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Foods that are better made in SF than NYC?

Am coming to SF soon for a visit and want to know what foods I should try that people feel are better made than their counterparts in NYC? I've already been to Yank Sing for dim sum and Blue Bottle coffee and will be visiting those places again.

What else? Perhaps someplace to challenge Ippudo or Momofuku noodle bar?

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  1. I can't speak for NY, but some things that SF is doing particularly well are Burmese, Peruvian, Mayan, Vietnamese, and of course Californian. My favorite SF spots for each are Burmese Kitchen, Inka's, Poc Chuc, PPQ, and Zuni, respectively.

    You may also want to consider Aziza for Cal/Moroccan and Slanted Door for Cal/Vietnamese as you you would be hard pressed to find anything else like them elsewhere.

    -----
    Slanted Door
    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Zuni Cafe
    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Inkas Restaurant
    3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

    1. You must try salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery; prefer this to Grom. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to try any other ice cream places in NYC this past Summer. Although I have to say their sorbets were incredible & I'm not even a sorbet fan.

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

      1. I think Civil Bear hit all the styles we tend to recommend to NYC visitors. For broad categories, I'll add Ice cream (Bi-Rite and Humphrey Slocombe), bread (Tartine and Acme), and possibly salumi (Boccolone).

        For ramen, I don't think there's anything in SF proper as good as Ippudo. If you're looking for interesting, Asian-inflected creative food in a casual setting at a moderate price point, I'd recommend Commonwealth.

        http://www.commonwealthsf.com/menus#a...

        9 Replies
        1. re: daveena

          Definitely need to do an ice cream comparison. Hope to try both Bi-Rite and Humphrey Slocombe and see how it compares to il laboratorio del gelato.

          1. re: SeoulQueen

            i tried il laboratorio del gelato (ciaobella is still here). i still like our gelateria naia and marco polo gelato (asian flavors) in sf.
            ice cream in sf is awesome and can't be missed. bi rite has amazing flavor/texture. humphry slocombe has more offbeat flavors, but not as creamy texture. mr and mrs miscellaneous is a good one for bi rite like texture and humphry slocombe flavor creativity. if you happen to be over in berkeley, get an ici ice cream on a cone
            i also had ippudo ramen. we don't have any hirata buns here -- our chairman bao truck is more like the momofuku bun style. actually if you try orenchi ramen on the peninsula or ramen dojo, i think you'll be duly impressed.
            donut planet beats all the donuts out here.
            try a torta at torta los picudos (jamon chorizo huevo queso fresco)

            1. re: ankimo

              ankimo, I probably agree with you 98% of the time, but have to disagree on Donut Plant. I'll take a plain glazed from Stan's over their leaden hunks of dough any day. I still can't figure out how they can say their ingredients are all organic when the flavorings taste blatantly artificial to me.

              I'll also add in Lush Gelato, if the OP can get to Berkeley - I haven't had il Laboratorio, but I've had Grom and Cones (and Naia) and Lush leaves them all in the dust.

              -----
              Lush Gelato
              1511 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

              1. re: daveena

                stan's was nice. do you like stan's better than a fresh one from donut wheel or rolling pin? ie. buttermilk donut
                reason i like donut planet is that creme brulee donut caramelized top and soft custard -- dynamo's was not as impressive, even the chocolate bacon one

                1. re: ankimo

                  Haven't been to either Donut Wheel or Rolling Pin, but my Holy Grail is the glazed raised donut, and I haven't found one better than Stan's yet.

                  If I give Donut Plant another shot, it will be to try the creme brulee donut. I did like the tres leches better than the raised ones I've had there, but even the tres leches tasted more like caramel flavoring and less like actual caramel than I'd hoped.

                  -----
                  Donut Wheel
                  10250 N De Anza Blvd, Cupertino, CA

                  1. re: daveena

                    The honey glazed at Donut Pun W. 14th (NY) is pretty decent, have you tried that? I don't know what Stan's is like, but it reminds me a little of some of the better raised donuts found just outside of San Francisco.

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      Donut Pub, right? It's not bad, but Stan's is much better - their glazed is somehow more substantial while still being really light.

                      1. re: daveena

                        I can imagine that. The best glazed I've had on the West Coast did have those exact qualities. The NY version was a little off, lacking that balance. Until you've tasted them both it's hard to describe.

              2. re: ankimo

                doughnut plant is just a different approach entirely. the proper comparison there would be to dynamo donuts, which isn't really where i would direct the OP. i'd say check out bob's late night, or even rolling pin/happy donut and those type of places.

          2. Beer.

            Honestly, I think the entire food culture in SF is superior to that in NY, but one thing any food geek visiting owes herself is to enjoy one or two of the outstanding local beers. Undoubtedly better.

            17 Replies
            1. re: MGZ

              Any good beer bars that you could recommend? Am especially interested in microbrews that make a great IPA. Thanks!

                1. re: SeoulQueen

                  Robert’s link is the place to discover the “where.” As to the “what,” I would suggest trying the IPAs from Moonlight, Iron Springs, and Russian River. We don’t see much, if any, of these on the East Coast, especially in fresh, draft form.

                  1. re: MGZ

                    My two favorite IPAs are cask-conditioned Moonlight or Racer 5, which are among the regular rotation at the original Berkeley Lanesplitter's hand pump. The regular versions are good, too.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Add speakeasy and lagunitas to the IPA hunt. Lagunitas does a lot of "specials" (like Maxiumus) which are quite tasty to the IPA lover. I also like Anderson Valley Amber, but it's not an IPA - extraordinary balance.

                      The trick to beer around here is going someplace that's serving the fresh - a place with fewer taps where the style you like is drunk frequently. So, going to the Toranado for IPAs (it's belgian-focused) is OK but not great. Going to Zeitgeist is better (if you can stand the kids).

                    2. re: MGZ

                      Thanks for the link and the info on which breweries make good IPA. I have heard of Racer 5 but not the others.

                    3. re: SeoulQueen

                      Pliny the Elder from Russian River is pretty fantastic. So I second that. Their other beers are good too. North Coast makes some good beer - it's not ipa but the Bourbon barrel aged Rasputin Stout is pretty amazing (regular Rasputin is great too).

                      1. re: boris_qd

                        Rasputin will put you down though, if you're not careful. It's a whopping 8.9% alcohol by volume. If you want something low in alcohol yet tasty, you should try the Bitter American at 21st Amendment Brewery. Speaking of which, stay away from the Watermelon Wheat. They've been brewing it out-of-state. If you order it at teh brewery, they pour the brew from a can into a pint. You can get that sort of experience by picking up a six pack at a liquor store in New Jersey (my friend found it there) and serving it up at home.

                        -----
                        21st Amendment Brewery Cafe
                        563 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                        1. re: yehfromthebay

                          I actually like the watermelon wheat and was very disappointed to find out it was brewed in WI. I've removed it from my rotation.

                          I heard that _all_ of 21st Amendments canned beer is from breweries in the midwest. If so this would be very sad. I have not had this confirmed.

                          That said, they make some great session beers you can get at the brewery. Not high on the list for an out of state visitor but a great late afternoon break nonetheless.

                          1. re: boris_qd

                            It is likely that any of the beers available in cans are made at larger breweries as the equipment to put the beer in cans is quite expensive initially (I've never seen a craft brewery with equipment to put beer in cans). It isn't unusual for brewpubs to get someone else to make their beer if it appears on retailers shelves in bottles or cans. I know the Buffalo Bills Pumpkin Ale was made in New Ulm MN at August Schell Brewing Company. The only brewpub I know which had bottles available retail that bottled themselves (SF Bay Area) was Marin Brewing and Moylans.

                            1. re: skwid

                              Uncommon Brewers in Santa Cruz has a canning machine.

                      2. re: SeoulQueen

                        Toronado in Lower Haight has as good a representation of western micros as you're going to find. Unlike places like dba, Spuyten Duyvil, and Blind Tiger in NYC, you're not going to get killed on price (Pliny is like $4 a glass in the afternoon, $5 at night). Unpretentious, great selection (Russian River, Bear Republic, etc), and just a fun place to have a beer.

                        1. re: SeoulQueen

                          A little part of me is hoping this part of the conversation gets split off to its own thread... lots of good info here that I hope won't get lost...

                        2. re: MGZ

                          Ditto on beer and esp. ditto on Russian River. When I've been on my beergeek trips out East, the most common question was always "What is Pliny like?" If you are interest in West Coast style IPAs, Toronado is a great place to go (I would go there rather than 21stA or other brewpubs because you should be able to get a good cross-selection of local offerings, rather than just one brewery). Also recommend City Beer, esp. if you need a hotel room stash.

                          1. re: The Dive

                            Sculpin IPA would be another beer to try.

                            1. re: JonDough

                              Absolutely agree. Not sure how much of the Ballast Point and other SD favorites make it out east these days, but I would definitely recommend having some Sculpin, Pizza Port Hop 15 and Green Flash West Coast IPA while out here, as they are near-perfect IPAs in the West Coast style.

                              1. re: The Dive

                                You can find Scuplin in the Bay Area. I believe Bev Mo has it sometimes and a few liquor stores carry it as well. I was just shocked at the price, I am used to buying it for $3. Stone's IPA might be worth trying as well.

                        3. Bread (ditto), produce, Mexican and artisan stuff.

                          Go to the Ferry Building on a Farmer's Market day and you can hit all of those at once.

                          83 Replies
                          1. re: ML8000

                            Good point. I think quality and freshness of the produce actually affects the taste of everything. Thus, this time of year in particular, San Francisco is a better place for food and drink. Well, except pizza.

