HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Help Us Fill In The Blanks

  • i

We are a couple in our early 30's making a second trip to the city. We'll be staying 3 days in the city and 2 in Napa/Sonoma.
I have a pretty extensive list of places I'd like to try and would like to get some additional information on the places and even more recommendations.
I love beer and will go to Russian River in Santa Rosa, I'd also like to try 21st Amendment Brewery or Magnolia in the city, are they worth it?, I like hoppy beers, but I also enjoy saisons, bitters, and maltier beers, it's not a matter of a particular style, just good beer.
We also enjoy well crafted cocktails, the place that calls my attention the most is The Alembic, is there another place like it?
Off the grid! at Fort Mason is a mandatory stop for us, Namu, nomnom, General Bao, Little Green Cyclo, King of Currywurst, Roli Roti all seem pretty good, is there another one we should try, or a special item other than the staples.
We love Japanese food, and I've been wanting to Sebo for a long time, but the reviews seem mixed, I don't want to waste the opportunity to have a great meal if there's another spot that can fill our sushi fix.
The rest of our list includes, Nopa, Nopalito (only one out of the two), Citizen Cake (fer desserts), Dynamo Donuts, Flour+Water,Quince (who doesn't love great Italian food), Boccalone, Incanto (not just for the wow factor), Namu (again), Frances. I know it's a long list, but we are not 100% sold on any of them, but at the same time will like to try them all, if you can help with more insight it'll be really helpful.
The quick bite, lunch, cheap, on the go and ethnic recommendation are als welcome.

517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

Little Green Cyclo
San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't think 21st Amendment is worth it. For beer, check out the Anchor Steam brewery tour, the Toronado, The City Beer Store (tasting room).

    City Beer Store
    1168 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    1 Reply
    1. re: ML8000

      Be sure to reserve far in advance for Anchor Brewery. My sister was visiting and we tried to reserve a few weeks in advance; there was no space.

    2. Number one recommendation for beer and dining is Monks Kettle. More of a restaurant experience than a brewery tasting, beer is the star here. Other places known for cocktails are Bar Agricole, Comstock Saloon and Smugglers Cove. Stop in at House of Shields for a drink and the atmosphere. You might hit Dynamo Donuts early in the day for the best selection of donuts. Maybe grab lunch nearby at St. Francis Fountain, Local Mission Eatery or to go from Pals Takeaway.

      Bar Agricole
      355 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Local Mission Eatery
      3111 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Comstock Saloon
      155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1. re: food trucks
        -little green cyclo, stay away from the banh mi, not worth it
        -namu- korean tacos but you have to eat it fast
        -king of currywurst- not impressed
        -roli roti-definitely
        -chairman bao-not a fan but most people love it, pork belly is the fave

        would also recommend
        -japacurry: curry tonkatsu
        -curry up now :chicken tikka masala burrito
        -tomkat (noodle specialist) singapore rice vermicelli da best!
        -onigilly : various onigiri (japanese snack made of rice)
        -izit : fried chicken drumsticks
        -brass knuckles : snoop dog and the notorious p.i.g.
        -the taco guy (fish tacos)
        -southern sandwich : southern cuisine with southern hospitailtiy, lots of choices
        -el huarache loco : lamb tacos
        -3 sum eats : deviled egg and mozzarrella mushroom burger....
        -sodacraft: home made soda made with fresh fruit, ginger....
        -fivetenburger: impressive but you should skip this
        -bacon bacon: not impressed
        -dock of the bay: not impressed
        -creme brulee cart: grab whatever's left. you won't regret it
        -chaac mool : cochinita phil (schredded pork, yucatecan food) spicy stuff.
        -the taco guy: fish tacos

        1 Reply
        1. re: shanghaikid

          Good list, thanks for sharing.
          Have you tried Kasa?

        2. Make sure to go to Speakeasy at 4pm on Friday for their tour (and after the tour, they stay open until 8 offering heavily discounted beer on tap and merchandise). Great unpretentious tour run by unpretentious people, and amazing beer. Their beer is very strong though, so would recommend cabbing it or taking the light rail.

