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Visiting SF in a month, need good places to eat!

Hello! I'm visiting SF for 5 days and 5 nights in mid-August and would love it if anyone could suggest some great places to eat. I am currently an aspiring chef (about a year in the industry) and I'm looking to really broaden/enhance my palette.

I'm on a little bit of a budget, anywhere from $5 to $100/pp is probably the most I would go for, although I'm very eager to try Coi or Benu.

My favourite types of cuisines in no particular order are Asian, Japanese, Italian, American, Seafood, and French.

I would appreciate any and all recommendations from coffee shops to food stands, including where I could get the best Clam Chowder!

Thanks =)

PS. Here's a list of places I'm interested in

Ichi Sushi
Chapeau
Ristorante Milano
Blue Bottle Coffee
Bi-Rite Creamery
The House
Fino
Mama's
Sotto Mare
Sneaky's BBQ
La Folie

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  1. It would help to know where you are visiting from; I might not recommend Mexican places to someone from SoCal just like I wouldn't recommend pizza to someone from Boston.

    That said, you definitely need to seek out and try some Burmese food; either Burma Superstar, Mandalay, or Burmese Express; any or all of them will have a ginger salad (although others prefer the tea leaf salad, I'm a ginger fan) and falafel soup.

    -----
    Burma Superstar
    4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      I actually am coming from SoCal =)

      Thanks for your input, I'll definitely look into those places!

      1. re: CarrieWas218

        Falafel soup?

        I also love ginger salad. More Burmese options: Little Yangon, Yamo, and Pagan.

        -----
        Yamo
        3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        Little Yangon
        6318 Mission St, Daly City, CA 94014

        1. re: Windy

          I wonder if Carrie meant samusa soup? The one at Burmese Kitchen has both samusa and mini-falafel-like tasties, IIRC.

        2. re: CarrieWas218

          I'm perplexed - why not recommend Pizza to someone from Boston? I'd wager the house on SF's Pizza scene being more dynamic with more styles and fresher ingredients.

          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

          1. re: uhockey

            UHockey, I have had pizzas in Boston that blew me away and I have yet to be similarly impressed with San Francisco pizzas.

            They are getting just as fresh ingredients and are experimenting more with styles. Just me, I guess, but as only a visitor to Boston and a resident of the Bay Area, I'll take Boston pizza any day...

        3. For god's sake, don't even think of eating the clam chowder in SF.

          Your list is pretty good. I'd add Gitane (5pm bar snacks and a drink), Sightglass coffee, NOPA (at the bar, see how a high-throughput kitchen keeps up quality).

          But ---- a strength here is chinese/asian, because unless you are coming from Flushing, the San Gabriel valley, or Vancouver, you don't have chinese like we have chinese. Here's a really good series of posts to get you started:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784434

          Simply canvassing Burmese, Szechuan, and XLB will keep you busy for a month - with a trip to Mandrin Islamic.

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

          19 Replies
          1. re: bbulkow

            I'm actually coming from the SGV =P But I do love asian food =)

            What's wrong with clam chowder in SF?

            1. re: Teeson

              You want to seek out the clam chowder at Bar Crudo or Swan's.

              What you need to be careful to avoid are the chowder-in-a-bowl monstrosities at the Wharf because those are catered to tourists.

              And I'll concur with others on the Chinese/Asian comment. I am a Northridge transplant and the Chinese food is much better where you are.

              -----
              Bar Crudo
              655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

              1. re: Teeson

                Clams aren't local. Clam chowder doesn't come from cans. There is no history of clam chowder here. We have better pizza and philly cheese steak than chowder. I would eat clam chowder just about anywhere else in america, like Pheonix. What gave you the idea that SF has any connection with clam chowder?

                You should look for smelts and sardines. These are local. Crispy fried!

                Pizza is undergoing a renaissance. See the posts on Tony's Detroit style.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  We have good Philly cheesesteaks?

                  The clams at Swan are west coast, but agreed, if you want seafood, get cioppino, not chowder around here. Or oyster stew.

                  I like ICHI but wouldn't go out of my way for it.

                  How about Moroccan or Tunisian? I don't remember a lot of that in LA. At the modest end, Tajine and Cafe ZItouna on Polk are both wonderful. At the high end, Aziza.

                  There's also been a bread revolution in the past few years. Beyond the endless lines at Tartine, you might also check out Thorough Bred, Josey Baker, Arizmendi, and Firebrand.

                  -----
                  Arizmendi
                  1268 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  1. re: Windy

                    What other Japanese/Sushi Bars would you recommend aside from ICHI?

                    1. re: Teeson

                      Depends on what you're looking for:

                      high-end fish and sake, with prices to match (Sebo), traditional at a great price (Sushi Aka Tombo). creative (Koo and ICHI), delicious marinated raw fish and pages of vegetarian options (Minako).

