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Need help on first visit to SF on a budget

Hi, my name is Luis and I need your help

My wife and I (both 32) will be travelling from our hometown, Guadalajara, in Mexico to SF for a week starting Friday Oct. 1st ending Friday Oct. 8th.

We love food and eating well, we are basically omnivores and like all kinds of food, but since Cristy (wife) will be 3 months pregnant at the moment of the trip, it´s probably best to avoid spicy and greasy food.

We are going to stay at “Powell Place” hotel at Nob Hill (Powell St. almost corner with California St.) and depending on public transportation and/or cabs. We plan to go sightseeing all around so that can even be accommodated according your suggestions.

We will be low on economic resources, I know the “new to SF” thread talks about being specific about amounts of dollars; but since I have not traveled much to the US I don’t really have an idea about what is expensive and what is not, but err on the inexpensive side.

I´m a lawyer starting up my own practice and most of my resources are tied up in remodeling the offices (that should give you some idea). Still I´d like to take Cristy for a fancy dinner or two, but I´d appreciate suggestions about quality food (btw we LOVE crab!) for low to medium prize.

I thank you all in advance!

Best regards


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  1. Bienvenidos, Luis! And felicitaciones to you and Christy on your pregnancy. You are in for a treat in San Francisco. It is such a great city for visitors with the wide variety of food available and of course the tourist attractions. Your hometown is one of my favourite places in the world, by the way.

    On to recommendations: Burmese cuisine is something that SF seems to do well. Burmese Kitchen is a good place to get it and it is very reasonable. Your wife may choose not to try the tea leaf salad (lots of caffeine) which is a favourite of mine, but there is much to recommend this little restaurant. It is not fancy and is located in an area of town where you need to keep your wits about you, but worth checking out. It will be hard to spend more than $30 for the two of you here, I think.

    For a more fancy option, my favourite place to go is Canteen. I consider a trip to the Bay Area wasted without a dinner there :-). It is not fancy inside, but the food is high end with lower price tags. You need to make a reservation as it is quite small.

    If you like Italian, there are two places I've been to that would bring me back (in fact, I have been to La Ciccia twice!). La Ciccia is Sardinian, and dining there is like going to someone's house. Perbacco is a bit fancier, with a more trendy but not too trendy feel. Both are good value, I think. You could spend $50 each and be happy, less if one of you isn't drinking alcohol.

    You didn't ask about other things to eat and drink but I will suggest a couple that stand out to me as a visitor: San Franciscans love their coffee and their ice cream. Blue Bottle is my favourite coffee but there are a number of other quality purveyors (and they all offer decaffeinated options for your wife). Ice cream is as subjective as coffee, but BiRite has many fans, as does Humphry Slocombe and there are others too.

    Coming from a great market town like Guadalajara, you might want to check out one of the area's farmers' markets. Perhaps the most celebrated one is the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. It is on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning, but the Saturday one is the most impressive. Lots to look at, sample and buy readymade to eat in a beautiful setting by the water.

    I'm sure you will get lots of help from the local Hounds but I thought this might be of some assistance. Buen viaje.

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

    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Blue Bottle Cafe
    66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    1 Reply
    1. re: grayelf

      Missed the links for FPFM, Burmese Kitchen and Canteen. Here they are... (BK used to be called Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen).

      Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
      452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
      One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

    2. Check this thread, it's the annual Bargain Bites article from the SF Chronicle.


      6 Replies
      1. re: ML8000

        Thank you both for your replies!

        Gray: Thanks! this would be our third (and final) son/daughter, we have a 3 year old boy and a 10 month old girl (luckily both are super well behaved so both grandparents offered to take care of them while we go to SF!)

        World is becoming smaller! it´s great that you know Guadalajara! next time you are here I could tip you on some awesome places to eat! I took note of your suggestions and try to follow them all.

        One of my favourite meals is crab, king crag, blue crab you name it, I just can get enough and over here it´s way over priced.. do you know of a good place for crab in SF?

        Also I´d like to treat Cristy for a nice dinner, no budget on it, what would be the place?

        We like all kinds of food, really, so it does not need to be french or italian, feel free to suggest!

        ML: thanks for the link I´m browsing it as we speak

        again thank you both and I hope you keep the suggestions coming!

        1. re: lcasarin

          Re crab: this is our native crab:
          The season has been bad, and crab won't be good by the time you get here. When you order crab, you'll get crab from further north, which will still be pretty good, but not as succulent as on a good year. I strongly recommend going for asian preparations, like at board favorite R & G Lounge in chinatown. You can also buy crab fresh & cracked at fisherman's wharf. On a budget, don't go into the restaurants, see something you like on the curb, point out your crab, and get that particular one steamed while you watch. Take it over to the water and enjoy! The crab's better and more authentic that way, no matter what the price. You do need to know how to eat a cracked crab straight up. On no account go for a crab that you haven't had steamed while you watch - just like street food anywhere.

          In my opinion, SF does poorly at crabcakes - either dungeness, rock crab, or (even worse) blue crab. Best preps are things like crab and pasta.

          What you should really study is oysters. Oysters are a near religion here. We have several species of west coast, the seasons have been good. For the cheapest way to eat, there are some $1 happy hour oysters. At the ferry building you can get a la cart oysters. I disrecommend Swann oyster house because it's crowded and in a stinky party of town.

