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NYC to SF - Must trys?

m
MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 06:05 AM

My husband and I are traveling to SF for a long weekend from Manhattan. Since our time is limited, we are looking for the best SF spots to hit for our meals. We are both adventurous eaters who appreciate unique culinary experiences. I have not been to SF since I was very young so I'd like to visit restaurants that are in interesting parts of the city as well.
What we are looking for:

1. Lunch/Brunch - We will spend one day exploring the city and are looking for a lunch spot in a neighborhood/area worth seeing. I have read a lot about the Pork Store Cafe on Haight St. Is that worth going to? Any other areas in the city that are must see w/ a great lunch spot?
2. Dinner - One night, we'd like to go to more of a fine dining restaurant. I was looking into Aqua, Fleur de Lys and Perbacco as options. I also keep coming back to Boulevard reading that is is a San Fran classic with excellent food and a good atmosphere. Which of those is the best and am I missing anything?
3. Lunch - We are traveling to wine country for a day and will stop in Yountville. Are the Thomas Keller restaurants the best bet out there?
4. Dinner - For our second dinner in SF, we want something unique to the city with more of a casual feel and maybe a different type of cuisine. I am very stumped on this one because there are so many restaurants. I was looking at the Mission district as it seems to have a lot of small cafes and a variety of ethnic cuisine but I am not sure what is the best. I was also thinking A16 may be a good option but coming from NYC, I am not dying for pizza/italian.

Please send your suggestions!

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Perbacco
230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

A16
2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

Pork Store Cafe
1451 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 09:13 AM

    I think Boulevard is more SF-specific in style. Zuni even more so.

    Fleur de Lys seems to me too much like what you could get in SF. Same goes for Aqua, which anyway is between chefs and being sold. I don't think high-end French really gets to the heart of the Northern California food scene.

    I'm not sure if NY has the level of Burmese or Peruvian food we have here.

    -----
    Zuni Cafe
    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    1. CarrieWas218 RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 09:27 AM

      I go to New York often enough that I would recommend avoiding Fleur de Lys or Perbacco -- it is too similar to what you can get back there.

      I would, however, recommend Aziza which is unlike anything you will find on the East Coast.

      Regarding Yountville, the bar is set so high on the restaurants in wine country that it is hard to go wrong, exclusive of Keller. Is this for lunch or for dinner? If you are staying for dinner, I would recommend the restaurant at Meadowood.

      -----
      Perbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      17 Replies
      1. re: CarrieWas218
        myst RE: CarrieWas218 Mar 23, 2010 09:59 AM

        Aziza is moroccan and I was underwhelmed on my visit there. I also think NYC (at least Queens) seemed to have a lot of peruvian joints. Burmese though could be a really nice option.

        Yountville area, I usually food hop and snack around since there are lots of good choices. Had a nice meal recently at Bottega (ordering all appetizers), but again this is Italian, so you may not be interested.

        If you do go to Zuni (last time I was there I saw Martha Stewart), make sure and order the margarita they have a great one.

        Another fun place in the Mission is Medjool (small plates).

        For brunch I like the food at Ella's or Chloe's but as a visitor it is sometimes fun to go to the Cliffhouse Bistro for the awesome view and free hot popovers they serve while you wait. Or go to dimsum - one of my favorite ways to have brunch.

        -----
        Zuni Cafe
        1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

        Medjool
        2522 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

        Bottega
        6525 Washington Street Suite A9, Yountville, CA 94599

        1. re: myst
          Robert Lauriston RE: myst Mar 23, 2010 10:06 AM

          Aziza's chef is Moroccan but he's taken his cooking a fairly long way from what you get at the usual belly-dancer joint.

          To a lesser extent I think the same goes for Mochica and La Mar compared with cheap Peruvian places.

          -----
          Mochica
          937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            m
            MaggieM2315 RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 23, 2010 10:55 AM

            Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions. I was afraid that the restaurants I was looking at may be a little too familiar.

            I like the menu at Zuni and definitely love a good Margarita. So you all would pick Zuni over Boulevard?

            I don't think I have ever had Burmese cuisine. What are the best places to try?

            We are still figuring out timing of our day in wine country and are not sure if we are looking to sit down for a long meal or food hop but it is nice to know we can't go wrong.

