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SF visit this weekend

We’re considering moving to San Francisco later this year and are taking a “check it out” trip this weekend. We’re hoping to eat similarly to what we eat at home. We’re focusing on 3 neighborhoods we might live in, Mission, Noe Valley, and Potrero Hills, but we’re OK with anything nearby those places. Just like at home though, we wouldn’t drive forever for a meal. We’re staying at Le Meridien if that helps anyone at all, but we’re not too concerned with eating in that area since we wouldn’t live there. Here’s what we’d eat at home:

Healthy breakfasts: think oatmeal, egg white veggie omelets, etc
Sushi: even better if there’s some sort of special, all you can eat, happy hour, etc
Vietnamese: not fancy fusion, down and dirty original, we like bun and pho
Middle Eastern
Great delis

We also plan on checking out Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Atherton since my job would be in Silicon Valley, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to stomach the burbs. Either way, feel free to give suggestions for those areas as well. Thanks!

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  1. Here is a link to a VERY lengthy thread on dining & food shopping options in various SF neighborhoods. It is a good place to start your research:


    1 Reply
    1. re: DavidT

      Here is a link to a thread on dining & food shopping in various cities on the SF Peninsula:


    2. Thanks very much! Unfortunately I don't have a ton of time to search threads, so feel free to give specific info.

      1. Tataki South (1740 Church) for sushi. Happy hour 5-7.

        I'm not sure there's any good Vietnamese in that area. Angkor Borei is great for Cambodian. Yamo is a Burmese dive.

        Old Jerusalem for Middle Eastern.

        Bi-Rite has a great deli in the sense of cold cuts, cheese, and prepared foods for takeout.

        Angkor-Borei Restaurant
        3471 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        Bi-Rite Market
        3639 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        Old Jerusalem
        2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1. You might want to try the commute from SF to the Silicon Valley (on a weekday) before you decide you can't stomach the 'burbs'. You won't drive forever for a meal but you are willing to put up with a very, very long commute? Apart from that issue, VIetnamese and Sushi in the South Bay tends to be better overall with more options than in SF proper, particularly in the SF neighborhoods you mention.

          For Vietnamese in the Outer Mission/Bernal Heights, I do like Lotus Garden. They only serve pho at lunch, however, not dinner, so that doesn't do you much good with your potential commute.

          Fattoush on Church is very good for Middle Eastern.

          Just FYI, this board does get a lot of requests that are similar to yours, so it really would help if you take some time to look at the suggested threads and narrow it down a bit.

          Lotus Garden
          3216 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          1 Reply
          1. re: susancinsf

            Everything depends on whether the OP can take 280 or has to take 101. My office is right next to 101, so driving from SF to 101 in PA took about 45 min at 7:10am, and 60+++ if I left any later than that in the morning. It took 90 minutes if I left at about 7:50/8. Plus the nightmare of driving home. I couldn't stand it, so I moved to the mid peninsula. OTOH, my friend lives in the southwest corner of SF and can take 280 to her office in PA - in bad traffic it takes her an hour to get home, but usually not more than that, and 35-40 minutes if she times it well.

          2. Palo Alto area has a nice vibe and a lot of good restaurants due to Stanford University. I would definitely spend some time down there before committing to the commute to SF.

            Just for you Cafe

            So many breakfast places to choose from. Usually something walking distance from where ever you settle.

            Are you looking for California Deli's or NY Style? There is an abundace of these in the city.

            Polk Street Deli

            2 Replies
              1. re: myst

                I'd say more California. We try to eat somewhat healthy during the week and do the calorie splurges on the weekend.

              2. Are you concentrating on those neighborhoods for proximity to the freeways? You also wouldn't have to live in PA etc. Mid-peninsula has some nice areas also. Some of the cuisines you favor may not get alot of attention in the nabes you mention. Remember too that SF proper isn't very big so driving within it is pretty easy. And public transportation is great. We used to live in Noe Valley but ate all over the city.

