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Singapore family seeking help. Please advise and critique my list

A family with 2 kids (age 10 & 13) coming to SF and Bay area for 1 week. My trip is divided into 2 parts where we will first stay at the Hyatt Regency Freemont with a rental car to roam around the Bay area including Freemont, Palo Alto, Monterey Bay, Carmel and Suasilito; and the second part at Omni Hotel to tour San Francisco without any rental car. Looking more at kids-friendly comfort food places rather than any expensive or fine dining restaurants on this trip.

I have got plenty of recommendations in SF area but only 2 restaurants outside SF, namely Scoma at Suasalito and The Tap Room at Pebble Beach. Since Freemont will be the first stop, I expect we will experience jet lag, so looking for recommendation on decent early breakfast and late night supper places near the hotel. And also looking for a good Cantonese restaurant near Freemont area as well.

In SF area, I have been recommended as follow. Will appreciate if you can comment or add other recommendations: (prefer restaurants within walking distance or max 15 minutes taxi ride from the hotel)

-Seafood: Swan Oyster Depot;

-Italian: Flour & Water and Caffe Sports (Since I can only pick one, which is better);

-Steak house: Bourbon steak;

-Organic: Outerlands;

- Pizza: Una Pizza Napoletana;

- Southern BBQ: Gorilla BBQ;

-Vietnamese: Crustacean;

-Cantonese: R&G;

-Ice cream: Ghirardelli and Humphry Slocombe;

- Southern BBQ: Gorilla BBQ;

- Breakfast: Boulettes Larder.

- Burger: Prather Ranch Meat.

- Mexican: please recommend your favorite.

- Any MUST EAT place for foodies.

Thanks in advanced.

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Boulettes Larder
Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

Caffe Sport
574 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Prather Ranch
1 Ferry Bldg # 32, San Francisco, CA

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  1. Pebble Beach, Carmel and Monterey are covered on the California Board. In your roaming days I see too much driving and not enough time. Save Sausalito for your San Francisco segment with a ferry ride which allows a visit to the Ferry Plaza and hopefully a Saturday Farmers Market.

    1. The only Cantonese worthwhile (and just so happens to be in Fremont) is at Yum's Bistro.
      R&G Lounge is great for SF, but Yum's executes at a higher level and is cheaper.

      Here are some threads to get you started on Yum's

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/673106

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/762415

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/777275

      To get the chef's best game, go during a weeknight and perhaps consider pre-ordering a few dishes, and see what's on the white board specials that night. The crispy skin 糯米雞 (requires advanced order) may come close to Luk Yu's version in HK, at least it is done to a high standard. This is the only restaurant that I would recommend that comes close to the flavors of Hong Kong (given your high Cantonese standards), given the chef's extensive experience. Definitely try a lobster or crab dish (e.g. soy sauce king).

      Also they moved their website, and unfortunately took down their specials/pre-order menu but to give you an idea:

      http://sites.google.com/site/yumsbist...

      The only other place in SF that I would recommend is Hakka Restaurant in Outer Richmond, really good rustic Hakka Cantonese, assuming it is not out of the way for you as it is on the other side of town. Might be good if you are considering a stop at say, Academy of Science for the kids.

      For ice cream, consider Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous. If you happen to be in Oakland, Scream Sorbet.

      For dim sum in Fremont, maybe Asian Pearl that also does some regional Cantonese/Shunde style dishes.

      -----
      Scream Sorbet
      5030 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

      Yum's Bistro
      4906 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94555

      1. Not to burst your bubble, but fremont is a working community with a lot of factories. Food there is mostly down-home mom and pop asian, likely inferior to whatever you have in Singapore. To eat well, you'll generally have to journey north to Berkeley/Oakland (about 30 minutes with clear roads, an hour in traffic, but the BART train system is more reliable), or San Francisco (more like an hour when the traffic is OK). South from Fremont is (eventually) san jose, but the traffic southbound is very bad on weekdays, and the food in san jose is generally marginal. As noted, the best San Jose styles are Vietnamese, Mexican, and South Indian (mostly on the east side of San Jose, further from Fremont).

        There is one well-recommended afghani kabab house in fremont. I ate there once, it was quite good but it didn't blow me away.

        One note on seafood - I would choose Hog Island in the Ferry Building instead of Swann's for our famous oysters. Swanns is very crowded and has long lines, which isn't good for kids. Hog Island is in a better setting, with more things to see and either better stroller access or better running around areas.

        I think you would enjoy the Fruitvale mexican district, which has the area's best and most authentic tacos and mexican food. It's very kid friendly and similar in spirit to singapore - a lot of vendors in a short area, active, lively. Order tacos from different vendors. You just order tacos and say the meat you want - there will be about 10 kinds - my favorite is Al Pastor, which is a slow-cooked pork preparation. Carnitas is another kind of pork that is very good. Tacos are so small that you can try many of the meats at different vendors. Search 'taco crawl' on this board for some threads - more than a year ago, though.

        The palo alto area has a much better food scene than fremont (and san jose), and depending on where you're staying, can be an easier drive across the dumbarton bridge. There is a long discussion about what has more restaurants, Palo Alto or Mountain View, but the two towns share a border and are very close. It's a friendly rivalry. Between all the tech companies (google, yahoo, facebook, etc) and stanford and the venture capitalists, many high income people eat out frequently, so there's a large variety of restaurants (although not as much as san francisco).

        Regarding a quick meal after the flight, you can hit your cantonese quotient by looking up Millbrea and trying one of the chinese restaurants (although millbrea is stronger at shanghai and HK). Although our asian is pretty good here, frankly I have no idea why you'd waste valuable meals at an asian restaurant. Our california-italian scene is so good, you should double down in that area - like pizzeria delfina, which is near good ice cream in a fun walking district.

        another note: if you do want that prather ranch burger, do hit Serpentine and Mr and Ms Miscellanous ice cream literally across the street. It's very easy to park around there, Serpentine is a very classic Sf neighborhood style place (well, not classic like Tadich which has been open forever, but classic like it's the kind of place locals eat) and MMM's ice cream is currently at the top of all SF places (general board feeling, my opinion as well). Check times though MMM closes early.

        Your plan is very aggressive for travel. That works for some people - good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: bbulkow

          His kids are 10 & 13 so stroller access shouldn't be a problem. They should be able to handle all the goodies at the Ferry Building.

        2. Fremont: I love the Afghan food in Fremont--try Salang Pass (nice sit down restaurant) or De Afghanan Kabob (more of a takeout joint but the bolani is awesome). I second KK's rec of Yum's. Other than that, Fremont isn't the most exciting place for food.

          For Vietnamese, since you're in Fremont already, I would head down to San Jose rather than eating in SF. Vung Tau is often recommended on this board and has an extensive menu. The food court in the Grand Century Mall offers a lot of different items in one place for cheap. Check out what people are eating to see what is popular. I usually get the banh xeo (crepe with lots of herbs to wrap it with), or banh khot (crispy savory coconut milk pancakes with shrimp), and a drink as a snack. Then I leave the mall to have bun bo hue (spicy beef noodle soup) at Bun Bo Hue An Nam.

