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2 dinners/2 lunches to convince NY hounds to move to SF?

  • r

My SO and I both grew up in CA, but have spent most of our adult lives to date (happily) in NY.

Coming into for a week of work, though, so it's now time to see if SF might work out for us as a city to live in and as a city to EAT in!

What 2 dinner and 2 lunches are absolutely emblematic of SF - and that you'd recommend to showcase the best of SF dining? I imagine greenmarket's the thing SF excels at, but we'll willingly to do any budget, any food.

Only caveats:
- Food: No Chinese (I grew up in LA, 'nuff said) or Japanese (NY does it well)
- Budget: Top $ restaurants are less of a priority, if only because we want to see what we would normally go out to eat, but if the meal's worth it, we'll 100% go for it.
- Location: Staying in the Mission (but willing to travel)

We just want to be blown away by SF's food scene. Where would you recommend?

My list so far starts with Roli-Roti, so any recommendations would be MUCH appreciated!

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  1. Saturday morning at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market - for sure. You can make a lunch from the produce, fruits, specialty cheese/breads/olive oils/mushrooms/etc. shops inside, the prepared food vendors inside and outside, or have oysters and white wine overlooking the Bay at Hog Island.... the whole scene is amazing.

    If you're staying in the Mission, your best options are so varied..... Poc Chuc for mayan-inspired cuisine (not fancy, not expensive), Range (fancier, great cocktails, wonderful everything), Foreign Cinema (good food, great brunch, plus the movie playing on the wall outside at night where you can sit under heat lamps), dozens of taquerias - all along Mission and Valencia, and especially on 24th Street, Commonwealth (everyone's new favorite (except mine)), Spork for good comfort food in a really cute space that used to be a KFC, Delfina, and Pizzeria Delfina (where I just had a phenomenal lunch yesterday), Maverick, Bar Bambino, Bar Tartine, Tartine Bakery.... you don't even have to LEAVE the Mission to be sold on SF's food! And none of these are Top $ places.

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    Tartine Bakery
    600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

    Bar Bambino
    2931 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

    Spork
    1058 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

    Bar Tartine
    561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Poc Chuc
    2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    Pizzeria Delfina
    2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

    16 Replies
    1. re: mariacarmen

      In the mission, don't forget Lolo's.

      1. re: pauliface

        I've still not tried it, and it's a block away from me! a friend really liked it...

      2. re: mariacarmen

        Phenomenal list - thank you so much! Printing this page out to bop around SF with...

        1. re: mariacarmen

          The Mission is definitely the best place to get sold on the SF food scene as a whole. All the places on your list plus so many more; the neighborhood has everything from super burritos to Saison (which now has a Michelin star for anybody who cares).

          But for "absolutely emblematic of SF" I'd have to leave the Mission and go with Tadich Grill. Simple preps of great seafood in a place that dates back to the Gold Rush. Cioppino, sand dabs, Dungeness crab Louie - you aren't going to find this stuff just anywhere.

          ETA - since you're heading back to the Mission after dinner anyway, don't miss Humphrey Slocumbe and/or Bi-Rite Creamery for dessert. Some of the best and most interesting ice cream around.

          -----
          Bi-Rite Creamery
          3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Tadich Grill
          240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
          2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Saison
          2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

          1. re: alanbarnes

            And a nay vote for Tadich. There are two places that serve food like that in SF (Tadich and Sams). It's just not an every day place. It's not emblematic of what's been happening in SF. If you think Peter Lugar's is "very new york" and the kind of place you eat regularly, I stand corrected - go to Tadich!

            For an everyday mission lunch, I like Truly Mediterranean. Stand up place (ok, 4 stools on the side, a couple outside). Lamb/beef schwarma wrap. There's a couple of other schwarma places within a few blocks.

            Personally, I don't think you'll get "blown away" by SF food. I think you'll find it as good as NYC. SF is, in some ways, a small town. For the size, it punches far above its weight when it comes to food.

            Also, please consider Slanted Door. People from NYC really love it, although the natives are so-so on the place (very good, but overpriced with a view).

            And, I didn't see Commonwealth on the Mission list.

            Saison might actually blow you away, by all reports. I haven't tried it yet. It's not what you asked for - more fine dining - but is where SF is going. Shorter menus, eat what we say and like it. Extreme ingrediants driven. Saison plus La Ciccia might be two meals that really show the bookends of SF eating.

            And - you realize Oakland -> Brooklyn? If you like Brooklyn style, you might consider a little BART trip. So much food, so little time.

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            Slanted Door
            Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

            Truly Mediterranean
            3109 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            1. re: bbulkow

              Agree completely that Tadich Grill isn't on the cutting edge of anything. They've been serving essentially the same food for 160+ years. (Okay, I haven't actually seen the menu from 1849, but you get the point.) If the OP is looking for something that showcases the current status of the local culinary scene, it's the wrong place to be.

              I also agree that it's too spendy to be an everyday restaurant for most folks (myself included). But most entrees are under $20, so it isn't exactly a budget-buster, either.

