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Showing a lifetime NY'er California for the first time

I need HELP! I've been to NY twice and come back drooling about the food. I must add that as a born and bred Californian, my taste buds are more NY style. I am not into "natural" "organic" "gourmet" and neither is he. We love authentic NY pizza, anything steak, potatoes, scampi, clams, italian, and even Chinese, but nothing such as salads that look like weeds, sauces with words such as "raspberry" or "corn salsa" or " so-and-so jelly". I know this is not the norm for someone visiting this area or living here with a palate such as mine, but I would appreciate any recommendations from those of you with a similar palate who live near San Francisco/San Mateo (which is where we will be staying). And big portions are a PLUS. Thanks for any help!

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  1. Well, take him to Tony's, first of all.... http://www.tonyspizzanapoletana.com/l...

    then maybe Sam's or Tadich Grill, for old school (i.e., not fresh, organic, natural) seafood...

    then take him to the Mission to do a taco/burrito crawl, since that's SF's version of street comford food.

    18 Replies
    1. re: mariacarmen

      "old school (i.e., not fresh, organic, natural) seafood..."
      Them's fighting words. If you see a San Francisco restaurant claim "organic" seafood, you should run in the other direction.
      http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/fish...

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        The link seems to say that it's not totally ridiculous because it's being considered for future certification. Adhering to private or European standards for organic could be better or worse then whatever the official legal definition turns out to be and shouldn't be dismissed outright.

        Just from a naive perspective - if seafood is farmed what they feed the fish and what sort of medications that use could make a big difference.

        I guess it would depend on the place and what I thought about the chef/owner. A chef really concerned about their seafood might seek out farmed seafood that is fed organic sourced feed and is raised in such a way that medicines aren't required (say by reducing density).

        People started calling food organic before there was a certification process - it seems that's how to get the ball rolling on cultural change.

        I'd have to know more before i dismissed it outright (by say, running away).

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          i don't understand... i was saying that those two places DON'T make claims to being fresh and organic as many other places in the City do - and are - they are just unabashedly old school and serve some frozen seafood without any qualms. not everything, but certainly a lot. am i wrong about this?

          1. re: mariacarmen

            Tadich's chef told the Chron in 2005 that the only frozen item they served was prawns.

            http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              do you believe that, having tasted their food? i like the place, but it is what it is. (sorry, hate that phrase.)

              1. re: mariacarmen

                What do you mean, "it is what it is"? It's a restaurant that's been serving fresh local seafood since before there was frozen seafood.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  i am saying that i believed they also serve frozen seafood. i'm asking any one if they believe that all their seafood is fresh except for the prawns?

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Why would they lie about it? You do realize they reprint their menu every day to reflect what's available.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      no i did not know that. i've had a few things there over the years that tasted like they might have been frozen. if i'm wrong i'm wrong. i was asking if people thought that their seafood honestly tasted like it was fresh and not frozen. no one responded to that question.

                      1. re: mariacarmen

                        Except that I did respond and say what I had was fresh. And I don't think you can buy Rex Sole or Sanddabs frozen--they're cheaper fresh in season, and I saw Rex Sole on the menu at Taddich last time I was there. It's a great fish from northern california bays.

                        1. re: SteveG

                          Exactly. I always order the sanddabs if they have them or the Petrale or Rex sole if they don't. Although I did once have a salad with seared ahi tuna that was pretty good (with a couple of good-sized slabs of grilled tuna).

                          They've been printing the menu daily since long before computers made it easy.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            It's the first place I had abalone and spinach that hadn't come out of a can! In l976.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Martinis. Don't forget the martinis.

                          2. re: SteveG

                            Steve G: you said "Tadich definitely sources fresh and local for some of their stuff, though not all." i didn't say all their seafood is frozen. i've read several posters here on CH saying they didn't feel ALL the seafood was fresh, or at least it tasted like it may have been frozen, which has been my experience too. and my question was, regarding Robert Lauristan's post that in 2005 the Chronicle printed a story that the chef said the only item that was frozen was the prawns, that, having TASTED their food - did people really think all their seafood was fresh, locally sourced, organic? I've had their cioppino, which i felt used frozen seafood throughout, apart from the prawns mentioned above. I've had oysters on the half shell there that were mushy mushy mushy - did they taste fresh to me? No. Do i know for a fact that they weren't? No. Maybe it's fresh seafood, but maybe it could be fresher.

                            I DO I like the place. I'd go again just for the sole (never had the sand dabs), or the crab cocktail, the fantastic bread, the great ambiance, the killer bloody marys, the martinis... I'm the one who recommended it first to the OP! and now, i've talked myself into wanting to go back and eat these things i've just described sooner rather than later!

                            1. re: mariacarmen

                              Well, if you go back, try to order local fish. Those will be fresh. I should have trusted my gut on the oysters--I usually find that if a restaurant offers just one type, they're going to have flavor that is uninteresting for me, but I was in a mood for oysters. What I got was perfectly fresh, but not worth searching out for my own taste.