          I personally prefer Lagunitas to Russian River on every count (not that Russian River isn't worth checking out, it is) - the beer is better, great tour, better (and far simpler) food, great casual outdoor eating area (often with live music). But if you're in Santa Rosa, you might as well also head 20 minutes north to Healdsburg for Bear Republic. If you're really up for an adventure, continue on to Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, another place with great beer and a great tour, although a bit out of the way - lots of great hiking nearby though to make it a fun trip.

          I happen to like 21st Amendment's ber, although the food is just standard pub food. Not too far away there's also Thirsty Bear, whose beer can be a bit more hit or miss, but some of them (like the vanilla one), are exceptional.

          For Italian, don't leave out Delfina Restaurant (different from Delfina Pizzeria).

          Humphry Slocombe and Aziza are also great.

          Alembic is indeed the place to go for well-crafted cocktails, and make sure to order some of the food there. Another place that does both food and cocktails really well is 15 Romolo in North Beach. One of the more popular places for cocktails is Bourbon and Branch, which is fun if you're into the speakeasy aouspect, but I've found that you can often get equally amazing drinks for less money at Rickhouse (same owners).

          Other than having the same owners and using organic ingredients, Nopa and Nopalito have little in common. Nopa is pricier, but I would consider it to be better.

          Wouldn't recommend Citizen Cake.

          Also, where are you coming from. Ippuku is great for Japanese yakitori (but probably not of much interest if you're coming from NYC, even though I find it comparable to some of the best there).

          Also note that Anchor Steam often has last minute cancellations, so if you don't get the time you want, call a few days before.

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

          560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

          15 Romolo
          15 Romolo Pl, San Francisco, CA 94133

          Rickhouse Bar
          246 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA

          2130 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

          9 Replies
          1. re: vulber

            have toured neither Lagunitas nor Russian River brew houses, but the food at the latter was on about the same just o.k. level as Bear Republic in Healdsburg. at a benefit event the Bear Republic chef was serving something different and better than the regular fare at his pub, I commented to that effect and he agreed, expressing his intention of making improvements on the menu. have not been to the pub since, so can't say if the food's improved. to me, they each have a different style in brewing, and Lagunitas might have an edginess or hoppyness over Russian River in some respects (gotta like the Zappa commemorative labels), but R.R. is more to my taste. Bear Republic tries to do a wide range of styles but for me only one or two stand out.

            someone fond of trying different beers in the spirit of scientific inquiry would probably find something of merit in all of them. if one is traveling to or from Napa with the other terminus SF, a short side excursion to Oakland is not a major detour (whereas Marin/santa rosa is more westerly and it would be a bigger diversion from the SF/Sonoma route). for an excellent range of ales and beers, properly kept and served in appropriate ware, the Trappist in Oakland is one of the area's best pubs.

            1. re: moto

              Sounds good, I'll try to fit as many as possible in one day, with a visit to Coppola in between. We have Lagunitas distribution in Miami, but I've never tried RR and they seem to have a cult following and good ratings overall, Bear Republic will be on our way, but Anderson looks like another hour away.

              1. re: iamjo

                many of the better pubs in the area will have a tap or two of Russian River ales, and the good 'package'/beverage stores (most Whole Foods stores too) will have bottles of part of the Lagunitas, Bear Republic, and R.R. lines. one reason I'm partial to R.R. is that several of their ales are bottled 'live' (a.k.a. 'bottle conditioned'), making them suitable for cellaring. if the well made, and well kept, bottled live ales can actually gain nuances and complexity, and I've enjoyed quite a few, both foreign and domestic, a year or more old that equalled or surpassed what you could find on tap.

                1. re: moto

                  Trappist and Beer Revolution usually have a lot of RR bottles.

                  I've tried to go to the RR pub twice now and both times it so was packed with sort of frat-boy types that I wouldn't have wanted to spend much time there even if there had been any seats. I wouldn't make a special trip to Santa Rosa just for RR.

