Foodie Plans of a 25 Year Old's Long Weekend in San Fran- Need Tips!
First of all, thanks in advance for your advice and imput. I am aware that San Fran gets inundated by tourists looking for foodie advice, and you Chowhounds always go above and beyond to help individuals maximize their eating and libation potential in San Francisco!
I will be in San Fransicso (my first trip!) from Thursday the 29th until November 1st (late night). I'm in graduate school, so don't want to spend a ridiculous amount on gourmet dining, but also don't want to be eating from foodcourts or food halls. My specific interests and meals I'd like to have when visiting San Fran include: local food with emphasis on vegetarian cuisine, sushi, sweets, cocktails, and Mexican. Chinatown seems... overwhelming. So would love specific reccs for dim sum and bakery. Here is what I am leaning towards so far. Please critique/encourage/tell me NO, or recommend alternatives. Thank you so much!
I am staying at the Intercontinental Marc Hopkins but will travel for yum food. However, the closer the better, and if it's super far, it's gotta be amazing and a good value.
Local with emphasis on vegetarian- Aziza
Sushi- Sushi Zone, Tataki
Mexican (would like to experience a meal in the Mission)- La Cumbre
Cocktails- Rickhouse, Heaven's Dog, Bourbon and Branch (I'm aware of their "policies, not a problem), Rye
Sweets- Kara's Cupcakes, Bi-Rite Creamery, Humphry Ice Dream, Citizen Cake
Other random recommendations from friends: Asia de Cuba, Crown and Crumpet, Lahore Karahi, Cafe de la Presse, Tataki
Cako: got the chocolate peanut butter. Way too expensive for what it was ($3.50), although it was huge. I much prefer quality over quantity. The cake was OK and moist, but very unoriginal and uninspired. I wish it had chocolate chips/PB chips in the cake, or something to make it more unique. The frosting was delish, though, and I liked the slightly salted peanuts around the rim. I polished this one off.
Kara's: Like that they had every flavor available in mini sized. The pumpkin cupcake was very well spiced, and the cream cheese frosting was very cream cheesey and almost sticky. The vanilla/vanilla- vanilla cake had a very strong vanilla flavor (hate when vanilla is bland), but the buttercream was too buttery. Needed some more sugar.
That Takes the Cake: The red velvet is suppose to be a mocha flavor, but it tasted CHOCOLATE. If i was blind-folded, I wouldn't have known it was red velvet. The frosting was good, didn't taste of cream-cheesy as Kara's (IMO). Chocolate PB here was yummy- cake was much better and innovative (had chocolate chips in the cake) than Cako, but a little dry. PB frosting was delicious, which not enough frosting on these cupcakes.
They were all good for different things; however, my friend said the lemon from Kara's was inedible, but she said the strawberry from TTTK was amazing. She "liked" the Chocolate Mint from Cako. If I HAD to pick a favorite, I think I'd choose Kara's for their overall appeal: selection, packaging, price, locations, and taste.
Thanks everyone for your awesome suggestions. I had an awesome food, libation, and walking vacation in San Fran. Visited some of the places suggested, and many others, including:
Cafe Grecco (great lattes but expensive!)
Nectar Wine Lounge (great wine menu, and delicious truffle popcorn!)
The Plant Cafe Organic (Wasabi veggie burger was just what I needed for lunch)
Cupcakes: Cako, That Takes the Cake, Sweet, Kara's
Saha (delicious Arabic-fushion)
Top tier cocktails at Bourbon and Branch and Rickhouse. Fun and kitchy cocktails at Tonga Room!
Delicious traditional and creative sushi at Ryoko (was going to go to Sushi Zone but out of the way)
2317 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123
Nectar Wine Lounge
3330 Steiner Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Ryoko Restaurant & Bar
619 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94102
950 Mason St., San Francisco, CA 94108
246 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA
75 S San Tomas Aquino Rd, Campbell, CA 95008
I think the Ferry Building is a big must. It's definitely not cheap but I'm also a 20-something year old foodie and I enjoy it immensely on a budget. Stop by Cowgirl Creamery and sample the local cheeses. I'd buy a slice of Humboldt Fog, made by Cypress Grove and a small roll from Acme. There's also a small patisserie there, Miette, since you're into cupcakes. I love their little handmade candies. Also Hog Island Oyster company has a happy hour Mondays and Thursdays from 5-7pm with $1 oysters and $3.50 pints. Here's a link, you check around for other happy hour deals there too http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/
You have some great recommendations but I wanted to add a couple of my own absolute favorite places to eat in the city.
The House - Seafood, Asian Fusion. http://www.thehse.com/. This place is a guaranteed win. I don't know one person that doesn't love it.
Oola - http://www.oola-sf.com/ If you like ribs, these are the best you will ever have. Everything else is delicious as well.
My favorite sushi places are Otoro Sushi in Hayes Valley, Zushi Puzzle in the marina, Akikos in downtown/union square area (cheap hole in the wall place but really good).
Nob Hill Cafe (http://nobhillcafe.com/) - great Italian food, about 2 blocks away from your hotel.
I LOVE Indian food, and Lahore Karahi is good Indian, but not my favorite. Little Delhi is just as dodgy as Lahore but in my opinion better. http://www.littledelhisf.com/
I would pass on Asia de Cuba. Super expensive, and if you are in the mood to splurge there are many other places that are far better.
As far as Mexican goes, you are on the right track with the mission. Amazing. However, if you find yourself downtown around lunch time, this place is a really good Mexican lunch spot: http://www.tropisueno.com/
I also have a long list of awesome wine bars to check out if that is your thing.
