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Trip to your city: I've picked a dozen resturaurants — you pick the 13th.

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I live in chow-exile in a small Canadian city where the number of inspiring restaurants can be counted on one hand and still have fingers left to snap. While most neighbors are natives of the cite city and aren't troubled, I grew up on the fringe of NYC, lived three years in Los Angeles and a few summers in Washington, ate my way through Tennessee and spent considerable time in Italy -- I still dream about a particular restaurant in Parma.

So it is with a sense of excitement that I am planning a week-long trip to San Francisco along with my wife and our kids, ages 11 and 8. Our children are seasoned travelers and are well behaved in restaurants - we're careful to make sure they have something to eat an hour or two before so they aren't ravenous and fidgety.

I also approach the planning of where to eat with some trepidation: The list of places I'd love to try are considerably longer than the 13 dinners/lunches we'll have time for. So I have planned our outings with the following in mind:

(1) I love variety and want my selections to reflect that, both in types of cuisine and atmosphere. I have yet to find a type of cuisine that, when done well, I love.
(2) While there is no upper limit on how much I might spend for a great meal and experience, I have little interest in going to the 13 best fine dining places and prefer a mix that also includes dives, family restaurants, etc.
(3) We will have a rental car in addition to a muni pass for the week and will be based in Pacific Heights. The hotel serves breakfast.
(4) I will have Dungeness Crab even though it will be from northern waters and lived more recently in tanks. I will have to figure out a way to return some day in the winter.
(5) This is our first trip to SF since 1994, when my wife and I came for less than a week.
(6) I won't be going to Napa or Sonoma because it's a lot of time spent in a car for a day trip, which isn't that fun for the kids.
(7) I don't have plans to go to the East Bay though I suppose it's possible we'd hop the Bart.
(8) We will be going to the Saturday market in the Ferry Bldg and will make a pilgrimage to the Mission to Tartine.
(9) La Ciccia is closed during our stay or it would surely have made our list.
(10) After our week in SF we will be traveling, and eating, in Monterey, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles -- the latter we'll have time for just 5 or 6 lunches/dinners.

With all that in mind, here's what I have planned (tentatively):

Aziza - Moraccan
PPQ Dungeness Island - crab/Vietnamese
Lers Ros - Thai
Poc Chuk - Yucatecan
Yank Sing - Dim Summ (unless we can get out to Koi Palace)
La Folie - splurge dinner/French
Tdadich or Sams for San Dabs
Canteen - California/Med
Baker and Banker Restaurant
Perbacco - Piedmontese
Delfina - Italian
Mission Chinese Food

That's a list of 12 restaurants and I welcome feedback on what I have picked as well as suggestions on what should be the 13th.

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

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

Perbacco
230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

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

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

Mission Chinese Food
2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. Please avoid The Stinking Rose. It is nothing more than a tourist trap, and you have some wonderful places on your list. I'm not a huge fan of Baker and Banker, but it's not terrible either. Maybe Zuni for a similar style? I might add a Mission taqueria to your list, but you indicated that you're going to Southern CA, which is really the place for Mexican. You say you're not opposed to divey places. Broken Record in a far-flung corner of the city is my current favorite dive bar with delicious food. Too bad about La Ciccia. Perhaps A16 or SPQR for another Italian?

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

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

    A16
    2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

    Stinking Rose
    325 Columbus, San Francisco, CA 94133

    SPQR
    1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

    Broken Record
    1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

    10 Replies
    1. re: mrs bacon

      Thanks about the warnings -- just did some searches and it seems many chowhounders agree with you assessment of The Stinking Rose.

      About Baker and Banker, could you explain what left you thinking it was mediocre? I've read limited but good reviews so far and am curious where you felt it fell short. Zuni is a bit of a shrine -- we went there in '94 and I enjoy using the cook book. More recent posts about Zuni seem to be more of a mixed bag.

      Good suggestion about a Mission Taqueria -- I had planned to snack at a few so hadn't listed it as a dinner/lunch. Which specific items at which taquerias do you most enjoy?

      Would Broken Record be suitable for the kids? Can you describe the food?

      I had considered both A16 and SPQR -- my wife was born in Campagna and we have been to Napoli. But in seeking a balance I thought perhaps two Italian would be enough. I'm tempted by A16 if only to get the Buratta -- I had the real thing in Puglia where it's made fresh each morning.

