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5 day itinerary with tweens

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Hi all. I've been reading through many threads over the last week and have gained an appreciation for some of the sure hits in SF, but would love any specific feedback. Sorry for the length and the number of questions!

We're a family of 4 with 2 boys 11 and 13. Both boys have, for better or worse, gained an appreciation for good food and are really looking forward to SF mostly for that reason!

Here's the rough itinerary, which is probably very familiar.

Arrive late and check-in to the Warwick near Union Square.

Thursday: breakfast at Dottie's True Blue Cafe at opening time.

Walking near Chinatown, hitting Golden gate Bakery along the way, and either Naked Lunch or Lichee Garden, depending on where we are and how we feel. I think we would have tried Jai Yun but it is closed Thursdays. Oh well, that’s fate.

Dinner at Canteen. Then leave the kids at the hotel for a night-cap at Bourbon and Branch.

Friday: Yes, we ate dinner there the night before, but Canteen opens for breakfast at 7 and it's right near our hotel, so it must be fate. Then catch the F-line to Peir 33 and an early Alcatraz tour. Any ideas on where to pick up great picnic lunch food in the early morning between Canteen and Market St where we will catch the F line? Is a picnic lunch on Alcatraz a good idea?

After the tour catch a ride to Russian Hill, I could use a post-Alcatraz lunch rec near here if we decide not to have a picnic lunch on the island. Casual and fun would fit the bill. ??

Pick up something for the kids to eat in the room, while the wife and I head to either Bix for fun, or La Folie for food, depending on which we decide we may prefer that night. It looks like we would really enjoy Bix, are there similar places around?

Saturday: Renting bikes near the hotel and riding to Ferry building for the Market which will take care of breakfast and lunch (to go). Head over the bridge and return via ferry.

I'm not sure of the timing, but if we wind up eating dinner in Sausalito, will FISH do the trick? If we wind up back to our hotel earlier, I was thinking La Ciccia. Anything closer to Union Square?

Sunday we're picking up a rental car early morning and not sure what were doing - driving tour in the city - other than heading to Yosemite after lunchtime. I think I would like to try lunch at Torta Gorda, as my youngest son is a quesadilla specialist, and I love a good mole.

Next two weeks are in Yosemite loosing any and all weight put on in SF, but before we leave on Sunday we'll be driving back Friday to stay two nights at an airport hotel, keeping the car for the whole day on Saturday. I was thinking something along the lines of seeing Golden Gate Park and environs.

So Saturday breakfast and lunch are wide open, depending on where in the city we go, for dinner I was thinking something like Firefly might work – something simple and good.

Thanks to everyone for keeping up this great board.

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

Jai Yun
680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

La Folie
2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

Bix
56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

Dottie's True Blue Cafe
522 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Lichee Garden
1416 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133

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  1. Post Alcatraz lunch nearby, casual and fun Fog City Diner.

    -----
    Fog City Diner
    1300 Battery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

    1. Sounds like you've got it mapped out pretty well. I would leave a little breathing time, though!

      My few thoughts: Bix and La Folie are beyond NOT interchangeable. Bix can be fun, La Folie is, in my view, the best restaurant in the city -- it is a little more relaxed than its competition for the type of restaurant that it is, but it is a world-class Provencal French restaurant and if you order 5 courses (which you should) A- you will be there easily over 3 hours, and B- bring an appetite.

      I would go to Perbacco over La Ciccia. La Ciccia is excellent, and it might be cool for your kids to have specifically Sardinian food, but it is really no where near "the action" and Perbacco, to me, has the best Italian food outside Italy I've experienced. Focus ordering there on wild mushrooms and game birds, if you can. Perbacco is an easy walk from Union Square. The two restaurants have very different vibes, though -- Perbacco is larger, 2 stories, there are people in jeans and t-shirts, but also sport coats and also suits and ties. Clean lines, people spaced pretty close together, modern aesthetic. It is very "Metropolitan". La Ciccia not nearly as much.

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

      Perbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      La Folie
      2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

      Bix
      56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

      1. Whether picnicking on Alcatraz is a good idea will depend in part on the weather -- I didn't see when you're coming, but summer days can be cool and foggy, and Alcatraz is smack in the middle of the Golden Gate fog zone and can be windy. At the very least you should have a back-up plan if when the day comes the weather is not suitable for a picnic.

