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4 nights in SF. How do our reservations sound?

Canteen, Chez Panisse Restaurant, Greens, Betelnut.

Wish we could fit in an Italian or a Mexican. We're pretty fixed on Chez Panisse for nostalgia's sake and Greens because it looks like a beautiful view and we only have one local gourmet vegetarian restaurant in Philly. I was at Betelnut once for drinks and snacks at the bar and thought it was interesting. Plus, we get to explore another non-touristy neighborhood. So, Canteen, while really intersting, could be negotiable. Thoughts? Suggestions for Mex or Italian or anything else not to be missed.

Been to Michael Minna in other cities, Farallon (totally overated imo), Slanted Door (snacks only), Chez Panisse Cafe, Tartine Bakery and Quince when it was still in Pacific Heights. I would rather try places we've never been to. I'd love to try Mission Chinese, but we'd prefer places that offer reservations.

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Slanted Door
Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Farallon
450 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

Betelnut
2030 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

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  1. If you're interested in the view, why not go to Greens for lunch/brunch and do Italian for dinner? Perbacco or La Ciccia would be my suggestions.

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

    Perbacco
    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    4 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Thanks Ruth. Took your advice. Perbacco's menu looks amazing. Could only get a Monday night, so had to switch a couple around. We're going to Greens for Sunday brunch.

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      Perbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      1. re: middleagedfoodie

        Sounds like a good plan!

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I agree with Ruth re: Perbacco, and glad you are taking her suggestion. All things (including the very reasonable prices and astoundingly good wine list) considered, it is my favorite restaurant in SF.

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          Perbacco
          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

        2. re: middleagedfoodie

          That change increases your chances of seeing the Golden Gate Bridge from Greens.
          http://www.whatwereeating.com/food-ph...

      2. Betelnut is the only thing i'd remove from your list. maybe you lucked out on the bar snacks,but the food there is really sub-par. I think if you want to add some Asian to your trip you should try Lers Ros for Thai, Bodega Bistro, for Vietnamese, or Burmese Kitchen for, well, you know.

        i agree with you about Farallon.

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        Bodega Bistro
        607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        25 Replies
        1. re: mariacarmen

          i'd suggest you consider these places:

          la mar (peruvean)
          yank sing (asian)
          una pizza or farina (italian)
          mamacita (mexican)

          all are interesting / ethnic, and are "nice" and take reservations (except una pizza for reservations).

          food at betelnut is definitely sub-par, but a lot of people would say the same thing about greens and chez panisse. betelnut is a nice place to sit outside and people-watch on union street. i'd suggest an order of “shui jiao” and some drinks on the terrace, then perhaps somewhere else for dinner. lers ros has great food, but is not a "nice" place, and is in a really crappy part of town. (unless you really like homeless people and strip clubs, of course.)

          if you want nice view / setting and good food, i'd suggest la mar (i love their causas.)

          for mexican with a nice setting, i like the shrimp mole enchiladas at chilayo, and the fish tacos and chilaquiles at mijita. if you don't need a "nice" setting, i'd suggest La Oaxaqueña in the mission. probably the "nicest" mexican restaurant in the city is mamacita -- you might like that place.

          i also like una pizza or farina for italian over perbacco, but that's just me. (those also happen to be my two favorite places to eat vegetarian in the city.) but both are expensive for what they are.

          for asian, you might also consider yank sing.

          i'd suggest manresa over chez panisse, but it is far away and has no nostalgia for you.

          1. re: Dustin_E

            Lers Ros isn't a fancy place, but it's nicer than your average Thai restaurant and by no means a hole in the wall. There are a lot of trendy bars and restaurants in the immediate area and on weekends the streets are pretty hopping with scenesters.

            Yank Sing is dim sum and lunch only. Tips:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7321...

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Agree, Lers Ros is very "nice" - and the surrounding area is not that bad. it's not as bad as parts of the Tenderloin.

              1. re: mariacarmen

                isn't lers ros right in the heart of the tenderloin? i will say lers ros has great service (thai hospitality.)

                1. re: Dustin_E

                  oh sorry, i meant to say OTHER parts of the Tenderloin.

                  1. re: Dustin_E

                    Yes, but it's on Larkin, and that stretch of Larkin from Geary down to Market is definitely less sketchy than other parts of the 'loin. There's tons of restaurants around, interesting bars and people milling about.

                    1. re: timeo

                      The stretch of Larkin from Geary to Eddy is a pretty happening stretch: Thai House Express, Bang San, Lers Ros, Quickly, Olive, Vietnam Too, Pagolac, Turtle Tower, Bodega Bistro, Mangosteen, Chambers. From there to Market there's not much happening at night.

            2. re: mariacarmen

              I'm with Maria on Betelnut; incredibly mediocre with more style to its interior than substance to its menu (quite sub-par, actually).

              Adding Burmese is a great suggestion and you could do Burma Superstar and explore another non-touristy and interesting neighborhood.

