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Selling the BF on a SF move

Hey SF Chowhounders -

So I'll cut right to it. I interviewed for a job in SF a couple weeks ago, and they quickly turned around with an offer. Tiny detail is, my boyfriend did not come along on my interview trip, and he's never been. I'm not in love with all things SF, but between the job opportunity and the diversity of options your city offers, I'm game. Plus, he's a designer and should have a wealth of job opportunities available, from what I hear.

But enough about work. I'm here for the food. We'll likely have 3-4 days (max) in a coming week to explore, look at apartments, and make a final decision. Most importantly, we will eat. I am looking for a few food recommends that will paint a picture of the diverse experiences, pricey and non, one can find in SF. Some food necessities in our lives include...

Japanese - beyond sushi fare, I'd imagine there's great saki, robata, bento and other fun Japanese food options. Nothing stuffy. This food should be fun, right?
Latin American influence - We spent a few weeks in Ecuador earlier this year. I love anything tapas-style. The boyfriend loves spice and grilled meats. Shocking for a Midwestern male.
Good coffee - We have a close friend who is also a roaster here in Minneapolis. We're spoiled on the coffee front, and will continue to be.
Breweries - I love wine, and no there is no lack of it in the Bay Area. But great local beer? Again, that male midwesterner.
Favorite hole in the walls, bars with fun snack food, dive bars with people over the age of 30/lacking hipsters, and breakfasts with a twist (dim sum, TexMex?!) are also welcome.

I should also mention that while I'm just getting my bearings on SF neighborhoods, we are both 30 and likely most interested in quieter more "neighborhoody" places with an easy commute DT. Glen Park, Noe Valley, Inner Sunset and *possibly* Sausalito are all on the list. So eating options in these areas would be nice, esp for breakfast/lunch/coffee.

That was quite a hefty list of asks. Thanks in advance. Now sell me on your city!
- S

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  1. For Japanese, Nombe, Namu Gaji in the Mission and even Halu in the Richmond. For neighborhoods, Gialina (dinner only) in Glen Park. Great pastries for breakfast at Canyon Market across the street. In the Inner Sunset, Art's Cafe and Arizmendi for breakfast, Nopalito or Park Chow for lunch. Don't miss Noe Valley Bakery in Noe Valley.

    8 Replies
    1. re: mlutsky

      I think the Richmond -- all the way out to about 30th -- is a much nicer neighborhood than the inner Sunset, even if the commute isn't quite as easy. It's much greener, since it's sandwiched between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, the weather is slightly better, and Clement street is one of the foodiest streets -- maybe THE foodiest street -- in the city.

      As for beer, I'm not a beer drinker either, but there's no shortage of local beer. Maybe the BF would enjoy a tour of the Anchor Brewery! http://www.anchorbrewing.com/brewery/...

      1. re: mlutsky

        Ok, here's what you should do.
        1) realize that most people who sound like they're your age (you didn't mention exactly) don't end up living in SF proper. They end up in Oakland (or maybe berkeley). So spend one of your days checking out lofts in the greater jack london square. Have coffee at the blue bottle on 2nd. Hike up to Van Kleef, Eat at Mua, snack through chinatown. The Uptown area is happening these days. A great mode of life is taking the ferry to work, or you'll end up splitting a house in rockridge near the bart station (drink at ben n nicks). Also check out berkeley - North Berkeley Bart, for example, is surrounded by some very livable areas.
        2) Walk the mission. You'll want to cover the area between the castro, dolores park, and 24th street. There's a bunch of murals and stuff, and there's so much good food that you won't be able to take it all in. Perrenial favorites are Bi-Rite, Delfina, but get down to Humphrey Slocombe, Dynamo, have some tacos, just enjoy the vibe. In the evening, go to 16th and valencia and let yourself wander - or plan a route, depending if you like live music (elbo room, make-out room, a bunch of others) or dance (the mighty). The blocks are annoyingly long, so bring your walking shoes.
        3) Coffee - yes, we has it. Sightglass, FourBarrel, BlueBottle, several others are found in profusion. BlueBottle kicked off a whole roasting trend.
        4) Beer - yes, we has it. There's an entire category called West Coast IPA, although there are good examples out of the west coast, look for Lagunitas and Russian River and Racer 5 and Speakeasy. A particular spot for the 20somethings is Zeitgeist after about 4pm on a somewhat warm afternoon. Few of these beers are brewed in SF proper, and the only brewpubs (ThirstyBear, 21st Amendment) are sad. Instead, you'll find a favorite bar near your place that pours a perfect cold pint and keeps it fresh. http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/17 - but almost misses the point, because you can find 4 or 5 great taps everywhere.
        5) go do some reading on sf.eater.com
        6) Another fun thing is to take the bart over to berkeley bart, then take the 51 bus that goes up in the hills and along grizzly peak.

