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Los Angeles Hound in Need of Help!

  • a213b Aug 31, 2010 10:27 PM
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My wife and I have lived in LA for more than a few years, but despite traveling many places and eating many amazing meals, we have have yet to make it up to SF proper. We've explored Napa & Sonoma, but never the Bay Area itself.

Thankfully we are rectifying this by taking advantage of the long, holiday weekend. We are obviously going to do many of the typical tourist-y things ... I mean, hey, we're tourists for crying out loud! Nevertheless, we still want to fit in some of the amazing cuisine for which the SF area is famous -- that is where I need YOUR help. (caveat: a couple of Christmases ago you guys were fantastic in helping me plan a trip for us; unfortunately it fell through, though I've certainly taken to heart the advice presented therein. Link: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/581183

)

Now, for our itinerary. We are flying into SFO Friday evening, arriving around 7:15 or so. We're still sorting out where to stay, though most likely one of the usual suspects (Four Seasons, Ritz, etc etc) will be where we end up, staying for four nights. We will definitely NOT have a rental car.

I am looking for an excellent, representative sample of SF cuisine -- in the sense that, I am trying to find food here that I cannot get in LA. From cheaper eats in the Mission to fine-dining like the French Laundry, and everything in between ... just so long as it is tasty! Price is not really a concern, though palate fatigue certainly is.

I've been reading through reams of threads, including the 350 response one from hungryabbey (link: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7067...

)

Accordingly I've already been working to get several reservations for the dinners, but a bit of guidance from you all would be greatly appreciated. Especially as we are staying across a weekend, and a holiday one at that, so Sunday and Monday dinners are of mild concern.

Here is what I have so far ...

FRIDAY:

Coi @ 9:30. I was very excited to get this res, as the board in general seems to be quite enamored with this restaurant. I did have a reservation for Commis, but once this opened up I just had to take it. Right call? And I'm assuming 9:30 gives us plenty of time to get to hotel, freshen up, and still make the res comfortably (we're carrying on, for what it is worth). Is the 11 course menu just a ton of food? I'm wondering if we are better off in the bar area where we may order a la carte ...

SATURDAY:

I've made a res at Canteen for 9 am. I'm curious as to just how hungry we will be, given the prior evening's meal, but we can always scale back ... plus, I want to save room as we absolutely are planning to hit the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. Any recs for either or both?

Dinner is where things get a little tricky. At the moment I do have a 9pm res at Manresa, which I got before the Coi res became available. To be perfectly honest, I cannot imagine keeping it. I don't think we will feel like heading all the way down and back, even with a car service, and even if we did that might simply be too much/too similar doing Coi & Manresa back-to-back.

We are interested in a slew of restaurants: Incanto, La Folie, Fleur De Lys, Chez Pannise, Commis, Perbacco, Aquerello, Ame, Frances, Saison, etc, etc. Since Saturday is a prime night (thankfully at least most options are open), this to me is the most important dinner left to fill. Thoughts?

SUNDAY:

Sunday I have a couple of dinners booked; Incanto at 8:30, and Frances at 10. There seems to be a dearth of places open on Sunday, so should I just stick with either of these? Any other suggestions?

MONDAY:

This night was really difficult, given it is a holiday, and given that most restaurants are closed on Monday anyway. We are currently booked at Ame at 8:30, which seems to be the best pick for the night. We definitely want to end the trip on a high note, as we are flying out Tuesday morning. Am I correct in thinking this will do just that?

IN GENERAL:

As I said, we will be doing many of the usual tourist-y things, so in terms of breakfasts and lunches, I really don't know where we will be. Given our dinners, and the fact that we are trying to show at least a modicum of self-control (wedding coming up soon), we will most likely eat very light breakfasts of fruit or smoothies, and then lighter/split lunches.

I do know that I absolutely MUST try a famous Mission Burrito. I was happy to see today that Grubstreet had an update on the Mission Burrito Book (link: http://missionburritobook.wordpress.com) Are their recs solid? They list Taqueria La Altena at 1, El Farolito at 2, El Metate at 3, and so forth and so on. I'm curious to know the boards thoughts, too.