          Good luck

          R & G Lounge
          631 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

          1. re: lcasarin


            PPQ Dungness is a vietnamese restaurant in the Richmond know for Crab and Garlic Noodles. May be worth a stop if you are headed out to Ocean Beach/Cliff House or Golden Gate Park area.

            1. re: myst

              I second the crab at PPQ Dungeness, but only the black pepper version. For fried galic crab, Spices II is place to go!

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

              1. re: Civil Bear

                I third the recommendation for PPQ Dungeness, though I (and everyone at my table the one time I went) preferred the classic Vietnamese roasted crab (which they roast with tons of butter). The black pepper version was good too, but because it was fried and very peppery, it sort of overwhelmed our palates after a few pieces. That roasted crab, though, I could eat the whole thing by myself. I think that preparation is better, too, if you want to taste the natural sweetness of the crab meat. The garlic noodles are also highly addictive.

                I've only gone during the local crab season, but I'll take the word of others on the board who say the ones shipped here from further north are still good.

            2. re: lcasarin

              You're welcome, and as predicted you are getting great ideas from local Hounds. I didn't answer on the crab thing because, sadly, I can't eat it. I have seen PPQ suggested many times, though perhaps the chiles will be a problem there (you mentioned Cristy can't do spicy right now).

              Also, not be a mother hen (or mother elf) but I think raw oysters are a no-no when you are expecting, aren't they?

          2. Hi, Luis, I, too, love crab! And I'd second the suggestion to go to R&G Lounge: if you and your wife like chilies, order the Typhoon Shelter crab--it's deep fried and tossed with garlic, chili, and lots of tasty stuff. The salt-and-pepper is the house specialty and the next best thing. They run around $48 per crab, but one crab should suffice for two, unless you are both serious crab fiends, in which case you might want one more crab simply steamed or sautéed with ginger and green onion. If you go with one crab, the addition of some noodles or rice, and a vegetable dish (the ongchoy with fu yi is excellent) should fill you up nicely. Here's the link to R & G. You can download the menu from there, check out the dishes and the prices. (N.B., You'll have to factor in a 9.25% tax, and you will be expected to leave a 15% tip, so your $48 crab will cost you $60.)


            If you want a San Francisco style crab dish, go to Tadich Grill, but stick to the cioppino, pan-fried local fish, or even the fried crab legs. The website is not complete yet, but here it is:


            I was just at Koi Palace in Daly City last week, and the crab with dumplings was delicious! The crab legs are deep fried, and the steamed dumplings are stuffed with crabmeat and pork. You'll find many threads on Koi here, as it has some of the best dimsum around. They also have quite a number of crab dishes available. (But you will need a cab.



            For the (almost) spare-no-expense dinner, you might want to consider Fleur de Lys. Gorgeous space, very good food, and Hubert Keller is a chef known well beyond the SF city limits. (Note, however, that the least expensive menu will cost $90 pp, including tax and tip, but without wine.



            Congratulations on your new baby, and your new office, and I hope you have as great time in San Francisco as we did in Mexico!

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

            Tadich Grill
            240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            5 Replies
            1. re: pilinut

              Bb: Thanks for the info! I´ll watch out that they do not serve me “soft” crabs.

              I´m not really a fan of oysters, but Cristy is, she loves them, if you have any specific recommendations we would appreciate it.

              Myst: We will of course go to the golden gate park, I´ll make sure to schedule a stop at PPQ, Thanks!

              Pili: Thanks! we are pretty excited for both; in Mexico we say that all babies come with a cake under the arm (the cake being good omens and economic opportunities) I´ve worked both as general counsel for companies and as associate lawyer in some firms, but this will by my first personal venture!

              R&G is already on my “definitively going” list, we are going to be there for 7 full days so I´ll try to hit all the spots.

              The “fleur de lys” sounds good! How many days/months in advance do I have to make reservations? Any specific dish we should not miss?

              Thanks to all and best regards!


              1. re: lcasarin

                It's been a while since i was at Fleur de Lys, but I do remember the sweetbreads. There may be, from a purely food standpoint, better restaurants, but Fleur de Lys has a singularly romantic ambiance. Ask to be seated in the tented dining area.

                Here's a link to Open Table, where you can make reservations for free at many restaurants:


                1. re: lcasarin

                  Luis - have fun on your trip here.

                  For a reasonably priced and very good breakfast, i recommend Canteen. It's a small place and likely walking distance from your hotel.

                  I also think you'll have a lot of fun at the Ferry Building. There's an oyster restaurant there that is very popular as well so your wife will like that.

                  For upscale, spare no expense places, I think La Folie is great.

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

                2. re: pilinut

                  It might just be me, but the salt and pepper crab I had last month at R&G seemed a bit wanting. While the gradual increase in price over the years is to be expected, the crab seemed smaller and a bit underseasoned compared to versions I've had over the years.

                  It's still good for a first time visit to try it out, but surely there must be something similar, perhaps somewhere in the Richmond or Sunset, for a bit less? Any alternative recs out there?

                  1. re: ristretto

                    I had the salt and pepper crab at R&G last month and it was excellent but pricey. It was expertly prepared. Frankly I was surprised since I was expecting less and I generally believe the best way to prepare crab is steamed.