                            1. re: MGZ

                              And pastrami. Or bagels.

                              To the OP, is your visit entirely within the city of San Francisco? Or will you be venturing to other parts of the Bay Area? If the latter, advising what your itinerary is would likely result in some additional suggestions.........

                              1. re: Eugene Park

                                Really? I didn't realize SF had a reputation for bagels. Personally I don't know what all the fuss is about but my husband (plus a lot of other New Yorkers) have strong opinions about bagels and who makes the best. This is one for my husband to taste test.

                                Aside from SF, will be in South San Francisco and also San Jose.

                                1. re: SeoulQueen

                                  SF isn't known for bagels. I believe he was following up on "Except pizza" to add bagels and pastrami.

                                  Humphrey Slocombe and Bi-Rite are very different from il laboratorio (which I visited while I was in NY and thought was wonderful). Completely different in style, and thus not directly comparable.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    I always wondered why no one in the Bay Area tried to make an artisan bagel. Given all the artisan stuff from pork rinds and offal to coffee and bread, you'd think someone would try. My only conclusion is it's a regional and cultural thing.

                                    To the OP, dungeness crab season starts next week. I'd get some of that. If you have friends/family near...I'd skip a restaurant and buy 5 or so and cook at home. Also, if you like Yang Sing...you might try Koi Palace which is near South SF. Most consider it much better then Yang Sing...but it will be pricey and could be a zoo wait.

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

                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      Koi Palace is only a zoo on weekends. I've been there on weekdays when it was an oasis of calm. There are some items served only on weekends however.

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

                                      1. re: charliemyboy

                                        It must be hit or miss. I've definitely been there on weekdays where the wait was just as crazy as a saturday morning.

                                  2. re: SeoulQueen

                                    As Ruth mentioned, I was adding pastrami & bagels to the list of things that SF doesn't do proper justice to. It pains me that we don't have something even remotely on par with Katz or Carnegie here.

                                    Since you've already been to Yank Sing, then I agree with others who suggest you try Koi Palace in Daly City. Depending on where you're at in South SF, it's probably quicker for you to get to KP than YS.

                                    When in San Jose, you might want to check out some of the ramen offerings down that way. Do a search for Melanie Wong's ramen shop list here on the SF Bay Area board, and you'll find a number of her top recommendations are in the South Bay.

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

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

                                    1. re: Eugene Park

                                      that and San Jose is also (in addition to Tucson) where old chain fast food places go to die, Der Wienerschnitzel anybody? kinda surreal.

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        there's a (quite thriving) Der Wienerschnitzel in El Cerrito, East Bay, too....

                                      2. re: Eugene Park

                                        Katz and Carnegie don't hold a candle to the Second Ave. Deli.

                                        1. re: lacerise

                                          I never thought 2nd Ave Deli was very good, but a CH friend with nearly identical tastes to mine preferred their pastrami over Katz's, so it may just be that they're both inconsistent.

                                          Though, I have to say that anyone who complains about the lack of good pastrami in the Bay Area has to get to The Refuge in San Carlos immediately. It's a bit sweeter than Katz's, but with the same luxurious texture. It's really, really good.

                                          We're desperately lacking in good Jewish delis, but at least I get to go to LA regularly, where I think they're actually better than they are in NYC.

                                          1. re: daveena

                                            i'ts not legendary, but the pastrami at deli board is excellent

                                            1. re: daveena

                                              Wholeheartedly agree about LA deli beating NY.

                                              2nd Ave. Deli will always have it's following, but Sarge's have been the latest contender in the Katz's debates.

                                            2. re: lacerise

                                              I went to the reborn 2nd Ave. Deli last time I was in New York. The "juicy" (i.e. fatty) pastrami was better than anything I've had around here, but not as good as Carnegie was years ago (haven't been there since the early 90s).

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Katz's fattyy pastrami is better then either.

                                          2. re: SeoulQueen

                                            If you're going to be in San Jose you should go for Vietnamese food. Little Saigon is a great place to eat. I really like Nha Toi which is Central Vietnamese.

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

                                        2. re: MGZ

                                          oh but you guys now have Antony Mangieri! That's got to give SF some serious pizza cred. Lucky you! Husband and I NOT happy the day we found out he'd closed shop and moved to SF.

                                          1. re: SeoulQueen

                                            San Francisco has serious pizza cred.

                                            I'm pretty fond of the exceptionally fresh seafood offerings at Bar Crudo. Wine selection is pretty good. It's well worth checking out. Not fancy, moderate in price.

                                            -----
                                            Bar Crudo
                                            655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                            1. re: SeoulQueen

                                              And he's gotten a hold of a coal-fired oven. Seriously, with all the cross-pollination that has happened in the last 5 years, I'm not sure there's much difference between SF food and NY. You guys got a lot of "mission burritos". The greatest difference is the number of various different foods - we have only a few interesting pizzas (although Little Star is a non-new-york style that's worth eating), but we have some. Same with Pastrami at The Refuge in San Carlos; there's no other pastrami in the bay area, but that's good stuff.

                                              Bagles and Sourdough - that's a stand-off. There are no bagles in SF.

                                              Reading some of the beer blogs, it seems that Russian River sends out test barrels every once in a while, and things like Pliny and Damnation get poured on the east coast - but it's a major even and is gobbled up fast. The current ultra-hop IPA style is really a west coast thing, and the wide variety of smaller breweries makes for some good drinkin. I know you guys are catching up fast, but I haven't had anything quite as good as a fresh Lagunitas or Pliny out east. The freshness of the tap is key - those hops aromatics go fast. There's a long post with an east coaster giving me a list of breweries to try when I'm back east, so the fault may be mine, but I don't think so.

                                              My favorite pairings with a very hoppy IPA has to be pizza. Something in the deep dish style, like Little Star or Paxti's. Something thin like Lanesplitter is OK, but I love when the cheese and hops fight. Yum. The grease of a Rosamunde sausage fresh off the grill isn't bad either.

                                              How are you guys doing for Hakka?

                                              1. re: bbulkow

                                                Tony up in North Beach has the coal-fired oven next door to his bigger shop.
                                                Anthony Mangieri, Una Pizza Napoletana on 11th Street, has a wood-fired oven.
                                                San Francisco has seriously good pizza.

                                                -----
                                                11th Street Cafe
                                                371 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                Una Pizza Napoletana
                                                200 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                1. re: steve h.

                                                  I don't know what the story is at Una Pizza Napoletana, but had it about a month ago, and I can tell you that something different is going on. His pizza now has this thin layer of gooey, almost uncooked-ness to it that he didn't have in NYC. At first I thought it was just me, but my wife asked me, "Is this underdone?" For fear of being thrown out, I kept my mouth shut. Both pizzas we ordered were like that. I had much better luck with Tony's (which cooks with wood fired, gas fired, coal fired).

                                                  -----
                                                  Una Pizza Napoletana
                                                  200 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                  1. re: ladybugthepug

                                                    THANK YOU. i've never had Mangieri's pizza in NY, but we noticed that the first time we went - doughy. someone tried to tell me it was the style, and if it is, i don't like it. Give me Tony's in North Beach any day.

                                                2. re: bbulkow

                                                  “things like Pliny and Damnation get poured on the east coast - but it's a major even and is gobbled up fast”

                                                  True. Nevertheless, such events are a rarity - more hyped tasting than relaxed drinking. Upon my return to the Atlantic side, I picked up a four-pack of Dogfish’s 90 Minute to help adjust to the time change. It’s a fine beer, but I’d rather have a $4 pint of Blind Pig any day.

                                              2. re: MGZ

                                                The farms of Hudson Valley are excellent with many wonderful micro climates. I doubt many, if any, of the posters are knowledgeable enough about BOTH coasts to make a fully educated comparison. The food culture is vibrant in New York with multiple boroughs of diverse cuisines. The sheer density and breadth of foods makes it nearly impossible for even a native to sample everything, particularly without an unlimited budget.

                                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                                  I agree that there are some wonderful producers in the Hudson Valley, and a few more on that strip of land between the Atlantic and the Delaware River. Nevertheless, there is no comparison between the farm output of NY/NJ and that of the Central Valley, especially this time of year. Consequently, general availability of fresh, local produce is similarly incomparable. Sure, the EMPs and Bernardins on the island get what they want, but that new Korean place in Queens can't.

                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                    As someone who is from NYC and also the Catskills/HV and travels to SF often, just for the record I agree with Pookipichu that the produce is Wonderful in the HV, but it's about to end soon, and SF (California in general) has one up on us for only one reason, the weather. They have a 12 month growing season, we have a 7 month growing season, now of course there is more available on both coasts in the late summer than in January but there is NOTHING available here in the winter. With regards to ethnic foods NY has SF beat hands down, not because there aren't good ethnic spots in SF but just the sheer number of different types of people in NY...you can have West African food from Queens that is kick butt one day and the next get great Pho in the Bronx, Koi is great but so is Ocean Jewel in Flushing (ok maybe not as good as Koi). Just a note to the OP I wouldn't go all the way to SF for Peruvian, there is great peruvian in Queens, Brooklyn, Yonkers and Port Chester and for caribbean food it's almost non existent on the WC. Yes, the Mexican used to be much much better, but in the past 10 years the Mexican population in NY has increased 10 fold so if you know where to go (outer boroughs) the Mexican is almost as good in NY. You will get better "Farm to Table" in Feb in SF than anywhere in NYC simply because there is nothing fresh at any farms here in Feb...but in reality I have to disagree with the poster who said that the SF food culture is superior to that of NY, it's different and there are wonderful spots in both cities (Incanto, Canteen, Slanted Door, Dynamo Donuts and Humphrey Slocombe all great in SF) but the list is equally long if not more so for NY...and there is little that you can get in SF that you can't get here, well maybe with the exception of great local wine, sourdough bread and Rancho Gordo Beans! And there is no reason to EVER go to SF for Pizza!