          If you must have Vietnamese in SF, consider Bodega Bistro or Pagolac (7 courses of beef) for sit down meals over Crustacean. If looking for pho, I like Turtle Tower for chicken pho northern style and Ha Nam Ninh for beef pho southern style. If you wanted to go to Crustacean for the crab, go to R&G instead for the salt and pepper crab prep.

          MUST EAT for foodies: Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday

          Italian: Flour and Water is ok. Cotogna is very hot and hard to get reservation. There are also Incanto, Perbacco, La Ciccia. Perbacco and its more casual restaurant Barbacco are probably most convenient.

          Prather Ranch is a butcher shop that does a little takeout, but if you want to go to a restaurant that uses their meat to make burgers, check out Slow Club or Serpentine. Zuni also makes a good burger and there are several threads discussing burgers in general on this board.

          Outerlands is way out there. I like it, but I don't think it would be worth the trip. In any case, there are tons of restaurants in SF doing the organic thing.

          Breakfast: Canteen, Brenda's, Dotties.

          Ice cream: Humphrey Slocombe (near Taqueria Vallarta, El Gallo Giro taco truck, Taqueria San Francisco, Tortas los Picudos), Bi-Rite (Tartine Bakery, Pizzeria Delfina are right across the st) , Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous (near Piccino's and Serpentine)

          Mexican: Poc Chuc and the places mentioned near Humprey Slocombe

          Hi Fourseasons, your postings were a big help while I was planning my parents vacation in Singapore and HK. Hopes this helps you in return. One more note: taxis are hard to come by here in comparison to Singapore. Plan on public transportation in SF and have a cab phone number handy. (And if you call for a cab on a busy night, expect a longish wait)

          -----
          Zuni Cafe
          1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

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

          Perbacco
          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          Bodega Bistro
          607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Taqueria Vallarta
          3033 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Pagolac
          655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Turtle Tower Restaurant
          631 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Slow Club
          2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Salang Pass
          37462 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA 94536

          De Afghanan Kabob House
          37405 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA 94536

          Taqueria San Francisco
          2794 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Vung Tau Restaurant
          535 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

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

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

          Prather Ranch
          1 Ferry Bldg # 32, San Francisco, CA

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

          Ha Nam Ninh
          337 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

          Pizzeria Delfina
          2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

          Barbacco
          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          Cotogna
          490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

          1 Reply
          1. re: sfbing

            I'll mention that there's a branch of Vung Tau in Newark, a town that is surrounded by Fremont. Some say that the original branch in San Jose is a little better, but it's there for the day when convenience wins out.

            A couple other places in Newark for the days when you don't feel like traveling far:

            Little Sichuan
            Huong Lan 5 for banh mi (do not order noodles here)
            Fantasia Tea Cafe - best boba drinks in the East Bay

            Union City is also adjacent to Fremont and has a branch of Little Sheep . . . don't know if there's one in Singapore or if you've tried it elsewhere in your travels.

            I'll echo KK's rec for Yum's Bistro. Very light touch, not expensive, different dishes than you'll see on other Cantonese menus around here.

            If your kids would be comforted by South Indian snacks or Bombay-style chaat, Fremont is the place.

            -----
            Little Sheep
            34396 Alvarado Niles Rd, Union City, CA 94587

            Vung Tau Restaurant
            6092 Mowry Ave, Newark, CA 94560

            Fantasia Tea Cafe
            39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark, CA

            Huong Lan 5
            39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark, CA 94560

            Little Sichuan
            35233 Newark Blvd Ste F, Newark, CA 94560

            Yum's Bistro
            4906 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94555

          2. There's good Indian, Afghan, and Filipino food in Fremont, and some great Chinese food nearby in Milpitas.

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/749032
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784732
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/717967
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751210
            http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

            Flour + Water is better than Caffe Sport. I like F+W's pizza better than Una Pizza Napoletana's, but that's a matter of personal preference rather than quality.

            Prather Ranch has burgers only at the Tuesday mid-day market.

            Ghirardelli is crap.

            1. re ice cream, if you must go to the wharf perhaps for an Alcatraz tour, go to Delise Dessert Cafe for ice cream, sorbet, coffee, and cookies.

              Otherwise there are extensive threads debating Humphrey Slocumbe versus Mr and Mrs. Miscellaneous. I'm in the Mr and Mrs camp.

              San Francisco isn't especially known for BBQ. I haven't been to Gorilla. There is a lot of pulled pork on menus around town.

              Lots of good advice above. I'll add myself to the Fremont Afghan fans and Vung Tao diners. But I love Grand Century Mall in part because it reminds me of a mall in Asia; that might be less of a novelty to you. This is a fine list. Enjoy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Windy

                Regarding Gorilla BBQ, everyone I know enjoys their food, but some things to keep in mind:

                They are takeout only, although there are a few picnic tables outside.

                If it's a weekend and/or the weather is nice a line forms before they open (usually by 11:30 am, they open at noon) and that line can get very long.

                They only cook a limited amount of food every day, so on those busy days they will run out of things.

                They are located on Highway 1 in Pacifica, near a couple of nice beaches, so if you are looking for some picnic fare and want to take the kids to the beach for the afternoon, great. If you are looking for more of a sit-down dining experience you should ask for other BBQ recommendations in SF.

              2. Keeping prices reasonable...

                seafood: Pesce
                Italian: Perbacco (MUST EAT)
                Steak house: don't bother
                Pizza: L'Osteria del Forno
                Vietnamese: Slanted Door... but very expensive for what it is
                Burrito: Papalote

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

                Perbacco
                230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

                Pesce
                2227 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                1 Reply
                1. re: whiner

                  Try either location of Out the Door instead of Slanted Door; lot's of SD's best dishes but lower cost overall. Westfield Mall branch is no reservations.

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

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

                2. Cantonese in the Bay Area is a slight notch below that of Los Angeles, and you saw the responses you got on the L.A. board to your Cantonese request. On the other hand, if you're the type who can't go cold turkey away from Cantonese food for very long, then R&G is your best bet in SF Chinatown and Yum's would be a good bet in Fremont. Also, Fremont is in close driving distance of Milpitas and particularly the humongous and predominantly Chinese Milpitas Square shopping center which has a large number of Chinese restaurants. A B C Seafood off the main square or Mayflower Seafood might be your best bets there.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    R&G a best bet???? Sorry, but LOL!!

                    From someone who lived in SE Asia for 10 years, is married to a Malaysian, and travels there yearly, I assure you that you will not find any Asian food in SF up to the standard widely available in Singapore. Good Asian cuisine can be had in southern California.

                    You should consider going for Peruvian instead of Cantonese. Fresca on Fillmore St is my first choice for Peruvian.

                    I'd also give Italian a miss...nothing in SF compares with NY or Italy. I've had superb Italian food in Singapore, e.g. Ristorante Bologna, Ristorante Grand Italia both now closed. :(

                    For seafood, consider Scoma's..either at Fishermans Wharf or Sausalito. The Sausalito branch has a beautiful view of SF.

