HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Suggestions or restaurants to avoid?

  • 72
  • Share

Hello,

My girlfriend and I are coming to SF at the beginning of December and have found quite a few restaurants that we would like to go to, but are unsure about whether there are better ones that we could go to instead. So far we have chosen:

Delfina
Crepevine
Kappou Gomi
John's Grill
Mama's
Bix
Acquerello
A16

The only restaurant we are dead-set on is John's Grill (my english professor is a detective noir fanatic and offered me extra credit for going there). Any restaurants we should avoid going to would also be helpful:)...

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

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

Bix
56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

Acquerello Restaurant
1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

John's Grill
63 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Kappou Gomi
5524 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. I'd skip anything you can get at home or get better. I'd probably skip Crepevine (unless you're a really big crepe fan), Kappou Gomi and Mama's (unless there's a reason the last two). None are bad but you have to start cutting somewhere.

    -----
    Kappou Gomi
    5524 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

    11 Replies
    1. re: ML8000

      While I would definately skip a chain like Crepevine, Mama's has one of the best breakfasts in San Francisco. It is best to go at opening due to there being a line ... and there is a good reason for that line. The baked goods are great, the home made ollieberry jam is the best of that berry I've had anywhere. I can't think of a bad egg dish I've had in all the years I've been there. Also, when I lived in SF, their quiche was often the dish I bought to many pot lucks at work ... and was always universally praised and gobbled up.

      Anyway, if you are here on a Saturday morning, go to the Ferry Plaza farmers market.

      1. re: rworange

        I don't disagree. My point is more about limited slots for eating. If you're a big breakfast fan, I'd go but if you can get something similar at home, I'd avoid it. As usual, tough call not knowing details like where they're front, expectations and must do likes. Any way, if they're not from California, I'd definitely go to FB FM just to look at the produce, and of course eat.

        1. re: ML8000

          According to the profile, the poster is from Wisconsin.

          Well, invite me over to your house for breakfast then. I expect home made Kugelhopf, Dungeness eggs benedict or cranberry orange walnut French toast.
          http://www.mamas-sf.com/breakfast.html

          At one time they did an Italian benedict on top of Linguria's focaccia. They occasionally have i as a special and I recommend it.

          I dunno, I think starting the day in the heart of North Beach, peeking in the foccacia place at accross the street, watching the Chinese people and Chinese wanna be's doing tai chi in the park and then strolling thru the neighborhood or hiking up to Coit Tower pretty special.

          1. re: rworange

            If they're from Wisc...then sure. I saw a post in Manhattan and figured they were from there.

            p.s. I'd serve carmelized figs (or pistachios and bananas) over French toast and straight crab cakes...and maybe a hang town fry.

            p.p.s. I'd put Kappou Gomi back on the list.

            1. re: ML8000

              I'd second the suggestion twice as much if the OP is actually from Manhattan. Mama's is a classic, that really captures the Bay Area spirit. Don't forget, they have some lunch items as well, like the burger.

            2. re: rworange

              @rworange...i lived in San Francisco in 74-75 and for most of the 80s and any time i visit, I go very early to walk around North Beach, so early that no tourist is likely there with me...an espresso at Cafe Trieste, dim sum at Gold Mtn...and im a happy camper!

              -----
              Cafe Trieste
              199 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105

        2. re: ML8000

          We just found Crepevine as place by Golden Gate Park that had served breakfast so if there is something better for breakfast in the area let me know...

          1. re: Lajo0806

            I'd look into Park Chow since it's close to the museums at 9th/Irving.

            -----
            Park Chow
            1238 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

            1. re: Lajo0806

              The Pork Store in the heart of the Haight (near GGP) would be a good choice for breakfast.

              Delfina and A16 are fairly similar, with Delfina getting the nod for me. I would switch one of them out for Aziza, or Range, or Nopa, or La Ciccia, or...

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

              A16
              2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

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

              Nopa
              560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

              Pork Store Cafe
              1451 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

              1. re: Lajo0806

                o yeah, if youre in the Haight somewhere go to Pork Store, early before the tourists awaken!

                -----
                Pork Store Cafe
                1451 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                1. re: lapizzamaven

                  La Ciccia has some wonderful food but it is the noisiet venue I've ever been to. Maybe the vortex of noise concentrates just in the front of the restaurant near the windows, just so you don't mind the loud roar during the meal.

