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Visiting SF Bay Area for 5 nights

  • d

My g/f and I are visiting SF in 2 weeks from Friday-Wednesday and would really love some local knowledge about places to eat while I'm there. We are staying at 757 Market Street, but are willing to take a cab or the Bart anywhere in the area as long as it's worth it. Thank you in advance! Below is what we are looking for:

1) I won't get to my hotel until about 11 on Friday so some place somewhat close to the hotel that is good late night to grab a drink and some food would be nice.

2) Saturday I have heard the best place to go is the farmers market so I am almost definitely going there. Any specific suggestions while I'm there?

3) I have to go to at least 1 chinese restaurant and 1 thai restaurant if there is 1 really worth going to. Maybe dim sum? I've heard good things about Eric's and Eliza's

4) Sunday I'm going to Napa for the day. Any recommendations for lunch/brunch/dinner?

5) My birthday is that Monday so I'm looking for a nice meal. I've heard good things about Boulevard and Jardinere. Thoughts? Other recommendations?

6) Other places for breakfast/lunch/dinner... I'm not looking to spend tons of money but if it's worth it I'm happy to pay for it. Good value restaurants where locals go to is really what I'm looking for.

If anybody is ever in Miami I would love to return the favor. Thanks again and look forward to eating very well in what I've been told is the best culinary city in the country!

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  1. 1. I am really sorry to say that San Francisco is not really a late-night town and getting good eats after 11:00 is a struggle. Not close to the hotel but worth a cab ride is Nombe in the Mission which serves until 2:00 a.m. Heaven's Dog is good for the cocktail although there are certainly lots of other bars open. I've been told Nopa and Globe are also open late.

    2. Depends on what you are into; it has everything from raw oysters to raw food, from okonomiyaki to chilaquiles, from bombolino to cheese. Better to give us an idea what YOU like in the way of food as the Ferry Plaza on Saturday morning is a foodie's mecca.

    3. My favorite Thai in the city is Jitlada, right outside Japantown and for Dim Sum, I would head to Ton Kiang which is a bus ride out to the Avenues.

    4. Much too big a question; what type of food do you like? Budget? Personally, I would go for dinner as eating lunch in Napa takes time away from visiting wineries. As most are only open from 10:00 to 5:00 (and some until 6:00), having a long lunch eats into the day. My favorite Napa restaurants are Meadowood, Ubuntu (although I haven't been back since the chef change), and Terra.

    5. I think both Boulevard and Jardiniere are over-rated, over-hyped tourist joints. But it is a Monday so you will be more limited in what is open and for visitors, Boulevard is as good as the rest.

    6. Good value restaurants include Larkin Express Deli (very inexpensive, fabulous Burmese food), Naked Lunch, Sushi Aka Tombo, and Nombe.

    I've been to Miami, I really liked Talula...

    -----
    Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
    1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

    Nopa
    560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

    Ton Kiang
    5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

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

    Express Deli and Cafe
    325 S 1st St Ste B, San Jose, CA 95113

    Nombe
    2491 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Sushi Aka Tombo
    1737 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

    2 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      1. is a specific question, thus specific answers. Heaven's Dog is your best bet given proximity and desire for a drink and unwind. Bites are good there. If you want a full dinner and a drink, head to the Globe. It's a pretty quick cab ride from your hotel, and a warm cozy small room with top notch food. The cal-ital thing that locals favor - short daily printed menu.

      Regarding all the restaurants you mentioned, they were at the top of the heap 10 years ago. Although they're still good, many newer places have come in.

      3. There are three common chinese rec's in SF chinatown proper, none of which I've been to. Thai is not considered a strength of SF, try Burmese instead - there's a couple places that get discussed regularly (one of which is late night).

      As a hint, the search system in Chowhound is terrible. Your two options are using the 'relevance' button in the onboard search system, or use 'site:chow.com' in your favorite search engine (ie, google) to find what you're looking for. Boulevard was discussed just two days ago, for example, and you request for good moderate eats like the locals is discussed frequently too.

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

      1. re: CarrieWas218

        Jardiniere is doing a Monday night special where you get 3-4 courses with wine pairings for $45, which is a stellar value, considering their main course usually tops out at around $45

      2. Globe is the only decent restaurant open well past 11 (until 1am) on Fridays within walking distance of The Four Seasons. The food is very good, though. Not fantastic, but very good.

        IMO, no real reason to go to a Thai restaurant here... my local one is Benjarong and I like it a lot, but I haven't found any that are "wow" compared to any other city.

        For Dim Sum, my vote is Ton Kiang, though this is a controversial opinion.

