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Suggestions wanted for 4 day honeymoon trip - first time in SF

s
stilicious Jan 19, 2011 06:07 AM

Hello

We will be in San Francisco in May arriving Sunday leaving Thursday. We do not have an exact itinerary of what we will be doing but it will involve all the typical tourist things that people like to do on their first trip to SF. We are staying at the Huntington Hotel on Nob Hill. We would like some suggestions of places to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner preferably near the main sites so that we can plan eating and seeing together.

We don't have a budget in mind but were thinking reasonably priced/cheap and cheerful for the most part and 1 top notch meal, for which I had been thinking Gary Danko. We would also like recommendations for cocktail bars that are different and memorable.

We are visiting SF last thing on our roadtrip so will have been to LA, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Yosemite. We also want to try a high end dining experience in LA and Las Vegas hence wanting to eat "normally" for the rest of the meals

We live in Barcelona so Spanish tapas style food doesn't really appeal as we have a pretty good selection of that on the doorstep. A slight issue is that I love fine dining and my fiance loves big hug portions. I absolutely love a good burger while my fiance loves steak and big slabs of meat. We also like mexican, japanese (I'm more western sushi rolls, he is more traditional japanese baked eels etc...), french, thai, chinese - (we've never been for dim sum and would like to try, any suggestions for dim sum virgins and what we should order?), we also like seafood.

I know San Francisco has a lot of great Italians but I eat lunch every day at a small Italian restaurant so would prefer some different cuisine types

We really enjoyed the food in Australia and New Zealand, lots of fresh produce, traditional dishes with a modern twist and decent portion sizes.
I hope I have given enough info...!

thank you

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

  1. wolfe Jan 19, 2011 06:32 AM

    This list is a little dated but a good place tp start. Revisions to it will have to be made when the author gets back from Guatemala and gets reacquainted with her turf.
    http://www.chow.com/lists/1591

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe
      ankimo Jan 19, 2011 06:49 AM

      if you like burger and meat, then i recommend wayfare tavern. for sushi, a mix of traditional and fusion or rolls, then i think you might like kabuto but it's farther away. for thai, can't pass over lers ros (research what you're going to order ahead of time for the best experience). a pretty reliable french (basque) bistro is fringale. seafood at sotto mare is excellent. try hog island at the ferry building. an easier dim sum to do closer to you is yank sing or city view. right now a popular, reasonably priced restaurant to give you an idea of our city's dining is commonwealth. for breakfast/brunch, you can find a lot of recs like tartine bakery, brenda's, dottie's, mama's, zazie, foreign cinema, etc.
      by the way, i'd recommend high end dining in vegas, i.e. l'atelier, etc., but not in LA as much, except you might want to try the bazaar.
      the board is better at critique-ing actual itineraries (based on distance, time, hours open, etc)

    2. s
      stilicious Jan 19, 2011 08:13 AM

      OK, having had a look a quite a few menus for various different types of restaurants , the ones that look appealing to me are

      Foreign Cinema
      Lers Ros
      Roam Artisan Burgers
      Nopalitos
      La Taqueria
      Piqueos
      Aziza
      Bix
      Jardiniere
      Pagolac
      Gary Danko

      Any comments on which are must-eats? And if any are not as great as they look
      I haven't looked any up on a map either yet so some might be too out of the way

      -----
      Piqueo's
      830 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Pagolac
      655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

      Bix
      56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

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

      La Taqueria
      2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Roam Artisan Burgers
      1785 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

      10 Replies
      1. re: stilicious
        Robert Lauriston Jan 19, 2011 08:30 AM

        Piqueo's is one of three restaurants owned by chef Carlos Altamirano. Mochica is less out of the way and a nicer space. La Costanera (which I haven't been to yet) is way out of the way but has a view, might be the best choice if you have a car.

        -----
        Piqueo's
        830 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110

        Mochica
        937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

        La Costanera
        8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA 94037

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          s
          stilicious Jan 19, 2011 08:38 AM

          Yes we will have a car so I will look into that. La Mar also looks pretty nice, would you recommend going to both?

          1. re: stilicious
            Robert Lauriston Jan 19, 2011 08:48 AM

            I think the food is similar but better at Altamirano's places, and it's less expensive, except for La Mar's happy hour.