                                                    -----
                                                    Slanted Door
                                                    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                    Rancho Gordo
                                                    1924 Yajome St, Napa, CA 94559

                                                    1. re: gremlin608

                                                      I was right there with you until the last line and a half (for the record, I prefer the Bay Area for overall food culture because of what it offers the home cook - easy access to excellent, affordable farmer's markets, top notch bread even at regular supermarkets, etc - but prefer NYC's restaurant scene for its diversity and creativity).

                                                      You can't really underestimate how big the gap is in terms of bread (and not just sourdough)- I have yet to find anything at even the best restaurants in NYC to match Acme or Tartine (and you can find Acme at Safeway out here).

                                                      I don't think the gap in Farm-to-Table is seasonal - I've had disappointing tomato salads in NYC when the tomatoes at home are so ripe and thin skinned they burst during my 5 minute walk home from the farmer's market if I'm not careful. I measure the seasons by produce (Blenheim apricots, Santa Rosa plums, Warren pears) that I'd never heard of before I moved out here.

                                                      As for pizza, SF (and the Bay Area in general) have made huge strides in the last few years, and I think it's worth it even for a New Yorker to try some of the ones that highlight local produce and seafood (Pizzaiolo's monterey squid with aioli is the first that comes to mind).

                                                      1. re: daveena

                                                        the mussel pizza at Gather trumps the squid pizza at Pizziaolo IMHO.

                                                        1. re: lacerise

                                                          Good to know - thx! I haven't been there yet, but that may put it near the top of my to-try list now.

                                                      2. re: gremlin608

                                                        The bread at Tartine is very much like (some of) the loaves at Sullivan Street Bakery in nyc (actually, what used to be Sullivan street bakery, the one that's actually on Sullivan street, not the one called Sullivan street which I haven't been to but I've heard is similar....).

                                                        That said, the bread is better here - exactly because there are so many high quality sources readily available everywhere from my corner store to safeway to the bakeries and farmer's markets.

                                                        We can argue about specifics but broadly speaking SF is way way better for home cooks and NYC is better for eating out.

                                                        I would say that as a visitor it's really hard to really get a sense about how great SF food culture is. It's about living here, your kitchen and what you pick up at the market.

                                                        1. re: boris_qd

                                                          I'm not so sure NYC is better for eating out. Certainly it's a bigger place and the culture is geared that way and there's more "nice"/expensive dining options in NYC but the mom and pop/mid-range in SF does quite well.

                                                          I think superior is an overstatement but I do think SF does better overall. It's the combo of wine, produce and artisan (bread, cheese, butchers, etc.) and yes the spirit and nature of California (yes, call it left coast hippie) that gives SF the edge. World class wine, world class produce and artisan stuff that competes with any place and weirdness that allows for surprises...like the Korean tacos and wacky Alice Waters who despite the protests changed the restaurant landscape.

                                                          What I don't get is the NY attitude about being the best. Geez, when Anthony Bourdain and David Chang came to SF they whined about figs. For pete sake, that's cuz figs grow like weeds here...so you eat them. Conversely I'm still amazed no one in NYC has started to farm NYC heirloom rats...or bed bugs.

                                                          1. re: ML8000

                                                            Yes of course wine too. But great California wine is shipped country (world?) wide. I haven't checked but I bet Whole Foods in NYC has great CA wine.

                                                            Cheese is debatable. There are some great cheesemakers in the Northeast (NY,MA, VT for sure). I find the local cheese here to mostly be fine, not amazing, and way way to expensive (I'm thinking in particular of Cow Girl Creamery - But that said I recently had a smoked maple leaf wrapped goat cheese from Oregon that was out of this world and totally worth the price. Is West Coast local enough?).

                                                            1. re: boris_qd

                                                              Sonoma Jack makes a signature cheese, that's not really considered high end anymore, but it's still a classic. There's great local cheeses!

                                                              Whole Foods doesn't sell wine at most NY locations, but the California wines making there way over are of the Trader Joe's selection variety. It's not the best curated list. The good stuff is easily buried amongst Sutter Home and wine sellers aren't usually familiar enough with the wines.

                                                            2. re: thew

                                                              I like the Ascutney Mt. Alpine which we get occasionally when the Cobb Hill folks come for a visit to Berkeley.

                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                Thew, I think Spanish and Argentiniane wines are probably more readily available in SF for some reason.... they're often cheap wins to stock, and I can't qualify this theory, but I think more interest from a little backlash towards the big house California wines. NY has had far better importing of German and French, etc. because of the days when that's mostly all they could sell. The Upstate NY wines are really underrated too!

                                                                I can't agree more on the Dairy farms.

                                                                God bless Strauss and Clover-Stornetta, but I'm unaware of contemporaries to Milk Thistle, or Hudson Valley Fresh, and the many others on the East Coast which have a purer taste.

                                                                On the flipside, SF has Judy's eggs and Uncle Eddie/Petaluma Farms eggs that I have yet to find equivalents for in NY.

                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                  You would be suprised how many Argentine wines are only available in the eastern part of the USA. There are tons of wines from Argentina, but several wineries we went to only had representation on the east coast which really suprised us (Dollium being one that springs to mind immediately).

                                                                  1. re: skwid

                                                                    It's closer, the wines don't have to go through the canal, the market is friendlier to the foreign wine sellers.

                                                                    1. re: skwid

                                                                      It makes sense, but I've just noticed those wines getting more attention, and being in greater abundance in SF of the lower end stuff...but that's just my experience.

                                                                    2. re: sugartoof

                                                                      Spanish wine has traditionally been much bigger in NY and Florida than here, but in the last 10 years, Wines of Spain has been promoting like crazy out here and developed a pretty solid market. I suspect that NY still dwarfs what's available here, although this coast concentrates on the higher priced wines. San Francisco has become the leading market for top German estates growing by leaps and bounds due to the demand for high quality Riesling by Asian restaurants like Slanted Door. According to Burgundy promotion board, the San Francisco area was the top market in the world for Cru Burgundy (premier cru and grand cru) as of an Ernst & Young study about 5 years ago. Could have changed by now.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Slanted Door
                                                                      Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                        My experience with Riesling specifically, has been very different, though the tasting events promoting the German wines are far more publicized, and plentiful. Astor Wines in NY carries a larger daily selection than any SF shop. Is the selection better outside the city?

                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                          Astor might be bigger than anything around here, but K&L in SF and Redwood City and Dee Vine in SF have good selections of German wines.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            Blackwells on Geary also had an interesting selection of German wines. Not the same stuff I see all over.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              "...K&L in SF and Redwood City and Dee Vine in SF have good selections of German wines."
                                                                              No store in NYC has anywhere near as extensive a selection of German wines as Dee Vine, and to say it is less than a great selection is, well maybe west coast understatement.

                                                                              1. re: wew

                                                                                I agree for German vintages, Dee Vine is without compare, but that's one wine shop versus the solid selections at dozens of places in NY.

                                                                                One of the nice things about German wine, is you don't need to buy a high end, collectors bottle to really experience a good version, and most casual drinks aren't wanting both a Spatlesse and a Kabinett.

                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                  "and most casual drinks aren't wanting both a Spatlesse and a Kabinett."
                                                                                  I do not understand what you are saying.
                                                                                  Kabinett:Usually light wines made of fully ripe grapes
                                                                                  Spätlese:Late Harvest

                                                                                  1. re: wolfe

                                                                                    meant to say casual drinkers.
                                                                                    In other words, we're talking about a very easy to drink wine, and most people aren't going to need a shop to carry every variation (a wineries full line) of a Riesling.

                                                                                  2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                    I had dinner at Silks (Mandarin Oriental) a few years back. The sommelier was quite clear in his appreciation of German wines. I was skeptical at first, this was California, but bought into the concept. Glad I did.

                                                                                    Sometimes I think that Northern California enjoys a love/hate relationship with local vintners. Many restaurants I go to in San Francisco are proud to carry California wines but they seem to be equally pleased to offer French, Italian, German, South American wines. I'm not sure what to make of this, just thought I should throw out my observation.

                                                                                    One last thought: beers seem to be coming on strong at local restaurants. Bar Crudo is a prime example.

                                                                                    So much to learn, so little time.

                                                                                    1. re: steve h.

                                                                                      What you should make of this observation is the restaurants around here sample the world's wines, to our benefit. If you want to get psychological about it, maybe california remembers well what it was like, being locked out of the world's wine industry, but in reality, I think it's all just globalization.

                                                                                      I love german wine and would enjoy seeing more of it out here. There's a nice gruner-veltner that's been making the rounds, and I saw some other veltner recently.

                                                                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                        Antithetical to the locavores? Mercy :-)

                                                                                        I like the Bay Area very much. Comparing it to NYC ( and vice versa) to argue which is better makes no sense to me.

                                                                                        I was, however, very serious about the beer renaissance going on in your backyard. Very impressive.

                                                                                        http://www.tablehopper.com/lush/bar-c...

                                                                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                          Care to share what you've found, bb? I stumbled across a couple of central coast GVs this weekend, Chien from Santa Barbara County and Zocker from the Edna Valley, both 2009. Can't wait for a Sichuan dinner to try them out. One other found but not yet tried is a Souveraner Malteser Ritterorden, Riede Hundschupfen 2007 GV Mailberg.