                    You may also like B44 in SF for very good Spanish/Catalan cuisine. We went there a couple of weeks ago. They had an excellent flamenco troup performing which provided a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere.

                    1. re: chilihead2006

                      @chilihead: Yes, I think I will skip the Asian food in SF unless we are home sick. Try Gattarpardo if you want to try Italian the next time you come so Singapore; it is my current favorite. And thanks for the Peru and Catalan recommendations.

                      1. re: chilihead2006

                        Peruvian is a great call as well. Mochica or Piqueos are both very good and owned by the same folks.

                        -----
                        Piqueo's
                        830 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        Mochica
                        937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                    2. Best Canto cuisine in the Bay Area is at Koi Palace in Daly City. It's expensive and can get crowded like a zoo...but it is good. It's as good or better than the best in LA.

                      I'd do a search for Mexican food, taquerias, tacos. I'd call that a must in California. There's at least 200 taquerias in SF. The usual suspects: La Taqueria, Taqueria Cancun, El Faralito...and many more. (everyone has their fav). Prices are extremely reasonable.

                      A 2nd on Zuni. Also if you're here on a Sat, check out the Ferry Building Farmer's Market and the shops in the Ferry Building.

                      The other place to check out, on the high end, perhaps on the way to Monterey is Manresa in Los Gatos. Might be the best representation of California cuisine. French and Asian influences, they have their own garden and it gets 2 Michelin stars.

                      -----
                      Zuni Cafe
                      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

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

                      La Taqueria
                      2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      Taqueria Cancun
                      1003 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ML8000

                        Agree about Koi Palace being the best, but I'm not sure it's worth a drive from Fremont unless it's on the way someplace else, just like the LA posters said it's not worth the drive from WLA to the San Gabriel Valley given the high quality of Cantonese food in Singapore.

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

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Closer to Fremont is the branch in Dublin, Koi Garden. Last month I chatted with a tourist from Zhongshan, PRC on the BART ride to the airport who said it was better than the usual suspects in SGV that her hosts had taken her to for dim sum.

                          And if the FourSeasons would click on "remove" next to the blue link for Krua Thai of West Covina in the original post, then the map in the upper right hand corner of this page will show the map of the San Francisco Bay Area and the locations of the restaurants recommended in this thread to get a sense of how close some are and are not Fremont and San francisco.

                          -----
                          Koi Garden
                          4288 Dublin Blvd, Dublin, CA 94568

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Great point, Melanie. Koi Garden in Dublin is great - I actually prefer it to Koi Palace.

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

                            Koi Garden
                            4288 Dublin Blvd, Dublin, CA 94568

                      2. Breakfast: Tartine Bakery
                        MUST EAT: INCANTO!

                        -----
                        Tartine Bakery
                        600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        1. THANK YOU so much for all the helpful comments. Really appreciate the time and effort that you have devoted to replying this post.
                          I will not likely visit Farmers Market on Saturday as I have planned to drive up to Monterey/Carmel region on that particular day. Would you still recommend Ferry Plaza if I miss the Saturday Farmers Market?
                          Surprise that nobody recommended a steak house, I assume SF is just not known for steak in which case I will try the steak houses in LA instead. Also surprise to learn the locals actually do not think highly of Ghirardelli, must be just a "touristy" place!
                          I have added Yum's Bistro, Salang Pass and Vung Tau on my Freemont's list. As to SF: too many choices, too little time. Will focus on just American/Mexican/Italian on this segment and forget about the Asian options. I have added Poc Chu, Perbacco, Zuni to my list as well. Will definitely try to visit Fruituale Mexican District, Serpentine and learn more about Mexican food on this trip.
                          Also notice my question on breakfast/late night supper at Freemont was left unanswered. So I created a new post with such headline hopefully getting some replies. Please feel free if you can add any comment there: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/789214

                          -----
                          Zuni Cafe
                          1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                          Perbacco
                          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                          Salang Pass
                          37462 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA 94536

                          Vung Tau Restaurant
                          535 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

                          Yum's Bistro
                          4906 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94555

                          37 Replies
                          1. re: FourSeasons

                            There are Farmers Markets that operate just outside the Ferry Plaza building but on a smaller scale on Tuesdays and Thursdays (10 am to 2 pm), but definitely worth visiting either way.

                            Here's the website to the vendors/shops/eateries inside the building

                            http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.c...

                            The kids will like Ciao Bella for sure. Skip Imperial Tea Court.

                            -----
                            Ciao Bella
                            1 Ferry Bldg # 8, San Francisco, CA

                            1. re: FourSeasons

                              When I lived in SF about 4 years ago, I liked Incanto much more than Perbacco.

                              You're missing creative california cuisine from your list. I would add Commonwealth. It runs circles around the Cal cuisine we have down here.

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

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Good call on Incanto. Taking the J-Church light rail out to Noe Valley is a hoot. The ride is comparable to the 6 bus in Hong Kong and the tiny 116 electric bus in Rome. Having said that, Perbacco is pretty good, too. A little higher up the food chain is Quince, slightly lower is the Quince annex Cotogna (rustic Italian).

                                Four Seasons knows good food.

                                1. re: steve h.

                                  I like Incanto just fine. I'd probably like it more if I enjoyed offal. But I find Perbacco vastly superior.

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

                                  1. re: whiner

                                    Agreed. Incanto is not a place that I would universally recommend, and while all of my meals there have been fine to good, none of them have been great. I'd recommend Perbecco or La Ciccia far above it.

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

                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                      Absolutely have to agree with you. We just went to La Ciccia a few weeks ago & the kids (12 & 15) said they definitely preferred Perbacco. Not that La Ciccia wasn't "kid-friendly"; just preferred the food & the bustling atmosphere at Perbacco.

                                      DH ordered seared lamb dish & I ordered fregola with ricotta cheese & shaved tuna heart. We loved our respective dishes; however, the kids' order was a disappointment...rigatoni with lamb ragu (dense pasta & lamb didn't taste like lamb). Perbacco's pappardelle with lamb was heavenly. I am not sure if all kids will "get" this cuisine.

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

                                      Perbacco
                                      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                    2. re: whiner

                                      Incanto has many great non-offal dishes. In fact, most of the menu does not contain offal. Perbacco is like so many other mid-tier good italian places that you can find in so many cities accross the country. Incanto offers something unique and is more "something in SF I can't find elsewhere" Italian.

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

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        Perbacco is way above average, some of the best Italian food I've had outside of Italy and better than plenty I've had there, particularly the salumi, pastas, and braised meats.

                                        The food at Incanto, to quote their Web site, "represents a part of Italy that is called 'California.'"

                                        If they have Italian food that good in New York, they probably charge a lot more, particularly for the wine.

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

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I never said Perbacco was average. I said Perbacco was like many mid-tier good italian places. But unless Perbacco has gone way up hill since my visit 5 years ago, I don't see it being better or cheaper than Lupa in NYC or Osteria Morini in NYC. In fact, that was my impression: "This is like Lupa but not as charming or delicious." At the next price point, you have many excellent NYC italian restaurants a la Batali, Conant and White. LA doesn't have something as good as Perbacco at that price point but the pasta at Osteria Mozza and Scarpetta satisfies just as nicely at $3-4 more per plate of pasta. SF itself has many excellent italian restaurants at least as good as Perbacco.

