Help needed to cull choice for a foodies week in San Fran....!
Heading to the USA for 4 weeks in October from Australia
First Week will be in San Fran, then a week in Washington DC and two weeks in New York
Have done a fair amount of reading, andnow I have too many choices!
Hence I'm looking for the combined wisdom of Chowhound readers to help me cull my choices down
If you really want to do some extra work, please read my similar posts in the Washington and New York Forums to see what close duplicates there are, so I can choose the best :)
Anyway the San Fran list is currently as follows :
Ferry Plaza Market **
French Laundry (issues I know at this late stage
Polly Ann Ice Cream
Mictchelsl ICe Cream
Sharfen Berger Chocolate
Sketech Ice Cream
Swan Oyster Depot
Kamei Restuarant Supply
Wok Wiz Walking Tours and Cooking Center
Neimann Marcus : THe Rotunda Resturant
Golden Gate Fortune Cookies
Reds Java House
Ici Ice Cream
Foreign Cinema (I like movies too :) )
Blue Bottle Cafe
Golden Gate bakery
Culinaire Ferry Building
** We changed our fly out date when we found out that we other wise would have missed the Sat Market.... Friends are finding this quite amusing...
Also made up a google maps to help me plan our holiday
There is also a feature on this site for creating a restaurant maps and lists
Visitng SF. Eat like a local not a tourist.
That will also give you some ideas about places to eat in various neighborhoods. My understanding from other posters from Australia is that Mexican food is not a strong point there. You might check out in the above link the lists of restaurants in the Mission. There's even a mural walking tour.
Polly Ann Ice Cream isn't worth it.
Molinari Delicatessan has a store in the Ferry Building called Mastrellli's so you could eliminate that. If you wanted to do a tour of North Beach (while picking up XOX chcolates), Linguira for foccacia, Graffeo for dark roast coffee beans to take home, Stella Pastry for their sacrapantina (and nothing else there), Cafe Trieste (before it changes and while papa is still singing), Danilo Bakery when it opens for a cup of coffee and evesdropping on the Italian neighbors stopping by (if you understand Italian) Cafe Grecco
Yes: Coi, Bar Crudo,Slanted Door, Yank Sing, Quince, Canteen(big yes) Golden Gate bakery
Philz Cofee - only in the original location on 24th near Humprhey Slocombe
No: Swan Oyster Depot, Carnelian Room (seriously no. if you must have a roof-top view and cocktails go to the Top of the Mark)
Since you are in Berkeley for Ici, I'd go to Chez Panisse Cafe for lunch or dinner downstairs. Get a piece of Berkeley pizza from Cheeseboard and people watch listening to the piano player and other musicians sitting in that day. Check out the cheese. Go to Chocoletier Blue, the first place to rank higher for me than XOX. Stop by Berkeley Berekely Bowl West and oogle the amazing produce selection ... October? At least 30 varieties of apples. Stop by Crixa for probably the best Eastern European baked goods in the US.
Neimann Marcus : THe Rotunda Resturant ... it's pretty. Except for the popovers, nothing pops out there. A place for the ladies who lunch. Get a cocktail or a cup of tea, soak up the decor and don't waste much more time there.
Reds Java House ... driving by is enough. The burgers are (were) cheap. Taste-wise ... average.
Gary Danko - eh. I'd go to Chez Panisse instead
If going to wine country, Ubuntu, Fremont Diner, Brix for happy hour or and exquisite Sunday brunch.
TFL - absolutely, if you can get a rez. If not, there's Manresa or The Dining Room @ RC. In Yountville there's also Keller's other restaurant, Ad Hoc. Cyrus in Healdsburg gets raves too.
Yank Sing is good quality dim sum but so overpriced. Perhaps the $$$ can be used for a flight from AU to HK. ;)
Carnelian Room - blah. Gary Danko and Boulevard were good.
I like Kiss Seafood (Japanese). It's super tiny so call ahead.
If you want to try high-end sushi or kaiseki, there's Sushi Ran and Kaygetsu.
Gotchi in Cupertino has fantastic Japanese tapas style dishes.
If in Berkeley, then Chez Panisse is must.
I might think about what sorts of food you guys don't have a great selection of in your neighborhood in Australia...
To try something not French/Californian i might go for Kokkari, which is always good in my opinion. Also, perhaps a fun Taqueria in the Mission as well.
Pretty solid list. I think Google Maps should help you cull some outliers.
Add Bi-Rite to your ice cream list. I'd strike Mitchell's, they have interesting flavors but the ice cream itself is nothing special, especially compared with the other places on your list. Plus you don't have anything else taking you out that way.
The food at the Carnelian Room is nothing special. If you must go, I suggest a drink at the bar rather than a meal.
Sharffen Berger and Sketch have closed, and personally I don't find Ici worth the long lines. As a local, I hate to say it, but maybe you should just skip the East Bay. If you have your heart set on visiting Moe's, I can recommend some other stops.
re: Robert Lauriston
If I was spending an entire week in SF, I'd get bored. I think berkeley is worth a day - an hour in the "gourmet ghetto" (do they still have that wine tasting place with the funny pay card thing), cheeseboard - I'm recently a fan of Bohemian Creamery, which is to be found there. Plus a walk through campus & telegraph, check out the free speech movement monument, Amoeba records, whatever bookstores are still left.
Unless I was getting out of town to Napa - I notice TFL is on the list. But coming to CA and not getting out of SF is criminal - there should be a day trip up to Pt Reyes or down to Santa Cruz or something. If not that, then at least Berkeley! It's a nice city, but the glory is the surroundings.
