauce was runny. In my experience, the tahini put on falafel has always been quite loose, the thickest I've seen was the consistency of thin cream. Have you had differently elsewhere?

                  1. re: Humbucker

                    Well the best way I can describe it is in the way it sticks to the falafel. The layer of sauce that covered the falafel after every dip was way thinner than I am used to.

                    Just felt a tad watered down.

            2. re: ns1

              you have a wide range of Indian eateries to pick from, representing a variety of regional styles. In the price range specified, and not as easily found in other parts of the state, there are more than a few South Indian spots, many of which are vegetarian.

            1. Burmese and Cal-Moroccan.

              5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121

              Burma Superstar Restaurant
              309 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

              Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
              452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              2 Replies
              1. re: ML8000

                Burma is really expensive for what you get. This place is so overrated. A ripoff for anyone from LA where you can get the same thing for $5 a plate.

                Aziza is pretty awesome though. I think that one is worth it.

                Never been to Larkin though I heard from a friend that it's a good value.

              2. Fried Chicken Ramen at Katana-Ya.

                Beef (marinated in red wine) Stew at Turtle Tower.

                Ritual Coffee

                Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream

                430 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                Ritual Coffee Roasters
                1026 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Turtle Tower Restaurant
                631 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
                2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1 Reply
                1. re: scarmoza

                  having lived pretty much equally in both l.a. and sf for most of my life, i would say there's a good argument the bottom three places you've listed, but no ramen in the bay area comes even close to the amazing ramen shops in l.a., particularly those along sawtelle/olympic.

                2. I actually think LA has more under 20pp places, and where SF really shines is having a lot of excellent 30-50pp places that are known more for their food than their decor.

                  That being said, here are a few under 20pp places in the Bay Area that haven't been mentioned yet.

                  Salang Pass and DeAfghanan for Afghan.
                  Zeni and Rehoboth for Ethiopian.
                  Bun Bo Hue An Nam for Vietnamese Bun Bo Hue.
                  Saravana Bhavan and Komala Vilas for South Indian.
                  Ongpin, Patio Filipino, Tribu Grill for Filipino

                  And if no one has mentioned it, you should really check out the Ferry Building Farmers Market on Saturday.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sfbing

                    What a great list for ethnic choices that are usually overlooked. Given the current economic situation I find I'm happier at the little mom 'n pop places, dives, etc., not because of lower prices but rather that they are more deserving.

                    1. re: sfbing

                      Is there anything particularly good at the farmers market? Or just eat and sample stuff?

                      thanks for the recs everyone

                      1. re: ns1

                        There are lots of great threads on the FPFM, but these are two with lots of advice to get you started: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/503670 http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/512277

                    2. Make sure you dont go to "tartine cafe" you want "Bar Tartine" or "Tartine Bakery." Falafel Drive in is just ok for how out of the way it is. Top dog is not worth it considering its all the way in Oakland. Try and stay closer. Your itinerary sounds a little overly ambitious for things that are just ok.

                      Since your staying in Redwood Shores, there is The Refuge right across the highway (like 1/2 mile) that has the best Pastrami on the west coast and an amazing, predominantly Belgian beer list. If your heading to the city, I would say a mission burrito, Zuni chicken, Humphry Slocombe ice cream, XLB @ SDKing, are all relatively quintessential eats.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Adamsimpson

                        Best pastrami on the west coast is a big bold statement considering my close proximity to Langers...

                        Thanks for the recs :)

                        1. re: ns1

                          >Best pastrami on the west coast is a big bold statement considering my close proximity to Langers...<

                          I've never been to Langers so I can't compare them. Suffice it to say that the pastrami at The Refuge is so good (and different) that you really should try it. It stands on its own. It's been described as what you might get if you made pastrami from prime rib (don't know what cut they really use).

                          The Refuge
                          963 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

                          1. re: Mick Ruthven

                            The Refuge uses the navel cut for its pastrami. Clicking on the blue Places link will take ns1 to several reports on the pastrami and some comparisons to Langers.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              fantastic, reading up on it now.

                              Also, how's the BOUCHON in Yontville(sp?) Loved the sourdough waffles @ Bouchon Vegas (I mean, it was quite possibly one of the best things I've ever stuffed in my mouth) and if I could recreate that experience, I'd be more than happy to drive the hour to Bouchon..

                              1. re: ns1

                                Here's the link for Bouchon in Yountville,

                                The LV location is generally more highly regarded than Napa Valley's. I've not been to Bouchon for about 3 years, and nothing I've read in the meantime compels me to return. And I wouldn't bypass what SF, Berkeley and Oakland have to offer to go there. From Redwood City, you're looking at more like a 2-hour drive each way.

                                1. re: ns1

                                  might i suggest checking out Ad Hoc if you heading up to Yountville. They've started doing BBQ mondays every other week from what I've heard. Fried Chicken Weds is also good, just call in before you go to find out the menu.

                                  Though it's not $20/pp

                          1. re: ceekskat

                            I found out about this place on CH and it's the best frozen yogurt I've tried; I don't go often because I live in SF and am afraid I won't be able to find the new place in San Mateo.

                          2. My favorite Indian place is Amber Cafe on El Camino in Mountain View: varied, authentic, and inexpensive. I've been going there regularly since I read about it on Chowhound a few years ago. On weekends, they do veg and non-veg biryanis, and their curries change frequently. IMO, the best value-for-money Indian place in the mid-Peninsula. (Can't imagine why it hasn't been mentioned yet.)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pilinut

                              Please note pilinut is recommending *amber cafe*, which is in the $20/pp range - unlike highly reviewed Amber Indian, in which each entre is $20.