                  Beer Revolution
                  464 3rd St, Oakland, CA 94607

                2. re: iamjo

                  as i said earlier, i am not in any way trying to advocate skipping russain river, i think they are one of the best around, just that lagunitas is even better.

                  i wouldn't skip lagunitas just because of the distribution in your area; they have a lot of special releases only available there, and the beer often has a certain "freshness" that you're not goign to taste in miami.

                  1. re: vulber

                    You are right, I'll go to Lagunitas first, specially if they have special releases, I usually have some of their beer at home.
                    Depending on time I'll see if I can fit RR and Bear Republic. I'll try to get a couple of taps from RR the first day in the city, but the whole frat atmosfere turns me off.
                    Is city beer the place to go if I'm interested in buying local beers specially 750mm bottles?, I mean other than going to the brewery itself.

                    1. re: iamjo

                      City Beer's selection of bottles is great.

                      Toronado usually has several RR beers on tap.

                      1. re: iamjo

                        the fratty atmosphere is really at night - if you go during the day it's quite pleasant and you can have a good conversation with teh bartender about the beer if you sit at the bar

                        1. re: vulber

                          Both times I tried to go to RR were during the day. Maybe weekdays would be different.

              2. Great list, thanks to all.
                ML8000, after all I might be going to Anchor Steam instead of 21st, we won't take the tour, as we have tour breweries in the past and I've done my share (of nothing great) brewing, and the tend to be very similar to one another. I'll add at least one of Monks Kettle, Bar Agricole and Comstock Saloon, we won't be driving in the city, so taxi/bus/walking will help us get the alcohol level down from location to location. City Beer seems like a great place to buy stuff to bring back home.
                Any news on Sebo?. We are coming from Miami, we have a couple of good Izakayas and a couple of good suhi places, but not yakitori, ramen or shabu shabu shabu to speak of, will love to go to Oakland but it seems really hard to fit in this trip, I'll save it for next.

                3 Replies
                1. re: iamjo

                  Sorry, but I don't understand your first sentence here. You might be going to Anchor but not taking the tour? I don't get it.

                  1. re: scarmoza

                    I thought they also had a bar/pub on location where you drink without having to do the tour, but that's not case. Weekdays are booked untill september and weekends until december, we'll be arriving this friday so it won't happen. We may go to Monks Kettle or Speakeasy instead.

                    1. re: iamjo

                      call anyway a few days before, never know if they have last minute cancellations

                2. Surprised no one has mentioned Napa valley's two breweries, Silverado Brewing Company and Downtown Joe's Brewery and Restaurant.

                  Personally, I prefer Silverado for ambience, food, and brew -- finding Downtown Joe's a little on the skeevy side -- but many like the rowdy atmosphere of Downtown Joe's. The local wine workers tend to hang out at Silverado more.

                  Downtown Joe's Restaurant
                  902 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                    I would avoid Downtown Joe's; if you MUST have a "Brewery Experience" in the Napa Valley then Silverado is the way to go. If you just want some good beers then I'd advise crossing the street from Downtown Joe's and hit up Carpe Diem Wine Bar (just off the corner of 2nd & Main). They're a great wine bar but also have a respectable selection of good beer...AND excellent food.

                    Downtown Joe's Restaurant
                    902 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559

                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                      The Napa-Smith Brewery tour is a really cool experience. It's a pretty short tour. The best part is hanging out in the lab and tasting and talking about all their beers with the employees and maybe even Don Barkley (brewmaster), if he's around. By appointment only, $10.

                    2. You may not find King of C├╝rrywurst at Off the Grid but you should definitely check them out at their street location at 425 Divisadero (x Oak Street). A delicious twist on the traditional currywurst and now they have a Chilean dog too with fresh gaucamole. Healthy fast food with a San Francisco flair!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: meinchow

                        If you're interested in vegan "hot dogs."

                        1. re: meinchow

                          Currywurst is hard to find. look for the car wash and currywurst is directly across from it.