Additionally, we're looking for great bakeries/dessert places; I've heard Citizen Cake gets mixed reviews, but as we have her cookbook we ought to at least try it. I've also read/heard Tartine is good, too. Oh, and Humphrey Slocombe for ice cream, yeah? Any other recs?

We've also been regaled with stories of amazing coffee; Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, Ritual, Philz ... any I am missing? Any of these not worth hitting?

Lastly, I am trying to shy away from cuisines/regions that LA covers well (regional Chinese, regional Mexican, etc), unless there is a really compelling reason to eat otherwise. I'm not at all saying SF does not have amazing eats with respect to those regions, just that for a first trip I'd prefer to focus on other areas.

Thanks in advance for all of your help, and let me know if there's any other info I can give to help with suggestions.

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  1. Friday: Coi's tasting menu is very produce driven and light on meat, so I wouldn't worry about the quantity of food.

    Saturday: I personally would find Canteen plus the market overwhelming. I would just go early to the market and eat there. Consider moving brunch at Canteen to Sunday. (BTW: I like brunch at Canteen, but Dennis Leary's cooking is more interesting at dinner.) I prefer Manresa ala carte to the tasting menu, if you decided to go. (I probably wouldn't go given your schedule, though).

    Other places you might consider are: Aziza and Commonwealth

    Cuisines I think that the Bay Area does better than LA: Burmese and Laotian, although Laotian kind of needs a car.

    -----
    Manresa Restaurant
    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

    1 Reply
    1. re: sfbing

      Thanks! I'm looking at moving Canteen to Sunday. As I mentioned below, I am a big fan of sweet brunches, so would we be better served at Dotties or somewhere else?

    2. I would not drive all the way down to Manresa, especially if you are already doing Coi and Ame in one weekend. If you've never been to SF, you'll have plenty to do without that long drive.

      All your meal choices sound good, I don't think you'll be unhappy with any of them. My two cents on the other things:

      -Bi-Rite Creamery is a block away from Tartine. It's dessert overkill to do both so close together, but it doesn't get more convenient than that. And FWIW, Tartine is far more inspired, consistent, well priced, and popular than Citizen Cake.

      -I'm from LA and I've never found a Mission burrito particularly amazing. Yes, it is delicious, but I must have eaten dozens before someone pointed out that they were supposed to be different from all those burritos I ate growing up. I still don't quite get it.

      -Don't miss Blue Bottle, the Mint Plaza one if possible but the Hayes Valley or Ferry Building one are great too. Ritual, Vega, Sight Glass, and Four Barrel for me are good but quality varies depending on the barista. Philz is its own style of coffee and worth a try. Farm:Table is around the corner from Canteen. If you end up there for brunch do stop in. The lattes are amazing if the owner is pouring--the best I've had in California. If he's not there, it's still a solid cup of coffee.

      -Zuni is on everyone's radar for meals, but I really like going for drinks and dessert. They're open late, usually not too crowded by the time the dinner rush is over, and the desserts are amazing. Nothing beats sitting near the warmth of that old wood oven, eating a slice of fluffy chiffon cake topped with seasonal fruit and sipping a glass of wine. It's one of those places where the desserts transcend their simple descriptions.

      -----
      Manresa Restaurant
      320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

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

      9 Replies
      1. re: Pei

        Thanks for the head's up. It pains me to let that res at Manresa go, but we can obviously come back up and try it another time. Thanks for confirming my thoughts ... it does seem like a bit too much given a couple of the other places to which we are already going.

        We will definitely make Bi-Rite; and I'm glad to read such a great review of Tartine. And Zuni for dessert sounds fabulous.

        In general, we are both big sweets fans ... we spend a good bit of time in NYC, and will quite often have dinner and then stop at several different spots for desserts. I know, I know ... trust me, my dentist LOVES me!

        With respect to brunch, I like having both options, though I tend very much towards the sweeter side ... should we consider switching Canteen for Dotties? Somewhere else?

        A poster on our LA board (who also writes for the Times) waxed rhapsodic on Blue Bottle, so we will DEFINITELY be hitting it. My wife LOVES lattes, though, so if we hit Canteen (or maybe even if we don't), we will stop by.

        And I feel, at this point, that I just have to try the aforementioned burritos, though I appreciate the head's up ... it helps to temper my expectations.