                      In the creative fish but not sushi category, I'd add Skool, which has sustainable fish-oriented small plates. Great happy hour, and fun things like uni flan that you eat with a spoon. They also have outdoor seating and good drinks.

                      ICHI is open for lunch, but I've had much better quality at dinnertime when Tim is behind the counter.

                      -----
                      Skool
                      1725 Alameda St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                      1. re: Windy

                        Thank you so much for your suggestions.

                        Now I can't decide on where I want to try. I want to go into a place and order Omakase, but I'd also like to try a few specialty rolls and some other creative dishes. (When it comes to sushi, I can really eat.)

                        1. re: Teeson

                          Aka Tombo and ISHI are good choices then, or Koo. Just go by which neighborhood you're in. And maybe avoid the weekend, or go early. I find the best omakase is when the chef's not in a hurry.

                          BTW Sushi Aka Tombo has fresh tofu with scallions and ginger--always a treat.

                          -----
                          Sushi Aka Tombo
                          1737 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                          1. re: Teeson

                            Can one walk unknown into a sushi bar and order omakase? Or, does the chef have to know you first?

                            1. re: jman1

                              You get better results from a chef who knows you (at least from a few previous visits). Otherwise you'll get more mundane items, or what the chef likes, or in a less reputable bar, the most expensive items they can throw at you.

                              Yo of the now defunct Yo's Sushi--now at Sawaii Ramen--told me if you want to establish credibility with a new chef, always order hamachi and maguro nigiri to start. The quality of hamachi will tell you something about the restaurant, and it signals you are a serious, respectful sushi eater.

                              Rolls are the equivalent of umbrella drinks or cosmopolitans; ordering toro and abalone just says you're trying to impress someone. Otherwise you're probably better off with chirashi plus a few unusual nigiri.

                              Sushi Aka Tombo does have omakase as a (modestly) priced item on the menu, so you can get it and then add on nigiri and appetizers without worrying that you're running up an outrageous bill.

                              1. re: Windy

                                I think it's down to either Ichi or Koo. I'm really on the fence with this one, Koo is closer to where I'm staying though. Anything in particular from Koo I should try?

                                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                                    yes! and whatever's on the specials board. Just be sure to reserve so you can sit at the bar.

                                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                                      Intriguing, but a bit of a gimmick, I thought. Not to mention, pricey. But, go ahead an try if you are inclined.

                                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                                        This was my favorite dish at Koo. Traditional it is not, but tasty it was.

                                      2. re: Teeson

                                        Seems like you could decide if you have a preference for or against Japanese run sushi bars. Koo is not traditional, but it is Japanese run; Ichi is not.

                          2. re: bbulkow

                            The chowder at Bar Crudo is a seafood chowder with fish, mussels, shrimp, squid, potatoes, and applewood smoked bacon. I've been a big fan since the Cafe Maritime days. (I guess everything tastes better with with bacon.) Delicious. They have sardines on the menu as well.

                            1. re: bbulkow

                              For seafood and clam chowder, try out Anchor & Hope. It's a wonderful east coast meets west coast seafood place, and my current favorite seafood place in the city. Their clam chowder is fabulous. I lived in Boston for 20 years before moving here, and get back to Boston most every year. This is a chowder that would be among the best even on the east coast.

                              I agree that clam chowder is not traditionally thought of as a San Francisco chow specialty, but there's at least one great one in town. It seems like a great place for a visitor from SGV.

                              Michael

                              -----
                              Anchor & Hope
                              83 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

                        2. We just got back and we really enjoyed Ana Mandara. I'm putting together all my info so I'll post it soon. Service was good, atmosphere interesting and food was great. There is a little wine bar in the same complex that we enjoyed too.

                          I'd also suggest Off The Grid if truck food is your thing. We enjoyed the variety and the atmosphere. Get there as early as you can.

                          Jen

                          -----
                          Ana Mandara Restaurant
                          891 Beach St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: RedBeans04

                            Off The Grid looks awesome! Which trucks are your favourites?

                            1. re: Teeson

                              CupKate's truck. :) I rarely eat dessert but got a red velvet cupcake and it was just so good.

                              We only tried about 5 or 6 trucks. Hubby really liked the pig truck. (can't remember the name)

                              1. re: Teeson

                                just get there early (5, 5:30) and you'll have time to try tons. i can't remember the names of the trucks I tried, but i sampled from at least 6 or 7 and pretty much liked it all, and loved a good 80 percent of what i tried.

                                OK, just found a post of the time i went: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7767...

                            2. I'd recommend skipping Benu's long menu for the time being, especially if you are on a budget, but Benu does offer ala carte, so there's still opportunity to sample
                              the food there (though with ala cart, composing a 4 course meal will run you up about 75% of the way to the tasting menu).

                              Benu is very much Asian-fusion; think traditional asian dishes, but using fancier ingredients -- such as foie gras xiao long bao.