            1. re: stilicious
              Ruth Lafler Jan 19, 2011 08:53 AM

              I wouldn't recommend doing both in such a limited time. If you want to drive down the coast then La Costanera might be a good choice, but I wouldn't choose it as a destination over the other places.

              No one so far has questioned your choice of Gary Danko. Most reports suggest it's been coasting for several years now and the food has become "dated." In addition, it's sort of generic fine dining that's not particularly unique to San Francisco. Since you're doing fine dining in Las Vegas, I'd suggest you either choose a fine dining option that's more representative of SF or skip fine dining entirely in favor of one of our excellent "mid-to-upper" end restaurants that are much more representative of the current SF dining scene.

              -----
              La Costanera
              8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA 94037

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                s
                stilicious Jan 19, 2011 12:24 PM

                Where would you suggest? i had a look at Coi but it doesn't really appeal to me

                1. re: stilicious
                  Ruth Lafler Jan 19, 2011 01:07 PM

                  For four dinners, with your stated preferences, I'd do:

                  Aziza (it has a Michelin star and a five-course prix fixe that's generally a lot of food, so it might suit both your "fine dining" and your husband's "lot of food" requirements)
                  Lers Ros
                  Mochica
                  Bodega Bistro

                  As steve noted, for fine dining, big portions, La Folie is the way to go. I think you should do Zuni for lunch.

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

                  Bodega Bistro
                  607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

                  Mochica
                  937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    SPICESupperClub Mar 8, 2011 05:43 PM

                    To the above I would also add Burma Superstar. Also, it's extremely tough to get a seat but for Sushi / Omakase I would go to Tekka. You have to get there early and stand in line since there are only like 7-8 seats. Many people rate it only one star so that it won't show up as high in Yelp ratings so as to keep it a secret. But hell. I think everyone should have the opportunity to experience it.

                    Also, realized I forgot to mention cocktail bar suggestions. For me this is more about the creator vs the bar itself. Bourbon & Branch is great and not too far from where you are staying. Also, you might want to the Alembic, Romolo, Bar Agricole (Rum) & Smuggler's Cove.

                    -----
                    Bourbon & Branch
                    501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA

                    Burma Superstar
                    4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

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

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

                  2. re: stilicious
                    SPICESupperClub Mar 8, 2011 04:01 PM

                    If you were considering Gary Danko's then price must not be an option. If that is the case I would recommend one of the following. All amazing culinary experiences

                    Benu - Corey Lee (French Laundry offspring)
                    Commis - James Syhabout (Fat Duck, Coi & El Bulli)
                    * In Oakland. If you have a car I would highly recommend this place
                    Saison - Amazing food and the wine pairings are out of this world.

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

                    Commis
                    3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                    Saison
                    2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

                    Benu
                    22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                    1. re: SPICESupperClub
                      Ruth Lafler Mar 8, 2011 05:12 PM

                      If Commis is of interest, there have been extensive discussions on how to get there without a car (the preferred method being BART to MacArthur station and a short cab ride).

                      -----
                      Commis
                      3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

            2. re: stilicious
              w
              walker Jan 19, 2011 10:56 PM

              La Taqueria: I love the quality of this place, it's very casual. Love the tacos best. I request "dorado" which means "golden" so it's a bit crispy.

              Aziza is very good but a bit pricey. I have not been to La Folie (but will soon!!) and if I were choosing one "splurge" place, this would be IT.

              I ADORE dim sum at Yank Sing, the 101 Spear (near Ferry Bldg) location. They close at 4pm, best to go by 1pm (great that they take reservations), sit INSIDE the restaurant, NOT the lobby area. Take your time, get 1 or 2 things at a time, they keep coming with fresh stuff. Every time I go (and, I ALWAYS have a great time!) I must get: Shrimp Dumplings, soup dumplings, minced chicken in lettuce cups, individual portion of Peking Duck, and, egg custard tart. (Don't get chicken salad, no good and the sea bass seems overpriced at $17.) Beautiful tea but they also have wine, if you prefer.

              Zuni is great and they serve all day on days they are open so it's great to go for late lunch or early dinner. They grind their own beef for very special hamburgers but only serve them before 6pm or after 10 pm. If you like caesar salads, get one -- they have the best I've ever had.

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

              La Taqueria
              2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            3. steve h. Jan 19, 2011 12:37 PM

              "A slight issue is that I love fine dining and my fiance loves big hug portions."