        With Manresa gone, do any of the other places I listed jump out at you, as "must book" for dinner on Saturday?

        And in terms of Sunday, do you have a strong feeling one way or the other on Frances vs. Incanto?

        Thanks Pei!

        1. re: a213b

          You might like Dottie's more if you like sweet brunches. They certainly have more choices. However, the lines may be a lot longer (Canteen does Open Table reservations, I hear even for brunch now). Canteen's dining room is a lot more relaxed, the food is more refined, and the menu never has more than a handful of choices. On a typical day it will be oatmeal, pancakes, french toast, eggs benedict, and a hash (fish or corned beef). Dottie's will have at least ten different takes on french toast and pancakes, along with several breakfast pastries, muffins, coffee cakes, etc.

          Although for breakfast pastries, you really can't beat Tartine (I should take a cut from them for all the PR I do).

          Sadly, I have not yet dined at either Incanto or Frances, so you must tell us which one you went to and how you enjoyed it!

          I have been to and enjoyed Ame and Perbacco. Ame is very refined, more "cerebral" if you will. Perbacco is more homey and warm, and really really delicious. I would make the decision based on whether you want a little Japanese influence including some amazing raw fish, or if you want upscale Italian with homemade charcuterie and some heavier winter appropriate dishes (slow cooked sauces, stuffed quail). I would skip Fleur de Lys completely. If you've had a French-inspired tasting menu anywhere, you won't be wowed. For example, I don't find it any better than Providence in LA, maybe not even as good.

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

          1. re: Pei

            A quick note on Canteen from a fellow gastrotourist: I'm not usually a sweet breakfast person but I just love their sweet offerings, especially if they come with one of Chef Leary's fluffy whipped confections (eg sweet cream cheese on French toast). I would agree that his dinner offerings are more refined but I'd sure go here over Dottie's, since the food is 'way better IMHO and you won't have to wait in a ridiculous lineup in a grotty part of town.

            Blue Bottle on Linden Lane is our favourite of the BBs we've tried. There is no seating so you need to wander a block to the little park, or knock back your beverage there. The coffee at Canteen is AFAIK still provided by Mr Espresso in Oakland. It is a decent brew but BB would be better I think.

            1. re: Pei

              I forgot to ask, what in particular do you recommend at Tartine? And, though I imagine this is opening a huge can of worms, should I get their sourdough, head to Acme, or can I go to Tadich and just get sourdough?

              1. re: a213b

                My favorite things from Tartine are, in no particular order: banana cream pie, bread pudding, croissants, quiche, passionfruit bavarian. Cookies are good to take to go, and if you have to avoid something I'd skip the chocolate stuff here. It's fine, but it doesn't shine the way their other things do. Tartine is known for their bread, but not sourdough. I would take a loaf home from ACME (when on your trip are you really going to sit down and eat a loaf of bread?), and just enjoy the sourdough with dinner at Tadich.

                1. re: Pei

                  Our favorite bread at Tartine is their country loaf which they sell by the 1/2 loaf or whole loaf, but only after 5pm on most days. However, the line to purchase bread often goes out the door and around the block. We've arrived at 6pm to find them already sold out of their bread for the day. If you want to sample their bread before 5pm, consider getting a sandwich made with one of their breads.

                  If you're going to get the sourdough at Tadich, you might want to consider picking up a loaf of pain epi from Acme at the Ferry Building before you head home. Note, their epi is delicious but has a short shelf life so you'll want to eat/freeze fairly quickly.

                2. re: a213b

                  I love their giant gougeres.

              2. re: a213b

                I grew up in l.a. and I will third that SF burritos are nothing in comparison to L.A. - mexican food in general is better in L.A. If you HAVE to do mexican while here, try Poc Chuc - a mayan take on food.

                I would also skip Flour & Water. Pizzaiolo in Oakland is far, far better, and better even than Mozza's in L.A. Just my opinion.

                -----
                Pizzaiolo
                5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                Poc Chuc
                2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              3. re: Pei

                Benu and Zero Zero. Benu is run by Chef Corey Lee who used to be Chef for French Laundry. Both places are near each other as well. Enjoy!