                              -----
                              Benu
                              22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                              1. If you're interested in Coi but on a budget, jump on BART and go to Daniel Patterson's other restaurant, Plum in Oakland.

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

                                1. You might also look up reports by baloney. I'm pretty sure she's a chef, and she's been up here a few times recently on a similar mission.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Windy

                                    Wow, so flattered you think I'm a chef, Windy! :P I'm not, though I am considering going into the biz eventually.

                                    But yes, I am a fairly frequent visitor of SF and I really am dying to go back again soon. I highly recommend La Folie as your splurge if you like straight up unfancified French food.

                                    I agree with much of what's been suggested plus my own faves: Nopa, Frances(both similar in spirit to our Gjelina, but I like it better), Ritual, Blue Bottle, Delfina, Pizzeria Delfina, Una Pizza Napoletana, Marlowe(best fries ever!), La Ciccia, Bi-Rite, etc.

                                    Really hard to go wrong in this city if you don't hit the tourist traps!

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

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

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

                                    Nopa
                                    560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

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

                                    Pizzeria Delfina
                                    2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                    Una Pizza Napoletana
                                    200 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                    1. re: baloney

                                      Damn, and here I was looking forward to eat at your restaurant some day. (Why did I think you were a baker?)

                                      1. re: Windy

                                        You're making me blush! You probably thought so because I am seemingly at SFBI every other week...I do love them carbs.

                                  2. Don't bother with Chapeau, not cheap and not great. I would HIGHLY recommend Coi, they have a small front lounge where you can order a la carte, but the tasting menu will blow your mind.

                                    Definitely do Bi-Rite and Blue Bottle. If you are in SF on the weekend you can hit Blue Bottle at the Ferry Building and also do the farmers market which you must not miss. Lots of local and even "celebrity" chefs, tastings of everything and lots of food vendors. Also, if you are into coffee, check out Philz http://www.philzcoffee.com/.

                                    If you are into cocktails, hit Beretta for some amazing pizza and cocktails and Bourbon and Branch for the speakeasy scene. At Beretta, a must have is the bruschette of crescenza & broccoli rabe at only 6 bucks one of my favorite foods in the world.

                                    Head across the Bay on the ferry to Alameda to visit Hangar One for a St George spirits and vodka tasting.

                                    Cheap eats: Los Hermanos tacqueria on Chestnut Street, unlike most chestnut street shops it has been the same hole in the wall for 20+ years. Elizas on California at Divis for civilized chinese, amazing spicy eggplant. Dim Sum (cheap or not so cheap depending on venue, but I love Yank Sing in the Rincon Center), and pastries at Bay Breads aboulangebakery.com for the best french pastries, tarts and savory baked goods this side of France. Oh, and if you are into ice cream another rival to Bi-Rite is http://www.humphryslocombe.com/|_Flav... where their "secret breakfast" flavor is KING (if you like Bourbon that is....

                                    )

                                    Have a blast friends!

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

                                    Bay Bread
                                    2325 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94115

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

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

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: Kmcgee

                                      Coi has done away with their lounge menu.

                                      1. re: sfbing

                                        Coi is $155, plus 18% service charge and sales tax = $198.45.

                                        http://coirestaurant.com/food/

                                      2. re: Kmcgee

                                        Thank you so much for your input!

                                        Sadly I will not be there on a Saturday so I won't be able to check out the farmers market which sucks but I will still check out the Ferry Building.

                                        A chef I know recommended Sons and Daughters, Coi and Benu to me. Sadly my budget won't allow me to dine at either Coi or Benu, but I'll check our Sons and Daughters instead of Chapeau (Thanks for the heads up, the menu looked a little iffy to me as well.)

                                        I'll definitely add your recommendations to my list and hopefully I could check them all out!

                                        -----
                                        Benu
                                        22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                        1. re: Teeson

                                          There are smaller markets at the Ferry Building on Tues and Thurs. We were in town from Wed Fri (Leaving early on Sat) so we did the Thursday one. Very fun to walk around and look at what all the little shops had and the food was inside and outside.

                                          1. re: Teeson

                                            Many people including me love Chapeau. I wouldn't toss it out too quickly. It's the antithesis of the other places mentioned: it's old-fashioned French bistro food, with some modern ingredients. With warm service and affordable wine.

                                            And yes, RedBeans is right about stopping in at the lunchtime markets (or any of the other farmers' markets in the city). This time of year, the weekday markets at Ferry Plaza are still worthwhile.

                                          2. re: Kmcgee

                                            >>"Elizas on California at Divis for civilized chinese..."

                                            What does that mean? Forks instead of chopsticks?

                                            1. re: Civil Bear

                                              Americanized, in a style particularly suited for SF yuppies.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Does that mean 80's style?

                                                Are there any Yuppies anymore? Perhaps they're all pushing 60 now.

                                                1. re: jman1

                                                  they're all over Noe Valley and slowly making their move into the Mission.