                                          Like I said and as you confirmed, Incanto is unique to SF. It depends if you're looking for Italian almost as good as what you can get in Italy (but not that close really) or if you're looking for something unique and city-specific when you travel.

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

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            Porthos,
                                            I think Perbacco is better than most of what I've had in Italy and dances circles around restaurants like Lupa, even Esca, though very different, etc.

                                            Incanto is Cal-Ital with a focus on offal (though as is always noted, there are menu items that don't include offal, it is just what the chef is known for). I'm really not certain how unique to SF Incanto really is. I mean, I've never been to another restaurant quite like it, but I also don't think it typifies SF at all. It isn't the same as going to NOPA or Ame and thinking "Only in San Francisco..."

                                            For me, Perbacco treats wild mushrooms, pastas, braised meats and game red meats as well or better than any other Italian restaurant I've been to outside of Italy. That is not unique to SF, per se, but it makes it a singular experience and one, in my view, far more worthy of checking out than Incanto.

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

                                            Lupa
                                            4109 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                                            1. re: whiner

                                              I think Perbacco is better than most of what I've had in Italy

                                              ========================================

                                              You didn't eat so well in Italy then. It beats my worst meals in Italy yes. Maybe 2 meals in 3 visits (most recent visit being 5 weeks ago) were outclassed by Perbacco. Better than Roscioli, Tempio di Iside, La Campana? Better than Nerbone or Omero? Hardly. Love the Italy card though.

                                              Circles around Lupa? Braised oxtail, ricotta gnocchi with bolognese, fresh orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe, or gnocchi alla romana better than Lupa? If Perbacco doesn't even have those dishes, how could it be better than Lupa much less run "circles around Lupa"? Braised pork shoulder and braised oxtail better than Mozza2go's Mangiare In Famiglia beef and pork dinners down here in LA? Not even close IMO. But then again, maybe Perbacco is much better these days. I see Perbacco's pasta with 5 hour sugo and pasta with shaved tuna heart being torn from the pages of Cosentino's playbook. Personally, it doesn't even cross my mind to visit Perbacco when I return to SF. I can get cured meats better elsewhere, I can get better pasta elsewhere, and I can get better braised meats elsewhere. For me, Perbacco is not so remarkable.

                                              And your comment about Incanto: "I mean, I've never been to another restaurant quite like it". Exactly my point.

                                              Don't even want to get into how you could defend Ame being more unique to SF than Incanto. Japanese fusion with new american and french "only in SF"? Not even when Ame opened and certainly not now.

                                              NOPA I like. I'll give you NOPA and up you Commonwealth as "only in SF".

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

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                When was the last time you had pasta with shaved tuna heart at Perbacco? I don't recall seeing it on the menu.

                                                1. re: nocharge

                                                  I've never had the pasta with shaved tuna heart at Perbacco. Ceekskat above reports a fregola with shaved tuna heart dish at Perbacco. If memory serves me correctly, Incanto was first to introduce a shaved tuna heart pasta dish in SF. I understand La Cicca also has a spaghetti with shaved tuna heart. Cosentino didn't invent the pasta with shaved tuna heart dish but at least credit him with starting something beautiful here in SF. I wish we had even one place down here with a shaved tuna heart spaghetti. Once again, reason why I prefered Incanto over Perbacco.

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

                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                    I suspect the pasta with shaved tuna heart ceeskat reported about was at La Ciccia, not Perbacco. If so, it seems a little unfair to use it as a basis for criticism of Perbacco, which you say you haven't visited in 5 years.

                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                      Not criticizing. Just saying I prefer Incanto to Perbacco. To quote myself (which I am not in the habit of doing): "Perbacco is like so many other mid-tier good italian places". I never said it wasn't good. Just that if I was coming from out of town, I'd pick Incanto as more SF-esque than Perbacco. Something I can get in SF but not other places. And if the OP has travelled all around the world, would Perbacco offer more of an unique SF experience or would Incanto? I say Incanto (as do at least 3 other people in this thread) and others say Perbacco. But never did I say Perbacco was not good.

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

                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                        Howdy Porthos,
                                                        Still swinging Balizarde? Just kidding. Glad you enjoyed your stay in Rome. Incanto/Perbacco? Big fan of both. Maybe give Barbacco a shot next time in town, Cotogna, too. The mid-priced restaurant scene in San Francisco has improved significantly in the past two years. I'd look forward to your opinions.
                                                        --steve

                                                        1. re: steve h.

                                                          Steve h. -

                                                          It certainly looks that way doesn't it?

                                                          SF's midtier has always been stellar. Looking forward to Barbacco and Commis the next time I'm in town which I'll try to coordinate with Oliveto's truffle dinners.

                                                          -----
                                                          Oliveto Cafe
                                                          5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                          Commis
                                                          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                          Barbacco
                                                          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                              Porthos, you should skip Barbacco but book Cotogna (tough dinner reservation, easy lunch/brunch reservation) and Commis. I will hopefully have scouted Atelier Crenn and Saison before your next trip, but I suspect those two will round out your trip (consider Benu as well). Keeping my fingers crossed that none of your travel companions insist on Gary Danko this time :p

                                                              1. re: daveena

                                                                Doppelganger. Your palate is my palate. If both you and Steve h. recommend Cotogna, then Cotogna it is. Cotogna (menu looks awesome btw). Commis. Oliveto Truffle dinners. And definitely no more Gary Danko. Insistent travel companion or not.

                                                                -----
                                                                Gary Danko
                                                                800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                Oliveto Cafe
                                                                5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                Commis
                                                                3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                Cotogna
                                                                490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                            2. re: Porthos

                                                              So what's up with posting a highly opinionated piece about a place you went to half a decade ago? And where you could be confusing the menu with La Ciccia? Did you go to Perbacco more than once?

                                                      2. re: Porthos

                                                        Agreed with Porthos: if you think Perbacco is better than most of what you had in Italy, then you went to all the wrong places!

                                                        Seriously, let's just put Italy aside for now and focus on California -- how many of you have been to both Perbacco and Osteria Mozza many times? I have and the latter is consistently and significantly better.

                                                        Well, at least no one is saying that Yank Sing is better than Koi Palace. Oh wait, someone did.

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

                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                          I lived in Italy for three years and had a lot of fabulous meals, which is the context in which I recommend Perbacco, which has gotten better since it opened in October 2006. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it over Incanto, Cotogna, or La Ciccia, they're all great.

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

                                                          Perbacco
                                                          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                          Cotogna
                                                          490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                      3. re: Porthos

                                                        I'm with Porthos all the way on this. Mystified by Perbacco's continued acclaim, especially the sterile space.

                                                        And I like La Ciccia, but not half as interesting a meal as Incanto on a good night.

                                                        Steve has definitely been lucky with the J Church; it is the bane of our existence here in Noe.

