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Aug 22, 2011 01:56 AM

visiting sf

Visiting SF and have heard good things about the chowder hut / boudin. thoughts? is it worth making a special effort to visit? what are your recommendations for the area?

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  1. Meh - just another Fisherman's Wharf mediocrity...

    But we locals tend to stay away from Wharf food as it is geared towards tourists who expect the whole clam chowder thing when it is really a New England dish.

    1. The chowder at Boudin's is too salty for me, but I do like their tomato soup. I also like Trish's mini donuts.

      1. The best clam chowder is down the coast 40 minutes to the Miramar Beach Restaurant in Half Moon Bay. I don't have any recommendations for SF except a vendor at the Inner Sunset Farmers Market on Sunday mornings. They're a caterer from Santa Cruz and have 3 or 4 soups to choose from, all delicious. I've had a clam chowder, white bean lavendar, jambalaya and gazpacho. You'll find them near the end at 8th St.

        Miramar Beach Restaurant
        131 Mirada Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

        1. The Boudin sourdough is good, the chowder not so much. For great brothy (yes, that's right) chowder at a local institution, go no further than Swan Oyster Depot.

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: rubadubgdub

            Or better yet, just get the seafood cocktail and their raw local oysters and clams.

          2. I've never been to the Chowder Hut (and see that there are very few reviews … is it new?). Would not recommend Boudin (assume you mean at the wharf?). Nothing special about that chain. I'm not a fan of sour dough bread in general, but find theirs to be both overbearing and tough/chewy. Perhaps someone can recommend another local producer for sour dough that is better. Maybe La Boulange.

            If you want to eat something at the wharf, I suggest stopping at one of the stand up counters on Taylor near Jefferson. Grab a crab sandwich on sour dough and a beer. Eat standing where you find a spot on the counter. Best if they've just been cooking some crab. It's really just a mound of crab meat on bread. I'd skip anything else at these stands.

            Some of the stands:


            And, while you are there, visit the Musée Mécanique.

            15 Replies
            1. re: jman1

              La Boulange's breads aren't especially good; their sourdough is no exception. The pastries and cookies are better.

              It isn't local crab season until November, so any crab you're served will be from the Northwest or frozen. Not bad--just not in season. Woodhouse Fish on Fillmore is a decent place if you want crab and sourdough.

              1. re: Windy

                Speaking of baguettes or similar, which local breads are considered to be good? I don't typically pay that much attention as long as it's one of the bakers that I remember liking. But, I thought La Boulange breads tasted good.

                What is considered wrong with La Boulange breads? I like Acme a bit more I suppose, but don't see a huge difference. I'm OK with Panorama as well. Grace as well. Even Bakers of Paris is OK for me.

                And, I guess to keep with the OP. Esp. for sour dough, what's recommended?

                1. re: jman1

                  My current favorite sourdough is Josey Baker's wonderbread, but he's leaving town after this week until November. I got an Acme sourdough baguette today, and it was not sour.

                  Josey's bread is modeled after Outerland's levain. Is that sourdough? I haven't had a chance to try it yet.

                  Boulangerie's breads are not crusty or especially flavorful. There's nothing wrong with them and they look nice enough, but the city is full of better bread. We were saying the other day that Acme seems to have slipped a little. Panorama and Bakers of Paris are decent for large commercial bakeries.

                  Thorough Bread: perfect classic baguettes, multi-grain, chocolate bread. (Thorough is an outpost of the SF Baking Institute. Their instructors trained many of the best local bakers.)

                  Tartine: country French, walnut bread (you can order ahead, including a half loaf)

                  Arizmendi: untraditional baguettes, great suburban bread, and changing daily breads

                  Brioche Bakery: bought a pumpkin seed levain from them at the farmers' market that was great

                  John Campbell's Irish bakery: brown bread made with molasses; also Irish soda bread, scones, and potato baps.

                  Lots of good new breads showing up at farmers' markets too.

