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San Francisco Experience

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aarona Jun 30, 2009 10:06 AM

I am a longtime foodie and fan of chowhound located in New York City. I'm taking a last minute trip to SF with my wife and I would love recommendations for an amazing dinner while I'm there. I have eaten at some of the best places in NY (Daniel, Le Cirque, Babbo, Peter Luger) and overseas (Don Alfonso), so I am looking for somewhere really special. I'm going in two weeks, so I know that getting a reservation will be a tall order. I will do anything it takes to have a truly memorable experience at an essential SF spot. Obviously, French Laundry would be a dream but that's impossible given the late notice. I would love some great local advice. Thanks!

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  1. bbulkow RE: aarona Jun 30, 2009 03:08 PM

    Hello first time poster,
    Search for user 'uhockey', who recently travelled to SF a few times and hit most of the high end restaurants. Otherwise, the Michelin guide is a good place to start, as much as we all love to disagree with them. If you're looking for something more specific than "the best", please be more specific.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bbulkow
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      aarona RE: bbulkow Jun 30, 2009 04:21 PM

      I only have one weekend in SF. Where would you say I absolutely HAVE to go? In NYC, I would say Peter Luger, Blue Ribbon, Blue Hill, and WD-50.

      1. re: aarona
        Paul H RE: aarona Jun 30, 2009 04:43 PM

        Coi, Manresa (Los Gatos), and Qunice. Use the links for research.

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        Manresa Restaurant
        320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

        Coi
        373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

        Quince Restaurant
        470 Pacific Av, San Francisco, CA 94133

    2. Shane Greenwood RE: aarona Jun 30, 2009 05:47 PM

      Can you clarify if you are looking for a place in the city only? Your post mentions SF but then you bring up TFL, which is not in SF.

      Also, anything else you can offer about cuisine, atmosphere, or dishes would help. You mention a wide variety of styles in the places mentioned. All I'm really getting is that you want an expensive place with a famous name. The suggestion to look at the Mich. Guide is a good one if those are your only criteria.

      1. daveena RE: aarona Jun 30, 2009 07:40 PM

        For high-end, I'd do Coi for sure, and consider Ame as well. I think that if you've eaten extensively at the high-end restaurants in NYC, you'll be disappointed in Gary Danko, The Dining Room at the Ritz, even Quince. Coi and Ame are different enough that they'd be worthwhile.
        My other picks would be La Ciccia for Sardinian, Incanto for offal-heavy Californian Italian, Zuni Cafe for a burger and Bloody Mary for brunch, Lers Ros Thai, Humphrey Slocombe for ice cream, and a Saturday morning at the Ferry Building Farmer's market (chilaquiles from the Primavera stand, a loaf of levain from Della Fattoria, some cheese from Andante and Pug's Leap, fruit, etc).

        3 Replies
        1. re: daveena
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          aarona RE: daveena Jul 1, 2009 07:57 AM

          Thanks for these recommendations! I'm going to get to work on getting a last minute reservation. I don't mean to sound like I just want to blow money at some big name spot. I am looking for something I can get uniquely SF that would be an exciting experience.

          1. re: daveena
            Robert Lauriston RE: daveena Jul 1, 2009 08:13 AM

            Great recommendations. For Ferry Plaza, I'd add cold cuts from Fatted Calf and Boccalone.

            1. re: daveena
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              SteveG RE: daveena Jul 6, 2009 04:47 PM

              I am normally pro-Zuni, but after two rounds of inexcusably terrible Bloody Mary drinks, it is on a personal no-recommendation probation period.

              I am guessing that by the original poster's few comments, high quality authentic Thai might not be something s/he is prepared to appreciate, so Lers Ros might be out, but you never know.

              I would definitely recommend Incanto for California Italian, the chef would have beat Mario Batali on Iron Chef had his plating been better. Incanto also has a number of special advance request meal options that I suspect Chris Cosentino takes a more personal hand in preparing. It's worth calling to ask the receptionist what is possible, rather than just making a reservation on opentable. Sadly, I'd skip the plate of cured meats. I think individual meats are still great, but the overall average quality strikes me as having slipped after boccalone started, and so much of the rest of the menu is so tasty that I don't see the point.

              Quince also has advance request options that can be more exciting than the regular menu. My expense account traveling partner absolutely raved about a pasta tasting menu he had at Quince, but felt the Dining Room at the Ritz was cliche and dull, and did not find Gary Danko to live up to either its reputation or the staff's attitude.

            2. Marc Veyrat RE: aarona Jul 1, 2009 10:14 AM

              It's truly a thrill to meet someone who appreciates Don Alfonso as much as I do. Our tastes are very much akin.

              I disagree with Daveena and her post. You will have a hard time finding a better meal in SF than Gary Danko. I just ate there and had the seasonal menu and paired wines. Fantastic. Of course, you're not likely to get in at this late hour.

              Please do try to make reservations for The Slanted Door. It is unique to SF (think: River Cafe meets the old Vong in NYC) and, noise aside, is a wonderful spot. It's at the Ferry Building with views of the shipping lanes and Bay Bridge.

              Coi and Quince are good, but take a far second or even third place to the foregoing. he Ritz also is very good but who the hell wants to eat at a hotel dining room? I get what you're after -- something special to San Francisco. Skip the rest. Beg for a table at Danko or Slated Door. And follow me on Twitter at ConnaSir!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Marc Veyrat
                Robert Lauriston RE: Marc Veyrat Jul 1, 2009 10:45 AM

                How about a report on your seasonal meal at Gary Danko?

                1. re: aarona
                  Marc Veyrat RE: aarona Jul 2, 2009 11:22 AM

                  Wasn't it wonderful? The chef did the same for us as well. I think it's part of his schtick for Americans who travel all that way to eat there. BTW, Alfonso Icarinno, the owner is opening a Don Alfonso at the newly renovated La Mammounia in Marrakech, along with a few other highly rated European celeb chefs.

                  BTW, we were there for our honeymoon as well. Stayed at La Sireneuse.

                  Enjoy the City. Can't go wrong at any of these places. Let the 'Hounds know how your dinner turned out!

                2. lessleyellen RE: aarona Jul 1, 2009 10:25 AM

                  I would recommend Cyrus, which is in Healdsburg. A bit of a drive, but I believe it has the kind of creative, high-end, ultra-lux thing your'e looking for.

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                  Cyrus Restaurant
                  29 North St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                  1. w
                    whiner RE: aarona Jul 2, 2009 08:47 AM

                    I'm celebrating my 30th at La Folie in a few weeks, though that isn't really a type of food that is unique to SF.

                    Other than that, Coi is the first restaurant that comes to mind.

                    Edited to add that I agree that Ame is both excellent and unique to SF.

                    1. w
                      w0x0f RE: aarona Jul 5, 2009 11:30 PM

                      Coi is definitely on your list. For lunch, I'd strongly recommend The House. Asian in a way that only they do. The salmon roll appetizer with mustard sauce and the tuna BLT will keep you happy until dinner.

                      Second on the recs for Manresa, although you will have to leave the city--it's in Los Gatos, about 50 miles drive from downtown San Francisco.

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                      The House
                      1230 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                      1. c
                        cj530 RE: aarona Jul 6, 2009 06:10 PM

                        Will second ( or third, fourth??) the recc'md for COI. Was visiting in April and it was by far the most singularly "SF" evening (and we had some amazingly good meals) . Not just for interesting food, but the whole experience - really outstanding.

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