Let me know if you want any other tips... I am in my late twenties and live in Russian Hill, and I pretty much spend every cent of my disposable income on food and entertainment in this great city. I might be lacking in savings, but I sure have had some amazing meals and nights out! :)
Thanks Serena! I think I'll check out Akikos on my last day for dinner since I'm taking the Red Eye out and will be in the Union Square area to pick up my bags! We have pretty good Indian in Boston, so I may pass on Indian food altogether.
Yes, I decided to pass on Asia de Cuba.
How is Mamacita in the Marina? We're thinking of going there Friday night. Do you have a wine bar to suggest in the area (I saw there are a bunch).
I really like Mamacitas! It is not the best food that you will ever have in your entire life, but it is still really good and has an awesome atmosphere. I always bring friends there when they are in town because it's just a fun spot. I mean, you can't really go wrong with guacamole and margaritas! Betelnut (http://www.betelnutrestaurant.com/) has a really good atmosphere as well for a fun and yummy dinner.
A16 is right next to Mamacita's, and that is a pretty fun wine bar/restaurant. http://www.a16sf.com/. It is usually pretty packed on weekends though.
Bin 38 http://www.bin38.com/ is a super popular wine bar in the marina. Not my favorite, but a lot of people love it.
My favorite in that area is probably Nectar, http://www.nectarwinelounge.com/.
Union Street (3 blocks from Chestnut) has a lot of bars as well. It will be happening on a Friday night.
2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123
3232 Scott Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
There is a new cupcake place near Union Square called Cako that had a very positive report. \http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/659212
DeLessio has some beautiful, different and delicious mini cupcales. defintately worth looking into for any cupcake fan.
This list might give you some addtional ideas. The Chinatown link has some addtional ideas.
Satirday morning you should really visit the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building.
Crown and Crumpet is good. Not necessarily anything uniquely San Franciscan. However if you go to Kara's in Ghiradelli, it is in the same area.
I posted that Cako review. And while I do like Cako, for visual appeal and overall dining experience I would take Delessio over Cako. Cako makes tasty cupcakes and is conveniently located for Union Square shoppers. However, there's no sit down space and the selection is sparse compared to Delessio, which is basically an explosion of bakery sights and smells as soon as you step in. Plus you can have lunch or coffee at Delessio while you eat your baked goods. It's definitely more of a unique SF experience than Cako or Kara's.
For sweets, I would add Tartine Bakery to your list--specifically for the coconut cream tart, which is to die for. It's down the street from Bi-Rite Creamery (salted caramel and roasted banana are my go-to flavors) and in that general Valencia St. vicinity, which is a fun area to go to anyway (for food, for drinks, for quirky shops).
For the other ice cream place, I assume you mean Humphry Slocombe, which I haven't been to yet, but people love.
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110
3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110
I agree about Tartine. I'd dump Kara's -- it's cupcakes, you can get cupcakes anywhere, and there are so many great bakeries in the area (there's a fairly recent thread just on bakeries that's pretty comprehensive: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/532453)
Chinatown recs: for dim sum, Dol Ho (a hole-in-the-wall with great, super-cheap dim sum); bakery, Golden Gate Bakery is still the king, even if some claim it's lost some of its luster. Get the egg custard tarts and the coconut tarts.
La Cumbre is at 16th and Valencia (and don't bother going there unless you're going to eat meat - there are better veggie burritos elsewhere, like at Cancun). That's an area with a huge amount of bars and nightlife. Since you seem to like cocktails, you'd do well to make a little crawl. These are more authentic local watering holes than the fancy cocktail places you've listed.
Specifically, I would visit in the following order:
Cassanova (classic cocktail)
The Uptown (beer)
Beauty Bar (fancy drinks)
Doc's Clock (absinthe or classic)
The Make Out Room (classic or beer)
The Lexington if you are non-het or pass as non-het
Amnesia (no full bar, belgian beers & sangria & infused soju)
-> add Mediterranean Delight for a falafel if you need some food
Dalva (whiskey or freignet - head for the couches in the back)
(look on a map - this makes a little loop - sort of down mission and back up valencia detouring to the side alleys)
Don't drink everywhere, or you're going to die. Poke your nose in, see if it's your kind of place, and either have a drink or move on. Those places are most happening on a weekend night from about 8 to 12. I'm leaving out some great places, and you might find something you like on that loop that I haven't mentioned, but this will give you a broad yet deep sample of the 20-something scene in San Francisco and a little hipster walking tour.
Regarding food, your request is a little generic. Lots of people here know Boston, so mention the places you like & tend to go, and you can get recommendations of places in SF that are not-the-same-old. I would, in general, not eat sushi in SF coming from boston (with one or two exceptions that it sounds like you can't afford at the moment). Dim Sum - how much dim sum have you eaten? what are your favorite dishes?
re: Robert Lauriston
As far as I know Taqueria Cancun in SF and Cancun Taqueria in Berkeley are not associated. I believe they go by the specific names as listed.
Taqueria Cancun in SF has three branches if I recall - 19th and Mission, 6th and Market and there use to be one in the Outer Mission (32nd St, can't get a listing to show up).
For the veggie burrito, I was referring to Taqueria Cancun in SF
My guess is the veggie at Cancun Taqueria in Berkeley is pretty good. As mentioned on another thread, they serve a nopales burrito which gives another option beyond just rice, beans, cheese.
2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
1003 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103
I go to LT a couple of times a year with friends who like it. They use quality ingredients and their stuff has a definite freshness. My guess would be that the veggie burrito is pretty good. That said, the usual items (carnita, carne asada) are bland compared to other places but I have no problem going there...just not my first choice.
I have lived near,and eaten at La Taqueria for 20 years, The owner gave my kid a rose when she switched over (she used to prefer rice in her burrito). I have a couple of burrito places but this one always feels like a special treat. They close for a month in December, to give their workers a break to travel back to Mexico, so eat up when you can.