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May 24, 2011 12:06 PM

quick trip musts

Headed to San Fran for literally 36 hours. Coming from landlocked Colorado. Staying at the Hotel Nikko but willing to go anywhere. Looking for any 'musts' for lunch (sandwiches/soups or a saturday brunch) and also a great local seafood joint for dinner- large wine lists are a plus- my budget is NOT French Laundry but its also not Subway;)... and I am also a fan of the unsuspecting holes in the wall. Also a great bakery for AM coffee and a treat would be a perk too!

Thanks so much!

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  1. Since you're going to be here Saturday morning, the Ferry Building (farmer's market, lots of prepared food stalls, coffee, etc.) is a must.

    So now you need seafood with a great wine list. On a Saturday night? Are you dining solo or with a companion?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      A friend who will have a 4 month old - who is still in the sleep all the time stage- so something that will allow him to be there... thanks!!

    2. You can skip Anzu, the restaurant in your hotel.

      1. hello vafeed -
        Please recognize that we have very little local seafood. There are only a couple of fish that are brought into SF. In general, be on the lookout for Monterey Sardines and sand dabs. We're at the end of crab season (most crabs will be brought from oregon or points north now), and there hasn't been a successful salmon season in a few years. Since we don't have a large selection in local fish, most good restaurants will source one or two great local fish dishes. For example, I've always been very happy with the fish at Boulevard. What we do have that's fresh and amazing is veggies. We're just past the end of delta asparagus season (every restaurant with multiple great asparagus specials), and it seems like potatoes might be up next (I was at a great local sustainable restaurant, Flea Street Cafe, and they had a "taste of the season" amuse being potatoes).

        For coffee I'd suggest the Mint Plaza Blue Bottle Coffee. They have a little patio so the kid can run around, and their siphon coffee is stellar. And by "stellar" I mean one of my top 5 ever.

        Finally, if you'd like chowhound to help you out, narrowing the kind of joint you'd like is a must. There's little to narrow your selection from the basic well known good restaurants - nothing about price range, style of food, noise, part of town.

        Flea Street Cafe
        3607 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025

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

        4 Replies
        1. re: bbulkow

          The salmon season is open and I've had local salmon at two restaurants closer to the source in Monterey County (outside the SF Bay Area). No salmon sightings in SF?

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Good to know it's open, finally after so many years. I haven't seen any salmon at the couple of local, sustainable places I've eaten in the last week: Martin's West and Flea Street. What I remember of the good salmon years is the price drops about 2x and fish quality goes way up everywhere.

            As a traveler, simply ask the exact source of the fish. One of the key words is "line caught", and ask which harbor it came into. If they know, it's likely to be very good eatin'.

            Halibut is also local, widely available, and tasty. Scratch has been serving some very good halibut for the last few months - a fennel pollen encrusted number. Halibut was also strong on the Flea Street menu.

            Finally, oysters are local and very good. Lots of places have good oyster menus, Zuni, Salt House, the place in the ferry building, Hog and Rocks. I think I saw an update to the $1 oyster thread. In general, be on the lookout for Tomales Bay oysters (there are beds with lots of species in Tomales, so that's not a kind of oyster)

            PS. I guess if your kid is 4 months it won't be running around! I was thinking 4 years.

            Flea Street Cafe
            3607 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025

            1. re: bbulkow

              Yup. They're expecting a good salmon season this year. A lot of chefs prefer farmed salmon, though, because it's more consistent. Generally speaking, if it's local that fact will be touted on the menu, but as bb said, the best thing to do is ask.

            2. re: Melanie Wong

              I asked at the sushi bar last night, and they said local salmon was still too expensive ($12+ per pound).

              Swan Oyster Depot is a great Saturday afternoon stop for raw oysters and exceptional cured salmon. No room for an infant though.

              Swan Oyster Depot
              1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          2. about to move back home from vail to sf. one of my favorites for seafood which doesn't break the bank, is Pacific Cafe (33rd and geary). not too far from your hotel you have fleur, faralon, le colonial. maybe just a glass of wine and some apps to stay within your range?

            1. I really like Ruth's idea of going to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building. There are some great spots behind the Ferry Building that ought to fulfill any of your needs breakfast or lunch needs. There's a Roli Roti truck that is amazingly popular but I refuse to stand in the lines so can only speak to how yummy the food looks and smells :-) This will not be a long walk from the hotel or you can take two stops on the Muni from Powell Station.


              If you are feeling adventurous and want to head over to some more 'locals' spots, I would head over to Tartine for Breakfast. This is a very popular spot for all things full flavor (read: butter and more butter). Here you will find a huge selection of french-style breakfast items like croissants, pain-au-chocolate, etc. You can go for some very colorful walks around here as well seeing you will be right on the edge of the Mission District. There are fun and intereting shops to walk into along Valencia Street. You will also be right by Dolores Park if you want to take in some breathtaking views of the city (or perhaps take breakfast or lunch there for a spell).


              Another option for sandwiches is a little off the beaten path and not too far from Tartine. People (and for some reason lots of Hipsters) flock to a nearby sandwich shop here called Ike's Place. They are definately a whole in the wall and the sandwiches are very popular and tasty. This is a stand-in-a-room-order-a-sandwich-and-find-a-spot-to-eat-it kind of place but worth a try.


              As mentioned in the other posts, there are not a lot of sustainable seafood options here in the city and most of the fish is brought in. My absolute favorite spot is a hole-in-the-wall in the Castro District called Anchor Oyster Bar. The place is very small and while not always true, people try to keep the noise level down. The owners keep the place impecibly clean and I see plenty of people bringing a child carrier with them but I doubt strollers will be welcome. Being a Boston native and a fish lover, this is my favorite fish restaurant in the city. Perhaps others here will mention some better chile-friendly spots.


              Have fun!


              Tartine Bakery
              600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              Roli Roti
              , Hayward, CA

              Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
              One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

              Ike's Place
              3489 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

              Anchor Oyster Bar
              579 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114