                -----
                The French Laundry
                6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                Benu
                22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                Zero Zero
                826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

              4. "... amazing cuisine for which the SF area is famous ...": to me, the French-influenced tasting-menu-oriented places such as Coi, Manresa, Acquerello, Ame, Fleur de Lys, and La Folie are less expressive of the local culinary style than places with simpler menus such as Frances, Zuni, and Canteen (at dinner).

                Second on eating Saturday breakfast at Ferry Plaza.

                I would not find driving back to SF a pleasant way to end an evening at Manresa, even with a chauffeur.

                Mochica and La Mar are open Monday. What's the upscale Peruvian scene like in LA?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  LA does Peruvian pretty well, though the places I am thinking of I would never call upscale.

                  In truth, one thing I find LA does NOT do all that well is Fine(r) Dining, which is why I'm interested in the places I've mentioned. It's not that we don't have it, or that it is not done well, but I don't find it to be superlative here (especially compared to Tokyo, NYC, etc etc).

                  I actually wanted to do Frances Sunday, and then Incanto Monday, but Incanto is closed because of the holiday. So as it stands I am being forced to choose between the two, and both look fantastic.

                  And I think we are going to take Pei's suggestion and hit Zuni one night for dessert (and maybe a savory nibble as well).

                  Thanks for the input.

                  1. re: a213b

                    agree about peruvian - well represented in L.A. Someone suggested Burmese - which is really well done at Burmese Kitchen if you want to do a lunch. Excellent food, you won't find it in L.A., and it's the best place in SF for it.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I agree with Robert -- Coi, Manresa and Ame etc. are all wonderful places, but they are not places to experience the classic best of San Francisco. They are all in a style that you would find in other places -- not that you would find the food in other places, but as you can see from hungreyabbey's follow up to that long what to eat in SF post, what visitors and locals like the best are our mid priced options like Frances, Flour + Water, Nopa, Canteen, La Ciccia, Delfina etc. Go to Coi that first night, sure, but I wouldn't then go to Ame, I'd concentrate on places like the above that interest you.

                    I'd pick Frances over Incanto. First of all, Incanto is an easy reservation, so if you come back it'll be easy to go there, while Frances absolutely isn't. And I've uniformly enjoyed meals at Frances more than meals at Incanto, though others may differ. Since your Frances reservation is so late, you could always stop in at Incanto for drinks and appetizers at the bar at 5:30 or so to tide you over until 10.

                    -----
                    Manresa Restaurant
                    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

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

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

                    Nopa
                    560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                  3. For Sunday, perhaps Commonwealth? It's new and my dinner there was impressive. SPQR is open on Mondays. Sitting at the bar is fun if you can't get a reservation. I echo the endorsement to eat the the Ferry Building on Saturday and Canteen on Sunday. Also, Tartine for baked goods is fabulous.

                    -----
                    SPQR
                    1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mrs bacon

                      Having experienced the amazing eats in LA and recently visited San Francisco, I'd second JasmineG and Robert's comments -- having a great mid-range meal is the way to go. We went to San Fran/Napa for our honeymoon this summer and we found the high end food in the city just couldn't compare to the fine dining in Napa.

                      Ame -- if you have an alternative in mind, I'd try it as I'm not sure it compares favourably to the contemporary Asian fusion places that you find in LA that are amazing. It's a solid choice, but I'm worried you might not get the unique experience you're looking for. If you do decide to go, definitely get the Chawan-mushi (a savoury Japanese custard) and try the cuttlefish noodles -- they're two of the best on the menu!

                      Coi -- I think if you're an experienced foodie, you'll definitely enjoy choosing from the menu in the bar versus the dining room. While the bar isn't as fancy, I think you'll be able to pick off the best of the menu far better. Not sure what the locals would say about consistency, but we were unlucky enough to visit on an off-day for them when their food was not at their best. Nevertheless, their reputation is solid and based on the responses from Chowhounders here, I'd be willing to give them a second chance at the bar.

                      I think the one thing I'd recommend is heading down to the carts (by the big Fisherman's Wharf sign) and having some crab. Simply prepared, the crab is delicious however you like it -- in a poorboy sandwich, cracked in a shell or just for some lobster or clam chowder. When we were in LA, we didn't find any crab that was this good/easily available.

