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Ethnic Eats in San Francisco - What Should We Try?

DarkRose May 17, 2011 11:16 AM

My partner and I are heading to San Francisco for a few days in June, and I'm starting to put together our dining itinerary. I have an open slot for dinner on Wednesday, and we agree that we want to try a cuisine that's either not readily available where we live on the central coast or one we've never had before. Looking for your recs for a great sit-down place, not counter service or take-away, reasonably priced (not looking for terribly upscale, super pricey places).

We have easy access to really good Indian, Japanese/sushi, Italian and Thai food. We love Greek, Lebanese/"Middle Eastern", Russian, German, Czech, Spanish and French cuisine (we already have a French place in mind). Love Chinese too, but as native East-coasters, we tend to prefer what we had back home to what we've had out here in Cali). Willing to try pretty much anything else, though not looking for an offal-centric menu.

ETA: Posted a bit too quickly and forgot to add: We are staying at Villa Florence, between upper downtown area and lower Nob Hill, and not looking to go outside of San Francisco, so nothing in Berkeley or Oakland, please. We'll have a car, but would prefer to take the bus/walk/take a cab, so parking isn't an issue.

Thanks for your input!

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: DarkRose May 17, 2011 11:32 AM

    Here's a good place to start:


    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      DarkRose RE: Robert Lauriston May 17, 2011 12:27 PM

      Thanks for that link, Robert, somehow missed it when I did a quick search of the board. After looking over the possibilities and a discussion with my partner, she's most interested in Brazilian, Peruvian, Moroccan and Portuguese.

      1. re: DarkRose
        Robert Lauriston RE: DarkRose May 17, 2011 12:35 PM

        Brazilian, Bossa Nova, Canto do Brasil, Espetus.

        Peruvian, La Mar.

        Moroccan, Aziza.

        Portuguese, nothing in SF proper except Grubstake.

        Bossa Nova
        139 8th St, San Francisco, CA

        1. re: DarkRose
          Windy RE: DarkRose May 17, 2011 03:39 PM

          In San Francisco, you'll do far better with Peruvian and Moroccan (and Burmese as noted below) than Brazilian or Portuguese.

          Another Moroccan option: Tajine is reopening on Polk within the week. Much less fancy than Aziza. Cafe Zitouna also offers quite good Tunisian food.

          Cafe Zitouna
          1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      2. m
        MeredithR RE: DarkRose May 17, 2011 11:49 AM

        Aziza or Kokkari are both *fantastic* and will satisfy your Greek and Mid Eastern craving. Make a resv via phone or Opentable. They can get pricey but not too over-the-top. For a bit more casual and laid back, Kan Zaman is also a star (I've been eating there over a decade and am always amazed at what I get for $20+). One other idea is La Mediterranee (in Pacific Heights); small, quaint, adorable, delicious (owner is Iranian so there's lots of cuisine influences on his menu). As for German, Suppenküche is the famed one here: it's delicious. All of these spots are easy to get to via MUNI or cab, Aziza will be your longest trek but still easy from where your hotel is.

        Kan Zaman Cafe
        1793 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

        5 Replies
        1. re: MeredithR
          Robert Lauriston RE: MeredithR May 17, 2011 12:01 PM

          Aziza is Cal-Moroccan.

          Is the food at the Pacific Heights branch of La Mediterranee better than at the other branches?

          Schmidt's and Leopold's might have better food than Suppenküche.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            MeredithR RE: Robert Lauriston May 17, 2011 12:14 PM

            I have been to two La Med spots - the one in Pac Heights and the other outside SF and they specified they wanted in SF. I love it - a wonderful neighborhood spot that won't break the bank. I'm not the expert on German cuisine - I think it's delicious and enjoy it all; Suppen. just stood out as I have fantastic memories there.

            1. re: MeredithR
              Robert Lauriston RE: MeredithR May 17, 2011 12:38 PM

              The food at La Mediterranee has always seemed really mediocre to me. For Middle Eastern sit-down, I like Old Jerusalem. There are also good Turkish places: A la Turca, Troya, Gyro King. Also Maykadeh for Persian.

              La Mediterranee
              2936 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

              Gyro King
              25 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              349 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

              Old Jerusalem
              2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                saffrongold RE: Robert Lauriston May 17, 2011 01:49 PM

                I must agree with RL that any he listed for Middle Eastern are far better than LaMediteranee.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  mariacarmen RE: Robert Lauriston May 17, 2011 07:26 PM

                  Have to agree on mediocrity of La Med. But MeredithR's recommendation for Suppenkuche is right on. Better than it used to be. I haven't tried Schmidt's.

                  525 Laguna St, San Francisco, CA 94102

          2. CarrieWas218 RE: DarkRose May 17, 2011 12:03 PM


            You must try Burmese food.

            Burma Superstar lives up to its name but I am also a fan of Mandalay and Burmese Express, never having tried Pagan.

            Burma Superstar
            4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

            4 Replies
            1. re: CarrieWas218
              Calvinist RE: CarrieWas218 May 17, 2011 12:28 PM

              Very much agree on the Burmese. Two other suggestions. I had a great, upscale dinner at Gitane. Focus is French and Moroccan. It's an elegant room and the wine list was great (lots of Portuguese selections). And if you want something completely different, try Mission Chinese. Love it or hate it (I really like it), it's different than whatever other flavors of Chinese you've had. Note: most dishes here are very spicy.

              Gitane Restaurant & Bar
              6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

              1. re: Calvinist
                mariacarmen RE: Calvinist May 17, 2011 07:24 PM

                I have to respectfully disagree on level of heat at Mission Chinese. If you like REALLY spicy, they're not that spicy. Just saying.

              2. re: CarrieWas218
                mariacarmen RE: CarrieWas218 May 17, 2011 07:27 PM

                http://www.burmesekitchen.com/ = Burmese Express. Really, really good.

                1. re: CarrieWas218
                  dcfb RE: CarrieWas218 May 19, 2011 01:59 AM

                  Much prefer the food (though there is crossover) and the waits at B Star on Clemente to sister spot Burma Superstar.

                  B Star Bar
                  127 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                  Burma Superstar
                  4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

                2. mariacarmen RE: DarkRose May 17, 2011 07:46 PM

                  How about Piperade? It's Basque, Spanish/French. Very good, a bit higher end than some of the other ethnic places listed here, so maybe that could be a splurge. (excluding La Mar and Kokkari.)

                  1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mariacarmen
                    CarrieWas218 RE: mariacarmen May 17, 2011 09:58 PM

                    +1 for Piperade. One of the best restaurants in the city...

                    1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

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