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Nov 19, 2010 06:03 PM

What are the must see and eat food spots of San Fran?

I'm a food writer in NYC who disturbingly has never been to San Fran. I'm coming in Feb to eat and see what's going on in the food scene, with the idea of possibly returning next summer for a stint on a farm or at a food organization. Any recommendations? Thanks! Excited to finally get to visit.

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  1. Hi Devra,
    You'll get a better response out of the board if you ask a more specific questions; do some homework.
    Here's a start:

    1. The Ferry Marketplace is a must. As to the second it sounds like you might be referring to a farmstay? If a food organization includes people teaching people to plant and garden and grow their own foods, check out Ghost Town Farms; they're doing a world of good in very food-disenfranchised neighborhoods, but it's definitely not a farmstay. Not quite sure what you're asking, I guess...

      1. frances, commis, plum, commonwealth, marlowe will give you an idea of the top new american style tasty eateries that don't break the bank.
        lers ros thai, so (chicken wings), mrs and mrs miscellaneous (ice cream)

        20 Replies
        1. re: ankimo

          Given that Commis starts at $68 per person before tip or tax, I guess that "breaking the bank" is a relative term :)

          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

          1. re: vulber

            you're right. guess that one doesn't fit -- wonder what people start thinking of as expensive...entrees at $30?
            the other top bay area must see and eat are probably morimoto, sumika, incanto, nopa, zuni, canteen, redd, alexander's, etc.

            1. re: ankimo

              How about throwing in Ubuntu down the block from Morimoto about 1/3 mile.
              PS I think the place link is case sensitive or do you small case on purpose?

              Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
              1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

              610 Main Street, Napa, CA

              1. re: ankimo

                The OP, who never replies to posts on chowhound, is interested in the current food scene, and didn't claim any price sensitivity. I would put Nopa and Incanto and Canteen on the map for the current scene, but direct someone more in the direction of Mission Street Food, PizzaHacker, Off the Grid, all the new ice cream places, Plum.

                560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                Off the Grid
                Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123

                1. re: bbulkow

                  I'm a bit weary of any Food Writer that can't do basic research, can't ask a question beyond "must see and eat" and never replies.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    Let's be neighborly and assume they did their homework and are asking us for the local perspective. Looking at our scene from the outside will often give you a rather stale and out of date view. We are no longer just Chez Pannise and Zuni Cafe and TFL. But these are what one hears on the other side of the world. Besides isn't this basic research?

                    Zuni Cafe
                    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                      1. re: wolfe

                        Good one! non-sarcastic applause!

                      2. re: budnball

                        Okay, the neighborly thing to do is answer the question...but that's such a wide open question and of course subjective and contextual...thus the suggestion to ask a specific question.

                        The thing is, that question gets asked everyday in one form or another and there's any number of ways to answer it. Frankly a writer should know better. The quality of the answer will be related to the quality of the question or the conversation that you can draw out.

                        Basic research on CH = doing a search, read some threads for 10-15 minutes and ask a question besides what shouldn't be missed. Here's some examples:

                        What's seasonal that's unique to CA right now?
                        I just read it's crab season in SF, where would you go to get the best?
                        I've had Chinese and Korean food in the boroughs, I'd like to try some in SF, where?
                        I have 2 dinners in SF, staying in Burlingame, want to spend X amount and don't want (fill-in cuisine) and my best friends cousin's brother next-door neighbor is a vegetarian and will be treating...where to go?

                        1. re: budnball

                          Since you asked, basic research means looking at some of the zillions of existing threads and then asking specific, targeted questions. And honestly, any food writer who thought that the Bay Area is just Chez Panisse, Zuni Cafe and TFL would be completely out of the food scene loop, because SF restaurant trends are reported in the NYTimes, not to mention Michelin and Zagat.

