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Bourdain in San Francisco for Layovers

Anyone else catch this episode? Tony is super smashed. I feel sorry for San Francisco. They got short shrift from Bourdain.

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  1. Good grief, my liver hurt just watching Bourdain in SF. How he slogs through filming after drinking so much is amazing. Or terrifying.

    1. Oh I lived there for 10 years, that is the way to careen (swerve?) around town - Days of Wine and Roses all the way. Mr. Bing's? - I laughed out loud when they went there. Li Po? the crew must have shushed the dice players for a while as it's usually deafening. Lord love a dump.

      SF is best seen half in the bag - Thin Man anyone? btw that house does not exist. of course if one is trying hard to stay sober SF still has plenty to divert - I would like to die at Swan's over a parfait glass of prawn cocktail if I have a say in that matter, although not if I have to stand in line. (but then I know when to show up)

      1 Reply
      1. re: hill food

        As Carmen McCrae most appropriately sang it, "I'm Always Drunk in San Francisco." Ah yes!

      2. Saw it.
        Surprised AB didn't spend much time at Cosentino's establishments...just a gloss-over.

        Is Comstock's worth it or are there much better classic cocktail bars to consider?

        14 Replies
        1. re: isadorasmama

          I can't believe how trashed he was. It was hilarious. Definitely made me miss San Francisco, I'll have to go back soon!

          1. re: lawgirl3278

            Honestly, that is about the most trashed Tony actually seemed on camera ever - including his trips with Zamere!
            That was ALOT of drinking in SFO. But, I must say, I want to go to the tiki bar next time I am in town, as well as Swan's!

            Loved the gal at the pop-up, who shut Tony up when she asked him about why he wrote his book:) Nice moment.

            1. re: gingershelley

              I stayed at the Fairmont this past summer. Didn't even know the Tiki bar was there. I remember seeing the Tonga Room on the map just behind the hotel. Too bad I missed it, and Swans, OMG that would have been the place to go. Boy did I miss the boat.

          2. re: isadorasmama

            Regarding cocktail bars, he briefly mentioned The Alembic -- considered to be one of the best bars in the nation. Others in SF that come to mind: Bar Agricole, Absinthe, Smuggler's Cove. Probably many others aside from those famous ones.

            @SarahInMinneapolis: Couldn't disagree more about the "short shrift" comment. I think the show did justice to the city, and really made me want to visit (which I will be doing, next month, coincidentally). Then again, I like to drink :-)

            1. re: davis_sq_pro

              I know you and I have similar interests so I'm glad you responded to this.

              I had been thinking Absinthe or Bar Agricole -- not sure Smuggler's Cove would be ideal since I'm not a huge rum fan. I like it, ok, but not love.
              Have you been to any of these?

              I'm heading there in umpteen days but won't be there for long. Trying to figure out what's a must do. I'll be with friends who live there so I'm sure they'll help guide, too.

              1. re: isadorasmama

                Have I been to any? Unfortunately, no. I last visited SF long ago. Next month I plan to visit all of them ... plus maybe the tiki bar featured on the show. That looked like a great place to kill an hour or three...

                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  Same....it's been a while for me, too, which is why it's fertile ground.

                  The Tiki Bar he went to looked awesome, but I'd probably wind up having the hangover from hell if I spent an hour or three there.

                  1. re: isadorasmama

                    the Tonga Room in the basement of the Fairmont is easiest entered from the California street side (almost Powell) but expect drinks to run in the $12-20 range (foggy guesstimate) 15 minutes or so and you've done a rain cycle, 30 and a band set. it does need to be seen.

                    for cheap seats you can get lit and check out the produce section of the Safeway at Market and Church

                    or hit Trad'r Sam's out on Geary (if they're still around)

                    1. re: hill food

                      coda - ride the Fairmont's glass elevator up to the top of the 60's backlot tower entered on Powell (you're supposed to be a paying customer of the penthouse lounge, but, what are they going to do, send you back down? the ride was all you wanted anyway). the vertigo is intense. at first it's just 4-5 story townhouses across the street and then it soars above downtown (from a starting base of about 200-ish feet above sea level). cheap fun. do it before getting tipsy. I've seen people's knees buckle.