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

              Betelnut
              2030 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                lers ros and burma superstar are great suggestions if the OP doesn't mind taking a big step down a notch in terms of decor, service and ambiance.

                the food at betelnut is definitely no better than "mediocre", but union street is a fun place to people-watch, the decor is nice, and if the OP doesn't have tons of experience with asian food (which they probably don't if they've been to betelnut before, and thought it was interesting), they might really like it. i go occasionally for the location and setting even though there are many, many places in sf that serves better asian food. my (asian) girlfriend likes betelnut more than most of the asian-foodie destinations i drag her to.

                i guess i feel like a lot of these suggestions are much more divey than quince, greens, chez panisse, etc, so it would be helpful to know a bit more about what the OP is looking for.

                1. re: Dustin_E

                  The food at Mandalay is similar to and maybe better than that at Burma Superstar but it's a nicer space and not as crowded.

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

                  Mandalay Restaurant
                  4344 California St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                  1. re: Dustin_E

                    Yeah, it would matter what type of "walking around experience" the OP wants. To me, the Marina is not somewhere I'd take tourists to get a flavor of the City - it's too much like any other high-rent, homogenous, neighborhood in a big city. Just my opinion (but I get that while i personally never hang out in the Marina, that doesn't mean others won't like it).

                    And Lers Ros is very nice inside! As Robert said above, it's not fancy, or high end, but it's certainly not a dive. and neither is Burma Superstar. Even Burmese Kitchen isn't a dive, even tho it's in the dive-iest neighborhoods of the restaurants mentioned on this thread.

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

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      i'd characterize the marina as well-dressed good-looking mostly-white mostly-rich people walking around paying lots of money for decent-but-not-fantastic somewhat-ethnic-but-not-too-adventurous food. while not all in the marina, i think betelnut, greens, slanted door and mamacita all cater to this crowd. and i'm suggesting these places primarily because they are mentioned in the OP.

                      if i could suggest anywhere, i'd say ino, jai yun and manresa are the best in the bay area.

                      if i were suggesting interesting places on a budget without regard to location / ambiance, i'd say lers ros, burma superstar, la oaxaquena, judahlicious and koi palace would be great picks.

                      lots to choose from here in the bay area!

                      1. re: Dustin_E

                        bingo. that's exactly how i'd characterize the Marina, and it's not my bag, but may very well be the OP's!

                        1. re: mariacarmen

                          While it's a popular notion, I don't observe this stereotype of the Marina (my particular stereotype was that it was a popular neighborhood for single women). Perhaps it's a bit outdated. To be upfront, I'm probably including Cow Hollow in addition to the Marina as I tend to visit both Chestnut and Union in the same trip; is that unfair? Are people only discussing North of Lombard here?

                          Next question, are people describing the residents of the neighborhood or people who visit for shopping, dining and nightlife?

                          I know a handful or two (under 10) people who live or have lived in that part of town. About 50% of them where white.

                          My observation has been that the shopping streets are somewhat destinations. Same for the restaurants and nightlife.

                          I haven't experienced the nightlife in the area for a few years, but at that time, my observation was that many (most?) of the young people in the bars where from out of town (many from the East Bay). My observation was that the crowd was less white than in more trendy neighborhoods (such as the Mission). In particular, the bar/club crowd was more black.

                          1. re: jman1

                            There's nightlife in the Marina?

                            1. re: Windy

                              Well, not for me, and it's technically Cow Hollow. There's a cluster of spots on Fillmore just south of Lombard (and others in the general area). I'm not recommending them, but people go there (perhaps mostly B&T and young).

                            2. re: jman1

                              might be outdated, but seems to hold pretty well whenever i wander around down there. (i live up the hill a few blocks.)

                              i was referring to marina / cow hollow together, primarily residents.

                              i had forgotten about the young B&T contingent -- i usually try to avoid during those times.

                              1. re: jman1

                                We get plenty of the B&Ters here too... thanks especially to Medjool.

                                i've only known 5 people that live/lived in the Marina. but yeah, all were white.

                                I used to have to spend time there (worked nearby) and would sit and marvel at the lack of color (not to mention interesting food). it's been a good 10+ years, but has it really gotten that much more integrated? and i was forced (yes, forced! led under false pretenses, kidnapped! - to The Tipsy Pig for happy hour recently - and it really doesn't matter that it's mostly white - you're right, there's a lotta white in hipsterville too. it's just a rather overall bland feeling i get from the area - food, culture, socio-economic background, and yes color, etc. i just like a little more diversity and grunge.

                                -----
                                Medjool
                                2522 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                Tipsy Pig
                                2231 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                  I have more trouble with the Mission on Fri/Sat nights in recent years; something about young 20 somethings chundering in the streets. The scene makers have moved on, but the neighborhood lingers (just another chapter in the evolution of hip neighborhoods in the city).

                                  Paradoxically, there's arguably more interesting food these days; especially in the North Mission.

                                  I'm not so tuned in to race; and don't always know who's black, white or Asian. But, hipsters seem predominantly white; although there are a good number of East Asians.

                                  I'm much more tuned into ethnicity. Seems useful when tracking down interesting food (as ethnicity is often tied into culture which includes food). Plus, it can be an endless source of teasing, jokes and stereotypes.

