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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.

    -----
    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.

            -----
            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

                            1. First Choice: The Sentinel for lunch. Kokkari Estiatorio for dinner.
                              Other choices include Local Mission Eatery for lunch. Gracias Madre for dinner. Out the Door for lunch. Delfina for dinner.

                              -----
                              Kokkari Estiatorio
                              200 Jackson St., San Francisco, CA 94111

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

                              Out the Door
                              845 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                              Gracias Madre
                              2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: mlutsky

                                Oh you just reminded me: Canteen for dinner - to the OP, Canteen and Sentinel (a takeout sandwich place) are owned by Chef Dennis Leary - and Canteen is wonderful - and absolutely a meal I'd have if i only had two meals here. Set in a hotel, diner style, the place is tiny and serves Cal-Medi food, using all local, fresh produce, inventive, delicious. It's most fun to sit at the counter. Call as far in advance as you can. They have 2 seatings a night. I've heard their brunch is wonderful too....

                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                  Good recs already bi rite and tartine are a must
                                  Also try Lers ros Thai and torta Los picudos
                                  Consider trying a tea leaf salad at a burmese place
                                  Maybe kitchenette

                                  1. re: ankimo

                                    I would second this direction rather than focusing on upscale bistros. Foreign Cinema reminds me a place that would be in NYC, and that's what Range aspires to too. That might make some New Yorkers happy, but it won't show them what's unique/distinct/better here. I suspect taking a New Yorker for Italian food will only set off comparisons.

                                    Aside from the farmers' markets, I'd recommend more ethnic food that's better here: Vietnamese food, Thai food (even mediocre Thai here is better than much of NY's offerings), Mexican food like Poc Chuc, even an Americanized place like Nopalito.

                                    The places that make my NYC visitors happy: anywhere for a giant burrito, dim sum, the Old Mandarin Islamic Chinese, Vietnamese, Humphrey Slocumbe, Local Mission, Incanto (sure, Italian, but that's only half the story), Blue Bottle at Mint Plaza or at Piccino.

                                    Go to Off the Grid and eat out of the carts, unless you've gotten your fill at Ferry Plaza. Get some amazing cocktails.

                                    -----
                                    Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
                                    3132 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116

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

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

                                    Blue Bottle Cafe
                                    66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                    Piccino Restaurant & Coffee Bar
                                    1001 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                    1. re: Windy

                                      I've never been to anything like Foreign Cinema in NYC. Outdoor seating, seasonal driven menu, California Cuisine... what in NYC is like that?

                                      We have a guest from NY/Boston coming in next week who loves unique CA food... we are debating between Foreign Cinema and Nopa.

                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                        And we forgot Peruvian!

                                        -----
                                        Inkas Restaurant
                                        3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                        Mochica
                                        937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                        Limon Restaurant
                                        524 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                        La Costanera
                                        8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA 94037

                                        1. re: Windy

                                          I've only been to Limon Rotisserie, not Limon, and other than that, only Inkas - which i love for their roast chicken. Best in the City, for us. We often take it home for dinner.

                                          -----
                                          Inkas Restaurant
                                          3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                          Limon Restaurant
                                          524 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                          Limon Rotisserie
                                          1001 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                    2. re: mariacarmen

                                      I commented above that Tadich Grill isn't a place that showcases the current status of the local culinary scene. Canteen is. Never mind where visitors should go, if I only had one dinner in SF, it would be at Canteen. (Matter of fact, we're in town for one night this week and already have reservations.)

                                      Prices are reasonable and the setting is the epitome of funky. A few tiny booths, a quilted stainless wall, and a very, very green counter with spinning vinyl-topped barstools. The building has changed from an SRO hotel to a dorm for the Academy of Arts University, so instead of sharing the waiting area with guys on the verge of homelessness, you can share it with kids who have multiple facial piercings and purple hair. And the food is simply fantastic.

                                      Dinner reservations aren't that hard to get - check opentable.com, but if nothing shows up, call. (Last time I did that I not only got last-minute seats, but had a nice chat with Dennis about what he liked about the current menu.) The wine list is extremely limited but decent.

                                      Brunch may even be better than dinner. The Eggs Benedict are arguably the best in the city. If you like Poc Chuc, try the Chupacabra, an achiote-spiked concoction of chorizo, black beans, and eggs that has a serious Yucatecan vibe going. And the "big pancake" is pretty tasty too.

                                      -----
                                      Tadich Grill
                                      240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                      Canteen
                                      817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        mmmm. have to get to that brunch one of these days....

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            (you mean 11th, right? what, an all day affair?? don't tempt me!)

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Yeah, I've never had a misstep at Canteen either for dinner or brunch. And those sandwiches at Sentinel are pretty incredible too.

                                        2. re: mariacarmen

                                          Interestingly, Canteen now seems to be doing an "Ad Hoc"-type $48 prix fixe dinner on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with the regular menu on Fridays and Saturdays. I'm very tempted by Bouillabaise night.

                                          http://www.sfcanteen.com/menu.html

                                      2. I know you said No Japanese, but I think you should reconsider that. While New York does it well, our proximity to Japan and our West Coast fish source makes for a completely different experience in sushi and Japanese food in general. We also have the largest Japantown in the country which much account for something.

                                        Kappa Gomi out in the Avenues is the most authentic and different Japanese restaurant available; no bento boxes and no sushi. Nombe is a force to be reckoned with (although I haven't been since the chef's departure), and we have some of the most amazing sushi restaurants on the West Coast.

                                        -----
                                        Nombe
                                        2491 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                                          nyc does japanese (purist) better -- think yasuda. or otafuku -- we don't have that level here. however japanese across the bay area as a whole is pretty good, i.e. sumika yakitori and orenchi ramen (better than ippudo and yakitori totto)

                                          1. re: ankimo

                                            My understanding is that NYers are willing to pay for their sushi and restaurateurs are happy to oblige and get top quality fish.