                2. re: isadorasmama

                  Been to Absinthe quite a bit, as it's just a couple blocks from my alma mater. Amazing cocktails. I'm a sucker for their martinis and singapore slings. The bar snacks are tasty too -- try the fried chickpeas if you're feeling peckish :-)

                3. re: davis_sq_pro

                  I agree! This was a a refreshing change for me after Amsterdam and Montreal. Tony started off with a .little bounce in his step as he appeared to really want to be there, which was a refreshing change from his last two shows of this series

                  The fact he seemed to get more than a little sloshed didn't take away from my enjoyment of the show. It made me feel that he was real comfortable there and made me come to realize I haven't been there in far too long.

                  1. re: gilbertdoubleg

                    Couldn't agree with a post more. Tony seemed to be bored and more than a little jaded in Amsterdam and Montreal and I was beginning to think that maybe he had hit the wall with this kind of show.

                    Good to see him with a spring in his step again - even if it is ETOH fueled.

                4. re: isadorasmama

                  Bourdain gave a full meal segment to Cosentino's place in his other show, No Reservations.

                  1. re: isadorasmama

                    Had a drink with family last week at Comstock before dinner at The House and thought was a very, very pleasant place with good drinks.

                  2. Bourdain normally drinks and is regularly drunk on his shows, but this is by far the most obviously drunk ive seen him for the largest proportion of the show. embarrassing.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: mattstolz

                      I've mentioned before that I thought AB curbed his smoking and drinking quite a bit when his child was born, but the drinking seems to be escalating.
                      From the comments here, SF is a drinking town and of course a good time should be had, but let me tell you, it's as amazing as it is sad to see a man his age focusing on alcohol so much. At some point, it just ain't worth it!
                      But then, that's his job to maintain his brand.
                      (I thought the "pop up" chef looked positively embarrassed in the hamburger joint)

                      1. re: monavano

                        I thought it was an okay episode. I liked that they went to Toronado (although I didn't appreciate the Grateful Dead slam). I also liked that one person stuck up a little for Fisherman's Wharf. I think tourists and tourism tends to get a lot of criticism, especially from those benefitting from the tourist trade, when to me it's just people visiting a place. You don't always have an "in-the-know" guide to take you around to the secret "locals only" spots so sometimes guidebooks can come in handy and sometimes you can even have a good time and excellent culinary experiences following guide book recommendations.

                        1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                          The first time DH and I went to SF, we were taken to one of the places at Fisherman's Wharf for crab by a SF native who *loved* when people came from out of town just so he could go visit one of his favorite places.
                          It was also the only place I've been where you can walk down the street buck naked and someone will hit you up for spare change ;-)

                          1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                            hey cb'n'p - Toronado is lower Haight. those 7 blocks make a big difference. (sorry - ex Haight and Peirce resident here) not Dead territory.

                            1. re: hill food

                              Thanks hill food - Tony tends to slam the Dead fairly regularly so I've gotten used to it. I can see the humor in it.

                              1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                I don't hate the Dead, but when any member came through town to play, the 'heads got sort of annoying in a numerous way. and in SF even 2 blocks can mean volumes.

                                multi-socio-pop (I like mash-up!) acceptance places are grounds for some other thread.

                            2. re: californiabeerandpizza

                              Re: Fisherman's Wharf -- my dad's a 2nd generation San Franciscan, and Scoma's on the wharf is one of his favorite spots in town. Dungeness crab there is fantastic and in season.

                          2. re: mattstolz

                            I think Bourdain might have tortured us with is 'drunk Bourdain' persona equally much if not more in the Montreal episode.

                          3. I thought it was fun. He wasn't trying to pass it off as some kind of comprehensive look at the best of the City, it was more, how to have fun and get the flavor of the City in short time. He's "done" SF before on "No Reservations" so I didn't think it was short shrift.

                            I thought that Korean place looked amazing.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Korean place definitely looked amazing. What was that drink she served them last?

                              I also enjoyed the banter with Bourdain and Danny Bowein.
                              Anyone want to take bets on when Bowein gets his own show?