An addition to your list: unless you're not alcohol drinkers, you should check out some of the west coast IPAs. The IPA style is now all over the US, but breweries like Lagunitas, Speakeasy, Anderson Valley, Russian River were at the forefront of reviving and creating that style. Zeitgeist has very fresh beer but a weird scene, Toranado is a belgian specialist that has a majority of those beers as well.
Beer does not travel well - you can get these beers further away, even in NYC, but they're not half as good as when fresh.
It looks like you did a prodigious amount of research and have compiled a list of places you are curious about for various reasons, including historicity. I'd suggest you stick with your plan, which seems doable since your long list includes only a relatively few full sit-down meals and avoid subjective "eat here not there" advice except for practical (logistical) reasons. I'd skip Moe's Books, for example (as much as I loved the late Moe Moskowitz and his cigars) because it appears to be the only place in the East Bay (not counting Sharffen Berger) and you'd kill half a day going there and back. (You're probably aware that TFL will kill a whole day as well).
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie factory is on the Wok Wiz tour (recommended) so doesn't need to be a separate item.
Kamei is out in the Richmond (Clement St.) and it you keep it on your list you might want to pair it with another nearby place like Schubert's Bakery or New May Wah (a great Asian market).
You might want to add the just-opened Minamoto Kitrchoan (tea ceremony confectionery) at 648 Market St. It's one of only four (w/ New York, Singapore and London) outside Japan.
I'm not a big fan of the Saturday farmers' market (I think there are greater farmers' markets in North America) but I certainly salute your dedication to your mission in changing your Australia-SF flight schedule to accomodate it. You ought to be awarded a special tomato or peach for that!
re: Xiao Yang
I'm skeptical that there's a better farmers market anywhere in North America, for the simple reason that the various climates and growing areas within driving distance allow for a wider variety of produce (though the difference is less noticeable in summer than in winter). Other areas may be catching up in terms of artisanal bread, cheese, and meat, but I think they've sticll got a ways to go.
re: Robert Lauriston
Of course California's climate and the agribusiness-developed techniques give it an advantage in year-round variety of produce. But if you are talking about quality and service, that's another matter. California can never match the flavor of ground fruits, legumes and root vegetables from Quebec you will find at Montreal's Jean-Talon and Atwater Markets, and let's not even mention dairy products. These markets are open 7 days a week, 10-13 hours per day (depending on DOW), year round regardless of weather. How can anyone take a once-a-week produce market seriously? Do you only eat fresh produce on the weekend?
The ancillary bricks-and-mortar shops and restaurants surrounding the Montreal markets equal or surpass what you'll find inside the Ferry Building, as well, and included Montreal's top cheese purveyor, bakery and delis.
re: Xiao Yang
The year-round produce here has to do with the mild winter weather, not techniques. The average January temperature in Quebec is 10 degrees, around here it's 45-60.
The Ferry Building everyday shopping experience is another story. Despite some world-class vendors such as Acme and Cowgirl, it's not Pike Place or Reading Terminal.
Yes on Coi, Humphry Slocombe, XOX truffles, Canteen, Golden Gate Bakery, Ferry Building Farmer's Market.
Given your NYC picks (which I think are excellent, btw), I'd drop Quince and Gary Danko. If you're looking for another high end dinner, I'd add Ame.
Consider adding Incanto, La Ciccia, Bi-Rite ice cream, Tartine Bakery (for the giant gougere) and Zuni Cafe. Don't forget to leave room for burritos (I like the al pastor super burrito at Taqueria Cancun - I've had consistently better ones at the Martket and 6th branch, although this does not appear to be generalized across all Chowhound experience), pupusas from Balompie, Lers Ros Thai, maybe some Shanghaiese food.
Places I haven't been to yet but are high on my to-go list - Flour + Water, Larkin Express Deli, Thorough Bread and Pastry.
Some recommendations for a special splurge if you can't get reservations to French Laundry...
Dining Room at the Ritz (SF) - I thought the food/service was up there with French Laundry. 9 courses with 2 different preparations per course, plus amuses and mignardises for $125/pp...a veritable bargain compared to FL. Plus the guy was the first American to win Iron Chef!
Michael Mina - 3 courses for ~$100, but you can get each course as a trio so you would actually get 9 different tastes.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - It's a bit of a trek to go to the south bay, but might be a good option if you will be in that area. Their tasting menu is $160 but you get a sh*tload of courses.
I also like Gary Danko, La Folie, and Fleur de Lys. You can get 3-5 courses and pick any courses you want (3 appetizers, 2 desserts? no problem!).
Foreign Cinema is nice if you can get a table outside by the movie and the weather cooperates. It's cheaper than the above restaurants too.
I see you have a lot of ice cream listed! :-) Mitchell's is one of my favourite places to get ice cream...love their unusual flavors and you can't beat 16% butterfat! ;-) I've never been, but I heard very good things about Bi-Rite Creamery.
This list is quite eclectic, and some places are no longer with us. Can you tell us what drew you to the places on your list? That would help us in suggesting replacements and superior alternatives.
Sharfen Berger Chocolate--closed
Sketch Ice Cream--closed
Agree with whiner re: Carnelian room.
Re: the Rotunda, why would you travel here to have an overpriced ladies lunch in a department store? Nothing wrong with it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there.
Well it was mainly via alot of Web searching
Went through these boards and looked at the big posts, and got a feeling of what got repeated often.
Also when Using Google maps to plan choices, what I find qutie useful was to look at other people google maps list that refernced the place I had chosen - particularly if the name of their map was 'foodie' related.... Unfortunately get some old/closed places - but you do get alot of reviews on them - both good and occasionally bad...
Also went to Egullet forums, although they are not as active in some cities as the chowhound forums, and tend to be more focused on a particular type of resturant. Paricularly as last time I looked there was a somewhat restririctive posting reuirement.
Have to admit thought some of them was my GF's choices heheh Rotunda for Example,