                3. Luis - Bienvenidos!
                  A lot of people on Chowhound really like Boulevard. I'm not the biggest fan but I do think it's a very nice restaurant and may be good for one of your fancy dinners. It has beautiful views of the Bay Bridge, which is what makes it special to me. http://www.boulevardrestaurant.com/

                  You might also like to go one weeknight to Belden Place - a little alley with 5 or 6 restaurants you can choose from. The alley has a bit of a European feel to it you might enjoy - it can be fun and festive on a nice night. http://www.belden-place.com/
                  I particularly like B44, Tiramisu and Plouf.

                  Another place you might like is called Foreign Cinema. It has an outdoor patio (with heatlamps) that plays a movie every night outside while you're eating. It's not played very loud, it's just a nice background. The food is very good, and not super expensive. Make sure you get a table outside - inside is too noisy and you don't get the movie. http://www.foreigncinema.com/

                  44 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

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

                  Belden Place
                  44 Belden Pl, San Francisco, CA 94104

                  40 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    I would not recommend Boulevard for Luis because of the price/performance ratio. I might instead suggest Slanted Door as more of a treat across the street for better views, lower prices, more interesting/unique food unless you have a lot of fusion/upscale vietnamese where you come from.

                    There are lots of cheap, authentic, and better vietnamese restaurants, without a view, and some of them will be near your hotel. Getting armed with those is a good idea.

                    Regarding oysters:
                    If you decide she can eat them (issue is uncooked food for any pregnant person, given the lower immune system response), your first stop should be Hog Island at the ferry building. It's a simple raw bar among an area with lots of other food, so she can have a bunch either while you shop elsewhere. They make have baked oysters too, which are a specialty of the area but not my cup of tea. For further oyster fun, a good list is: Zuni, at the bar (special oyster list, usually about 8 kinds available); Salt House, bar a good choice as well but it's a quite good restaurant (oyster chalkboard, not as great a selection, seemed darn fresh).

                    Slanted Door
                    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Zuni Cafe
                    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                    Salt House
                    2 Shaw Aly, San Francisco, CA 94105

                  2. Hard to go wrong at PPQ since you can get the crab dinner special for 2 people (1 crab, garlic noodles, usually a beef dish, dessert) for $50 bucks (or around there). It's really enough for 3-4 people. (I'd just focus on the crab and eat the other stuff sparingly.)

                    That said, Yuet Lee's crab can be every bit as good or better...but the environment is hole-in-the-wall.

                    1. Even though it's not local crab season, definitely go to R & G Lounge -- their crabs are always live when they start to cook them and I guess they are coming from the far north right now.

                      For lunch (since they close at 5:30, and closed on Sunday) go to Swan Oyster Depot on Polk/Calif. Just a counter, often a line, very fresh crab or shrimp salads, cocktails, oysters. In my opinion, there's nothing scary about the area....

                      Across the street, there is Crustacean, upscale Vietnamese famous for their (fresh) crab and garlic noodles -- pricey but delicious. Dinner.

                      R & G Lounge
                      631 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

                      Swan Oyster Depot
                      1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                      1. Here are some non-expensive venues I like...

                        Saigon Sandwich on Larkin (civic center)
                        -- super cheap takeout. My favorite banh mi sandwich in the city

                        Lolo's in the Mission
                        -- mid-priced dinner. The cuisine is a mix of mexican (yucatan?) and Turkish. Fantastic small plates

                        Tu Lan on Skid Row
                        -- scary place that makes some of the best vietnamese in the city. I worked near there a few years ago and got lunch there at least twice a week for two years.

                        Kappo Goumi on Clement
                        -- highest price on this list. Creative interesting japanese small plates. Not sushi, a lot of interesting japanese cooking

                        Gyro King on Grove
                        -- turkish I believe. They have lachmajun and great lamb sandwiches.

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

                        Gyro King
                        25 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                        Tu Lan
                        8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: pauliface

                          that was awesome!!!, on another board a friend that has lived in SF told me:

                          I mentioned that I like Tadich Grill for seafood which I saw was also mentioned. It will be down the hill from you on California Street. Very old San Francisco, the oldest in the city. Many San Franciscans like the Hayes Street Grill. If you want some wonderful oyster stew, you might try Swan’s Oyster Depot on Polk St. But this is not a restaurant, just a counter and had to get two stools together. I notice no one mentioned anything at Fisherman’s Wharf. There’s this snobbish thing about touristy Fisherman’s Wharf. Don’t be afraid to be a tourist. The scenery there is great, it’s fun, and not too pricy. Scoma’s might be the place to go. If you like a fish broth, Chiopinno, a San Francisco seafood chowder is good. Be sure to get sourdough bread. Being October and wanting king crab, you might like a salad like crab louis which they named after you.

                          If you want oyster stew, maybe go to Swan’s Oyster Depot on Polk St., but this place has no tables, just a counter and sometimes a long line.

                          Incidentally, near is Ghirardelli Square, a good place for chocolate, but also there is a Lori’s Diner. These places are cheap, not all that good diners. But this one has a special attribute: the best view of San Francisco Bay for a low price. Just have a cheeseburger, or a BLT with fries and a milkshake – middle of the afternoon during the week when it’s not crowded, and enjoy looking out across the bay.

                          They mentioned some place near your hotel for breakfast. Not familiar with it. I used to work at the corner of Powell and Market and would walk up the hill for great breakfast at Sear’s. It’s between Post and Sutter on Powell. Good for big American breakfast.