                  Thorough Bread and Pastry
                  248 Church Street, San Francisco, CA

                  Brioche Bakery
                  210 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  Outerlands Cafe
                  4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                  John Campbell's Bakery
                  3101 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                  1268 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  1. re: Windy

                    Seems that Thorough Bread is the place to try for baguettes. I'll check it out.

                    I grew up in Queens, NY where Italian/French breads where uniformly poor quality (Central and Eastern European where good). Almost everything in SF is good by comparison.

                    Instead of a baguette, I often buy an Epi loaf or sometimes a Ficelle; a entire baguette can be too big if I'm eating alone.

                    1. re: jman1

                      The epis at Thorough aren't good though :) The proportions are all off. They have short (half-sized) baguettes that are better. Acme's epis are decent.

                      French Bakery on Taraval and 21st is a former Bakers of Paris taken over by employees, and their classic offerings are very good too. They have all the different shapes of baguettes--skinny, double wide, etc.

                      If you haven't had a Tartine loaf fresh from the oven yet, get in line some day at 5 p.m.

                      There are a number of good Eastern European bakeries in the Richmond and Sunset. Europa Plus makes hearty breads, as does Cinderella.

                      (Beginning to think I need to start a chapter of Bakery Fiends Anonymous. Anyone?)

                      Europa Plus
                      5350 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA

                      1. re: Windy

                        OK thanks. Acme Epi (or Boulange ficelle) are my regulars. Will seek out some of the others (haven't heard of many before).

                        Regarding more Eastern breads, I sometimes buy packed loafs at European Foods on Clement. I see that they have an oven in the store and sell fresh baked bread. Ever try it? Worth a taste or stick to the other recommendations?

                        To be honest, I don't usually go out of my way for breads and choose from those on option in the store I happen to visit. Exception might be for a dinner party.

                        (Edited the name European Foods is the name; out at the end of Clement.)

                        1. re: jman1

                          Is that the market out by the Legion of Honor? If so, I haven't tried it yet.

                          Although sourdough has died down in recent years, we're lucky to have so many other wonderful options.

                          1. re: Windy

                            That's the one.

                            How about the unusual Sour Flour guy who gives out free bread (esp. Sour Dough)? I've met him at a dinner party (when he was starting out), but never tried his bread. Actually not sure if it's still free.

                            Sounds like the bagels are still free on Mondays.

                            1. re: jman1

                              Yes, the bagels (at La Victoria) are on my list too--missed them yesterday.

                              Has anyone tried Sour Flour's bagels?

                              La Victoria
                              131 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

                            2. re: Windy

                              I took a closer look at the oven area. The breads are mostly Germanic variations on rye and wheat, although there are also some that look like baguettes. The poster on the side that lists the varieties is in German and English and the company name sounds German. I'm guessing that they might supply some pre-made dough.

                              The store bakes the bread during busy hours and there is a timer that indicates the wait until the next batch so you can decide to buy one that was made earlier or wait for the freshest.

                              I tried a light rye/wheat bread (without seeds). It was good, but not great. However, it was enhanced by being hot and fresh. I'll try one of the denser, seeded breakfast breads in future.

                            3. re: jman1

                              try the triangle seeded loaf - it's really wonderful. It's on the corner of 31st and Clement Street at 3038 Clement Street.


                              European Food
                              3038 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

                            4. re: Windy

                              The European Market had this lovely triangle grainy wholewheat bread.

                              1. re: wolfe

                                Yes, that was one of the two seeded loaves. I don't recall, but the woman working the oven mentioned one of them as being her favorite of those on offer.

                                1. re: wolfe

                                  That looks similar to the square but excellent loaf from Europa Express. I've only been to the Irving branch, but there's one on Geary near Joe's ice cream.

                                  And while I love warm bread, the virtue of hearty seeded loaves is they keep as long as a week out on the counter.

                                  Europa Express
                                  1342 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                      2. re: jman1

                        It made me laugh: your description of the sourdough as "overbearing and tough/chewy" sounds great to me! That's just how I like it.