                  I wish the Patron would make some adjustments to the accoustics. Had I known how uncomfortable it was I wouldn't have tried it.

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

            2. Personally, I would stop in at John's Grill for a cocktail, but I wouldn't waste a meal there... Much better food to be had in the city. The steaks are mediocre and the pasta less so.

              Like ML8000 said, unless you are HUGE crepe fans, Crepevine is just a mediocre chain. But I disagree on Kappou Gomi which I adore.

              -----
              John's Grill
              63 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

              Kappou Gomi
              5524 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

              1. Second on just getting a drink at the bar at John's Grill.

                There are probably better places for crepes than Crepevine. Too bad Ti Couz closed.

                Otherwise a solid list.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Is Butler and the Chef still open? They make good crepes.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Yes, they're still around, and still serving buckwheat crepes, but their quiches are such a star, I don't know if many people order them.

                2. John's Grill may be one of the worst restaurants in the city, while Acquerello may be one of the best.

                  -----
                  John's Grill
                  63 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                  1. Any good dinner spots near SFMOMA?...we were planning on just stopping for dinner at John's Grill on our way back to our hotel, but with the advice against it we will just have a quick lunch (we're still too young for cocktails)....Our hotel is across the street from Masa's, but I think it is out of our price range...

                    -----
                    John's Grill
                    63 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                    Masa's Restaurant
                    648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Lajo0806

                      Prospect is really solid and not too far. It's a couple of stops on muni. I'm surprised you say Masa is out of your price range when you have Acquerello on there. My one experience at Acquerello wasn't so hot. It felt like the food lacked passion and was just kind of blah. The wine list however is ridiculous and their decanters are amazing. That said, I try not to judge a place based on a single encounter. I know a number of people who swear by Acquerello, but there are just so many fantastic places with better bang for the buck in this city that I've not been back.

                      -----
                      Acquerello Restaurant
                      1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                      Masa's Restaurant
                      648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                      1. re: weshoke

                        I had meant that going to both Acquerello and Masa's was out of our price range:)...We just like Italian more than French...

                        -----
                        Acquerello Restaurant
                        1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                        Masa's Restaurant
                        648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                      2. re: Lajo0806

                        There's really no reason to waste a meal at John's Grill. It's a tourist trap. If their reputation depended on the food or service they'd have closed long ago.

                      3. Regarding Crepevine, it really doesn't belong on a visitors list - but the particular location you're looking into near GG Park isn't bad. It's not a first choice destination though.

                        Art's is a lunch counter nearby that specializes in breakfast.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Art's is a loveable dump. it's the goofy Labrador of a diner. perfect in it's own idiosynchratic way. a destination? not a chance. would I go again? in a minute.

                          1. re: hill food

                            I didn't mean to imply Art's was a destination in any way, it's just a better alternative to Crepevine. I do like Art's hash brown's formed in a giant pancake, and the ridiculous layer of cinnamon on the french toast works better than it should.

                            I second the Howard's suggestion. Irving Street Cafe up the block is another diner option.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              love those hash browns, I was just clarifying for the OP, if in the neighborhood anyway it's a "sounds good" sort of place

                          2. re: sugartoof

                            I prefer Howard's for greasy spoon dive breakfasts in that area. They also have tables...and its' stuck in the 70s.

                          3. Check out the choice of places for possible al fresco dining at Belden Place down Bush from your hotel. Fun place if the weather is right. Check out Burritt Street as you pass.

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

                            -----
                            Belden Place
                            44 Belden Pl, San Francisco, CA 94104

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: wolfe

                              second Belden Alley, cheap, casual and fun (esp if the weather cooperates) maybe not amazing but an extremely relaxed and congenial spirit to the place with a choice (yet largely owned by the same folks)..

                              1. re: hill food

                                B44, Bastille, Plouf, and Trademark have some common owners, as do Belden Taverna, Brindisi, and Tiramisu. Sam's is independently owned.

                                -----
                                B44
                                44 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                                Plouf
                                40 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                                Belden Taverna
                                52 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                                Brindisi
                                88 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  thanks for the clarification I knew there was some cross-pollination going on there, and I should amend my comment about cheap, it's not, but in other major cities you'd pay a lot more for comparable dining. DC and NYC would easily be half again more (and maybe not as good) so it's more of a value statement.