                          Instead, if you hotel provides coffee and something, rather than going out for a regular breakfast you might enjoy waiting and walking over to nearby Chinatown for dim sum – which as you know, are a bit like Chinese tapas, small plates served, oftentimes steamed pastries. I used to frequent Hang Ah Dim Sum on Hang Ah Alley which is off Sacramento St a half block from Stockton St near the north end of the Stockton Tunnel. There are some brighter and more lively Dim Sum places on Jackson Street which may seem more appealing.

                          I love a couple Vietnamese places. Bodhi on Valencia Street in the inner Mission serves a French-Vietnamese fusion menu in a pleasant place. They have nice soup, spring rolls, and there’s a dish off the dinner menu that offers some sort of sample. Not expensive.

                          Mangosteen in the Tenderloin, corner of Larkin and Ellis, is great and affordable. Order Tamarind Prawn and a filet mignon dish and then share them. Across the street is the Phoenix Hotel, where I stay sometimes. It’s a famous dive for rockers and artists. They have a nice lounge [I know Cristy will not be drinking] with small plate food. It can be a nice place to sit by the pool; you never know who you might see there.

                          Up Larkin Street from Mangosteen is Pagoloc which serves a kind of brasserie Vietnamese dish. It might be a little too intense in it’s underground Vietnamese thing, however, as in not really for tourists.

                          A favorite nice restaurant is John’s Grill. It’s down at the bottom of Powell Street near the end of the Hyde Street Cable Car line, at 63 Ellis St. Another of the city’s oldest restaurants, it’s also famous for having been Sam Spade’s favorite hangout in Dashiell Hammett’s book the Maltese Falcon. [Hammett was a distant relative of mine]. I used to work around the corner and usually make a point to drop in once or twice each year.

                          I noticed some people mentioned Blue Bottle Coffee. Their original location is on Linden St in Hayes Valley. The only thing is the long waits. They now have a location in the Ferry Building. If you like coffee, be sure to sample. However, San Francisco is great for good coffee. I like Café Trieste on Upper Grant in Telegraph Hill and their Market St location on the corner with Gough has become my official hangout since I abandoned Café Flore in the Castro. The Market St location is also the place to go for Tango on Sunday nights. No admission, sometimes free tango lessons, and very reasonable prices from a light menu – caution, they can run out of food. Not too bad a cab ride from your hotel.

                          You might get a kick out of Foreign Cinema, check to see what’s playing. It’s in my part of the city, the Mission [The Mish] near the 24th St BART station. You might use going there as a reason to ride BART and then cab home. Near Foreign Cinema is a place I might recommend even more highly for the city view. It’s Medjool Restaurant, a really hip hotel with a rooftop restaurant that serves tapas style meals. I think it’s on the corner of 21st St.

                          At the bottom of Telegraph Hill, I like Fog City Diner, which looks like a regular diner, but has tablecloths and is a bit dressier.

                          what do you think? I invited him over, apparently he likes chow :)

                          is there a way to save the little map on the right with all the places marked?

                          you have been great guys, and let me know if you stop by Guadalajara

                          Tadich Grill
                          240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                          2522 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                          Hayes Street Grill
                          324 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                          Blue Bottle Cafe
                          66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                          The San Franciscan
                          1525 North Main St., Walnut Creek, CA 94596

                          Hang Ah Restaurant
                          2130 Armory Dr, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

                          Fog City Diner
                          1300 Battery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                          1. re: lcasarin

                            Glad you find it helpful! Regarding what your friend said:
                            -- Tadich Grill is near the top of my list of places to try. Make sure you search for that on chowhound though, apparently there are classic wonderful dishes and clunkers. People praise the cioppino and sand dabs in particular
                            -- Hayes Street Grill -- ate there once a looong time ago and thought it was nothing special. Would definitely try Tadich first.
                            -- Swans' Oyster Depot -- YES YES YES! Love this place.
                            -- I agree - Scoma's is pretty good (though not the best) and Fisherman's wharf can be fun for some first timer's (but not all)
                            -- Medjool -- agree, I really like the rooftop but have only been for drinks
                            -- Fog City -- if you go, order crabcakes.

                            Tadich Grill
                            240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                            2522 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            Hayes Street Grill
                            324 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                            1. re: lcasarin

                              "If you want oyster stew, maybe go to Swan’s Oyster Depot on Polk St."
                              The Swan menu shows Clam Chowder as the only hot dish. It has been suggested that it is Campbell's with in house additions.

                              1. re: wolfe

                                It wasn't suggested, it was declared--by me.

                            2. re: pauliface

                              What do you order at Tu Lan, and which Vietnamese restaurants are you comparing it to? I've only had the imperial rolls, the spicy beef noodle soup, and the crab fried rice. The imperial rolls were ok, the spicy beef noodle soup was the most whitewashed version of bun bo hue I've ever had (no trotter, no pork blood, mushy rice vermicelli that fell apart at the touch of a fork), and the fried rice was so salty/MSG-y it was inedible.

                              Tu Lan
                              8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                              1. re: daveena

                                I used to get this chicken with garlic and onions almost every time. I'm craving it right now...