        On one of your drive around the city days you should check out Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous for ice cream. In fact, since SF is going through an ice cream phase, you might want to try several of the new artisanal ice cream places (there's extensive discussion on this list: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/783796)

        1. My rec for Saturday: get to GG Park early. There are 2 parking lots and street parking. I think Academy of Sciences opens at 9:30 am (closed on Monday) -- be there then to avoid some of the crowds, plus, this is when they hand out the Planetarium tickets (latecomers miss out). Admission is pricey but there's a discount with AAA card. There are 2 penguin feedings per day.

          After this, cross over to DeYoung Museum -- you can go up in elevator to observation deck/gift store -- NO FEE for this. Great View.

          There are food trucks around here; I've been wanting to try the one that has lobster rolls.

          I've been wanting to try La Folie; everyone I've talked to who has eaten there has said it's great and worth the $$.

          If you like fish (many other things on menu) I rec Tadich -- no res. -- but a later lunch or early dinner is EASY, no wait. Very fresh. 240 Calif near Perbacco, closed Sunday.

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

          La Folie
          2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

          1. Lots of questions there - people are picking and choosing -
            The only real spot to get picnic provisions remotely on that end of town is at the ferry building itself. It's almost a tradition for Angel Island trips: bread from Acme, cheese from Cowgirl, meat from the place next door, maybe wine, maybe not. But the alcatraz thing is different, and there's not as much picnic possibilities (I think there's that one spot in front of the Commandant's House that's worthy), but there are some. I don't know how much a backtrack the ferry building would be, or how early you're going, but that would be my rec not knowing the full details. Other than the FB, I'd be searching around on Yelp myself trying to remember what's near your hotel.

            Two nights in an airport hotel - you can eat really well near SFO, if you're ok with chinese. The hotbed of chinese is millbrea, near the airport. I recently had a very good meal at The Kitchen - I was literally the only white guy, there were kids running around, and the food was the closest to actual china quality chinese that I've had in years. There's a number of other places, so do your research.

            Common car trips are GG park (there's the tea garden / botanical gardens / science museum / de Young all together), but I'd strongly recommend going up or down the coast. Drive across the GG and up into the marin headlands. The views up there are sublime, but there's no food. You can couple this either with sausalito (board favorite is Fish), or do something in "the avenues" - there is a *LOT* of good eating along Clement and Geary street between about 1st and 35th. The original Burma SuperStar, for example. Another "don't miss" is Baker Beach. It's not a warm spread-out-a-towel beach, it's a stark windswept moody panorama, but the waves, the arch of the golden gate, the headlands looming across - very picturesque. I had a little pattern where I'd hit baker beach for a few hours, take a long cold walk, then retreat to the warmest cosiest restaurant on that side of town, Old Warsaw, for a big bowl of zurek. But Old Warsaw closed. Whatever great little restaurants you find on that side of town is good, but there's also surprisingly good connectivity to places like Absinthe and NOPA (might not be child friendly enough).

            Another trip from the airport is south along the coast, which essentially means half moon bay and pescadero and the cold and windswept beaches (san greg). Eating down there is also a little spotty, but there are some charming joints. Duarte's is a roadhouse with a lot of charm and decent food in Pescadero, and the two delis in the one-horse town specialize in quick lunches for afternoon tourists. Half Moon Bay has a very old downtown, and a couple of good eats best chosen by strolling. Besides hanging out at the beach (which can be pleasant on a handful of warm days), there are hikes in that side of the hills.

            -----
            Burma Superstar Restaurant
            309 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

            1 Reply
            1. re: bbulkow

              I agree...you and your family should spend sometime along the coast. I love Yosemite, but I am not sure why you are going there for 2 whole weeks. California has such diverse climates and a ton of great hiking. It would be a shame for you not to spend time enjoying the ocean cliffs or the coastal redwoods.
              The great thing about the bay area is that you can have a fantastic wilderness day hike and dinner at great high class restaurant if you want to (without too much driving). There are not many other places I have been where that is possible.

            2. Wow thanks everyone for your very thoughtful replies. Btw, we’ll be there starting June 15th.

              Perbacco looks to be a great pick whiner, a much better location for us that night. Thinking about our itinerary, I think we will eat our Italian meal our first night and save Canteen for our Saturday bicycling-day dinner as Canteen is just around the block from our hotel. Also, we’ll have eaten breakfast at Canteen by than and will know if we “need” to return.

