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7-day itinerary for SF? Did research!

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  • timeo Aug 24, 2011 10:46 AM
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Hi all,

I have a friend visiting SF next week and we're looking for your help in finalizing our restaurant list. As she is from Toronto and will be travelling via Peru beforehand, she's not interested in eating any East Asian, South Asian, or Peruvian while she's here. I've done some research and chosen almost all of the meals for her one-week stay, but still have two openings for dinner that I was hoping to get some recommendations for.

Our list so far:

Wednesday dinner - Delfina Restaurant + BiRite
Thursday lunch - Tartine Bakery + In N Out
*** Thursday dinner - (? something in the Mission preferrably)
Friday lunch - Ike's Sandwiches
Friday dinner - nopa
Saturday lunch - The Slanted Door + Ferry Building Market
Saturday dinner - El Farolito + La Taqueria + Humphry Slocombe
Sunday lunch - either Lers Ros Thai or Burmese Kitchen
*** Sunday dinner - (? anywhere on the eastern side of SF or even in Oakland)
Monday lunch - Grand Century Shopping mall in San Jose (any other suggestions?)
Monday dinner - home cooked mentaiko pasta
Tuesday dinner - either Burma Superstar or Thai House Express

As you can tell, her time here is front-ended by more Californian fusiony, more expensive meals, with more authentic traditional flavours coming out at the end of our trip. As we're not particularly rich, we're not looking for any more restaurant recommendations in the vein of Commonwealth, Foreign Cinema or Aziza. What we're interested is cheap to mid-priced places that serve slightly unusual or unique dishes that don't have much similarity with the other meals that we're planning on going to already. They don't have to necessarily be "ethnic", we're open to anything.

We're considering things like Poc Chuc for Yucatecan or Helmand Palace for Afghani etc as well. What do you think? Your input would really be appreciated!

Thanks in advance!
Tim

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

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Thai House Express
901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

Foreign Cinema
2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

La Taqueria
2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Helmand Palace
2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

Burma Superstar
4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

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  1. Poc Chuc and Helmand Palace are both excellent; I'd add Tajine or Cafe Zitouna and maybe Chinese that's not Cantonese. Thai House Express is better than Burma Superstar.

    For unique to SF: Cafe Gratitude (your itinerary is kind of meat heavy), Off the Grid--you could hit Thursday OtG in the Haight for dinner or pre-dinner. Any of the great bakeries, coffee purveyors, and ice cream destinations mentioned in other threads? (I like Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous over Bi-Rite or Humphrey Slocumbe; and Smitten has the advantage of being cool to watch them make it.)

    Personally, I'd be craving pizza.

    Sunday dinner: Champa Garden? So much good food in Oakland these days. Or move your Burma Superstar to the Temescal location, and you can stop at Scream Sorbet and Bakesale Betty at the same time.

    Are you going to San Jose just for Grand Century? Not that it's not a fun destination.

    Looking forward to your report.

    -----
    Champa Garden
    2102 8th Ave, Oakland, CA 94606

    Thai House Express
    901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Cafe Zitouna
    1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Helmand Palace
    2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

    Burma Superstar
    4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

    13 Replies
    1. re: Windy

      A very perceptive response! The reason why we've ignored the pizza options is because neither of us are very big pizza fans. I do admit loving Little Star's regular crust pizza though, but I'm not sure if it warrants taking her to it? Plus the wait is atrocious.

      Are there Cafe Gratitudes in SF now? I'm only familiar with the one in Berkeley. I don't know her opinions regarding raw vegan, but I'll bring it up just to see whether the idea is appetizing. What is their signature dish there (if there is one)?

      Off the Grid was also something I looked into but I ended up deciding that we should go big or go home, and since the reservations for nopa were made for Friday, I didn't want to switch things around. How does the Upper Haight OtG compare to the Berkeley one?