                6 Replies
                1. re: c oliver

                  I can't completely agree. San Francisco may be compact, but it won't seem that way after an hour plus commute to or from the OP's work. In particular, the neighborhoods OP is targeting aren't that great if one wants to eat in the Sunset or Richmond. From my old house near where the Mission, Noe Valley and Bernal Heights came together, to those areas often took 45 minutes by car, particularly at dinner time. The Tenderloin, mentioned in another post, is a better suggestion, but parking there is a pain, and a lot of people won't want to ride bikes in that area (both for safety reasons and because of hills!

                  I think the biggest issue is that the cuisines OP is most interested in are *not* the strengths of the neighborhoods OP mentiones, and indeed, San Jose is a much better bet (and may be a much easier commute), particularly for Vietnamese.

                  Now, if OP wants to live blocks from a delightful and unique Sardinian restaurant, by all means choose Noe, Bernal or the Mission. La Ciccia is reason enough to choose a neighborhood, IMO. :-)

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

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    debbie421 mentioned those cuisines as "what she'd eat at home."

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      But they're hoping to eat "similarly."

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Yeah, but somebody who's willing to commute from SF to Silicon Valley to avoid living in the suburbs can probably find a new set of cuisines to enjoy.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Agreed. I couldn't live "down there." Hopefully we'll hear back from the OP with some more guidance. I envy her. I remember moving to SF from Atlanta in 1976. The best thing.

                    2. re: susancinsf

                      I don't disagree with you. I'm also assuming after that long commute home, OP is probably not going to want to go out at all :) We did love NV for that reason. We were a two minute walk from 24th and Church so it was easy. Our daughter and SIL are at 16th and Dolores so same for them. But as you and we have said, those aren't the nabes for the types of foods they're wanting.

                  2. Chances are that living in the city, you will probably end up taking the bus or the BART to travel around. Parking is a pain. I'm not sure where you're moving from and could probably give you more information if I knew.

                    The places I'm listing are 1-2 Bart stops away from Mission

                    Pho: Turtle Town - Pho Ga
                    Bun Mi: Saigon Sandwiches (better than the ones I had in LA) - I like the combination, but people rave about the roast pork
                    Turkish: a la Turca
                    Breakfast: SF seems to love diners and brunch. You'll easily be able to find somewhere that will serve you fresh, local egg white omelettes..

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jessijessi

                      Since my first apartment (1976) was on Pacific bet. Franklin and Gough, I consider most SF parking to be a breeze. If I were going from Noe Valley where used to live to the Richmond, I drove. Bussing it was just too long. I believe OP may be from MSP (according to profile).

                    2. As someone who lives in SF and works in Palo Alto, I highly recommend (as others have said) that you get a real idea of exactly what the commute is like if you'll be driving it. I'm rather averse to driving, and work a very regular schedule, so I prefer to combine bicycle and Caltrain to get to work. I live in SoMa, which makes this easy, but Mission and Potrero Hill would also be good neighbourhoods for train commuting too. A number of companies also have free shuttle lines that pick up at the Mountain View train station.

                      There are a number of good vietnamese places in the Tenderloin, situated mostly on Larkin near Ellis. If you want to stray from the usual fast-food type Vietnamese, I recommend Lers Ros for non pho/bun dishes. I like Turtle Tower or Pho 2000 for pho, but you should note they are different styles.

                      Sorry if my recs are too far from your target neighbourhoods. I don't usually think of them being very far away since I usually ride my bike everywhere and Mission to TL is only about a 10-15 minute ride and maybe a 5-10 minute walk from the Civic Center Bart station. SF is quite compact, so it's often easier to get around by public transit, bicycle, or on foot.

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

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: staple

                        Good points, staple. And I really love inner Clement for Asian food incl. Vietnamese.

                        ETA: An associate of mine used to live in San Mateo and took the train in. That drive would kill me.