              Great advice on the Alcatraz picnic. It sounds like it would be hit or miss no matter the weather. Fog City could be a good choice if we’re looking for touristy after the island, but what about someplace near Russian Hill for lunch, where I thought we’d wonder around after Alcatraz?

              I love the ideas about our last day with a car. One idea gaining some traction is heading to Monterey from Yosemite for one night, then driving up the coast to our airport hotel for the last night. I’m hesitating to do this thinking about the fog and how worn-out we’ll be by this point of our trip, but one more driving day won’t kill us I suppose, if driving from Monterey would be that much more rewarding than say the Marin Headlands.

              Chinese near the airport sounds like the perfect plan, and casual is definitely the way we’ll go on that night. The Kitchen sounds perfect.

              As far as spending two weeks in Yosemite, I didn’t elaborate because we’ll be in a couple of rental homes on either side of the park each week and I know we’ll be eating excellent meals because I’ll be cooking them myself!  (Oh, there is a gas station in Lee Vining that we’ll try too).

              Great advice!

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

              7 Replies
              1. re: walker42

                If the Tioga Pass road isn't open by June 15th, and it may not be, the gas station/restaurant in Lee Vining will be a long, long drive.

                1. re: Michael Rodriguez

                  Stay tuned.
                  http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit...

                  1. re: wolfe

                    Ha ha, cheers guys. The kind of person that pre-plans where to eat each meal on a 4 day visit to the city is not about to let a possible road closure impact his vacation! Which backup plan for the Tioga Road would you lke to see first? :-)

                    1. re: walker42

                      Plan B?
                      http://hummingbirdhelicopters.us/wp-c...

                      1. re: walker42

                        I know I'm not in the mainstream with this opinion, but my meal at Whoa Nellie was perfect for what it was-- a nice stop along the way-- but I would not work very hard to get there again. Walker42, it sounds like you've done extensive research and know just what you're headed for--I leave this tidbit for others who might stumble on this thread.

                        Also, to keep this appropriately on the SF board... I love the Alcatraz picnic idea with restaurant backup.

                  2. re: walker42

                    Personally, I think the view from the Marin headlands is one of the most spectacular in the world -- the combination of the natural and man-made wonders is breathtaking. Unless you want to visit the aquarium (one of the best in the world, and the one that started the whole modern aquarium trend) I wouldn't go all the way to Monterey -- the drive from Yosemite to Monterey is not as easy as it looks. I think you'll have had your fill of scenery by then and will be ready for some more urban activities.

                    For a foodie-related activity, I suggest a stroll on Clement Street which has an amazing selection of restaurants, stores, etc, of every type and ethnic persuasion. You can combine that with a trip to Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park, the Presidio.

                    1. re: walker42

                      I have eaten at the Kitchen and don't like it that much. (Yank Sing in SF is much better for dim sum, which is lunch only.) A better restaurant near the airport is Hong Kong Flower Lounge on El Camino and Millbrae Ave.

                      -----
                      Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                      51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                    2. walker42,

                      Re: Russian Hill lunch...

                      I've lived in Russian Hill for 2+ years now and, to be honest, there really aren't that many great lunch places here. When I want a local lunch I go to North Beach. L'Osteria del Forno is an exceptional cash-only hole-in-the-wall Italian place with excellent pizza, roasts, and appetizers like grilled radicchio or roasted beets. Burgermeister makes very good burgers. Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store makes great meatball subs.

                      Honestly, apart from 2 good fast food places (Escape From New York Pizza and Nick's Crispy Tacos, next door to each other on Polk Street) I can't really think of a good place to send you to for lunch in Russian Hill. But, North Beach is only a few blocks from Russian Hill, and it is sure to be more fun for a tourist, anyway. Also, you should note, especially with youngin's, if you've not been here before, Russian Hill is a HILL. As in, people hail cabs to go 3 blocks to avoid walking the hill. "Hill" might be a misnomer. So a non 3-dimentional map of the immediate area may not be giving you full understanding of the area. Technically, I used to live 5 blocks from my friend's wine store... but my walk was 12 blocks just to avoid dying of a heart attack en route.

                      -----
                      L'Osteria del Forno
                      519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                      Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store and Cafe
                      566 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                      Nick's Crispy Tacos
                      1500 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94109

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: whiner

                        lower Nob Hill (aka Polk Street) has a lot better food options than Russian Hill, although it's only another four or five blocks:

                        Tajine, Bob's Donuts, Swan Oyster Depot, Cafe Zitouna, to name a few favorites.