      The Burma Superstar suggestion was for the Temescal location since I live in the area. I prefer Tara's over Scream but both are still good. Have you been to the Moroccan place in Temescal? Do you like that one more than Cafe Zitouna? The latter seems to be Moroccan-Tunisian? I'm not too familiar with the differences in those cuisines...

      Champa Garden is a place that I've been meaning to go to myself, but the one time that I took the trek out there, the place was absolutely packed and it's a little weird to stand in line just to eat by yourself. I find Chai Thai and their khao ka moo to be a very solid standby for the area.

      Anyways, the Grand Century suggestion was more for the fact that we're headed down to Big Sur just to check out the sights. I figured since Vietnamese is the big thing in the area that I'd take her to a place with a bunch of options.

      Will definitely report back on what we had and our thoughts on them!

      -----
      Burma Superstar Restaurant
      309 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

      Champa Garden
      2102 8th Ave, Oakland, CA 94606

      Cafe Zitouna
      1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Off the Grid
      Stanyan Street at Waller Street, San Francisco, CA

      1. re: timeo

        Tanjia is the Moroccan place on Telegraph. I liked it a lot, but it was years ago and it's dinner only. Cafe Zitouna is Tunisian, and the menu's somewhat different and more casual; they have a dish called brique that's incredible and harissa (sweet semolina) for dessert. But for bastilla and kabobs (and fries), Tajine is king. You can't go wrong with any of them.

        Loved OtG Haight. It's about 10-12 trucks, so more manageable than Ft Mason, which I also loved. But in either case, it pays to go in the first hour or so, before there are long lines. The food quality varies from bacon truck to bacon truck. But there's so much variety and creativity, and it's a fun scene with music, alcohol, composting bins, and a diverse crowd. The organizers do a great job.

        Cafe Gratitude is across from Flour + Water on Harrison; there's one in LA too and I think Santa Cruz and Oakland now. I love their main salad (I am fulfilled) and the Thai coconut soup, and the desserts. It helps to have a sense of humor. My reason to go isn't the raw vegan aspect, but that the food tastes good and is healthy. They seem to be backing away from raw as they expand.

        I go to Little Star on Valencia, which doesn't tend to have big lines, maybe because they're two blocks from Pauline's. But if you aren't pizza lovers, there are other options.

        -----
        Cafe Zitouna
        1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        Tanjia
        4905 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        1. re: timeo

          i've been to 3 burma superstars and the worst by far is the Temescal. sloppy food prep, muddled flavors, really super loud. Burmese Kitchen is far better, and i sent a family group (i was sick) to Mandalay and they all loved it. Lers Ros is excellent for Thai.

          Mission: Yes on Poc Chuc!
          also, Spork doesn't get a lot of respect here, but i think it's nice, not pricey, casual, different, good wines, great food, totally local kind of place. Also, Sycamore, a wine/beer bar with upscale bar food - sliders, salads, apps, etc. here's the menu: http://thesycamoresf.com/menu.php

          Your Saturday lunch: my opinion, you'll have plenty of deliciousness to graze on at the Ferry Bldg Farmers' Market without spending too much money on not the best Vietnamese food around (Slanted Door.)

          Champa: liked it, did not love it.

          If you're going to Oakland for dinner, Pizzaiolo has plenty of really really good food and a great cocktail program without ever even ordering a pizza. tho their pizzas are great.

          Enjoy!

          -----
          Pizzaiolo
          5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

          Spork
          1058 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Champa Restaurant
          3550 San Pablo Dam Rd Ste H, El Sobrante, CA 94803

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

          1. re: mariacarmen

            Polite disagreement on Spork being "not pricey," as we paid for what should have been a filing meal, but my boyfriend and I were totally hungry afterward. I had a $10 salad, followed by $22 scallops with a meager portion of rice underneath. And it was deafeningly loud, too, even though we were seated at the most secluded table in the room. There're lots of much better options in the Mission, IMHO. I'd choose Local Mission Eatery over Spork any day if you're looking for upscale-ish food in the neighborhood.