                      Have a great trip -- can't wait to hear about your meals! :)

                      1. re: Tony Calgary

                        Thanks for the input Tony. To be honest I am a little blase about Ame, but by far the biggest problem I am encountering is that so many places are closed on Monday, and with it being our final note I really want to end on a high note. Not sure what to do about that, but there you have it.

                        We're booked at Coi in the main dining room, and I feel like we will keep it that way, though I do like the added flexibility of a la carte offered in the bar.

                        In terms of po' boys, being from Louisiana (where I visit often) I grew up on some amazing ones, so that's not something that demands my attention. That being said, we still might go down and hit up the wharf for some fresh crab!

                        1. re: a213b

                          Nopa is open on Monday, as is Perbacco. With the others on your list, I'd go to either of those before Ame.

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

                          Nopa
                          560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                          1. re: JasmineG

                            Thanks Jasmine. Based on Porthos' comments below, I've decided to knock Perbacco off, given it can be had better here in LA at Batali's Osteria Mozza.

                            I looked at Nopa ... the menu looks interesting. Perhaps I will switch to it.

                    2. I like Manresa quite a bit but I wouldn't drive down there during a short weekend unless I had another reason or was staying. However if there was a time, it would be now given they grow a lot of their own stuff.

                      If you're willing to go across the Bay Bridge there is Commis, run by a Manresa alum. However the point about Coi and Ame being in the same range is right. I have not been but it sounds like there's a connection.

                      For something different that you won't get in LA, 2nd Aziza, Cal-Moroccan, Michelin star, $60-ish for the prix fixe. I'd call it a very SF sorta of meal - different, fusion, mid-range pricing, won't get it elsewhere.

                      -----
                      Manresa Restaurant
                      320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                      Commis
                      3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ML8000

                        Thanks ML ... Aziza is definitely on our radar. I've tried desperately to get into Commis, and they've no openings whatsoever on either Saturday or Sunday (my preferred date being the latter). I can get in (as of right now) late Friday evening, but that would entail abandoning Coi. Is Commis worth doing more than Coi?

                      2. One key ingredient seriously lacking in Los Angeles but found in abundance in San Francisco is mass transit: ferries, cable cars, vintage street cars, bus/train hybrids and so on. Taking the "F" up Market to Zuni Cafe is a lot of fun. Taking the "J-Church" to Incanto is sufficient reason alone to sample Chris Cosentino's food. Enjoy your trip.

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

                        1. Funny, I used to live in the bay area and I'm finally returning for a visit after a 2 year leave of absence. I now live in LA and we pretty much had the same itinerary at one point. My current itinerary:

                          Friday night dinner: Commonwealth 915pm. I dropped my 930 Coi reservations because I used to love Bar Tartine. This is my choice for that SF brand of Cal-cuisine that can't be found in LA (with a progressive touch).

                          Saturday lunch: Ferry building for grazing and and Tadich for cioppino

                          Saturday dinner: Gary Danko. Not my choice and my one concession of the trip. In a perfect world, I would change it out for Incanto.

                          Sunday lunch: Koi Palace. I live in LA and still dream about Koi Palace dim sum. I'm renting a car specifically for the occasion. Koi Palace does a dungeness crab soup dumpling dish that can't even be found in LA.

                          Sunday dinner: Manresa 8pm. I wouldn't dream of giving up Manresa. At the time, I liked it head and shoulders above TFL and any of the high end restaurants in NYC and LA. Now having had wonderful meals at Joel Robuchon in Vegas and Per Se in NYC, I want to see if my favorite high end restaurant still holds the top mark.

                          Monday: open

                          From your list of prospects, I've been to Incanto, Ame, Canteen, Perbacco, Chez Panisse.

                          I would definitely try to work in Incanto. Perbacco and Ame were good but unremarkable for me. Perbacco's brand of italian cuisine is far inferior to Osteria Mozza in LA. Chez Panisse was merely okay until a dish of line caught stripped bass with mustard greens and mustard seed vinaigrette really opened my eyes. I doubt you'll be able to get reservations at this time though. Canteen was excellent for dinner. Brunch service is completely different and nothing special really. I wouldn't give up Manresa for Canteen. To put it bluntly, I wouldn't give up Manresa for any restaurant in the SF area.