                                              2. re: Civil Bear

                                                If it's like the Eliza's that was on Potrero Hill, less oil and fresher veggies.

                                                1. re: Civil Bear

                                                  Fancier chopsticks, and modern glass art.

                                                  And I would add to only go to the Eliza's on California, not any of the spinoffs, especially Eric's in Noe (see the department of health reports).

                                              3. If your budget can swing it, try the Slanted Door, if not, Out the Door. Charles Phan does great things with American ingredients, Vietnamese sensibilities and French techniques. Heaven's Dog has a good happy hour menu.

                                                Not a Chowhound favorite, but Scoma's has my favorite cioppino in SF, but I am sure there are plenty of good ones around. Clam chowder is an east coast thing, bouillabaisse a French thing, cioppino is all San Francisco's. An important, original CA dish.

                                                I would go to the taqueria's in the Mission District as they are some what different from what we can get in So Cal. Papalote is a taqueria with decent ambiance. Also look at Taqueria Cancun, La Palma Mexicatessen, El Farolito, Gracias Madre or Pica Pica Maize Kitchen.

                                                Lolo Restaurant in the Mission has some interesting flavors too.

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

                                                Taqueria Cancun
                                                2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                La Palma Mexicatessen
                                                2884 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                                                Heaven's Dog
                                                1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                Gracias Madre
                                                2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                Pica Pica Maize Kitchen
                                                401 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: scottca075

                                                  Cioppino's a local variation of ciuppin, a Ligurian fish soup.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Actually no, ciuppin is a word in Ligurian dialect meaning "to chop" and it is very different from the fish stews you would get in Genoa. The only similarity between the dishes is the name. Ciuppin is a sieved soup, thick, nothing like the chunky soup that cioppino is.

                                                    1. re: scottca075

                                                      The modern SF restaurant version bears little resemblance to what the Ligurian immigrants used to make from bycatch, true, but that is what it evolved from.

                                                  2. re: scottca075

                                                    Whether Slanted Door and Heaven's Dog is recommended depends mostly on your expectations. A great round-up review today --- SD was the least favorite meal. Not *bad*, just nothing exciting, vital, fresh, interesting. I think most locals would say the same. I like heaven's dog for a couple of cocktails, and I like the ambiance, I've dragged groups over there after a movie at the metreon, but it would be a rare occasion that I would recommend it to a visiting neo-chef with only a few meals to spare.

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

                                                    Heaven's Dog
                                                    1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                    1. re: scottca075

                                                      Also, Poc Chuc for Yucatecan food. Haven't lived in L.A. for too long to know if they have any down there. They must, right?

                                                      As for your chowder fix, authentic or not, whatever that means, and even if it IS canned, Swan Oyster Depot is just a great little San Francisco spot. only open for lunch, expect a 2 hour long wait in line outside unless you get there by about 10:45-11:00 a.m. - you'll still have to wait, but not so long . it's SO worth the wait, to me, in terms of fun factor, old-school ambiance, and utter deliciousness.

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

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

                                                    2. as for your Italian pick, i've never been to Ristorante Milano, but I'd send you to Cafe Tiramisu instead, only because it's in a really nice little euro-like restaurant alley where you can sit outside if the weather is good (and that's never a given in San Francisco). it's just got a festive vibe, great place for tourists but i've whiled away many an hour there myself. i really like Tiramisu's food, too, and it's about the same price range as your pick. My favorite Italian in the City is La Ciccia (Sardinian, actually) which is comparable in price to Ristorante Milano, but it looks like you're looking for Northern Italian. Others here will steer you to Perbacco, but I find it uneven. Very good when it's good, but ehhh when it's not.

                                                      http://www.belden-place.com/view/menu...

                                                      I've heard La Folie is wonderful, but really pricey.

                                                      and I'd definitely steer you toward Canteen for "American" (Cal-Medi) - a favorite, with fresh, lovely, thoughtful preparations. http://www.sfcanteen.com/#
                                                      I've never had a bad meal there - maybe one that wasn't completely perfect, but always good. another SF gem - tucked away in a hotel, the space is like a cute diner. Sit at the counter and watch all the action.

                                                      I'll second the recommendation to make sure you hit the Sat. morning Fairy Plaza Farmers' Market.

                                                      -----
                                                      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

                                                      Ristorante Milano
                                                      1448 Pacific, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                      Cafe Tiramisu
                                                      28 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                        La Folie isn't that expensive. They have 3 courses for $75, and a lounge menu available next door. It costs significantly less than Coi, and 10 or 20 dollars more than Commonwealth. It is very very good.

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

                                                        1. re: Windy

                                                          Chef Passot is an absolutely fantastic man - a true chef who still resides in his kitchen after all these years and a generous host. He has the work ethic, skills, and manners of the Guy Savoy's and Michel Rostang's of Paris and the restaurant is wonderful (and highly underrated.)