                        Heading south toward Civic Center in the Tenderloin, you can add:
                        Brenda's, Lers Roi, Bodega Bistro, Saigon Sandwich, and Pagolac.

                        In addition to HK Flower Lounge in Millbrae, Asian Pearl is very good. If you happen to be flying in and out of Terminal 2 (Virgin America or American), they have a great foodcourt with local specialties past security.

                        -----
                        Saigon Sandwich Shop
                        560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                        Bodega Bistro
                        607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                        Pagolac
                        655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                        Cafe Zitouna
                        1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

                        Asian Pearl
                        3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

                        1. re: Windy

                          While Polk Gulch is not the worst of that area by any means, I would not send a family with an 11 and 13 year old into the Tendernob/Tenderloin for food without explaining what it is first -- a depressing, poor, homeless, drugged out area. It isn't like sending someone into Harlem for good soul food. where (A) Everyone knows what Harlem is and (B) I feel *much* safer in Harlem than I do in parts of the Tenderloin.

                          1. re: whiner

                            That's certainly fair at night and for Leavenworth near Market. But during the day time, the blocks from Lers Ros to Bodega are fine. No worse than 16th and Mission near the BART station, and much better than 6th and Mission.

                            Yes, best if you know where you're going. And don't leave anything in your car (which applies everywhere in the city. Best not to have a car at all except out by the park).

                            Or, go eat at bland, overpriced cafes in Russian Hill and Union Square :)

                            Harlem is quite safe, as is almost everywhere in Manhattan.

                            1. re: Windy

                              I feel much, much safer in Manhattan than I do in parts of SF and the East Bay. The thing about SF is that it can change so abruptly from block to block. Hard for tourists to gauge that.

                              1. re: Glencora

                                Glencora, EXACTLY! The block-to-block issue, which is why I mentioned it with young children.

                      2. You've gotten a lot of great advice here, but I just want to point out that Canteen is not open for breakfast on weekdays. It's only open for it's (great) breakfast/brunch on weekends, starting at 8. The dinner is delicious, but reservations are a must, because it is tiny.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: JasmineG

                          Thanks Jasmine. I guess I will cross off Canteen for breakfast on Friday! There was some other post on this board showing it open for weekday breakfast but I didn’t check the date on it.

                          And thanks to you miss louella for the heads up on the Whoa Nelly Deli. I understand where you’re coming from but since we are renting a house from the owner for the week and will be his temporary neighbor, I think it would be rude not to sample his hospitality. :-)

                          Thanks to everyone for their input! I’ve revised the itinerary a bit. Still working on it but now:

                          Thursday – Cable car touring, Chinatown

                          Breakfast: Dottie’s True Blue
                          Lunch: Naked Lunch
                          Dinner: Canteen, nightcap at Bourbon and Branch

                          Friday – am walk Telegraph Hill/ North Beach, afternoon Alcatraz

                          Breakfast: Mama’s
                          Lunch: L'Osteria del Forno (this looks really attractive to me)
                          Dinner: Still up in the air, but now I’m looking at something casual

                          Saturday – Bicycle Union Square to Sausalito

                          Breakfast and Lunch from Ferry Building farmer’s market
                          Dinner: Parent’s night out at Bix.

                          Sunday – Mission District (how is parking on Sunday here? Should we wait until after lunch to pick up the rental car?)

                          Breakfast: Canteen
                          Lunch: Torta Gorda
                          Dinner: Buck Meadows Restaurant in Groveland

                          On our return to SF from Yosemite on Friday night, we’ll need someplace near the airport or along the way (via San Meteo bridge) for a very casual and relaxing dinner (I think I’ll be craving some excellent beer by this point).

                          Saturday - car day, so this is still wide open, how’s the parking near Golden Gate Park?

                          Breakfast: leftovers from our trip
                          Lunch: near GG park, I forgot the sandwich shop often recommended on the board.
                          Dinner: Near the airport sounds good, two ideas you’ve given me are The Kitchen and Hong Kong Flower Lounge.

                          When I’ve printed this thread out, not only will we have a plan, but also great backup places in case things change. Thanks again for all the great info and ideas!

                          1. re: walker42

                            Walker,

                            Note a few things about L'Osteria del Forno...

                            Beyond cash only...