            -----
            Zuni Cafe
            1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

            1. re: MaggieM2315
              CarrieWas218 RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 11:00 AM

              Zuni is better for lunch and lot more casual. Boulevard is a bit more upscale and both are tourist destination restaurants so get reservations.

              If you haven't had Burmese food, you owe it to yourself to try it! Burma Super Star is the more expensive and more "popular" around, but I prefer Larkin Express Burmese in the Tenderloin; considerably less expensive, less pretentious, and less busy.

              -----
              Zuni Cafe
              1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

              1. re: CarrieWas218
                k
                Keesey RE: CarrieWas218 Mar 23, 2010 11:16 AM

                Absolutely agree with Burma Superstar, instead of The Pork Store, which I is just a regular bacon n eggs type of place. If Burma is too crowded, try B Star just a block away. They offer a very similar menu with a more casual atmosphere.

                Up in Yountville, I cant recommed anything as I myself haven't made the rounds of restaurants yet. I will recommend that you make a stop at Bouchon Bakery for pastries. To die for!

                The Mission has a plethora of awesome taquerias which I know NYC lacks! It doesn't compare to the restaurant style of A16, but you will love a Mission burrito or taco nonetheless. Taqueria Cancun and La Taqueria are my favorites. If you want something with actual table service in the Mission, newly opened Nombe is a Japanese ikazaya with wonderful mini-dishes. Though I know NYC does ikazayas just as well.

                Other SF favorites - Delfina, NOPA, and The Slanted Door.

                -----
                Bouchon Bakery
                6528 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

                Taqueria Cancun
                2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                B Star Bar
                127 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                La Taqueria
                2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Nombe
                2491 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              2. re: MaggieM2315
                Robert Lauriston RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 11:11 AM

                Zuni has been one of my half-dozen favorite restaurants in the area for over 20 years. It's relatively casual but then so are most people who live here--we spend all our money on food and walk around in rags. (I think the French Laundry is the only restaurant that enforces a dress code and even they don't have the nerve to insist on neckties.)

                Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen is my favorite. They close early so you might consider lunch.

                http://www.burmesekitchen.com/Menu.html

                -----
                Zuni Cafe
                1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                The French Laundry
                6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
                452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  m
                  MaggieM2315 RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 23, 2010 11:14 AM

                  Great, thanks for the recs.

                  We are more interested in spending $$$ on the best food rather than the best place to be scene so glad to know that is what are getting into.

                  1. re: MaggieM2315
                    j
                    jsgjewels RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 11:55 AM

                    I'd definitely recommend La Mar Cebicheria as at least a lunch option. Pretty sure there's nothing like it in New York.
                    Another lunch option I love is at the Ferry Building, Hog Island Oyster Bar, a dozen oysters, clam chowder and a grilled cheese sandwich (and get some cowgirl creamery cheese to bring back with you, just pick the less stinky kind).
                    For your second, more casual dinner I highly recommend Incanto, I don't think there's something totally comparable in New York, even though it is Italian in style. I think you'll be disappointed with Delfina and Slanted Door.
                    Another one of my faves is Maverick in the Mission, a delicious and fun little place.

                    -----
                    Slanted Door
                    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Delfina Restaurant
                    3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                    1. re: jsgjewels
                      travelames RE: jsgjewels May 5, 2010 08:50 AM

                      Great little place! I would definitely go there again. The Duck Prosciutto (photo attached) was a perfect balance of flavor. The duck itself was wonderful, little slices of heaven. I went duck crazy and had the Pappardelle with Duck - wonderfully tender and delicious duck confit. My hubby had the Southern Fried Chicken was perfectly crispy. The leftover chicken even microwaved well... staying crispy, no worry of sogginess.

                      -----
                      Maverick Restaurant
                      3316 17th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                       
                      1. re: travelames
                        Robert Lauriston RE: travelames May 5, 2010 09:22 AM

                        That was at Maverick?

          2. re: CarrieWas218
            daveena RE: CarrieWas218 Mar 23, 2010 06:18 PM

            The two recent reports from JJL and artemis on Aziza worry me - especially artemis, who seems to be a longtime regular:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6958...
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6958...

            1. re: daveena
              a
              artemis RE: daveena Mar 26, 2010 01:09 PM

              aw daveena, you're making me blush. my vintage dates from the days of that endlessly scrolling, unformatted board, well before the cnet purchase.

              and to stay on topic, yes, aziza broke my heart a little.

