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Honeymoon in San Francisco - Eating Tour Suggestion, $1000 Budget for 4 days

Hi fellow Chowhounders,

We're heading to San Francisco in July for our honeymoon and while there, we'd love to have some fantastic meals while we're there.

I think right now, (according to what I've read here) seems the Gary Danko and the Dining Room at the Ritz are the two "must eat" destinations. I'm curious about French Laundry and the other Keller restaurants to see if it's worth a trip out to Napa, but we're hoping to keep the budget for our four meals to $1000 total (is that number realistic? If not, we're flexible to change it if we must to not miss out on a great meal!!).

To give you a sense of our tastes, some of our favourite places that we've eaten over the last couple of years has been Momofuku Ko (NY), Shibuya (Las Vegas), Colborne Lane (Toronto), Joe's Stone Crab (Miami) and Matsuhisa (LA).

We love all sorts of food, so if there are some more budget suggestions (we loved Roscoe's for Chicken & Waffles in LA, the famous Halal cart in NY and noodles in the subway station in Tokyo), that would be fantastic as good food is good food and something more casual would probably be a nice change up too.

Thanks in advance to everyone for your help -- Chowhounders everywhere have always been so helpful in getting us to great food!

Sincerely,

Tony :)

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The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

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

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  1. You may want to check out another post I just made this morning about high-end restaurants in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3512...

    I do agree with your assessment that the Dining Room at the Ritz are probably the best high-end restaurants in the city, and I highly recommend both of them. As I mentioned in the above post, if you can only go to one, go to the Ritz ($125/pp), but if you can accomodate 2, the you can go to both of them if you stick to the 3 or 4-course menu at Gary Danko ($68/$85). You may or may not stay under $1K depending on how much you spend on wine. I say go to GD first and make the Ritz your last dinner since it will probably eclipse any meal you eat afterwards. Then eat very cheaply the rest of the time! (lots of very good and very cheap mexican, chinese, and other ethnic restaurants here) :-)

    The French Laundry is an experience and all, but at ~$250/pp(inc. service but they still ask for additional tip at the end!), you'd probably spend around the same or less going to *both* Gary Danko and the Ritz. To give you an idea of how much things cost, for a party of 2 we spent ~$1K on dinner at French Laundry including tax/tip (this is even after setting a wine budget!), while we spent ~$600 for the Ritz (2 9-course tasting menus w/ full wine pairings), and ~$400 for Gary Danko (2 5-course tasting menus w/ wine). You may be able to save a bit more if you just go for the 3-course at Gary Danko, which would still have more than enough food.

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    The French Laundry
    6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

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

    The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton
    The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94108

    5 Replies
    1. re: arlenemae

      Thanks Arlene & Scott!

      I read your other review Arlene -- very helpful!

      I guess what are everyone's thoughts on Boulevard? Worth it as a #3 choice?

      Or would Ame top this? Having been on a recent trip to Japan and frequented Vancouver sushi often, we've had trouble finding true "wow" appeal in Japanese recently. I guess for a comparison that most of Cali foodies might be able to make is how does it compares to Matsuhisa?

      Also if we put La Folie or Michael Mina on the itinerary, is this going to blow our budget?

      With French Laundry out as a budget buster, is Napa worth a foodie trip? Are the other Keller restaurants worth the trip?

      Thanks again guys -- lots of questions from this soon-to-be groom!!

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      The French Laundry
      6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

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

      1. re: Tony Calgary

        If you add La Folie or Michel Mina as a 3rd restaurant to go to you'll probably going to blow your $1K budget! But you'll eat very well! :D I did 3 michelin-starred restaurants in a week when I was on vacation in NYC and it was totally worth it for me since I don't go there often....I just ate a lot of street food, hot dogs, and pizza in between since they used up most of my eating budget.

        It's been a while since I've been to Boulevard, though it was good, not sure whether I would put it above La Folie/Michael Mina. Never been to Ame so I can't say much about that. Do note that the Ritz has a Japanese influence also (though not as much as Ame), since Ron Siegel got into it after competing in Japan for Iron Chef (he beat Sakai!)

