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$1000 budget 1 week in SF

Fellow Hounds,

Ok, it's been a LONG time since I posted, but asking for your help seems the wisest thing to do. So, in advance, I thank you very much.

I have been charged with designing a culinary tour of SF and surrounds for one week for 10-16 dedicated foodies from Florida, in October. I have a budget of $1000 per person - just for restaurants. They're eaters, as opposed to cooking class attendees.

I haven't been to the boards in forever because I haven't been dining out much for a while, so I'm a bit out of touch.

I need your help. And this is the tricky part. Coming up with a clear enough question that doesn't take a lot of quailfying, or waste your time.

If you had $1000, which three to five restaurants would you make sure you went to, to get the most bang for your buck over one week's time, based on the following criteria (doesn't have to be 100%)?

Food and service are impressive (breakfast, lunch or dinner)
Anything good, from Food Truck to the French Lauundry (in fact, such a spectrum would be great)
Celebrity chefs are a plus (I know...yawn)
Open to groups
Good variety of flavor/ethnicity/style/ambiance

Here are some I'm considering:

Atelier Crenn
Michael Mina
Gary Danko (although I don't think they like groups over 10)
Yank Sing
Wayfarers Tavern
Nick's Crispy Tacos
Flour and Water
Mission Chinese
Off the Grid

Any top faves from this list? What's missing?

Any help would be sincerely appreciated.

Thank you.

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  1. I really enjoyed Benu. I thought it was creative without being overly precious, and read "formal"/special occasion" while being effortless. The beverage pairings are a must.

    I would take Saison off your list as the ticketing system + price make it, I imagine, not worth it for the group:

    1 Reply
    1. re: goldangl95

      Benu looks really lovely, thanks goldangl.

    2. Cotogna over Flour + Water (similar menus).

      1 Reply
      1. add Mayflower or some other "real" chinese restaurant with seafood in the tanks
        add Jai Yun
        replace Nick's Crispy Tacos with La Taqueria and Taqueria Cancun or El Farolito
        add Roli Roti Porchetta Sandwich
        add Sawa in Sunnyvale (call ahead to get a $100 per person menu from him.)

        4 Replies
        1. re: Dustin_E

          Thanks, Dustin. We will be going to Ferry Building for breakfast on the Saturday they're here. I'll make sure Roli Roti is on the collective menu, thanks. Don't think we'll make it down the Peninsula. Would Jai Yun be the Chinatown choice?

          1. re: tom in sf

            yes, it's innovative, nothing like any other Chinese place around. pre-fixe. Highly recommend. If you want something more straightforward, Z&Y Garden is great for sichuan.

            1. re: mariacarmen

              jai yun is really amazing and really unique (at least for outside of china), if it is within the budget. highly, highly recommended for a group of visiting foodies.

            2. re: tom in sf

              What's unique about Jai Yun is that you can get a banquet-style multicourse Shanghai meal for a small party, or sometimes even a solo diner.

              Since you have a big group, you might be able to arrange a more amazing Chinese banquet somewhere else, though on the other hand I'm not sure there's a better Shanghai place in town.

          2. I was just in SF for a trip and really enjoyed my experience at Tacolicious, http://tacolicioussf.com/
            They have 3 locations, with one being the Ferry Building on Thursdays only. I will say that the only downside was that it was busy and we had to wait 30 minutes for a table (first come first served.


            I also really liked Foreign Cinema, http://www.foreigncinema.com/home.html
            The venue is unique and so much fun...they play old black and white films on the outdoor patio's wall all night. The pricing on the menu is in the higher range, but the selection of food is worth it. And if your group is into oysters, well, they got em'...lots of them.

            Have a fantastic time!

            2 Replies
            1. re: MaggieFSW

              Foreign Cinema, good idea. Something they wouldn't get in Jacksonville. Thanks, Maggie.

              1. re: tom in sf

                The food is pretty straightforward California Cuisine. If you go, time dinner to coincide with the start of the film (get there right before dusk) and make sure to reserve outside seats. It can get chilly, even with the heat lamps, so dress appropriately.

            2. Baker and Banker, Spruce, Nopa. Canteen.

              1. yes for Yank Sing, no for Flour and Water.

                1. Saison + McD Value Meals :-)

                  1. I don't know if you could fit 16 people into Mission Chinese?

                    1. I think showing off San Francisco's specialty coffee culture would be a fun and affordable luxury to consider.

                      Ritual (does free tastings every Friday at 1pm at both the Valencia and Proxy locations)

                      Blue Bottle Mint Plaza - afternoon might be better for the size of your group. Siphon bar and single-origin espresso hours are from 8-1230, and 1-3 m-f. 9-1230-1-3 weekends

                      Four Barrel - single origin bar opens at 8am

                      ECCO Caffe at Borderlands - no wifi. Clean, well lit place, for great coffee and silent reading.