            2. re: CarrieWas218
              h
              hong_kong_foodie RE: CarrieWas218 Mar 23, 2010 09:27 PM

              I'd even go a step further and suggest avoiding fine dining altogether in SF since NY is really second to none in that category. Instead, as someone had suggested in another post recently about "strengths" of SF, you might want to do more mid-tier upscale "Californian" restaurants in SF like Salt House, NOPA, Boulevard, Bar Crudo, and Town Hall.

              A restaurant that I and practically everyone else I know really like is The House serving Asian fusion in North Beach. Asian fusion you can definitely find in Manhattan, but it's all ridiculously subpar to what The House puts forth. Then again, Asian sucks big time in Manhattan with the exception of high end Japanese like Masa and Yasuda - but I digress.

              As everyone has pointed out, Yountville is great with a ton of options.

              I personally detest Slanted Door and find it insulting to Vietnamese food (the guy who started it isn't even Vietnamese!), but then I can't think of anything that's decent in SF proper. If you had a car and were willing to drive, some places in SJ are great.

              Also, for what it's worth, I was just at La Mar again last week and sadly found the food to be awful. Not going back for a long, long time.

              -----
              Town Hall Restaurant
              342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

              Bar Crudo
              655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

              1. re: hong_kong_foodie
                m
                ML8000 RE: hong_kong_foodie Mar 23, 2010 09:33 PM

                If you only count SF proper, you have a point. However if you count the whole Bay Area, SF does fine. TFL and Manresa are at the top of the U.S. I'd go to Manresa before I'd go to the TFL again.

                p.s. I'd hit a couple of taco trucks, El Tonayense (14th/Harrison) and Los Compadres (Spear and Folsom). Hard to beat the cheap prices.

                -----
                Manresa Restaurant
                320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                El Tonayense
                2598 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA

                1. re: hong_kong_foodie
                  s
                  sfbing RE: hong_kong_foodie Mar 23, 2010 10:14 PM

                  Opinions on Slanted Door vary wildly (and I am kind of mixed about it myself), but Charles Phan is Chinese-Vietnamese and I'm about as ok with saying he's Vietnamese as I am with saying I am American.

                  Also, NY's Vietnamese food is pretty ehh and people from NY seem to like Slanted Door, so it is a possibility for the OP, especially since she was looking for a lunch spot in a neighborhood worth seeing. And the Ferry Bldg on market day certainly qualifies.

                  -----
                  Slanted Door
                  Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  1. re: sfbing
                    Ruth Lafler RE: sfbing Mar 24, 2010 12:43 PM

                    Just to add something substantive to the Slanted Door discussion, my take on it (based on admittedly limited experience) is that the more fusion dishes are their strengths. For straight-up Vietnamese in a nice atmosphere (admittedly not as fancy as Slanted Door), try Bodega Bistro.

                    -----
                    Slanted Door
                    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Bodega Bistro
                    607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                    1. re: sfbing
                      d
                      dietndesire RE: sfbing Apr 8, 2010 08:37 PM

                      I ate at the Slanted Door in 2006. It was actually quite good. And I was really POed being there. 45 min wait for a table with a res? And moronic hostess with a bit of an attitude.Though I guess she heard the same complaints about "HOW LONG?" and given that it was quite crowded she could do little. Not quite the same as when they string you along with empty tables. Nonetheless, unacceptable and I do not really care about service. Be on time, do your job, bring the food, be polite. The same way you should conduct yourself in general.If you screw up and are sincere in your efforts, I have no issue. And I would expect that if you have a young, snooty hostess, she should be more attractive. At least I understand the attitude in that case though it does not make it right.
                      My SF host really botched up that whole day so the fact I thought the food was still good says something, I think. Of course, it might have gone downhill. Most places that do well do not maintain quality. That is why I have a very short list of restaurants I think are worthy of a visit.
                      And I would not have considered that to be Vietnamese food proper.