        If you're planning to go to Napa Valley (could be done in a day trip), other good Keller restaurants you could go to are Ad Hoc (which is very highly regarded on this board) and Bouchon (they have that one in Vegas too). If choosing between those two I would pick Ad Hoc. Redd is also very good, they have a five-course tasting menu for $75, and you and your dining partner will get 5 different courses so you actually get to try 10 different things...probably the best value in Napa Valley. Michael Chiarello's Bottega is also very good, and Italian might be a good choice if you're going with French/California food for your SF restaurants. Not sure if they would be worth the trek though unless you want to go to Napa Valley for some wine-tasting anyway.

        Have a great trip and hope you and your wife enjoy your visit to the Bay Area!

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

        Bottega
        6525 Washington Street Suite A9, Yountville, CA 94599

        Bouchon
        6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

        1. re: Tony Calgary

          You might also want to consider Coi. I'm not a big fan of the ambience, but the food is very creative and more unique than that of many of the other high-end places. If you eat in the lounge, you can order dishes from the lounge menu or tasting menu a la carte. That way you can try the food at the only San Francisco restaurant with two Michelin stars without necessarily breaking your budget.

          As for Ame and Boulevard, I like both of them. Their styles of food are quite different and you might want to check out their menus to see which one seems the most appealing to you.

          1. re: nocharge

            I've never been but that's certainly a good suggestion...it's on my list to try for my next special occasion! Michael Mina used to have 2 Michelin stars at the time I went, but since they dropped it's possible the quality of the food might have gone down.

            1. re: arlenemae

              I'd have to second Coi over Gary Danko.

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

      2. Given that some of your other favorite places seem to have a Japanese influence you might want to consider Ame over Gary Danko.

        http://www.amerestaurant.com/home.html

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        Ame Restaurant
        689 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

        1. Given the other restaurants you say you have enjoyed, Ame would be my first choice for you.

          My favorite restaurant in the city is probably La Folie, though it is not without its minor faults.

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

          1. French Laundry will take most of your budget and will be challenging to get into (but it deserves its reputation).

            I would definitely go with Gary Danko, but for a little more variety some suggestions are Quince and Chez Panisse.

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            The French Laundry
            6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

            Chez Panisse
            1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

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

            1. The thing about French Laundry for your honeymoon is that if you have dinner there, you'll really want to stay over in Napa Valley. If you go there for lunch, that would be a lovely day and would allow you to experience some of Napa and drive back down to San Francisco in a leisurely way. But even without TFL, you can go up to Napa, have a nice relaxing day at a few wineries and maybe a nice picnic lunch and some cheese and bread before you leave or dinner at the oyster bar at Bouchon, and save your big budget meals for San Francisco. Given what you've listed, I agree that it seems like you would like Ame and Coi, and your other meals can be some of the mid priced Cal/Italian food that San Francisco does so well, with some good and cheap Mexican or Asian food in there (Burmese, Poc Chuc, a few taquerias).

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              The French Laundry
              6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

              Poc Chuc
              2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              Bouchon
              6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

              2 Replies
              1. re: JasmineG

                I think having a lunch at the French Laundry (avoiding of course the expensive supplements), and having more casual meals in SF is a very good idea. TFL is not that stuffy and actually more romantic than Danko or the Dining Room (which kind of reminds me of a grandmother's sitting room).

                Of course, this assumes that you are lucky enough to score a reservation...

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                The French Laundry
                6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                1. re: sfbing

                  Just to clarify: lunch at French Laundry is the same menu and same price as dinner. In many ways, lunch is preferable to dinner: it's more relaxed, you can enjoy the gardens in the sunlight, visit their kitchen garden across the street, and you can take a stroll after your meal, walk off your wine, and not worry about it getting too late. Lunch reservations are also slightly easier to get.

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                  The French Laundry
                  6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599