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Too many dining options and not enough time! Help me refine my weekend itinerary.

Hello fellow Chowhounds,

I have spent quite some time researching San Francisco dining options on your wonderful site in preparation for our February 26-28 stay. We have been to San Francisco a number of times, but it has been almost three years since our last visit. We are in our late twenties, enjoy most cuisines, don't have a set price point, and hope to find some real gems on this trip. This is my first post, so hopefully I cover all bases in terms of information you should require to help me plan a wonderful food-centered weekend. My husband and I will be staying at the Hyatt Regency in the Embarcadero area. We will have our own transportation and have don't mind driving for a good meal. I have a rough idea of where we will be eating, but would love your two cents as there are so many great options.


Breakfast: I would like to go to Tartine Bakery again, but my husband would like to visit Just For You again. What do you recommend? We have already been to Dottie's, Mama's, and Boulettes Larder for breakfast. Any other musts?
Lunch: Tony's Pizza Napoletana or Coco 500
Dinner: Boulevard


Breakfast: Ferry Building Marketplace
Lunch: Poc Chuc or La Torta Gorda
Dinner: Perbacco


Brunch: Absinthe
Afternoon Meal: Katanaya or San Tung

Humphrey Slocombe
Bi-Rite Creamery
Dynamo Doughnut

Thanks is advance for your help. I am looking forward to a great weekend in your wonderful city!

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  1. If it were me:

    Friday breakfast I would do Tartine Bakery or Bar Tartine which I believe is open for breakfast on Friday.

    Friday lunch I would do either A16 or Pizzeria Delfina.

    Saturday lunch I would do Nopalito

    5 Replies
    1. re: Scott M

      Thanks for the suggestions. I checked out Bar Tartine and they only serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Do you think this would be a better option than Absinthe for brunch on Sunday?

      1. re: Hopester

        The bar at Absinthe is a great deal of the star, so it depends on whether you'll be drinking at brunch or not.

        1. re: bbulkow

          I agree that it depends on what you are looking for when it comes to Sunday brunch as to whether Bar Tartine is a better option than Absinthe.

          You could do Just for You on Friday and then do Bar Tartine on Sunday.

          If you are more in the mood for the Absinthe menu/bar then I would stick with Absinthe on Sunday and Tartine Bakery on Friday. Another option to consider for Sunday brunch is Foreign Cinema.

      2. re: Scott M

        Definitely Tartine Bakery on Friday, otherwise you'll have to wait forever in line on Saturday or Sunday.

        San Tung is an SF favorite but they use so much msg it's disgusting. That said, the food is tasty and I can't think of any better options in that category of Northern Chinese food so it might be your best bet.

        Absinthe is nice for brunch, but what about 2223?

        1. re: hong_kong_foodie

          If you're going to be near San Tung I think it'd be worth going. My boyfriend and friends are addicted to the dry fried chicken wings. I mostly eat a seafood/vegetarian so I haven't tried it myself. The sauce is pretty good but I haven't found any other dishes that I would go out of my way for.

          Also, it does really chaotic and busy so I would try to go for an early dinner if you can.

      3. I’m not a big fan of Katanaya, definitely do not recommend getting it on a special trip. I just don’t think it’s special. I prefer going to Santa or other south bay places for my ramen. Though I like San Tung, I’m not sure if it’s worth the wait. If you do go, consider getting the dry fried beef, which I like more than the chicken. Though you will probably want to order chicken because that’s what everyone talks about.

        I second the suggestion on A16 or Pizzeria Delfina instead of Coco 500 or Tony’s. I would also add Zuni if you haven’t been there. Welcome back to SF !

        1. I would consider Brenda's for breakfast, and maybe Foreign Cinema for brunch (although it's nicest in good weather).

          I'm probably in the minority, but I don't love Perbacco. Maybe La Ciccia, A16 or SPQR instead?

          2 Replies
          1. re: mrs bacon

            2nd Brenda's! Crawfish Beignets!

            But, and this is a big but, prepare for up to 1hr 45min wait if you get their anytime past 12:00pm! Small, small place but everyone loves it.

            If you do insist on waiting it out, go to Saigon Sandwich 2 blocks away, and that for sure is a SF must! Meatball is my fav.

