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Vegetarian, staying in the Mission

superkpg Aug 15, 2010 04:55 PM

Hi all,

I've got a four-day trip to SF coming up in two weeks (for vacation). I've never been, and I'd love to go to some 'can't miss' restaurants while I'm out there for dinner. I've had a few recommendations from friends, but would *love* some expert opinions ;).

So, what I'm looking for is - what's your 'can't miss' restaurant in San Francisco?

I do have a few preferences to narrow it down:

-- I'm vegetarian (don't mind eating at non-veg restaurants, but clearly, I won't be having a steak...)
-- I'm staying in the Mission, and I won't have a car (so no far-flung locales)
-- I often like to have a nice glass of wine with dinner

With that, any suggestions?

Thanks all!!

  1. superkpg Sep 3, 2010 08:12 AM

    First of all - THANK YOU to everyone who replied to this post. This is such a great community, and I appreciated having so many well-considered recommendations from which to choose.

    For those who are curious, here's what I ended up doing:

    Flew in August 28th - it was an early flight out of NYC (I had to get up at 5am to make it!) and landed in SF around 10. Of course, the one time I was being picked up at the airport by a friend, my flight gets in early, and I didn't pack appropriately for the cold weather, so I sit around in the cold for nearly an hour waiting. But then we're off!

    I was staying at 22nd and Valencia, and my friend wanted to try out Boogaloo's. I was still jet lagged and not able to put up much of a fight, so I acquiesced. My friend had a very nice veggie hash (not outstanding) and I had the veggie biscuits and gravy with an egg on the side. The veggie biscuits and gravy was a standout for me, but I lived for ten years in Texas before becoming a vegetarian, so I have a soft spot for biscuits and gravy and can rarely get a non-meat version, so I'm sure I'm just biased.

    (As a side note, the next night, Boogaloos had a fire, and the place closed down - don't know if it's reopened yet, but it looked semi-serious. We happened to walk by it just after it happened and there were two firetrucks and a lot of water...)

    For dinner Saturday night, we went to Greens and had their prix-fixe, along with the wine pairing. It was a highlight of the trip - great food, nearly all great wine pairings, and the ambiance and view couldn't be beat. I had an orange and beet soup (fantastic) and for a main had a mushroom crepe. It was very rich, but incredibly tasty. We did have a rather loud man sitting next to us going on about Israel (not what you think - he was bemoaning the fact that fat old men would sit outside the restaurants there and then he would be charged a 'security' fee to enter), but that wasn't the fault of the restaurant, and it didn't really detract.

    For breakfast on Sunday (and Monday and Tuesday) we had baked goods pre-bought the night before from Tartine. My companion is crazy for their chocolate pudding, which he swears is the 'greatest pudding known to man'. I tried some, it was pretty darn good. I think it's the chocolate.

    For lunch on Sunday, we went to Cha-Ya. I had the Cha-Ya rolls, and the veggie dumplings. Both were excellent, though the place was strangely empty (while the neighborhood was hopping).

    For dinner Sunday, we went to Dosa on Valencia. It was pretty underwhelming, unfortunately. The service was a little slow, and the food was only somewhere between mediocre and good. I ordered the Chile Bhajia & Sweet Onion Chutney as an appetizer, which was a lot like jalapeño poppers without the cheese in the middle (no part of this sentence is a good thing), and for an entrée had the Spicy Mung Masala Dosa, which was quite good but very large and full. My companion ordered the Spring Dosa, but received the Spring Uttapam, which we only realized about halfway through (too late!).

    On Monday, I changed plans last minute and rented a zipcar to go touring further afield, and we followed our noses and landed in North Beach around late lunchtime. Was going to go to Liguria Bakery for some focaccia on a recommendation from a colleague at work, but it was closed, so we used Yelp and found a random Italian cafe (Cafee Puccini) that had AMAZING bread for sandwiches.

    Finally, for dinner the last night, went to Gracias Madre. Had the mushroom mole enchiladas. They were delicious; I'm always impressed when someplace can do mole well, and they nailed it. Plus, the 'cashew cheese' (the place is vegan) was really unremarkable, in a good way - I never would have known the entree didn't have cheese in it. It was a nice way to end for a great short trip.

    So, that's it! Let me know if you've got any questions - and hit me up anytime if you're looking for my personal veg favorites when you're in NYC!

    Tartine Bakery
    600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Liguria Bakery
    1700 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

    995 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese
    1686 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

    3296 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    826 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

    Gracias Madre
    2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    1. o
      OllieG Aug 26, 2010 03:49 PM

      Are you here yet?
      First let me say: Welcome to San Francisco. Here I find "vegetarian friendly" to be the rule rather than the exception. Wait staff very aware of Vegan and Vegetarian requirements.

