Family Trip to San Fran...need recs
Our family of 8 will be heading to San Fran in June (staying near the Financial District) and need some recommendations please. We have a couple of kids with the group so will only go to one or two upscale places. Please let me know what you think of these and if you have any other places we should look into...
Upscale dinner: McCormick's and Kuleto, House of Prime Rib, Wayfare Tavern
Pizza: Pizzeria Delfina
Breakfast: Mama's at Washington Square, Dottie's True Blue, Cafe de la Presse
Italian: La Ciccia, Caesar's
Lunch in Sausalito: Kitty's Place, Le Garage, Bar Bocce
Just in case you are not aware, La Ciccia and Cesar’s are complete opposites. Caesar’s is old-school red-gravy, Italian-American, while La Ciccia is more upscale contemporary Sardinian with an emphasis on high quality ingredients.
House of Prime Rib is good for what it is, but that's a style of food that's not very specific to San Francisco or California.
Caesar's is hit and miss, easy to have a mediocre to bad meal there. If you want Italian more or less in that area, L'Osteria del Forno, Ideale, or Capp's Corner.
McCormick & Kuleto is part of a chain, but if you insist on eating at the Wharf, you could do worse.
What others have said about McCormick's & Kuletos. It is far from upscale - just upscale prices for chain-quality food. But it is probably one of the best on the Wharf for tourists who like to eat there and the view is great.
In the Financial District, I would recommend Piperade or Kokkari; both very unusual (Piperade is upscale Basque and Kokkari is upscale Greek) - great examples of upscale, ethnic cuisine with the San Francisco twist of ultra fresh ingredients and exemplary chefs.
If you like seafood, consider adding Sotto Mare in North Beach to your list for an old-school SF feel with very fresh seafood. Tachich Grill also is on this category. Capps Corner is another old-style Italian-American place in North Beach.
Dim Sum is often fun with a group. You can go up scale at Yank Sing (RIncon Center branch) or old-school Chinatown at someplace like Great Eastern.
You are getting suggestions (I believe) that are all pretty mediocre.
Pinocchio is extremely mediocre.
Boudin is swarmed with tourists who want the ubiquitous clam chowder (a New England specialty!) in a carved out, sourdough bowl that is too big to eat.
The Grove (a local chain) is okay, but nothing special and more known by locals as a place to camp for endless internet and fresh orange juice.
AG Ferrari (another local chain) has been bought and sold several times and is a pale reflection of what it was two decades ago.
Calvinist is spot on with his Sotto Mare recommendation but for Dim Sum, I would recommend Hong Kong Lounge (be prepared for long lines). WAY better and cheaper than Yank Sing.
Hong Kong Lounge is definitely cheaper than Yank Sing, but "way better" in terms of food? No. Both are excellent, and Hong Kong Lounge is clearly a better value, but these are two of the best dim sum places in San Francisco, and neither is "way better" than the other, at least in terms of food quality.
Yank Sing is more convenient for the original poster, who will be in the Financial District, and it's definitely easier to get into, but it's probably 25-50% more expensive (though I haven't attempted a detailed price comparison). For the original poster's purposes, the food quality should not be a distinguishing factor between the two. The differences that Chowhounders argue about are likely to be invisible to anyone who isn't highly familiar with dim sum, and I'd be surprised if the original poster were a dim sum aficionado.
Do you have an itinerary of thing you know you will be doing (more to the point, where you will be location-wise)? How advernturous are the eaters? As you have noticed, locals, most especially Chowhounders, readily trash chains and anything touristy --usually for good reason of course. (e.g. AG Ferrari is fine for a decent sandwich, but is nothing particularly special or memorable.)
Be sure to check out the Ferry Building market especially on saturday. It has great food options (for breakfast/lunch especially), and is a place where tourists and locals mix. It is a perfect start to a day stolling along the wharf. It is near the financial district.
La Ciccia is probably not a good choice: it is really too small for a party of 8, and given the options you mentioned you are considering, may be a bit on the overly "exotic" end. It is not your italian-american grandmother's sort of food.
You should consider Aziza (moroccan), which is a lot of fun, and accessible to a variety of tastes (would require car or cab).
+1 on dim sum: inexpensive and also fun. Also near the Financial District you might try Amber India where they have a really nice lunch buffet (I recall).
You might try Scoma, a seafood place on the wharf. It is sort of a San Francisco classic. Cant say I loved it the one time I went, but a lot of people do.
Mario's Bohemian Cigar store in North Beach is my favorite foccacia bread sandwich place (meatball, eggplant being my two favorites). Very small for 8 people but you could order then eat in the park across the street. In Sausalito we like the Anchorage - off the beaten track but with excellent huevo montanas and crab everything (benedict, enchiladas) when in season. Skip McCormicks and Kuleto and go to Thanh Long for Vietnamese roasted crab. You'll have to take two cabs with 8 people (out in the outer Sunset at Judah and 46th) but it is the only restaurant where you will find everyone eating the same two dishes (Vietnamese roasted crab and garlic noodles). Crustacean (their sister restaurant) on Polk would be closer to the Financial district but I don't like it as much for some reason. Those two dishes are the basis of the An family's restaurant empire!
If you go to Thanh Long, it's right on the N Judah streetcar route. (A cab from downtown would cost about $30 each way so that'd be $120 for 2 cabs!) I'd either go to Crustacean (that's where Eddie Murphy dines when in SF) or take the streetcar to Thanh Long. $2 each way for adults, kids pay .75 .. hang on to your transfers as proof of payment!.
Uh Oh .. just noticed they were going to be here last month!
There are a bunch of great places in the Ferry Building! super close to the financial district