        You might end up in Glen Park, or South Beach, or over by the Panhandle, but those are quintessential young people's hoods, so check them out.

        Also - Minneapolis is great, props, so don't expect to get BLOWN AWAY by SF. It's a different thing, and there are some parts (like north berkeley) that will feel more at home, and are, arguably, just plain nicer.

        1. re: bbulkow

          ^^^ This is stellar advice.

          My additions:

          1) The City (tourists and the rapper crowd are mostly the only folks who call it "Frisco") is not a prime location for Japanese. It's alright, don't get me wrong. But the places people rave about are a drive or Caltrain ride further south (for sushi).
          2) Unless you're willing to pay well north of $2K per month in rent, you won't have an "easy" commute into downtown SF unless you live across the Bay in Oakland or Berkeley a reasonable distance from a BART station or "casual carpool" pickup spot.

          1. re: Eugene Park

            Don't forget the transbay bus lines -- I know, the bus doesn't have the cachet that BART does, but there are lots of transbay bus lines, a lot of the buses they use are very nice inter-city "coaches" with wi-fi, and they'll come closer to your house, saving the hassle and expense of getting to a BART station.

            I live in Alameda and I highly recommend it for convenience, affordability, for an ever-improving food scene and just plain livability (and if you're from the Midwest, you'll feel right at home).

            And just to correct bbulkow -- the 51 doesn't go anywhere near the hills, you'd want the 65 or the 67.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              D'oh! The 65 up to the laurence hall of science is what I meant. The point is, if you're trying to sell anyone on the CA experience, go look at that view and enjoy some hiking. Just driving solano -> marin -> grizzly peak -> strawberry canyon -> college ave (pastrami at wood tavern?) --- I was up there last weekend after a long time away, and had my mind blown all over again.

          2. re: bbulkow

            Oakland is great if you're working in downtown SF. Commute by BART from neighborhoods with stations is shorter than from Noe Valley by J, and food and drink options are better than any single neighborhood in SF except maybe the Mission. Beer Revolution might have a bigger selection of local beer than anywhere in SF.

          3. re: mlutsky

            I think of Namu Gaji as Korean, not Japanese.

            I'd include Kappou Gomi
            Neighborhood: Outer Richmond
            5524 Geary Boulevard
            (between 19th Ave & 20th Ave)
            San Francisco, CA 94121
            (415) 221-5353
            Tue-Sun. 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

            Walk along Divisadero Street between Haight Street and Golden Gate Ave. to get a feeling for the NOPA neighborhood. Four Barrel coffee is opening The Mill with Josey Baker's breads, Bi-Rite Market is developing its space; and the 'hood is FUN with easy access to DT.

          4. This is off the top of my head:

            Coffee - Philz for drip. Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, or Ritual for espresso drinks (sightglass is a favorite of many but I find them too acidic)

            Latin American - Limon Rotisserie for an awesome roast chicken and decent ceviche.

            Bars with fun food - Alembic.

            1. I don't drink beer. Enjoyed it too well in college. Here is a site that might be a starting point for you. http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/17

              1. Non-sushi Japanese, Izakaya Yuzuki has the best food, though Oyaji is more fun.

                Ecuadorian / pan-Latin, Poquito.

                Noe Valley, upscale demographics put a damper on the food. Consider Dogpatch.


                6 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Dogpatch is fun for an occasional visitor but to a resident the options are few enough to get old fast. If you live on the Church side of Noe it's usually a quick walk or muni ride to more options in the Mission/Castro/Bernal/Glen Park. (If the 24 weren't painfully slow this wouldn't even be an issue at all and the Lower Haight would also be within easy reach. It's mostly the annoying amount of traffic on Divisadero - you can even get to Bayview surprisingly quickly on the 24, though there's not much chowish there just yet.)