                                                                          2. re: sugartoof

                                                                            New traditions and the artisan thing...that's a big part of SF.

                                                                            The BBC had a great series called "Oz and James Big Wine Adventure." They covered France in the first series and California in the second. One of the big points made by Oz Clarke about California wine was (to paraphrase), "this is where the rules are broken and it's about the end result and if taste good." He made this point after visiting Bonny Doon and some of the non-big boy left coast weirdos.

                                                                            Naturally this attitude/concept crosses over to food and artisan stuff in particular. Acme and bread in general is a good example. Cal-Moroccan or Korean tacos...who cares how it came about as long as it tastes good. (It's been noted that Korean tacos came about after consumption of California's biggest cash crop...green bud.)

                                                                            1. re: ML8000

                                                                              Bonny Doon makes a stellar dessert wine, only had the one, so can't speak to the others.

                                                                            2. re: ML8000

                                                                              To be fair, Bourdain and Chang didn't say anything that hadn't already been said by Daniel Patterson, they just did it in a more obnoxious way. I mean, Zuni "did" serve a single nectarine rolling around in a bowl as dessert, and from the gigantic thread that spawned from that a few years ago, even a large percentage of Bay Area diners found that too absurdly minimalist.

                                                                              I love both regions, but I will say that in a given year, there are more restaurants opening in Manhattan that I'm dying to try than in SF. Too many menus out here adhere to a Bauer-pleasing format - I don't dislike it per se, but I really only need one beet salad/pizza/cocktail/cute waiter option.

                                                                                1. re: wolfe

                                                                                  Years later, that picture still makes me laugh. Thanks wolfe!

                                                                                  1. re: wolfe

                                                                                    That's a bowl. I had the same experience but at Chez Panisse cafe, about 10 years ago. But the peach came on a PEDESTAL PLATE. this was before the days of taking pics of your meals, so i don't have one. But it happened. $8.00.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Chez Panisse
                                                                                    1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                        anecdotally, yeah, but nah. it was good, but the best peach ever? no.

                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                          I had a similar experience at Incanto a while back. I was wondering what the "bowl of fruit" option would end up coming out as and sure enough, it was a white bowl with a hard nectarine and some other fruit that wasn't that great. I think that was about 8-12 dollars too. SF pretentiousness knows no bounds, I thought.

                                                                                          1. re: choctastic

                                                                                            A bowl of fruit is a common dessert at restaurants in Italy. They put a big bowl on the table and you pay for what you eat.

                                                                                            I don't understand why people think something so simple, natural, and healthy is pretentious.

                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                              well, not in a bowl with other fruit, if you put it on a PEDESTAL.....

                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                Maybe because the dessert pricing isn't rustic or realistic, it's entirely pretentious. Maybe becayse notion that you're buying and reselling a perfect piece of fruit, upselling it for 2-4 times the price is laughably pretentious.

                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                  Zuni's infamous $8 nectarine was actually $4.50, and given Blossom Bluff's prices that's not a very steep markup.

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    It's at least a three-times mark up: Blossom Bluff retails for $3.00 lb (or did at that time), but I know they give a discount for volume purchases for retail customers so I assume they do for restaurants as well. Even assuming that the price for restaurants is only discounted ten percent (to $2.70/lb.) a large nectarine that weighs half a pound only costs $1.35. So even with these very conservative numbers, that's a 3x mark-up with no "value added." Pretty steep, IMHO.

                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                      It also goes back to this new California idea of name branding a fruit farmer. I think it's a wonderful thing to some extent, but not while promoting the notion that other fruits and farming in other regions (like the Tri-State) are inferior.

                                                                                                      I would much rather see establishments offer a bonus piece of fruit, or something of that sort the way some places offer up sorbet as a palate cleanser. That gesture still allows for the same reverence without it turning into a bad skit, or fig on a plate debate.

                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                        It's not a fig it's a nectarine. If it had been a fig there would have been no debate. ;-)

                                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                          I have no problem with "naming" the fruit grower. I'd want to know that a nectarine came from one of the premier organic stone-fruit growers in California. It's not that fruit from other places is necessarily inferior, but I *know* this is a high-quality piece of fruit, while a generic fruit could be good or it could be horrible. But I think $3 would have been a much more reasonable price.

                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                            Everything has overhead. I think $5 is reasonable...if it's a really good piece of fruit. I mean if a place can charge $8 bucks for a bottle of Pellegrino and it costs $2.50 in a store, I don't think it's crazy.

                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                              If the nectarine cost $1.35 and they sold it for $4.50, that would be 30% food cost, which is in the industry standard range.

                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                Apparently in 1901 Packard began using the slogan "Ask the man who owns one." I believe it applies to Robert in this particular case.

                                                                                                                Oops I forgot, for you youngun's that's the Packard Motor Car Co. not HP.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                    While you at it why not put in the 90cents for the waiter's tip?

                                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                      There's also labor, rent, utilities, linens, cleaning, insurance, garbage collection, pest control, maintenance, payroll processing, accounting, credit card processing fees, taxes, licenses ...

                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                        But if you consider prime cost, it would probably be well below average. How much labor is involved compared to dishes that require some real cooking?

                                                                                                                        1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                          I've always thought that many restauratures would gladly dispatch a tiny fraction of their clients to the tallow works and have the proceeds credited to City Harvest, other.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                          Which one of those explain making up a profit loss by rinsing off a piece of fruit and dropping it on a plate? Nobody should begrudge a restaurant making a profit, but a 200% mark up best suited for alcohol is counterproductive, in this case.

                                                                                                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                            Have you ever been to a place where they valet your car 10 yards from the entrance and you have to wait in line 10 minutes to get your car? All the while your think, "Man, if I had my keys I could just walk the 30 feet and get in. It's sort of the same thing. If I want fruit, I can do it myself.

                                                                                                            1. re: ladybugthepug

                                                                                                              Folks, can we drop this tangent on acceptable pricing or take it to the Not About Food board, please? This thread is wide-ranging enough.

                                                                                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                              If it was good fruit, I would understand. The nectarine could have subbed for a baseball. I believe I mentioned the subpar quality of the fruit in my earlier post, which was, of course, ignored by the SF folks. Good job, guys.

                                                                                                              Just to reiterate: I do not think a bowl of fruit for dessert is pretentious. I think a very expensive bowl of underripe fruit is pretentious.

                                                                                              2. re: boris_qd

                                                                                                Sullivan Street Bakery (NY) does make one rustic bread they describe as almost like a sourdough, and it's the closest thing to a Tartine Bread (SF) you can find. Bread Alone (NY) at the Farmers Markets makes something reminiscent as well. Still, the Tartine bread wins easily. Part of it may be that they only sell it fresh, instead of making it available all day long. The breads and baked goods in SF are the benchmark.

                                                                                                Another item you're not likely to find in New York is Princess Cake.

                                                                                                As for the big comparison between regions, the biggest problem is New York is playing catch up with the idea of seasonal fresh food, despite having 3 states worth local to them. You would never have to explain to a San Francisco why a restaurant charging $17 for a dish shouldn't be using frozen main ingredients, but that very topic has come up more than once on the NY side of Chowhound.

                                                                                              3. re: gremlin608

                                                                                                I think there's a similar issue when people compare an area they know in depth, like I know the bay area, to an area they know less well (like I would compare new york). I've had the pleasure of living now for 7 years in SF, 6 years in the east bay, and 6 years on the south peninsula, and the breadth of eating is still quite huge. I've eaten out about 5 dinners a week over those years, and that's an enormous quantity of restaurants.

                                                                                                Most of what I love isn't covered even on chowhound. Korean in Sunnyvale is nearly untapped.

                                                                                                That having been said, I have to believe greater NY has the edge. Take, for example, the fact that we finally have a polish restaurant again. Rejoycing! We don't really have a strong russian restaurant. African food is Eritrea and that's about it. Thai is currently at a low point.

                                                                                                Interesting: there are more Michelin 1-stars in the bay area guide than in the NYC guide. NYC pulls ahead in 2 and 3 stars, but for quantity of 1-stars, the bay area is ahead by about 20%. Wine country wins the day, if only because they do the kind of restaurant that Michelin loves.

                                                                                          2. re: MGZ

                                                                                            On a recent trip to SF, I really loved Burma Superstar in Oakland, Monterey Market in Berkeley (described to me en route as Fairway on steroids), Blue Bottle coffee and Pepple's donuts. What really struck me is just how great the farmer's markets and produce are.

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

                                                                                            Burma Superstar
                                                                                            4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

                                                                                        2. Donuts. SF serves up a different style that isn't duplicated well in NY.
                                                                                          Croissants.
                                                                                          Custard Tarts from Golden Gate Bakery.
                                                                                          Ice Cream for exotic flavors.
                                                                                          Burritos are an obvious pick.
                                                                                          Quiche from Butler and the Chef.
                                                                                          Coffee from a light/medium roast bean.

                                                                                          I think pizza, and Chinese are superior in New York, unless you approach it looking for the more unique variations, such as Gialina for pizza.

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Gialina
                                                                                          2842 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                                                                                          Golden Gate Bakery
                                                                                          1029 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                          28 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                            can you describe this different donut style? im curious

                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                              Thew - An Old Fashion, or Apple Fritter means something else in New York.

                                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                ok. can you tell me what it is in SF?