                                            If there's need for true blow-away restaurant, I'd go to Manresa...top produce, top technique and very California. It's an hour away however. To top that off...order all California wines.

                                            1. re: ML8000

                                              For straight-up sushi I would put Ino and Yume against anything I've had in NYC.

                                              For Kaiseki and Izakaya to me SF is generally behind NYC..

                                              I do think Kappou Gomi is unique and good enough to merit a visit even from New Yorkers.

                                              1. re: pauliface

                                                Sebo also has amazing sushi. The chef's sashimi platter is always right up there. Great sake too.

                                                -----
                                                Sebo
                                                517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                            2. re: ankimo

                                              Ippudo is much, much better than Orenchi, and Yakitori Totto is much, much better than Sumika. Japanese in the bay area is leagues behind NY. There is conceivably a debate between LA and NY, but the bay area? Absolutely not.

                                              1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                had you eaten at both recently? for me ippudo and totto didn't fall into the much, much better so didn't know if something had changed. anyways, LA japanese is my fave, though i don't get out to nyc as much.

                                            3. re: CarrieWas218

                                              i think i'd have to dissent on this one. kappa gomi is pretty good but i don't think would highlight SF. nombe has gone really downhill and i think is actually awful now.

                                              I think the only japanese restaurant that would impress a visitor from NY is Ippuku in Berkeley. A great izakaya with a shochu menu that's probably better than you could find in NY.

                                              In general I think Japanese in New York is better than it is in SF.

                                              -----
                                              Ippuku
                                              2130 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                              1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                would you really say our sushi is better than LA's?

                                              2. I have to dissent:

                                                Are you looking for something characteristically, even specially, SF, or something that would attend to NY cravings? Based on the responses so far, and the absence from them of two old-school stars of SF -- Alice Waters and Greens -- I'm guessing you'll be tasting the mini-NY that SF foodies are now enjoying, and creating. But miss them -- and taquerias -- and I think you'll miss the SF that is in a class absolutely by itself.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: klo4c

                                                  Oh God, don't send someone to Greens. The view is lovely, but the food is boring. By Alice Waters, I assume you mean Chez Panisse, and while CP is fantastic, if someone only has two days, I wouldn't send them to the East Bay. And a lot of the restaurants mentioned above have a lot of a Chez Panisse sensibility (especially Canteen).

                                                  -----
                                                  Chez Panisse
                                                  1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                                    I don't mean to suggest that these aren't good suggestions for great food. But if what they're after is something to truly distinguish SF from NY, I don't think these really do it. Half the time in current SF food culture I feel like I am in NY.

                                                    1. re: klo4c

                                                      I think the moderately priced, Chez Panisse-influenced places such as Canteen really set SF apart from NY, especially this time of year, when the discrepancy in local produce is greatest.

                                                      1. re: klo4c

                                                        Don't forget Aziza! (modern spin on moroccan)

                                                    2. re: klo4c

                                                      You know what, it's the way the question is posed...it's just not going to happen in 2 dinner and 2 lunches. It's good general question but otherwise difficult to answer...what's the reference besides living in California before and NY?

                                                      Frankly every few weeks a NYer comes on and asks to be blown away or what does SF do better then NYC. That's like asking for a place in the Bay Area that has better weather...and then you get into micro-climates...59 and foggy in the Sunset and 85, dry and dusty in Napa.

                                                      However if I had to answer, I'd still say Manresa, Aziza (nice call) and go to a taco truck and get 4 tacos for $5 bucks and then hit some produce.

                                                      p.s. the view at Greens is great...during the day.

                                                      -----
                                                      Manresa Restaurant
                                                      320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                      1. re: ML8000

                                                        if you have time to travel around, i would check out napa such as Redd for lunch, and stop by Berkeley Bowl to check out produce. price to quality ratio is so great here for mid-range meals, so NYC for high end, and LA for ethnic eats = broad generalization

                                                        -----
                                                        Berkeley Bowl
                                                        2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                                                        1. re: ankimo

                                                          Speaking of produce, a cruise through the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market is pretty eye-opening, too. The big crowds of locals and tourists make it a bit of a hassle, but don't detract from the variety and quality of what's on offer. And between all the food vendors it'd be pretty easy to make a meal or three of it.

                                                          1. re: ankimo

                                                            I'm a Bay Area native who's been living in NYC for the past 13 years. i just landedhere for a social visit and am too fried to come up with specific recs - especially if i'm limited to 4 meals, but overall the Bay is head and shoulders better at Mexican and Vietnamese than new york. that's pretty much all i'm going to eat when i'm out here.

                                                            if you are trying to get a NYer to move here i do think it's a great idea to take them produce shopping. shopping for fresh produce in the bay is not only cheaper, but also less pretentious than in new york.

                                                            totally agree that sf is great for mid-range. high end and ethnic food may make the biggest headlines, but the average city dweller dines out the most in mid-range restaurants. it's important to keep that in mind when you just want a good value/nicely prepared/healthy lunch, brunch or casual dinner.

                                                            outside of the obvious, i've noticed that many new yorkers have been impressed by Pluto's Fresh Food. i took the place for granted until i moved. in nyc, we have lunch eateries with similar setups but without the same quality as Pluto's (good old sf mid-range values).

                                                            oh, and Acme bread is MINDBLOWING...NYC has outstanding bakeries but i'd say Acme would definitely impress a visiting NYer. while i'm on the topic of bread, showing a new yorker the joys of dutch crunch wouldn't be such a bad idea.

                                                            my delirious read of this thread also didn't show any ethiopian in berkeley. there's ethiopian in nyc but i don't think the quality is even close to little ethiopia out in the east bay.