                  1. re: bigwheel042

                    The Mission is unbeatable but as discussed in the topic I linked to Dogpatch is way better foodwise than Noe or Castro, which suffer serious upscale demographic syndrome, or Glen Park, which has a tiny commercial district with maybe a dozen places.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Pound for pound, Dogpatch has better food than Noe/Castro. But there are tradeoffs. After you get tired of Piccino and Serpentine once you've been to both six times, only a handful of places are in the vicinity. (I.e., Potrero.) Whereas there's a lot more stuff in the Noe/Bernal area within easy reach.

                      1. re: bigwheel042

                        One cool thing about Google Maps is how some places, you can go inside. Chez Maman on 18th street near Conneticut has a special arrow on street view, so you can walk inside. Great little place, and the inside shows a bit more of the feel of the 'hood, although I haven't been in since Just For You moved down to 22nd.

                        I never had a problem with food boredom when I lived in dogpatch, which was pre serpentine, MMM, Piccino. I'd eat regularly at Moshi Moshi for the Tempura, get a sandwich at Hazel's, drink at the tiki bar on the corner with thai food (gone now), order out Eliza's on a sunday evening (gone now), and drive over to the mission and SOMA a lot (like snagging some henry's hunan). I'd also drive to the peninsula every day, so eat a bit down there.

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          Ok - but that's presupposing car ownership. If you do have one it doesn't matter nearly so much how chowish your immediate neighborhood is (you can drive to the Mission easily from, say, the Upper Haight too, to pick one neighborhood not known for eating), but if you don't, distance and accessibility issues start coming into play.

                        2. re: bigwheel042

                          Oh, between DogPatch and Potrero Hill there really are quite a few choices. Besides those you mention in DogPatch there are Moshi Moshi, Gilbreth's and the other latin influenced place, plus Just for You, New Spot, the Lasagna place, and that soul food place (sorry, not recalling names tonight). Then on the Hill there are two sushi places (Rocketfish and the other one), Hazel's, Pera, Chez Papa and Chez Maman, Papito, Aperto, Sunflower and Goat Hill Pizza. I'd say that's a goodly selection for any area. And it's quick over to the Mission via the 22.

                  2. the principal advantage in terms of food you would enjoy here vs. the northern midwest will be the year round availability of high quality produce to cook at home. yes, of course stuff gets transported to you in the winter, but we have here agricultural areas within a two hour truck drive that grow great veg's year round, and farmers markets for us consumers to access it that stay going year round. if you prefer organically cultivated foods and meats/eggs/dairy from humanely raised/organic sources, northern calif is profuse with them, again available at the farmers markets year round.

                    as far as coffee, there's a great resource for roasting coffee at home with a huge selection of top quality unroasted beans in west Oakland, and it would take a paragraph to list all the artisan roasters you could sample just from what grocery stores offer.

                    1. I just moved from Noe Valley to Uptown Oakland. I agree with everyone else that the commute to downtown SF is quicker from Oakland than Noe Valley. And I have twice as much space for the same rent.

                      Noe Valley - Firefly, one of my top 5 restaurants and Bacco, great Italian
                      Uptown Oakland - Ozumo, fun sushi and Plum, elevated comfort food (owned by Daniel Patterson of Coi)
                      Castro- Starbelly, pizza (get one with egg on it)

                      Farmers markets:
                      Noe Valley - Saturday AM
                      Castro - Wednesday PM
                      Lakeshore (oakland) - Saturday AM
                      Jack London Sq (Oakland) - Sunday AM
                      Temescal (oakland)- Sunday AM
                      Old Oakland - Friday
                      Berkeley - Tues PM/Thurs PM/Sat AM
                      **Definitely take him to one of these, if he's into food/cooking he'll be sold. There is a farmers market everyday somewhere in the Bay Area.

                      Key takeaways - most restaurants focus on fresh/local food which IMHO makes everything taste better. We have fresh/local produce all year - we are in one of the most fortunate places in the US in that regard.

                      1. I have no idea why that guy said that most people about 30 years old live in Oakland instead of SF, but there is no reason why you can't live in SF. I lived in SF when I was 30; there are many, many people that age in SF. Nearly all my coworkers under 35 do. I have no idea how much you'll be making, but I'm hardly rich, and I make do just fine. (I currently live in the Inner Richmond, previously have lived in the Western Addition and Mission.) Maybe you won't live next to the Gettys, but assuming both you and your boyfriend work real jobs, rent shouldn't be a problem.