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

      A16
      2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

      Stinking Rose
      325 Columbus, San Francisco, CA 94133

      SPQR
      1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

      Broken Record
      1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

      Napoli
      869 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

      1. re: spicefinder

        Zuni hasn't changed much since they hired Judy Rodgers in 1987. People love it or hate it for the same reasons as ever.

        In that general Chez Panisse-inspired vein, Bar Tartine might be the most interesting place at the moment. They're doing sort of Cal-Hungarian.

        I'm also a huge fan of Cotogna, which is Cal-Italian somewhat in the Delfina vein and also makes arguably the best pizza in town. And Incanto's better than ever.

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

        Bar Tartine
        561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I may have to add another week to our trip (I wish!).

          Why do folks love about Zuni? What do other folks hate

          Bar Tartine sounds intriguing and closer than Chez Panisse. I'll check out the reviews and web site.

          It may be an unfair question but do you have a preference between Cotogna or Delfina? Incanto sounds like a different beast altogether -- more out there so probably has more devoted fans and skeptics.

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

          Chez Panisse
          1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

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

          Bar Tartine
          561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Cotogna
          490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

          1. re: spicefinder

            I wouldn't say I love Zuni, and I don't think of it as a destination, but I do enjoy going there, probably ever 2-3 months. I tend to go when it's a weird time, neither lunch nor dinner, but I want food, wine or cocktails and a relaxed, San Francisco atmosphere. I usually get a salad and a burger or something along those lines, simple and satisfying. Add some champagne or a bloody mary, a glass of wine, etc., and going to Zuni at 3pm on a Saturday or Sunday is like taking a vacation in my hometown.

            I don't know if that's enough to draw an out-of-towner, though.

            I've not yet made it to Cotogna but I enjoy Delfina and Incanto. I think of Incanto as heavier food but that might be what I tend to order when I'm there.

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

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

            Cotogna
            490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

            1. re: spicefinder

              To me, Zuni's about first-rate ingredients cooked simply, often over a charcoal grill or in their wood oven, same approach as you find in Italy or Mediterranean France. Most of my favorite restaurants are like that.

              People who hate Zuni often seem to be wanting a more haute-Frenchy, chef-driven, creative experience, where the whole is more than the sum of the parts. They'll say, "I could cook that at home," but I don't have a wood-burning oven, and I'm a sloppier cook than Judy Rodgers and her crew.

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

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Robert,

                You put so eloquently what I have always thought of Zuni. I used to go to Zuni a lot a few years ago when I worked near there, and I always enjoyed it. I don't eat out nearly as much now, but I still like to cook from the cookbook, as I have already mentioned. I just made the Boiled Kale over Egg & Toast for lunch. Even though it didn't taste quite as good as it did at Zuni, it was still yummy and I would have never, ever thought of making that dish on my own!

                I don't like overly prepared food; I like very fresh ingredients, they speak for themselves, right? I think Judy Rodgers does a superb job without the pretension of other places.

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

          2. re: spicefinder

            I've only been to Baker and Banker once, so my opinion might not be completely reliable. I honestly cannot remember what I ate there, only that my impression was that I would not be running back.

            Broken Record has a bar in the front and a restaurant in the back. It's all very basic, not very pretty, but I've had a burger, pulled pork sandwich and crawfish and grits that were very tasty. There's nothing intrinsically non kid-friendly about the place, other than the fact that it's a bar.

            If your wife is from Campania, I would recommend A16, and not just for the burrata.

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

            Broken Record
            1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

            1. re: mrs bacon

              Thanks for the description of Broken Record.

              As far as A16, some of the dishes we enjoy already from my wife's mother - tripa, for example. So my first instinct tends to be food from other Italian regions, though interestingly enough, we enjoyed a great meal last year from a chef from Campania cooking in Venice -- it was largely the food of Venice but there were some touches and ingredients from Campania. What have you especially enjoyed at A16?.

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

              Broken Record
              1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

            2. re: spicefinder

              you can see Broken Record's menu here.
              http://www.brokenrecordsanfrancisco.com/

              it's tasty bar food.

              personally i don't think it's kid friendly (it's a kitchen inside a bar) and they seem to flip flop on whether kids can actually enter depending on who is working (i've seen kids there and also heard rants from people who's kids were denied entry citing a 21+ rule).

              i'd scratch it off your list or plan to go sans children.