                                                        So Porthos, I have a reservation at Scarpetta (in NY). Should I keep it or go for something more ambitious?

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

                                                        Perbacco
                                                        230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                        1. re: Windy

                                                          As any reply will probably be deleted. Shoot me an e-mail. I'm headed back there myself in September.

                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                            You guys might want to consider Marea (Central Park South). It's pricey but very good.

                                                              1. re: Windy

                                                                Concentrate on the crudo, antipasti, pastas and the wines. It's a good ride.

                                                    2. re: Porthos

                                                      Incanto may be different, but different isn't the best reason to recommend a place. I've had superior food at both Perbacco and La Ciccia (and other places in SF).

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

                                                      Perbacco
                                                      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                              2. re: FourSeasons

                                                Generally restaurants that specialize in steak or seafood cater to tourists and expense accounts; it's a concept that reflects restaurants a generation ago and isn't the way most Northern Californians eat. So steakhouses tend to be overpriced chains. The exception is probably House of Prime Rib, which isn't cheap, but it's not Morton's or Ruth's Chris or Scott's either.

                                                Most good restaurants in SF have seafood and some kind of high quality beef on the menu. That's the way to go. When I want great seafood, I go to a Japanese, Vietnamese, or Chinese restaurant.

                                                -----
                                                House of Prime Rib
                                                1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                1. re: Windy

                                                  House of Prime Rib isn't a steak house, it's a sort-of English-style roast beef place.

                                                  There are a lot more local steakhouses than there were a few years back: 5A5, Alexander's, Alfred's, Bourbon Steak (Michael Mina), Epic Roasthouse, Harris', Lark Creek.

                                                  -----
                                                  House of Prime Rib
                                                  1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                  Harris' Restaurant
                                                  2100 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                  Epic Roasthouse
                                                  369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                  Lark Creek Steak
                                                  845 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                  Alexander's Steakhouse
                                                  10330 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino, CA 95014

                                                  5A5 Steak Lounge
                                                  244 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                  Alexander’s Steakhouse
                                                  448 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Yes, my point exactly. I wouldn't spend hard-earned money at any of them.

                                                  2. re: Windy

                                                    I have to admit, I like House of Prime Rib, and think it's a good rec for a visitor from Asia. It's a good value (if I remember correctly, $32 for the standard cut, with sides, salad, and sourdough bread) and has some old-timey, almost Disneylike charm. It's like an amusement park of meat.

                                                    We also have pretty good access to excellent, dry-aged steaks to cook at home - if FourSeasons has access to a grill or a cast-iron pain, I think it would be worth it to just buy a few steaks and cook them one night.

                                                    -----
                                                    House of Prime Rib
                                                    1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                    1. re: daveena

                                                      Well I guess I'm going to have to make room for HOPR on my list -- "amusement park of meat" is pretty compelling.

                                                  3. re: FourSeasons

                                                    looks like your fremont list is booked up but if you have meals to spare perhaps chaat bhavan for vegetarian indian food or pizza and curry for pizza with indian toppings.

                                                    1. re: FourSeasons

                                                      Regarding steak houses, I agree that SF is not known for them. If you travel to New York or Chicago, you should include a visit to a steak house, but it isn't a must do in San Francisco.

                                                    2. FourSeasons: how soon do you need a list? A lot of the recommendations here are decent for the average person, but not for someone as well traveled as you. I want to take some time putting together a great list so just let me know your deadline.

                                                      22 Replies
                                                      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                        @h_k_foodie: Good to "see" you on SF Board! It's ok, I am already overwhelmed by above choices. I tend to travel solo or with my wife to Hong kong and Tokyo so I tend to aim for very fine food there. But on this trip, my two kids joined me, so I have requested the hounds for family-friendly comfortable places rather than higher end restaurants that I probably normally wrote on those boards. The list look great for this purpose!

                                                        1. re: FourSeasons

                                                          A dinner a la famiglia at La Ciccia would appeal to me as more family friendly than dining at Incanto which I found rather sterile in terms of both decor and food on my one visit there. Same fun J Church ride though :-).

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

                                                            1. re: grayelf

                                                              Just check out the website and past chowhound reviews of La Ciccia. The seafood look great. But how about the pizza there?

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

                                                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                The pizza at La Ciccia is just OK. The oven was there so they use it. Not at the same level of the other stuff.

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

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  In our several very delightful visits to La Ciccia we have never tried the pizza. It did not appear to be a strength from reading around on the web or asking local Hounds. Their house made prosciutto still lingers in my taste memory, as do the fresh fava beans we had one spring, among many other dishes.

                                                                2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                  Avoid the seafood in SF -- the selection is far inferior to what you find in Asia. Also avoid Italian in SF -- Osteria Mozza in LA (if you do go) is far superior.

                                                              2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                Makes a lot of sense. Here are still some suggestions and recommendations:

                                                                ASIAN FOOD

                                                                Avoid all Asian food in the bay area. Nothing comes close to the top stuff we find in Asia (Japanese, Chinese, etc) so you will be very disappointed. But if you insist, here are some okay options:

                                                                (1) R&G Lounge in SF Chinatown -- very popular restaurant so you should make reservations (ask for the top floor), signature dishes are salt and pepper crab and soy sauce chicken (though I don't think you'll like it because the chicken is the tasteless, chunky American variety which you dislike)

                                                                (2) Koi Palace in Daly City -- extremely popular and probably the best HK-Cantonese restaurant in the area, very good dishes are 賽旁蟹 (made with real Dungeness crab meat) and 沙翁 (dim sum as you know but better than any I've had in Hong Kong)

                                                                (3) Yum's Bistro in Fremont -- I guess this is the best option in Fremont (doesn't say much though), signature dishes include curry beef brisket and 脆皮糯米雞 (but I don't think it's even close to the version at Luk Yu - sorry K K)

                                                                I suggest asking for less oil and salt at all these places because Chinese restaurants in the US use A LOT OF IT in their cooking. Also, avoid Slanted Door and Yank Sing at all cost.

                                                                FERRY BUILDING FARMERS MARKET

                                                                Spend a late morning at the SF Ferry Building Farmers Market. This is something that really puts SF on the map for good food in the US. Here are some good choices:

                                                                (1) Roli Roti -- this is one of the stands at the Farmers Market, and the porchetta sandwich is very, very good. Make sure you show up before 10:30am on Thursdays or 9:00am on Saturdays (these are the only two days it's available) or you will have to wait in line for up to an hour. You might also want to ask the guy who's assembling your sandwich for extra crackling.