              Fine dining and huge portions say La Folie to me. Bring an appetite.

              12 Replies
              1. re: steve h.
                t
                trespinero Jan 21, 2011 12:22 AM

                That is a solid list and should keep you busy. You might want to try a lunch time bowl of pho right down Jones at pho hoa, not glamorous but good and inexpensive. The Big 4 in the Hunnington is definitely worth a cocktail and the food is solid if you are tired of moving about.

                I don't enjoy paying yank sing prices, rather go to Clement Street and get dim sum on the cheap. Also Burma Superstar is there, but there is only so much time and belly space.

                It may also be worth exploring the many Salvadorian and Nicaraguan places in the mission district which you won't find in the other cities you are going.

                1. re: trespinero
                  hill food Jan 21, 2011 12:33 AM

                  I dunno, if I'm gonna blow that much on cocktails, I'd hit Top o the Mark (Hopkins, just down the street - killer view) or the Fairmont (same deal AND a glass elevator)

                  since the OP is a self-proclaimed Dim Sum virgin, I think Yank Sing is an appropriate starting place. yeah it's not terribly adventurous, but it is reliable. to walker's recs there I'd add the har gow (shrimp and chive steamed rice wrapper), siu mai (pork ad shrimp steamed in same), steamed bao (pork bun), fried eggrolls, fried potstickers (wheat wrapper IIRC)

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

                  1. re: hill food
                    w
                    walker Jan 21, 2011 10:40 AM

                    Another poster said Yank Sing is too expensive and that they go to Clement Street; I've never enjoyed any dim sum there -- I'd rather pay more and get much better quality, especially a visitor should do so, not that many meals to waste experimenting.

                    Also, at Y.S. I find the eggrolls a bit greasy and not that exciting. I have not had any good eggrolls in SF. (Used to get good ones in Michigan and NYC.) As to pork buns, they have both steamed and baked and I prefer the baked ones -- you can request your head server to get you an order from the kitchen.

                    1. re: walker
                      Robert Lauriston Jan 21, 2011 10:51 AM

                      You can't beat Yank Sing for quality. We usually spend about $20 a head, though the bill could be twice that if you order unusual specials such as Peking duck. There are places that are less expensive, but the quality's lower as well.

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6190...

                      -----
                      Yank Sing Banquet & Catering
                      101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        w
                        walker Jan 22, 2011 01:56 AM

                        I don't know how you can do $20 a head. For me, it's more like $35 with tea, tax and tip.

                        I think it's totally worth it, though.

                        1. re: walker
                          Robert Lauriston Jan 22, 2011 08:54 AM

                          Here's a solo lunch I had a year ago:

                          2 taro dumpling 4,35
                          3 stuffed mushrooms (half order) 4.65
                          cold Chinese broccoli 5.45
                          2 chicken mushroom dumplings 4.65
                          black tea 1.95
                          total before tax and tip: $21.05

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            w
                            walker Jan 22, 2011 11:43 AM

                            I HAVE TO HAVE shrimp dumplings, soup dumplings, egg custard tart.
                            WANT TO HAVE: minced chicken in lettuce cups, Peking duck. Pea shoot dumplings are nice, too.

                            So $21.05 BEFORE tax and tip.

                            1. re: walker
                              Robert Lauriston Jan 22, 2011 04:01 PM

                              Get the fancy stuff and you pay more, but you are getting fancy stuff. Most of my favorites are traditional dim sum items on the cheaper end that they've been serving since they were a cheap hole in the wall on Broadway

                              These look like current prices or close to it:

                              http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res...

                              Peking duck at $5.25 as slice will drive up the bill pretty fast!

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                steve h. Jan 22, 2011 04:04 PM

                                Deb and I are fans of Yank Sing. Our average bill runs $70. Money well spent.

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

                      2. re: walker
                        hill food Jan 21, 2011 05:31 PM

                        walker: YS eggrolls can be a little greasy, but they have that required crunch, dip them in the chili-garlic sauce and they become much more exciting (and take it from me, rips any possible hangover right out of your skull)

                  2. re: steve h.
                    Splendid Wine Snob Jan 22, 2011 04:18 PM

                    Totally agree on La Folie for the high end choice. I think based on the OP's statement, this would be a much better fit than Gary Danko.