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    i've seen those in NY. not sure what theyre called, if not old fashioned, and i have no idea about the buttermilk

                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                      The New York board has had it's share of threads about this.
                                                                                                      If you have a hot tip, be all means share it!

                                                                                                      Otherwise, there's only one Italian bakery in NY known to make anything close, outside an Entenmann's box.

                                                                                                      An old fashioned, there is simply a classic rounded donut. Cider donuts, and hand rolled cakey non-yeast are an example. An Apple fritter there would turn up something more danish like, often with apple filling. The shape, texture, and flavoring of these are entirely different. It's just a different tradition.

                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                        i get it. i'm just saying i've seen that shape in NYC, but do not know what it is called, or what the batter contains.

                                                                                                        i have seen apple fritters here in NYC that are more like the donut you show than a turnover, however

                                                                                                        which italian bakery?

                                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                                          I call the apple fritters cow pies because that's what they look like only frosted.
                                                                                                          http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3245/3...

                                                                                                            1. re: ladybugthepug

                                                                                                              I have only eaten one of them but it was so long ago I forget which one.

                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                            D'aiuto Baby Watson in Midtown.
                                                                                                            If you can think of where you found it, please let the NY board know.

                                                                                                            The Cambodian (or just Asian) owned donut shops in California are apparently their own special breed.

                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                              I've had some good Cambodian food at doughnut shops, but the doughnuts seemed the same as anybody's.

                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                Are you asking for a clarification?

                                                                                                                "AsianWeek
                                                                                                                06-28-2000
                                                                                                                Donuts Anyone? Cambodian Americans own some 90 percent of California's
                                                                                                                donut shops

                                                                                                                When Mann Lee arrived in the United States from Cambodia in 1984 looking to
                                                                                                                set up his own business, he opted to open a donut shop."
                                                                                                                http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-79129...

                                                                                                                http://missionlocal.org/2010/07/the-s...

                                                                                                                http://current.com/groups/on-current-...

                                                                                                                Chinese and Doughnuts: A California Mystery
                                                                                                                http://www.theatlantic.com/food/archi...

                                                                                                                Here are Donut discussions from the NY boards:
                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/236348
                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6916...
                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2339...

                                                                                                                It shouldn't puzzle anyone. There are specific types of donuts which aren't readily available in NY. If it's of interest to the OP, who knows? It's a 75 cent item.

                                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                  Cambodians do own a lot of doughnut shops in California, but their doughnuts aren't different in any way from those at other shops.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                    Unless they're trying a gourmet angle, most California donut shops are making the same product line, maybe even using the same distributors for ingredients. Some of the standard line is distinct.

                                                                                                                    You might not recognize that until you leave California and try to get it elsewhere.

                                                                                                            2. re: thew

                                                                                                              Yeah, I occasionally saw an apple fritter (doughnut type) when I lived in NY, but in my 10 years there, I never saw a (West Coast-style) old fashioned, nor did I encounter people who knew what they are. If they do exist somewhere in NY, I'd have loved to have known about it then...

                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                  I gotta think a NYer is going to be a bit disappointed with pizza in SF, good can be found, but it's a hunt....

                                                                                                  yes bagels generally suck, but the lox on the other hand can be pretty darn good.

                                                                                                  BREAD! BREAD! BREAD! bread. did I mention bread? and I don't mean the over-hyped sourdough (which is good) but just the dumb old baguette or boule. only Paris does better (and only slightly) and as pointed out above and on other threads, the burritos. oh those burritos. anyplace in other cities that claims they sell NoCal burritos is lying to you. for some reason there is no comparison no matter which Taqueria in SF you choose.

                                                                                                  and personally I'm a sucker for the Japanese grocery below Nihonmachi.

                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                    I haven't been to Paris in around 15 years, but at that time there was no bread as good as Acme's or Tartine's.

                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                      Robert: at least we agree that SF area bread is not to be missed (I can't stop emphasizing that point apparently, it's like a knee-jerk reaction)

                                                                                                      and in addition, y'know how people wax romantic about homemade bread? nope, save your time and go to the store. even the dumbest in-house brand from Safeway is phenomenal (there is much much better out there, but even that is great)

                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                        that's an interesting statement. i think the difference with paris is that your average corner store has bread that is better than just about every bakery in san francisco. whereas is sf you can only go to 1-2 places to get such high quality.

                                                                                                        1. re: ikb

                                                                                                          It's the other way around. You can get Acme all over the place in the SF area. I don't think you can get bread that good in Paris.

                                                                                                          The average bread in Paris is better than the average bread here, but that's another issue.

                                                                                                          1. re: ikb

                                                                                                            The average bread in Paris is underbaked and cold. There are plenty of good artisanal bakers, but people who care about bread still have to search for it in Paris, just as they do here. Though as Robert says, Acme and similar quality baguettes are available at supermarkets and corner stores everywhere in the bay area now.

                                                                                                            1. re: SteveG

                                                                                                              Acme's levain (the most common bread in good restaurants hereabouts) is way better than Poilâne's (the Parisian counterpart and perhaps model).

                                                                                                              Paris might have the best baguettes in the world (e.g. Poujauran's), but the average Parisian corner-store baguette is comparable to what Bakers of Paris sells around here.

                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                In what way is it way better than Poilane's levain?

                                                                                                                1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                  Pretty much every way: appearance, aroma, texture of both crust and crumb, flavor. Poilâne's levain makes great toast but (even purchased directly from the bakery) is often dry and unpalatable fresh.

                                                                                                      2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                        Manhattan > SF proper for Chinese, but if you add in the Peninsula and South Bay, I think Manhattan loses its advantage. NYC including Queens prob has a broader range of Chinese but I think high end Cantonese is prob better in the Bay Area.

                                                                                                        Croissants? I haven't had anything here yet to top Petrossian - where do you recommend?

                                                                                                        Def yes on the custard tarts from Golden Gate bakery - I grew up going to Flushing every month for dim sum/Chinese grocery and bakery runs, and I never had tarts as good as the ones from Golden Gate.

                                                                                                        re: donuts - if the OP's going to be in San Jose, I highly recommend Stan's Donuts in Santa Clara - they have the best raised donut I've ever tasted.

                                                                                                        1. re: daveena

                                                                                                          I haven't had Petrossian to be honest, but the top rated in SF beat the pants off the other NY options (Ceci Celi, Balthazar, the place in Chelsea, etc.)

                                                                                                          Have you tried Pattiserie Phillippe, or Pine Street on-site baking location of Boulangerie?

                                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                            Haven't been to Patisserie Phillipe, will put it on my to-try list - thx!

                                                                                                            Agree that Ceci-Cela isn't very good. I never thought the croissants at Patisserie Claude were all that, either, and could never figure out why people raved about them.

                                                                                                      3. Oysters are just different, and worth a look. There's a few tomales bay varieties that are interesting and a little different, and the pacific northwest varieties are fresher here than new york. My personal preference is for east coast oysters, but a fan would enjoy an oyster eating.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                          I'm a big fan of oysters (and vodka gimlets). I live near Long Island Sound and very close to NYC. I like the oysters on both coasts. I mine both coasts for their best of everything. I don't like to compare the two. Both have their appeal.

                                                                                                          1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                            And I like YOUR style :) I love both those cities more than words can describe.

                                                                                                        2. Cocktail programs! Try The Alembic, Comstock Saloon, Bar Agricole, 15 Romolo, Smuggler's Cove, Jardiniere ... the list is endless for seasonal, well balanced cocktails that are better than the ones I've ha in New York. (That said, some of the best cocktails I've ever had have been at The Violet Hour in Chicago and The Varnish in L.A.)

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          15 Romolo
                                                                                                          15 Romolo Pl, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                          Bar Agricole
                                                                                                          355 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                                                          Smuggler's Cove
                                                                                                          650 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                                          Comstock Saloon
                                                                                                          155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: t.susannah.chen

                                                                                                            Great list, but they feature menus largely following in the "mixologist" trend from New York. None of them really can touch a good night at Pegu, PDT, or Death & Co.

                                                                                                            No reason not to try anyway for comparisons sake though!

                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                              The neo-tiki rum thing at Smuggler's Cove is a West Coast tradition, as acknowledged by the NY Times:

                                                                                                              http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/din...

                                                                                                          2. Something, anything, everything made with Meyer Lemons! Apps, main, salads, desserts, you get my drift. I stock up on them every year during our winter trip to bring back here to NM. And while in SF, eat as many dishes as I can. They are wonderful.

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: DebitNM

                                                                                                              They won't grow in New Mexico? They grow like weeds around here.

                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                No, unfortunately. I got really excited last week when visiting nursery and saw a Meyer Lemon tree. I quickly asked if they really grow here, and they said, "well, sort of - you have to bring them inside in the winter". Sigh...that's not going to happen, can't imagine getting it in and out twice a year.

                                                                                                                1. re: DebitNM

                                                                                                                  I did it in Illinois for a number of years, and some back damage.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DebitNM

                                                                                                                    You can put a it in a wheeled planter box or pot and move it around. It makes it easier.

                                                                                                                2. re: DebitNM

                                                                                                                  i never got the meyer lemon thing. they seem sorta neti neti to me

                                                                                                                3. How is NY for farm-to-table versions of non-European cuisines? That's a pretty exciting trend here, e.g. Aziza (Moroccan), Hibiscus (Caribbean), Ajanta (Indian), La Costanera (Peruvian).

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  Ajanta Restaurant
                                                                                                                  1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                                                                                                                  La Costanera
                                                                                                                  8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA 94037

                                                                                                                  18 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                    So funny that you mentioned that! I was just looking at the menu for Aziza, I'm headed back to SF in April and Aziza is definitely on my list!

