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Aug 29, 2009 01:47 AM

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 :)

NY :

Anyway the San Fran list is currently as follows :

Le Sanctuaire
Ferry Plaza Market **
French Laundry (issues I know at this late stage
)Moes Books
Cooks Boulevard
Polly Ann Ice Cream
Mictchelsl ICe Cream
Sharfen Berger Chocolate
Bar Crudo
Sketech Ice Cream
Slanted Door
Philz Cofee
Swan Oyster Depot
Kamei Restuarant Supply
Wok Wiz Walking Tours and Cooking Center
Molinari Delicatessan
Neimann Marcus : THe Rotunda Resturant
Golden Gate Fortune Cookies
Carnelian Room
Yank Sing
Reds Java House
Humphy Slocombe
Gary Danko
Ici Ice Cream
Kukje Market
Foreign Cinema (I like movies too :) )
Blue Bottle Cafe
Xox Truffles
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


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  1. From your list I love:

    Quince, Slanted Door, Sharfen Berger, Gary Danko (bt would choose other restaurants in the same price range over it)

    Not a huge fan of:
    Yank Sing, Foreign Cinema

    I've heard bad things about The Rotunda and Carnelian Room

    1. 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.

      6 Replies
        1. re: whiner

          I don't know if they've officially closed the factory yet, but they stopped doing tours several months ago. There is, of course, a Sharffen Berger store in the Ferry Building.

          1. re: whiner

            Hershey's bought it. Now it's just a brand.

          2. re: lexdevil

            The Rotunda is pretty and relaxing amid all the shopping frenzy of Union Square BUT I'm not going back -- the last time, the lobster club sandwich was skimpy on lobster and flavorless.

            1. re: lexdevil

              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,


            2. 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 their unusual flavors and you can't beat 16% butterfat! ;-) I've never been, but I heard very good things about Bi-Rite Creamery.

              2 Replies
              1. re: arlenemae

                Hmm Michael Mina is in my hotel I see... Could be a goer :)

                1. re: Blacken

                  I found that Michael Mina was much more interesting in concept than in execution, and while it's been a while since I've gone, recent reports have pretty much said the same. Save your high-end dining for NYC, except for Coi and Ame, which don't have counterparts there.

              2. 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.

                1 Reply
                1. re: daveena

                  Good suggestions except personally I think al pastor (Mexican version of Lebanese kebab) is best enjoyed in a taco.

                2. 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!

                  3 Replies
                  1. 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.

                    1. 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.

                      1. 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.