HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Toronto to SF (yes, I've done my research)

I'm a Toronto 'hound headed to SF in August for 4 nights (split up - 2 days on either end of a week doing Napa, Sonoma & Yosemite). I've read the threads for out-of-towners and the fantastic posts by Grayelf and Hungryabbey (fellow Canucks) so mostly I'm just looking for some specific recommendations based on our preferences.

Husband and I like mid-range places with great affordable wine lists and/or craft beers. We like a buzz to a room but not so loud we can't talk. Don't need white tablecloths but I'm pretty picky about good service. I like great/creative veggies and salads, and any kind of roasted or grilled fish with great seasoning and accompaniments, while Husband goes for pork/steak/lamb type dishes, and also loves him some gnocci. We're okay with some belly and boudin hear and there in a dish, but we don't like an entire meal of nose-to-tail. We're down with any regionality of cuisine but due to my aversion to cream sauce we usually end of steering clear of traditional Italian/French. Likewise I'm not a big noodle fan so Asian-type places have to have other options. We love Middle Eastern and Indian flavours and spicing. We usually do quite well at small-plate type places: our most recent memorable meal was at Publican in Chicago and that fits the bill as to what we're looking for. We're staying in Union Square but we're more than happy to walk up to 30 mins or take transit for good eats.

We'd like to splurge on one meal and that will likely be Ad Hoc or Bouchon. We're looking for places unique to SF. We'd like perhaps one dinner with mains up to $35 but for most dinners we'd like to stay around $100 for 2 with a drink each. We usually split one app/salad and/or one dessert, so we hope we can find some good mid-range options. We're not opposed to more street food/takeout/informal options as well (I hear tacos are the thing?) or lunches. We'd also love some suggestions for bars where we can chill with good wine/beer and a cool, not-to-young crowd.

I wonder if any of these fit the bill: Bar Crudo, Zuni Cafe, Slanted Door, Quince, Bocadillos, Lulu, Incanto, Piperade, Spruce, A16, Flour+Water, Bacar
This is just a list of places friends have liked, so I'm not sure if they're what we're looking for, or if you trusted folk can steer us in the right direction.

Thanks, in advance. Happy to return the favour for Toronto should you ever pass by our way!

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

Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

A16
2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

Piperade
1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

Bar Crudo
655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

Bocadillos
710 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Bouchon
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Generally a solid list there.

    Quince's next-door place Cotogna would be a better fit for your budget. Some of the best pizza in town.

    Lulu is sort of a knockoff of Zuni. It has had serious ups and downs over the years, I'm not sure how it's doing currently.

    Slanted Door charges a premium for its location.

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

    Zuni Cafe
    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Cotogna
    490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

    1. Good research, and good list. I love Incanto but prefer the offal dishes on the menu--it's not that you can't get, say, pork shoulder there--but I'm not sure I'd go if I didn't have an interest/taste in nose-to-tail type dishes--I think it's what they do best.

      I second Robert's vote that you check out Cotogna. I haven't been Bar Crudo's new location, but I liked the old one, and I don't think the couple of meals I had at Spruce were a good value, considering the excellent choices we've got around here.

      I'd say also that you might check out the menus at Zare at Fly Trap (mediterranean-persian) and Wexler's.

      -----
      Zare at Fly Trap
      606 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

      Bar Crudo
      655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

      Cotogna
      490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1 Reply
      1. That's a solid list but some of them aren't really what you were asking for. So I'd take Quince (expensive, formal) and Incanto (really all about the nose-to-tail) off the list. One to consider that's not on your list is Aziza. I'd pick *one* of the plethora of places doing rustic/regional Italian/pizza (Flour+Water, Cotogna, A16, etc.) and one higher-end California cuisine or California take on another cuisine (i.e., Aziza, Piperade), then a couple of casual ethnic places (something Asian (Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese) and something Latin-American (Mexican, Yucatecan, Peruvian)).

        -----
        A16
        2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

        Piperade
        1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

        Cotogna
        490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

        9 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Thanks for keeping me on the right track. The list was from a SF query to friends on Twitter, so it's not specific to my tastes.

          Oh, also, I'm not a dairy fan, so pizza without other options won't fly.

          1. re: LemonLauren

            I think you'll find that pizza in 2011 San Francisco does not mean oozing with cheese. None of the places listed is a "pizza place" but rather rustic/regional Italian restaurants that feature pizza.

            I'm also making my recommendations based on the kind of food you're likely to be finding in your other destinations, which is going to be primarily California/Italian/Cal-Italian; thus my suggestion that you try some other cuisines while you're in SF.

            1. re: LemonLauren

              Yeah, lots of cheese is not the defining characteristic of most of the top pizza places here. The best thing I had at Cotogna was a pizza bianca with ramps, guanciale, egg, and a little Pecorino Romano that could easily be left off if you're that anti-dairy.

              -----
              Cotogna
              490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Ramps! You're talking my language ;) thank you both for the clarification!

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  At "A cote" last week: several mushrooms and duck. A slight hint of cheese, I couldn't quite place it. Something like an aged gouda. Yum.

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      The wine list is very pleasant: lots of off-the-beaten-path europeans like croatia, hungary. And forget not the wood-oven-roasted mussels, worth the price of admission.

                      1. re: bbulkow

                        it has been at least 10 years since i've been. time to go back. thx bb!

                    2. re: bbulkow

                      Yeah, À Côté's wine list is remarkable: 60 wines, mostly not well known around here, about half available by the glass, plus additional wines in five or six themed flights and a reserve list. I advise wine geeks to take public transit.

                      http://www.acoterestaurant.com/menus/...

              2. I recommend Barbacco over Bocadillos for small plates, Perbacco for excellent Italian with not a hint of cream sauce.

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

                Bocadillos
                710 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Barbacco
                230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                1. Go to Perbacco. Not a cream sauce Italian type place, fits your bill exactly.

                  Slanted Door is great but has gotten overpriced.

                  Zuni is nice, I prefer NOPA for similar style food... sit upstairs for less noise.

                  Quince is very nice.

                  Incanto is a lot of offal, I'd go elsewhere based upon your requests.

                  A16 is good but haven't been there since the original chef left.

                  The last I heard of bacar it had closed.

                  Piperade is very good and always a crowd pleaser, though the service can be a bit fast.

                  Spruce isn't worth the hype, imo -- more animal fat use than required, imo.

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

                  Zuni Cafe
                  1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                  Perbacco
                  230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  A16
                  2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                  Piperade
                  1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: whiner

                    Bacar is gone and replaced by Alexander's Steakhouse.