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Help Me Plan Eating Adventures in SF

I am looking for some insight for an upcoming trip to SF (my first). I have perused the board, but probably not as much as I should (please don't hate me). Coming from NY, I read a couple SF vs. NY threads. I will be in SF with my husband the evening of June 30 to July 4.

We're staying at the Omni San Francisco (500 California Street) and we're looking for a range of options. Unfortuantely, I have been insanely swamped with work and haven't been able to research and make reservations like I normally do.

A bit about our eating preferences: we both love great food (shocker) and are pretty easy. My husband doesn't love Italian (although he's happy enough to indulge me) or Indian.

Specifically, I would love recommendations for the following:

- Dim Sum
- Oysters
- mid-range options (dinner mains between 20-30, let's say, maybe including a seafood restaurant)
- a more "splurgish" restaurant with a tasting menu at around $75 pre-tax, pre-tip (give or take)
- sushi recommendation (outstanding sushi is very expensive in NY -- is the same true in SF? It's difficult to give a budget without knowing the norm, but maybe $60 per person including tax and tip?)
- any outstanding places you would urge me not to miss (including casual eats)

In terms of ambiance/mood, I am not overly picky -- I just appreciate good food. We generally steer away from stuffy places.

All my price ranges exclude alcohol. I acknowledge that I am being very broad and vague, and haven't done my homework. Please take pity on an overworked soul in desparate need of a great vacation. Extra points for restaurants that I have a shot of getting into on this short notice. Many thanks in advance!

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  1. You know, it might not be too hard to get into a lot of places on a holiday weekend when a lot of people will be out of town. You should check Open Table, but you should also call the restaurants directly, since a lot of places don't put all their available tables on Open Table. There aren't many stuffy places in SF, so I wouldn't consider that a factor at all.

    When you said "to July 4" are you including dinner on July 4? Because that might be the hardest meal to book, and I'd start with that and work backwards from there. It looks like Plum is going to be open -- you might want to take the short BART ride over to Oakland and check it out (casual, creative modern California cuisine, not expensive).

    Oysters ... there are several restaurants along the Embarcadero that have dollar oysters for happy hour -- it might be fun to do a happy hour oyster crawl, hitting The Waterfront (3:30-7), Marketbar (3-7) and Waterbar (11:30-6).

    Dim Sum? Perpetual argument. People will tell you there's no good dim sum in SF proper and you have to go to Millbrae (which you can do if you must -- the dim sum places are walkable from Millbrae BART). But in the city you might want to try Yank Sing (refined, expensive) or Dol Ho (just the opposite).

    It's too bad your hubby isn't crazy about Italian, because that's definitely the hot cuisine right now. Other cuisines that are better-than-average in SF include Burmese (Burmese Kitchen) and Peruvian.

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    Dol Ho
    808 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

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

    Plum
    2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

    1. I'm curious if your husband doesn't love the heavy, Sicilian-style tomato sauce-based Italian because Italian in San Francisco is remarkably different and you are likely to find some great options that would please him (and he may not ever realize it is "Italian.")

      In that regard, I would recommend Perbacco or SPQR.

      Oysters = Swan's Oyster bar is a MUST for classic, old-world ambience and a true California historical landmark.

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      Perbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      SPQR
      1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

      3 Replies
      1. re: CarrieWas218

        Recs for Swan should be accompanied with the info that it's only open until 5:30, that it's tiny, counter seating only, go at off hours to avoid a long wait.

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

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          And they're closed for vacation, either now or in early July. Call first.

          The city usually clears out over July 4th. It's an especially good weekend to get into busy neighborhood restaurants and park (but beware of meter maids--they've added enforcement Sundays and some holidays downtown).

          1. re: Windy

            yes, i'm almost positive swan is closed from now until a week from monday; t;hey had a sign up the other day...

      2. It sounds like you both might like Bar Crudo. It's a raw fish bar that is not sushi (but maybe sushi inspired). They have a really good happy hour (Tuesday to Sunday 5pm to 6:30pm).

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        Bar Crudo
        655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

        1. Tasting menu or prix fixe: if you're willing to limit yourself to 3 or 4 courses, you can go to Atelier Crenn or La Folie. Otherwise Commonwealth or Chapeau would both fit as would Aziza (or many other mid range spots).

          My favorite sushi that isn't $100+ per person is Sushi AKA Tombo at Japantown. ICHI is quite good too. Both have a nice range of sakes. $45-50 per person will get you a feast at both places. Koo is good too, but better if you can reserve a seat at the bar. (The other two you can walk in and sit at the bar).

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

          Atelier Crenn
          3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

          1. SF hounds, thank you so much for your advice. I will be leaving on the 4th, so no need to worry about dinner that night. On a related note, we're arriving late on the 30th -- any suggestions for good late night eats?

            Mr. Nook doesn't dislike italian, he just never craves it. Also, the point about heavy, red sauce italian is a good one -- it reminds me that he enjoyed Del Posto on our last visit. If SF does it well, I am happy to do that. Any places in particular we should check out?

            Re: Tasting Menu, are there any super outstanding restaurants that we could hit for lunch instead for a better price? I only ask because for instance in NY, some people say that Eleven Madison Park is lovelier at lunch -- this may help the budget go a longer way.

            I made a reservation for Plum (I had seen it come up in some other threads). I managed to track down a couple of sample menus, and it seems yummy.

            Re: Dim Sum -- haha, sounds familiar (there is no good dim sum to be found in Manhattan, blah, blah, blah). We'll probably stick to SF proper, thanks for the suggestions.

            Re: Oysters -- an oyster crawl is a fantastic idea, especially for a late afternoon snack. Thanks for providing hours, it's very helpful.

            I have never had Burmese -- this is probably a great option!

            Again, many thanks. Your responses have really made my day and have aleviated some of my anxiety.

            2 Replies
            1. re: IntrepidNook

              I can't think of an equivalent to a tasting menu lunch in NYC. There isn't a culture of long expense account lunches (or leisurely lunches), and you're visiting over a holiday weekend. That doesn't mean you won't find good meals at lunch.

              But compared to Manhattan, none of the high end and upper mid range restaurants here will strike you as expensive.

              1. re: IntrepidNook

                So really, you only have three dinners (1, 2, 3) and one of them is already booked at Plum, leaving only two. How late is late on the 30th? I'm tempted to suggest Perbacco -- which is only open until 10 but which is only a couple of blocks from your hotel. Someone suggested Bar Crudo -- it's open until 11 p.m. Nopa might be the best choice -- it serves dinner until 1 a.m.

                I think Aziza is a good suggestion for your mid-range tasting menu. La Ciccia is Sardinian and great for people who like seafood.

                The farmers market at the Ferry Building Saturday morning is a must, and it might not even be as much of a zoo as usual. Amazing array of gorgeous produce, artisan food stuffs and prepared foods.

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

                Perbacco
                230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Bar Crudo
                655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                Nopa
                560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117