                        1. re: staple

                          Dogpatch / east Potrero near the 22nd St. CalTrain station has a major concentration of good restaurants and bars. Great place to live if you can commute by train.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Yes, good point about Dogpatch. Reminds me to explore that area a bit more...

                          2. re: staple

                            Wait, Lers Ros isn't Vietnamese, it's Thai.... am i reading your post wrong?

                            1. re: mariacarmen

                              Ha, you're right. I know they're not Vietnamese and I think I skipped a transition sentence or two in there... Gotta stop having part of the conversation in my head by myself!

                            2. re: staple

                              I agree that you should live as close to Caltrain as possible. I love living in the city, but believe my quality of life is best if I am near work. I hate to commute it eats away your life..... I now work in FIDI and moved from Laurel Heights (Cal X bus was great) to Alameda where I can walk to the Ferry and be at work after a lovely 20 minute boat ride. That said I have friends in Menlo Park and I love hanging out in Palo Alto and food hopping in the area - PA and Berkeley both benefit from a well educated and cultured population which seems to breed good food offerings...

                              1. re: myst

                                In terms of restaurants and food shopping, Palo Alto is like Berkeley's Solano Avenue. Too many picky eaters with money dragging things down.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  I used to walk to Clement St. in SF, so I definitely love a variety of ethic and mom and pop choices. But if people are willing to drive around 15-20 minutes as the OP stated, their is plenty of selection to be hand beyond University Ave.

                            3. If you are working in the Silicon Valley, there is plenty of excellent Vietnamese food in San Jose.

                              1. On a totally different tack, Le Meridien, walking distance to Jackson Square, is pretty well positioned for some good dining while you're out and about figuring more weightier things. Bix has cocktails, food and music, Cotogna has pasta, roasted meats and Italian wines. Quince, the mother ship to Cotogna, has pastas and wines that make a New Yorker like me envious. So much more. All that plus access to serious mass transit. Mercy.

                                56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                                490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: steve h.

                                  Oh, that place. It's also close to Bocadillos, Barrique, Barbacco, Perbacco, Comstock Saloon, and Wexler's. Lot livelier at night than it used to be.

                                  230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                  710 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                  230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                  Comstock Saloon
                                  155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                  461 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                2. Thanks for all the great replies! In answer to all of your questions, we would be moving from Minneapolis. For those that are familiar with the area, we love Quang's, Holy Land, Nami, Origami, and The Egg and I. We did pick those neighborhoods to be close to a highway and we hear 280 is a much better commute than 101. (I have a local friend in the area that gave me suggestions.) My job would be in Mountain View, not sure about my husband yet. Those are our favorite cuisines and I'd like to continue eating them when we move. I'm willing to drive 15-20 minutes each way for "every day" casual meals and much farther for special weekend meals (that's when we tend to do nice dinners). I didn't mean to offend anyone with our aversion to suburbs, but we're city people and believe we'd probably prefer to live in SF proper. I won't stay on that topic too much though since I know we have to keep posts about eating. Hope that helps!

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: debbie421

                                    I don't think anyone is offended, but I do think that, if you haven't spent time in the area yet, you ought to do some exploring before concluding that the cities south of San Francisco are suburbs. Posters have already pointed out that when it comes to food there are a lot of areas on the Peninsula and in the south bay with a diversity of great restaurants (and definitely including Asian, notably sushi places and Vietnamese) that match or in some cases outshine the food in the neighborhoods you mentioned.

                                    But that shouldn't be a surprise: the South bay isn't only 'the burbs' . San Jose, for example, is the tenth largest city in the US and the third largest city in California after Los Angeles and San Diego. San Francisco is fourth. (and San Jose is only 17 miles from Mountain View, whereas San Francisco is 38 miles.).