                                                            lastly, it'd probably be nice to check out what the local/farm to table scene has to offer. it's big in nyc right now, but that concept is also overlapping with hi-end southern american comfort food. i love that stuff, but i feel like my cholesterol levels are going through the roof--it's like the only way i can have some fresh local greens is in a biscuit sandwich layered with pork jowl. the fact that "locavorism" has been a normal way of life in the bay, and not a recent fad, i think is a very big advantage for sf.

                                                            ...now if sf could have one mindblowing 24-hour restaurant...

                                                      2. You might want to stop by the new branch of Arizmendi in the Mission, on Valencia.

                                                        1. Dinner options: Nopa, Flour + Water, Aziza or A16.

                                                          1. I would add Locanda for regional italian and Bar Agricole for food, wine, but especially cocktails and decor.

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

                                                            Locanda
                                                            557 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: weshoke

                                                              I second Bar Agricole for sure place is doing amazing things with the food and cocktails, and such a great vibe in there.

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

                                                            2. as a 6-year new yorker about to move to the bay area, i'll just say that you need to to the ferry building on saturday. it's the one thing i've experienced in the bay area that has no comparison in new york. there's nothing even close to it. the mix of fresh produce, meats, fruits, etc with absolutely delicious prepared foods, top notch coffee, cheese adn breads is unparalleled and we try to go there whenever we have visited SF.

                                                              1. As someone who has lived in and loved both areas, I can't think of anything the Bay area has foodwise to beat New York except cheaper produce and Dungeness Crab. For every good restaurant here they have 10 or 20 and places that are actually open after midnight. I love San Francisco but we take ourselves a bit to seriously foodwise.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: budnball

                                                                  the bay definitely beats NY for mid-range dining, mexican and vietnamese food, too--not to say that new york doesn't have a wide range of great food, but had to point that out.

                                                                  new york is the clear winner for quality late night dining though. i remember sf had a great place that served quality late night food on Gold St during the dot-com era but nothing has matched it since.

                                                                  1. re: budnball

                                                                    I cannot agree more with budnball. The bay area is a good place for food, especially when it comes to the sheer variety, but it is definitely not Tokyo or NY. The price/quality ratio for produce is amazing though.

                                                                  2. One of the things I would want o consider coming from NY which I did back in 1976 would be to find eats that remind me of home as well as find eats that speak San Francisco.

                                                                    With that said good Deli and a good Pizza spot need to be considered as well.

                                                                    Consider Miller's East Coast Deli on Polk St and for Pizza look at either Arinells on 16th and Valenica in the Mission or Village Pizzeria on Clement St both decent however if your willing to take drive and venture out of the ciity my new fav in the Bay Area for Pizza has to be " A Slice of New York with 2 spots one in San Jose and the other is open in Sunnyvale where I have just eaten at 2 days in a row driving 35 miles each way just to make sure it wasnt a fluke OMG is all I can say - I will send off a review on anoher blog

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Miller's East Coast Deli
                                                                    1725 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                    Village Pizzeria
                                                                    1 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                                    77 Replies
                                                                    1. re: SF Brother

                                                                      Miller's East Coast isn't even close to NY or LA quality deli. Have you tried Wise Sons?

                                                                      Skip Village Pizzeria and try the square at Golden Boy pizza.

                                                                      I wouldn't suggest New Yorker transplants chase pizza or pastrami though.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Village Pizzeria
                                                                      1243 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                        The SF area is the best place in the world for pizza.

                                                                        I've had better pastrami at Wood Tavern than I got at the 33rd St. 2nd Avenue Deli.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Wood Tavern
                                                                        6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          Are you really trying to turn this into a which city is better discussion? Why?

                                                                          Wood Tavern puts cheese on their sandwich. It's not for a purest pastrami lover. and if you're using 2nd Ave. to pick on, it just hints that you're not very up on the current scene.

                                                                          As for pizza, SF does great pizza, but to call it "the best in the world"?

                                                                          Your beloved, (and mostly mediocre) Tony's is opening in NY too. Let me know when SF gets itself a location of Keste.

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Wood Tavern
                                                                          6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                            SF is the best place in the world for pizza in the sense that nowhere else has so many styles done really well.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              I think the fact that mediocre Tony's is so hyped in SF negates that claim, because even if they are a virtual pizza mall, and do every style pizza under the sun, they don't do them all "really well".

                                                                              Will a transplant mourn the loss of their childhood favorite back home? Probably.

                                                                              Will the same transplant be able to get stellar pizza in SF? Without a doubt.

                                                                              Unless you're purposely trolling, you know the best pizza in SF still has an equal or superior match elsewhere on this planet.

                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                I'm not talking about Tony's. SF was already the best place to eat pizza on the planet before they opened.

                                                                                I'll open another topic to discuss which local pizzas are best of breed.

                                                                                New York is #1 in at most two styles of pizza, coal-oven and Ray's-style slice (a category in which "best" is arguably meaningless).

                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                  I'm going to suggest you revisit New York....and then remind you that your grandiose statement was making a worldwide claim.

                                                                                  ...and virtually any SF pizza place you can name has an equal if not a superior.

                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                    Gonna have to agree with your rant sugartoof. I don't understand the need by bay area posters to resort to hyperboles when describing SF cuisine. And being a long time poster/browser on the NYC, SF, and LA boards, this does seem to happen with more frequency on the SF boards.

                                                                                    SF has amazing food. But saying that Ino is better for sushi than anything someone has had in NYC only speaks to the lack of sushi experience in NYC by said poster, not the quality of Ino. Ino's excessive powered wasabi and limited fish selection better than freshly grated wasabi and at last 30 varieties of fish and eel and shellfish? I don't see how it's even possible to reach that conclusion.

                                                                                    Saying that Perbacco is better than "most of my meals in Italy" really just means very limited Italy dining experience, not the world-class nature of Perbacco. Best in the city? I may believe. Best in the country? Hard to believe with such strong contenders in NYC and not consistent with my experiences. Best in the world? Really? It's like saying Koi Palace has better Cantonese food than most places in Hong Kong.