                                                                                                                    The "ethnic" population in NY (truly ethnic) isn't really up on Farm to Table in a big way...but the quasi ethnic spots are beginning to get there with 1 or 2 farm to table items on the menu at times. Tabla and Chutney Masala (Indian), Buenos Aries (Argentenian),...but really not much happening that isn't "New American/French/Italian" inspired unfortunately.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                      Not to mention a lot of the Asian food is very close to being farm-to-table in that it comes from small specialty producers who are growing specific, non-commercial breeds (yellow chickens, for example) for their target markets or buying outside the mass commercial supply chains (like the butchers who are actually breaking down whole animals instead of buying pre-packaged "primal cuts"). The variety of local Asian produce is astounding, and the fact that it's local means it's both better and cheaper, so the ingredients are accessible to even the very cheapest restaurants.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                        Ruth, the problem with that theory is you can see the produce sold in Chinatown isn't local. It's cheap, and it's fresh looking, but while an increasing amount comes from places like New Jersey, a lot is still coming from Mexico. I think only supermarkets have to sticker it.

                                                                                                                        The ethnic foods are going for cheap and flavorful, and usually an authentic version of an item... the idea of sourcing depends. Spicing and technique probably gets more attention.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                          I think it depends on what produce. The more basic stuff (like bok toy) might be non-local but if you check the local farmer's markets, there's plenty of locally (100 mile radius) grown Asian produce. In a sense it's almost "bontique" produce because it's specialized. No way big ag is going to grow bitter melons.

                                                                                                                          If you're talking California, there's quite a few farmers growing Asian produce near Stockton. Also there's some projects/co-ops in the Central Valley organizing Hmong and SE Asian farmers and they're growing sustainable and organic stuff. That right there is a huge difference between CA and NY...and the thing is, the cross over and cultural mix is very interesting (left coast hippies again!)...like Korean black garlic being used at a Cal-Moroccian place (Aziza).

                                                                                                                          1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                            I agree, but you're not going to see bitter melons on every corner in NY's Chinatown. You're still more likely to see miniature watermelon in an unmarked box. Driscol is a common brand to spot at the fruit carts. So if they're using something local, chances are it's because it's convenient, not out of any sense of preference. At a good farmer market, the range of exotic items is far superior in NY, but it's not an ethnic food thing, it's a high end chef, or home chef using interesting ingredients thing.

                                                                                                                            When I think of Taqueria CanCun's self farm vegetables, for example, I can't think of an equivalent in NY, though Brooklyn microfarming, and rooftop farming is very trendy, and could one day surpass California's scene.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                              I'm sorry, I have to call you on this one: "At a good farmer market, the range of exotic items is far superior in NY, but it's not an ethnic food thing," Sorry, that's not just believable.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                The selection of greens at the NY Union Square green market is superior. It's attracts a cross section of customers, but it's not known as a cheap, market serving the cheap ethnic eats you find in Queens, Brooklyn, or the Bronx.

                                                                                                                                In SF you can get 8 different types of dates, in NY you can get 8 or more types of apples. The comparison i'm making is more towards exotic variations, Who is the SF equivalent of Lani's Farm?

                                                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                  There are local farmers' markets with growers who offer more than six varieties of apples -- Hillview Farm in Watsonville being one and the guys who are at the Tuesday Ferry Plaza market for another. You are the only person I've ever heard say that greens are superior in NY.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                    Ruth, I said the selection of Greens is more diverse. To that end, it's superior.

                                                                                                                                    You also misunderstood my point that comparisons don't exactly work...in one region you may have more dates, but another more apples. These are regional trade offs and it's apples to oranges, or um dates.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                    I think i'm confused about what you're trying to say sugartoof. The selection of greens available at Alemany is much much larger then what is available at Union Square market - it's true that you have to go to several different stands and move between asian and western themed stands but on any given week I can bok choy, pak choy, buk choy, gai choy, choy sum, kang kong, en choy, tuscan kale, collards, russian kale, pea shoots, sweet potato leaves, several kinds of spinach, and more. There's even a stand just dedicated to south east asian fresh herbs. What could be more exotic than that?

                                                                                                                                    There's a stand at the Ferry Terminal market (can't remember the name) that has 15 or so different varieties of greens - including things like fava and several obscure varieties of spinach.

                                                                                                                                    Maybe my problem is with the use of the word "exotic". Maybe you can be more specific as to what's exotic and what isn't?

                                                                                                                                    Lani has things like ground cherries, fresh garbonzo beans and green zebra tomatoes. But all these kind of items are available at Alemany as well and some. I think in nyc they really stand out because there are so few places to get things like that, but here in SF maybe you never even noticed because there are (litterally) 50 other stands to look at.

                                                                                                                                    I don't know, maybe I wasn't paying attention but that kind of variety just isn't available at the the green market.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: boris_qd

                                                                                                                                      "The selection of greens available at Alemany is much much larger then what is available at Union Square market"

                                                                                                                                      Let's agree to disagree on this. Much as I love Alemany (and Civic Center) and it's abundance of choy, Union Square has shown me a diversity unknown to the Bay Area. I will say this has only been the case over the last year or so. It's also a far more seasonal market as well. I see more items out of season goods for sale at Alemany.

                                                                                                                                      Anyway, we're getting off topic, and I'm not suggesting the OP seek out produce.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                        I think people here are genuinely interested in hearing how or what NY produce is superior to SF and CA because if that's really the case, then we'd really like to know. It's like if someone from NY said wine is better in NY...could be but we'd like to hear some examples...just like if someone said pizza and bagels are better in SF.

                                                                                                                                        So far I still haven't heard/read what non-Asian, exotic produce is better in NY but you insist NY is superior. I'm not talking philosophy or customers...just straight up apples to apples. or greens to greens.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                          I never made an apples to apples comparison. I mean, I could but that seems even more off topic.To humor you, I'll say that yes, I do think the Apples are better in NY. There are other areas NY wins as well. Remember, a Manhattan farmers market draws from 3-4 different State regions, all essentially local,5 hours away. Let's not underestimate that even against California's legendary farming. I could also pick items which SF has better in the produce dept. too. Again, it's still not my point.

                                                                                                                                          I was actually giving California the edge in farm to table cuisine but by simply stating I've seen a superior selection of greens in NY, yet that diversity isn't fueled by the incredible range of ethnic foods, it upset some people, I guess. Oh well.

                                                                                                                                2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                  It doesn't matter why they're using it, as long as they are using it. And ML8000 basically explained what I meant. Have you been to the Old Oakland Farmers' Market? Or some of the other not-so-upscale farmers markets? The range of Asian produce is staggering. Chinese and Japanese truck farmers have been farming in Northern California for over 100 years, and at least some of what they produce is specialty crops grown for their own communities long before they could source it from far away places.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                    Ruth, I wasn't commenting on Asian produce in the Bay Area, I was commenting on the lesser interest in local produce found in New York within certain types of food. I'm in agreement that the Bay Area is superior in that regard. My watermelon comment was specifically of NY's Chinatown. My bigger point is there's a different philosophy, though NY is catching up. Still, the range of oddball items at the standard Farmer Market in NY is far more prevalent.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                      I'm the ultimate NYer and I have to agree with Sugartoof...we have a bed and breakfast in the catskills and we are 95% farm to table, it takes alot of work, commitment and effort, but with NY growing season so short we have to serve frozen (albeit picked by me in July) berries in January, it is what it is...NYC is WAY behind SF in the whole locavore movement, but we are catching up, and NY diners and chefs are becoming more conscious and savvy. This can be easily noticed by the mobs and mobs of people who are at the US Greenmarket on Saturday, and the number of Whole Foods that have cropped up in the past 5 years in the city. Now with regards to access to ethnic produce, that's difficult, NYC is a mass transit culture, and many new immigrants don't have and don't need cars, most of our farms are not within 50 miles of the city, and with the exception of the few new urban rooftop gardens that have become popular most people who would request ethnic produce can't even get to the farms that would grow it...Produce has to move, and simply putting some in a truck and driving it 120 miles from Columbia Cty to the NYC Greenmarkets isn't enough to offload the amount of produce grown. So the farmers depend on locals and folks from NYC who have summer homes, and restaurants to purchase the bulk of their produce, so they grow what moves...and STILL there is a TON of waste because there is way more grown than what is actually used which is really sad...so the farmers still lose money. What the local small farmers go through is very difficult, and yes it doesn't help that NY is behind SF with regards to chefs recognizing the importance of farm to table...while I see a trend, it still frustrates me to no end to be in the Catskills and see a US Foods or Sysco truck in the driveway of a restaurant that is 10 miles from some of the best produce, meat and dairy around.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: gremlin608

                                                                                                                                        Seeing a Sysco truck at a restaurant does not necessarily mean that they're delivering food. The company sells all sorts of other necessities such as cleaning supplies, cash register tape, to-go containers, etc.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                          Robert, The difference is New Yorkers are still waking up as to why that Sysco truck might indicate less desirable ingredients at all. It's just accepted and if the food tastes good, they see no reason to care. So we're talking about a different mindset. One semi-popular suggestion for visitors to NY openly serves entrees parbaked frozen and canned ingredients, in the $17 range. Trying to explain why that was unfortunate was like speaking another language.

                                                                                                                                          New York still has Blue Hill Stone Barns nearby, the New Amsterdam Market is booming, and the artisanal scene in Brooklyn is thriving and growing in ways I think even the Bay Area can admire....but, they're still playing catch up.