        Slanted Door is a 50 local / 50 tourist type place that I always take out of towners to. It may be a bit overpriced for what it is, but it is also a great SF experience, imo, and the best Vietnamese restaurant I've ever been to, though some complain that the food isn't too authentic. The wine list is very well put together. I wouldn't put it in my strong 'to-do' list for you, but I thought I would mention it as you seem interested in Asian cuisine.

        Napa, I always just get lunch at Oakville Grocery or Taylor's Refresher. Maybe do Taylor's as it is a bit of a Napa institution. I've never been to Ubuntu but everyone simply RAVES about it. I do love Martini House. Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen is nice and not too pricy.

        Boulevard is much better than Jardiniere... Some people say the best restaurant in town is Coi -- it is an 11 course set tasting menu that changes all the time... very light on red meat. No one ever likes all the courses but it is very creative and, as I said, often discussed as the best restaurant in town... For me the best restaurant in town is La Folie which is more classic Provencal food, though with fresh, often local ingredients. Not cheap, but more relaxed and "easy" than its other similarly priced counterparts. Other "high end" places that are very good include Gary Danko and The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton. I must say, though, that for 3 hour dining experiences in this price range, I have a fairly strong preference for La Folie. One step down from these restaurants in price is Boulevard and Ame and both are fantastic and very San Francisco. Ame is sleek and modern Japanese/Italian fusion, whereas Boulevard is classic northern CA.

        Taking value into account, my favorite restaurant in SF at the moment is Perbacco. While not as fancy as others I've been to, it is honestly my favorite Italian restaurant outside of Italy.

        Another great spot is NOPA. It can be loud but it is very "San Francisco" in vibe. This is where all the local chefs and sommeliers go after work for their own dinners as it is open until 1am (it just isn't near your hotel at all).

        For less expensive meals I enjoy Helmand Palace (Afghani) L'Osteria del Forno (whole in the wall, cash only, one oven only, Italian) and Troya (Turkish) though I only ever get to Troya when I have reason to be out in the Richmond.

        Websites:
        http://www.globerestaurant.com/
        http://www.tonkiang.net/
        http://slanteddoor.com/
        http://www.martinihouse.com/
        http://www.cindysbackstreetkitchen.com/
        http://coirestaurant.com/
        http://www.lafolie.com/ (note: menu out of date and prices have gone up a little -- current 5 course is $95, $4 course is like $85, I think
        )http://www.garydanko.com/
        http://www.ritzcarltondiningroom.com/
        http://www.boulevardrestaurant.com/
        http://www.amerestaurant.com/
        http://www.perbaccosf.com/
        http://www.nopasf.com/
        http://www.helmandpalace.com/
        http://www.losteriadelforno.com/
        http://www.troyasf.com/

        -----
        Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
        1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

        Slanted Door
        Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

        Perbacco
        230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

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

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

        Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen
        1327 Railroad Ave., St. Helena, CA 94574

        Ton Kiang
        5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

        Martini House
        1245 Spring St., St. Helena, CA 94574

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

        Troya
        349 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

        Oakville Grocery
        124 Matheson St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

        Four Seasons Restaurant
        1163 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129

        Benjarong
        1968 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123

        3 Replies
        1. re: whiner

          Thank you so much for all of the great recommendations!

          To answer a few of your questions: I am looking for really good asian food (we don't have many good asian restaurants in Miami), Seafood (Is Tadich Grill still any good?), Italian (Perbacco looks like a great recommendation!), Pizza and Burgers are always good but will only go if there's a place that is spectacular, and I have no interest in going to a Steak house while I'm out there. I am semi adventurous when it comes to food, but normally stick with the basics.

          In general, I'm looking for really good food that doesn't break the bank but if it does and it's worth it I don't mind. I will research all of the restaurant ideas that you guys give me and then do a little research on my own.

          -----
          Tadich Grill
          240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          1. re: djs7d

            For Vietnamese, Slanted Door is upscale with a beautiful view that is a good intro to the cuisine to those that are not familar with it. Cheaper options would be Bodega Bistro (Vietnamese with a french spin) and Pagolac (7 courses of beef), which are both in the tenderloin.

            If you are looking for a place in Chinatown (and most first time tourists usually are), the following restaurants handily cover the spectrum: R&G Lounge (Cantonese-salt and pepper dungeness crab is the thing, though not cheap), Jai Yun (reservations required, prix fixe, the chef has great technique), Shanghai Bund (Shanghainese food), and Z&Y (Sichuan food).