                            2. Delfina -- very nice. Northern style Italian. But I much prefer La Ciccia, which prepares Sardinian (NOTE EDIT: originally I wrote sicilian.)

                              Also, if you are near the park, I am liking "Villa Romana" these days (near Iriving and 9th). They are my current favorite for chicken parmigiana, and they have a full bar. Not a foodie destination like Delfina or La Ciccia, but if it's local to you, it might serve you for a quieter night...

                              Crepevine. -- Eew. They do have a thai chicken salad I used to get during a time when I was severely limiting my budget. But if you want crepes, go to the little stand called "Crepes a go go" at 350 11th (between folsom & harrison). It's a night-time thing but genuine french and fantastic. If it's all about breakfast, I got nothin. Not my meal.

                              Kappou Gomi -- yes yes yes. But they do not take reservations. If that's important, consider Izakaya Sozai or even Chotto (though the latter is in the marina, I'd only go on a weeknight).

                              Bix -- have not been in a loooong time but I love it.

                              Acquarello - great choice for your high-end meal if you prefer italian

                              A16 -- solid choice. Get the meatballs if available.

                              Near SF Moma is Ame -- which is very nice and very uniquely SF. But it's a pricier option. Also near SF is Le Charm which is a wonderful cozy french place, more bistro-like than high french; also not pricey like Ame. Avoid Lulu, which is popular for reasons I don't understand. Then, since you really do seem to have a penchant for Italian, you might consider Kuleto's in Union Square. Not fantastic, but my favorite Italian in the Union Square area, not too far from SFMoma.

                              You might also want to throw in something moroccan. Aziza is fantastic. I have not been, but am looking to try Aicha or Ajine. And El Mansour is a traditional sit-on-cushions-with-belly-dancers-and-set-meal type place. Food's not as fine as Aziza, but it's a fun evening, and 'good' moroccan food to me is preferable to 'great' of some other cuisines...

                              20 Replies
                              1. re: pauliface

                                uh. La Ciccia is Sardinian not Sicilian, but yes it's fantastic. Highly recommended!!

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

                                1. re: weshoke

                                  Ack! You are correct. Sardinian. Edited above to correct. Thanks, and sorry.

                                  1. re: weshoke

                                    If you *really* love Italian, I would put La Ciccia way high up on your list.

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

                                  2. re: pauliface

                                    Delfina's not particularly northern-style. It's Cal-Italian with dishes from or inspired by regions all over Italy and occasionally elsewhere.

                                    http://delfinasf.com/menu.html

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

                                    1. re: pauliface

                                      Never had Moroccan food before (don't know of any restaurants in Madison, or the state for that matter.) I have had Turkish food before and I enjoy that though so maybe we will check it out.

                                      1. re: Lajo0806

                                        I'd encourage you to sample the real thing in that case, rather than the California "fine food" version. The Bay Area is blessed with some places that make a very good Basteeya, which is a flakey filo like filled pie that a lot of Moroccan places in other regions don't offer.

                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                          Lajo, Aziza would be our 'fine food' version, and sugartoof makes a good point. You jmight want to seek out our best local traditional moroccan. And I'll be the first to say that while Aziza is a great restaurant, it's more expensive than traditional places, and their traditional dishes are not their strong point (b'stilla and couscous both slightly lacking IMO).

                                          But El Mansour is the only traditional one that I know well which is still around (oh Dar Tunis, come back!). I'd recommend it wholeheartedly, because the place is fun and the food is good.

                                          But there are a spate of newer places I have not tried.
                                          Sugartoof, who gets your vote?

                                          -----
                                          El Mansour
                                          3119 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                          1. re: pauliface

                                            I'm don't really have an alternative recommendation for Moroccan that's current.
                                            Maybe Tajine?

                                            I'm still of the opinion that a spoonful of an eggplant spread and the other delicate portions are a mockery, and that using a free range duck while in California, doesn't count for much. The majority of the menu is really more so "inspired by" than actual Moroccan food, and I don't believe it deserves that Michelin star, or that the food deserves to be one of the most suggested restaurants by SF Chowhounders.

