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Aug 12, 2010 09:49 AM

Visiting SF for the 1st Time over Labor Day Weekend

Hoping to get some rec's for places to eat /drink during my weekend trip to SF with my boyfriend over labor day weekend. Looking for a few options for nice dinners, (as we're celebrating an anniversary) along with low key spots for casual meals. We're staying in Nob Hill, and pretty much open to all types of food and spice level. So far, I have one rec from a friend to try out swan oyster depot. Thanks in advance for your input!

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    Hi, the more specific you can be, the more likely you'll get a response that's not the typical guidebook recommendations. You can mention where you're coming from, the places you like to eat (but are not limited to), the kind of food you like at home, favorite regions, etc.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bbulkow

      Sorry that was a rather vague question. I'm visiting from murray hill in New York. I really enjoy eating Japanese, locally sourced New American, & French. Some of my favorite places in the city are ippudo, La Sirene, tomoe, northern spy, spotted pig/breslin, and the list goes on.

      Looking to get a good variety of food experiences over labor day weekend, and the budget is flexible. We haven't quite figured out sights to check out yet, but would be open to rec's. We have access to a car, as some of our friends living outside of SF will be meeting up with us.

      Some of the rec's I've already gotten are gary danko for a nice dinner, swan oyster depot for lunch, mama's for brunch, koi palace for dim sum, and brother's for korean bbq. How is Fleur de Lys, I did really like watching Hubert Keller on Top Chef masters? Also looking for some good places in chinatown, since nob hill is nearby. Any other nice dinner rec's besides gary danko in case the wait for the bar exceeds 2 hours?

      1. re: cchen122

        I think you would be better suited at Perbacco and Ame, as listed below, because of how much better Perbacco is than other Italian restaurants in N. America. (Stick with mushrooms, red meat, and game birds like duck or pheasant.)

        Or Ame, so unique...

        For a really special, intimate meal, I would choose La Folie. This insanely high quality Provencal food cannot be found in the states in such a warm, inviting atmosphere anywhere else.

        (Online menu is out of date by about 2 years but... to give you some idea:


        230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

        1. re: cchen122

          Ok, now we're talking.

          GD is a hard recommendation. It gets a very mixed set of reviews here - it's a bit older and more staid than what we locals tend to eat regularly. They put together a good plate, but whether it's worth a stop likely depends on how many days you have. It's just not that ... unique.

          FDL gets excellent points. Most people will put FLD way, way above GD.

          I personally don't care for Swann's, simply because the setting is so run down. I would rather go to Hog Island in the ferry building, or Zuni at about 4:30 for a cocktail and a plate of oysters (zuni has the most comprehensive oyster program - just sit at the bar and enjoy), or Salt House with their chalkboard of oysters. I can't imagine standing in a long line with the tourists - oysters are oysters, and those I mentioned have them just as fresh.

          Check out some of the burmese recommendations, especially the non-burma superstar recs. I haven't been to those, but I'm fond of burmese, and those are on my short list.

          For very casual, there's an area called the 'tandoorloin'. Melanie had some strong opinions about 6 months ago. The classic is Shalimar, but I like the strong/dark curries at Pakwan. If you're tired at eating at places with tablecloths, the tandoorloin might be for you.

          Brothers --- depends on the quality of Korean you get in your local environs. I've eaten there twice, and the Oakland korean places far, far more often. I go oakland. I'd rather drive the extra 15 minutes to Oakland every time - but without a car, it's more troubled. Board favorite Oghane is a moderate walk from Macarthur bart - and getting to brother's is a long bus ride out geary.

          For modern american --- and speaking of oakland --- please search the board for Commis. Still a hard reservation to get, and the cool thing is the extended menu in the 4 bar seats.

          I'm thinking you'd do better at some of our California originals, like the slow club, mission street food, spruce, nopa, FRANCES, delfina, Bi-Rite. Frances is a harder reservation than GD these days.

          For "fancy dining", do listen to others suggesting Ame and Perbacco and no one has chimed in with Aziza

          Chinatown there's a bunch of standard recs. R&G, Bund Shanghai, Jai Yun. Listen to whatever K K has to say. I don't eat chinese in SF much - the number of EXCELLENT chinese places I have to drive past to get to Chinatown is staggering.

          Salt House
          545 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

          Zuni Cafe
          1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

          1. re: cchen122

            Mama's is a great place for breakfast, but you're going to have to wait, particularly if you're attempting a weekend brunch. Foreign Cinema has a great brunch, and they take reservations. Or if you're interested in something different, you could try Yank Sing's Stevenson St. location for dim sum. Get there by 11 and you should have no trouble getting in.

            Alternatively, on Saturday morning you could wander down to the Ferry Bldg. for the farmer's market. Lots of excellent street-type food or you could try Hog Island (or the bar at Ferry Plaza Seafood, right next door, if Hog Island's too crowded).

            Foreign Cinema
            2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

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

            Ferry Plaza Seafood
            1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA

        2. Such an open ended question.


          -Perbacco: Best Italian I've had outside Italy, casual / smart casual, mains in the mid 20s, awesome, very well priced, Italian wine list
          -Ame: Unique to SF. A near 'must'. Japanese/French/Italian fusion. Michelin starred and deservedly so. The food can be slightly rich. Full 100% over retail winelist markup. Well thought out and extensive, though.

          Current menus:

          The best 2 dinner recs I can give.

          1. Make a brunch reservation at Foreign favorite upscale brunch in SF (and the first place I take out of town guests)

            Foreign Cinema
            2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

            1. Agree on Swann Oyster Depot, but make sure you get there at about 11:00 if you want to eat by around noon - there is always a line. but it's worth it.
              I would do Coi over Gary Danko. Canteen is another fave, and Range, for other nice options, tho Canteen is more casual in atmosphere. I agree with brunch at Foreign Cinema too - hopefully the sun will have returned to our grey little city by then and you can sit on the patio!

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

              Foreign Cinema
              2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

              1. The Slanted Door (Embarcadero) - reservations required; for the nice dinner. A bit noisy but one entire wall the gives you views of the Bay. Citizen Cake (Mission) - pastries, cookies, etc, and sandwiches.

                Haven't yet eaten at a bad restaurant in North Beach. Actually most places I've tried anywhere in San Francisco have been decent. No reason to do the chains and no reason to do one place twice. Enjoy the City.

                Slanted Door
                Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111