            Dim sum is a very controversial subject. IMO, Ton Kiang is out in the Richmond (where few tourists venture) and has an overemphasis on shrimp dumplings. If you don't mind a splurge, Yank Sing is a good option for people who are new to dim sum. They have carts so you don't have to decipher a menu and they're patient with newbies. My personal fave is Hong Kong Lounge (also out in the Richmond with paper menus). Other possibilities are Great Eastern and Cityview.

            Lers Ros Thai is more authentic Thai than normal--which some people like, and others do not. It is also open very late, although the neighborhood is dodgy. If you really want an interesting experience, check out the Sunday brunches available at the Thai Temples in Berkeley or San Bruno.

            I am a huge fan of Coi--just a note that you can make a reservation for the lounge if you don't want to go for the whole tasting menu. They also offer more casual dishes in the lounge.

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

            Jai Yun
            680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            Bodega Bistro
            607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

            Pagolac
            655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

            Great Eastern Restaurant
            649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

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

            Ton Kiang
            5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

            Lers Ros Thai
            730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

            Hong Kong Lounge
            5322 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121

          2. re: whiner

            whiner, thanks very much for this outstanding post. I am visiting SF in August for the first time, and you reiterated a lot of what I have heard/read elsewhere, in addition to providing excellent information.

            We have 5 dinners in SF to pick, and our sure things are Perbacco and Ame, with the rest to come (with many of your suggested in the running including Slanted Door and Coi).

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

            Perbacco
            230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          3. 1) Looked at Opentable to see what was open late & surprise, surprise....Gitane, one of our favorite places in the City. Just a few blocks from Four Seasons, this restaurant is open until midnight on Friday & their bar until 1:00 a.m. They serve some of the best cocktails in the City & food is good too. This would be a rec whether late night dining or otherwise!

            Straits, a Singaporean restaurant in the Westfield Shopping Centre just a block away from the Four Seasons, is open until 12:00 while their bar, according to website, is open 'til closing. Food is just okay but in the past, I've enjoyed their roti parata, chicken satay & banana leaf salmon. Stay away from seabass in rice wine.

            http://www.gitanerestaurant.com/
            http://www.straitsrestaurants.com/ind...

            -----
            Four Seasons Restaurant
            1163 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129

            1. 1) Check out Thai resto Lers Ros in the Tenderloin. It opens until midnight.
              http://www.lersros.com/

              Nopa serves dinner until 1AM. Good food, great vibe but not close to your hotel.

              3) Eliza's on California St is very good (though I haven't been there for a while). Ton Kiang for Chinese food or dim sum is good. Shanghai Dumpling King (3319 Balboa Street) is also good. Better Cantonese dim sum is at Koi Palace in Daly City. Be prepared to wait 1+hours for dim sum at good place.

              4) Check out Bistro Jeanty in Yountville.

              5) Consider NOPA for good food, drinks, and atmosphere.

              6) Consider Saha in the Tenderloin area (inside Carlton Hotel on Sutter). Very good Middle Eastern fusion. Also in the Tenderloin, check out Bodega Bistro on Larkin near Bambuddha Lounge. Excellent northern Vietnamese cuisine. A block across from it is the small Vietnamese Saigon Sandwich shop. Well known for its sandwich (get the special).

              In Noe Valley there is Incanto if you like Italian.

              You can also head to Marina District's. Many great restos are there including Isa and A16 (Italian).

              -----
              Koi Palace Restaurant
              365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

              Saigon Sandwich Shop
              560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              A16
              2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

              Bodega Bistro
              607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              Nopa
              560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

              Bambuddha Lounge
              601 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

              Ton Kiang
              5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

              Bistro Jeanty
              6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

              Shanghai Dumpling King
              3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

              5 Replies
              1. re: youngsf

                What about Mexican? Worth going to Cha Cha Cha for tapas?

                1. re: djs7d

                  For someone living in Miami, ChaChaCha is one of the last places I would recommend. What we get in the way of fried plantains pales in comparison with what the OP can get.

                  1. re: djs7d

                    CW is right. C3 has a Caribbean vibe and it might insult someone from S Fla or make them laugh.

                    For tapas the places I'd consider are Zarzuela, Bocadillos or Piperade. Have no idea what tapas are like in Miami but these are good.

                    A taqueria or taco truck is probably worth a lunch or snack. The question is where. Lots of good ones and based on preferences and many options. The prices are inexpensive. Around $6-$7 at a taqueria and around $5 off a taco truck. For a burrito in downtown SF I'd try Taqueria Cancun on Market/6th (burrito al pastor or quesadilla suiza) or Los Compadres Taco Truck at Spear and Folsom. If you go to the Mission, do a search.