              -----
              Broken Record
              1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

              1. re: drewskiSF

                Thanks for the head's up.

          3. Burmese Kitchen or Tony's (sort of a living museum of pizza styles). Or maybe a Peruvian place.

            Good list. Yank Sing is better than Koi Palace. Sam's currently selects seafood more carefully than Tadich does.

            The Stinking Rose is a corporate tourist trap.

            http://www.thestinkingrose.com/otherr...

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

            Tony's Pizza Napoletana
            1570 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

            9 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Thanks for the tip on Sam v. Tadich.

              I guess Burmese Kitchen is your favorite Burmese?

              As for Peruvian, Fresca is near our hotel and Inkas gets a lot of praise for it's roast chicken.

              Not familiar with Tony's -- any style in particular you think they do especially well?

              -----
              Inkas Restaurant
              3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              Fresca
              3945 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

              1. re: spicefinder

                Try the Detroit.

                1. re: wolfe

                  I'm afraid I might make a wrong turn and end up back near Ontario. (Bad joke - sorry)

                  What do you enjoy about the Detroit?

                  1. re: spicefinder

                    Detroit has a unique style of square pan pizza - not at all the same thing as the Sicilian square pizza at other places - that is very difficult to find outside of Michigan. Tony's does a decent beginner's version. But it's nowhere as high in quality for its style as, say, A16 is for Napoli-style pizza. If you're from Ontario you'd do better to have it in Detroit from a star place like Loui's or Buddy's. If you're from the west, though, it's something you're unlikely to encounter elsewhere. Tony's makes lots of other styles of pizza that look yummy that I have not yet tried.

                    I think you've put together a great list, and you're getting some excellent suggestions on tweaking it. A16 and Zuni would be my leading suggestions for a place to add, or maybe Gitane to add some Cal/Iberian to the mix. I'll be trying Bar Tartine's Cal/Hungarian for the first time next week; that would also add even more diversity to your list.

                    Michael

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

                    A16
                    2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                    Bar Tartine
                    561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                    1. re: mdg

                      I love Tony's!!! I've never gotten anything but their Margherita, as I don't see the need. It's near perfection on a plate. :)

                      I'm also one of those who loves Zuni Cafe! I have their cookbook, as I can't eat out that often these days, so I make their recipes at home. I think it's a great place to add to their list of cafes to try.

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

                2. re: spicefinder

                  Burmese Kitchen is my favorite in SF. Little Yangon in Daly City is also great, right off 280 if you're heading south that way.

                  Tony's: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/632240

                  -----
                  Little Yangon
                  6318 Mission St, Daly City, CA 94014

                  1. re: spicefinder

                    dyed-in-the-crust pizza fans visiting SF should always consider Tony's Napoletana. he has four different ovens and different dough formulas for specific regional styles. we almost always get the classic Napoli-stye that sells out most nights because they make one single batch of dough per day, but everything we've tried, including the non-pizza items, was good to very good. they probably have burrata with one of their appetizers.

                    you probably know from considering the menus that A16 and SPQR are more dissimilar than alike. the latter doesn't do pizza at all, but serve variety of fresh pastas, appetizers (crispy pig's ears, and an asparagus sformato when the spring asparagus was at its peak were two of the best appetizers we've had anywhere), and secondi with fresh and vibrant flavours. after going to both several times, SPQR is the one we'll keep returning to.

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

                    SPQR
                    1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                    1. re: spicefinder

                      I would say avoid both those Peruvian joints. I've had nothing but lackluster food and poor customer service.

                      1. re: spicefinder

                        Peruvian, La Mar is very good, pricey but has a good happy hour.

                        I have had great meals at Mochica but have not been back recently and have heard some reports that make me think the chef is concentrating on his newest spot, Costanera, which is also pricey but has a great view.

                        -----
                        La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
                        Pier 1 1/2, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        La Costanera
                        8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA 94037

                    2. Suggest Bi-Rite Creamery, Humphry Slocombe and Thorough Bread(chocolate bread) as additional stops near Tartine, all within a mile or so.

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

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: wolfe

                        What's a croissant without ice cream and chocalate bread -- I like your tastes! What flavors do you recommend at Bi-Rite Creamery and Humphry Slocombe ?

