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SF Virgin w/ 4 days & 15 restaurants help!!!

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I'm finally making my first visit to SF in October. I've been trying to do research and avoid having to start a general type thread but I'm having a difficult time narrowing the list down and need some help.

We will be there for four days (Th-M) and we're leaning toward staying in SoMa, not sure if that matters.

I have two almost locks for dinner but open to feedback/suggestions. I would like to do a Mina so I'm leaning heavily toward the new MM @ the old Aqua assuming it's open in time. I'm also very interested in trying Incancto.

That would leave two dinners and four lunches.

Places I'm considering

Coi (is this a must do?)
Zuni Cafe (better off doing lunch there?)
Spruce
Quince
Frances (sounds like a place I would frequent if I lived there)
Perbaco
Ame
A16
Flour Water (lunch?)
Boulevard
RN74 (dinner if MM isn't open yet or is it a better lunch option?)
I'm also considering doing dim sum at Yank Sing and making a pit stop (lunch/snack) @ Boccalone.

Would you eliminate any of these?
Are any if them must do's?
Am I missing any must do's?
Are any of these better lunch options?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. As I'm sure you know, there are no real losers in that bunch.

    Personally, I'd choose four different styles of food:

    Incanto (Italian)
    Ame (Japanese fusion)
    Coi (modern)
    Zuni (classic California cuisine) or Zuni for lunch and Frances for dinner

    For lunch, it depends on what else you're going to be doing -- for example, while I love Perbacco (and more casual little sister Barbacco) for lunch, there's not much else for a visitor to do in that neighborhood.

    The Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market is a must for Saturday morning, with lots of prepared food offerings, plus you can graze the shops (like Boccalone) in the building itself.

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

    Perbacco
    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Barbacco
    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    13 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Ruth, thank you for your advice. I will be at Ferry Plaza on Sat. for sure.
      Frances really sounds great and I'm leaning toward going there on our first night and doing Zuni one day for lunch.

      Current dinner schedule

      Frances
      Incanto
      A Mina spot
      Ame or Coi.

      Lunches at Zuni, Ferry P Market/Boccalone

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

      1. re: The Chowfather

        If by "A Mina Spot" you mean a Michael Mina Restaurant I would skip it and add Gary Danko to your list. I have eaten at Mina's restaurants all over the US A and never been that impressed, or maybe do both AMI and Coi both are great restaurants.

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

        1. re: The Chowfather

          Why are you interested in a Michael Mina restaurant? There are definitely other restaurants in SF to prioritize over his; if you went to any, it should be RN74.

          -----
          RN74
          301 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

          1. re: JasmineG

            I have to agree with the above posters where Mina is concerned. Not only do I enjoy Danko immensely more, but it's also uniquely SF. Mina has dozens of restaurants throughout the US. Many serve very similar fare. While you are here you should have things that you can't get other places, such as Danko and the others on your list.

            1. re: JasmineG

              Well, RN74 is a very different animal than the restaurant Michael Mina. Anyone looking for the kind of dishes that are chef Mina's claim to fame would want to go to his namesake restaurant, not RN74. The argument has been made to do both Coi and Ame instead and I think they are both more unique and interesting than either Michael Mina or Gary Danko. I can understand why someone who's never tried Michael Mina's signature dishes might want to do so because of his fame. However, I've never found the food at RN74 to be particularly compelling.

            2. re: The Chowfather

              I'm not sure why Danko didn't make my list. I'll have to go back and review. I'm not locked into Mina just thought it made sense to experience the namesake on my first trip out there.

              1. re: The Chowfather

                The consensus is you would do better with non-chain dining.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  I have now eaten at four different Mina restaurants (the two here in the city, one in Vegas, and the one in Dana Point) and will attest that I found them to be ALL extremely mediocre and over-priced.

                  You can do way better in the city if you want that style of cuisine. Many are recommending Danko and for a one-off visit you should enjoy it very much more than any of the Mina restaurants.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Thanks, skipping Cheesecake Factory.... Last time I looked there were only 1 Mina and 1 RN74 out there but I get your point.

                    -----
                    RN74
                    301 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

                    1. re: The Chowfather

                      I don't know if I would call them a chain, exactly, since that implies (to me at least) a standardized menu, but I also don't think you'll find much of Michael Mina in any of his restaurants anymore. Especially now that his creative energies are devoted to proving that you can go home again. At any rate, while Michael Mina may be a successful restaurateur across the US, his current restaurants in San Francisco aren't considered particularly chow-worthy. With only a very limited time in the area, restaurants that are more specific to San Francisco would be my top priority.

                2. re: The Chowfather

                  Current List

                  Night one (Thursday)
                  Replacing Incanto with Perbacco primarily because we have a long flight and it's closer to the hotel (Union sq now not Soma) Fair swap or a bad call?