                                I would not be surprised if you have caught me out of my area of expertise.
                                There may be better, but I like it fine and others generally regard it highly.
                                The vietnamese places I am familiar with are limited.
                                And I guess I kind of like all the ones I've tried, I was trying to point out particularly good value and a uniquely SF experience (skid row :-)

                                Other places I am familiar with:
                                -- Slanted Door -- this place is really good, and I go when others request, but it's just such a scene and hard to reserve. Tu Lan gets extra points for being easy and a good value, but if youre spending bucks rates high of course.
                                -- Come to think of it, based on above, I might recommend Out the Door, their lower-key place in Westfield shopping center.
                                -- Mai's on Clement -- I love this place, especially their hand-rolled shrimp & sugard cane dish. Noodle soup also very nice with high quality meat
                                -- Pho places -- I used to work in Mountain View and all of these ran together for me. Comfort food, but no stand-outs , plus I don't know the names and they're not in SF
                                -- Saigon Sandwich (see above).

                                Daveena, what are your favorites?
                                I'm open!

                                Slanted Door
                                Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

                                Tu Lan
                                8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                1. re: pauliface

                                  I work in Oakland’s Chinatown, so I get most of my cheap Vietnamese fixes here (pho, banh mi, bun) – usually, if I’m traveling for Vietnamese food, I’m looking for specific dishes – roast crab, beef in lot leaves, banh khot at La Vie (SF), claypot mackerel and crispy rice at Nha Toi (San Jose).

                                  The three Vietnamese dishes in SF I’d really like to try are
                                  1) pho ga at Turtle Tower.
                                  2) Cha ca at Quan Bac:
                                  3) banh khot at Yummy Yummy or Lotus Garden

                                  Recent Vietnamese rec thread:

                                  And an older but still good one:

                                  Turtle Tower Restaurant
                                  631 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                  Nha Toi Restaurant
                                  460 E William St, San Jose, CA 95112

                                  Yummy Yummy
                                  1015 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                  Quan Bac
                                  4112 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

                              2. re: pauliface

                                The Oyster Stew at Hog Island at the Ferry Building is delicious $12

                                Skool http://www.skoolsf.com/index.htm
                                Nombe http://www.nombesf.com/

                                I like Four Barrel Coffee at 375 Valencia Street - cash only - also serves Dynamo Donuts

                                In my neighborhood, we have the $17.50-Prix Fixe Wed-Sun 5pm-7pm at Bistro Central Parc at 560 Central Avenue at Grove Street - good for early dinner after a day in Golden Gate Park

                                Kappou Gomi (address correction - it's located on Geary Blvd. not Clement Street


                                Kappou Gomi
                                5524 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                1. re: Cynsa

                                  I´m a month away from my trip and already salivating at the meals i will have hehehe; I´ll look everything up on google maps and plan my visit routes around that.

                                  One final question:

                                  Should I buy the Go San francisco card or the San Francisco City pass? or neither?

                                  There was a map on the right with all the places you recommended! where did it go?

                                  thanks to all again

                                  1. re: lcasarin

                                    a month until you arrive? you have time to read and reread the threads and posts of interest + more until your head spins!


                                    continue to post your 'wants and likes' - someone will lead you along the Yellow Brick Road -
                                    I am curious about the two cards - what do you think?
                                    - If you can use public transportation MUNI - you'll see some of our neighborhoods off the usual tourist track.

                                    for MUNI visitor passport info and SF City pass:



                                    1. re: lcasarin

                                      Neither card gives discounts on restaurants, so should be discussed elsewhere. Thanks.

                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                        Good point, bbulkow. Luis, if you want to email me (address in my profile) we could discuss pros and cons offline as fellow tourists :-).

                                        I know from experience that if you go off and tweak your itinerary then repost you will get even more great input from the Bay Area Hounds.

                                2. Many will argue with me. But I recommend Tommy's Joynt. Dinner under $10. It is a SF institution.

                                  Tommy's Joynt
                                  1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Nopa

                                    I'll 2nd Tommy's Joynt for on a budget. Not sure what the hof brau food in Mexico is like but the price is right and there's stuff like buffalo stew and the turkey dinner is basically an American thanksgiving dinner.

                                    Tommy's Joynt
                                    1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      I would make that recommendation for lunch, especially if it were on a Thursday. The lamb shank special is really quite good.

                                      1. re: Civil Bear

                                        Lunch at Tommy's is a great suggestion. Definitely worth a lunch...a dinner, only if you live here and you're driving by...and because a better dinner can be had.

                                  2. some have mentioned Tu Lan and I'd say there's far better VN to be found, it's been a while but the pork in my roll had a distinctly 'off' smell. as for the corner of Swan's being 'stinky' I lived for 2 years at Polk and Sacto and loved the location, ok I didn't venture out much late at night back then, but it's definitely changed for the better (1995-1997). I lived for 3 years a few blocks from where you're staying (was on Stockton over the tunnel) and it's an awesome location convenient to restaurants downtown, the Wharf, SOMA, .the Richmond, BART etc. etc. regarding transit, I found myself using the cable car a lot, but it was covered with a monthly pass then and I don't think any pass gives even a price break anymore. Tadich vs, Hayes Street Grill? Tadich. but on Hayes Street is Suppenkuche for light German.

                                    on a budget I'd generally avoid French and Italian (exceptions are some places on the aforementioned Belden Alley and in North Beach: l'Osteria del Fuorno, Caffe Macaroni) tons of affordable Asian food at high quality. I know it's strange to suggest Mexican food to someone from Guadalajara, but a "Califfornia" burrito really isn't Mexican at all, so you might want to give it a try. when I was making exactly squat for a living in 1990-1993 I practically lived on them, delicious, cheap and filling (2 meals for me). much debate on whose is best, I'm partial to several places on Valencia near 17th and nearby at 16th near Mission is an excellent falafel/shawarma middle eastern place, whose name ALWAYS escapes me.