                                                          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                                          1. re: Windy

                                                            good to know, Windy & Uhockey - a friend of mine went with 5 others and he said they spent "a fortune" - but they absolutely loved it. who knows what a fortune means to him....

                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                              With supplements, five courses at La Folie can come to $125, and the wine list has some expensive options.

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

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                La Folie was very expensive when it opened 10+ years ago. In that time, more expensive restaurants have come on the scene (many with mixed results, and less attentive service).

                                                                La Folie has managed to maintain its quality and not raise prices significantly, so it's now a great value for that very high caliber of food and service. And unlike say Contigo or Commonwealth or Bar Bambino, where you could spend nearly as much for a taste of Iberico ham and two glasses of wine and a la carte olive oil, La Folie clearly feels like a "special occasion."

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

                                                                Bar Bambino
                                                                2931 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                Contigo
                                                                1320 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                                                                1. re: Windy

                                                                  La Folie is a special-occasion kind of place, but if they had Pata Negra on the menu, it would carry a steeper supplement than the foie gras.

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

                                                        2. I've liked Chapeau! but not been since major changes have taken place

                                                          Milano is good but there are several better Italian restaurants in the city

                                                          La Folie is phenomenal

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

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: whiner

                                                            What other Italian restaurants would you recommend off the top of your head?

                                                            I'm deciding on whether to go to Nopa, La Folie or Atelier Crenn

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

                                                            Nopa
                                                            560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                            1. re: Teeson

                                                              Crenn, La Folie, or Nopa, in that order (both quality and price). Crenn just raised the tasting menu price again but you can get into the same range as La Folie if you stick to 4 courses.

                                                              Crenn is experimental, La Folie traditional French.

                                                              Nopa is just a fancy pork chop joint with great cocktails and big lines. Well executed, and nice if you can sit by the chef, but not in the same league as the other two.

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

                                                              1. re: Windy

                                                                That's definitely the order I had it. Crenn will most likely be my choice.

                                                                1. re: Teeson

                                                                  And you can still squeeze in bites at the other two if you're curious: La Folie Lounge and a snack late night at the bar at NOPA. Whiner's summed up the differences well.

                                                                  Looking forward to a full report.

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

                                                              2. re: Teeson

                                                                Teeson,

                                                                For me, Perbacco is incredible and has an astounding wine list. Alexandria is the best server in the city, imo. Ask for her if you go. Delfina is also excellent and has a wonderful, more cozy, vibe.

                                                                Milano is fine, and I eat there on occasion because it is 2 blocks from my apartment, but I would not go there if I were visiting.

                                                                Nopa, La Folie, and Crenn are all wonderful restaurants with very different price ranges and very different feels. Nopa is CA comfort food in a very casual, loud, environment. La Folie is my favorite restaurant in the city -- straight forward Provencal French cooking, expensive. Crenn is ultra modern and expensive -- really wonderfully presented dishes and quite interesting. Of the three I would go to La Folie, but I doubt you'll learn anything new... it is just a world class Provencal restaurant. That is all it is trying to be.

                                                                -----
                                                                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

                                                                Nopa
                                                                560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                            2. I'd like to second a good endorsement for Slanted Door - make ressies - even for lunch! Oh so worth it. Their sister restaurant at the Westfield shopping center Out the Door is great too.

                                                              I agree with a previous reply regarding Chapeau - not fabulous. I'd recommend Le P'tit Laurent in the Glen Park neighborhood (there's a BART station 1.5 blocks away). Great little neighborhood gem that just does it well. They've got a Sun - Thur tasting menu for $24. Fabulous food without the over the top/vegas aptmosphere. Check 'em out online. http://www.leptitlaurent.net

                                                              Those that follow are in the same neightborhood. The mission close to Potrero street.

                                                              You like Sushi - Japanese- Fusion?!?! - a must try for a authentic sf food experience - Blowfish Sushi to Die For. You'll be served up amazing and eclectic menu. Not the cheapest but definitlely worth the experience. http://www.blowfishsushi.com/ Look for the anime on the walls!

                                                              Not too far from there is Humphrey Slocombe (ice cream) - (Right up there with Bi-Rite Creamery - which you wil LOOOVE) you may have seen them featured on a few food tv networks shows. Their flavors rotate regularly but I highly recommend their olive oil ice cream and their chocolate passion fruit. If you're a fan of bourbon (aw heck - even if you're not!) then you'll love their Secret Breakfast (cereal w/ bourbon).

                                                              Another little spot - should you be in the area in the morning to mid dayish is Dynamo Donughts. . . hand crafted donuts in not so expected flavors: Maple Bacon Apple (carmel apples in the dough, maple glazed with real bacon sprinkled on top!), Chocolate Rose, Lemon Pistachio. . . I could go on but don't want to ruin it for you. Go early or go home empty-handed. Once they run out - they're out. http://www.dynamodonut.com/

                                                              Down the street from Bi Rite is Tartine - do yourself a favor and get a ham and cheese croissant fresh from the oven (better go early). While you may have to wait in line you'll have solace in knowing that good things come to those that wait. Also a must try is their croque monsieur. . veggie or w/ meat - you won't go wrong.. . . and yes their pastries are as good as they look. Love love LOVE their morning bun - orange scented, cinamon and sugar dusted buns of love....available you guessed it. . . in the mornings!