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

                        1. re: spicefinder

                          If you're driving, skip both Bi-Rite Creamery and Humphrey Slocumbe and head over to Mr and Mrs. Miscellaneous in the Dogpatch, on 3rd St and 22nd Street.

                          Bi-Rite Creamery is known for its salted caramel. I'm not a fan of their ultrarich style of ice cream. Humphrey has weird flavors from chili lime to prosciutto and is always interesting.

                          If you get to Mr and Mrs, stop by nearby Piccino Cafe for a wonderful cup of Blue Bottle coffee, or get a glass of wine at Yield.

                          Tartine and Bi-Rite Creamery are also known for their lines. There's no line at Thorough Bread; the chocolate bread is worth a visit.

                          If you're adding Peruvian (or upscale Latin American), I'd go to Mochica or Piqueo's or Pasion over Fresca and Inka's. I love Inka's, but it's a neighborhood restaurant rather than a destination.

                          Pasion is the new restaurant run by the Fresca owners, and I think better; it's on Irving and 9th Avenue in the Inner Sunset, near Golden Gate Park.

                          And you should find a way to hit one of the food truck events, either Off the Grid on Fridays or some of the many other popups around the city. Your list shows a lot of great choices and research; but especially with kids, you'll appreciate the creativity of young chefs trying out new things.

                          Oh, and I thought Mission Chinese Food was awful. If you want food from Sichuan, go to Spices or Z&Y. In both SF and LA, lots of great real Chinese food.

                          -----
                          Fresca Restaurant
                          2114 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

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

                          Inkas Restaurant
                          3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                          Fresca
                          3945 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

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

                          Blue Bottle
                          151 Third St, San Francisco, CA

                          1. re: Windy

                            Thanks for laying out some of the differences among ice cream choices. Is Mr and Mrs. an easy walk from AT&T? We're going to a Sunday afternoon's Giants game.

                            Thanks too for the advice about Peruvian places. We'll be spending some time at Golden Gate Park so Pasion may work well.

                            Off the Grid sounds fun and we're not that far from Fort Mason. Would you suggest that for sake of variety? Favorite trucks and bites?

                            -----
                            Off the Grid
                            Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123

                            1. re: spicefinder

                              There are threads devoted to Off the Grid, but the vendors change, so it depends on when and where you go.

                              I loved the fried chicken from Namu, the chicken tikka masala burrito from Curry Up Now (I think), and the Malaysian banana fritters. And the whole experience of both low-end and high-end food sold from trucks. I've rarely seen so many people having a fun time, and despite the reputation, it's a pretty diverse crowd in all regards. It's a great food scene.

                              You can easily hop on the T train (light rail) down to Dogpatch before a Giants game for ice cream at Mr and Mrs. They often have baseball-inspired flavors. Warning that they close by 6 p.m. It might be 5 on Sundays. You could walk back up to the ballpark, but it's industrial so not especially pretty.

                              You could get brunch beforehand at Serpentine or Piccino, or for something less fancy, walk up to 20th and 3rd for delicious pupusas from The New Spot. They have both Mexican and Salvadorean offerings.

                              I'm among the Zuni detractors. I find it boring if well executed with sometimes snooty service. It's a pretty enough place, so not a bad spot on a sunny day. I would especially hate it if I were a kid :)

                              And I'd choose Incanto over Delfina any day; much more interesting food. I like Delfina but it's ridiculously hard to get a reservation. Pizzeria Delfina is always great, including the salads, sides, wine, and desserts.

                              Incanto is always ambitious. Go there if you want food that surprises and challenges you. Ditto for SPQR. Delfina and Incanto are only sort of Italian restaurants. Enjoy.

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

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

                              Namu
                              439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                              SPQR
                              1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                              Pizzeria Delfina
                              2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                              Off the Grid
                              Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123

                      2. I love Yank Sing; much prefer it to Koi Palace for dim sum. I go to the 101 Spear location, nice that they take reservations .. more selections on weekends.

                        Much prefer Tadich; I no longer trust Sam's after a really bad lunch there .. among other things, they could not even get a plain boiled potato right -- it was half raw. Since Tadich does not take reservations, it's best to go for late lunch or early dinner .. no wait.