            -----
            Spork
            1058 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

            1. re: operagirl

              I love Local Mission too, although I always go for lunch. Plus it's fun to read the El Builli bible or Meat Paper while you wait.

              What do you recommend on the dinner menu?

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

              1. re: Windy

                Last time I was there, we started with some rosemary almonds, which were delicious and generously portioned too -- I think there was about a quarter-pound of almonds on the dish. Olive oil/sea salt/rosemary goodness.

                The dinner menu looks completely different from my previous visit about two months ago, so I'm not sure what to recommend! They're really good with fish preparations, for what it's worth. And the waitress who served us matched the wines to our dishes very well.

                1. re: operagirl

                  Thanks! Will have to check it out.

                  We had a great fresh plum rhubarb soda, salad with arugula, almonds, blue cheese, and peaches, and the chicken sandwich with peaches and tarragon last week.

                  1. re: Windy

                    Plum rhubarb soda sounds heavenly!

                    1. re: Windy

                      that sandwich sounds amazing. you guys are both making me want to run right out. maybe next payday. (not that it's pricey, it's just the end of the month!)

                      1. re: mariacarmen

                        Lunch is pretty reasonable. Sandwiches are $9, but they're huge. The poached egg on brioche is always great too.

                2. re: operagirl

                  really? i've never left hungry, and i don't think of Spork as expensive as Foreign Cinema or Aziza, tho i haven't been in a few months. and I do really like Spork, i love their food. But i've still not been to Local Mission Eatery and I'm dying to try it. (OG, i didn't know you were in the nabe!)

                  -----
                  Spork
                  1058 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  Foreign Cinema
                  2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Yeah, we probably ordered wrong -- it's hard to do the whole "comfort food" thing on a gluten-free diet. I imagine the much more reasonably priced burgers and such are less meagerly portioned!

                    Just moved to the Mish (groan) a few months ago, and I'm loving it here.

                    1. re: operagirl

                      the "Mish" - love it! and welcome!

          2. Take a drive up to marshall on tomales bay.
            Bring wine eat oysters.
            I know, its not SF proper, but when my host took me up there, it was more memorable than what I ate in town.

            1 Reply
            1. re: AdamD

              Alas, oyster allergies. :( Do they have non-oyster options? I gather that that would defeat the purpose of the visit though.

            2. "As she is from Toronto and will be travelling via Peru beforehand, she's not interested in eating any East Asian, South Asian, or Peruvian while she's here."

              Am I missing something here, the above is mentioned but Slanted Door, Lers Ros Thai, Burmese Kitchen, Grand Century Shopping mall in San Jose (basically Vietnamese), Burma Superstar and Thai House Express are mentioned. These are Southeast Asian...but that's cutting it close if you ask me.

              Any way, I'd go to Tommy's Joynt or an American greasy spoon-ish place.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ML8000

                Yeah, I'm not exactly quite sure what you mean by that either. In my mind, South Asian, Southeast Asian and East Asian are very distinct silos of culinary techniques, traditions and flavours. While Southeast Asian definitely borrows aspects of the two other culinary megagroups, I feel that it's generally strong enough to stand on its own without having to invoke its neighbours' cuisines each time I eat it. Also, Southeast Asian is simply just one of those culinary megagroups that are generally done better here than in Toronto. No biggie.

                Anyways, Tommy's Joynt! I forgot all about that place. Will have to add that to the list thanks.

                -----
                Tommy's Joynt
                1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

              2. Burmese Kitchen is closed Sundays.

                1. I think that since you've got so much SE Asian on your list, I'd forgo the Vietnamese at Grand Century Mall, and stop at Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing on the way to Big Sur.

                  1. I do not know Poc Chuc, but I can vouch for Helmand Palace as one of my very favorite values in the city, and, frankly, an outright star even leaving price aside. Another restaurant I feel that way about is Troya, which is Turkish. (Troya is in the Richmond District.)

                    -----
                    Helmand Palace
                    2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

                    Troya
                    349 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

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