                      -----
                      Slanted Door
                      Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                2. s
                  sfbing RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 11:35 AM

                  1. I think Pork Store is a pretty average place for brunch/lunch. Other places that you might consider are: Canteen on weekends (near downtown), Boulevard (very pretty for lunch), someplace in the Ferry Bldg like Slanted Door (especially on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays), Tartine (in the Mission), Mama's in North Beach (fits requirement for interesting part of city, but long lines), Tadich (old SF), Yank Sing (expensive dim sum and not my favorite place, but very pleasant).

                  2. Fine dining not mentioned yet: The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton (the food is good, but I find the atmosphere a tad stuffy), Quince (pastas are excellent--way, way better than Marea which I found quite disappointing), Coi (my favorite--very light, very inventive food).

                  3. If you have the money and can score a reservation, can't say anything but great things about The French Laundry. I think it is better than Per Se, but that may have more to do with the fact that Per Se is in a mall and TFL is in Napa. Ad Hoc is kind of hit or miss. The fried chicken is a definite winner. I would've recommended Ubuntu, but the chef has departed and it is in flux at the moment.

                  4. Casual restaurants not mentioned yet: Canteen and Incanto.

                  -----
                  Slanted Door
                  Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  The French Laundry
                  6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                  Ad Hoc
                  6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

                  Yank Sing
                  49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                  Pork Store Cafe
                  1451 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: sfbing
                    m
                    MaggieM2315 RE: sfbing Mar 23, 2010 11:44 AM

                    Thanks for those additional suggestions. I too was underwhelmed by Marea so I will look into Quince.

                    1. re: sfbing
                      a
                      arlenemae RE: sfbing Mar 23, 2010 03:01 PM

                      Second the recommendation for The Dining Room, it's definitely one of my top spots. Would also like to throw Manresa into the ring for fine dining, if you're willing to take the trek to the South Bay. Gary Danko is always nice, though I'm not sure if it will be much different from what you can get in NYC (aside from the fact that it's more reasonably priced). And of course, TFL goes without saying, if you can score a reservation.

                      As far as ethnic cuisines, South East Asian food does tend to be done well here. Aside from the Burmese, I think the bay area has great Vietnamese food (both upscale and dives).

                      -----
                      Manresa Restaurant
                      320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                      Gary Danko
                      800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                      1. re: arlenemae
                        a
                        Alex318 RE: arlenemae Mar 25, 2010 10:20 AM

                        Hello - What is the travel distance to TFL from San Fran, The Mandarin to be specific as it will be my 1st visit to the bay area and am completely ignorant.

                        thanks

                        1. re: Alex318
                          Robert Lauriston RE: Alex318 Mar 25, 2010 11:22 AM

                          It's an hour to 90+ minutes depending on traffic.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            a
                            Alex318 RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 25, 2010 12:18 PM

                            Thanks Robert

                      2. re: sfbing
                        Dapuma RE: sfbing Dec 15, 2010 06:38 AM

                        The slanted door, how authentic is it? The mrs is vietnamese and we like pretty authentic...seems like everyone is up and down on the place

                        is the ppq place better for getting some crab dishes, in the summertime?

                        is ppq and slanted door both in the ferry building?

                        1. re: Dapuma
                          Ruth Lafler RE: Dapuma Dec 15, 2010 11:22 AM

                          Some of the dishes at Slanted Door are pretty close to "authentic" but most are more "fusion." If your wife is Vietnamese then I wouldn't recommend it. PPQ is the other side of town from the Ferry Building and it's kind of a trek for a visitor. You should read and ask follow up questions on some of the other threads about crab, especially in the summer "off" season, since that topic is not really related to the rest of the discussion in this thread and people aren't likely to see it.

                          -----
                          Slanted Door
                          Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                          1. re: Dapuma
                            h
                            hong_kong_foodie RE: Dapuma Dec 16, 2010 07:45 AM

                            Slanted Door is not authentic at all and the chef / founder himself is Chinese, so it's very much one of those standard Vietnamese places you'll find in SF -- i.e. Vietnamese food made by Chinese for Chinese. Most Americans just (1) don't know better and (2) prize it for being a clean, upscale restaurant in a good location with a gorgeous view and a nice atmosphere (which admittedly is a rare thing for Asian food outside of Asia).

                            I've been there a number of times (regrettably) for work and once ordered the pho ga which was HORRIBLE. The soup was bland, the noodles were clumpy, and the chicken was so dry and flavorless. How can ANY respectable Vietnamese restaurant not make a good pho ga?