                  Fri- lunch at Zuni
                  Dinner- My wife's only request was to go somewhere lively/fun one night (with great food of course) I thought about doing Zuni for dinner but think lunch is a better call with all the great dinner options out there. I eliminated Nopa b/c it seems similar to Zuni. I also eliminated all the great Italian options b/c we are doing Perbacco night one. Thus, Prospect is now the front runner although I haven't seen much on the board. Still considering Spruce. Not sure if Quince falls into this category. Ame seems too formal. Is Coi lounge worth going to? Is Prospect the call?

                  Sat- dim sum at Yank Sing early then Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Good plan if I don't go crazy with the dim sum or too much?

                  New plan- we decided to spend Sunday in Napa and hopefully TFL so I'm eliminating Coi/Benu/Danko and other long tasting menu/formal type meals the night before. RN74 is on the short list despite the anti Mina sentiment on the board.

                  Thanks again for all the advice.

                  1. re: The Chowfather

                    I never hesitate to recommend Perbacco. It's a great place.

                    Coi lounge is a lot less lively and fun than the name might suggest. Quince is kind of stuffy. Prospect is cool. I would go with Prospect.

                    Combing the visits to FPFM and Yank Sing is convenient since they are so close.

                    RN74 won't give you a traditional Michael Mina experience, for good or bad. I personally have never warmed up to the food there and would probably go somewhere else. Have you considered places like La Mar, Town Hall, or Wayfare Tavern?

                    1. re: The Chowfather

                      I'm curious why you're keeping Mina on your short list. With the breadth and depth of food in SF, these are the times I really lean on CHs. Same with NYC.

                      You may also want to check out hungryabbey's post re SF restaurants:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/706799

                      And here's her f/up of what they did eat.

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7285...

                      Esp. interesting are her comments on TFL.

                3. You might want to put Quince on hold until the dust settles. There are reports of havoc in the kitchen. http://is.gd/dUhfz

                  1. I don't think you'll be disappointed with a visit to Yank Sing for Dim Sum - I drive 1 1/2 hours from Sacramento because I think its that good. And just a reminder that they are not open for dinner. M-F til 3:00, S&S til 4:00

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

                    1. I ate at Coi this last Friday for the first time. Huge disappointment.
                      Fussy but not flavorful, some genuine clinkers, no heart or soul.
                      And mind you, I love love love complicated tiny course tasting menus.

                      I'd remove it from your list.
                      go to La Folie instead.

                      Also not a fan of Zuni, think it's overrated. Instead go to the place I discovered this weekend -- Lolo's in the Mission. Fantastic, and to my mind the middle of the mission is as much an SF experience as Zuni.

                      I would also consider adding Aziza, one of our most delicious and unusual restaurants.

                      From your list, I highly endorse A16 and Boulevard as well.

                      And if you like Japanese, consider Nihon Whiskey Lounge (stylish small plates, no sushi), Kiss (lovely 6-course set menu including sushi and sashimi courses) or Ino (simple, impeccable, expensive, omakase sushi bar).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pauliface

                        I like the vibe and the margarita at Zuni. You might just want to stop in for a drink and check out some other spots in the Castro for a bite to eat (I love food hopping). I've been to Aziza and it was a real miss for me. Maybe I picked all the wrong dishes, but it was meh....

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

                      2. I'd add Slanted Door. And Ton Kiang rather than Yank Sing. Also, weekend brunch at Namu on Balboa and 6th after you've checked out the De Young and its roof deck.

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

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

                        Ton Kiang
                        5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

                        Namu
                        439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lacerise

                          this may be late, but I second Ton Kiang - food is delish and not nearly as expensive as Yank Sing. Yank Sing does have more unusual selections of dim sum dishes, but many are less 'authentic.'

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

                          Ton Kiang
                          5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

                        2. You don't mention breakfast, but since you are in SOMA, Town's End makes a very nice breakfast. Of course, on Saturday morning there are enought breakfast options at the Ferry Plaza Farmers market

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rworange

                            Just ate at Incanto and Frances this last weekend and was impressed by both...especially Frances (one of the better meals I've had in a long long time and also felt like a great value). I think I still liked Perbacco slightly more even though the food was more "interesting" at Incanto. Frances is the neighborhood restaurant everyone wishes was in their neighborhood. Great vibe and very warm atmosphere - and sensational food.

                            Wayfare Tavern is getting crazy buzz but i've never been so can't speak to it.

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

                            Wayfare Tavern
                            558 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

                            1. re: vis

                              Another vote for Frances -- yay, just bagged a reso there for our November trip.

                          2. at least one of those days you should get coffee and breakfast or lunch at Farm:Table at 754 Post between Leavenworth and Jones.

                            if you happen to be around near the end of the month, try to catch their Biscuit Sunday..!