                                                                                    Both SF and NYC have undergone pizza renaissances in the past 5 years and both cities have produced such new shining stars that I don't see how one could claim that SF has the best pizza in the world. Especially since that poster probably has not tried most of NYC's newcomers.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Koi Palace Restaurant
                                                                                    365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

                                                                                    Perbacco
                                                                                    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                                    Ino Restaurant
                                                                                    25 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                      Koi Palace would have a hard time matching Hong Kong because of the seafood and other ingredients we can't get here.

                                                                                      Perbacco is today (though not when it opened) as good as the best places I ate in my three years in Italy for several reasons, including a more open-minded and cosmopolitan customer base, a wider variety of perfect produce, and an open mind to occasionally improving on tradition without going off track into egotistical Frenchy experimentation.

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

                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        Koi Palace would have a hard time matching Hong Kong because of the seafood and other ingredients we can't get here.
                                                                                        ===================

                                                                                        Same is true for Italy. I don't have to tell you that the eggs in Italy are orange and much more flavorful than an egg here in the US (even the $9 a dozen free range ones). I almost killed myself the first time around because I could not stop eating the yolks of my hard boiled eggs and was eating half a dozen eggs a day for 2 weeks. That difference makes it very hard to create carbonara as good as is found in Rome. Amongst other things. The tomatoes taste different in terms of sweetness and minerality. I don't know of a place I can get 60 month old Parmigiano-Reggiano in the US like you can in Italy. The seafood from the Mediterranean is similarily different and unobtainable here in the US. As good as a Santa Barbara spot prawn is, it's no match for a gamberi rosso.

                                                                                        Robert, just curious, when was your last time in Italy?

                                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                                          When were you last at Perbacco? The thread where that came up, it sounded like years ago.

                                                                                          I haven't been back to Italy since '92, but I haven't heard anything about it changing for the better. The eggs I buy direct from farmers here are as good as the ones I got from my neighbors hens outside of Rome.

                                                                                          We have a ways to go to catch up with Rome's tomato culture. People here have this unfortunate idea that ripe always means red and soft. Cantaloupes, forget about it.

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

                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            I went to Perbacco about 6-8 months after it opened (?2006). So much more recently than your last time in Italy.

                                                                                            Based on such strong recommendations, I do plan on going to Perbacco and La Cicca when I'm back in the bay area in November. But certain bay area hounds that I trust, meaning those that I share similar tastes and experiences with, do not report the same huge leap in quality at Perbacco as other do.

                                                                                            As for Italy changing for the better, peruse the Italy boards and look over Mbfant's, Vinoroma's, and our own Steve H.'s more updated reports. I get the impression that it is changing for the better. Especially on the high end. I can't comment regarding change as my first visit was back in 2004. I ate well then but much better recently. But that may be due to my choosing better the more recent two visits.

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

                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                              People are still recommending Baffetto and Perilli. Doesn't seem like much has changed.

                                                                                              High-end Italian usually seems French to me (e.g. Acquerello and Quince). It's not cheap to serve first-rate traditional Italian food, but there's no reason for it to be as expensive as top-end French and modernist restaurants. You can't improve a perfect plate of agnolotti dal plin by tarting it up with foie gras or deconstructing it.

                                                                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                              But how does one even weigh in on this discussion if one hasn't been back for 20 years? I'm baffled.

                                                                                              1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                It's Italian cuisine. Change is anathema. You might equal Perilli's rigatoni alla carbonara or Baffetto's pizza, but you can't improve on them. Once a place is first-rate, there's no possible change for the better. Chefs who don't believe that and push past the limits of the tradition end up cooking French or Japanese food or some kind of (con)fusion.

                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                  It's Italian cuisine. Change is anathema.
                                                                                                  ===============================

                                                                                                  So Perbacco (Italian cuisine) can improve enough over the past 5 years to overtake the food in Italy but food in Italy cannot improve over the past 20 years?

                                                                                                  ================================
                                                                                                  You might equal Perilli's rigatoni alla carbonara or Baffetto's pizza, but you can't improve on them.
                                                                                                  ================================

                                                                                                  See below thread on the Italy boards. Some very trusted sources living in Rome consider Perilli "mediocre". http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793982

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

                                                                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                Watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations in Emilia Romagna. The red orange yolk reminded me of this thread. Our free range organic eggs certainly don't look like this down here in LA. Is SF churning our egg yolks with this color red? If so, lucky you guys!

                                                                                                Egg Yolk footage starts 01:15:

                                                                                                http://www.travelchannel.com/video/re...

                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                  One of my summer projects was to try as many local eggs as I could, stopping wherever I saw an "eggs for sale" sign on the back roads of Sonoma County and could see where the chickens live. I have seen yolks as deep orange as those in the video from pastured chickens (usually not certified organic) around here. But not as dark as the red-orange of the egg yolks shown in pictures of ramen in Japan.

                                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                    Lucky you guys indeed!

                                                                                                    Maybe that's what I'll ask SF friends to bring to LA when they visit...hint hint Daveena! ;)

                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                      Some of these farms only produce one or two dozen a day from a backyard flock. Hope you're worthy of $12/dozen eggs! :) Actually, probably more by the time they get to the urban markets. Also, many stop laying once the days grow shorter.

                                                                                                      My quest was to try to find $5/dozen eggs that taste like $12/dozen ones.

                                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                        Alfieri, the nut co. with a spot inside the Ferry Blg. and at the Farmers' mkts., was selling free range eggs for $4/dozen. They don't have them too often.

                                                                                                        1. re: foodeye

                                                                                                          Thanks, I've been buying them direct at the farms where I can see the hens. "Free range" can apply a wide variety of conditions.

                                                                                                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                          Hope you're worthy of $12/dozen eggs! :)
                                                                                                          ================================

                                                                                                          Clearly I would trade for a 2009 or 2010 Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc and a bowl of spaghetti carbonara. :)

                                                                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                            steve is softly chuckling to himself.