                            PPQ on the other hand is worth a try and a place liked by both Asians and Americans.

                            1. re: hong_kong_foodie
                              Ruth Lafler RE: hong_kong_foodie Dec 16, 2010 11:29 AM

                              Just to clarify, the owner of Slanted Door is ethnic Chinese from Vietnam, as are many owners of Vietnamese restaurants in the Bay Area. To say he is not Vietnamese is the same as saying that an American of Asian decent is not American, which I think most people would find offensive.

                              -----
                              Slanted Door
                              Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                              1. re: hong_kong_foodie
                                vincentlo RE: hong_kong_foodie Dec 20, 2010 02:49 AM

                                This kinda reminds me of Iron Chef Morimoto. Is his cuisine authentic enough to be called Japanese? Remember Le Poisson Japonais in downtown Palo Alto almost a decade ago? When I mentioned the word fusion to the manager, he immediately "corrected" me by saying their cuisine was Japanese. I guess *modern* Japanese.

                                As for the disappointing pho ga at Slanted Door, I wonder if maybe that's because they don't add MSG at all? I've noticed that for many Asian restaurants that have "upgraded" and decided to forgo MSG completely, their broths and soups turn bland instantly.

                                -----
                                Slanted Door
                                Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                Morimoto
                                610 Main Street, Napa, CA

                                1. re: vincentlo
                                  y
                                  yummersf RE: vincentlo Dec 20, 2010 06:26 AM

                                  Le Poisson Japonais!!! LOVED that place and never run into anyone who remembers it. Any idea where the chef/host ended up?

                                  1. re: yummersf
                                    Melanie Wong RE: yummersf Dec 20, 2010 08:53 AM

                                    One of the LPJ chefs, Masahiko Takei, owns Gochi in Cupertino. Don't know where Kenji is.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                                      s
                                      stacyc RE: Melanie Wong Dec 20, 2010 01:53 PM

                                      I was just going to say the same thing about LPJ. I loved that place!

                              2. re: Dapuma
                                bbulkow RE: Dapuma Dec 16, 2010 11:55 PM

                                Regrettably for you, the Vietnamese influx mostly took hold in San Jose, so there are a few decent viet places in SF proper, but not a lot.

                                There's a lot of up and down because it's upscale and great ingredients. If you go in for a great meal (of some undefined fusion sort), you enjoy it. If you go in for authentic, you're disappointed (and feel ripped off).

                            2. daveena RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 06:15 PM

                              Manhattan poster j.jessica.lee did a nice series of posts on her recent trips:

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/689080
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/694235
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/695822
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/696279

                              To respond to your questions:
                              1) I'd maybe get an almond croissant from Tartine Bakery for breakfast, then walk around the Mission (see Melanie Wong's SF Mission Murals and Antojitos Walk) http://www.chow.com/lists/465
                              For North Beach, I like Liguria Bakery (get there early, bring handi-wipes for all the grease that will inevitably coat your hand), XOX Truffles, and L'Osteria del Forno.

                              2) My best upscale meals in SF proper have been at Coi (by a long shot), Quince, and Ame. I have not been to Acquerello, the Dining Room at the Ritz, or La Folie, all of which have been recommended by people I trust. Of the three, the Dining Room at the Ritz has the most "local" looking menu.

                              I've never been all that impressed with Boulevard - haven't been back in a long time, but here's another excellent trip report that reports a similarly disappointing experience to my own:
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/692054

                              3. What kind of lunch experience are you looking for? I've found in the past that leisurely lunches end up eating too much into tasting time, since most tasting rooms close between 4-5 - I've always been a fan of either bringing bread, cheese, and salumi to snack on (a lot of tasting rooms have picnic areas), or stopping at Taylor's Refresher for an ahi burger and garlic fries.

                              4. Zuni, Canteen, and Range all fit the bill. I don't think it makes sense to go to A16 - the original chef, Nate Appleman, just opened Pulino in NYC. I imagine the menu is pretty similar.

                              Oh, and while I don't personally love Slanted Door, I've seen a consistent pattern of NYC visitors loving it, so I have to respect that.

