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Visiting Belgian seeks information on good lunch places

Next week I will be staying a few days at the Marriott Fisherman's Wharf with my son.
We like extremely good food. Either traditional or experimental but preferably places that use local ingredients. Within walking distance woud be fine but we can take taxis of course.
Price doesn't matter much as long as the quality is good. The food is more important to us than the surroundings.

We ppreciate any suggestions.

Thank you very much

Cornelius

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  1. Hi Kornelios - i think a few more specifics will be helpful.

    Are you planning to sightsee during the day? If yes, we could help pick places close to where you're planning to be.

    Are you open to all cuisines?

    5 Replies
    1. re: daveena

      Thank you Daveena. I found another question answered where most of the information was available. You people must get a little bored answering the same questions so often.
      We like restaurants that are a bit experimental. But traditional is also fine. We'd rather go for the best but would not want to book weeks ahead. Noticed we can book at GD. Still advised?All ethnic restaurants are fine but from SF we fly to Hong Kong and Singapore so would skip Chinese unless exceptional. We'd like to try a steak house too if we'd know which is the very, very best.
      Any typical SF/Cal. restaurant should be fine. As a tourist we only know Scoma's (not too refined but interesting, public too) and McCormick & -- (not bad the two times we ate there).

      1. re: Kornelios

        There are no exceptional steak houses in SF.

        If you don't really care about the quality of the food, try Slanted Door. Not that it's bad, it's quite good, but it's more about the vibe and location and view. Much more 'typical' in a sense, as its a bit of a mashup, which is what SF is all about.

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        Slanted Door
        Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

        1. re: bbulkow

          Thank you. I'll read up further on Slanted Door. What about Harris' for a steak house? You may ask, why a steak house?
          Well we do get US beef in Europe - not too easy and actually too expensive, considering the $/€ rate. But nearly aways it is good. Another thing is that in America you can buy cuts that you never see in Europe, like flank or flab(?)

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          Slanted Door
          Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

          1. re: Kornelios

            Harris' is likely one of the 2 or 3 best steakhouses in SF. As noted above, the steakhouses in SF are not great.

            Other SF "landmark" restaurants worth considering are Zuni and the Tadich Grill. You can find plenty on information & comments about them if you do a "Search this board" search.

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            Zuni Cafe
            1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

            Tadich Grill
            240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            1. re: Kornelios

              Harris is good. It is of the best 2 or 3 in SF. You said *the best*, and SF has none of the nation's great steak houses. It is simply not the strength of the local cuisine. If you go as a "field trip", simply know there is better in America.

      2. If you are downtown near the Ferry Building and want a very good SF/Cal lunch, you could go to Boulevard. Interesting old building. Excellent food. Very SF. I think you might want to book it a few days or a week in advance.

        Or, near the Civic Center and Asian Art Museum, Zuni. Also excellent and very SF. Also book a few days in advance.

        Nothing of interest near Fisherman's Wharf (!!)

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        Zuni Cafe
        1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

        Boulevard Restaurant
        1 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105

        6 Replies
        1. re: Thomas Nash

          Thank you Thomas,
          We will try both.
          I realise that Fisherman's Wharf is very touristy but for me it is comforting to know that the city doesn't stretch further in one direction so I can easily find my way.
          How about this Gary Danko that seemed to be popular in older board messages?

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

          1. re: Kornelios

            While the fisherman's wharf area - especially the maritime museum and musee mechanique - has some cultural interest, simply don't eat there. It is not representative, nor is it tasty. If you *had* to eat there, I would send you to In n Out, as it is very American. Any dish or food you find at Fisherman's Wharf can be eaten at another restaurant better and cheaper.

            You should skip GD. If you care about food, there are far too many interesting restaurants in SF. Even within the general class, I would send you to Boulevard or The Dining Room At The Ritz first.

            Flour + Water hasn't been mentioned yet, for example. You can find the new york times writeup which is fair. The category of restaurants like Flour + Water, newer places, should be a major focus, not the old warhorses past their prime. If you care about viewing and understanding where our cuisine is.

            As mentioned, the tasting menu counter at Commis would interest you.

            I think you would do a disservice to skip a couple of the asian restaurants. Shanghai and Hong Kong don't have great Szechuan, so I would add Spices. Call it a prelude, and you'll get an insight into American food.

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            Commis
            3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

            1. re: bbulkow

              I agree mostly with bbulkow. Spices II is very authentic Sichuan and you won't see anything like it in South China -- unless you head out west to Chengdu. Beijing also has great Sichuan. But... be forewarned this is rather challenging to many/most western tastes as the food is very oily and extremely spicy. But it is also extremely complex and sophisticated -- so definitely worth it. If you decide to go, check the threads on this site for suggestions.

              As for Flour + Water (and that other impossible to get a reservation place, Frances) I personally think they are grossly overrated an the popularity is due to their newness. Go to Delfina for the best in Italian-California and a very typical neighborhood SF restaurant that has become a destination. It is our favorite place of all. Reservations will be possible a week or 2 out if you are flexible with time (e.g. very early or late and a weekday).

              I also agree with the posters who discourage steak houses here. You can buy excellent steaks in SF but it is best to cook them oneself. Chicago, on the other hand...

              So, what's hot in Brussels these days? From decades ago I remember Brussels (and Belgium) as tremendous food places!