                          Zuni is good, I would go back for the chicken and burger but you're starting to get that kind of cuisine in LA so it's not that unique anymore.

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

                          Manresa Restaurant
                          320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

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

                          Perbacco
                          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                          Chez Panisse
                          1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

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

                          Bar Tartine
                          561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Porthos

                            Thanks Porthos! I remember reading your posts during some of the months I've spent in NYC over the past couple of years -- that place is my favorite food town in the US.

                            Like you, I've had great meals at Per Se; my meal earlier this year at JR in Vegas was good, but not worth the $$$, and I've had two meals at TFL ... the first was a real letdown (heavily eclipsed by Cyrus the next evening), and the second (beginning of this year) was fantastic.

                            I really want to do Manresa, but having never been to SF before, it just seems like it would eat up too much of our time right now.

                            With respect to dim sum, is it really better than some of the great SGV places? I mean, far far better?

                            One hint to you; Monday being a holiday, many places are not open that otherwise might be (on a day that already has many places closed), so keep that in mind for your plans, just FYI.

                            1. re: a213b

                              In LA I go to Elite, Sea Harbour, and 888. Koi Palace is easily better. When was the last time you had dungeness crab XLB in any of them? Even the standards such as har gow, etc are of a higher quality and the wrapper on the dumplings chewier and more skillfully made than even LA's best. The available dumplings are also more creative. I think I counted about 18 tanks of live seafood at Koi Palace before. This is compared to the 6-8 at Sea Harbour.

                              We're flying out Monday 4PM so I only have lunch to account for. My SF cravings will be satisfied after Manresa and Koi Palace.

                              -----
                              Manresa Restaurant
                              320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

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

                              1. re: a213b

                                I'll throw down for Manresa. You really want to do it. It's only an hour drive. It's best this time of year when the garden is flush. If you're willing to do hired car, as you suggest, the extra hour of travel time will melt away - something the locals aren't accounting for. We also tend to think of travel time with traffic, and you're talking about a 9:30 reservation.

                                Getting to Commis would typically take longer (commonly suggested route is walk to the bart). As locals, we think of this or that as particularly far, but it's not really that bad.

                                -----
                                Manresa Restaurant
                                320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                Commis
                                3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                1. re: bbulkow

                                  Well, the problem is I have already given up the Manresa res, as it did seem to be potentially exhausting in terms of food & travel. And it seems like it might be a cool area to explore ... possibly even driving up from LA and checking out Carmel/Monterey before heading in there and staying the night, and then checking out Stanford etc.

                                  As I mentioned, I did score Commis on Sunday night, and from looking at Google maps it seems to be either 20 mins or so via Cab, or about twice that if we do the Bart.

                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                    Exactly. The garden should be full of amazing ingredients and it's 1 week before the special late summer harvest dinners with Alexandre Gauthier. The situation should be primed for some Kinch magic.

                              2. Frances currently has a 9:30 on Saturday 9/4 opening on Open Table, if you can grab it before someone else.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Scott M

                                  Thanks for the head's up Scott! I had temporarily booked La Folie, but switched my Sunday Frances res to the one you pointed out on Saturday. Thanks!

                                  1. re: a213b

                                    Maybe hit up La Folie on your next visit. It's our favorite high-end place in the city. Hubby cooks, wife runs the front of the house. Bring an appetite. Wines are quite good.

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

                                2. Yes!!! I was able to snag a primetime, 7:30 res at Commis on Sunday evening! I don't know if it is usually a difficult res to get, but this weekend seemed nigh on impossible. It took me constantly checking OT every few hours or so to see if one opened up.

                                  So, as things currently stand, here's how our itinerary looks:

                                  FRIDAY:

                                  Coi for dinner

                                  SATURDAY:

                                  Canteen breakfast (9am)/Ferry Market Brunch (just grazing)

                                  Frances for dinner

                                  SUNDAY:

                                  Zuni Brunch -- is this worth holding on to, or should I set my sights elsewhere?

                                  Commis Dinner (7:30), Incanto Dinner (8:30) -- of these two, which is more recommended?

                                  MONDAY:

                                  Not sure for breakfast/brunch/lunch. We are heading to Alcatraz in the early afternoon, are there any places worth checking out by where the tours start?