                        I'd skip Stinking Rose .. awful bread, crab had been frozen even tho waiter said it was fresh. (or, maybe it was just "old.")

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

                        Stinking Rose
                        325 Columbus, San Francisco, CA 94133

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: walker

                          Spear St. Yank Sing takes reservations and has free parking on weekends.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            @walker More selections on weekends at Yank Sing -- is that just for the 101 Spear location of the other location as well?

                            @Robert Lauriston Thanks for letting me know about the parking.

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

                            1. re: spicefinder

                              There is more selection on the weekends at virtually all dim sum restaurants. The Rincon Center location is much better than the Stevenson location.

                              -----
                              Rincon Center
                              121 Spear St # B18, San Francisco, CA

                              1. re: sfbing

                                Might make for a nice meal Sunday morning before walking to an afternoon Giants game.

                                1. re: spicefinder

                                  That is an great idea for a Giants game. (I've done that with out of town friends myself). The walk along the water is excellent. And the walk makes a little room for ballpark food--AT&T park is pretty decent in that regard if you know where to look.
                                  My recs there: bratwurst with onions and sauerkraut at standalone grills scattered through ballpark (there is one in the lower boxes near the left field bleachers, and another one in the lower boxes near the arcade), the incredibly expensive and tasty dungeness crab sandwich behind the bleachers, the chacha bowl also behind the bleachers. The fry bread underneath the bleachers are a much better value than the churros everyone gets. The garlic fries are famous, but some stands are better than others so eyeball the trays people are getting before you commit. If it is miraculously warm, you can get a ghiradelli ice cream sundae by the stairs near the arcade.

                                  1. re: sfbing

                                    Thanks for all the suggestions for food at the Giants game, though if I eat everything you suggest, I may have to join my kids in running the bases after the game We have seats in the upper deck, first row, a bit down the right field line with great views of the Bay. It's a long walk to the bleachers but that will be needed to walk off some of those calories. Besides, I think the kids will enjoy the slide and walking around.

                                    1. re: spicefinder

                                      The good food at [Your Name Here] Park is all the way to the left on the bottom level and all the way to the right on the top level. Most of the concession stands sell the same pathetically bad garlic fries.

                                      1. re: spicefinder

                                        If it is your first time at the park, you're going to want to walk around anyway. Just don't block my view when you're in the bleachers. (Please don't be one of those people who stands up when someone is at the plate and says, "Can you see me now? I'm the miniscule ant waving a cell phone!")

                                        I'm not a big fan of the garlic fries, preferring the fat fries that come with the fish and chips at the Irish Pub stand, but I think the huge stand on the 3rd base side of home plate has the best turnover.

                                      2. re: sfbing

                                        The best bargain for Giants game food is get a sandwich at the donut shop before the game and take it in with you. It's about $5.00 and it's huge. I think you get potato salad too, I might be mistaken with that. But it's better than anything at the game.

                                        1. re: isewinsf

                                          Second on the donut shop across the street. Actually, the fried chicken is surprisingly pretty decent too. You can take any food into the ballpark, except cans, bottles and booze.

                                  2. re: spicefinder

                                    If you go to Yank Sing (101 Spear, of course) don't sit in the lobby .. it's better in the main dining room, carts travel through there first. Read other threads on what to order .. we all have our favorites. (If you don't see what you want on the carts, ask your "head" server to get you the item.) I also go there before 1 pm, later, they start running out of stuff.

                              2. I would pick Cotogna over Incanto and Delfina, especially with kids (but still Delfina over Incanto). I like the food at Cotogna a lot, and Delfina, while great, is a little more formal and boring for kids. A16 would be a fun addition, and I think that you all would like it a lot. Another possibility for your list is Flour + Water. I know, these are all Italian, but that's something that SF excels at. You might also enjoy Nopa -- in the vein of Zuni, but more low key and fun for the group, that might be in addition, or instead of Baker and Banker.

                                Have a fantastic trip!

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

                                A16
                                2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

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

                                Nopa
                                560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                Cotogna
                                490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: JasmineG

                                  Thanks for a couple of great suggestions. Taking a look at the menus and reviews of Cotogna and Nopa - impressive and a nice vibe for kids. it is so nice to see restaurants list their purveyors - I can't tell you how rare that is where I live. Do you agree with reviews of Cotogna that say that only the pizza fails to reach high standards?

