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Dec 5, 2009 02:34 AM

Californian cuisine & Seafood

I've just learned that I will be SF this Tue & Wed and am looking for restaurant recs.

Last year I had a great meal at Zuni, Swanson's for seafood (really cozy place), and sampled a few of the many taquerias in the Mission District.

For this trip, I managed to get into Chez Panisse for dinner and am looking for other Californian & seafood recs.

Many Thanks!

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  1. Spenger's Fish Grotto in West Berkeley.

    3 Replies
      1. re: sydthekyd

        Spengers was the only place I ever saw Michael Bauer give a box as the rating (this is below one star). However that was several years ago and I know Spengers has gone through some changes since then. Since you are not averse to coming to the east bay you might want to try Commis on Piedmont Ave., or Bar Lata or Dona Tomas both on Telegraph in Oakland.

        Dona Tomas
        5004 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

        4901 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

        1. re: skwid

          Spenger's went through some changes in the 90s, but I don't think much has changed since it was taken over and refurbished by McCormick & Schmick in 1999.

          The food's not bad as corporate chains go, but it's not a place I'd send a visitor for seafood, unless maybe they needed someplace that can seat 900.

      2. Hello second time poster,

        Please realize there are very few species of local fish still caught. If you're looking for local, the key words are "line caught local", then you ask where exactly they got the fish. Otherwise, you're eating the same flown-in fish you can buy in Dallas or Denver. This year's crab season doesn't seem that good, but you might try seeking out the local crab. You might try "Fish and Farm" for a san francisco style experience where you're getting local goodies. You might also read up on Heaven's Dog and Salt House.

        If you liked Zuni, you might try other high-end options like Boulevard, Danko, etc. The Michelin guide provides an interesting starting point for research. As you haven't said what you're looking for on this trip, it's hard to say much more.

        4 Replies
        1. re: bbulkow

          Come on. Not Michelin. Outsiders who have no clue and a certain perspective on what they are looking for. Yes, you will find many Chowhound favs in there, but there is also some real drek ... or at least not the best of places.

          If going to the East Bay you might consider Sea Salt for lunch or dinner depending on when your CP res is for.

          This being prime crab season, you might want to get suggestions for that. I'm not so much a person who likes crab so can't give you good recs there.

          If you like Zuni, you might like 1550 Hyde. Depending if you have a car or not, Aziza is a Cal-Moroccan place. It can be reached by public transportation.

          1. re: bbulkow

            Fair enough, perhaps I should be a bit more specific:

            I live in Asia so Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. is not on my list.
            I feel I have good recs for Mexican, mainly places in the Mission District.

            By seafood, of course I mean local varieties, so if there are species of local fish you feel I should be on the lookout for, I'd love to hear it. Also, I would like to Dungeness a try unless you feel it's really not worth it. I primarily eat hairy crabs in China.

            I have eaten at Zuni as i mentioned and am booked for Tue eve at CP. As I am an outsider I am interested in sampling some of the SF institutions, but I am really interested in trying tasty local produce in a casual environment.

            I have no car so Napa / Sonoma is out for this trip.

            Commis seems not bad and I've read up on Salt House, Fish & Farm and several others near The Tenderloin which I am close to. Any other recs are appreciated.

            1. re: sganarelle

              It would be a shame not try Dungeness at the height of the local season.Combining a lot of requriements Tadich is a long-time SF institution known for its cioppiono (which has crab) and also serves a local fish called sand dabs when available.

              You might stop by the Ferry Building on Tuesday Afternoon where there is a small farmers market with some stands selling prepared food

              In the Ferry Building itself for a feel of California check out Acme bread, Cowgirl Cheese, Hog Island Oyster and Boulette's Larder

              1. re: sganarelle

                Mexican, try Poc-Chuc. Yucatecan dishes rather than the usual tacos and burritos.

                Mochica has some great Peruvian seafood dishes.

            2. Okay, Seasalt on San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sydthekyd

                Sea Salt's excellent.

                In SF, there's Hayes Street Grill, Bar Crudo, and Hog Island, and lots of Chinese and Vietnamese places.

              2. Ame. Unique, excellent, and heavy on the seafood.

                1. From the answers you are getting, there seems to be an assumption that to be good it must be expensive, or at least in the Michelin guide. If you really like fish, sand dabs at Sam's Grill or Tadich are the ultimate SF seafood that you are not likely to find elsewhere.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: OldTimer

                    Petrale sole (actually a type of flounder) is another local classic you'll find at Tadich or Sam's.

                    Hayes Street Grill is a sort of modern take on those places. I think they're pickier about their fish and do a better job of cooking it.