                                                                                                            The best carbonara on the planet comes from Rome's Roscioli. Eggs in the carbonara there cost a euro each. Money well spent.

                                                                                                            I did the carbonara thing at home in Connecticut two weeks ago, fresh eggs and all. Katie Parla's video was the inspiration.

                                                                                                            Sometimes a simple dish just echoes in your mind.

                                                                                                            1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                              Still have a block of 60 month old parmigiano reggiano from Roscioli I use to finish the carbonara at the end.

                                                                                                              For the pasta itself I proabably do 2/3 pecorino and 1/3 parmigiano.

                                                                                                              One of my all time favorite dishes with beautiful eggs.

                                                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                Oh yeah.
                                                                                                                Quality guanciale and crushed pepper corns seal the deal.
                                                                                                                Selecting the wine is the easy part.

                                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                  You did not tell me about this cheese!

                                                                                                                  1. re: daveena

                                                                                                                    I'm pretty sure I did...

                                                                                                                    Would be glad to grate it over your bowl of carbonara if you bring these magical orange eggs from Sonoma!

                                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                      some of the best eggs (marin or sonoma co.) we've found in one of the local farmers' markets, with the deepest coloured yolks, were duck eggs. outrageously flavourful. the best chicken eggs generally come from the 'pastured' birds who forage and roam for much of their diet [despite the moniker 'free range', most chickens under that label have a fairly sheltered life with their food doled to them] ; ducks of course do pretty well going after their own food too.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                        I want to read all about this epic meal on the What's for Dinner thread on the Home Cooking board. Include pictures.

                                                                                                2. re: Porthos

                                                                                                  I absolutely, 100% agree with Porthos.

                                                                                                  The Italian food in SF pales in comparison to what you find in Italy. I've been to Perbacco many times and it can't even compare to Mozza in LA, let alone all the places in Italy!

                                                                                                  And no, the problem with Koi Palace is not the seafood and other ingredients.

                                                                                                  1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                    Pizzeria Mozza was hit and miss, pretty lame compared with A16, Dopo, or Pizzaiolo. What I had at Osteria Mozza was great but no better than SF's best and considerably more expensive.

                                                                                                    "... people go to restaurants in San Francisco for the food, not the mood. ... They seem to be more interested in the rituals of dining rather than just going out to say they've gone to the latest place."—Drew Nieporent on why he closed Rubicon

                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                      You're certainly entitled to your own opinion.

                                                                                                      Daveena who lives in the bay area and is also a SF/NYC/LA regular found P.Mozza and Pizzaiolo pretty comparable. You then said you liked P.Mozza "well enough" which is a bit different from "pretty lame".

                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/499985

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      Pizzaiolo
                                                                                                      5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                        "I liked [Pizzeria Mozza] well enough—that's one of my favorite types of restaurant—it's just that I can get the same sort of thing done better at home. We'd have been wiser to go back to Koreatown or to an Armenian or Oaxacan place."

                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                          "I found the crust comparable in texture and flavor to that of Pizzaiolo (immediate crackle to the tooth when the pizza's hot, good char, very developed gluten, tendency to get very chewy as the crust cools) and the quality of the meat toppings (sausage, in particular) superior. Also they had a long-cooked broccoli with caciocavallo topping that I've never seen in the Bay Area."

                                                                                                          -Daveena

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Pizzaiolo
                                                                                                          5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                            Arrgh. I've been trying to stay out of this discussion. I suppose this is payback for the time I dragged Porthos into one of those interminable Yasuda threads on the Manhattan board.

                                                                                                            I'm always surprised by the number of people who seem comfortable making categorical statements about the quality of X-cuisine in Y-city without having actually eaten at every restaurant representing X-cuisine in Y-city. It seems counterproductive, and, frankly, un-chowhound-y. It suggests that the person has settled for a single, static picture of food in time, when the reality is constantly evolving (not to mention the impossibility of getting the comprehensive picture even at one given point in time).

                                                                                                            Getting off my soapbox... will probably get busted for having made exactly this sort of statement in the past...

                                                                                                            As for the NY v SF... ugh, I can't even muster up the energy to go through the whole thing again. NY better restaurant scene, SF better for home cook. Both great. Lucky us. Yay!

                                                                                                            1. re: daveena

                                                                                                              How could SF be better for the home cook and not for restaurants as well?

                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                Uh ...maybe because SF restaurants need to make a profit? They don't supply themselves like a home cook.

                                                                                                                NY wholesalers have several states to source and still be local.

                                                                                                                With imports, it depends what you're buying. If you comparison shop at Parkside Market or Kalustyan's, you'll find each place has their unique bargains.

                                                                                                                I can't think of anywhere in SF where I can get house made pasta fresh cut to order in front of you, at $1.50 for a half pound like you can on the East Coast.

                                                                                                                Also:
                                                                                                                Una Pizza is selling pizzas in SF for the same price he did when in NY.
                                                                                                                900 Degrees in NY is slightly cheaper than Tony's original location in SF.

                                                                                                                But that case study doesn't prove much, aside from how silly grandiose statements are.

                                                                                                                That said, it's fallen on deaf ears when I've tried to explain why parbaking and using frozen/canned ingredients isn't ideal to some on the NY Chowhound board.

                                                                                                                See, so they both have pluses and minuses.

                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                  Well - remember, I like froufrou complicated food more than you do.