            1. re: Keesey

              Checked out the menu and Brenda's sounds great! We have already been to Tartine and Just For You, so I think it will be good for us to try a new place for breakfast on friday. Thanks for the suggestion.

          2. Another brunch possibility is Canteen.
            Neither Katanaya or San tung would be on my must list.
            I would pick Poc Chuc over La Torta Gorda unless you really want a sandwich, I think.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sfbing

              Poc Chuc is a sit down place and can be a little dark during the day time, I do love the platio maya there though. I would choose Tartine over Just For You. Tartine is more special and decadent in my opinion, whereas Just For You is a solid neighborhood place for breakfast standards with a few special items, like the green chile sauce.

              1. re: Candice

                I like La Torta Gorda for the chicken huarache, and well as the tortas. And it gives you the chance to do a 24th St mural and food walk, including Balmy Alley murals, ice cream at Humphry Slocombe, and Dynamo Donuts.

            2. Thanks so much for all the input. I will definitely go with Tartine over Just For You on Friday morning. I was hoping for at least one good Asian meal while we are in San Francisco and it sounds like I should avoid Katanaya. We had great ramen at Kintaro in Vancouver, B.C. a couple years ago and I was hoping for a similar experience at Katanaya. San Tung sounds like it may be decent based on your comments, but I'm looking for great. I have seen a lot of positive comments about Jai Yun. Should I consider it over San Tung? I am kind of worried about the prix-fixe lunch menu as I am slightly less adventurous than my husband. I took a look at the Pizzeria Delfina menu and it looks great! I will definitely plan on having lunch here. Thanks for the great advice!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Hopester

                Jai Yun and San Tung aren't even in the same universe. You might want to check on some previous postings about lunch at Jai Yun, but I don't think he serves anything that would be considered challenging.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I'm not sure if Jai Yun is open for lunch on Sunday. A great asian option would be burmese food. I would recommend Pagan on Geary. Or maybe even Burma Superstar - but if don't really like to wait in line when I am travelling.

                  1. re: chocomel

                    Jai Yun is only open for lunch on weekdays.

              2. I would skip Humphrey Slocombe -- I went there thinking I would love it but both flavors had icy crystals -- salted caramel at Bi-Rite is the way to go. I had dinner last night at Perbacco and it was excellent in every way but portion size. I'll go back though.

                8 Replies
                1. re: walker

                  So... one bad experience negates a hundred positives? Would be nice to have a little more detail on your selection(s).

                  1. re: PolarBear

                    I had the secret breakfast and vietnamese coffee. The young ladies working there were extremely friendly, very nice but the ice cream did not make me want to go back. Bi-Rite ice cream is great but I would not stand in line for 30-40 minutes like some do at peak times. (Non-peak times there is no wait.)

                  2. re: walker

                    If you like ice cream, I think both would be high on my list. Review after review, some like one, some like the other.

                    Also - word from EaterSF is BiRite will be closed during the OP's travels as it expands into the next door space. Plan according! But maybe there will be a soft opening of Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous, near Just For You catty-corner to Dogpatch Saloon. You'll probably miss it, but maybe you can check and see? It's cool to go someplace like that in the first couple days.

                    Re chinese - go Jai Yun. Reviews have been uniformly very good. Unless you're hacking around golden gate park and really want food in that area.

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      Hey Hopester -- we had an excellent lunch at Jai Yun in November, one of our top two Chinese meals ever. There was plenty of choice (ie. if you didn't like one of the dishes you could just ignore it) in the set meal and nothing too weird -- in fact, that was part of what made it so memorable: no fireworks, just tasty, well prepared, fresh tasting food. Hoping to repeat the experience at the end of March. FWIW we live in Vancouver where there is plenty of choice in Canto and other Chinese cuisines :-).

