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Getting lost in SF restaurant info

My husband and I will be in San Francisco for 2-3 nights in March. We are staying near Union Square and I have started my usual quest for restaurants. I am looking for some California chef owned, local product driven restaurants but am confused about locations. Can someone give me a quick list or overview of reasonable locations for me to consider? I have read reviews of places which mention 'going over the bridge' (I guess in Oakland?) which especially coming from Cape Cod mean to me that it is not a reasonable place to consider. We will be traveling by BART so what neighborhoods would be reasonable for me to concentrate on. I will do my homework from there I promise! TIA.

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  1. Chez Panisse is the original and worth the 10-block walk from BART.

    "Where to buy" lists on local sustainable farms' Web sites are a good place to find those restaurants:






    1. Going over the bridge to Oakland is a much less daunting task than going over the bridge from/to Cape Cod. And, BART takes you "over the bridge" seamlessly. Don't let crossing the bay stop you from considering Berkeley/Oakland.

      Having said that, there's no reason to not spend 2-3 in the city. Union Square isn't the most attractive location for SF restaurants, but BART, Muni and cabs will get you to almost anything you read about here.

      The Mission is especially favored with excellent places that meet your criteria and fairly straightforward from downtown by BART.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie

        Plum is just three blocks from BART and might be more bang for the buck than any chef-owned local product place in SF, including the chef's own Coi.

      2. Greetings from an ex Fodorite~travelling by BART is relatively easy. I would absolutely recommend you try Pizzaiolo in Oakland's Temescal District. It's casual and delicious. The chef is a Chez Panisse "grad". I'd recommend taking the Rockridge stop on BART and taking the cab(a very short ride) to the restaurant from there. The food is market driven and locally produced. Cocktails are inventive and the wine list is very good. They are closed on Sundays.
        The prices are right!!

        5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        Chez Panisse
        1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

        1. Canteen is a unique little place not far from Union Square. It is tiny, but takes reservations. Might make for a memorable experience.

          1. Incanto is pretty good. Take the J-Church out to Noe Valley. The ride is almost as good as Chris Cosentino's food.

            1. I believe that Foreign Cinema is near Bart and meets your requirements. I agree with their website that it is a "quintessentially San Francisco dining experience". Great food and great atmosphere. Even though Berkeley/Oakland is easy to get to by Bart, if you are only in town for 2-3 nights you might not have the time. Besides, there are so many fantastic restaurants in SF.

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: lrealml

                I agree. You could spend two to three weeks in SF and not get bored so I wouldn't go to Oakland "just" for the sake of saying I'd been. But after you do your research, then sure head over. PS to steve h.: the J Church used to be my daily commute to/from Union Square and Levi's Plaza. Plenty of places to eat along the way also.
                @OP: Dining neighborhoods can include but aren't limited to the Mission, North Beach, South of Market (SOMA), Tenderloin, Chinatown, Financial District (FiDi to some), Noe Valley, Castro, Cow Hollow. More, I'm sure.

              2. BART to downtown Oakland is only about ten minutes longer of a trip than BART to say, 24th and Mission, and can be done without a change of trains. so, if you see a restaurant that looks good and is near BART in Oakland, it is reasonable to consider. OTOH, there are some neighborhoods of SF that are not easily BART accessible (but may be accessible via other forms of public transit). The following websites should help:



                just decide what interests you, and plug in the addresses.

                1. I think there is the possibility that the OP might be a little confused about our public transportation system. Just to clarify:

                  Muni: The network of buses, subways, and cable cars that people use to travel within the city of San Francisco. This is what you would use to get from one neighborhood to another.

                  BART: The train system used to travel between cities (for example, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Millbrae, Concord, Pittsburgh). There are multiple stops within some of the larger cities such as SF and Oakland, but BART is more of a way to travel from one city to another.

                  If this is your first visit to SF, and you only have three days, you might not necessarily want to be trekking to the East Bay every day for meals.

                  1. Thank you all for the help especially sfbing and susancinsf. Having only 3 nights in SF I don't want to be traveling all over the place for meals. The problem was knowing when a restaurant I am considering is too far to be reasonable for this short trip. Now to wade through the amazing number of fabulous and interesting restaurant to find ones to try.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                      Don't worry too much about transportation: most places are in neighborhoods that are accessible by public transportation of one kind or another. Why don't you tell us what restaurants sound fabulous and interesting to you, and we'll tell you whether we think it's a good choice and how to get there from where you're staying (you didn't mention but I assume it's downtown/Union Square, which is where the vast majority of the hotels are) or from the areas where you'll be doing other activities.

                      Since no one has mentioned it yet, if you're interested in food that's "local-product driven" the Ferry Plaza farmers market (Saturday morning) is where you can see where our local chefs get inspired by local product (and maybe even the local chefs themselves). Oh, and it would help if we knew for sure what days you're going to be here, so we don't recommend something that might be closed.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Good points. And if staying downtown/Union Square that is about the easiest way to get almost anyplace via public transporation.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          And note that the small nature of SF means Union Square + $7 of cab gets you access to thousands of good restaurants, all without having to understand the "systems".

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Unfortunately we will be in SF from Monday through Wed. I am very disappointed to miss the Ferry Plaza farmers market. I am however excited to be going to the 33rd Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting with my cousin & wife over the weekend. We also have reservatioins at Cyrus since of course we couldn't get reservations at The French Laundry.

                          My plan is for one night of California/New America cuisine, one night either Italian/French and the third night (before we head to the airport for a 10:30pm flight) is someplace casual and maybe funky.

                          The French Laundry
                          6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                          1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                            Good think I asked: Monday and Tuesday can be tricky. How are you planning to get to the airport? If you're going to take BART, you could stop in the Mission (24th St.) and have dinner plus get something to eat on the plane. My personal recommendation would be to walk down 24th to El Delfin and then a couple more blocks to Humphrey Slocum for ice cream.

                            El Delfin
                            3066 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              I haven't been here yet but my daughter and SIL really like Local Mission Eatery.


                              Local Mission Eatery
                              3111 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Local Mission Eatery is outstanding. They are making super fresh, innovative, and delicious food. And it's really close to the BART station at 24th and Mission, so it's quite easy to get there from Union Square. Universal Cafe is also in the Mission, but further from the BART and never disappoints. It would be a nice place to go on a sunny day for lunch - it will have all the quality of an evening meal, but with sunshine and cheaper prices. Universal Cafe changes up their menu really frequently - probably almost daily, depending on what is fresh.

                                Local Mission Eatery
                                3111 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110