                      Ma'velous - lots of space and a beautiful place. Serves Stumptown and others. Variety of coffee prep choices.

                      I rarely ever get the chance to watch cable TV but I have seen Tony Gemignani of Tony's Pizza Napoletana on there more than a couple of times. Also, the fried dungeness crab at R&G Lounge was featured on No Reservations. It's great for groups if you have a reservation and isn't so expensive if you order correctly.

                      1300 Filmore's Gospel Brunch is really quite an affordable treat (considering the quality of food, ambiance, service, and entertainment). I'm not a fan of their coffee (Mr. Espresso) but I did like the shrimp and grits a whole lot. :) Reservation required.

                      1. Atelier Crenn is at the top of my list, and not because it's alphabetically so....


                        the night i went there was a group of 10 or more - and it covers all your other bases too - memorable, celebrity chef (the female chef in Ratatouille was modeled after Dominique Crenn!) and incredible style, flavors and ambience.

                        and i agree with Dustin E. - remove Nick's Crispy Tacos and replace with (my choices) La Taqueria, Taqueria San Jose, Taqueria Vallarta.

                        If you have nice weather Friday night, I'm a fan of Fort Mason Off the Grid - go as soon as it opens so you can beat the lines.

                        I agree Foreign Cinema is a fun experience, IF you sit outside (inside way too noisy) and expect very good, well prepared but not highly innovative food.

                        1. How "experienced" foodies are they? should we assume this be their first destination dining city?
                          Are these young adults? seniors? in between? a mix?
                          Where in florida are they visiting from? miami beach? jacksonville?

                          Do you really want 3-5 meals, or do you want 7 days worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinners?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Dustin_E

                            Dustin: They follow my friend and fellow personal chef around eating at all kinds of restuarants in the Jacksonville area (meet-ups). Don't have any other demographics except that. I was asking for hounds' top 3-5 picks and then I'd figure out a mix for the week. Any meal/price, as long as the food is memorable.

                          2. Cotogna is a must -- if you can get a reservation. Quince it's next door, high end big brother is next door...same kitchen, for the value, and the atmosphere I'd choose Cotogna, and conveniently it's open most of the day..and, I believe pizzas and cocktails all day. Speaking of pizza, suggest taking them across the bridge to Sausalito and going to Bar Bocce....fun afternoon/evening place to hangout --right on the water, with FANTASTIC pizza and food overall, great crowd, atmosphere..get there early though as not sure they take reservations, though with such a large group worth calling.

                            Tacolicious is fantastic..book ahead as very popular, much better than Nick's tacos.

                            I've been to Benu ...not crazy about it...as much as I really, really wanted to like it, overrated in my opinion, interesting food, but not anything you crave the next day or weeks later. Very plain, cold atmosphere...takes itself too seriously.
                            Wayfarer Tavern is great -- tough to get reservations, perhaps try an off time with a large group. El Paseo (same chef) in Mill Valley (again, in Marin) is excellent too, great atmosphere.
                            Yes, on Yank Sing for dim sum.
                            For something different, try DOSA on Fillmore street for dinner (not lunch), creative South Indian menu, great cocktail and beer list
                            Park Tavern for a classic SF feel, fun atmosphere (very new)
                            The Boxing Room in Hayes Valley -- especially the biscuits and the beignets and lots of great beers on draft and big enough to accommodate a large group. Also, a cool neighborhood
                            Epic Roasthouse-- great steaks and amazing views, old-world feel...if not for dinner, try it for brunch....delicious brunch
                            Michael Mina is a great choice...must have the tuna tartare


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: coopet

                              Quince and Cotogna don't share a kitchen.

                            2. Also, ROAM Burger is a good place for a casual burger at lunch, Union Street
                              The Farmer's Market at the Ferry Bldg has great foodie finds, and a nice experience--go early on
                              Sat am to beat the crowds and have a treat from Boulette's Larder...try Blue Bottle coffee and lots of other goodies.
                              Terzo also has great food for sharing and a private back room -- feels like being in someone's home, great locals ambiance

                              1. I can only comment on Aziza from your list and it is fantastic for food, service and atmosphere. I loved it here. Every item we tried was unique and delicious.

                                Also, not sure if they might enjoy Burmese food but we tried it for our first time in SF and fell in love! A lot of people like Burma Superstar. We ate at Mandalay and had good service and food, and atmosphere was nice too.

                                If you have any trouble because of a place not taking a reservation over 10 you could split the group up and have half go somewhere else and then swap the next night.

                                Sounds like a fun week!