                                  Anyway, I'm skeptical that the perceived lack of good food or nightlife in the Marina is due to a lack of racial diversity. For one thing, there are good places there. More likely, it's some other aspect of the demographics.

                                  My stereotypes include older people in certain sub-areas, B&T bar/club and shoppers on the weekend, recent grads (maybe ex-frat types) working in downtown financial/MBA jobs. Another stereotype is that the area appears to single women (which may lead to a glut of frozen yogurt places). ;-)

                                  (BTW, smiley, doubles as original meaning ... tongue in cheek.)

                                  1. re: jman1

                                    i'm trying hard not to make this sound snarky or argumentative, just trying to understand this: you "don't always know who's black, white or Asian"? are you saying because of the mix of ethnicities? or are you saying you're completely color/race blind? i don't believe anyone is really that..... do you?

                                    but really.... does anyone really think the Marina is as diverse - in any sense of the word - as any other part of the City? Or diverse, period?

                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                      The diversity of an area's residents is really off-topic for our site, unless it's a lot more closely linked to actual recommendations for food than this sub-thread is at this point. We'd ask that you either bring this back around to food recommendations, or let this sub-thread go. Thanks.

                                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                        i think the food in the marina appeals more to upscale mainstream american tastes -- regardless of what race/ethnicity harbors those tastes. i think the restaurants and neighborhood itself generally lacks grunge, and this means the food costs more for the same quality. "lack of grunge" i generally refer to as "nice".

                                        i think the marina is chalk-full of ex-frat financial/mba types (like me) who would rather pay three times as much for decent food at betelnut and mamacita than find great interesting authentic spots in chinatown or the mission. (unlike me.)

                                        anyway, the whole point of bringing any of this up, is that i think for tourists, there is a big difference between going to slanted door and betelnut, or going somewhere like lers ros or burma superstar. i think the latter unquestionably has much, much better and more interesting food for a better price. but sometimes "decent" is good enough, and you want to watch well-dressed good-looking people walk around, and when you are around "grunge" in an unfamiliar city, you are more worried you might get stabbed.

                                        1. re: Dustin_E

                                          hah! i prefer the chance, even in an unknown city, of getting stabbed if i can eat better, more interesting food!

                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                            Speaking as someone who HAS lived in the Marina, I think, overall, the area caters to younger people with money, but not lots of money: everyone I knew was a student with a trust fund or a young professional. Similarly, the restaurants cater to that crowd. The most expensive restaurant on the Chestnut strip is A16, which is not exceptionally expensive but is quite good. Crossing Lombard into Cow Hollow can get to some slightly more expensive places plus Crenn which, obviously, is in a different price range, but I think of Tacolicious (which is very good and well priced, by the way) as more the Marina "type" of restaurant. Yes, there is a post-frat night club / bar scene and no, the food, by-and-large is not exceptionally adventurous, but I think the food is almost uniformly tasty and well priced and unless you make the decision to live right in the heart of the action, I don't really see what the 28 year olds who believe they are 18 really has to do with anything. At least not food-related.

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

                                            Tacolicious
                                            2031 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                      2. re: CarrieWas218

                        I live close to Betelnut, in historic Golden Gate Valley--part of today's Cow Hollow nabe. Occasionally we find ourselves looking for a bite after a local meeting without having to bus or drive.

                        Betelnut on occasion has filled the bill deliciously, other times not well at all. I don't pretend to understand the fluctuation. We usually go late-ish; perhaps the head cooks are already gone by then.

                        Haven't been back for the fantastic suckling pig and sauteed greens because it's gone long before my usual dinner hour (comes out at 6 on Tuesdays and is gobbled up pretty fast).

                        In fairness, a friend from up north adored it and couldn't believe we lived so close to such an amazing place; made a special trip down to share it with family.

                        My problem, aside from above-mentioned inconsistency, is equal inconsistency with servers, who can be helpful and knowledgeable or surly. For instance, I've been assured "seabass" was local by one, Chilean by another.

                        We've lived for decades in SF and have eaten (and still regularly do eat) authentic versions of most available cuisines, but don't, as I said, always feel like making an excursion when a decent cocktail and often-flavorful food beckon nearby. So we generally end up there about 4-5 times a year.

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                        Betelnut
                        2030 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

                    2. I love Frascati on Hyde St on Russian Hill. Hyde St at night is a good neighborhood experience. Luella just down the street from Frascati is good also.
                      Greens for lunch is great, and a great view.

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                      Frascati Restaurant
                      1901 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

                      1. Wow. Thanks everyone for sharing your favorites. I think I will check out alternatives to Betelnut.

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                        Betelnut
                        2030 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: middleagedfoodie

                          Owner of Mundaka in Carmel (which we loved) suggested Bar Tartine, so although totally different, will replace Betelnut.

                          -----
                          Betelnut
                          2030 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

                          Bar Tartine
                          561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                          1. re: middleagedfoodie

                            Instead of Betelnut maybe try one of the many Izakayas in town? Several newer ones have opened up (see this thread):
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/792552

                            I have only tried CHotto, and would recommend it...

                            -----
                            Betelnut
                            2030 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

                            Izakaya Restaurant
                            1335 N 1st St, San Jose, CA 95112