                                            That said, it's popular, and visitors seem to like it. I've always enjoyed reading their ingredient lists, and the granola is an excellent touch too. The cocktails are also underrated, but not all of them really belong at Aziza. It's a funny place.

                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                              Aziza used to be more Moroccan than "inspired by" and its portions weren't just artistic smears on a plate. Haven't been back since that time I ordered the spreads and got a painting instead...

                                          2. re: sugartoof

                                            Yes, but that is the point of being in California ... trying food you can't get anywhere else.

                                            There are probably a zillion Morrocan restaurants in the country, most offering the same thing.

                                            But where else can you get organic, free-range duck confit basteeya?

                                            Would Aziza be the only Michelin starred Moroccan restaurant in the US?

                                            Another good point .. there's no damn belly dancer.

                                            Don't forget the creative cocktails such as

                                            - espresso, nutmeg, cream, brandy

                                            - fig moscato d'asti

                                            - blueberry, vanilla, rose, vodka

                                            - preserved white mulberry, butterscotch, allspice, pisco

                                            Here's the current menu

                                            http://www.aziza-sf.com/food.html

                                            Hmmm ... I just might finally try sweetbreads because the prep sounds interesting ...sweetbreads bone marrow, winter squash, pumpkin seed, nasturtium

                                            But ... what the heck is a himalayan truffle that is in the scallop dish? Oh, wait ... Google is my friend.
                                            http://allthingsnice.typepad.com/tast...

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              I agree with both rworange and sugartoof.
                                              I love both El Mansour and Aziza. I go to both of them repeatedly.
                                              But they are different things...

                                              Aziza is more refined and less traditional.
                                              El Mansour is fun, not as refined, technically just not as good, but it fulfills the craving for certain more traditional flavors that Aziza does not satisfy.

                                              Aziza has a full bar with some of my favorite creative cocktails in the city. But they don't serve any Moroccan wines. El Mansour has some lovely Moroccan red wines. They're, again, not super refined wines, but they are well priced, delicious, and go well with the food.

                                              Aziza has tables, chairs, cutlery, and well-dressed, ever-so-slightly-snooty service. At El Mansour, you sit on cushions or sofas. You eat with your hands. The servers all look like they are in comfy pajamas. They do a little hand-washing ceremony at the beginning. There are belly dancers. And at least twice during your evening, you will hear them play a silly moroccan version of 'happy birthday' for a group celebrating a birthday, and there will be sparklers and clapping and the whole staff singing.

                                              I love both.

                                              -----
                                              El Mansour
                                              3119 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                        2. re: pauliface

                                          Aicha's good and cheap. I'm not really into the theatrical aspects of El Mansour.

                                          But there are Moroccan restaurants all over the US. There are other cuisines that are harder to fine, such as Burmese and Yucatecan.

                                          The owner of Bunky's Cafe in Madison is Moroccan, he could probably make Moroccan dishes on request.

                                          -----
                                          Aicha
                                          1303 Polk St, San Francisco, CA

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Ok, I'm officially impressed by the Bunky's info. Heck, I'd be impressed with that info in the SF Bay Area.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              The SF Bay Area is rich with North African restauranteurs.

                                              I even recall Aziza had the belly dancer when they first started.

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                Yeah, then they decided to focus on the food and not the gimmick

                                                1. re: rworange

                                                  Okay, but the trio of spreads are still on the menu and served in a gimmicky fashion as if it were foam.

                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                    Aziza and the spreads are not to your taste, but it would be a shame should the OP decide to go that she would avoid it. It is the one item that almost everyone universally loves.

                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                      Aziza is pretty expensive, and for a young couple who can't drink and can go to only one nice dinner, Aziza probably would not be the place that I'd send them.

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        The taste is fine. They're okay versions. Nothing standout, or particularly special aside from the pretentious presentation, and tiny portions. We're talking about a really common dish, so to me this exposes Aziza's limitations, if not outright lack of respect for the cuisine, and their patrons.

                                                  2. re: sugartoof

                                                    Yeah, the first time I went to Aziza we walked out because they were blasting the belly-dancing music so loud. That's years ago now.