          2. re: mariacarmen

            Are you saying Sam's and Tadich don't serve fresh seafood? Tadich definitely sources fresh and local for some of their stuff, though not all. My oysters were plenty fresh, though not local and not very tasty.

            1. re: SteveG

              Yes, a lot of their seafood is frozen.

          3. There is only one answer. Little Sheep Hotpot. Baaa!

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            Little Sheep
            34396 Alvarado Niles Rd, Union City, CA 94587

            1. A couple of regional Chinese places in San Mateo:

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              Everyday Beijing
              637 South B Street, San Mateo, CA

              Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
              215 S Ellsworth Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

              1. Old-school pizza, Tomasso's. First pizzeria on the West Coast. Different style from NY. I don't recommend the pasta or seafood.

                Old-school Italian other than pizza, Bertolucci's, Westlake Joe's, or Capp's Corner (three different local styles).

                Old-school sit-down Mexican, Chava's.

                Old-school Mission-style burrito, the Folsom branch of El Faro is where it was invented, 50 years ago this September: http://www.burritophile.com/articles/...

                Second on Sam's. Pretty much the same as Tadich minus the wait and tourists.

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                Capp's Corner
                1600 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                Tommaso Ristorante Italiano
                1042 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                Sodini's Bertoluccis Ristorante
                421 Cypress Avenue, South San Francisco, CA 94080

                Chava's Mexican Restaurant
                2839 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Joe's of Westlake
                11 Glenwood Ave, Daly City, CA 94015

                El Faro Restaurant
                2399 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1. House of Prime Rib should fit the bill.

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                  House of Prime Rib
                  1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

                  1 Reply
                  1. Why would a lifetime New Yorker want anything less than stellar food in San Francisco? Why would a lifetime New Yorker want to eat NYC food on the West Coast?

                    hmmm.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: steve h.

                      This really is a perplexing question. If anything, a lifetime NYer should head to a decent farmers market, Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market to see what proper produce is like. It's quite good if you give it a try.

                      1. re: ML8000

                        New Yorkers like pasta. Really good pasta. The Tusks make good pasta at Quince. New Yorkers like wine. The Tusks hired David Lynch away from Batali. Lynch knows wine.

                      2. re: steve h.

                        So when they go home they can tell their friends that californians don't know nothing and feel smug and superior? Then, their friends stay away? Win win!

                        1. re: steve h.

                          The OP's friend doesn't seem to want to expand his horizons, but eat food he is used to and likes and visit with his friend.

                          1. re: steve h.

                            That was my first thought. When I'm lucky enough to get to NYC, I actively avoid those foods that I can get in NoCal that are really good and concentrate on those things that NYC is known for. Except for Chinese. Eat it lustily on both coasts :)

                            1. re: steve h.

                              bay area bagels. that should do it.

                            2. Maybe a road trip to Duarte's.

                              Any of the places Bourdain went when he was showing the unfussy, plebian side of SF.

                              http://sf.eater.com/archives/2009/03/...

                              http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in...

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                              Duarte's Tavern
                              202 Stage Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060

                              1. I'd take him up the Delta to Guisti's or Al the Wop's (Walnut Grove/Locke) Not too far if you get an early start--that is, if you want to show him California, not just the City. Good Italian and Portuguese cooking, plus lots of countryside that is very unique.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: toodie jane

                                  Compared to the classic drive of rte 1 down to pescadero, or GGBR->headlands->pt reyes for oysters? or cowgirl creamery->ferry->angel? The delta's cool and all, but not where I would take someone on only one day.

                                2. I am a NY'er and like all that stuff too but when in Northern Cali really enjoy what they have to offer. Local, fresh...all that is so great. Two places I love when in SF and I'm sure you're friend will too are Delfina and The Slanted Door. Amazing food at both. They are the happy medium btw NY-SF and anyone who enjoys good food will love.

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                                  Slanted Door
                                  Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

                                  1. I can't believe no one has said Tommy's Joynt. That's exactly the place you're looking for. Fatty, meaty, filling, and with gravy on everything, it's the antithesis of a pretentious and healthy salad joint.

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                                    Tommy's Joynt
                                    1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: the mess

                                      Tommy's Joynt is a classic old-SF hofbrau and less touristy than Lefty O'Doul's, which I think is the only other one remaining? Schroeder's has a similar vibe and food.

                                      Suppenkuche and Schmidt's have better German food and are not fussy places.

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                                      Schroeder's Cafe
                                      240 Front St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                      Tommy's Joynt
                                      1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                      Suppenkuche
                                      525 Laguna St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                      Schmidt's
                                      2400 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                      Lefty O'doul's
                                      333 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        I used to work at Union Square and have had SO many breakfasts and fewer lunches at Lefty O'Douls. But I would recommend them or Tommy's Joynt to a first time visitor. There's got to be so much better without turning the visitor into a tree-hugging, locavore :)

                                    2. I'd get a burrito, the SF version of a NY slice of pie...aptly phrased by Wolfe here on CH.