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Mar 22, 2012 10:00 PM

Help This BC Hound fine-tune his SF culinary escapade

Okay, I'm a bit sheepish to ask for the locals' advice given how many similar posts I see here. Y'all must get sick of this nonstop tourist traffic on the board (the BC board is very sleepy by comparison, but I'll happily return the favour if anyone here is looking for recommendations for Vancouver and Vancouver Island).

But here I go anyway.

My wife and I are planning a week-long getaway to the Bay Area and Monterey/Big Sur during the first week of April. I have spent weeks prowling the boards here and have come up with some plans (and plenty of reservations). What I am asking is for some "fine tuning" re: best dishes at certain restos and wait times for restos where we don't have reservations.

Night 1: Arrive on Sat Mar 31. Reservations at La Mar. Looks like a fun place but maybe not the best Peruvian in town. What dishes are recommended? The ceviches look really appealing.

Sunday April 1: Get up and hit Blue Bottle (thinking Mint St location near the street car line) early before heading to our obligatory Alcatraz tour at 10 AM.

Post-Alcatraz, we are considering walking to North Beach with the following places in mind for lunch (est. arrival time 1 pm): Tony's for pizza; Mama's; or L'Osteria del Forno. Given that we have a 6 pm dinner reso at Slanted Door, we don't really want to wait too long. Which of these places will likely have the shortest wait time on a Sunday around 1 pm? Or are we deluded and will they all have hour long lineups on a Sunday?

Sunday night: Slanted Door (I know, I know, it's not the greatest place, but it's close to our hotel and a friend of ours swears by it).

Monday April 2: Coffee again at Blue Bottle. Then off to Golden Gate Park for a morning at the De Young.

Monday lunch: Yummy Yummy. What are the favourite dishes here? Looks like a nice little spot and walking distance from the park, where we plan to return after lunch.

Monday Dinner: Perbacco. Menu looks great. I see the mixed reviews on the board, but again it is quite close to our hotel so we'll have time to get back and freshen up pre-dinner after a day in the park.

Monday night: Resos at Bourbon and Branch for 9:30 PM (taking cab from Perbacco as I hear the neighbourhood isn't the greatest at night).

Tuesday AM: Thinking of hitting Boulette's Larder right at 8 AM for breakfast. Can we expect a wait?

Tuesday-Thursday--We'll be in Monterey/Big Sur area and have plenty of recommendations. (Easier to make choices here because of the comparatively limited number of good restaurants. Looking forward to Restaurant 1883 and Parker-Lusseau, though)

Friday lunch (arriving back in SF around lunch time): This is our wild card. Our favourite choices thus far are Mandalay or Lers Ros. Will both places have a wait for lunch on a Friday?

Friday night: Dinner resos at Nopa. Thinking of Bi-Rite for dessert afterward.

Saturday--AM flight back home!

Any feedback would be appreciated. We made the decision to go on this trip just a few weeks ago and I found that lots of places that were hyped up on the board did not have any reservations available (i.e. Flour and Water's earliest available reservation was for May 1 at 8:45 pm. And that was three weeks ago. What gives?)

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  1. If the weather is nice Tony's has a slice place/takeout next door. There are plenty of seats outside, but no table service or booze.
    Still, if there's a wait at Tony's it's a way to quickly order a slice or anything off the Tony's menu.

    1. The food scene here, sadly, is bigger than the real estate of good restaurants in the city. It makes it hard to eat out without forethought/planning unless you are willing to eat before 6 pm or at 10 pm.

      If you have dinner reservations at Nopa, Bi-Rite is quite the drive/trek and parking can be a pain, lines can be a pain. I would suggest Candybar instead. It is not amazing, but it is satisfying, a cute concept, and convenient. It's also open until midnight.

      If Candybar is too packed or not what you want - I would go Humphry Slocombe over Bi-Rite on a Friday Night as parking is easier and lines aren't quite as long. It does close an hour earlier however.

      4 Replies
      1. re: goldangl95

        Thanks. Ooops, I made the mistake of writing down the address for the "coming soon" Bi-Rite location, which will be 550 Divisadero, which will place it just a few doors down from Nopa. I assume it won't come soon enough for our visit in April.

        I'm sure Nopa will have fine desserts.

        Any feedback on Mandalay vs Lers Ros? (I know it's apples and oranges, but if you had to pick one lunch....)

        1. re: anewton

          I'd pick Lers Ros over Mandalay. Burmese Kitchen is three blocks from Lers Ros, you could do both. I wouldn't expect a wait.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              i would also pick Lers Ros over Mandalay, but I'd take Mandalay over Burmese Kitchen.

        2. Rest assured Perbacco is a great choice.

          Although small, Boulette's Larder shouldn't have a line on a weekday. Checked the prices? :)

          1. I'm not a local but was in SF last week and had very good meals at both Slanted Door and Perbacco. My only caveat on Perbacco was that the homemade pasta identified on the menu as "tagliatelli" was in fact more like spaghetti -- rounded, thinnish noodles rather than flat, broader noodles.

            1 Reply
            1. re: masha

              Oops, that's a bad translation on their menu. Tajarin is Piemontese dialect for taglierini, not tagliatelle. In order from narrow to wide it's taglierini, tagliatelle, fettucine, pappardelle.

            2. I would remove Mama's from consideration. L'Osteria del Forno is an excellent choice but the place is small so there could be a wait.

              There is no shame in going to Slanted Door. Very few come away disappointed and it isn't SF most popular restaurant for nothing.

              I'm not fond of Yumi Yumi although it certainly has its fans. I find it bland for Vietnamese food and not very authentic. IMO, PPQ just up the street (Irving at 19th Ave) is a better option, particularly if you are looking for pho.

              Agree with Robert about Lers Ros and Burmese Kitchen (hole in the wall that is better than Mandalay).

              And I agree with goldang about parking and long lines at Bi-rite, especially on a Friday night.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Civil Bear

                I think L'Osteria wouldn't have much if any wait on a Sunday at 1pm.

                I think Burmese Kitchen is a step up from a hole in the wall, at least compared with Yamo.