                                                                (2) Il Cane Rosso -- Daniel Patterson's restaurant inside the ferry building, try the Clover Farm warm egg salad sandwich

                                                                (3) Boulette's Larder -- open kitchen + communal table concept (though there are also separate tables), food is freshly sourced and usually well executed

                                                                SWEETS

                                                                (1) Tartine Bakery in SF -- the best of its type by far in SF, very popular so go during weekdays during off hours (like 10am or 3pm), try tres leche cake, chocolate souffle cake, and berry tart for sweets, gougère and one of the hot pressed sandwiches for savory, and one of the breads for immediate consumption if you are there around 4:30pm when it's fresh out of the oven

                                                                (2) Bi-Rite Creamery in SF -- very popular ice cream shop down the street from Tartine Bakery, popular flavors include salted caramel, honey lavender, and balsamic strawberry, but try earl grey if it's available (it tastes like Asian milk tea)

                                                                (3) Fraiche Yogurt in Palo Alto -- a type of yogurt place you cannot find in Asia, flagship location in downtown Palo Alto, try the valrhona chocolate frozen yogurt with shaved chocolate and homemade mochi, drizzled with local honey

                                                                (4) Scream Sorbet in Oakland -- new place that also has a stand at the SF Ferry Building Farmers Market, intense flavors like what you find in France and Italy but a bit on the sweeter side (it is the US after all), signature flavor is pistachio

                                                                DUNGENESS CRAB

                                                                Try Dungeness crab (even though I think Sri Lankan crabs are better) since it's a SF signature:

                                                                (1) Swan Oyster Depot in SF -- a local institution for fresh seafood, try crab cocktail (i.e. chunks of fresh crab meat) and ask for a sample of the smoked salmon

                                                                (2) R&G Lounge in SF -- salt and pepper crab (see above)

                                                                (3) Koi Palace in Daly City -- 賽旁蟹 (see above)

                                                                (4) PPQ in SF -- very popular Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant, signature is garlic crab

                                                                PIZZA

                                                                Pizza is always fun and something sorely lacking in Asia:

                                                                (1) Gialina in SF -- very popular neighborhood restaurant serving the thin crust variety, try the Atomica with sausage added

                                                                (2) Little Star in SF -- another very popular neighborhood restaurant serving the thick crust variety (think buttery cornmeal), signature is the "Little Star" pizza

                                                                Note that all are extremely popular and don't take reservations so show up early. Also note there are several locations for Little Star but the flagship location is the one on Divisadero which is coincidentally close to nopa (good pork chops) and nopalito (good carnitas) in case you need backups.

                                                                BURGERS

                                                                (1) In-N-Out in SF -- very much a fast food institution in California, burgers are fresh and tasty, there is one at SF Fisherman's Wharf

                                                                (2) Spruce in SF -- good burgers but this neighborhood restaurant is a bit upscale so not sure if it's what you want

                                                                (3) Wayfare Tavern in SF -- Food Network celebrity chef Tyler Florence's new restaurant, less fancy than Spruce but still might be too formal

                                                                (4) namu in SF -- Korean American restaurant where the beef burger is good

                                                                So I guess you won't be spending time in Napa? The fried chicken at Ad Hoc is quite amazing.

                                                                -----
                                                                Gialina
                                                                2842 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

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

                                                                Tartine Bakery
                                                                600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                Bi-Rite Creamery
                                                                3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                Ad Hoc
                                                                6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

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

                                                                Scream Sorbet
                                                                5030 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

                                                                Il Cane Rosso
                                                                1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                Yum's Bistro
                                                                4906 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94555

                                                                Wayfare Tavern
                                                                558 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                  HKF, not sure if you know this, but Boson Yum used to be a chef in the 1970s at a place called 小欖公 in Hong Kong (not sure if it was an association or club) but it was a joint specializing in 鄉土菜. That pre-dates his time as exec chef at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong and the various chef gigs in Japan and SE Asia.

                                                                  If you think his best dishes are 脆皮糯米雞 and curry brisket, you've only tasted a fraction of what he can really do and honestly his Indonesian style curry brisket to me was so so. Have you ever had chef 衛志華 Andy Wai's version of 咖哩牛腩煲 when he was at Village Harbor in the 90s or Tai Wu Daly City or Chef Wai San Mateo? Absolutely ethereal. Too bad I can't have that anymore as he no longer has a proper chef gig.

                                                                  The only problem is that you have to have an "in" to get the absolute tip top game, but otherwise he can do great pre-order off menu stuff that's more accessible like 蟹肉冬瓜, 准山螺頭燉雞湯, 象拔蚌二吃 - 鹹蛋黃四季蚌頭 + 韭菜花銀芽象拔蚌 (is geoduck different in taste between Pacific NW version versus in Hong Kong/SE Asia?)

                                                                  焗西米布甸, 龍井綠茶炒魚米, 杏仁露 is fantastic (especially the addition of egg whites) and he can probably do a great 核桃露 as well.

                                                                  Otherwise, 羊腩煲 and on menu 話梅豬手煲 probably have a more rustic feel to it.

                                                                  His cooking is not fancy and of course it would be absurd to put him in the leagues of the best in HK. But in a sea of mediocrity, he definitely shines and offers additional refinement and more authenticity of old styles. Plus the price you pay surpasses KP or R&G for sure and he is probably the only guy in town (along with Andy) doing stuff like this. Maybe his kind are a dime a dozen in Vancouver, Toronto, Hong Kong....but to many of us it is a blessing to have him around.

                                                                  If FS is going to Yum's anyway, he might as well get a dungeoness crab dish there. I'd recommend 豉油王炒蟹 (he can also do crab and lobster), 鹹蛋黃蟹 is pretty good too. The chef can do 10+ preps each, at least more variety than R&G and on par with Koi Palace.

                                                                  Or just converse with the waiter for recommendations. The only problem is that the pacing of the food could be very slow, so plan accordingly and go earlier.

                                                                  But I am curious....KP's 沙翁 is even better than Tai Cheong in HK? Wow. Have to check it out.

                                                                  1. re: K K

                                                                    RE: KP's 沙翁 - yep, I think so. At the very least, the Koi Palace version is hot whereas the Tai Cheong version is cold.

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

                                                                    1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                      Is that some kind of doughnut or beignets ?

                                                                      1. re: jman1

                                                                        http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%B2%9...

                                                                        If you click on the English version of the page, it directs you to Okinawan donut, sata andagi which is a variant of the fried dough theme, but different. "Sa Yung" are basically deep fried egg/flour/sugar/oil mix. The name "Sa Yung" might be lifted from the phonetic French sabayon, or Italian zambaglione (which are custard based and not deep fried).

                                                                  2. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                    @h_k_foodie: thanks for the thorough recommendation. Roli Roti sounds great but unfortunately, I will have to miss it. Plan to travel to Monterey/Carmel region on Saturday and leave San Francisco on Wednesday so will miss those two days that it is opened. Fraiche Yohust is interesting, I may stop by near Palo Alto on one afternoon so may as well take a look. I did try Swan Oyster on my last trip 5-6 years ago; I love that place and certainly will be back again.

                                                                    @KK: I don't even need the menu anymore at Yum's; I can just order straight from your above post!

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Roli Roti
                                                                    , Hayward, CA

                                                                    1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                      Yep, I would definitely go with K K's recommendations.

                                                                      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                        FS, look at the white board on the wall in Chinese. It is also safe to order from there. Do look at the regular menu too just to see if there's anything else of interest (which is online). If you pre-order anything, do it at least 2 to 3 days in advance. The crab stuff can be made on the spot, but the desserts (almong and walnut) must be pre-ordered. Call ahead to make a reservation just in case.