                                    if Cristy gets strange late night cravings there are some fairly well stocked markets (dry/canned goods mostly) along Bush open til about 2 and a 15 minute walk away over on California at Hyde was a 24/7 Cala full service grocery. I'm getting all nostalgic just thinking about it. October is usually one of the perfect months to visit.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: hill food

                                      hill, unless things have changed since March, OP can get 1 day, 3 day and/or weekly passes for Muni that included unlimited cable car rides, invaluable for getting to good chow from Nob Hill/Union Square area hotels and avoiding walking up/down that very hill :-). They are for sale at the tiny kiosk beside the lineup for the Powell Street car below Union Square, among other places. We get ours as we come off BART from the airport and put it to immediate use.

                                      FWIW as a visitor I agree that you can do way better for Vietnamese than Tu Lan. I really enjoyed Bodega Bistro if you order well and I think it is in a less scary area (walking to Tu Lan on our first eating trip to SF unnerved me much more than any subsequent forays into the Tenderloin have).

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        jeez grayelf, you shoulda been hitting 6th Street when you had to step over junkies and politely assure hookers you were not there for them trying to get to TL, or Chel's (long closed) or the Black Rose (don't ask)... Tu Lan did get Julia Child's stamp of approval, but if you read the fine print it was back in the 70's I think.

                                        good to know about the passes I used to buy my monthly passes and tokens at various liquor, grocery and pharmacies as well.

                                        Luis: where you are staying the California cable car is the least traveled and more convenient (still gets packed) but will take you directly to some very good places downtown or Polk Gulch (and it's no stinkier than many areas) including the aforementioned Cala.

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          thanks for all the siggestions, since I´m not very saavy with the map in here I just created a new one in google and addded everything!

                                          everyday I´lll plan the places to visit AND eat, this map will be unvaluable since both Cristy and I enjoy food enourmously

                                          she is a weird pregnant woman, she does not get cravings, this is going to be our third kid and just last week for the first time she asked me to go get her some cupcakes

                                          I´m thinking of renting a car... what do you think? is it worth it or parking everywhere will be a nightmare?

                                          1. re: lcasarin

                                            As a fellow tourist, I vote for no car. Parking is scary (to find and to pay for) plus you'll get dinged to park at your hotel each night and no small amount -- I think it's $30 a night at ours. We only got a car when we went to Napa and then ditched it on our way back into town. Transit is so darned good in SF, and the downtown and environs so close together (notwithstanding the hills) that it is all walkable.

                                            And to keep this on topic, if you get a car you will likely find it difficult to park at many of the restos you want to try. My BIL lives in the Mission and we've only taken his car out twice, to drive to the farthest reaches of town for a specific sight seeing target where there was known parking.

                                            1. re: grayelf

                                              as a local i say no car. Grayelf is right on all counts.

                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                as a former local I also say no car, we'd find ourselves spending as much time looking for a parking spot as it took to take the bus and often missed reservations. and having lived on Nob Hill all I can say is if you're walking back from downtown take Sutter or Bush Street they aren't as steep and then suck it up for the last block up. if you want to day trip there are plenty of car rental places around Union Square.

                                    2. Hola Luis! De la bienvenida y yo espero que tenga una estancia maravillosa.

                                      I second the suggestions made earlier for Saigon Sandwich and Tu Lan as excellent vietnamese at really inexpensive prices. Ask them to hold the chiles and Cristy should be fine spice wise.

                                      The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen at Brannan and 2nd is a fantastic new lunch/brunch place. Expect a line, though they burn through orders pretty quick. South Park is right next to it which is a great little bit of seriously old school San Francisco, I heard it was our first "high end" neighborhood, before they put in the streetcar lines to make the hilly neighborhoods accessible pre-automobile.

                                      Close to American Grilled Cheese is a jamaican place Primo Patio, that serves stuff pretty mild, but tasty. If you go Wednesday early enough for lunch you can get their jerk pork, which is a masterpiece of a thing, that isn't (or at least, wasn't) on the menu. It's magic. They've been there for ~20 years and are awesome, have a sort of urban patio. 3rd, on townsend.

                                      Farmer Brown is another thought, close to where you're staying, "farm-fresh soul food", southern american food done just about as well as i know in this town. http://www.farmerbrownsf.com/ with only one entree over $20 i think it's a steal.

                                      To me, Lafitte is the most exciting new restaurant here i've been to for combining ambiance, really interesting food and philosophy about it, and value. http://lafittesf.com/manifesto.html It's on the waterfront just north of the ferry building.

                                      Definitely recommend the ferry building; Boullette's Larder has great take-out (though now that i think about it, it's a lot of take out and reheat).

                                      For indian, close to where you are staying, I'd suggest Naan 'n Curry, exercising caution with the spiciness of the dishes ordered.

                                      Really old school san francisco, Tadich or House of Prime Rib. But maybe I'm being too san franciscan by avoiding the fisherman's wharf area like the plague.

                                      Cheap quality chinese soups (housemade noodles) within walking distance from you: Hon's won-tun house, kearny at ... sacramento or clay, i think. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/370873

                                      I may be being self-serving by suggesting these but I'd be really curious what you thought about my favorite tacquerias - I doubt they're all that Mexican really, sort of a San Francisco take on inexpensive and I think really good/interesting hybrid cuisine. My favorites are Cancun (mission @ 18th; the one closer to where you're staying, market at 6th, isn't as good), Altena and Faralito in that order, but this is a contentious subject as we San Franciscans do love our Tacquerias. I recommend http://www.burritoeater.com/ to get the spectrum (though I disagree with a significant percent of their reviews). Grease factor - most of these mission tacquerias i *assume* cook with lard, so that is that. I think of one burrito as two meals.