                                  As for Baker and Banker, is your concern is that it may be too formal/stuffy for kids, that the food isn't great or that the food isn't all that creative?

                                  -----
                                  Nopa
                                  560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                  Cotogna
                                  490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                  1. re: spicefinder

                                    Cotogna's pizza is my current favorite in the Bay Area. It's sort of Neapolitan-inspired but has a crisper crust with some crunch. It's sort of halfway between traditional soft, tender Neapolitan pizza and thin-crust NY-style, so fans of either may find it wanting. To me it's the best of both worlds. Pizzeria Delfina does a similar pie, but Cotogna has the advantage of a wood oven.

                                    That said, Cotogna would be one of my favorite Italian restaurants even if they took pizza off the menu.

                                    -----
                                    Pizzeria Delfina
                                    2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                    Cotogna
                                    490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                2. I hear very uneven things about Mission Chinese Food...I'd pick for it lunch. That way if it's not to your liking, it's not the last meal of the day. And since it's the Mission you can go to Bi-rite for ice cream or Tartine to compensate. If it's good than it's win-win. Beyond that, maybe stop at a taqueria for a burrito or tacos.

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    Seems that all the Chinese I've read about have some uneven reviews on this board. Any other Chinese (that is really too broad) options you'd suggest? One of the Burmese places instead?

                                    Good call on the other informal food options in the Mission.

                                    1. re: spicefinder

                                      If you like your Chinese food spicy, Z&Y (Sichuan cuisine) is about as close to a consensus pick as is possible in this town.

                                      1. re: soupçon

                                        While I like Chinese food from different regions I have a special weakness for spicy. I will definitely research Z&Y. Can you tell me more about it? Where is it located? What on the menu do you especially like? A number of more authentic Sichuan restaurants have opened in NY in the past decade — there even some small chains — but I don't get back to NYC all that often.

                                        1. re: soupçon

                                          As is the Old Mandarin Islamic way out near the zoo and the beach on Vicente.

                                          -----
                                          Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
                                          3132 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116

                                          1. re: Windy

                                            Not sure what this in in response to though I've read good things about Old Mandarin Islamic.

                                            -----
                                            Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
                                            3132 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116

                                            1. re: spicefinder

                                              Another consensus pick for spicy Chinese food in San Francisco.

                                              1. re: Windy

                                                Thanks for clarifying. You prefer Old Mandarin, Z&Y or like each about the same?

                                                1. re: spicefinder

                                                  The menus at Old Mandarin (which is primarily a Peking-style hot-pot place) and Z&Y are totally different.

                                        2. re: spicefinder

                                          I'm not saying don't go...you might like it. I'm suggesting if you do, go for lunch. More a strategy than anything else.

                                          1. re: spicefinder

                                            I happen to really like Mission Chinese, which is controversial on this board. Just ate there last night, actually. The cumin lamb, Mongolian onglet, and salt and pepper shrimp all were very tasty.

                                            1. re: spicefinder

                                              I haven't tried all the places mentioned, but I would suggest looking into Beijing Restaurant. Also, you might want to include a Shanghainese place (no, not spicy).

                                          2. I'm just going to throw out Plum as a casual Modern Cal-Cuisine restaurant. Yeah, it's in Oakland, but it's right next to a BART station and faster and easier to get to from downtown than some of your other choices.

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

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              Thanks Ruth. I had read about Plum. We're staying in Pacific Heights rather than downtown but we could take a bus or can back to the hotel from downtown. How do you think Plum compares to some of the Modern Cal-Cuisine places in San Francisco?

                                              1. re: spicefinder

                                                There's nothing in SF like Plum. It's probably my favorite restaurant these days, but I don't think it would be a good place to take kids unless they're hardcore junior foodies.

                                            2. I'm not sure I get the comparison of Bar Tartine to Chez Panise or Zuni at all, but I highly second that suggestion, right along with Nopa. Off the Grid should be pretty fun if it fits the schedule.

                                              i would avoid Incanto with kids, unless they're really adventurous children who happen to dream about appearing on Fear Factor once they're older. Delfina is good and safe. Maybe too safe.