                                                                                                                  1. NYC definitely has the numbers advantage (for the purpose of this argument, I will be limiting discussion to Manhattan v. SF). More people, higher population density, way more restaurants per square foot, open for more meals in a given week. I'm glad for the sake of our restaurant workers that they have more humane hours, but as a diner, I get frustrated when I want to go out for a nice meal on a Sunday or Monday night and my options are very limited. I also like trying out expensive restaurants at lunch - very few "top" restaurants in the Bay Area are open for lunch. And as proud as we are of our mid-range options in SF, NYC just has a lot more in that price range of similar (or better) caliber. I mean, Salumeria Rosi, which rarely even comes up as a suggestion when people on the Manhattan Board ask for "great Italian", can easily hang with Perbacco, La Ciccia and Cotogna.

                                                                                                                  2. Diversity in the styles of food at the upper- and mid-range. SF's made huge advances in the last year, with Benu, Saison, and Crenn, which I'm grateful for, but there's still too much sameness for my taste at the mid-range. I don't want food that I could cook at home when I go out. I want to see technique and creativity. I want to see a clear, personal vision that's not Alice Waters'. And when the style is classic California cuisine, I want a higher level of execution than I can achieve at home. As with the high end, I think there have been huge advances at the mid-range this year, but I think SF is still playing catch-up.

                                                                                                                  1. re: daveena

                                                                                                                    "I want to see technique and creativity. I want to see a clear, personal vision that's not Alice Waters'."

                                                                                                                    Daniel Patterson elaborated on that theme in an essay in the NY Times a few years ago:

                                                                                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/06/sty...

                                                                                                                    It may be boring for some chefs, but I don't see it as a problem for diners. I'll eat at Chez Panisse-tyrannized places like 10 or 20 times for every one I'm in the mood for creative, sui generis food like Plum's. I do want food that I could cook at home, if I had a week to shop and prepare, and a wood oven, and a couple of assistants in the kitchen during dinner so I could stay at the table.

                                                                                                                    The high end tasting-menu places, it's like they read Huysmans's "À rebours" and thought it was a cookbook.

                                                                                                                2. re: daveena

                                                                                                                  Agreed it's a difficult comparo as mentioned and you can cut it a million ways.

                                                                                                                  That said, if there's an issue, it's with the NY attitude and whine as evidenced by the bi-monthly so so question about bagels, pizza, some kind of goopy Chinese food, etc...and where to get it like home. The whole bagel quest is a perfect example...if you can't get it at home like you want, then WTF are you doing asking about it here? Makes no sense.

                                                                                                                  For petesake, NY has a sub-board for "The Best". To me that says more about NY then anything...THE BEST. Yeah lets all have the best...only the BEST...now lets argue about the BEST. Yes I know a lot of it's communication styles but I don't care. It's annoying and a real buzzkill and rubs people the wrong way...at least this Californian.

                                                                                                                  California rules are different, like enjoy what you have here, like the weather, the wine, the food, the lack of pretense and neurosis...so just shut up and don't harsh my buzz, enjoy the view.

                                                                                                                  Now excuse me I'm going to have a nice California red, a big fat California joint and sit in hot tub. Yeah...you uptight NY'ers...get off my deck, or take a hit and shut up.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                    Aww... I think "The Best" board is a vestige of the original, NYC-centric Chowhound. I don't think anyone actually still posts there, do they?

                                                                                                                    I don't mind the bagel and pizza questions. Pizza, because I have the answer (Emilia's in Berkeley). Bagels, because we should all be pushing for better bagels everywhere, all the time. The goopy Chinese food I never got, and never will.

                                                                                                                  2. re: daveena

                                                                                                                    That was my fault.
                                                                                                                    Thanks for helping.

                                                                                                              1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                                I've been to Osteria Mozza just the once. The food was on a par with the best places in SF. As with NY Italian places, prices and wine markups are beyond what anyone could get away with here.

                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                Osteria
                                                                                                                247 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                  So once again. When was your last trip to NYC and which italian restaurants did you go to as comparison.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                    Robert, your comments regarding pricing has no merit.

                                                                                                                      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                                        So what? The meal was first-rate, so at best a return visit would confirm that.

                                                                                                    2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                      "Are you really trying to turn this into a which city is better discussion? Why?"

                                                                                                      hope that doesn't happen on this thread, either! i think both cities are great for food but in very very different ways. whenever i'm in one i end up missing-and-not missing a lot about the other.

                                                                                                      1. re: waxyjax

                                                                                                        To quote Bluto...FOOD FIGHT!

                                                                                                        Neither are better...but if all East Coasters decided not to talk about bagels, pizza or deli while in California....that would be okay with me. Or they could leave. The bagel, pizza and deli talk gets old and considering it seems you can't get decent bagels and deli in NY, what's the point?

                                                                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                          Good deli is an endangered species here in Manhattan. Pizza is undergoing some kind of renaissance in San Francisco. Comparing the two locations is never a good idea but the pizza trend is undeniable.

                                                                                                          1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                            Katz's, 2nd Ave. H & H, and Essa Bagel have been pretty crappy for a long time - we're on Chowhound though, not a 25 year old guidebook.

                                                                                                            It's kind of like when people in SF make a top 5 sourdough list, none of which are sour.

                                                                                                            Obviously there's good stuff out there, and new good things to hunt for too.

                                                                                                        2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                          Guess it all depends on what you like. I've been to Keste (couple of times), UPN in NYC (and SF), several of the Arthur Ave joints over the years, Motorino, Co. and used to walk to Patsy's when I lived in the City ...and plenty more. All good but not significantly better (or worse) that what can be had in San Francisco. As much as I enjoyed the variety and quality (of some), I don't find myself longing for NYC pizza thanks to what SF has to offer.

                                                                                                          1. re: tranewreck

                                                                                                            Being a soon to be SFer from NYC, I can only hope you are right. I love pizza and love the places we have here in NY and I have been eating it every other day to get my fill. Now you're telling me that may not be necessary :) Good for me long-term, but bad for me in the short-term bc I ate so much pizza recently, for no reason!

                                                                                                            1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                              it's just my preference, but from trying pizza all over the bay area, i.m.o. the upper tier is dominated by the wood fired genre. those won't be the klassik NY style pies, but no doubt the wood burning pizza ovens are on the rise in NY too.