                                    If you want to live in The City (and The City can be a wonderful place to live, no question, so who could blame you?), you will be close (walking distance in fact) to many great restaurants, though not necessarily of the cuisines you mention if you choose the neighborhoods that are the easiest commute to the south. However, if you want to live in *a* city with great Vietnamese and sushi, you are doing yourself a disservice if you dismiss the city of San Jose (and other South Bay cities) as a suburb of San Francisco.

                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                        San Jose has about 20% more people than SF sprawled over almost four times as much land. The low density makes it feel like a suburb. If you like cities, it's pretty depressing. Same goes for the rest of the South Bay and Peninsula. Yeah, there's some great Vietnamese food, but to get it you drive to a mall.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Exactly. San Jose may have a larger population than San Francisco, but its population density is only about one third giving it a much more suburban feel. If you really want urban living, San Francisco is hard to beat in this part of the country.

                                          Having said that, the commute would be a major concern. People who work long Silicon Valley hours and spend another 2-3 hours a day sitting in traffic rarely have much time to enjoy their urban lifestyle other than on weekends. Some Silicon Valley companies do things that make it easier to live in San Francisco: Google opened an office at Hills Plaza, some companies allow employees to telecommute, some have wifi-equipped shuttles, etc. But if I had to drive to Mountain View every day, I would consider it a very serious negative in terms of quality of life.

                                          And when it comes to the immediate neighborhood, I'm not sure that living on Potrero Hill is all that less suburban than living in downtown Palo Alto or Mountain View other than that you may have a nice view of the San Francisco skyline.

                                          1. re: nocharge

                                            I agree. San Jose would not make me happy despite its size. PA is cozier and less "burby". I love living in the city but would definitely try the commute a few times. CalTrain is great and Hwy 101 really "bites". I would eat out every day if I had to commute.....

                                      2. re: debbie421

                                        you can get around SF by public trans for your short trips easily, from the mission, noe valley, potrero hill, bernal. i think that most people who live in the City itself are willing to travel a few miles to find the foods they like that aren't right in their particular neighborhoods... even to the East Bay - where there is a whole slew of choices in your range of preferences - you can easily get to via BART. If you feel you're a City person, i wouldn't tell you to move to the suburbs just because some of the best examples of food you love are there. Like you said, you can drive further on weekends to get to the South Bay, etc. Come this weekend, walk a few hours in each of the neighborhoods you're really interested in, get on Bart, even take a few cabs so you can see how easy it is.

                                        1. re: debbie421

                                          (Apologise that this post is less about food, and more about living here.)

                                          So this whole driving thing you keep mentioning...

                                          In my experience, driving in SF isn't so bad. Parking can really really suck in certain areas though, especially if you are going out to dinner around 7pm on a weeknight, which is when you would probably be going out after commuting home from South bay. MUNI isn't always a super great system (waiting for the bus that's running late really sucks when it's cold), but it's pretty extensive and most times will get you there faster than driving/parking. Living in SF, you'd get used to it quickly for sure.

                                          And yeah, a lot of people are suggesting that living on the peninsula is not to be discounted, and I very much agree with this. Palo Alto downtown is pretty lively every night due to Stanford being closeby, and San Mateo has so much good food (Asian and other) it's ridiculous. Like other posters have said, they're towns with downtown areas, not suburban-style where you have to drive to a strip mall to find other people. San Jose downtown isn't so bad either. There is a thriving art scene and if you're into urban street culture, the scene is pretty good there as well. Live music is pretty great too. It all depends what else you like to do other than eat.

                                          The nice thing about the bay area is that you could try living in a lot of different types of areas and still have relatively easy access to your workplace in Mountain View.

                                          1. re: debbie421

                                            I live and work in Mountain View; I love it here because Castro St. in Mountain View is just a huge concentration of great restaurants located in their downtown.

                                            For special events and museums, I'll drive up to the city, but the chore of finding parking/taxi/bus for the good eats in the city was just too much for me (especially given how often I ate out).