                                  Ame dinner - still looking for options to replace this. Aziza is one, I snagged a 10:30 at Flour + Water (pretty late given our flight out the next morning, but not out of the question), SPQR (I enjoyed Accarino's food here at Craft in LA) ... ??? Thoughts?

                                  Thanks all!

                                  18 Replies
                                  1. re: a213b

                                    Near the Alcatraz pier Fog City Diner, Labor Day status unknown.
                                    Edit: Checked Open Table which shows openings at 11:30 9/6.

                                    -----
                                    Fog City Diner
                                    1300 Battery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                    1. re: a213b

                                      I would skip flour + water. It's nice, but 10:30 is really late and it's really just pizza. Good pizza, but pizza. You can get pizza closer to your hotel if that's what you really want. Zero Zero is nearby, as is Tony's Coal-Fired Pizza. Both are brand new and getting good buzz, both have Neapolitan style pizza. Tony has the only coal-fired oven on this coast and ZZ has wine on tap and a nice looking cocktail menu. Beautiful space, too.

                                      Aziza would be a great "not found in SF choice," but Ame is still one of my favorite restaurants so I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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                                      Zero Zero
                                      826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                      1. re: Pei

                                        Thanks for the tip on Flour + Water. Maybe we'll eat dinner and then pop in just to try a pizza. For reference, how does it compare to NYC stalwarts Keste & Motorino?

                                        As for Aziza, we are VERY much considering it over Ame. For some reason looking at Ame's menu I'm not getting excited. I mean, conceptually it looks good, but I can't seem to get really pumped for it. I dunno ...

                                        1. re: a213b

                                          Go with your gut. Replace Ame with Incanto. Ame was pricy and the food tastes as it reads. It's good but not truly remarkable or memorable in any way.

                                          As for Canteen breakfast, just realize you'll be getting very well prepared breakfast food and not the cal cuisine with show that makes Canteen special for dinner...or those addictive brioche rolls...

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            I would love to replace Ame with Incanto, but Incanto is closed on Monday for the holiday. But I think I will "go with my gut", as you say and choose something else.

                                            I realize Canteen for breakfast is not the same as it is for dinner; but it, too, is not open on Monday, and at this point that is the only night I have yet to lock in.

                                            1. re: a213b

                                              Barbacco is usually open on Mondays. It's small plates. The braised squid is very good as is the testa. There's full waiter service at the long, dining bar (think the Nancy bar at Osteria Mozza). Wine selection is very good.

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                                              Barbacco
                                              230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                              1. re: a213b

                                                To get a taste of what Canteen is like for dinner, I recommend ordering some of the odder things on the breakfast menu for sharing. The more whimsical items are usually near the bottom. I've had some beautiful soups and seafood dishes for breakfast at Canteen. Also, don't miss out on the brioche, which is offered ala carte at breakfast.

                                              2. re: Porthos

                                                I've had pike quenelles and quail for breakfast at Canteen before...

                                                1. re: daveena

                                                  Is that 1 dish or 2?

                                                  I stand corrected! :)

                                                2. re: Porthos

                                                  Agree. I am also meh about Ame.

                                                3. re: a213b

                                                  We haven't eaten at Zero Zero or Flour + Water, but have had the margherita pizzas at Tony's, Pizza Delfina, Pizza Picco, Dopo, Pizzaiolo, Boot and Shoe, and numerous others in the Bay area. Our favorite pizza in the Bay Area are the pies at Pizza Picco in Larkspur, with Pizzaiolo a distant second and Boot and Shoe a close third. We were not impressed with the signature margherita at Tony's.

                                                  So you can caliberate our tastes, in June we had Keste's special burrata pie as well as the salsiccia, the margherita and sopressata picante pies at Motorino and the margherita at Totonno's in Coney Island. We loved the burrata pie at Keste so much we had it twice during our 10 day visit. Motorino was a distant second and Totonno's a far third.

                                                  Personally, I wouldn't waste the stomach space on pizza this trip. However, I do think Pizza Picco is worth a visit on a future trip if you travel up that way. Also highly recommend the brunch at Foreign Cinema or if you want more casual, Maverick in the Mission. The andouille benedicts at Maverick are awesome!