                              1. re: isadorasmama

                                Actually, I thought Bowein was sort of a jerk. Mission Chinese was the very first pop-up restaurant in the whole country? Really????

                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                what was the name of the Korean place and where was it? sunset, richmond?
                                thank you

                                1. re: toncasmo

                                  never mind. i found the name on the SF board

                                  1. re: toncasmo

                                    So, please let us in on the big secret. What is the Korean's place name?

                              3. I thought it was weird that Tony didn't go to the original Rosamunde's next door to the Toronado for a sausage but then they briefly featured the Mission branch later.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: zfalcon

                                  I was a bit surprised too - I had a friend over one week a few years back and I decided to do the Rosamunde/Toronado combo. I think you can still lug a sausage from Rosamunde next door to Toronado to enjoy with your brews, but I haven't been to either place in awhile.

                                2. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this episode! It was hilarious and I was constantly laughing as I watched Tony get more and more pissed (drunk) as the evening wore on! Danny Bowdein was obviously not quite sure what to do as the evening progressed and AB get drinking and drinking.

                                  The No Reservations SF episode seemed a bit boring but this one made the city seem like a fun destination for drinking and eating and they included places that I've not previously seen/read about in travel guides. I went to the Tonga room before their $1million refurbishment but I'm definitely heading back the next time I get out-of-town guests. This weekend though, I'm off To Hyang - that place looked awesome!

                                  1. The show's title should have been, where to drink in SF. He wasted too much time drinking in one of the best food cities in the country.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: mrsjoujou

                                      but then again it is also one of the best drinking cities in the country (damn that CA 2 AM closing time)

                                      1. re: mrsjoujou

                                        As someone who flies quite a bit, a layover IMO is often weighted more towards drink than fine dining. Airport lounges, hotel bars and restaurants, and the occasional fine dining place is often what happens. And because you don't have a car, you always have a cab for a DD. Even at a lot of nicer restaurants you end up sitting at the bar because it is better when alone and you often don't have the luxury of making reservations ahead.

                                        With that said, I kind of like the emphasis on dive bars and local joints. We probably don't need another TV program showcasing the best sit-down dining in SF.

                                      2. Anyone else think Danny Bowein looked like Whiplash from Iron Man (as played by Michael Rourke)? LOL

                                        1. I have a feeling they really wanted to call this series, "Anthony Bourdains: Hangovers" but that would have involved some type of lawyer.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: mikey031


                                            but that would redundant/needless.

                                          2. My only complaint is that he listed quite a few of my favorite places, which I will now not be able to get into :(

                                            I thought it was a tremendous amount of fun, and really does show a nice little slice of the city that us locals see.

                                            I'm not sure if I should be proud or ashamed that I've had drinks in all of the places listed (even the ones he didn't get drunk in).

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: cosmogrrl

                                              So, if you had only a few nights to grab drinks where would you go? I'll be there on business in two weeks and expect to have free evenings -- currently on the list are Alembic, Absinthe, Agricole, and Smuggler's Cove... Anything I should add to or subtract from the list?

                                              By the way, what's the deal with seemingly every restaurant in town being open only Tuesday - Saturday? Kind of sucks since I'll be there Sunday through Wednesday, and Tuesday is arguably the worst solo dining out night of the year (Valentine's Day).

                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                d_s_p - heck finding a drink in SF outside the hours of 2 AM and 6 AM is NOT a problem.

                                                never had a problem with Sunday and Monday meals

                                                1. re: hill food

                                                  hill food:

                                                  Finding a drink and finding a well-crafted cocktail are two very different things. It's the latter that I'm (usually) after.

                                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                    d_s_p - that distinction is very true.

                                                    glencora, yeah I would agree about much of the FiDi, but given how compact it is, it's too easy and close to go into non-touristy neighborhoods to feel despair. (and the subversive side in me has always wanted to do a 6 AM pub crawl of the Tenderloin - but one certainly can't expect a well-crafted cocktail at that time or place)

                                                  2. re: hill food

                                                    It's true. a lot of places, especially around the financial district are closed Sunday. Ones in more touristy areas tend to be open. I really wanted to try Barbacco after the Eureka theater, but no luck. Ended up walking to Ferry Building area.