                                      shoot. there is a great chinese soup-dumpling (soup inside dumpling) i found not too long ago but i can't remember the details beyond "richmond district".

                                      Crab - generally not inexpensive - I go to Swan Oyster Depot, polk at california. Old school san francisco family kind of place, generally a line, closed sundays. It's a little cramped but I just love the place.

                                      Bar Crudo is a fantastic italian raw seafood-centric joint on divisadero but I don't know if raw seafood, their specialty, is at all cool with the pregnancy. Skool (www.skoolsf.com) is another seafood centric place that I think is doing a great job, less raw stuff, maybe a little edgier than Bar Crudo.

                                      Mid priced: Coco500 (kinda modern-old school hybrid), Orson (experimental/modern), Absinthe (classic brasserie kind of joint with a gorgeous bar on several levels).

                                      If you dont mind the cab ride / bit of a long walk to Potrero Hill, I think Chez Mama is an astounding tiny french-ish neighborhood place with a ton of character - but at peak times expect a wait. Like 4 tables and a dozen seats at the bar, it's just it's own experience.

                                      Fancy/high end: my faves are Gary Danko and Chez Spencer. Also, Chez Spencer operates a to-go truck at folsom and 7th that brings I think pretty high end dining to street food prices.

                                      Best; hope you have a wonderful time here!

                                      Chez Spencer
                                      82 14th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

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

                                      House of Prime Rib
                                      1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                      Bar Crudo
                                      655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                      Swan Oyster Depot
                                      1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

                                      598 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                      Tu Lan
                                      8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                      Altena Restaurant
                                      3346 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                      Farmer Brown
                                      25 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                      Primo Patio Cafe
                                      214 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                      South Park Cafe
                                      108 South Park, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                      The San Franciscan
                                      1525 North Main St., Walnut Creek, CA 94596

                                      1725 Alameda St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                      The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen
                                      1 South Park Ave, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: sfseth

                                        Sorry, but Tu Lan is not excellent Vietnamese food. There's no reason to bypass many other places in the Tenderloin's Little Saigon neighborhood from Nob Hill or other tourist sights to take one's pregnant wife to one of the scummiest blocks in the City for an inferior meal.

                                        Tu Lan
                                        8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          re VN in SF: where oh where is Robert Lauriston to stop lurking and speak up?

                                          sometimes I'm not crazy about his syntax (sorry) but his judgment is almost always spot-on.

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            Generally on this board, when somebody calls out for a specific individual to reply, the person will make a point not to respond. This point of etiquette is noted in the posts from pane and rworange in this long Site Talk thread, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7241...

                                            But if you must hear Mr. Lauriston's opinion, it's documented in this huge thread about Tu Lan that also includes many, many other comments from the community at large. You can find his posts within the thread by using the "find" function in your browser, if you only have eyes for him.

                                            Tu Lan
                                            8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                              oh I was just being sort of rhetorical and silly, and I don't really care, I was just sort of surprised he hadn't posted.

                                            2. re: hill food

                                              To save you the trouble here it is short and not too sweet.
                                              "I don't care that Tu Lan's unsanitary. I care that the food's inferior to half a dozen other cheap Vietnamese dives a few blocks away."
                                              Robert Lauriston on Aug 19, 2007 12:31PM

                                              Tu Lan
                                              8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                          2. re: sfseth

                                            Hi all, thanks for your kind posts and suggestionst!

                                            I´m starting my third day in SF, got here at 3 am in the morning last Friday…
                                            My hotel reservation kicked in until 1:00 p.m. so I had booked a hostel (globe trotters inn) on ellis to have somewhere to crash until my hotel reservation kicked in.

                                            Got there, they did not open the door! Then a guy pass by running holding a purse pursued by another guy calling the police about just being mugged by the first guy! I decided it was not the time or place to have my wife waiting, we got in the car (decided on renting) and took off. I will give that hostel hell in the hotel world web page… they didn’t open the door!! Just across we found “san Francisco international hostel” and they took us in, very nice personnel.

                                            We got up and started cruising just taking the city in, and found ourselves in front of Saigon Sandwiches… AWESOME, Cristy had a grilled chicken one and I had a grilled pork; we both loved it! They put in cilantro, in Mexico we use tons of cilantro but I had never took it in sandwiches and it added some extra flavor that combined amazingly with the taste of the meat. Thanks for that one!!!

                                            Later that day, after we got in the hotel we went to Lori´s Dinner… not good experience, the service was pretty bad, apparently our waitress was in a mood. My wife is a charmer, if she is in a line for more than 30 seconds you can bet she makes friends with the people standing before or behind her or both! And not even she could warm to the waitress… I ordered a BLT , pretty average and a clam chowder (baaaad) my wife got a burger and she was satisfied.

                                            After going around in the city, at night we ended up at fishermans warf and to my undying shame I found myself without my notes! (I left them at the hotel at some point) and we were ravenous… we tried a hail mary and entered Isabella de la Torre restaurant in Fishermans warf (yeah I know they should cancel my account in here) and it was a big FAIL. Crab was mediocre at best, clam chowder beter than Lori´s but still pretty average.