                                              I would swap out Poc Chuc and the Fresca idea for a taqueria. Both are decent, but nothing I'd use up a meal on. Fresca does have good ceviches, but it's many locations makes it feel more like a chain now. I'd suggest LaTaqueria, or if you're stuck on Latin, look into Mr. Pollo, where I'll suggest ordering ala carte for dinner and share from the tasting menu for dessert.

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

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

                                              Nopa
                                              560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                              Mr. Pollo
                                              2823 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                              Fresca
                                              3945 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                                              Bar Tartine
                                              561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                                              Off the Grid
                                              Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                Incanto is a destination for carnivores and offal lovers, but it doubles as a neighborhood trattoria so many of dishes on the menu are not challenging. I often see families with kids in there.

                                                http://incanto.biz/food-wine/sampler-...

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  What dish are the neighborhood kids who aren't adventurous ordering?

                                                  Even Pesto can be daunting for some kids, so it's a very limiting menu for many families, despite the friendly atmosphere.

                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                    I have no idea, I just see them there having a good time. Both the owner and the chef have young children.

                                              2. spicefinder:

                                                First of all, your list is exceptional. Last night I had my 9th meal at Perbacco in the past 3 years and it was the best yet -- one of the best of my life, even leaving aside the ridiculous value. La Folie is my favorite serious splurge "special occasion" restaurant in town. And I adore Delfina.

                                                6 Very different restaurants came into my mind when seeing what was not on your list:

                                                NOPA - mid priced New American, excellent food, very casual, ask to sit upstairs where it is less noisy.
                                                L'Osteria del Forno - hole in the wall pizza, roast, and other peasant Northern Italian goodies in North Beach. IMO, the best pizza in SF and you can get triangular slices that they cook for you... not traditional "pizza by the slice". No reservations, cash only, ridiculous value, perhaps the best value in the city.
                                                Piperade - I often find the service here a bit too fast, but the food is just amazing. I haven't been back in a while and should go, myself. Basque with a hint of CA, but 90%+ Basque which is pretty hard to find and a really nice style of cooking, imo. mid-upper priced. Very nice, but casual atmosphere.
                                                Boulevard - Expensive excellent Northern CA cooking. Without going to the Ritz, this is my favorite "classic" Northern CA restaurant in SF. "Smart casual" attire would be suggested.
                                                Ame - Wonderful Japanese/Italian/French fusion. Expensive. Innovative. Imaginative. Intellectually AND soulfully satisfying. Very modern design. Really impressive.
                                                Papalote - IMO, the best burritos in town. There is one in the Mission and one next to USF. Like $7 for the best burrito you've ever had.

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

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

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

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

                                                Piperade
                                                1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: whiner

                                                  NOPA is an excellent idea. They are on top of their game... when you have a reservation :-)

                                                2. You've gotten good advice on a good list.
                                                  I'll chime in on Mission taquerias. Second La Taqueria. If you walk over to 24th street, between Mission and Harrison, you'll find a whole slew of taquerias and other great places, as well as it being a particularly colorful area of the Mission District. My favorite taco place there is Vallarta.

                                                  Delfina Pizza over Delfina (more casual, tho there's usually a wait.)
                                                  Delfina over Perbacco
                                                  Canteen is always a favorite
                                                  Love Poc Chuc and Lers Ros
                                                  Z&Y WAY over Mission Chinese Food
                                                  Old Islamic is also wonderful, but a bit of a hike, and also always a wait
                                                  Bodega Bistro does great Vietnamese crab too, and closer to where you're staying, I believe
                                                  Tony's is fantastic.
                                                  Off the Grid on Friday night at Fort Mason - get there by 5:30 and you'll have a fun time and get to hit a good amount of trucks before the lines get too long. Great place to take the kids.

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

                                                  Bodega Bistro
                                                  607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

                                                  La Taqueria
                                                  2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                                                  Mission Chinese Food
                                                  2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                  Vallarta Restaurant
                                                  14366 E 14th St, San Leandro, CA 94578

                                                  Off the Grid
                                                  Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                                  1. Thanks for all the fantastic suggestions and help -- it is a true pleasure to be going to a city where so many people are passionate about food, knowledgeable about the culinary scene and generous with advice.