                                                              Alas Pizza
                                                              I'd recommend 3 great places. As the neoplolitan thing seems to be all the rage - I'd recommend
                                                              Una Pizza Neapolitana in the SOMA neighborhood. 5 pizzas on their menu. 1 brick oven and 2 owners (husband and wife) transplanted from NY. Think thin crust blistered from their wood burning oven imported from Naples with the oh so special sprinklng of sea salt and olive oil. All they do is pizza - no salads - no soups - no sides- - no subsitutions - just pizza - you won't be disappointed. www.unapizza.com/ Oh , one last piece of advice, they only make a certain amount of dough per day - go early (and endure the line), cuz once their out - they close.

                                                              Also in SOMA, Zero Zero
                                                              Make a reservation unless you can jump in there for lunch. Great menu - wood fired pizzas and pretty (and I do mean pretty) appetizers and desserts. Faves for pizza is the Fillmore (hen of the woods mushrooms, fontina, leeks etc.) and the Castro (the meat lovers pizza) and of course the classic Margarita. The arancini balls are pretty special too. Picky about your dessert - no problem. Their build your own sunday is a sure hit. So is the hard root beer float http://www.zerozerosf.com/

                                                              Lastly on the pizza train is a Tony's (located in North Beach), While the have the Neopolitan thing goin on, they also feature other types of pizza that are equaly fabulous, Roman and Sicilian, and even a Detroit, California style (whatever the he|| that is!). My fav - the Roman - long and thin style. The simplest ingredients make the best dishes. Even the basic caprese salad is flawless. http://www.tonyspizzanapoletana.com/

                                                              That should do it for now. . . hope you're able to try some of these! Oh - and - Welcome to San Francisco!

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

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

                                                              Le P'tit Laurent
                                                              699 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

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

                                                              Zero Zero
                                                              826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                                              1. just my opinion:

                                                                swan's oyster depot -- if you're an aspiring chef, try getting some raw scallops, clams on the half shell, and crab, and go eat it all in lafayette park with a squeeze of lime.

                                                                una pizza napolitano -- best pizza, best vegetarian, best medium-priced italian IMHO, by a large margin. i personally think there is nothing interesting about milano nor perbacco. but una pizza is magical.

                                                                ino sushi -- just be sure to ask for the ankimo appetizer with some sake.

                                                                fifth floor -- just get the foie gras appetizer at the bar. i think it is the best foie-gras preparation in the city, and in terms of presentation and chef's skill, beat out any of the dishes i had recently at la folie. but i'm really not a big la folie fan, unless i'm feeling like spending $150 to have an ass-load of foie gras for dinner. (which is certainly sometimes.)

                                                                ferry building farmer's market -- roli roti porchetta half pound cut thin. be prepared to stand in line... a very long line if you arrive late.

                                                                judahlicious -- simply prepared raw food that actually tastes really good. try their zucchini pesto 'pasta', their nahbo tacos, and their ice cream. i just wish they weren't way the f*** out near ocean beach

                                                                for chinese food:

                                                                jia jyung mien at san tung -- best asian noodles in the city.

                                                                yank sing 2 go -- their combo plate for $8 has lots of delicious things for cheap.

                                                                z&y -- their spicy tofu and green onion pancake is cheap, filling, and (of course) spicy.

                                                                maybe try a steamed live fish at yuet lee. maybe half a peking duck at r&g lounge. maybe try to buy some dried abalone in chinatown as a souvenir, and then try to cook it when you get back home. i had fun doing this recently.

                                                                if you want pasta, i'd find specific DISHES to try, not just the restaurant. My picks would be pesto at farina, bolognese at north beach restaurant (yes, really), anything homemade at ristobar, and the "casoncelli alla bergamasco" from the quince bar menu. i personally don't see the appeal of perbacco, nor milano, though i do visit milano pretty regularly since it is only four blocks from my apartment.

                                                                i'd visit humphrey slocombe in addition to bi-rite creamery.

                                                                if you're in the ferry building and want something else to eat, i'd suggest a muffaletta at boccalone in the ferry building, or the chilaquiles at mijita.

                                                                i also think jai yun and maybe kappa are two of the most interesting restaurants in the city (IMHO much more interesting than coi or benu) though perhaps not a great value, so at least take a look at some yelp pictures from there or something.

                                                                if you want to try coi or benu, i'd suggest going for the tasting menu at manresa instead. (if you have a car and feel like a drive.) i'd consider saison above coi / benu as well, but if you're on a budget i'd definitely skip them all.

