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New Yorker visiting this weekend

I've read a ton of posts and have no idea how I can fit everything in just 4 days (Fri-Mon). Answer: I won't and will have to come back! But please help make this trip the best it can be.
Also, we will be staying in North Beach so all else being equal closer places are better, but I realize that we will be heading down to the Mission a ton and I'm up for that. Less inclined to leave san fran proper as we will likely only rent a car our last day to head to mirin and then to the airport for our red eye flight.

As a general matter we've had lots of fancy dinners lately (if you know NY: Ko and Brooklyn Fare within a month and a half) and generally prefer hole in the walls/dives, so will be avoiding any place that is very fancy (say over $20/entree, though I know seafood might be expensive) and will be happy with cheap eats (<$10 entrees, no ambience is great).

There are a few specific categories of food we are interested in

1- Asian (likely 2 meals)--especially food that can't be gotten in New York. Figuring on Jai Yun for lunch either Friday or Monday. Can't decide on the second meal. Some ideas: Bund Shanghai? Koi Palace for dinner Monday night on the way to the airport (too far to go any other time)? Any dim sum place in/near chinatown that's worth it?

2- Mexican (likely 2-3 meals): Definitely have too many meals in this category, so please tell me what to cut. On the list now: Poc Chuc? Chilango Restuarant? La Oazaquena? And one meal eating burritos/tacos in the mission (Farolito, la cumbre, maybe some others).

3- Seafood: I know Swan Oyster Depot is touristy but we had a great time there during our last visit (7 years ago), so that's a strong contender. also thinking about Hogs Bay Oysters in Ferry Market. But I'm not sure whether either has dungeness crab, and I do want to check that out.

4- "California" food, emphasis on local ingredients. We will definitely be going to Ferry Market on Saturday morning. Maybe Zuni? Canteen? Aziza? Brunch at canteen or bar tartine both sounded great (and cheaper than dinner), and very californian to me, so maybe that can fulfill this category.

Treats/snacks:
Liguiria Bakey
Tartine Bakery
Paulett Macarons
XOX truffles--any other good chocolate shops in san francisco proper? seems like there are lots in the east bay.

Anything else *amazing* we are missing? New York is also having a pizza renaissance so Flour + Water doesn't really appeal to me, and we have great Italian food, so I am also inclined to avoid that in my limited time in SF.

And is it worth squeezing in Mama's for breakfast? They are right next to our hotel, but the food sounds more like something we could get in NY.

And if we head to Muir Woods for a day is there anything we should check out?

Thanks so much for your advice!

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  1. Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen for lunch, unless the that situation has improved in NY.

    I don't think there's anything in New York like Incanto.

    1. For casual Mexican, skip Farolito and La Cumbre -- go to La Taqueria on Mission at 25th St. Really great quality.

      I agree that Swan is excellent (closed on Sunday).

      I love the fresh crab (salt & pepper batter on outside of cracked shell) at R & G Lounge, Kearny bet. Sac and Clay -- they take reservations (and, are necessary).

      Muir Woods is great but can be done in half a day -- you need a car for this.

      1 Reply
      1. re: walker

        Mama's is great breakfast and worth a try, but only if you are up EARLY and see that there is no line, otherwise, blow it off.

        Agree w/ your Mexican picks. La Oaxuena has great mole negro. Taquerias are a personal thing,,,,I would go with El Farolito.

        Good seafood picks, but be ready to wait!

        I also recommend the early bird for Canteen if you want break-y there.
        For the others, it sounds like you have done your research, you should be fine.

      2. Former NYer who visited SF a few months ago. Jai Yun is a great choice, had lunch there. I know it's hard to get authentic Thai in Manhattan, Lers Ros is great and cheap. Had a great dinner at Canteen, unique atmosphere, great food- all cooked by the owner chef, very reasonable prices.

        1. Hole-in-the-wall? dives? no ambience? <$10? Try Shalimar on Polk or Jones. Right across the street from the Polk location is a pho place with yellow awning that's pretty good that also meets the above criteria.

          http://www.shalimarsf.com/locations.htm

          Dungeness crabs are still in season, take advantage of it while you are here. Thanh Long Outer Sunset, PPQ in Outer Richmond, Swan Oyster on Polk , Slanted Door in Ferry Building. I am not too fond of R&G's crab, too much coating.

          I am a recent transplant from the East Coast and have found Chinese, Japanese and, especially Korean food to be somewhat lacking compared to those in NY/NJ and LA area. So I would not recommend you to go out of your way to look for these during your short stay.

          1. Unless there have been changes within the last 2 months, Swan Oyster Depot has chilled Dungeness only, and Hog Island has Dungeness only on weekends (possibly only Saturdays), with a choice of chilled or broiled crab, each of which is served with different accompaniments.

            1. Chocolate:

              Shops: CocoaBella sells many makers including some local (but many are not). Not local, but i like LilliBelle sold at CocoaBella. Christopher elbow in Hayes Valley is just down the street from Paulette and I like his infused caramels. This is his second shop. His ganache is good, but not my favorite. Rechuitti in the Ferry Building is very good - I like the fleur del sel and star anise pink peppercorn. At Whole Foods there you can get Poco Dolce, Cocoa Delice, XOX truffles (although they have a shop too) which are good. I really like the Poco Dolce toffee tiles. Others of my favorite chocolatiers are East Bay.

              1. For a second Asian, I'd suggest checking out Shanghai Dumpling King, if you're interested in putting Joe's Shanghai's soup dumplings out of your mind and discovering what xiao long bao are supposed to be.

                Koi Palace is not too far if you have a car, and a worthy option; it's considered by some to be the best Cantonese resto in the US.

                El Faralito is a good choice for burritos, and I am a fan of Taqueria San Jose. If you're bent on experiencing a Mission Burrito, I'd avoid La Taqueria, as they don't do a proper Mission Burrito.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  May I put you down as a firm no on the authenticity of Joe's dumplings?
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5385...

                  1. re: wolfe

                    Joe's dumplings are awful, and it's a shame that so many people think of it so highly. They obviously have never had a good xiao long bao.

                    To put it simply, the skin of a xiao long bao should be paper thin but sturdy so that you should be able to pick up the dumplings with your chopsticks only from the top where the folds bunch up. And within the dumpling should be a lot of rich broth that will leave you wondering how it got there in the first place. In fact, if you were to open up the dumpling in a soup spoon, the broth should fill up the spoon--but of course, the dumpling should not break apart on its own. Finally, the pork inside the dumpling should be fresh and full of flavor.

                    Anyway, in SF you should try Osha Thai for something as simple as shrimp paste fried rice. You can really taste the shrimp paste, and it's close enough to what you find in Bangkok. Just make sure to go to the TENDERLOIN location since all of the other ones are seriously watered down.

                    Koi Palace is definitely a solid HK style Cantonese restaurant by US standards, and there's nothing like it on the East coast. That said, it's far from flawless so you have to know what to order. Dishes that are made pretty well include:

                    (1) #233 Mandolin Hand Roast Squab $15.00
                    (2) #241 Crisp Chicken with Bean Sauce Dip $12.00 for half
                    (3) #666 Chinese Broccoli Stir Fried in Sugar Wine Sauce $14.00
                    (4) #505 Korean Style Beef Short Ribs $16.00
                    (5) #849 Shanghai Style Crab (crab meat with fluffy egg white) $35.00

                    I definitely recommend #5 (it's considered to be one of their signature dishes), and I pulled the # and description straight from their menu on the website: http://koipalace.com/shell.html?page=...