                                            In Mountain View: (most of these places are open for lunch as well, so if you need places to suggest when it's your turn at the office restaurant roulette, you've got some choices below)

                                            Breakfast places: Hobbee's (a local chain), Country Gourmet.
                                            Sushi: Sushi Tomi is the local favorite; very wide selection of fish; I prefer Kappo Nami Nami up the street -- not as wide a selection, but everything they have is fantastic, and they've got a great lunch menu. On Sunday nights, on the Mountain View/Sunnyvale border Satsuma Sushi down El Camino and across the 85 have an all-you can eat special.

                                            Vietnamese: MV has a good amount of Vietnamese restaurants -- Xanh and Savory are the higher-end fancy sit down places; for more everyday vietnamese: Pho Garden (home of the Pho Challenge - 2lbs of noodles, 2 lbs of meat), and Pho Toa (local chain), Lee's Sandwiches (local Vietnamese sandwich chain), and Pho Vi Hoa.

                                            Middle Eastern: Rose International Market (it's on the other side of Castro, across El Camino) highly recommended for the kabobs -- it's a take your food and go kind of place, as it's inside a middle eastern supermarket . Dishdash in Sunnyvale, and Afghani House in Santa Clara if you want more of a sit down place.

                                            Mediterranean: Gyros House in downtown Mountain View, along with Meditterranean Grill House, Bodrum Cafe and Cafe Baklava.

                                            Delis: MV has Dittmer's Gourmet Meats and Wursthaus, Esther's German Bakery, Lettuce (sandwiches, local SF chain) and the Kitchen Table (kosher sit down place) .

                                            Kappo Nami Nami
                                            240 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                            Country Gourmet Restaurants
                                            2098 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                                            Dishdash Restaurant
                                            190 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                            Rose International Market
                                            1060 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94040

                                            Dittmer's Gourmet Meats
                                            400 San Antonio Rd Ste 4, Mountain View, CA 94040

                                            Afghani House
                                            1103 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA

                                            Xanh Restaurant
                                            110 Castro St, Mountain View, CA

                                            Sushi Tomi
                                            635 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                            Cafe Baklava
                                            341 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                            Esther's German Bakery
                                            570 Showers Dr, Mountain View, CA

                                            The Kitchen Table
                                            142 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                            Gyros House
                                            212 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                          2. Tokyo Go Go has great sushi as well as early and late-night happy hour.

                                            Blowfish sushi is interesting if you stick to the more fusion-y items

                                            Tokyo Go Go
                                            3174 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

                                            1. I commuted from SF/ Richmond district to SJ for 3 months and all I can tell you is it's freakin' hell. Potrero Hill to PA lobs off a lot from both ends of that...but I know it's still hellish. 280 is literally one of the nicest/beautiful super highways in the world...but 45 minutes means 45 minutes going 80-85 mph...and you will be passed.

                                              I'd recommend looking at downtown San Mateo. Lots of restaurants, basically half way between SF and PA, meaning on weekends or evening a drive up to SF is no biggie, 15 mins during okay traffic.

                                              1. I took a job in Mountain View and moved here 4 years ago (from Atlanta). I would also describe myself as a city person; however, the peninsula has never felt like "suburbs". To me suburbs are filled with strip malls and chain restaurants. The peninsula is not… it is a series a cute scenic towns (connected by a train). Each town has a ton of independent retailers, fantastic restaurants, and artisanal specialty stores/markets and their own farmer’s market (the MTV market is one of the best). I chose to live in Redwood City (RWC) because I can get to San Francisco in 30 mins (+ 40 mins to park) and to MTV in 15 with no traffic (40 mins in rush hour). Commuting from SF to MTV would kill me....

                                                For what you are looking for the Peninsula is great. The San Mateo area cannot be beat by SF for Sushi and also has a ton of great Mediterranean food.