                                                                                                                        2. Bourdain tried to find stuff to hate the last show he did in SF, but it backfired on him. He "wanted dearly to hate" the tamales at the Primavera stand at Ferry Plaza, but ...

                                                                                                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMtIAR...

                                                                                                                          1. Um. MGZ was the one who started off with the claim that "the entire food culture in SF is superior to that in NY".

                                                                                                                            Also - Chang was being snarky when he made the figs on a plate remark. It was funny, and a little true.

                                                                                                                            I also have a little trouble believing that there are more varieties of greens at the Union Square Greenmarket than in the SF farmer's markets, but not having spent a lot of time at the USGM, I can't make any informed responses. However, I *can* quite confidently say that what I have available to me locally, easily, and affordably far outstrips anything I had access to when I lived in NYC - for me, it's not the availability of esoteric items at one market that matters, it's the wide availability of a broad range of high quality produce.

                                                                                                                            1. Locally distilled spirits.

                                                                                                                              From St. Georges we have a local rum (from local sugar cane even!), single malt, absinthe, coffee liquor from blue bottle coffee, a selection of eau de vie, tequila. From anchor steam we have gin, geneve, and rye. I'm sure there are other producers as well.

                                                                                                                              Might be worth some exploration.

                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: boris_qd

                                                                                                                                Good call. I love trying cocktails using local spirits - probably every place with a good cocktail program has a few. Sidebar in Oakland does classic and locavore versions of several drinks - anyone in SF do the same?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: boris_qd

                                                                                                                                      i don't know, as i've not had the ST Georges, etc, stuff. but it isn't like these local artisanal producers do not exist here in the NY region.

                                                                                                                                      i keep hearing this from the SF proponents in this, and similar discussions, that they have these artisanal cheese makers, wine makers, distillers, etc, and thus are superior to the east coast which they portray as all sisco based, non-local, etcetcetc.

                                                                                                                                      i would never claim that stuff does not exist in california - it's pretty head in the sand to pretend it doesn't exist elsewhere as well.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                        In general it's not about "exitence" but about the quantity and quality that is easily and readily available. Thinking in terms of does something exist misses the point of what makes the Bay Area (and other part of CA) so special. I'll say it again:

                                                                                                                                        Quantity and Quality that is Easily and Readily available.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: boris_qd

                                                                                                                                          i'm not sure how that applies to what i said - i said i cannot compare the quality, as i have not tried the St George products.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                            It's a reply to your second and third paragraphs.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                              It's not a reply to your first paragraph. It's a reply to your second and third paragraphs.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: boris_qd

                                                                                                                                                and i say there is quality available here. just more seasonality involved

                                                                                                                                  1. ok so am adding bread (tartine or acme) and a mission burrto to my list.

                                                                                                                                    i'm getting the impression that the 12month growing season gives access to some interesting foods that ends up leading to some unusual and creative cooking. NYC has loads of Korean and Chinese restaurants out in Flushing - some are very good but it'sall very traditional. Mayb this is why David Chang's restaurants are so popular because it is different? So are there any asian restaurants doing creative things? I would be interested to try a place that took Korean cuisine (or any Asian cuisine) in a completely different but delicious direction (example: Kogi taco truck in LA).

                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                                                                                      The two that come to mind for me are Mission Chinese (for casual) and Benu (for high-end). I haven't been to either but have heard good reviews of both.

                                                                                                                                      The classic example was cited way upthread - Slanted Door, for Cal-Vietnamese. Visitors from NYC consistently love it.

                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                      Slanted Door
                                                                                                                                      Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                                                                                      Benu
                                                                                                                                      22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                                                                                      1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                                                                                        Namu is Cal-Korean. My favorite thing there was the burger, arguably the best in the area, though I think the only Korean aspects are the charcoal it's grilled over and kimchi in place of bread-and-butter pickles.

                                                                                                                                        Ame is sort of French-Italian-Japanese fusion. The House is Cal-Chinese-pan-Asian. O Chame in Berkeley, Cal-Japanese.

                                                                                                                                        Ippuku in Berkeley is quite traditional but has Cal-cuisine-style sourcing.

                                                                                                                                        There are a couple of Cal-Indian fusion places on the Peninsula, Junnoon and Mantra. I haven't been to either.

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        The House
                                                                                                                                        1230 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                                        Junnoon
                                                                                                                                        150 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                                                                                        O Chame
                                                                                                                                        1830 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                                                                                                                        Mantra Restaurant & Lounge
                                                                                                                                        632 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                                                                                        Ame Restaurant
                                                                                                                                        689 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                                                                        Namu
                                                                                                                                        439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                                                                                                        Ippuku
                                                                                                                                        2130 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                          Does Namu still have the stand at the Ferry Building during Thursday lunches? Pretty sure that was Namu, and pretty sure there's good reason why their burger line was 5 times the size of a (unfortunately overhyped) artisanal butcher type, who shall not be named, also serving burgers.

                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                          Namu
                                                                                                                                          439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                            Could it have been some one else? Here is the present Thursday menu.
                                                                                                                                            http://namusf.com/images/Namu_FrryBld...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                                                              Maybe they stopped doing the burgers. Their line was popoular about this time last yr., either way. Haven't returned on a Thurs. since.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                              I can't find any reports of Namu serving the burger at FP, and they didn't have it on the opening-day menu:

                                                                                                                                              http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                              Namu
                                                                                                                                              439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                Well I can't prove it, I just know I wished I had been in their line instead, and considered ordering it. That was the first time I became aware they had a notable burger.

                                                                                                                                            3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                              The amount of fusion in Junnoon and Mantra is moderately low. Mostly they highlight unusual dishes of the indian cuisines - but mantra does have its "nanizza" which claims to be a cross between nan and pizza.

                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                              Junnoon
                                                                                                                                              150 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                                                                                            4. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                                                                                              Can't remember if this particular point came up already, but I would focus on levains from different bakeries - while they all have other interesting breads, I think it's the wide availability of excellent levain that sets the Bay Area apart. Another good levain is from Della Fattoria (in SF, only available at the Saturday Ferry Plaza farmer's market as far as I know). Thorough Bread has good bread too - I really like their sourdough, which as far as I can tell from an extensive sourdough thread a few months back, is probably not a classic SF sourdough loaf.

                                                                                                                                              There was a great discussion of local breads a while back - it includes the details of how to time picking up a fresh loaf from Tartine.

                                                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/579480

                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                              Della Fattoria
                                                                                                                                              141 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, CA 94952

                                                                                                                                            5. Really fresh oysters, for cheap. (I like Hog Island myself)
                                                                                                                                              Dim sum at a place like Koi Palace or the South Bay places.
                                                                                                                                              Bi-Rite ice cream. I hear Humphrey Slocombe is even better, but haven't been.
                                                                                                                                              good and cheap banh mi.
                                                                                                                                              indian food was lacking on my last trip, at least in manhattan
                                                                                                                                              Recchiutti chocolates (I think they're better than what I had in Manhattan))
                                                                                                                                              The farmers markets here are way better. The produce here is a thousand times better.

                                                                                                                                              What I had that was better in Manhattan, at least on my last trip:
                                                                                                                                              Bread at Sullivan Street Bakery (wow)
                                                                                                                                              Pizza at a bunch of places, but particularly Motorino
                                                                                                                                              Bagels

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

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                                                I think the bread issue is one of the quality/quality/readily available aspects people have described above. No one is saying there isn't great bread in NY, but the quality of bread you can buy in almost any market in the Bay Area is very high. Same with the produce: I don't have to go to Ferry Plaza to get great produce, I can get it any number of places, and again, the quality and variety of produce in an average supermarket is pretty good.

                                                                                                                                              2. Well I am back from my trip and here's a quick recap:

                                                                                                                                                1) OMG! The bread is SOOOOO good in this city. Ate at several establishments and never had a bad piece of bread. Even went to Tartine bakery right when they took out those famed sourdoug loaves but decided against buying one and instead had one of their pastries which was excellent. It was fun to watch all the people that came popping in to ask if the bread was ready.

                                                                                                                                                2) Mission burrito was a big disappointment - ate at La Corneta and although the fresh salsa was nice, the burrito itself was worse than Chipotle's! I think maybe the venue was a poor choice? But I saw loads of ethnica Mexicans so I thought it would be good, oh well.

                                                                                                                                                3) Beer choice and freshness throughout the trip was excellent. Husband was very happy with everything he drank. We meandered into Monk's Kettle and he liked it so much, we went back again the next day.

                                                                                                                                                4) Dinner at Zuni's cafe was wonderful. The portions are deceiving, they don't look like much but appetizer and entree were more than enough to leave me too full to try dessert. Alas.

                                                                                                                                                5) Weather was too cold to sample the ice cream - will have to do that next time. We did walk past Bi-Rite.

                                                                                                                                                6) Yank Sing - fantastic as always!

                                                                                                                                                7) Blue Bottle coffee is still the best. I'm not a cofffee drinker because I hate the bitterness but you never get that at Blue Bottle. Their coffee is just smmmmoooooooth! Too bad the queue was forever!!

                                                                                                                                                Overall, the food was good but I felt like there wasn't the variety and sheer number of restaurants that NYC has. It was also bit more difficult to get around to the different neighborhoods than I expected and I felt like I ought to have hired a car.