      To me while in SF you MUST go to Greens Restaurant. It is a required visit. Go to the website and book your seat IN ADVANCE OF YOUR ARRIVAL.

      If you were my Mission Corridor guest I would particularly make sure to start your days off correctly:
      1) Get your breakfast at Tartine Bakery at least once
      2) You'd also be "forced" to have your morning mocha at Four Barrel Coffee at least once

      For Lunch:
      1) I'd show you to Cafe Gratitude wher you can return to traditional Berkely-style eating
      2) If you miss Dim Sum (because it's always meat dishes), I'd suggest we go to Big Lantern Restaurant.
      3) If you told me you wanted to sit in Dolores Park and eat take-out, I'd suggest we pick up roasted lavash Falafal sandwich and Baklava at Truly Mediterranean and then walk to the park and bask in the humanity.

      For Dinner:
      1) Udupi Palace as suggested elsewhere in this thread. I prefer them for South Indian over Dosa (perhaps because they are a vegetarian restaurant)
      2) Bar Bambino (pricey, but they can have some exquisite veggie options)
      3) Little Star Pizza Valencia - the tomato in the deep dish pizza is amazing

      Ice Cream
      Make sure to check out our premier ice cream shops including Bi-Rite Creamery and Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream.

      While staying in the Mission you certainly want to consider hitting spots in Gourmet Gulch suggested in this thread (Farina and Delfina), but review their menu in advance, for some reason they never beckon to me as a place to eat even though they are three blocks away...

      Have a great visit!

      Tartine Bakery
      600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Bi-Rite Creamery
      3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Truly Mediterranean
      3109 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Little Star Pizza Valencia
      400 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Greens Restaurant
      Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123

      Bar Bambino
      2931 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Big Lantern Restaurant
      3170 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Cafe Gratitude
      2400 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Udupi Palace
      1007 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Four Barrel Coffee
      375 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
      2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      1. o
        originalfig Aug 21, 2010 05:43 PM

        I second the vote for Taqueria Cancun's veggie burrito, and also suggest a very different (but equally delicious!) version, at Papalote's, at 24th and Valencia-- NOT the tofu burrito (ugh) but the veggie one with sweet potatoes, zucchini and eggplant. Get it with refried black beans, umm.....

        Taqueria Cancun
        2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1. c
          ceekskat Aug 20, 2010 08:07 AM

          "Can't miss"...

          Green papaya salad (ask for veg) & crispy veg. imperial rolls at Slanted Door. Pastas at Perbacco with my favorite being the truffle-herb ricotta gnocchi/wild mushroom sugo...need to ask if base stock is veg.

          Slanted Door
          Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          1. j
            jeffreak Aug 18, 2010 08:57 PM

            I don't think there will be wine but I like the mushroom broth at Cha-Ya. I would avoid the miso-paste glazed items though, a little too sweet.

            1. bbulkow Aug 18, 2010 12:38 PM

              No one mentioned that Taqueria Cancun is the reputed king of the veggie burrito. In the mission.

              Other recs are excellent, go with them. The only "pure veggie" restaurants are Millenium and Greens. Look them up before you go, there's a lot of mixed opinion, and they're expensive. I personally am not a fan.

              Modern italian in SF has a mixed record for veggies. There will be the choice of two pastas and a salad, but I consider that a bit of a snub. Some places are better than others. If you are OK with fish that's a different matter entirely, everywhere in town is good and there are fish specialists like La Mar that are worth a trip.

              Every tasting menu restaurant (Coi, TDRATRC, Commis @ the counter, .... ) all do veggie tastings, even if they're not highlighted on the website. Those tasting menus will be the best high end veggie option in town, and likely will blow your socks clean off - you didn't mention your frame of reference - california is all about local fresh veggies in the high end places, most restaurants have their own gardens, the tasting menu is always made the day of by the chef. Good to call ahead on restrictions on tasting menus, let them know your exact veggie status and they will do the right thing....

              Two special mention places outside of town are Manresa and Ubuntu; you can search and read the reviews. (Manresa is not pure veggie but with Kinch's signature dish Into the Garden he has long & strong skills)

              Lots of other high end places (michelin one star like Boulevard) have very limited veggie options, and are not terribly happy about making veggie available. If you have specific places you wonder about, post a request.