                        Don't get me wrong, I love Oakland, but there's no reason you have to live there, thus no reason you absolutely have to hang out there for a day.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: dunstable

                          I think it is prudent to consider Oakland. I originally moved to SF because I felt I had to live there but honestly now that I live in Oakland I love it. I have more space and a bit of a calmer life.

                          1. re: dunstable

                            One thing far superior about Oakland and Berkeley is the weather. If you dislike the fog and wind, I'd consider it. I moved from SF to Berkeley. Didn't want to but then after heading over the bridge instead of into the Richmond fog it dawned on me, the weather in the East Bay is so much better and I can walk to Berkeley Bowl.

                            1. re: ML8000

                              Ya'll and your neighborhood and commute tips on a food board are awesome. We ARE exactly 30, and thus will likely fit in demographic-wise in OAK or SF. Or The City. Whathaveyou. I do think we'll spend a day checking out Oakland, as I've never been there and it would be nice to compare. I enjoyed the Ferry commute from Sausalito to SF on my last visit, so any such commute it not off the table. But at the end of the day, temporary housing for the first month might be the right path.

                              A great variety of food recos too... thanks! I'll have to plot my strategy and report back. Right now, I'm thinking 2 days in SF, one in OAK, and maybe a brewery tour somewhere in there.

                              - S

                              1. re: SarahN

                                If you get to Oakland, Bocanova for great pan-Latin at the kind of plastic Jack London Square. Sundays there's a good farmers market there.

                                Beer Revolution a few blocks away for an insane selection of beer with an only-in-Oakland atmosphere. Trappist a few more blocks away for a different selection and atmosphere.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Rosamunde is opening a branch on Washington St. across from Pacific Coast Brewery. Don't know what brews they'll sell but I assume some kind. Also Pacific Coast Brewery's selection has gotten a little better...I think they had to.

                            2. re: dunstable

                              Agree. I've lived in San Francisco since I was 42 - CAME here from 3 years in the East Bay. I'm almost 51 now. I live in the Mission. Wouldn't go back. Though I'm not saying there's anything wrong with many parts of the East Bay - in particular the great food scene in Oakland, and the beauty that is the hills. But San Francisco, despite being a city, is a GORGEOUS city. I lived in L.A. all my life until 15 years ago and I'm still stunned at the beauty i see here. Plus - yes, our food is fantastic. and in the Mission in particular, they just keep opening more restaurants!

                              And don't forget the mother of all Farmers' Markets - in the Ferry Plaza on Saturdays (also smaller versions Tues. and Thurs.) I prefer Alemany's FB, but you have to visit the FPFM.

                            3. Since you mentioned Sausalito, check out Le Garage, Poggio, and Cibo (lower cost, paninis, etc.) for lunch.

                              1. Sarah, besides using Google maps to see what restaurants are in what neighborhood, there is a great website called Padmapper which will who you the rentals for a given neighborhood and the prices.

                                When I moved to the city eight years ago, I chose to live near Japantown because it gave access to (duh!) Japanese food - which I adore - but also Fillmore and what is now known as Western Addition because I wanted access to nightly jazz (Yoshi's Rassela's, Boom Boom Room, The Fillmore and Sheba's Lounge). At the time, my one-bedroom was in the $1,800 range but I have learned that now those apartments are in the $2,500 range. That neighborhood has grown considerably and has some of the more interesting restaurants in town (SPQR, State Bird Provisions, Dosa).

                                I now live in the 'burbs and deal with the commute for want of more space (a two bedroom house with a backyard and garage in Napa is $1,300 and my BF's four-bedroom house near Pacific is under $3k). My Napa commute is about an hour-and-a-half with the Vallejo Ferry and puts me in downtown right at 8:00. When I commute from my BF's, it takes 45 minutes. I sort of miss my 'hood but get back to it often and now expand to other neighborhoods for culinary exploration.

                                But you should choose a neighborhood with great food because you will find yourself settling into a comfort zone of where you want to eat. Even the best food - all the way across town - will feel like a trek and take effort.

                                Regardless, it is a GREAT city to live in!