                                            Got up early, used the cable cars to get to the ferry´s building and the farmers market. GREAT EXPERIENCE!!! We loved it there, all the colors and flavors, we discovered some fruits and bought awesome almond treats (“G.L. Alfieri”)

                                            Went in and found “cow girls creamery” cheese factory or something like that, they had an impressive variety of cheese and we bought many for latter, we got a baguette and also we purchased some prociutto and salami from “boccalone”; tried a hard boiled egg in black tea (great!) and basically tried everything in sight.

                                            Went back to the hotel, prepared some sandwiches with our purchases and went on a shopping spree for the kids (clothes in mexico cost between 3 to 7 times more); at 8:30 we finished and going out from a Ross in Daly city I found out that we were around the corner of “Koi Palace” went in, pretty impressive setup with the aquariums and everything else they have there… waited for 30 minutes and got a table; we got 2 crabs (yes!!!) I got the pepper and salt one, absolutely delicious and Cristy got a ginger something one, pretty good too but I liked mine more, we got also some spring rolls, very good, and my wife ordered some prawns over fried noodles that were surprisingly good; it was not expensive looking at everything we ate, but I think we got the expensive dinner day covered hehehehehe

                                            Today we are going to Sausalito and muir woods on the car, lets see what we find there

                                            Thanks again to all for your interest.

                                            Best regards,

                                            Cristy and Luis

                                            1. re: lcasarin

                                              Thank you for the report and please excuse my fractured babelfish aided Spanish.
                                              Eso es qué sucede cuando usted olvida sus notas.

                                              1. re: lcasarin

                                                Hi, Cristy and Luis! Thank you for reporting back: it is always very interesting and refreshing for those of us who live here to see things from the perspective of an enthusiastic, well-informed visitor. I glanced at the restaurant list on the right side of the page and it looks like you will be very busy!

                                                Please enjoy the rest of your trip and continue to write and let us know how what you find--the good and the not-so-good!

                                              2. re: sfseth

                                                I would also disagree with the recommendation for Farmer Brown -- they have great drinks, but the menu looks a lot better than the food tastes.

                                                Farmer Brown
                                                25 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                              3. Thought I'd mention Woodhouse -- there are 2, one at Market/14th?, the other on Fillmore/Bush (I prefer the latter). They don't close in between lunch and dinner and I love the fried clams -- get app portion, more fried clams. The clam chowder is really great!! They have white, or red, or a COMBO!!
                                                (Don't get the lobster, it's comes frozen.) Also, really delicious tartar sauce.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: walker

                                                  @walker: woodhouse sounds good for today!

                                                  @wolfe: dont worry it is always nice when someone tries to communicate in your language instead of theirs!

                                                  @pilinut; well yesterday we went to sausalito and the muir woods, we got some time left and decided to go to sonoma... we hit 4 winerys and got a superb bottle of thalia sangiovese from Viansa Winery; I had tasted this grape in sonoma like 10 years ago and cant find it in Mexico so I´m pretty glad

                                                  after the winerys I found myself out of recommendations, followed my gut and ended up in a racxkety shack called Angelo´s Wine Country Deli... We both ordered the same and hit a jackpot the bbq beef sandwiches were delicious and served with a huge smile and tons of kind small talk (I highly recommend it) apparently it has been there for over 30 years so no doubt many of you know about it

                                                  if you dont it´s just down road from Viansa, Cline (great Mourvedre!) and Jacuzzi winerys

                                                  today we are heading to chinatown to have breakfast... lets see what I can find

                                                  Viansa Winery
                                                  25200 Arnold Dr, Sonoma, CA

                                                  Wine Country Deli
                                                  101 Antonina Dr, American Canyon, CA

                                                  1. re: lcasarin

                                                    Glad you found Angelos! Yes, everything there is homemade and the family who runs it is lovely.

                                                    Don't know if you noticed the beef jerkey while you were there but to me that is what makes them really worth stopping for. Many different flavors, all exceptional. I always stock up on it and send some to a friend in London who pines for it.

                                                    1. re: lcasarin

                                                      Another suggestion comes to mind, as you obviously know and appreciate fine food--Patisserie Philippe. I think they have the best French pastries in San Francisco--great place for breakfast, a light lunch or (my favorite meal!) merienda.


                                                      1. re: pilinut

                                                        @originalfig: yup! got me soome teriyaki and VIp jerky that was great!

                                                        @pili: been having some gps troubles and plan on fixing them tonight, just came in from the Fog city Dinner, I had a manila clam chowder (good, not exceptional) and Cristy and I shared a Cioppino; Very good! all the cooks are mexican and we were sitting just across them... they made the recommendations; what was outstanding was the fried calamari, the chili-lemon sauce they serve it with is incredible; just the right amount of fire (not all mexican eat chili by the bucket) and acidity; Cristy ordered them and she says it was the highlite of the dinner and I agree

                                                    2. re: walker

                                                      Unless it's a brand-new addition, Woodhouse does not do red chowder. It's classic New England chowder.

                                                      1. re: Frosty Melon

                                                        About 2 wks ago I was at the Woodhouse on Fillmore and the menu stated 3 kinds of chowder: New England, Manhattan, and Hartford (never had heard of this) which was a combo of the first two. My daughter ordered it, loved it -- I had a few bites. Waiter said this is what he usually has for breakfast there!