                                                                i wouldn't recommend slanted door, but if you do end up there i think the most unique thing on the menu is the scallop in the half shell, as a live freshly-shucked scallop is hard to find.

                                                                if you're into indian, try kasa, shalimar, maybe al hamra.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                  You didn't like Perbacco's agnolotti dal Plin? That's one of the best pasta dishes I've ever had. Theirs is also the best version I've had of that classic dish.

                                                                  I'm a fan of Yank Sing, but the to-go shop is a huge step down in quality.

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

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    i didn't try their agnolotti (but will now.) i wasn't a fan of the tajarin, or the short rib ragu. the giant truffle ravioli thing is okay, but i think anything with truffle (oil) in it tastes cheap and overpowering.

                                                                    the to-go shop is way cheaper. i thought the quality was the same, but i may be wrong. (admittedly it isn't as fresh) i've been going to the sit-down join recently, which is nicer, but is not a bargain.

                                                                    1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                      i like the agnolotti dal plin -- my favorite of all the pastas i've had at cotogna or perbacco, and better than many i've had at acquerello or quince. however, my feeling on it is that it is a meat-based filled pasta in a meat sauce, and i'd rather just have a good piece of meat.

                                                                      my favorite pastas ever have been:

                                                                      handkerchief pesto pasta at farina
                                                                      penne with foie gras and masala at acquerello
                                                                      casoncelli alla bergamasco at quince
                                                                      a bunch of tiny meat-stuffed pastas at quince

                                                                      i think the unique shapes and geometries of these pastas were really amazing and made the dish... but alas, most of these cannot be had by themselves at a reasonable price.

                                                                      if i'm in the mood for fancy-homemade starch, i'd still pick jia jyung mien at san tung or margherita pizza at una pizza napolitano. or if i want pasta-as-a-comfort food, i'd choose bolognese at north beach restaurant (but almost anywhere convenient would do -- i feel it is a dish that is hard to mess up.)

                                                                      i guess my feeling on perbacco is that it is a nice restaurant, with nice food, and a place i'd take a new co-worker after work. for me, i wouldn't consider it a foodie-destination, nor do i have a strong preference for it over most of the other little italian restaurants in the city.

                                                                      but if i end up at perbacco again, i'll definitely order the agnolotti dal plin.

                                                                2. I'd like to thank everyone for their suggestions and input. I have somewhat decided on the places I have decided to visit during my trip to SF. It was tough deciding between the many great restaurants that all of you have recommended, but my girlfriend and I could only visit so many. With all that aside here is my list, of course it is not set in stone, but I think it is pretty solid.

                                                                  Also, I will be making reservations about a week in advance, unless someone suggests that I should make them earlier.

                                                                  Breakfast:
                                                                  Lucques (I'm staying at the Chancellor Hotel so it would be convenient for a quick bite.)
                                                                  Mama's
                                                                  Sears Fine Food

                                                                  Lunch:
                                                                  Swan Oyster Depot
                                                                  Off the Grid
                                                                  The House

                                                                  Dinner:
                                                                  Son's and Daughters
                                                                  Ristorante Milano or Perbacco
                                                                  Koo
                                                                  Atelier Crenn (I will be trying the 4 course menu)
                                                                  Bar Crudo

                                                                  Misc:
                                                                  Blue Bottle Coffee
                                                                  Bi-Rite Creamery
                                                                  Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
                                                                  Sightglass Coffee

                                                                  I am definitely still open to more recommendations. I would love to try La Folie and Nopa but sadly there is not enough time for me to check them out, but both will definitely be on my list when I visit again. (Along with Coi and Benu of course, sometime within a year.)

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

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

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

                                                                  Bar Crudo
                                                                  655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                                  Nopa
                                                                  560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

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

                                                                  Sears Fine Food
                                                                  439 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                  Ristorante Milano
                                                                  1448 Pacific, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

                                                                  Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
                                                                  2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                  Sightglass Coffee
                                                                  270 7th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                  Benu
                                                                  22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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

                                                                  Atelier Crenn
                                                                  3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Teeson

                                                                    Looks good.

                                                                    Seriously, seriously... Perbacco over Milano. This is not close. Not remotely.

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

                                                                    1. re: whiner

                                                                      Perbacco it is!

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

                                                                    2. re: Teeson

                                                                      The reviews on Sons and Daughters are mostly negative (including my own). I actually found their conventional stuff to be pretty good, and their avant-garde stuff to be awful. For that price range and style, you're better off going to Commonwealth (or hop the BART to Oakland for Plum) - or it would open up your schedule for one of the others you listed.

                                                                      1. re: Teeson

                                                                        More popular places tend to book up more than a week in advance, particularly later in the week.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          Even on weekdays? I'll be visiting Monday-Friday, with Friday being spent at Bar Crudo's happy hour before heading out to my flight.

                                                                          Where should I try to show up early for when getting breakfast/lunch?