                              -----
                              Zuni Cafe
                              1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                              Tartine Bakery
                              600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              A16
                              2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                              XOX Truffles
                              754 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                              L'Osteria del Forno
                              519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                              La Folie
                              2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                              Liguria Bakery
                              1700 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                              Acquerello Restaurant
                              1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: daveena
                                The Dive RE: daveena Mar 24, 2010 12:52 PM

                                I was going to recommend Coi for fine dining. I think Daniel Patterson's food is very California (although the atmosphere is definitely something you could get in NYC).

                              2. m
                                moldovana RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 10:58 PM

                                I would highly recommend:
                                Nopalito (fantastic Mexican restaurant, owned by the Nopa folks in awesome SF area).
                                Heavens' Dog (owned by the Slanted Door folks, amazing food w.out the attitude)
                                And I love Zazies for brunch, followed by an afternoon in GG Park.
                                Have fun!

                                -----
                                Slanted Door
                                Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                Zazie
                                941 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                Nopa
                                560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: moldovana
                                  bbulkow RE: moldovana Mar 24, 2010 12:47 AM

                                  My experience, and I believe the consensus, is drink at Heaven's Dog, but don't bother with more than snacks. The food is average at best. The drinks, however, might be in the top 5.

                                  -----
                                  Heaven's Dog
                                  1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                  1. re: bbulkow
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: bbulkow Mar 24, 2010 08:33 AM

                                    The pork belly sandwich at Heaven's Dog was excellent, I'd go back for that alone.

                                    -----
                                    Heaven's Dog
                                    1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                2. j
                                  Jasper1 RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 23, 2010 11:38 PM

                                  For your second dinner (unique and casual), try Helmand Palace. Afghani food may sound too strange for some, but the decor here is very pleasant and the food is simply amazing. The restaurant is owned by one of Hamid Karzai's (President of Afghanistan's) brothers and he staffs this restaurant's kitchen from among the best chefs from Afghanistan. The pumpkin with yogurt and spiced meat sauce is amazing, as are the chive dumplings. Grilled meats of all kinds are excellent too... also very good warm home-made flat bread with nice dipping sauces that come with every meal. This is one of only two locations in the US - Boston and SF.

                                  -----
                                  Helmand Palace
                                  2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Jasper1
                                    Melanie Wong RE: Jasper1 Mar 24, 2010 12:25 AM

                                    Helmand's two other locations are in Cambridge, MA and Baltimore, MD.

                                  2. m
                                    MaddyK RE: MaggieM2315 Mar 24, 2010 03:13 PM

                                    Hi Maggie,

                                    I used to live in Manhattan and live here now. I totally agree w/other posters who said that Perbacco, Aqua, & Fleur de Lys are too similar to what you can already get in NYC -- and I'd avoid A16 since you aren't dying for Italian and I'm afraid you'd be underwhelmed by the Italian here.

                                    I second the recs for Boulevard - the food & service are great and the East Coast folks I know who have been all love it and are clamoring to go back when they come visit next time. Slanted Door is cute for cocktails (ginger limeades are outstanding...) in their lounge area, but I would hold off on a full meal given your limited timeline (there's other places I think are more "classic" to SF).

                                    For lunch, I second the rec for the Ferry Building - hit Hog Island Oyster for seafood & glasses of wine, especially if it's nice out you can sit outside and you will have great views of the Golden Gate bridge. Or if it is Saturday, the Farmer's Market is outside and there are additional vendors selling lunch as well (the Farmer's Market here is legendary...puts NYC's Union Square to shame!). Alternatively, you could grab a bunch of stuff from various purveyors inside the Ferry Building and either rent bikes (try Blazing Saddles) or take the ferry over to Sausalito and picnic there in the afternoon--very romantic & relaxing! If you don't mind eating a lot of food, dim sum is also a classic SF experience but expect to walk out ridiculously full unless you have better willpower than me :) Those carts come around & the tendency is to take one of everything.

                                    -----
                                    Slanted Door
                                    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                    Perbacco
                                    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                    A16
                                    2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: MaddyK
                                      Ruth Lafler RE: MaddyK Mar 26, 2010 10:53 AM

                                      I don't believe you can see the Golden Gate Bridge from the Ferry Building. Great view of the under-appreciated Bay Bridge, though.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                        bbulkow RE: Ruth Lafler Mar 26, 2010 02:22 PM

                                        The fact that it's a great close-up view of a majestic suspension bridge from the 1930's may confuse people who only know the Golden Gate bridge. I also like the view of Treasure Island and the historic Pan Am seaplane terminal.