                                                    Since I will be arriving on the 20th, I needed to start making reservations and doing so in a way that fit well with the rest of our plans since there is so much we hope to see and do. Here's the dining schedule with most of the dinners and one lunch reserved so far:

                                                    Wedn/20 -
                                                    dinner Aziza

                                                    Thur/21 -
                                                    lunch - poc chuk, some taquerias, Tartine Bakery
                                                    dinner: Canteen

                                                    Fri
                                                    lunch: Tony's Pizza Napolitena
                                                    dinner: Off the Grid/Fort Mason at 5; walk to Pier 33 for ferry to night tour of Alcatraz

                                                    Sat
                                                    Market
                                                    lunch Ler Ros Thai
                                                    dinner Nopa

                                                    Sun
                                                    Yank Sing
                                                    Giants game
                                                    Delfina

                                                    Monday
                                                    PPQ Dungeness Island (though their web site is suddenly not in service)
                                                    La Folie

                                                    Tuesday
                                                    Cotagna (dinner reservations booked unless 10:15 pm - too late for the kids - so I booked lunch)
                                                    Perbacco

                                                    I would have liked to have added another Asian place to replace Mission Chinese but my kids and wife may not be as game as I am for Sichuan. Not sure what's going on with PPQ Dungeness -- likely just a snag with its website -- but I'd welcome backup suggestions in the Richmond District since that morning we will be walking Trail's End.

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

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: spicefinder

                                                      Re: PPQ: I was not fond of this place .. MUCH prefer R & G Lounge for the crab.

                                                      -----
                                                      R & G Lounge
                                                      631 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

                                                      1. re: spicefinder

                                                        I assume you mean Land's End, from which you can hike to Shanghai House, which is a good choice for Shanghainese food (and not spicy) or Shanghai Dumpling King, consensus pick for best xiao long bao

                                                        -----
                                                        Shanghai House
                                                        3641 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                                        Shanghai Dumpling King
                                                        3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                                        1. re: spicefinder

                                                          If you are looking for FANTASTIC Vietnamese crab I very highly highly recommend La Vie on Geary btw 22nd and 23rd. It is a very clean little restaurant, with friendly service and really AMAZING crab. They only order as many crabs as they can serve so you can be pretty sure that your crab will be very very fresh.

                                                          They do their crab with a fantastic eggy, garlic-y concoction in the shell, so you have that plus the legs. I haven't had anything other than their crab - so I can't really say much about other things on the menu, but I have had garlic crab at a few other places around the city and they came NOWHERE close to the La Vie crab.

                                                          1. re: mibee

                                                            "They do their crab with a fantastic eggy, garlic-y concoction in the shell, so you have that plus the legs."
                                                            You don't do the meat in the body? I only ask because a dear friend invited me for crab and had 3 for the 2 of us. I found out why as he only ate the legs and claws unaware or the meat in the body. He was surprised as I pulled out all that, for him, previously discarded deliciousness.

                                                            1. re: wolfe

                                                              Yes- it includes the meat in the body too. They stir fry that up with eggs and spices - so it actually ends up being quite a bit more food than just the meat itself. 1 crab for 2 or three people (depending on how hungry you are)

                                                              I always eat the whole thing. And when the body meat is sauteed with other delicious things, like it is at La Vie- even better.

                                                              1. re: mibee

                                                                What I want to know is how to avoid getting garlic crab all over one's self. I grew up with Maryland Blue crab, and I can field-strip a crab in no time, but Maryland crab has no all encompasaing slick sauce. Ripping into your crab is far more challenging when covered with slick tasty garlic sauce, and I'd like to know how it's done in a socially acceptable context.

                                                                On a related note, Madam Tam's in Palo Alto - the last place I had garlic crab - is closed for remodel and will open as Tam's Bar or something similar.They're right next to SliderBar, which has a lot of traffic, I have a feeling they're going to try pairing the concept a bit more. We'll see. Madame Tam's seemed nice enough but very expensive for what it was.

                                                        2. No Japanese on there.
                                                          I'd add Kappou Gomi or Kiss Seafood

                                                          La Folie is my favorite high-end in the city, but you have no casual French.
                                                          Perhaps L'Ardoise or Le Charm?

                                                          I'd do Lolo's instead of Poc Chuk. Cuisiine there is more unusual, cross between Yucatan and Turkish, a current fave of mine.

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

                                                          Kiss Seafood
                                                          1700 Laguna St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                                          L'Ardoise
                                                          151 Noe Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                                                          Kappou Gomi
                                                          5524 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121