                            I went there as a 170lb 29yo male with a 115lb 27yo female for lunch recently and we ate an appetizer and almost 2 whole 17" pizzas. Seriously. Think big.

                            Also the salame and porcini pizzas are particularly excellent. As is the pork roast which is technically only a daily special, but I've been there 20 times or so and it has been on the menu every single time.

                            -----
                            L'Osteria del Forno
                            519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                            1. re: walker42

                              For your day in North Beach - for dinner
                              http://www.tonyspizzanapoletana.com/i...

                              or even the Tony's slice house if you want to go even more casual.

                          2. I know you've since revised your plans, but for anyone else considering a picnic on Alcatraz, they actually only allow food in one small area by the docks:
                            "Picnicking and consuming food on Alcatraz Island is allowed at the dock area from the picnic tables to the restrooms only. "

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: waldrons

                              OK thanks everyone, I think I've finally got a workable itinerary which has changed based on your help.
                              One last detail - on the day we pick up our car I think we'll spend the morning touring the Marin Headlands before driving to Groveland (on a Sunday). Would there be any value to taking the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge rather than driving back through SF, as far as scenery or other intangibles go?
                              Either way, is there a recommended place to stop and pick up lunch “to go” for the car ride to Groveland?

                              1. re: walker42

                                The only advantage to taking the Richmond-San Rafael bridge is to save the bridge toll back into SF. Otherwise, it's both longer and not terribly scenic. One place that might be fun to stop for munchies is Oakland: the Sunday Jack London Square Farmers' Market, Chinatown or Fruitvale (Mexican), all of which are just off 880.

                                1. re: walker42

                                  Dipsea Cafe in Marin is lovely for brunch/lunch. Just off 101 to the West.

                                  -----
                                  Dipsea Cafe
                                  200 Shoreline Hwy, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                              2. OK that was fun. Thanks for everyone’s input, and much info gleaned from past posts I’ve settled on our itinerary. I think this method will work out better than my father’s trick of asking every salesman staying at our hotel where they eat. Between the following and all the sampling we’ll be doing around town, we’ll have plenty of energy to keep us going.

                                Breakfasts:
                                Dottie’s
                                Eagle Café (need earlier than 8am when Mama’s opens)
                                Ferry Building Saturday market
                                Canteen
                                Seal Rock Inn (staying here our last two nights)

                                Lunches:
                                Jai Yun (which is open Thursday according to the person answering the phone)
                                L'Osteria del Forno
                                Ferry Building Saturday market
                                Taco Grill in Oakland on our way out of the city
                                Shanghai House

                                Dinners:
                                Perbacco
                                Canteen
                                Bix (parents only)
                                Nopalito (after an active day + drive from Yosemite)
                                Aziza (parents only)

                                With Canteen, Nopalito and Aziza I’m looking to get an introduction to some varieties of Cal Cuisine. Perbacco just looks good and Bix may be a nice surprise.

                                We’ll also be trying the newly opened Mono Lake Inn in Lee Vining. The menu is online now and looks promising.

                                My wife and I are planning to each cook at least one worthy dinner during our 12 days near Yosemite. I’m picking Mexican and she Italian, and we’ll have fun shopping for ingredients while in the city. I definitely hope to cheat if I find some good jarred sauces!

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

                                Jai Yun
                                680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                L'Osteria del Forno
                                519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                Bix
                                56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                                Shanghai House
                                3641 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                Seal Rock Inn
                                545 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                Taco Grill
                                3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: walker42

                                  I went to Jai Yun for lunch on a Thursday last week, so they are open. You can read my 2 star review here: http://www.chow.com/restaurants/910/j...

                                  If after reading about my awful experience, you still decide to go, you will need reservations, and it will cost your family of four at least $112 for the smallest meal (not including tax or tip).

                                  Obviously, I think you should go somewhere else for Chinese food where for that price you could gorge on expensive exotic seafood.

                                  1. re: lrealml

                                    Nice review. From other reviews I was expecting the lunch to run $18/pp. Looks like things have changed! Yours is not the first review I've read of Jai Yun saying you were the only customers. Maybe you are right and we will go someplace people frequent.

                                    -----
                                    Jai Yun
                                    680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                    1. re: walker42

                                      To be fair, others have had great experiences with the lunch at Jai Yun (I've only been for dinner), but the price difference is obviously no small matter.