                    -----
                    Piperade
                    1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Bocadillos
                    710 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Los Compadres Taco Truck
                    292 Spear St, San Francisco, CA

                    1. re: ML8000

                      You need to add Contigo to the Tapas list.

                      -----
                      Contigo
                      1320 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                    2. re: djs7d

                      For Mexican, my personal choice is La Taqueria on Mission around 24th/25st. A fast food joint but good food.

                      If you want atmosphere and upscale, nopalito (opened by Nopa owners) as others suggested. Bocadillos is a great tapas place, so is Isa in Marina and Pesce on upper Polk (my personal favorite chez nous on Filmore closed down).

                      On Oakland side, the College av from the Rockridge BART station to UC campus has many interesting restos too. Near BART is À Côté, a tapas place. Up by Ashby there is small Italian/Sicilian resto that is quite good. Couldn't remember the name but it has a tiny width and a mezzanine seating. Haven't been there for a long time but I believe it still open for dinner only and cash only too.

                      Cha Cha Cha is a great social place but not sure I'd go there for food experience.

                      -----
                      Pesce
                      2227 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                      Nopa
                      560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                      Bocadillos
                      710 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                      La Taqueria
                      2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  2. since you're coming from miami, i would focus on asian food (particularly chinese, vietnamese, thai since they aren't done well in miami), ice cream, brunch, "slow food californian" and some mexican
                    (examples of some faves when i lived there were NAOE, Michael's, Michy's, Sra Martinez, Talula, Ortanique, Sugarcane)

                    thus some random examples...
                    Lers Ros Thai: pork belly basil, deep fried chili tilapia
                    SO (in SOMA) for chicken wings
                    Anh Hong for banh xeo or Bo 7 Mon
                    Saigon Sandwich banh mi
                    the House (fusion) for seabass
                    Ferry Building Roli Roti porchetta sandwich
                    4505 meats pig in a blanket
                    Il Cane Rosso pork shoulder sandwich
                    Bi-Rite/Humphry Slocombe ice cream
                    Marlowe for lunch
                    brunch at Brenda's, Dottie's, Canteen, Bar Tartine, Foreign Cinema, etc.
                    Torta Los Picudos for a torta
                    have your special meal at Coi, Ame, La Folie

                    -----
                    Saigon Sandwich Shop
                    560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

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

                    Bar Tartine
                    561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                    Lers Ros Thai
                    730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

                    Il Cane Rosso
                    1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94105

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: ankimo

                      For 1), I would nominate Oola. Open until 1am, very good food (love their ribs), and actually walkable if you don't mind walking a few blocks in an environment that may appear moderately gritty at night. I like Heaven's Dog, but if you walk there from the Four Seasons (especially if you pass by 6th & Mission), the difference between the ambience of the hotel and the walk may be greater than you may care for. (Especially if you are from out of town and unfamiliar with the environment.) The Globe is good but would be quite a bit of a walk. Of course, all three are within a relatively short cab ride.

                      Now, if you are arriving from Miami after 11pm, your most convenient option may simply be the bar/lounge at the hotel, which is supposed to be open until 1am on Fridays. It's Four Seasons solid in case you don't have the energy to wonder about town in search of something more adventurous.

                      -----
                      Oola Restaurant & Bar
                      860 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                      1. re: nocharge

                        I would not recommend 4 seasons -> The Globe and back by foot. It's a full mile, each way. Although the atmosphere is better than the shorter Heaven's Dog walk, it's still a bit of a hoof.

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          I've decided on NOPA and Slanted Door so far. I'm trying to find a very good and reasonably priced Italian restaurant for a Monday night. Any thoughts on Beretta? A16? Incanto? I've heard good things about Perbacco and may go there. SPQR?

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

                          Perbacco
                          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                          A16
                          2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                          SPQR
                          1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                          1. re: djs7d

                            All of those are good (as is La Ciccia, one in that class that you didn't list). Of those, I'd go to La Ciccia or Perbacco, but the others are all good too.

                            -----
                            La Ciccia
                            291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                            Perbacco
                            230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                            1. re: djs7d

                              Perbacco is my *easy* first choice here. La Ciccia is very good, as is A16. But for me this is not close.

                              -----
                              La Ciccia
                              291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                              Perbacco
                              230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                              A16
                              2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                              1. re: whiner

                                If I was in the mood for pizza one night is there any place worth going to?

                                1. re: djs7d

                                  what kind of pizza? deep dish? artisanal?

                                  1. re: djs7d

                                    Yes. My easy #1 for pizza is L'Osteria del Forno. Hole-in-the-wall Italian in North Beach. Inexpensive and awesome. note: cash only, no reservations.

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