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Aug 6, 2009 01:11 PM

Ok, So here's the plan....Thoughts? comments?

Hello everyone, I'll be in San Francisco on vacation for three days and nights in late September for my birthday. I have a plan, at least most of a plan and I'm wondering what everyone thought. More importantly I'd like to know what(if anything)I'm doing wrong, and if there's anything important I'm missing.
As you'll be able to see with my current choices, price really isn't important so don't hesitate to recommend anything within San Francisco itself regadless of what it costs per person...

The following is my current reservation list and the reasons behind the choices

Friday Lunch: Colibri
Here in NY, especially Long Island, good Mexican food is few and far between. I was thinking about this place because the reviews seem pretty good and its in Union Square which is the location of the hotel I'll be staying at. However, if you all deem this place not chow worthy I might be willing to travel a little further for a place that's much better.

Friday Dinner: Michael Mina
I've been to a few of his restaurants in Vegas so I definitely know what to expect. The main reason I'll be going here is because I've been telling my mom about his lobster pot pie for a couple years and now she'll get the chance to try it.

Saturday Brunch/Lunch: Ferry Building/Farmer's Market
I've been reading about the posts on here about this place for a while now and I don't think I can pass up the opportunity to check it out. I really like how they seem to have so many different types of food and preparations available.

Saturday Dinner: Acquerello
I want to try this place out but here is where I have the first questions for you. Just like Friday night I have a concert to go to later on in the night(8:00). Do you all think its possible to fit four courses in about an hour and a half if I have a 5:30 reservation? I've read a bunch of reviews about slow, uneven service. Any othere recommendations for this night that would be on par? Definitely Italian/Italian influenced and someplace not too far from Union Square would be preferrable.

Sunday Lunch: Unsure
This is the other place I need some help. Not looking to have a huge meal because I'm really looking forward to dinner that night, but still looking to have something really good. I was hoping that a place like Sotto Mare would be open but unfortunately they're not. Another option is going to Sotto Mare on Friday and Colibri in this slot for brunch. But again, thats if either those places are worth it.

Sunday Dinner: Gary Danko
This is the meal that I can't wait for. As a chef, I've been hearing about this place for years and I'm so happy finally getting to try it. Plus, the fact that it's going to be my birthday that night makes it even better.

Thanks in advance for all your help and I promise a full detailed report upon my return,


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  1. Something light for Sunday lunch, how about Lers Ros or Mochica?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Thanks for such a fast respose. Lers Ros Thai actually is on my huge list of places but for some reason I didn't even consider it for Sunday lunch, that might be a very good idea.
      Mochica isn't one I've heard of, I'll have to look more into it

      Thanks again

      1. re: LongIslandChef

        Mochica's halibut tiradito is one of my favorite seafood dishes ever.

        La Mar Cebicheria might be better in the same vein, or so says a friend who cooked in Peru. But you'll be right next door on Saturday.

    2. Canteen in Union Square gets lots of thumbs up for the Sunday Brunch.

      9 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        Just looked up Canteen, that looks like a great choice as well. I had seen it mentioned on here a few times but didn't know much about it.

        With so many choices already and I'm sure many more to come, Its almost tempting to skip the ferry building on Satuday morning and going to another great restaurant instead.

        1. re: LongIslandChef

          The Ferry Building on Saturday morning isn't just for eating. Nibbling is ok.

          1. re: wolfe

            wolfe, the only reason I was saying that is because if i don't go there to eat, unfortunately I may not be able to fit it in at all.

            1. re: LongIslandChef

              I would drop Colibri for the much superior food at Ferry Plaza. There are a few Mexican vendors there if you need a Mexican food fix.

              Seriously, don't drop Ferry Plaza.

              1. re: rworange

                ok now we're getting I drop Colibri, and definitely go to the Ferry Plaza on Saturday and have two slots open.
                So far its looking like Canteen is the front-runner for Sunday Brunch, which would leave one open slot on Friday for Lunch.

                  1. re: rworange

                    That's definitely near, if not at the top of the list for that slot

        2. re: rworange

          I would definitely go to Canteen for brunch on either Sat or Sun. You might have to wait a bit but the food and preparation are excellent. Definitely unique to San Francisco.