                                                    Wouldn't know about late night/early morning drinks!

                                                  3. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                    This was me. A few nights so I wanted to hit the best places in the city. Aside from the bars, you should also stop at Cask if you want to bring a few bottles home.

                                                    (this is a "speakeasy" type of deal -- overlook the cheese factor with the secret code word because they make wonderful cocktails; better than those of the other bars in the same location -- Bourbon and Branch and "the library"


                                                    Hideout is supposed to be great -- inside Dalva

                                                    (insanely crowded but the cocktails were some of the best I've ever had -- focus on bitters


                                                    (nice cocktails here...we ended our night at this place)

                                                    1. re: isadorasmama

                                                      Thanks! Especially for the bitters-focused place. That's right up my alley.

                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                        Thought it would be. :)
                                                        They have a giant 2 ft bottle of Campari on display in front of their mirrored bar. Although that estimate might be distorted due to my well being at the time.

                                                        It was mad crowded, though. I wouldn't want to dine there on a weekend unless I was FAR from the bar.
                                                        Please report back if you go there -- or even if you go to other bars. I live vicariously through anyone who likes to drink and has a few days to kill in SF.

                                                2. Did he hit the zeitgeist during the day or tommy's late night?
                                                  2 of my favorite SF experiences!

                                                  1. anyone studious enough to jot down a list of places he stopped at or mentioned? would be cool to have a list. i know you guys have mentioned a few below, but just wondering! :)

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: ispendtime

                                                      Still had this episode on the DVR, so here goes:

                                                      Places Tony was filmed at eating, drinking or being a tourist:

                                                      Fairmont Hotel
                                                      Swan Oyster Depot (with Roland Passot)
                                                      Twin Peaks, he hated it he doesn't like views
                                                      Toronado Bar
                                                      To Hyang, Korean restaurant (with Chris Costentino)
                                                      Tonga Room (with Chris Costentino)
                                                      Rice, Paper, Scissors (Vietnamese pop-up in the Mission) (with Oscar)
                                                      Li Po, bar in chinatown (with Danny Bowien)
                                                      Comstock Saloon (with Danny Bowien)
                                                      Mr. Bing's (with Danny Bowien and Jeff from Comstock)
                                                      Sam's Burgers (with Danny Bowien)
                                                      Chaac Mool food truck in Dolores Park (with Kaleb(?) from La Cocina)
                                                      Tony rode a cable car and liked it
                                                      Molinari Italian deli in North Beach

                                                      Places that were mentioned, but Tony did not actually go to:
                                                      Hotel de Artes
                                                      Blue Bottle Coffee
                                                      Castro Theater
                                                      Pier 23
                                                      King of Noodles
                                                      Off the Grid food trucks
                                                      La Folie
                                                      Mission Chinese Food
                                                      Yuet Lee
                                                      Lucero's Bacon wrapped hot dogs
                                                      Rosamunde Sausage Grill
                                                      El Hurache Loco at the Alemany market

                                                      Tony's buddies:
                                                      Roland Passot, chef at La Folie
                                                      Chris Cosentino, chef at Incanto and various Food Network shows
                                                      Oscar (didn't get his last name), I believe he is a food-blogger and was also on Tony's No Reservations SF episode.
                                                      Danny Bowien, chef at Mission Chinese Food
                                                      Jeff, one of the owners of Comstock Saloon
                                                      La Cocina is a non-profit org that helps people start food-related small businesses

                                                        1. re: pamf

                                                          PAm: Twin Peaks the geographical location or Twin Peaks (AKA "Glass Coffin") the bar?

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            Twin Peaks the geographical location.

                                                            1. re: pamf

                                                              maybe he was riffing on Gertrude Stein (of Oakland) "I like a view but I prefer to have my back turned to it" (or something to that effect)

                                                      1. Finally watched this last night. Really enjoyed it, though I agree that was the drunkest I think I've seen Tony on any of the shows. He was as drunk as Zamir was that time they went to, where were they, Romania maybe?

                                                        I'm from the generation behind Tony, so I don't necessarily feel the same draw towards the tiki bar type of places. But really enjoyed a great deal of it, especially the admitting of the cheap Chinese-American dishes he loves.