                                                                                                              we should embrace the distinctiveness and differences in the foods between different regions, rather than get stuck in provincial chauvinism. thankfully, which region is superior won't be empirically verifiable, because side by side, blindfold tasting and evaluation will always be impossible.

                                                                                                            2. re: tranewreck

                                                                                                              And that's the point. If you've tried pizza in both cities you'd realize that both cities are doing such great things with pizza that it's impossible to crown one best in the world and clearly superior to the other.

                                                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                As a transplanted NYer there are a dining options that I miss. Pizza isn't one of them.
                                                                                                                I won't jump into the fray, here, as to superiority, but can say that there is plenty in the Bay Area to keep me happy, food-wise, and, as a home cook, I really enjoy the quality and ready availability of fresh produce for a much longer "season". (though that seems to be improving in NYC based on recent trips back and reports from friends)

                                                                                                              2. re: tranewreck

                                                                                                                I agree it comes down to preference, and there are good options in both cities. It shouldn't be a deciding factor on where someone wants to live and eat. It's not like we're talking about something like burritos, where one city outright tramples the others.

                                                                                                                As for home cooks... I think New York has come a long way in the last couple years, and now has many superior options. I don't think New Yorkers even know or appreciate it. In fact, I'm sure they don't. You can even get a Frog Hollow Peach if you have Ferry Building envy and really want it.

                                                                                                            3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                              I've had good pizza in a couple of places in the Bay Area...both neopolitan style. But it does not rise to the level of the best I've had in Italy.

                                                                                                              Generally speaking, I've found ethnic food to be substantially better in NY and LA. However, the Bay Area has some great ethnic food not so commonly available elsewhere, e.g. Peruvian.

                                                                                                              We're particular about our food and travel often. We'd rather wait to eat a particular type of food while overseas than settle for a 2nd rate version here.

                                                                                                              1. re: chilihead2006

                                                                                                                I'd pretty much expect Naples to have the best Neapolitan pizzas. As much effort as Mangieri puts into importing all the same stuff, his mozzarella's just never going to be quite as fresh.

                                                                                                                Personally I prefer the locally-evolved variation on that style (e.g. Delfina, Dopo, Cotogna) that uses more flavorful flour and comes out somewhat crisp and crunchy.

                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                Dopo
                                                                                                                4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

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

                                                                                                                Cotogna
                                                                                                                490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                  Once a place is first-rate, there's no possible change for the better. Chefs who don't believe that and push past the limits of the tradition end up cooking French or Japanese food or some kind of (con)fusion
                                                                                                                  =====================================

                                                                                                                  You stated above that once you reach a certain pinnacle, it is impossible to improve on a certain cuisine. But here you acknowledge that perhaps these (nor)cal-neapolitan style pizzas have surpassed the original? Perhaps by chefs who pushed past the limits of tradition by using more flavorful flour and making the crust more crispy and crunchy? It appears change for the better is possible.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                    "You stated above that once you reach a certain pinnacle, it is impossible to improve on a certain cuisine."

                                                                                                                    I'm talking only about traditional Italian cuisine.

                                                                                                                    I prefer the pizzas that Cotogna, Dopo, and Delfina make to traditional Neapolitan pizzas, but they have gone so far outside the tradition that someone from Naples would probably find the pizza objectionable.

                                                                                                                    We have a distinct local Cal-Italian pizza tradition, but it dates back only to 1980, so there's still plenty of room for improvement. Even our best places still have a tendency to overload toppings.

                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                    Dopo
                                                                                                                    4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

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

                                                                                                                    Cotogna
                                                                                                                    490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                      Sounds more so that you're satisfied with what Cotogna, Dopo, and Delfina make, because it's available to you.

                                                                                                                      Does San Francisco even have somewhere you can buy fresh mozzarella made the same day?

                                                                                                                      I think Delfina pulls their own, and I know Una is partial to the bagged import mozz... still seems like a blind spot in a city with great Italian food shops.

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      Dopo
                                                                                                                      4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

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

                                                                                                                      Cotogna
                                                                                                                      490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                        Interesting point. Deb and I spend every March in Rome and try to dine in our neighborhood. When in San Francisco, we work out of a hotel near the Embarcadero rather than a flat near the Campo. Still, the neighborhood thing has merit. Manhattan is where Deb works. Interesting, to me, we seem to eat in less than a 30-block range on average.

                                                                                                                        At the end of the day, its all about good food. I try to cherry pick the good stuff wherever I am, make a few friends in the process. Comparing locations is seldom on my radar.

                                                                                                                        We'll be back in Northern California in August for car week in Monterey. In the short term, we'll be in DC this weekend. They have some pretty good food there, too. I'll be at the O's/Angels game. Temps should be near 105 degrees. AC, cold beer and Boog's BBQ are in my future.

                                                                                                                        just my $0.02.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                          I live here because by my standards the food is the best anywhere, has been since the 80s. Also for the climate and proximity to nature, but those are the things that make the great food possible. The SF area becoming a world-class place for pizza is a relatively recent development.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                          Also, Northern California pizza was top notch and distinct by the 70's....that tradition is long gone, and the surviving establishments no longer pull off that style. I think the sauce is the only thing that survives.

                                                                                                                          It was topping heavy, fairly thin crusted by the middle, but a distinct thick bread like crust at the ends, sometimes with a dark char. The cheese was grated into a heavy layer, and the sauce was thick and rich. There were still different styles but that was a typical neighborhood pizza.

                                                                                                                          It wasn't a light weight personal sized pizza with wacky toppings, or what people might now associate with California Italian.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                            The best local pizza from 1935 to 1979 was Tommaso's (née Lupo's). Other popular favorites from those days included Victor's and the Sausage Factory. I can say from recent experience that the first two have not changed, and I've heard the same is true of the latter. There are other old-school places around town that still make that style.