          1. re: meggie t


            817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        3. The notion that Acquerello's service is erratic is bizarre even for Yelp. Leisurely, yes, as is correct for a high-end Italian place. Perhaps they could accommodate you with a compressed meal but It would be a shame to rush.

          There aren't any great Italian places near Union Square. Where do you need to be at 8pm?

          11 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I have to be at the Warfield both Friday and Saturday at that time. That's another reason I was thinking M.Mina was perfect for Friday night because it's right in the hotel so i can run up change clothes and go...
            Edit: On saturday if I get there a little late it won't be too big a deal since there is an opening band
            And yes, you're 100% right, it would be a shame to rush a meal like that which is why I'm so unsure and need advice about that one too

            1. re: LongIslandChef

              Canteen is my favourite place in San Francisco (not that I've been lucky enough to eat at even a fraction of the restos there) but a word of warning: if you go for brunch you may not be super hungry for even a light lunch, especially if you order the chupacabra or cb hash. Their sweet dishes are pretty tasty too and maybe a bit lighter... Dennis Leary is not usually in the house at breaky though so if you want to see him in action and eat food prepared by him, you need to book for a dinner which is done in three seatings and tends to book up. Which I do every time I'm in town FWIW. And BTW his sarny stand just below Market is worth a look if you are nearby around lunch time. Best corned beef sandwich I've ever had... here's a slightly fuzzy pic for your ogling pleasure

              PS again FWIW we tried Colibri for the same reason (near our hotel, we have mostly crap Mexican in Vancouver) and while one or two plates were very good one was really bad and overall it was not worth the price tag, plus the room is a bit cheesy. We've had much better Mexican in the Mission and Fruitvale for mucho menos.

              PPS Don't skip the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday. Even if you just graze the free samples you will be happy. It is really worth seeing, despite the somewhat high prices on certain things and the crazy crowds. I really like the Mexican offerings from Primavera at the back closest to the water -- just go early or prepare to wait in a big ol' lineup. Same with the Blue Bottle coffee stands there though maybe that has improved a bit since they opened the permanent one inside? I also love the porchetta at Roli Roti though again lines can be egregrious. Okay I'll stop now...

              The Sentinel
              55 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105

              1. re: grayelf

                Wow, now that's alot of great info, thank you!!!!!
                It seems to be unanimous that I shouldn't miss the Ferry Plaza so I guess that's a done deal.

                1. re: LongIslandChef

                  I agree with grayelf. But try to get to the Ferry Plaza before 9am on Saturday: Have breakfast at Primavera (my favorite Mexican place) then head back into the building for a wonderful affogato made with Humphry Slocumbe's Secret Breakfast at Blue Bottle. By 10am the crowds are usually so thick you can't get near some of the produce, and the queues for food are daunting (and a waste of precious time.) And you can get out in time to have (another) lunch somewhere else!

                  1. re: pilinut

                    before 9am? wow, I'll certainly try. For me, thats REALLY early, lol.
                    However, that does sound like a great plan!!!!!

                    1. re: LongIslandChef

                      If you sleep till noon Long Island time, you'll be up at 9am. Hit Knoll Farms first thing, they sometimes have really unusual stuff that goes fast.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Knoll Farms huh? ok, I'll write that one down and make that the first stop once I get there Saturday morning. I Just hope it won't be too weird, otherwise it might be tough to stomach at 9am, lol

                        1. re: LongIslandChef

                          It's just produce. You probably won't want to buy, just fun to browse.

              2. re: LongIslandChef

                She said what I meant. Are you seeing Government Mule?

                1. re: wolfe

                  That's who I'm going to see yes, it's my birthday weekend so I figured I'd go see one of my faves to celebrate.
                  Plus I had been to San Francisco a few times when I was younger and it's always been one of my favorites cities.
                  One of my favorite bands in one of my favorite cities, how could I go wrong?

              3. re: Robert Lauriston

                Out of curiosity, if I drop the prerequisite of Saturday night having to be Italian, but keeping the same basic time frame, what would everyone recommend for that night in place of Acquerello?

              4. One more vote for Canteen on Sunday. It doesn't get much better.

                Don't sweat Acquerello on Saturday. Just let them know what time you have to be out and they'll take care of you. And you don't need to leave by 7; the Warfield is a <10min cab ride away.