              Is it the best restaurant in San Francisco? Not by a long shot. But it does have history, atmosphere, and pretty darn tasty food. All the visitors I've taken there have raved, and I'd rather go there than The Slanted Door any day of the week.

              Your mileage, of course, may vary.

              -----
              Slanted Door
              Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

              1. re: alanbarnes

                I would say the OP has been slightly vague about what they want --- to be "sold on" the SF food scene. Under that request, I'd include Tadich if there were 5 dinners, not so much if there are just 2.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  Good point. The places that are most "emblematic" of the city aren't necessarily the ones that are going to be most informative to somebody trying to get a feel for the place as a whole. IMO Tadich fits the first category but not the second.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    I'd agree with that - if you're here for only two dinners, Tadich maybe should not be one of them. Once they move here, they can go to Tadich!

                2. re: bbulkow

                  I listed Commonwealth as everyone's new favorite, even tho it isn't mine.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Great recommendations, but I'll vote one against Truly Mediterranean. I love the place, but I absolutely loved the street food shawarmas I had in NY. It'll be a tough fight for Truly to stand up against whatever favorite the op had in NY.

                    Slanted is a good option, I can't recall something quite like it in NY.

                    -----
                    Truly Mediterranean
                    3109 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  2. re: alanbarnes

                    +1 for Bi-Rite ice cream (not as in love with Humphrey's, but it IS very different. sometimes for me their wacky flavors, while delicious at first blush, just get to be a bit too much to sit through a whole scoop for!)

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      A Tadich tip... the wait can be long and you can dine at the bar. The fastest way to get seated in the dining room is to grab a seat at the bar and let the bartender know you are waiting for a table... suddenly you will be whisked off to a seat.

                    2. How are you fixed for Sardinian? La Ciccia.
                      Here's a link you might enjoy. Brooklyn is near NY isn't it?
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6036...

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

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: wolfe

                        oh yes! La Ciccia is a stand-out, and very near where you are staying (tho technically not in the Mission - Noe Valley.)

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

                        1. re: mariacarmen

                          Sure, not technically the Mission, but 30th and Church is about as close as you can get. After all, it's barely in Noe Valley.

                          1. re: klo4c

                            yup, i agree. They should not miss La Ciccia.

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

                      2. Two areas where SF excels are regional Italian and mid-price dining. Two examples are covered above: La Ciccia and Delfina Pizzeria. Also in the Mission is Farina (Ligurian) which IMO doesn't always get the respect it deserves. Moving out of the Mission, there's Perbacco (Piedmontese) and A16 (Campania). You'd be hard pressed to cover the range of Italian food this well anywhere outside of Italy.

                        Speaking of Range, that's one of my favorites. Excellent California-Mediterranean at a nice price point, esp by NYC standards. Again, in the Mission. And, since you're the Mission, you've got to do tacos/burritos. El Farolito is my favorite of the moment. Others swear by La Taqueria, both on Mission near 25th.

                        Tartine is another shouldn't-be-missed, either for breakfast or lunch (I love the broccoli rabe, sopressata pannino). Plan to spend a bit of time on line there.

                        Repeating the rec above for the Ferry Farmers Market as a must do.

                        High end? Coi. There are other choices, of course, but none that seem quite so San Francisco to me.

                        Then, after you decide to move west, you can start on Oakland/Berkeley in the east bay, which is equally outstanding.

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

                        Perbacco
                        230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        A16
                        2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

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

                        La Taqueria
                        2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie

                          By the way, the new york times "choice tables" (Jan 28th) for SF recommends exactly Perbaco, La Ciccia, and Delfina.

                          regarding mission mexican (you said no mexican), it's reasonable to stop somewhere and just get a few tacos, and share 'em. It's not a whole meal, more of a snack. Tacos enable the meat to shine through. Al Pastor is my usual.

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

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

                        2. This is a good read for NYers to SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/745270

                          Beyond that if you want to be sold...just look at the produce. Too bad you won't be going over to Berkeley where Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market are...seeing those places in the middle of winter should make an east coaster cry.

                          1. Dinner: Perbacco or Delfina; Ame (yes, Japanese influence, but trust me, unlike anything in NYC)
                            Lunch: Food court at Westfield Mall... yes. In terms of daily routine, this is where you want to go and ask, "have I ever seen a food court with this much good food?" The answer will be "no". Get a burrito at La Taqueria or Papalote.

                            -----
                            Perbacco
                            230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

                            La Taqueria
                            2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            3 Replies
                              1. re: wolfe

                                As mall food courts go, it's one of the best.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  what do you recommend, other than out the door (which i love)? I've only tried Jody Maroni's sausages (cuz my dad could chew them) and they were awful. had a taste of some beef from one of the asian places - they were handing out samples, and it was really tasty - maybe tri tip? If i happen to be there, i just can't pass up out the door, even tho I'm not a huge fan of Slanted Door. part of it may be that I actually feel Slanted Door is a more sterile-feeling place than out the door - in a mall food court!

                                  -----
                                  Slanted Door
                                  Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111