                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                            Sausage Factory
                                                                                                                            517 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                              Which old-school pizza places are you talking about? The three I mentioned are the ones people would cross town for.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                "Which old-school pizza places are you talking about?"

                                                                                                                                I clearly said I wasn't talking about old school pizza.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                  By "old-school" I was referring to your version: "Northern California pizza was top notch and distinct by the 70's....that tradition is long gone, and the surviving establishments no longer pull off that style." Which places?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                    Every neighborhood had one. You didn't have to cross town for it unless you wanted to try a place you read about. It's more likely you had to cross town to avoid it.

                                                                                                                                    Concurrent with the Alice Waters, and California Cuisine thing, there was also a separate pizza boom, and San Francisco pizza shared stylistic characteristics. It wasn't Tommaso's or Villa Romano, though they adapted to keep customers happy, and there were variations at places, like say, Giorgio's, which did the thinner crust.

                                                                                                                                    Piero's in the Sunset comes to mind as a standout example.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                      You're saying Tommaso's adapted to keep customers happy?

                                                                                                                                      Before you said "by the 70s," now you're saying concurrent with Alice Waters, who started selling pizza in 1980.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                        I said concurrent.
                                                                                                                                        Chez Pannisse opened in 1971.

                                                                                                                                        Perhaps this isn't a topic for you to nitpick?

                                                                                                                              2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                your description of 70s style pizza is very close to what we 'would cross town' to eat at Pasquale's. have not returned there since, but they might still be doing them that way.

                                                                                                                                1. re: moto

                                                                                                                                  Yup, Pasquale's was real good at one point. That might be hard to believe today. I think they opened in the 60's, if I recall?

                                                                                                                                  At lot of these places are still around, but they're run down and the pizzas not the same.

                                                                                                              2. Tartine and Bar Tartine both.

                                                                                                                Nothing like either in New York, but they still have current enough sensibilities to match or beat anything you would find there. You'll find yourself thinking "we could live with this" instead of doing a comparison thing in your head.

                                                                                                                A visit to Bi-Rite Market will also make you want to make the move.

                                                                                                                I would tell you to really avoid Delfina, and La Ciccia in your case.

                                                                                                                Instead, make sure you revisit Mexican for at least one meal. It's cheap, and convenient, and we no it's lacking in New York. La Taqueria is a safe bet, but there are many great options.

                                                                                                                If you want something which feels like Old San Francisco, then do take a look at Tadich.

                                                                                                                For lunch, look into a visit to Little Skillet. It represents a very different, playful, Metropolitan side of San Francisco that didn't exist in the same way before you moved. The food is more snack like, and you'll eat outside on milk crates, or on the loading dock in the alley.

                                                                                                                Another option that may or may not be within your budget is Francis.

                                                                                                                I would also suggest hitting up Four Barrel or Ritual for coffee. The Summit Cafe serves Blue Bottle and has desserts that you can get late at night, and it's in the lobby of an internet incubator, so that's uniquely SF in a way.

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

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

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

                                                                                                                La Taqueria
                                                                                                                2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                Bar Tartine
                                                                                                                561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                Blue Bottle Cafe
                                                                                                                66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                                                                1. So were you convinced? It's five months and 60 responses later.

                                                                                                                  1. four meals is simply too small a sample size to demonstrate anything conclusive. NY has huge advantages over SF in good to great eating -- the number of options and the excellent chefs it attracts from all over the world. quicker and closer access to Europa makes a difference if someone has eurocentric tastes, and many of the good SF places are based on French-cali or Ital-cali cooking.

                                                                                                                    the biggest advantage SF has is its weather (and again, a short visit is too small a sample), and its access to great produce and wine grown within 100 miles of the delivery door of any eating spot. from about June through Oct, NY can come close in that respect. if someone from NY had the time to try a couple of dozen places, they'd probably be satisfied that they would not fee deprived of very good eating in SF (the line up of great chefs in NY is another story ; it's possible that out of the smaller group in SF it's harder to identify a few that enchant the individual fresser), and might find a few they found compellingly good.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: moto

                                                                                                                      San Francisco is small, New York City is huge. Geography, density, diversity give the nod to New York. The Bay Area competes (successfully) at a three-quarter scale and that may be a large part of its charm. Both cities share decent mass transit (no other California city can claim that distinction), a serious penchant for self indulgence and an outsized appreciation of the arts.

                                                                                                                      In short, any New Yorker should feel at home in the Bay Area. Hell, I've been known to BART over to Oakland for a day game at the coliseum, have supper in Berkeley and make it back to the FiDi for drinks at Shields - the West Coast equivalent of what I do for a Yankees game.

                                                                                                                    2. Yes yes to the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market - overwhelming but pretty amazing.

                                                                                                                      I also second Nopolito (easy enough to get to from the mission) - totopos are so simple and delicious - house-ground organic corn, that they make into masa, that they then make into tortillas that are then fried into chips tossed in arbol chili sauce topped with crema. Yum. Is one of the dishes I will miss dearly when I am no longer in SF. The pork belly quesadilla is pretty outstanding as well. Those two dishes, a salad and a couple of beers make for a nice little lunch.

                                                                                                                      1. Sometimes I think a good old fashioned (but not greasy-spoon) Diner can give you a good fix too.....mix up the gourmet a bit!

                                                                                                                        A GREAT brunch /lunch spot for me when I'm in the mood for a LOUD place with fast service and excellent food is TOAST on Polk St. Best Chicken Fried steak (get the gravy on the side), and the eggs taste yummmmm. Salads are amazing (and I typically hate restaurant salads) Juice is always fresh and you can bring your morning paper and just sit at the Counter and keep to yourself while waiting for a meeting or appointment, or grab a table with a friend and talk about outrageous gossip that the table next to you cant even hear! Ahhhh this place can definately find a place in your SF list :)