                                                  If you're a bread person, Tartine is definitely worth a stop. We ate a ton of bread in NYC but Tartine's country bread remains our favorite.

                                                  1. re: cvhound

                                                    For what it's worth, the owner (Bruce Hill) and one of the head chefs at Picco is spending most of their time at Zero Zero right now, hopefully those who like Picco will also have good things to say about Hill's new SF venture.

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                                                    Zero Zero
                                                    826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                                    1. re: Pei

                                                      Pei, thanks so much for reminding me of the connection between Picco and Zero Zero! We love Pizza Picco but it's quite a haul from Castro Valley so we don't get there as often as we'd like. We're pretty busy this month with work and travel, but will definitely hit up Zero Zero after we get back from Maui.

                                                      1. re: cvhound

                                                        cv, thanks so much for chiming in with regards to pizza. My wife and I spend, on average, 4 months a year in NYC, and we've tried just about every pizza place -- DiFara, Totonnos, Lucalis, Grimaldis, Arturos, Keste, Motorino, Patsys (in E Harlem), Artichoke, Lombardis, Co., Pulino (Nate Appleman of A16 is the head dude there), Johns, Otto, and I am sure others I am forgetting. Like you, Keste is by far our favorite, though many of the others are delicious as well.

                                                        So from your advice, I think it is fair to say we will skip Pizza this time, unless we hit a place late one night because we are not full from dinner.

                                                        I am currently checking out Foreign Cinema for brunch; I'll obviously let you all know if that happens.

                                              3. re: a213b

                                                I think you definitely want to do one of the Incanto / La Ciccia / SPQR / Perbacco group while you're here, particularly the first two. Do you have first-class Sardinian in LA? My recent experience there is limited to Orange County and near Disney Hall.

                                                Incanto's open Monday, so if you could move your reservation there that would let you keep Commis as well. Zuni is as typical San Francisco as you can get, so I would definitely hold on to that reservation!

                                                However you tweak it, it's sure looking to be a great food trip - enjoy!

                                                Michael

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                                                Zuni Cafe
                                                1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

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

                                                Perbacco
                                                230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                SPQR
                                                1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                                Commis
                                                3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                1. re: mdg

                                                  Thanks Michael. Unfortunately, Incanto is closed this Monday for the holiday -- I already checked in the hopes of moving the res from Sunday to Monday.

                                                  As it is standing, I'm thinking we might hit up Aziza instead of Ame. It seems to get very high marks on the board, and Incanto, La Ciccia, and Perbacco are all closed on Monday. SPQR is still an option, though.

                                                  1. re: a213b

                                                    If you really feel the need to do brunch, I'd suggest Foreign Cinema. I like the space, I like the people (I know, true hounds don't care about decor, but it's a cool use of the buildings), and the food can be great. (Frankly, brunch at any restaurant, to me, is an iffy proposition). It will make you go to a more interesting neighborhood, too (deep Mission, on Mission Street). For the full effect, take BART to 16th and brave the four or five blocks to Foreign Cinema. It's a more interesting walk on Saturday, when all the shops are open.

                                                    As for taquerias, well, don't get us started. Everyone here has a favorite, and don't ever believe a list compiled by voters (lowest common denominator) or some magazine. La Taqueria is a favorite for those who don't like rice in their burritos (me). They are also NOT the size of a small child, so you don't feel quite so overfed. The same family/company owns quite a few of them (Panco Villa, La Cumbre, El Toro). Drunks swear by Can Cun, largely because it's open until 2 (been there). I agree with the comment that while they are ubiquitous, SF burritos are really not that incredible. They're cheap and filling, and they taste vastly superior to most anything in the same price range. And they're ubiquitous.

                                                    Finally, if you want a quintessential look-at-the-old-money-rich-people-in-SF dining experience, try Spruce. $15 cab ride from downtown.

                                                    Have a great visit. I'll use your tactic next time I go to LA.

                                                    1. re: Permez

                                                      Agree on Foreign Cinema for brunch! Get a seat outside, definitely. Get a seat outside, whatever you do. thankfully we're having great weather for it. they do wonderful eggs, in my opinion. FC is good for the nighttime experience - movies played on an outside brick wall - but even still, it's a really beautiful space for brunch.

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