                                                Sushi: Sushi Sam’s (San Mateo) and Higuma (RWC) are my regular favorite spots (there are dozens more to choose from). Sushi Tomi in MTV is good. For high end ($$$) sushi/Japanese food (I haven’t been yet) Wakuriya has a Michelin star. We regularly make sushi at home because of the abundance of Japanese markets: Suruki Supermarket is fantastic and Nijiya works in a pinch; There is also a ton of other Japanese food (ramen, yakatori, shabu shabu)

                                                Middle Eastern: New Kapadokia (Turkish, RWC), Kabul Afghan Cuisine (San Carlos), Tannourine (Lebanese, San Mateo), Shalizaar (Persian, Belmont), Mediterranean Delite (for falafel, San Carlos), Alhana Foods Mediterranean Restaurant & Grocery (San Mateo)

                                                For Vietnamese food, as other have said, you will have to go to San Jose. (I agree that, San Jose is a big city that feels like a suburb. If you are not a connoisseur of pho, there are plenty of decent places on the peninsula to get some; just nothing special. (I normally substitute my pho cravings with some of the the amazing Ramen and Chinese soups I can find close by).

                                                The peninsula also has a variety of authentic Chinese food, Indian Food (esp. if you can stretch count Sunnyvale), the best tacos, plenty of wine bars, and beer places (I still have so many places to try…) … and better weather (the RWC slogan/sign: “climate best by government test” always cracks me up).

                                                Kabul Afghan Cuisine
                                                135 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

                                                300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

                                                New Kapadokia Restaurant
                                                2399 Broadway Street, Redwood City, CA 94063

                                                25 37th Ave, San Mateo, CA

                                                Suruki Supermarket
                                                71 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA

                                                Sushi Sam's
                                                218 E 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                                Sushi Tomi
                                                635 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                Mediterranean Delite
                                                1620 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

                                                115 De Anza Blvd, San Mateo, CA

                                                120 W 25th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: lrealml

                                                  SF to MV is a long commute, you could consider Caltrain if you live/work close to the station on each end. i.e. South Beach King st. and Castro St.
                                                  Living in San Mateo is a great middle since they have good food. For ethnic eats, you pretty much have to leave Palo Alto/Menlo Park to get the good stuff in San Mateo, San Jose. There are a lot of good eats on the peninsula that make up for not living in the city.

                                                  1. re: ankimo

                                                    South Beach near King St. is a fun area now.
                                                    Used to be desolate but between the ball park and the train station and a lot of new companies in the area, it's fun and vibrant. There is also a lot of new housing in the area.
                                                    You'd be walking distance from the train, and also the embarcadero, which is pretty.
                                                    I worked in the area a few years ago (when the safeway opened!), and there was a thai place I liked for lunch, Ko Samui and the monkey.
                                                    There's more around there now...

                                                  2. re: lrealml

                                                    Ah... these are some good recommendations! Never been to Suruki Market before. Going to have to check that out. Thanks for sharing.

                                                    911 Washington St, Oakland, CA 94607

                                                    1. re: staple

                                                      Before 6:30pm a line forms at the bento box area of Suruki Super Market. When the clerk gives the go-ahead, patrons make a mad dash to clear out most of their lovely bento boxes at 1/2 off. San Mateo and Burlingame have so many treasures from Japan to offer.

                                                    2. re: lrealml

                                                      The Peninsula was once a series of small towns, but today it's an uninterrupted stretch of suburban sprawl. Some of the old Main Street downtowns are pleasant and walkable with nice concentrations of restaurants, as discussed in great detail in this thread (which debbie421 should print out and read on the plane):


                                                    3. Debbie, I'm from the Twin Cities, and what you're probably thinking about when you think of suburbs isn't what the central parts of Peninsula cities like San Mateo, Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Palo Alto are like. They're more like Uptown in Minneapolis or Grand Avenue in Saint Paul; not Eagan or Burnsville or Shoreview. Not that there aren't those parts of the Peninsula too, when you need big-box stores....