                                      If the restaurant sounded appealing to you before, I would call them to double-check about the lunch prices before scrapping the idea completely. The price hike the other poster experienced might be permanent or it might not - the chef is pretty quirky, so it's really hard to say.

                                      I like the Taco Grill selection if you're going to sit down and eat lunch, but if you're grabbing food for the road, I might opt for taco trucks instead - if they're busy at Taco Grill, it'll take them a while to process your takeout order (my wife waited almost twenty minutes for them to heat up an order of chicken soup last night).

                                      My routine is to hit the El Novillo truck for tacos (make sure you get the carnitas and the tripas) and then El Ojo de Agua for licuados or aguas frescas (I like the guava). Those two trucks are just a block apart. El Ojo de Agua also has huge, greasy (but pretty good) tortas/sandwiches and a legendary breakfast burrito that you may or may not be able to procure (I've had about a 50% success rate when I ask for the AMERICAN breakfast burrito with chorizo instead of ham):

                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/478752

                                      -----
                                      Jai Yun
                                      680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                      El Ojo de Agua Taco Truck
                                      Derby St and International Blvd, Oakland, CA

                                      1. re: walker42

                                        Alternatively, a little further off the highway is Plum, which some might argue is the best new restaurant in the Bay Area, certainly in its price range. They also happen to serve one of the best weekend brunches I've ever had - if you're coming through Oakland on a Sunday, it's something to consider. They take reservations.

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7375...

                                        http://www.eastbayexpress.com/92510/a...

                                        -----
                                        Plum
                                        2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                                    2. re: walker42

                                      How did it go? Any feedback?

                                    3. OK, I know I’m very late with the report, but things can’t have changed that much, right? Plus, the memorable meals are still fresh in my mind, and if the memory is fresh after a year, that is a restaurant worth going to IMO. I hope all these places are still in business!

                                      Thanks to this board, we consistently ate incredible food, or great food in an incredible atmosphere. There were two disappointments, and that was Canteen and L’Osteria del Forno. The stars I’ve given are relative to our expectations, so 5 starts at Torta Gorda is not really comparable to the 5 stars I gave Perbacco, although they were each enjoyed equally for what they deliver.

                                      Here’s a rundown:

                                      Day 1

                                      Breakfast at Dottie’s – Well we got there on a Thursday about a half hour before opening and no one was waiting in line, so we took a little stroll for about 10 minutes and returned to be the 3rd group in line. By opening time there were 2 groups over capacity and those folks had to wait about 50min or so to eat. The time spent in line was especially entertaining for my children as we had front row seats for a dramatic shout-off between a pimp and his employee. Lots of colorful language and graphic depictions concerning “getting my money” and “not working hard enough” went on for a couple of minutes about 8 feet away from the line for Dottie’s. I admired them for their un-self-consciousness in attending to their personal business in such a public forum. Dottie’s is located next door to a shelter/hotel of sorts, and our table in the corner was under a window leading to the lobby of the hotel. During our meal we were privy to intimate details of the residents of said hotel as they discussed their concerns of the day, seemingly quite passionately. When we closed the window so as to afford the hotel residents more privacy, we were immediately told by our waitress that the window needed to stay fully open for proper air-flow. So, we were further entertained with interesting tales of San Francisco street living throughout or meal. As for the food, my son rated the buttermilk pancakes the “best ever” and the rest of us likewise aggressively pounded on our own food, of which so much has been said on the forum I feel I have little add here. This was a perfect introduction to SanFransisco! Food 4*, Atmosphere 5*+ (assuming it’s what you find entertaining).

                                      Lunch at Naked Lunch – Good atmosphere and service, the food is sandwiches with not too much thought to them, it seems. We ate outside in a little space they have (or share) off the street. The location is a little off the hustle and bustle, so we probably should have gone to Jai Yun, but we wanted quick. The duck liver pate sandwich was the most memorable, but even that didn’t rise above an average sandwich, it just had an unusual ingredient. Food: 2*, Atmosphere 4* (for a take-out sandwich place).