                          Zuni Cafe
                          1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                          Chez Panisse
                          1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                          1. re: budnball

                            I sincerely appreciate your support on this one. I have of course started other means of research (reading san fran food stories in both national and local publications, emailed a couple of farms and been seeking out links to culinary school students who are friends of friends). I grant that the question I posed was incredibly broad but I figured I would start by casting a wide net and see what it drew in, then refine my search as things came to light and crystalized.

                            Here is a more specific question: I would like to volunteer on an urban farm that is genuinely concerned with education, both of its staff and of visitors. Does anyone know of a good one that is receptive to full-time volunteers?


                            1. re: devra

                              first, welcome and thanks for not "posting and running"

                              I ain't local, but I'll recommend Suzu's noodles in J-town.

                              1825 Post St, San Francisco, CA

                              1. re: devra

                                See above. Ghost Town Farms. It's in the phone book for the East Bay Area. Also see Novella Carpenter's book, "Farm City", which is an absolutely marvelous account of an enormous "squat" garden in urban Oakland, complete with veggies, pigs and bees, and was the forerunner of the organization mentioned above. Oh, and Tadich grill is a pretty quintessential San Fransisco experience and the fish there is EXCELLENT without fail. Go at lunch and go early, or be prepared to wait or sit at the bar, which is great too. Don't forget to toss the dice cup to see who pays; management provides cups and dice.

                                1. re: devra

                                  Check out City Slicker farms in Oakland. I did a volunteer day with them with some colleagues from work and it was interesting. They also just got a major grant to take the program to a new level.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Thank you both so much. I'll look into Ghost Town Farms and City Slicker. I'll also track down a copy of Farm city at the library.

                                    1. re: devra

                                      I would think most possible opportunities would be in Napa and Sonoma. You're getting an urban-focused slant here; don't give up on more rural opportunities.

                                      If you don't like writing out 'San Francisco', you can use 'the Bay Area' or SF. Now you're writing like a native!

                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                        Bb, the OP asked specifically about urban farms further on down the thread.

                                      2. re: devra

                                        Also these are all in SF proper and have websites:

                                        Little City Gardens
                                        Hayes Valley Farm
                                        Alemany Farm
                                        Garden For the Environment

                                      3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        Ruth, thank you for remembering for me what I couldn't remember for myself. City Slicker Farms is what Ghost Town Farm evolved into. Their focus (I don't know what direction this grant will take them in) was providing local organizations with volunteer labor and supplies for raised-bed gardens. I know several local drug/alcohol rehabs. (live-in) that have benefitted from their sharing - Chrysalis Women's Services is eating from the garden they built to this day, and I hear the ladies find it very very therapeutic to work the vegies.

                                        City Slicker Farms
                                        1724 Mandela Parkway Suite 5, Oakland, CA

                                        1. re: mamachef

                                          Just a point of specificity: City Slicker Farms did not evolve from Ghost Town Farm nor the other way around. Though both are fabulous farming projects operating in West Oakland! City Slickers started with the use of one vacant lot at 16th and Center st. which was purchased by Willow Rosenthal in 2001. They do create Backyard gardens like the one you mentioned, mamachef. And they also operate several Community Market Farms. The $4 million grant they just received will go towards creating a new farm/park/community space in West Oakland. It will be the first piece of land owned wholly by the organization.

                        2. here's a link to some video I took of Novella Carpenter about a year ago with her goats and chickens in West Oakland. You can hear Novella's voice in the background and first see her at the 47 second mark in a t-shirt talking to the visitors. She milks the goats in the utility room of her second-floor apartment which you can see at 1:11 in.


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: zippo

                            It's not a farm, but you should definitely make a daytime visit to 18th Street between Guerrero and Dolores to visit Tartine for fabulous baked goods, Delfina Pizzaria for killer pizza, Bi-Rite for a remarkable local market that supports the best meat, produce, and cheese producers in the area, and the Bi- Rite Creamery across the street from the market for salted caramel ice cream.

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

                            1. re: TopoTail

                              Thank you - I particularly can't wait to visit Bi-Rite.

                          2. I'm surprised no has mentioned the Chez Panisse Foundation which is about education, school kids and food.