                                    2. c
                                      cinemama RE: MaggieM2315 Apr 12, 2010 07:30 PM

                                      Thank you everyone who recommended Burma Superstar and Hog Island Oysters! I'm another New Yorker visiting SF, and this thread was invaluable. Burma Superstar in particular was easily the best thing I tasted all trip. Incredible!

                                      -----
                                      Burma Superstar
                                      4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

                                      1. lapizzamaven RE: MaggieM2315 Dec 14, 2010 08:17 AM

                                        I used to luv the Pork Store on Haight...how come no luv! Anyone know if Rocco's on Folsom nr 6th is still around? Loved their food too, especially breakfasts.

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                                        Pork Store Cafe
                                        1451 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: lapizzamaven
                                          m
                                          mrs bacon RE: lapizzamaven Dec 14, 2010 08:42 AM

                                          I like the Pork Store too. Their hash browns are the best I've had in SF, and for lunch, the fried chicken is quite tasty! That said, I'm not sure I would send someone from NY there specially, however.

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                                          Pork Store Cafe
                                          1451 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                        2. m
                                          MeredithR RE: MaggieM2315 Dec 14, 2010 10:29 AM

                                          10 year veteran here and here's my list that I often send to friends/family when visiting:

                                          Pricier end/SF notables: Kokkari (Greek), Blowfish (Sushi), Flour + Water (Authentic Italian), Frances (New American?), The Slanted Door (Vietnemese), Betelnut (French/Asian), A16 (Italian), Little Star (thin crust pizza), NOPA (New American), Fish & Farm

                                          On the super cheap (no resvs): Pagolac (Vietnemese), Yamo or Burma Superstar (Burmese), Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, Puerto Alegre (Mexican), Brothers Restaurant (Korean)

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                                          Slanted Door
                                          Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                          A16
                                          2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                                          Pagolac
                                          655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                          Emmy's Spaghetti Shack
                                          18 Virginia Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                          Betelnut
                                          2030 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                          Yamo
                                          3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                          Puerto Alegre Restaurant
                                          546 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                          Burma Superstar
                                          4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

                                          1. y
                                            yummersf RE: MaggieM2315 Dec 20, 2010 06:30 AM

                                            I agree with Boulevard and Zuni (you must get the ricotta gnocchi, regardless of the preparation), and with the recs for Tartine, Flour + Water, Frances and Hog Island oysters at the ferry building. I think the quintessential SF restaurant, though, has got to be the Tadich Grill!! The best cioppino around with an expert martini make for a fantastic lunch. I also highly recommend Nopa, Delfina and Saison.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: yummersf
                                              Robert Lauriston RE: yummersf Dec 20, 2010 07:30 AM

                                              They have good ricotta gnocchi (gnudi) in NYC. Tadich's cioppino can be overcooked.

                                            2. g
                                              Gour875mand RE: MaggieM2315 Sep 24, 2013 09:03 PM

                                              Wondering if you (or anyone on here) can comment on how any of these places were-- we're coming from the Boston area, and, like you, don't need Italian food nor seafood. We would love local, fresh food that is unique to SF and not commonly found in New England. Any ideas from any Chows on here are welcome. THANK YOU!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Gour875mand
                                                Melanie Wong RE: Gour875mand Sep 24, 2013 09:07 PM

                                                Any particular reason why you chose this old thread to bump and are interested in knowing opinions of how these restaurants recommended three and half years ago WERE rather than something from the current food scene? Then we'd know how to help you.

                                                1. re: Gour875mand
                                                  CarrieWas218 RE: Gour875mand Sep 24, 2013 09:37 PM

                                                  Gour875mand, don't immediately dismiss Italian or seafood...

                                                  I was in Boston just last weekend and something we do infinitely better is Cioppino. Also, our "Cal-Italian" is a class and type of cuisine all on its own so while there isn't much reason to try classic Italian food, you may not be able to escape it.

                                                  I was there and on the cape researching a book on oysters and can attest that West Coast oysters are smaller, sweeter and far less briny than what you are accustomed to from Wellfleet, Cotuit, or even Maine.

                                                  You DO want to hunt out Burmese food - there is something you can't get and won't want to miss!

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