                                      Dinner Perbacco – We had an early reservation at 6:30, but with us on east coast time my 10 yo still fell asleep during the meal, and unfortunately missed the best Italian he ever would have had. The setting was expense-account dinner and was impressive. We ate down stairs by the kitchen and so were entertained by the steady stream of well crafted plates passing our table all night. We ordered family style trying the excellent cured meats and sampling 4 pastas, all of which were of the highest quality in taste and texture, with none standing out from the others in quality but the tagliatelle with pork sugo being the one I remember most fondly. After the pasta we had mains of duck with a fruit sauce and an excellent rabbit which were both very fine but have not left the impression that the pasta dishes have. The semifreddo of fresh fruits we shared was one of the very best I’ve had anywhere. Food 5*, Service 5*, Atmosphere 4* (5* for business meals)

                                      Day 2:

                                      Breakfast: Eagle Café - A perfect compliment to Dottie’s. We arrived early and were entertained this time by the seals. The wharf is really quite beautiful at 6am and we were nearly alone. Listening to the seals bark at each other all morning was a poignant contrast to the previous day’s barking by the differently medicated. The food was up to snuff and just as decedent as Dottie’s. I had the peanut butter banana French toast, which was really well done and has been replicated at our house many times since then, and my children had the crab eggs Benedict and omelet, which were both excellent. My wife got something a little more sensible so of course that didn’t leave much of an impression on me. There were only two other tables occupied during our meal. Between the quiet atmosphere, amazing view during our meal, unhurried service, and delicious food, I would unhesitatingly recommend Eagle Café as an alternative to Dottie’s. The two could not be more different in atmosphere and the food at both is swell. (Swell is actually high praise for over-the-top breakfast food). Food 4*, Atmosphere 5*

                                      Lunch – L’Osteria del Forno. This is a tough one to review, as it is more of a neighborhood place that needs to stand up to repeated visits and I wouldn’t want to judge by our one meal there. That said, we were disappointed in our one meal. I had the special of the day which was a pumpkin ravioli in a cream sauce. Woefully under salted with nothing to bring out or compliment the very mild pumpkin flavor. Two of us split an adequate pizza and one of us had the penne bolognesse which was the best of the four but not something I would order again. Based on the reviews this was our biggest disappointment of the trip. Food 2*, Atmosphere 3*.

                                      Dinner – Canteen. Another disappointment. Between the four of us we ordered all four appetizers and all four entrees, and nothing was above the ordinary save for my wife’s vegetarian casserole, which was good but not great. Fish overcooked, pork bland. I was confounded as to how such a small, timed seating can be served overcooked fish. The flavors textures left no impression. Food 2*, Atmosphere 4*.

                                      Day 3:

                                      Breakfast/lunch – Hit the farmers market and had wonderful breakfasts with everyone choosing a booth. Wrap, Mexican breakfast, pastries were all wonderful. Picked up sandwiches from Roli Roti for lunch with cheese from Cowgirl. The Roli Roti sandwiches were fantastic.

                                      Dinner – Colibri Mexican Bistro, after a long day of bike riding our plans changed and the kids had a burger and my wife and I managed a seat at the bar of Colibri. We had great cocktails and very well prepared pork and fish. We got to see a good three act drama played out next to us as the woman seated next us was approached by an out of town businessman who sat next to her and spent an hour talking her up until they ultimately left to go to her place together. A very well paced and played out love story even though we had to imagine the last act where the inevitable falling out occurs. Loved this place for a casual dinner. Food 4*, Atmosphere 5*.

                                      Day 4:

                                      No breakfast to speak of, but Lunch at Torta Gorda. I wish I had time to sample many more of the places in the neighborhood, but Torta Gorda served excellent dishes prepared with care. As good as it gets. Food 5*, Atmosphere 5*.

                                      A little 2 week break in between day 4 lunch and dinner as we returned to the city and stayed on the west side at Seal Rock Inn.

                                      Dinner – Nopalito. Another favorite. What I think of now when I think of a perfect neighborhood restaurant. The carnitas were moist and packed with flavor, the cheeses were a step above the usual Mexican, and the veggies were expertly prepared and fresh. The popsicles may be the only time I remember enjoying a desert at a Mexican restaurant. Perfect end to a filling meal. Such a friendly vibe I wanted to buy a house around the corner. Food 5*, Atmosphere 5*+

                                      Day 5

                                      Breakfast: Seal Rock Inn. Typical café breakfast. Totally forgettable service and food.

                                      Lunch: Shanghai House, ordered 8 dishes, the dry fried chicken wings, xiolong bao and pan-cut noodles were standouts, the green onion pancakes were just OK. The only problem was we enjoyed the lunch too much and stuffed our faces thereby becoming too full to eat dinner at Aziza as planned. Oh well! Food 5* (on some dishes), Atmosphere - there is an atmosphere?