                      You don't say where you're coming from but we love to eat Burmese food while in SF per chocomel as there is only one tiny place in Vancouver that has it. Our favourite so far has been Burmese Kitchen, though I've heard rumours of "dumbing down" there but not experienced that myself in our several visits.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        We live in Bakersfield, CA which is about 5 hours south of San Francisco and definitely not a culinary wonderland! Thanks for your suggestion on trying Burmese food. I checked out Burmese Kitchen's menu and it looks great! I think this will add a little variety to our dining itinerary. I seriously doubt I will find a local Burmese restaurant in the event that I become hooked. I guess all the more reason to take more trips! Hopefully you can help me out with my Sunday brunch conundrum. I was planning on going to Absinthe, but I have gotten a lot of recs for Canteen. My husband and I aren't huge drinkers and it seems like drinks are what Absinthe is known for. I have also gotten a rec for Bar Tartine. So what will it be Absinthe, Canteen, or Bar Tartine?

                        1. re: Hopester

                          Just tried the brunch at Canteen this past weekend, and it was pretty stellar. One of the best eggs benedicts I've ever had. The chupacabra (soft-scrambled eggs with black beans, pulled pork, and other goodness) is also excellent, especially if you like soft-scrambled eggs -- these were perfectly executed.

                          No reservations for brunch, though, and it's a small space, so you'll want to get there early-ish if you don't want to wait. We got there at around 8:30 on a Sunday morning and snagged the last four-top/booth, though there were still several counter seats available.

                          From reading her previous postings, I'm going to step out on a limb and guess that Grayelf is going to recommend Canteen as well. =)

                          1. re: abstractpoet

                            First off, it was chocomel who suggested Burmese so I can't take credit for that though I second it enthusiastically. I just really love the flavours and crunch factor in this cuisine as we've encountered them so far, and BK is convenient, takes resos and has a super friendly owner in Denis. Oh and did I mention it's very reasonable??

                            Well spotted, abstractpoet! Canteen happens to be our favourite resto (so far) in SF, and we go there for dinner every time we visit, since enduring the heartbreak of not making resos in time way back in the fall of 2007 :-). I do like their brunches though I find the hollandaise sauce a mite tangy for my taste (others love that so it's obviously personal). I don't normally go for sweet things for brekky but this is a place to break that rule if you've an inclination to do so, and I've heard very good things about the corned beef hash too but it would be hard to go wrong here. The other thing I like is that the portions are not MASSIVE like many brekky places -- you will be full, but not bursting. It's also such a great little spot decor wise, basically an old diner that Chef Leary has kept intact and infused with California-fresh ingredients and interesting food. A greasy spoon without the grease and with much added pizazz on the plate, if you will. It is uber-tiny as mentioned (+/- 20 seats, including a few at the counter) so good advice to come early. You will need the extra time to work off the rich snacks you will be ingesting to make room for your "afternoon meal"!

                            Full disclosure: we've only been to Bar Tartine for dinner, and haven't yet had the pleasure of sampling any of the wares at Absinthe, though it is on our now-28 page long list of restos to try in the Bay Area.

                      2. re: bbulkow

                        Thanks for the update on Bi-Rite being closed during our trip. What a bummer!

                    2. Thanks so much for all the great advice! I have adjusted our dining itinerary based on some of the suggestions you all have made. I am looking forward to this trip and will be sure to provide you with an update once I recover from my food coma!

                      B- Brenda's
                      L- Pizzeria Delfina
                      D- Boulevard

                      B-Ferry Building Marketplace
                      L- Burmese Kitchen
                      D- Perbacco

                      B- Canteen
                      L- Poc Chuc

                      -Humphrey Slocombe
                      -Dynamo Doughnut

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Hopester

                        Sounds fabulous! I'm looking forward to your report!

                        1. re: Hopester

                          Hello, nice list! I'm also trying to compile my list for when I return in March, so it's good reading all the comments on this thread.

                          I would highly HIGHLY recommend Bob's Donuts over Dynamo. Dynamo's doughnuts have more pizzazz and are more "interesting", but the doughnut itself isn't nearly as good as Bob's. I had the chocolate covered, custard-filled long john, the apple fritter, and the yeast-raised glazed. They were phenomenal.

                          As I'm thinking of going to Brenda's, Pizzeria Delfina, and brunch at Canteen, I am REALLY interested in knowing how you liked them. Please do report back! Have a wonderful trip!

                          1. re: j.jessica.lee

                            Thanks for recommending Bob's, I'll have to try their offerings as well!

                            1. re: Hopester

                              I rec the cheese danish. Best time to buy is late.