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San Fran Wed and Thurs in May - Need expert foodie & bar help.

I've been to the lovely SF in the past and did Slanted door and Foreign Cinema and Bar Tartine & the st. regis lobby bar .and some pizza joint .. I liked bar tartine's food the best. This time, not sure where to go, but not touristy & tacky PLEASE! I need a real expert of both food and design. Some worldwide faves include Scarpetta in NYC, Morimoto NYC, Top of the standard nyc for bar, Joe Beef Montreal, Les 400 Coups Montreal, Baldwin Barmacie Montreal, NAOE sushi in Miami, Frank in Toronto Canada, Origin in Toronto, and intimate retro or funky spots. The design is important - not into the french provincial look... Love rustic / edgy / industrial / kitchy / minimal / good use of light and materials is always always appreciated. Any neighbourhood gems?

Some other notes:

- We are in our 30's (one is 39 + 2).

- one of us is a minimalist architect and this is a big factor - ambience is important to us - sometimes over food actually.

- wondering about napa's morimoto - loved NYC morimoto, so this may be the frontrunner right now.

- wondering about the following: Bar Agricole / Canteen / Flour + Water / Local Mission / Moonraker (is it bad ?- tell me!) / Naked Fish / Morimoto / RN74 / Waterbar for drinks & oysters & view for someone who hasn't been to SF.

Really need some good suggestions. Love all kinds of food (honestly - all kinds), and aren't into the uber snooty spots where your avg venture capitalist type goes *at all* :)

THANK YOU San Francisco! Toronto loves you!!!

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  1. Bar Agricole's design is extreme. Look at photos online. Great food, too.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I agree, Bar Agricole is a don't miss for you. Some other places that come to mind for a noticeable interior: Nihon (drinks/happy hour), Redwood Room (drinks), Ippuku (Berkeley, interior by master temple builder, great food, right off BART). Morimoto Napa does have an interesting interior and food to match. I would do Piccino (Eames chairs) over Flour & Water. Sightglass and Blue Bottle Mint Plaza for coffee.

      1. re: rubadubgdub

        yay! this is just what I was looking for response- wise. Thanks!

        1. re: troublebunny

          Cass Calder Smith is a restaurant architect of some renown here. You can find their projects here along with pix: http://ccs-architecture.com/v3/

          1. re: troublebunny

            a few more thoughts: the german places are each aesthetically unique and transporting with deliciously updated food: suppenkuche, walzwerk, schmidt's. leopold's is a new one that I haven't been to but I hear it's excellent too.

      2. Here is a recent post about Morimoto in Napa:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/833945

        As to the Moonraker, newly re-opened in Pacifica, it's not bad. But it is probably not worth a special trip either. The new interior is a vast improvement over what was there before, but probably wouldn't impress a designer. The food is quite pricey for what it is and reviews have been mixed about the quality of the dishes. If you are planning on driving down the coast, La Costanera is about 10 miles farther south and a much better bet. However, this time of year, it gets dark so early that you really don't get the full impact of the ocean views at dinner.

        1. I would skip RN74 - the interior is typically swanky and high energy, not particularly stand out swanky. Food is fine, wine is fine (French centric), but definitely wouldn't go as a visitor. Unless it was for a quick drink or only convenient option.

          I really like Flour + Water - I think their pastas are amazing and everything else is very very good. Guests are always happy when we take them there. It is, however, not particularly interesting from a design perspective - though they do feature local artists. Absolutely need reservations, or need to be happy cooling your heels for an hour or two at the bars two blocks away.

          1. If you are into esthetics over eats, I would pass on Canteen. I consider a trip to SF wasted without a meal there but I don't go for the accoutrements. It's in a slightly revamped diner.

            4 Replies
            1. re: grayelf

              Canteen's a former hotel coffee shop. They redecorated a bit in a sort of 50's / MCM style.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I preferred it before the recent renovation, had more character, not a place I would consider for its esthetics.

                1. re: grayelf

                  Not SF, but easy to access in Oakland. Chop Bar, reclaimed, recycled materials providing a great, rustic ambience. Great service, comfortable and knowledgeable. Excellent specialty drinks (my fave, the Spicy Q) and wines on tap. We're in our young 50's and love the mix of this place, and the staff accomodates everyone!. Best of Oakland in our book!

                  1. re: macadam

                    I have to humbly disagree. I did not find the food at Chop Bar rising above the average New American restaurant in the Bay Area, nor did I find the decor particularly exciting. Granted, I did not realize it was recycled materials at the time. Maybe with that knowledge, the decor would have made more of an impact.

                    If in Oakland, might be worth a stop, but I wouldn't advise making a special trip to seek it out.

            2. Another thought. I saw you said bar help. Have you considered Bourbon & Branch or, next door, Wilson & Wilson? You need reservations so it may be hard to fit in but they take their atmosphere and drinks very seriously.

              Rickhouse is also interesting and doesn't need reservations - excellent drinks and cool atmosphere (outside and inside is wooden panels). Downside is it is rather rowdy and crowded on the typical busy nights/times.

              1 Reply