              Taqueria Cancun
              2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              Millenium Restaurant
              580 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              1 Reply
              1. re: bbulkow
                Windy Aug 19, 2010 07:14 PM

                No idea what you mean by pure, but there are lots of vegetarian restaurants besides Millenium and Greens. (Enjoy, Udupi Palace, Cafe Gratitude, Gracias Madre to name a few off the top of my head).

                A few places I've had dinners with contented vegetarians: Piccino, Minako, Ti Couz.

                Piccino Restaurant & Coffee Bar
                1001 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                Gracias Madre
                2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Millenium Restaurant
                580 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              2. CarrieWas218 Aug 16, 2010 12:29 PM

                Gracias Madres - wholly and entirely a vegetarian Mexican destination.

                Nombe's suimono salad knocks my ball out of its park. Paired with their corn huitlacoche fritters, roast beets, and brussels spouts and you would have a better-than-ample meal, although the pairing would be rare sake and not wine.

                And I can make a whole meal out of Medjool's vegetarian options as well; roast vegetable b'still with goat cheese...

                2522 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Gracias Madre
                2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                2491 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1 Reply
                1. re: CarrieWas218
                  vulber Aug 16, 2010 02:28 PM

                  totally forgot about medjool - really great middle eastern/mediterranean food that often gets overlooked because of the scene that occurs later in the night. excellent food/wine happy hour too from 5-7.

                  the view from the top of medjool is certainly a can't-miss in SF

                2. superkpg Aug 16, 2010 11:19 AM

                  Cool - these are great suggestions. Looks like Dosa is definitely on the list.

                  I probably should have specified - while I *like* wine, it doesn't have to be served - I'm most interested in eating at some places that folks think are key experiences in San Francisco.

                  Anyone else?

                  1. BernalKC Aug 15, 2010 06:16 PM

                    Since you made no mention of budget, let's start with Range, Farina, and Delfina on the top end. If you're not pescatarian, Delfina and Range may be problematic, but check out their menus. If you are pescatarian, there are many place to recommend.

                    Mexican restaurants offer many vegetarian options, but the 'nice glass of wine' might be the challenge. If you want to call tequila a cactus wine, the door opens. Check out Gracia Madre for no-compromise organic, vegetarian Mexican.

                    Dosa is in my 'cant miss' list and offers great veggie options. South Indian dosas, uttapams are outstanding. Wine? Not what I go there for, but its available. Similar cuisine is also found at Udupi Palace which is perhaps more vegetarian friendly and cheaper.

                    And if you want to put the wine first, (and again, if you're OK with seafood) check out Heart on Valencia.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: BernalKC
                      Tripeler Aug 15, 2010 06:58 PM

                      +1 for Dosa. Truly in a class by itself.

                      1. re: BernalKC
                        vulber Aug 15, 2010 08:31 PM

                        the food at Heart is good, but it's certainly not can't-miss

                        Foreign Cinema is similar to Range and Delfina, and like those two, only has one vegetarian entree nightly, but has a larger menu of appetizers and snacks which allow for more combinations.

                        I haven't been, but if price is no issue, you might want to look into doing a vegetarian tasting menu at Saison, as they are very much into the foraging movement.

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

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

                        2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

                        1. re: BernalKC
                          SFDude Aug 17, 2010 09:24 PM

                          Dosa's has one of the best wine lists of any Indian restaurants I have ever been to; it is interesting and well selected. So, IMHO, wine is more than just "available" there.

                          Another good choice would be Beretta -- an modern Italian place with lots of vegetarian options. Excellent cocktails and a nice selection of Italian wines by the glass.

                          1199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                          1. re: SFDude
                            BernalKC Aug 18, 2010 11:52 AM

                            I'll have to take another look. I formed my opinion long ago, on my first visit there, and have not looked back -- I always get beer there. But looking at their wine list, I see you're right. Plenty of interesting choices.

                          2. re: BernalKC
                            originalfig Aug 21, 2010 05:31 PM

                            FYI Delfina always has some terrific vegetarian pastas on the menu - always the classic, culty spaghetti with plum tomatoes, often a vegetarian risotto and always a bunch of vegetarian sides that can be assembled into a trio for either an appetizer or a main dish (greens, polenta, broccoli raab, etc.)

                            Range always has at least one vegetarian main dish on the menu -- right now it is a corn and cheddar cheese fritter, according to their website, and their veggie appetizers are phenomenal-- last time I was there it was a kind of casserole of favas and butter beans, served in a little crock, with bread crumbs and tomatoes and maybe some cheese. Whatever was in it, it was fantastic.

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

                            842 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

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