MUST TRY FOR "OUT OF TOWNERS"
Taking a vation to SF in May for three days May 28th-31st. Ive been spending some time searching for a few of the top spots to eat at within the city and I've came up with a list of places that I should try since I don't know when I'll be back. If anyone has any additions or subtractions I would appreciate it . I'm thinking/hoping most of the places should be under $80 or so for two people. Thanks.
Breakfast - Mama's
Focaccia- Liguria Bakery
Mexican- Poc Chuc
Swan Oyster Depot - Seafood lunch
Albona Ristorante Istriano - Italian
Yank Sing - DimSum
Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe
A lot of your ideas are a little more touristo than local. My recs:
Dottie's Cafe instead of Mama's (off Union Square a few blocks)
Hog Island Oysters (in Ferry Building) instead of Swan Oyster Depot
Farmers Market at the Ferry Building on Saturday am. Total scene with all sorts of goods even if you're not grocery shopping. Personal favorite is Primavera - temporary food stand which is in the far back corner by the bay on Saturday am and has great Mexican breakfast (way better than Mijito which is in the Ferry Building)
Fish + Farm - eccentric place with the #1 rated burger in SF (and great fish and chips also)
Ferry Building is pretty touristy, and I'd vote that Mama's is far superior to Dottie's, but that it's best to avoid it on weekends and stick to midweek..Dottie's along with Brenda's, are really good backups.....the OP did some good research.
So did the Fish + Farm burger actually measure up? That place intrigues me.
Liguria and Poc Chuc are great picks. I haven't been to Albona, although I like the looks of the menu. I personal faves for Italian in SF have been La Ciccia and Incanto, but am hankering to try 54 Mint.
I'm not a huge fan of Yank Sing - I don't think the quality is high enough to justify the cost premium (except for their vegetarian dumplings, which are the best I've ever had.)
Where are you coming from? We can probably do a better job of fine-tuning your menu if we know what the strengths are of your hometown.
For Chinese food in the city, I think Jai Yun is a must try. You can stay within your budget if you go for lunch--I believe there's an $18 pp option and a $25 pp option. Lots of threads on the board that can give you an idea of what to expect.
I would also add Tartine Bakery to your list of places to hit, if you're going to be in that Valencia St. area, though more for a sweet afternoon snack rather than a meal per se.
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110
680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Yup, it would help to know where you are coming from since this is your first post and you don't have a location on your 'My Chow" page. It also helps to know what part of town you are staying. Don't want to send you accross town for breakfast.
Breakfast: Ferry Plaza farmers market... seriously don't miss it. I don't care where you are coming from.
Lunch: Yank Sing Dim Sum ... it's nearby
Dinner: 1550 Hyde - right on the cable car line. Nice neighborhood restaurant
Dinner: Some other Italian restaurant than Albona. What made you choose that? Will you have a car?
Breakfast: Mama's with a stop at Linguiria before or after
Lunch: Tadich Grill
Dinner: I don't know ... lots of places will open and close between now and then. Sign up for the Chow Digest to see what is new. It covers the whole bay area but there will be lots of SF ideas in there.
Here's some more stuff to consider
Visitng SF. Eat like a local not a tourist.
Tadich serves two purposes. The only decent sourdough left in SF is made for Tadich. Boudin is now a national chain that you can get anywhere. The cafe itself is fine is someone insists on eating at Fisherman's Wharf (not recommended).
It also gives the seafood / old time SF fix fo that is more comfortable and centrally located than Swan.
I am local and for the many years I lived right in the city, I was more likely to frequent Mama's rather than Dotties. Both will have you standing in line. It depeneds where that line is ... charming North Beach (Mama's) or the Tenderloin (Dottie's). I like Mama's food better too.
There are lots of local dim sum wars. I happen to love Yank Sing. There are others who don't with price being a big consideration. The restaurant is in a pretty building, the food is very good and the staff is very accomodating if you are new to dim sum.
I think having the crab salad or cocktail at Swan is a great idea. I really like Tadich, have been going there for years, but the last time I was there I ordered the crab salad and it had absolutely no flavor (I find it hard to believe it was fresh rather than previously frozen).
I, too, love Yank Sing and think the quality justifies the price (just avoid the sea bass -- about $17). My favorites: shrimp dumpling, chicken in lettuce cups, Peking duck, soup dumplings, egg custard tarts. Every time I've eaten here (been going for years, since it used to be located on Battery) I've been very happy with my meal.
You can call Boudin (as I did) and order it. They are at 399 10th Avenue (at Geary) Phone: 415 221 1210.
I went on vacation to Cape Cod, Maine, etc last October and I brought 2 of these loaves in my carry on as gifts (one was to a really helpful, friendly motel owner in Hyannis, MA.) It's great sliced and toasted in a toaster oven.
Did you ask for the same bread they provide to Tadich or did you just ask for the dark bake? Like many restaurants, some restaurants have specific recipes just for them. That was my understanding at Tadich. I once tried to get the Tadich bread from Boudin and they tried to sell me the regular bread swearing up and down it was the same thing. It is not. However, a dark bake might be closer.
If you're coming from Seattle and familiar with the Cantonese food and dim sum in Vancouver, I would strongly recommend against going to Yank Sing. This place is extremely popular amongst the non-Chinese, particularly with the business crowd in the financial district who want something "ethnic," but it is not even on the radar for most people from Hong Kong.
The place to go for dim sum is Koi Palace in Daly City, even though the wait is crazy and the food can be inconsistent at times, and that's the place where everyone from the HK celebrities and dignitaries to visitors and immigrants from HK considers as by far the best in the bay area for Cantonese food and dim sum.
Again, this is assuming you are familiar with the scene in Vancouver.
Koi Palace is good, but I found their dim sum less consistent than Yank Sing's and not much cheaper. Yank Sing particularly kicks Koi Palace's ass on Shanghai dumplings and taro cake.
Koi Palace Restaurant
365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015
49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105
re: Robert Lauriston
The last time I ate at Yank Sing was on a Saturday. The place was half empty, despite the ad they are always running in the Chronicle's Pink Section. By contrast, the last time I went to Koi Palace for dim sum, there was a large queue of mostly Asian patrons. Of course, the correlation between queue length and food quality is often pretty tenuous. But when comparing two restaurants with similar prices and ambience, queue length is not a bad indicator. I have to go with crowd on this one. Overall, I find Koi Palace's dim sum to be noticeably better than Yank Sing's, particularly when it comes to classics like sui mai and har gau. However, I have always thought Yank Sing had the most creative dim sum offerings in the area. The jello mandarins are just plain fun!
As for xiaolongbao, a Chinese-American friend recently chastised me for ordering Shanghai dumplings when eating dim sum, since they are not traditionally Cantonese. I think that's pushing it. But Mario Batali has made a fortune emphasizing the regional differences in Italian cuisine. And as a rule of thumb, I try to avoid restaurants that are pan-Italian, pan-Chinese, pan-Indian, or just panned.
Koi Palace Restaurant
365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015
>Albona Ristorante Istriano - Italian
did nothing for me. it might be ok if you are in the immediate neighborhood
and didnt want to walk far -- and wanted a small over priced dessert (my main
memory of eating there) -- but i dont believe it a must-try, especially if you have
limited time in SF.
i suppose if there is some istrian special you've been itching to try, that might be
another might be another reason to go there, although it doesnt sound like the
case for you.