                                                                                                                                                32 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                                                                                                  New York City population 8,000,000
                                                                                                                                                  San Francisco population 750,000
                                                                                                                                                  New York City's 24,000 restaurants
                                                                                                                                                  San Francisco 3,100 restaurants

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                                                                    those numbers are slightly askew, as NYC includes the 5 boroughs, but SF population wouldn't include berkeley, richmond, oakland, etc - which are as much part of the metros SF area, as brooklyn is part of NYC

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                      "which are as much part of the metros SF area, as brooklyn is part of NYC"

                                                                                                                                                      Not exactly. The numbers are askew because NY Boroughs are sized like large cities in their own right. The certainly have a distinct food identities, but the co-mingling is very unique, and represents one city.

                                                                                                                                                      I've always wished this forum would take the same approach as the NY Outer Boroughs board and separate the Bay Area discussions from the SF discussions. Some of the talk outside the SF city limits reads as pretty regional.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                                                                                                    La Corneta is a chain (i think there's 3 of them) and they're not a favorite. Too bad! you were so close to so many other great choices! glad you had a yummy time.

                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                    La Corneta
                                                                                                                                                    1147 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                      sounds like SQ the OP is not a stranger, she'll have a next time (and next time for the sake of ease without a specific recommendation - sorry that's partly my fault I did say just about anywhere, I didn't take into account anything but M+P) just stroll Valencia between 16 and 17 and check the crowd and smell the aroma. so for future readers, if a taqueria looks too slick or comfy without a definite mention, keep walking.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                        la corneta is very good, just not incredible.

                                                                                                                                                        the only taqueria on valencia between 16th and 17th is the pancho villa spinoff el toro, which is good, but nothing special. or did i misunderstand what you were saying

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: vulber

                                                                                                                                                          is La Cumbre no more? or Pancho Villa (ok I guess what I really meant was s stroll from the 16 street BART at Mission to 17 and V) and I do like el Toro, although I'm sure there are better. I do try to emphasize to newcomers the subject of "best" burrito can inspire a fistfight (I've seen it).

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                            La Cumbre is still there. It went downhill but has returned, for me at least. A lot of people don't like it...hence the fights (fist or otherwise) and the hesitation to recommend anyone place. I'd choose it over El Toro or Pancho Villa.

                                                                                                                                                            LC has very good grilled chicken, char-grilled, nice marinate. The carne asada is inconsistent although I have good luck with it. I've never order any pork (carnitas, no al pastor) there, it's just not good, as least when I tried it way back when.

                                                                                                                                                            The "safest" bet on general agreement in SF might be the El Toyanese taco trucks. Or go to Fruitvale in Oakland as someone mentioned.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                              The last time I went to La Cumbre they didn't have the slightly sour orange hot sauce that brought me back there every few years. It was fine but pretty generic.

                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                              La Cumbre
                                                                                                                                                              28 N B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                          la corneta isnt a chain, they just have several locations. when they're off, they're off....but i've had really great food there, and think it's a solid beginner choice. i prefer their non-burrito items lately, or the steak/prawn combo in a burrito.

                                                                                                                                                          the op would have probably preferred la taqueria, or taqueria can cun.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                            i never know what constitutes a chain - more than 2, 3?
                                                                                                                                                            Yep, La Taqueria would have been my rec.

                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                            La Taqueria
                                                                                                                                                            2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                              i believe the city classifies a chain as over 7 of the same business.

                                                                                                                                                              in the case of la corneta, they just have 2 locations in sf, and 2 outside the city, with plans for another in north beach. they're not all uniform looking or selling as franchises.

                                                                                                                                                              el farolito has 9 locations in california, just to compare. it's technically a chain.

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                                                                                                          What kind of burrito did you order? What kind of meat, beans, rice...and did you get cheese, crema, gauc, etc (aka a "super" aka a gringo-ifed bomb)?

                                                                                                                                                          There's a big difference between steam-table chicken with black beans, crema and cheese vs. an al pastor with pinto beans, hot salsa and no crema/cheese and guac...and that's at the same place. Ordering a Mission burrito is like order a slice in NYC...definitely depends on what you order...and where you order it...but the variations are multi-fold.

                                                                                                                                                          Like many, many mom and pop places, most taquerias do a few things well and the other things not so well. Example, I'd never order any pork items at some taquerias and at others I'd never order beef or chicken.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for your report! Next time try elsewhere for burritos - depending on what kind you like, I would give different recommendations. Which La Corneta did you eat at?

                                                                                                                                                            As a current resident of Boston, I would also like to point out that it's NEVER too cold for ice cream.

                                                                                                                                                            Finally, next time you should get the sourdough from Tartine. I really miss that bread. Although their pastries are great too.

                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                            La Corneta
                                                                                                                                                            1147 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                                                                                              I don't think that Tartine bread is actually a sourdough....it's just closest thing to it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                Tartine's bread is sourdough, though it's a different kind than what tourists expect from "San Francisco sourdough."

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                  Since when? They have never sold it as such. It's a rustic bread that many of us have observed is very similar to a real sourdough, but it's not sour. Nor has it ever claimed to be until Chad Robertson's book casual mention of it being a "young" sourdough. It's been sold as a Country Bread. In NY, Sullivan Street Bakery specializes in a pane casareccio, and other similar variations for sale at specialty markets like New Amsterdam Market, that are in line with Tartine's bread. A sourdough however, must be sour to some degree.

                                                                                                                                                                  I do recall you endorsed supermarket Boudin as authentic without a decrease in sour, so I'm not sure what you mean with your jab at tourists. San Francisco natives grew up with a real sourdough which no longer exists. We have Tadich's, Boudin's Pane, rustic on a good day and then there's Tartine which only captures the texture, crust.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                    "Tartine Bread is devoted to the use of natural leaven, often called sourdough."—Chad Robertson, from the introduction to his book Tartine Bread.

                                                                                                                                                                    He doesn't call his bread sourdough, since he doesn't want people to expect it to be more sour than it is. Same goes for Acme's levain and Italian.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                      None of the breads you mentioned are meant to be sour at all.
                                                                                                                                                                      What do you mean by "more sour"?

                                                                                                                                                                      Prior to his book and I'd bet the threads on here, he wasn't referring to his breads as sourdoughs... because once again, they're not.

                                                                                                                                                                      As we've established, the typical memory for what is and isn't a sourdough, is short.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                        To me, "sourdough" means bread that is leavened using ambient wild yeast and lactobacilli, and "not sourdough" is bread leavened with cultivated yeast or soda, or unleavened. What's your definition?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                          A style of rustic bread that when fully formed has a specific taste, and crust.

                                                                                                                                                                          You can make old world breads using wild yeast, and the same technique, without brewing a sourdough.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                            How do you tame your wild yeast so it doesn't sour your bread? Is it a factor of time or locale. My Berkeley starter, handed down from a starter from 1888, makes a fairly sour loaf from a 2-3 day sponge but still slightly sour when used straight from the jar.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                              If you use wild yeast around here, you're going to get lactobacilli too, and the bread will consequently have a sour taste, though depending on the technique it can be relatively mild, as is (intentionally) the case with Tartine's.

                                                                                                                                                                              The sourness of Acme's levain varies quite a lot depending on the weather and who knows what.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                The idea that every bread made of wild yeast in our region equates a sourdough, with sourness defies the reality that no bakery is currently producing a classic sourdough for sale to the public.

                                                                                                                                                                                Fog isn't enough. In other news, NY water doesn't magically pump out perfect bagels and slices.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                      It's true that the bread is not marketed or sold as a sourdough. But if you watch this video about the bread at Tartine, you'll see the starter that is used in making the bread. Like Robert says, it is indeed sourdough.

                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.tartinebakery.com/bread_vi...

                                                                                                                                                                      I do not recommend watching this video if you are hungry and live in Boston.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                                                                                                        Beautiful video, thank you for linking to it.

                                                                                                                                                                        They are indeed using a fermented starter, but that isn't what defines a sourdough.

                                                                                                                                                                        I was one of the first people, if not the first on Chowhound to compare Tartine's bread to the great old classic San Francisco sourdoughs, but it's still not a sourdough. Nobody should be mislead to think it is.

                                                                                                                                                                        Like I said, the notion that sourness is for tourists is inaccurate.

                                                                                                                                                                        Still the best bread in the city though.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                          Sugartoof, you're talking about a stylistically specific San Francisco Sourdough. The others in this thread are talking about the more general baking category of sourdough, which can produce loaves with a wide range of characteristics, among them, San Francisco Sourdough and Tartine "Country" loaves.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SteveG

                                                                                                                                                                            It's the difference between a baker describing their bread as "like a sourdough process", and making a sourdough.

                                                                                                                                                                            When Tartine came up during our many sourdough threads, nobody described it as an actual sourdough.

                                                                                                                                                                            Sourdough isn't an expression.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                              The threads you refer to were mostly about finding old-school SF sourdough, and if you're looking for that, Tartine's, as great as it is, ain't it.

                                                                                                                                                                              This is a fairly standard definition: "Sourdough: a preferment that is a culture of wild yeast and bacteria that is perpetuated by the periodic addition of flour and water, or a bread leavened in whole or part by this culture."

                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.thefreshloaf.com/faqs/glos...

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                "finding old-school SF sourdough, and if you're looking for that, Tartine's, as great as it is, ain't it."

                                                                                                                                                                                Uh...no, it's really not. It lacks the flavor profile. It's a country white bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                                  folks it's reading like you're starting to agree on many points.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                                    At this point both perspectives have been aired and rehashed, so we'd ask folks to leave the debate over Tartine's bread where it stands.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Bagels, Pizza, Kosher Deli, Italian Deli, Black and White cookies, Italian pastries, Greek Diners is the most common food in NYC...