                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                      steve h. Jan 22, 2011 04:34 PM

                      La Folie satisfies at many levels. It puts a smile on my face.

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

                  3. Robert Lauriston Jan 21, 2011 07:41 AM

                    My favorite dishes at Yank Sing include shrimp dumplings, chicken-mushroom dumplings, taro dumplings (only when fresh out of the fryer), soft rice rolls with scallops, mushroom caps stuffed with pork and tarragon, turnip cake, roast eggplant, and cold Chinese broccoli. They are the most expensive dim sum place around, but the quality is tops and many of the staff speak English, which can be helpful for a beginner. They have a printed menu (though at peak times you'd have to ask for it) so if there's a particular item you want to try you can order it. The Spear St. / Rincon Center branch has a bigger selection and a full bar.

                    -----
                    Yank Sing Banquet & Catering
                    101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                    1. a
                      AdamD Jan 21, 2011 11:04 AM

                      Sneak into the tadich grill during off hours and sit at the bar for a snack. Bloody mary and a dungeness crab cocktail. One of the oldest restaurants in America and a good way to taste the crab.
                      If time will allow, head up to tomales bay for some fresh oysters-Marshall general store for example.

                      1. hill food Jan 21, 2011 06:07 PM

                        this reminded me of a similar thread from a while back, just the couple was coming through SF first and then to Australia

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/583648

                        they too were looking to keep some things on a budget, and while I've stayed in the Huntington only once, the room had a (sizeable) kitchenette. so get that cable car pass - basic Cala grocery store at one end of the line, Ferry Building Market at the other.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: hill food
                          w
                          walker Jan 22, 2011 01:59 AM

                          The California line of cable cars is OUT for several months, repairs. I guess they are running buses but I'd hate to drive one of those big buses down the Calif. St hill.

                          Opera singers would stay at the Huntington and make some meals...I think I read that Pavarotti did.

                          1. re: walker
                            hill food Jan 22, 2011 05:38 PM

                            oh well, the #1 Cal bus runs (Westward) just a block away on Sacto and (Eastward) 2 blocks on Clay. just watch for the bags of flopping live fish around your ankles. and yeah if they're running buses down Cal, I pity the drivers (and riders) Sacto is steep enough.

                            Opera singers: I can see that, as frankly the room service food was kinda sucky although the service was nice (big surprise).but I swear you could easily call in a caterer and toss a decent dinner/elaborate cocktail party with that kitchenette.

                        2. Robert Lauriston Mar 8, 2011 07:55 PM

                          Smuggler's Cove does a modern, scholarly twist on Tiki drinks, amazing selection of rums. I recommend the no-name drink that's basically a Last Word with agricole rum in place of the gin.

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

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            steve h. Mar 9, 2011 01:25 PM

                            "scholarly twist on Tiki drinks..."
                            I'm going.

                            1. re: steve h.
                              Robert Lauriston Mar 9, 2011 01:43 PM

                              http://smugglerscovesf.com/trapdoor/c...

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                steve h. Mar 9, 2011 01:54 PM

                                ahh, scholarly umbrellas both sheltering and nurturing the spirits.

                                Now I really have to visit.

                                1. re: steve h.
                                  a
                                  artemis Mar 9, 2011 03:17 PM

                                  I second Robert's recommendation. I'm usually not much of a bar person at all - crowded, no seats, noisy, bad drinks, smelly, hipsters, etc but Smuggler's Cove is great. The drinks are fresh and delicious, the bar is comfortable, and the bartender is knowledgeable and friendly. I've had probably a half dozen different drinks there and they have all been tasty. I think my favorite is the Hotel Nacional, and my SO likes the extra-strength Painkiller.

                                  Another memorable cocktail bar is the Top of the Mark. Gorgeous views, and they only let in as many people as there are seats, so it never feels crowded.

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

                              2. re: steve h.
                                SPICESupperClub Mar 9, 2011 05:22 PM

                                You'll love it. Great vibe too.

                            2. s
                              steveb Mar 9, 2011 01:43 PM

                              We stayed at the Motel Capri (not quite the Huntington) on our last trip to SF. We walked down to Chestnut and discovered Judy's Cafe for breakfast. It offered everything I like in a breakfast restaurant. Give it a try. Check out their website.

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