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              Spices II
              291 6th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

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

              1. re: Thomas Nash

                Thank you for all the first hand information. It's wonderful, like having your own correspondent well informed friend in another part of the world.
                I suppose you are right about the steak houses. (But so American) So I did try a branch in Singapore (don't follow) and at a Miami airport hotel. And indeed I can do better and of all places in Puerto Rico I found an hotel room with kitchen and bought excellent US beef. The nice and 'rotund' lady at the reception said: "you're cooking yourself, mmmm!"
                As for Brussels: yes why go to another place for eating?
                We live in Zaventem, the airport suburb and there are 20 restaurants within walking distance - about 6 across the street. It's a village really. Baker, butcher next door. Still I don't eat out as much as I used to. It takes too much time. I can get live (Dover-) soles - have to rest a day - and lovely lobsters (season over now) that I can prepare better than most restaurants thanks to the advice of my Singaporean friends. I would go to a 3star restaurant but they always think that patrons are there for a celebration and take too long. A simple but worthwhile restaurant in Zaventem is the Cameleon Citron. When I commended the owneress on the quality and freshness of the soles, she said: "Ah but we get it delivered twice a day"
                By now I booked a table at La Folie (just by coincidence) and will try o book the others to morrow. Thanks again,
                Cornelius

                1. re: Kornelios

                  Since you're from Belgium I would suggest you skip French/French-influenced places like Gary Danko and La Folie -- they are very good, but not typical of San Francisco cuisine. If you really want to do high-end fine dining, you should try The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton, where the chef incorporates a lot of Japanese influences. Or go one step further and try Ame, which is Japanese fusion. I would take Paul's advice and try to get into Coi -- ask the concierge if they can get you a reservation, or see if you can sit at the bar.

                  Since you are interested in restaurants that use local ingredients, I think Chez Panisse is a must. If you don't want to (or can't) book the main restaurant, you can book the Cafe for either lunch or dinner. Another uniquely San Francisco restaurant is Aziza, which is California-Moroccan cuisine.

                  Since it might be interesting to get away from both European and Asian, I'd suggest Nopalito for Mexican and Mochica for Peruvian.

                  Finally, don't let them talk you out of steak -- even though the steakhouses in SF might not be great by the standards of NY, Chicago, etc. you can still have the kind of steak and streakhouse experience you can't get in Europe.

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                  Chez Panisse
                  1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                  Mochica
                  937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Thank you very much for all these helpful tips. I will certainly try The Dining Room and Chez Panisse and possibly also Nopalito and Mochica. You have a wonderful reservation system in the Open Table. If you are flexible with dates and times you can often make a reservation, I found.
                    Now Imust do some packing. Thanks again
                    Cornelius

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                    Chez Panisse
                    1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                    Mochica
                    937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

        2. How about dinner? If you like "experimental" and local ingredients, you should consider Coi.

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          Coi
          373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

          2 Replies
          1. re: Paul H

            Thank you - Would be fine - from other earlier messages I thought this would be one of the first to try. But I'd have to wait more than 8 weeks to make a reservation. This restaurant may be good but as an outsider who does know his way around in the best restaurants in Europe I think that passions - for restaurants - come and go. There is a good chanche that if your patience has been tested that much the result will disappoint. Still thanks very much as it gives me an idea where I should go if I just stayed long enough in SF (I'd love that)

            1. re: Kornelios

              We were at COI the other night - in the dining room with one tasting menu. It continues to be very interesting, with a very definite style focusing each dish on single flavors and odors. Very fresh local ingredients. I still prefer Manresa, Saison, Commis (and Robuchon and Twist in Las Vegas) for this kind of "spectacular".

              COI also has seating in their "lounge" where there is a menu of simpler dishes or you can order anything off the tasting menu. The Maitre d' told me that you can call to see if a table will be free and he is likely to have something latish by SF time, not so late in Europe, say 9-10 PM. So you may be able to get a place there on shorter notice.

              Haven't been to Gary Danko in a long time. It is certainly very good, but may have turned into a celebration night out kind of place. Expensive, but so are the others.

              Since you are going to be around for a few days, you might consider taking the BART (30 minutes from the Embarcadero) over to Berkeley and walk 15 minutes to Chez Panisse, the mother lode of SF/Cal cooking. The downstairs has a single fixed dinner -- you might be able to book without too much trouble a week in advance for a weekday. Or, perhaps more interesting the upstairs cafe.

              It is not so hard to rent a car and drive out to Manresa (get a GPS in the car). About an hour (or more) to get there. Less to come home. Take I280, perhaps the most beautiful freeway in the universe. Certainly "worth the journey" as Michelin would say. Again on a weekday, you should be able to book a week in advance, maybe.

              You can book all these places on-line at Open Table.

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              Manresa Restaurant
              320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

              Coi
              373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

              Chez Panisse
              1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

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

              Commis
              3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

              Saison
              2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

          2. cornelius, head up to the ferry building for excellent local food. three other places you should try are delfina, prospect and dragon well.

            1. Aside from checking restos in the Ferry Building, my recommendations:

              Saha on Sutter (inside Carlton Hotel). It serves Middle Eastern fusion.
              Bodega Bistro on Larkin St. It serves Northern Vietnamese food. Excellent roasted squab, beef jerkey papaya salad, and crab meat rolls.
              Nopa on Divisidero. American cuisine. Excellent pork chop and mix drinks.
              2223 Restaurant on Market St. American. Excellent cocktails and food supposed to be quite good but I haven't eat there.

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              Bodega Bistro
              607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              Nopa
              560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117