                                                                      2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                        If you're getting to Silicon Valley, try some of the superb Indian food here. There's a huge Indian tech community and there are lots of excellent places that cater to them. Try some of the gongura specials at Taste Buds in Sunnyvale, the Tamil Nadu dishes at Madura in Sunnyvale, just about anything at Peacock in Mountain View, or the achari chicken / lamb at Hyderabad House in Palo Alto. All of these places are very informal and fine for kids.

                                                                        La Ciccia is absolutely superb for Sardinian specialties. It's more homey than places like Incanto and Perbacco, so it seems a better fit for you both in food and style.

                                                                        As Robert mentions, the pizza is not the thing to get at La Ciccia. Go to one of the other great pizza places in the Bay Area for that. My favorite is Gialina since the style is so personal and delicious, but there are lots of excellent choices. Howie's Artisan Pizza in Palo Alto is a great American-style pizza place.

                                                                        Michael

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Gialina
                                                                        2842 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

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

                                                                        Perbacco
                                                                        230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                        Hyderabad House
                                                                        448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                        Taste Buds
                                                                        673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                                                                        Madura Indian Cuisine
                                                                        1635 Hollenbeck Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                                                                        Howie's Artisan Pizza
                                                                        855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                        Peacock Indian Cuisine
                                                                        867 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                                                                        1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                          You can still swing by the Ferry Building for the Miss Piggy Sandwich at Boccolone. It's pulled pork with spicy pickled peppers. I like it better than the porchetta at Roli Roti. Not to mention that it's much easier to get to. Open daily.

                                                                          http://www.boccalone.com/pages/Salume...

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Roli Roti
                                                                          , Hayward, CA

                                                                          1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                            I was going to comment on Swan, but I see that you have been there before. Still, I'll remind you that it's a small place with counter seating only. I don't normally recommend it for more than 2 or 3 people at a time. Also, it's only open during the day time.

                                                                            It's a nice taste of old San Francisco. I agree on the crab at Swan (I'm surprised that many people don't order that). Also good is the clam chowder as well as fresh oysters and clams. They servers can mix you up your desired sauce if you ask.

                                                                            I

                                                                            1. re: jman1

                                                                              Swan is closed for part of July. Big sign on the door when I walked by today.

                                                                              Call first (or have a backup plan in that neighborhood--Cafe Zitouna, Tajine, Leopold's, Brenda's, all good, none of them oysters).

                                                                            2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                              There is now also a Fraiche on Fillmore in San Francisco.

                                                                              It's good yogurt, but I find that I prefer a slightly more tart yogurt served by some of the Asian chains. Still, it's very good.

                                                                            3. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                              Yank Sing's dim sum is the best in the area, better and more consistent than Koi Palace's.

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

                                                                              Yank Sing
                                                                              49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                              1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                We've been with our kids to Osteria Mozza & Lupa in NYC. Neither's service can hold a candle to Perbacco. Service aside, we enjoyed most of the dishes in L.A., while we were disappointed with most everything at Lupa. Never had a disappointing meal at Perbacco.

                                                                                After Lupa, we decided the only Batali place we'll ever visit again is Pizzeria Mozza in L.A.

                                                                          2. While no Bay Area visit should be without a foil-wrapped burrito from a cheap taqueria, I highly recommend Don Pisto's or Nopalito for slightly elevated Mexican. The cuisine is no less soulful or authentic; the ingredients are just better and the execution more consistent. Still inexpensive and not pretentious at all.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Don Pisto's
                                                                            510 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                            1. Since you mentioned no answers to your late night query, there is literally no late night dining in that part of the world. About the only choice is Denny's, the 24 hours diner chain, which is rather pathetic. Some of the older Denny's are decent slices of americana, but the last time I hit one (the only food from about 1am to 6am near my house) it was a rather soul-less experience.

                                                                              On the bright side, In'n'out burgers - an amusing hamburger chain from southern california - is regularly open until 1am or 1:30. Assuming you have enough tech power to find one, there's a few on that side of the bay. One could simply find 880 and drive north or south until you see a sign - they exist along freeways and especially at freeway junctions. There's one at 880 and 237, for example. They only have burgers/fries/shakes of various sorts, but they are addictive and worth a stop (recommended by one or two people above).

                                                                              One of the features of yelp.com is the ability to search by "open now". You didn't mention which hotel you're at, but you might want to check out their website and see if any non-chain restaurants are open. San Jose has very little late night dining. There are a few mexican places open late along the east bay. Crossing the bridge to Palo Alto there are a number of places open until midnight, and a lackluster dim sum place (students at Stanford and techies keep late hours).

                                                                              Yelp's list is mostly 24 hour drive through burgers like McDonalds, until you get to northern Milpitas. There's a listing for House of Noodles open until 3am.

                                                                              One word about steak houses - they're just so out of fashion. If you you're really missing a good steak, and *HAVE* to have one, I think I'd send you to Alexander's. At least it's a mini-chain, but frankly, when I'm in that mood, I go to a butcher and get a great slab and cook it myself.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              House of Noodles
                                                                              690 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035

                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                Agreed -- Alexander's is a good choice for steak, and at least the one in SF offers a great $40 prime rib dinner special on Sunday nights.

                                                                                1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                  I don't think the Cupertino one has that option, but it is of course so much closer to FS's Fremont location.

                                                                                2. re: bbulkow

                                                                                  Thanks for the suggestion. A few very helpful hounds have helped answered the late night and breakfast query as well on another post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/789214

                                                                                  1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                    If you decide to try an In-n-Out burger, ask for the burger "Animal Style" and the fries "well done"...

                                                                                    1. re: RWCFoodie

                                                                                      Does "Bushman" still lurk on the sidewalk near In-'n-Out?

                                                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                                                        Hmm. Didn't see him last time. Maybe it was his day off.

                                                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                          cool to have many respected posters on this thread with so much info that I happen to agree with; now only if every new person just reads this one so it doesn't have to be re-posted every time.

                                                                                          I recommend eating at Plum in Oakland, though it might be small for families.
                                                                                          for a steak house, I think you would like Alexander's (Cupertino or SF)
                                                                                          Torta los picudos SF for a torta is a can't miss
                                                                                          if you want to try some Italian in Oakland, another popular one is Dopo
                                                                                          try a huarche in oakland fruitvale area (though it's not my fave dish)
                                                                                          if you're in the area (south bay), I think Dishdash would be interesting for you to try.
                                                                                          if you happen to be around Redwood city on the peninsula, I really like Los Gemellos for hand made tacos.
                                                                                          Vung Tau is my go to for guests. if you're in Oakland, you can also check out Vietnamese at places like Banh mi Ba Le for a quick sandwich

                                                                                3. Seafood - Swan Oyster Depot is good but it really depends on what you're looking for. For fresh shellfish I would go to Anchor Oyster Company. For fish, etc I'd recommend Water Bar (although a bit pricey) or Swan OD is not bad.