                        2. This is how the itinerary is looking for now.
                          We arrive tomorro friday at 1
                          Check in at the hotel near Union Square and then lunch in Katana-Ya, from there we'll go the de Young Museum which closes late and after that dinner at Off the Grid, afte diner we'll have drinks at either Comstock or The Alembic.
                          Saturday, wake up early and pick up a car. We have a reservation for a tour at Coppola Winery at 11.30, my plan is to make a quick stop at the Farmers Market in the Ferry Building around 8-8:30 get some fruits and snacks for the trip and hopefully the line won't be to long for Roli Roti.
                          After Coppola we'll go to Lagunitas and then either Bear Republic or Russian River, any suggestion for lunch in that area?.
                          We'll be staying in downton Napa, and we'd like to have dinner there, we'll be going to La Toque on sunday, so I rather have a less formal dinner in Napa.
                          Sunday starts with Breakfast at the hotel and then an 11.30 tour on Rubicon Estate, a stop in La Bouchon Bakery and then we'll be going to the Oxbow public market and will probably do the Downtown Napa tasting, after that we'll have dinner at La Toque and back to SF.
                          On Monday we'll probably have something left over from La Bouchon for breakfast, and we'll be going to Dynamo Donuts, do a tour of the Mission, what would be a good place for lunch around the area?. For dinner that day we'd like to go to Flour+Water and we have a 10 pm reservation in Bourbon and Branch, is it safe to walk from there to the hotel at 11.30 pm on a monday, I remember that area being a little rough from my previous visit.
                          Tuesday, skip breakfast, early lunch at The Slanted Door and early dinner at 5.30 at The Commonwealth, that would give us enough time to go back to the hotel in Union Square, pick up our bags and make our 11.30 pm departure.
                          At some point we'll be hitting City Beer and spend a couple of hours around Haight st. but at this point I don't want to put a specific time on it.
                          What do you think?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: iamjo

                            i would recommend willi's wine bar for lunch in santa rosa. extremely innovative small plates.

                            would skip slanted door.

                            if you keep your wits about you and just don't talk to anyone, the walk back should be fine.

                            the mission is kinda week for weekday lunch spots, bar bambino is good though.

                            1. re: iamjo

                              In downtown Napa, I would suggest Grace's Table; it is where the locals eat.

                              Also of note is Zuzu for tapas, Ubuntu for kick-ass vegetarian, Carpe Diem for wine-centric small plates, Oenetri for stunning charcuterie, and Angele for understated elegance by the water.

                              Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                              1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                              Grace's Table
                              1400 2nd St, Napa, CA 94559

                            2. Sebo is totally great as long as your definition of sushi is pristine fish and rice like you might get in Japan and not a California-ized version (good but not great, big honking piece). It's my favorite sushi place here. A second unlikely contender near Union Square is Ryoko on Taylor. Basement den decor. Middle-aged mama hostess. Cozy up to a sushi chef and let him bring you the good stuff (flown in from Japan). Bonus: Open til 2a!

                              At the Ferry Plaza some greats are Delica (deli inside) for excellent Japanese takeout (roast beef sushi, salmon rice balls, a fried thing or two), the Telltale stand with the Rebel Within and other unusual pastries <http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2011...>, or Primavera in the back for a standup Mex bfast. These never fail to please me.

                              Roli Roti, Dynamo, and Slanted Door are merely ok in my book, but taste is always personal.

                              Have a burrito for lunch after Dynamo. Really, no one does a burrito the same as CA. Or eat at Cha-ya (vegetarian Japanese) or Mission Chinese Food (endless great press).

                              Keep your wits about you after leaving B&B and flag a cab quickly. I think you night prefer that over a walk. Or if you're hungry for a late night snack, head to Lers Ros around the corner for great authentic Thai.

                              I would be remiss if I didn't tell a visitor to ride the cable car (on the outside only, really!) and drop down for an Irish Coffee at Buena Vista (at the end of Hyde St). Have fun!

                              517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                              Ryoko Restaurant & Bar
                              619 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: rubadubgdub

                                If the wait is very long at F&W (very likely) you might pop around the corner to Schmidt's for a snack. I'm no beer expert but larger than ave beer list and great currywurst and sausages. The potato salad is out of this world: http://schmidts-sf.com/menus/