                Nobody has addressed the Mexican food issue. Never mind Colibri or anyplace else in Union Square, get to the Mission. You've got a couple dozen options for a burrito. Better yet, have a sit-down meal at Poc Chuc. Maybe I'm too much of a fan, but I'd rather eat there than Michael Mina.


                16 Replies
                1. re: alanbarnes

                  That's good to hear about Acquerello and I didn't know it was so close to the Warfield, maybe I'll bring a change of clothes and go straight from there.

                  I'll have to look up Poc Chuc, I know absolutely nothing about it. But if it's that good, I just might have to pass up M. Mina and go there

                  1. re: LongIslandChef

                    I haven't been to Michael Mina but it's hard to picture two more diametrically opposed dining experiences in terms of settings than there and Poc Chuc. I have been to Poc Chuc however and will add my enthusiastic vote. It is Yucatecan home-style cooking and is super value but they don't have a liquor licence (unless that has changed recentish) so again quite different from MM...

                    I wouldn't consider I'd really been to San Francisco unless I were to eat at a minimum of two taquerias/Mexican joints in the Mission and hit at least one ice cream place (Humphrey Slocombe or BiRite for example) plus had a coffee at Philz, Four Barrel, Ritual or one of the other quality coffee places that I have yet to try out there... just sayin'.

                    1. re: LongIslandChef

                      If you're looking for an elegant meal, Michael Mina definitely gets the nod over Poc Chuc. But given that you're only in town for three days, my inclination would be to focus on "only in San Francisco" kinds of places. And although there's no doubt Mina serves excellent food, it's food you can get all over the country. Just my $.02; YMMV.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        I have to agree with both of you, I definitely want to try to focus on "only in San Francisco" type places. That's why I'm being so flexible with my plans. I knew I could count on everyone here to point out the can't-miss type places, and from what I've read so far you all certainly haven't disappointed.

                        Friday night doesn't necessarily have to be an elegant meal, not at all, in fact a more casual place like Poc Chuc might be better so I can go right to the concert afterwards, instead of worrying about having to go back to the hotel and change clothes.

                        1. re: LongIslandChef

                          If you do decide to try Poc Chuc and are able to make a reservation, do so. Nice things will likely happen that might not otherwise.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            I'm tempted to e-mail them right now to make a reservation

                            1. re: LongIslandChef

                              Poc-Chuc is not the kind of place where I'd bother to make a reservation.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                How come Robert? you really think it would be that easy to get in on friday night without one?

                                1. re: LongIslandChef

                                  I don't think I've ever seen the place more than half full.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    oh ok, I actually did e-mail them for a reservation a couple hours ago. Mostly because I saw greyelf's post and thought it would be a good idea.

                                    1. re: LongIslandChef

                                      You (sadly) don't NEED a reso at Poc Chuc but if you do have one, they can prepare for your arrival. I don't want to say more... OP email me if you want clarification and don't have time to read all the linked posts...

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        I'm actually suprised I haven't heard back from them about my reservation request, maybe the requested date was too far off?

                                        1. re: LongIslandChef

                                          Hmmm, maybe, but more likely it's being a family run resto where English is not the first language for all (no disrespect intended -- I spoke Spanish to the server who I believe was la madre and she seemed more comfortable with that). It really is a mom and pop operation, not amateurish but certainly not "high tech" -- I'm kind of surprised they have email actually :-). Maybe try a phone call, or just walk in...

                                          1. re: grayelf

                                            Yeah, I'll just have to call them in a few weeks then. I originally did it through their website because it was right there and I figured why not...
                                            The site said expect an answer in about 24 hours, well its been about 96 hours now and for some reason I don't think that answer is coming, lol

                          2. re: LongIslandChef

                            I'm not sure if you know that a lot of linked reports are on the Places database.Here's the Poc Chuc record

                            You have your plans down so don't really need this, but there are a few links to lists about Mexican in the mission should you head that way

                            Visitng SF. Eat like a local not a tourist.

                            1. re: rworange

                              Thanks rworange, I had seen links to those in a few other threads, definitely alot of great info there. In fact that's how I came to pick Acquerello, I first read about it in your "best of SF fine dining" list.

                    2. I went to Colibri once and would never consider a return visit.

                      Have you considered Da Flora on Columbus? She takes reservations and the food is excellent. The owner is Hungarian and worked in Venice, Italy a few years.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: walker

                        I've actually never heard of Da Flora, I'll have to look into that one.