                                                                                  Italian - Don't go to Cafe Sport. Super touristy spot in North Beach. Depending on what type of Italian you're looking for I would recommend La Ciccia (Sardenian), Delfina, SPQR (Roman) or A16.

                                                                                  Steak House - Bourbon Steak is a good Michael Minna spot. Spendy place in a big hotel. Boboquivari's is very good as well. Or Bob's Chop House in the Omni Hotel. The Cote Du Boeuf (Bone in Rib Eye) is incredible. I'd go to Boboquivaris though.

                                                                                  Southern BBQ - Good Choice

                                                                                  Vietnamese - Not crustacean. For better option check out any place in the Little Saigon Area. You could also go to Tu Lan. My favorite. In a bit of a dodgy part of town but VERY good traditional Vietnamese food

                                                                                  Cantonese - Not my best knowledge. For great Burmese food you should check out Burma Superstar

                                                                                  Ice Cream - Ghiradelli is a HUGE tourist trap. But kids would probably love it. Humphry Slocumbe is VERY good. Try the Secret Breakfast flavor. You could also check out Bi-Rite

                                                                                  Breakfast - Check out Mama's

                                                                                  Mexican - Tough question. Which region, style, etc. For a Taqueria experience El Farilito is pretty good.

                                                                                  Burger - Gourmet or more like diner burger?

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

                                                                                  A16
                                                                                  2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

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

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

                                                                                  Tu Lan
                                                                                  8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                                  SPQR
                                                                                  1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

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

                                                                                  Burma Superstar
                                                                                  4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: SPICESupperClub

                                                                                    Sorry, but I have to strongly disagree that Tu Lan serves "VERY good traditional Vietnamese food", not even close. And Burma Superstar is far from great. I would really hate to see a visitors from Singapore waste their time in San Francisco at either.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Tu Lan
                                                                                    8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                                    1. re: SPICESupperClub

                                                                                      When you have a chance, give Mandalay, Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen, Pagan, or other Burmese restaurants in the City and surrounds and see if you still feel BSS is good.

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
                                                                                      452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                      Mandalay Restaurant
                                                                                      4344 California St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                                                      Pagan Restaurant
                                                                                      3199 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                        I assumed that Superstar got the good rep by being the first. Well, at least I didn't know at the time that it opened. My feeling going there was always that it was good, but one had to work a bit to pick out the Burmese dishes on the menu. I'd assume that there are many more Burmese or similar options in Singapore. I will have to try one of the other places that you recommend.

                                                                                        Also, need to agree on Tu Lan. Now, I've never been to Vietnam, but one the rare occasions that I've been dragged to Tu Lan, the food doesn't seem particularly Vietnamese. More like Chinese greasy spoon with some Vietnamese influence. I thought people went for the atmosphere, not the food.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Tu Lan
                                                                                        8 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                                        1. re: jman1

                                                                                          I believe that Nan Yang in its original Oakland Chinatown location was the first. The popularity of BSS took off under the new owners who learned how to cater to those who are new to Southeast Asian flavors or in fact turned off by authentic taste.

                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                            Interesting to hear about more authentic Burmese. Seems that Superstar has done a very good job at tailoring for local tastes. It's nice to have both sorts of places. Do the other Burmese places have as much of a Chinese influence on the menu?

                                                                                            When I travel, I find it interesting to see how different cuisines are tailored for the local population; it's always culturally interesting and sometimes quite enjoyable.

                                                                                            When did ownership change at Superstar. I don't believe that I ever visited before about a decade ago (and haven't been to their Clement original in the past couple of years).

                                                                                  2. Just returned from USA. What a wonderful trip. Many many thanks for all your recommendations and here just want to report a quick summary of the amazing food we had:

                                                                                    1. R&G, Yum's Bistro: yes, you are right, if this is the best offer of Cantonese cuisine in Bay area, it is no match to what we get in Singapore. Still decent though, equivalent to the top tier of mid range Cantonese food here.
                                                                                    2. Vung Tau at Fremont: good option. May surprise most of you but we don't really have any good Vietnamese restaurant in Singapore despite the relative close geographic distance. Vung Tau would triumph most here.
                                                                                    3. Gorilla BBQ : love the pull pork and the BBQ sauce.
                                                                                    4. Scoma's at Sausilito: love the sea view; mixed review on the food. Littleneck clams were fresh and of the right size; Cioppinio not to my liking though, the seafood was overcooked and can't taste the natural flavor of tomato-based.
                                                                                    5. Swan Oyster Depot: my favorite restaurant on this trip in SF. Love this small, charming seafood outlet, like an American style sushi counter! Friendly personalities serving us too. Littleneck clams were not as good as in Scoma, but I have a excellent feast there: oysters, shrimp cocktail, crab and lobster. And not to forget the clam chowder soup.
                                                                                    6. Ferry Plaza: thanks for this recommendation, lovely time there. Special thanks to H-K-Foodie's recommendation of Farm Warm Egg Salad Sandwich at Il Cane Rosso and Portho's Miss Piggy Sandwich at Boccolone. Both are perfect, I am still thinking about them now. Wish we have something even close to this standard here in Singapore.
                                                                                    7. In-N-Out Burger at Fisherman Wharf: best fast food I have on this trip!
                                                                                    8. Ghiradelli: Yes, I agree, it is a tourist trap.
                                                                                    9. Italian: With 2 kids on this trip, I decided to pick an Italian with pizza place, so that left out Incanto and Perbacco. Unfortunately, when I called A16 and Flour & Water for reservation, not only they were not accepted, but we were told to expect to wait above an hour upon arrival. So we skip them.
                                                                                    10. MMM, Poc Chu, Zuni, Humphrey were on my list but with time constraint, not able to be there.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    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

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

                                                                                    Vung Tau Restaurant
                                                                                    535 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

                                                                                    Il Cane Rosso
                                                                                    1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                    Yum's Bistro
                                                                                    4906 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94555

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                      Glad you enjoyed your trip FS. May I ask what you ordered at Yum's and if you pre-ordered any dishes (or if the waiter was helpful in recommending anything of interest)?

                                                                                      Ferry Plaza is a unique SF experience all round, I'm glad you made it there.

                                                                                      It is interesting how some restaurants aren't getting much traffic or business, and yet places like A16, Flour & Water (and many other good ones) are consistently packed to the gills despite the reported high unemployment rates/slow economy.

                                                                                      1. re: K K

                                                                                        Re Yum's: no, did not pre-order any dish. It turned out the family that I visited in Fremont hosted this dinner at Yum's, so they did all the ordering on that evening. The chef also greeted them at the end of the meal so they knew each other well. Since that was the first dinner of the trip, we were still experiencing very bad jet lag, and the focus of the dinner was a reunion of old friends, so I actually can't remember too many details. I certainly recalled one dungeoness crab dish was ordered but none of the signature dishes you mentioned on above post (dated June 11) was included.
                                                                                        On another note, all the restaurants I mentioned from 1-8 do get heavy traffic, all were full at the time of my visit.

                                                                                      2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                        A16 and Flour + Water both take reservations, they just book up well in advance.

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