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Bar Crudo
                                                                          655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                                          1. re: Teeson

                                                                            Some popular places are booked up weeks in advance every night they're open, others only Thursday through Saturday. Of the places recommended here, I think Atelier Crenn, Benu, Delfina (the restaurant; the pizzeria takes no reservations), La Ciccia, and Slanted Door book up the farthest in advance.

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

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

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

                                                                            Benu
                                                                            22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                            Atelier Crenn
                                                                            3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                                                        2. re: Teeson

                                                                          Dump Sears and replace with either Dottie's True Blue Cafe or Brenda's Soul Food.

                                                                          Sears is middle-of-the-road, mediocre - a step up from Denny's...

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

                                                                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                            Yeah, Sears is coasting on a very old reputation. It's pretty much a branch of Lori's Diner.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              How about Dottie's, Kate's Kitchen, or Brenda's French Soul Food for breakfast? I love those places. Also Rosemund's Sausage Grill in in a league of its own for lunch, especially the one on Haight with a pint from next door.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Kate's Kitchen
                                                                              471 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                                              Brenda's French Soul Food
                                                                              652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                              1. re: abbott

                                                                                Thanks for the heads up and all of the great recommendations.

                                                                                1. re: abbott

                                                                                  I like Brenda's, especially the grits! But their beignets are generally pretty good(get the flight) and their biscuit was tasty as well IIRC.

                                                                                  Didn't like Dottie's, really didn't like Mama's but if you are set on Mama's, do yourself a favor and walk across the street to Liguria Bakery after your (most likely disappointing) meal and get anything, I happen to like the garlic or jalapeno cheese ones best.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Liguria Bakery
                                                                                  1700 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                  1. re: abbott

                                                                                    Agreed, Brenda's is wonderful. Go on a weekday though. Weekend lines are long. Also they're now open for dinner, and what could be better than shrimp and grits. Don't miss the biscuits.

                                                                                    If you're staying near Union Square or the Tenderloin, farm:table is another good simple breakfast option.

                                                                                    1. re: Windy

                                                                                      what about boulette's larder for breakfast or brunch?

                                                                                      downside would be that it can be expensive.

                                                                                      1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                                        It's hard to get out of Boulette's for less than $25 sit down. But it's a great place just to walk in and look around; you can take out a snack.

                                                                                        1. re: Windy

                                                                                          agreed it can be expensive. but it is very nice and i'd say uniquely sf. not a place i'd go every week, but on a vacation / trip to sf, i'd recommend it. just eat light / share a dish or two and grab some other snacks around the ferry building afterwards.

                                                                              2. re: Teeson

                                                                                Since Off the Grid doesn't start until 5pm, how are you going there for lunch?

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

                                                                                1. re: lrealml

                                                                                  There are many locations for Off the Grid. Several of them (Financial District, Civic Center) are lunch time.

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

                                                                              3. This thread has been so helpful as I am traveling there this month too. Staying in Union Square (St Francis), just curious, are any of these places mentioned in walking distance/nearby?
                                                                                Please add any not to miss near area, not just restaurants, but anything food related!

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: pamd

                                                                                  You can walk to the Ferry Market Building and pretty much anywhere in between. Get the pass for the busses and cable cars as they are very handy. BART is also very handy.

                                                                                  1. re: pamd

                                                                                    There's a map on this page plotting the locations of restaurants mentioned on this thread.

                                                                                    Most of San Francisco is within a mile or two of Union Square; even the western most reaches of the ocean are less than 5 miles. Don't limit yourself to the mediocre restaurants near there.

                                                                                    1. re: Windy

                                                                                      thanks, helpful info! I have our splurge resturants down, however, what are your top picks for average priced, great food?(we eat everything) Also, best Chinatown pick? I've searched the boards, but asking since this is so recent.

                                                                                      1. re: pamd

                                                                                        This thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/788263 is very recent and should have some ideas for you with budget in mind.

                                                                                        Chinatown is no longer where the best Chinese food in SF is at (even worse in my home city of Vancouver). There are a couple of places that get mentioned regularly there if you are set on eating in C'town: Great Eastern, City View and Dol Ho for dim sum, Z&Y for Sichuan, Bund for Shanghainese, R&G Lounge for salt and pepper crab in season. I've tried Great Eastern (solid if a bit dull), Dol Ho (loved it but it is a real HITW), Z&Y (good but not stellar) and Bund (just okay, and some things we had were meh). YMMV.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Dol Ho
                                                                                        808 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                        Great Eastern Restaurant
                                                                                        649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                        City View Restaurant
                                                                                        662 Commercial St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                                        1. re: pamd

                                                                                          mapo tofu, dan dan mien, green onion pancake, and soy milk at z&y is my favorite chinatown dishes / restaurant.

                                                                                          1. re: pamd

                                                                                            I'm not certain what "average priced" means, but I would go with Perbacco. Easy walking distance, incredible food.

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