                                            2. Thank-you all for your suggestions...We have decided on (in order):

                                              Delphina
                                              Arts (I actually like cafeteria style breakfast)
                                              Kappou Gomi or Aziza
                                              Acquerello
                                              Mamas
                                              A16
                                              Bix
                                              A cooking lesson in Sausalito
                                              Wherever my cousin wants to go for dinner

                                              The only thing I am worried about is the attire for Acquerello. I'm not that well educated on the stylings of mens formal wear. I do have a suit, but it's not really dinner wear, more 3-button funeralesque. My GF will we wearing a bright, summery dress with a black overcoat. Any suggestions as to what I should wear?

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

                                              Bix
                                              56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                                              Acquerello Restaurant
                                              1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                              Kappou Gomi
                                              5524 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: Lajo0806

                                                A solid color shirt, blazer/sports coat and slacks will do. You don't need a suit. Especially if it is black (funeralesque) :-)

                                                1. re: Lajo0806

                                                  Lots of San Franciscans never dress up to the level of jacket or tie. To places like Acquerello I wear a nice sweater and a shirt with a collar and am rarely the worst-dressed person in the room.

                                                  -----
                                                  Acquerello Restaurant
                                                  1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                  1. re: Lajo0806

                                                    "Arts (I actually like cafeteria style breakfast)"

                                                    It's definitely a lunch counter, and diner food, rather than plastic trays and a steam table, but it sounds like you get that. Just wanted to clarify. It's fun for what it is.

                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                      Yeah, like a short-order flat grill type thing...It's essentially what they have in the cafeteria where I work:)...

                                                    2. re: Lajo0806

                                                      This guy I know who has eaten at pretty much every high-end restaurant in SF always wears jeans, sneakers, a T-shirt, and a hoodie. He said the only place that has turned him away so far was Fleur de Lys.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Probably makes him feel good to get the attention of people who went to a "fancy" restaurant dressed up. Nothing makes my meal like seating next to a gangsta wannabee or Phil Laak.

                                                    3. This is my suit as seen on International Suit Up Day...

                                                      p.s. I am not attempting telepathy, my girlfriend snapped the shot while I had an itch....

                                                       
                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: Lajo0806

                                                        Not to worry although I have seen that suit before.
                                                        http://www.paintinghere.com/UploadPic...

                                                        1. re: wolfe

                                                          oh be nice, his jacket looks better tailored. although flared trousers would make a nice anti-trend statement.

                                                          nicer 'business casual' is usually fine, although you may feel out of place.

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            Hey that's a compliment from me. I still have some jackets in my closet that I had made in Hong Kong in 1966, 3 years before that album came out. They are a little tight but I love them.

                                                            1. re: wolfe

                                                              HK 1966 tailoring? wow I bet they ARE good. if you ever want to pass them on I'd snap them up in a second.

                                                        2. re: Lajo0806

                                                          You will be better dressed than most people there. SF is not a suit sort of town. Real formal wear is rare, reserved for gala openings, the black and white ball, etc. Enjoy the food. You don't have to worry about the suit.

                                                          1. re: Lajo0806

                                                            Remove the jacket and the tie and you will be ready to go. Button down shirt and slacks will work.

                                                            1. re: Scott M

                                                              as others have posted, a shirt with a collar is usu enough, I posted the 'out of place' comment too early, I meant it as 'less than nice business casual may be out of place' or 'more than that in some places might do the same'

                                                              but then again it's SF, just don't scare the children or need to bring a towel to sit on.

                                                              dress up if you like, but don't feel you have to (just be stylish not stuffy)
                                                              .

                                                            2. re: Lajo0806

                                                              keep the bottom button unbuttoned ;-)

                                                              1. re: drewskiSF

                                                                drew - if that needs to be said, the game is already lost.

                                                            3. Sweet, I'll stick to my tie and vest...It might be weird, but I actually like wearing a tie:)..

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Lajo0806

                                                                Then by all means wear one! Have the meatballs at A16 :-)

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

                                                                1. re: Lajo0806

                                                                  For the record, I like the suit. If you feel like wearing it, Acquarello's a good place for it, though it's definitely not necessary.

                                                                  1. re: pauliface

                                                                    Also, SF is cold in December so a jacket might not be a bad idea. It's no Wisconsin, but not all California is sunny. Local sport is watching the shivering tourists in shorts. At least bring a warm sweater.