                                1. Lots of great advise and options.
                                  I lived in Oakland when I first moved to the Bay Area and enjoy it. I lived in the Grand and Lakeshore Ave. area which offered some good options for dining, coffee, bars, farmers market all walking distance. Also, walking distance to casual carpooling for the morning commute to SF, took transbay bus back or drove. Living in Oakland you are dependent on having a car unless you don't mind being locked into one neighborhood.
                                  SF don't need a car as much. If you have a car choose your neighborhood wisely unless you are fortunate to get a flat with a garage or parking space, some neighborhoods are nearly impossible to find street parking after certain hours. We have lots of public transportation options around us, some neighborhoods better than others.

                                  Being in your 30's I would think SF has more to offer.
                                  If you work in SF its nice to have the ease of meeting up with friends after work or on the weekends and not having to deal with bridge traffic and the commute back and forth to the East Bay.

                                  Also, check out NoPa (north of the Panhandle) area, which borders Western Addition and the Haight. Centrally located, many dining options, coffee, bars all walking distance. Close to Alamo Square a nice park, the panhadle itself nice stretch of park space, walking distance to lower haight, hayes valley and so on.
                                  Here are some of the spots in this area-
                                  NOPA- the restautant
                                  Bar Crudo
                                  Little Star Pizza
                                  Blue Bird Cafe
                                  Green Chili Kitchen
                                  Fly Bar

                                  Good luck!!

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Lori SF

                                    I think you mean Blue Jay Cafe, and that place has gone very badly downhill. I would not recommend it, especially compared to the other places on your list.

                                    Since the OP likes Japanese food, in that neighborhood she should check out Corkage, which has excellent sake and some great Japanese snacks. If you go on the right night, they have ankimo as a special. Tsunami next door isn't bad either, if you want sushi.

                                    1. re: Lori SF

                                      Lori's car advice is spot on. My carless Oakland friends like their respective neighborhoods, but feel isolated. Plus, BART stops at midnight, and taking the night bus from SF to Oakland is exhausting and sucks. As a 30 something with a car and the motivation to get good food, I quite like having Oakland as a home base, and eating frequently in SF.

                                      Ippuku in Berkeley has the best robata around, and a few items on the menu that you won't find anywhere else in the US (e.g., chicken tartare)

                                      The Breweries in SF aren't the best around, at least in terms of my drinks of choice (porters and IPA's). However, CA has some fantastic breweries, and their beers can be found all over SF. There are also plenty of top tier breweries within driving distance, and you can visit them as you would wineries. For SF, see: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/834979 and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693216

                                      Not much Tex Mex in town. West of Pecos is a place that recently opened up, but the Texans I went with, although enjoying the food, didn't see much similarity to more traditional Tex-Mex fare. We''ve got a great selection of regional Mexican food though.

                                      1. re: hyperbowler

                                        West of Pecos is not Tex-Mex and makes no claim to be.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          It's fusiony Southwestern food, but their queso and fajitas are Tex-Mex inspired.

                                      2. re: Lori SF

                                        I have to agree with those who are saying SF. If you haven't lived in SF, I verge on saying you really must, unless a backyard and extra room are nonnegotiable. Simply put there's a lot more to do in SF on any given night and it's going to be easiest to take advantage if you can just walk out your door and do it. I lived in Berkeley/Oakland in my 20s and SF in my 30s, and I regretted not making the move sooner; there really is no comparison. SF has all that you want and if you really want to try the beer bars in Oakland, take BART over. Not sure where you're commuting to, but EBay to SF is the heaviest commute pattern and sth to seriously consider if you have to do it daily.

                                        1. re: rubadubgdub

                                          She's commuting to downtown SF. I agree that somebody who hasn't lived in SF proper should try it for a while if they can afford it. Though if you live in a suburban-ish neighborhood like Noe Valley or Glen Park, the nightlife's about as far away as it is from Oakland. If you're going to pay big bucks to live in SF proper, live in a neighborhood with the urban amenities, like the Mission near BART.

                                          If you're heading to downtown SF, public transit sucks at rush hour from pretty much every neighborhood. At least BART keeps you out of the traffic.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Thanks for the further neighborhood advice/debates, everyone. I think we will add NoPa and Western Addition to the list of neighborhoods to consider. There are certainly pros/cons to both SF proper and Oakland or Berkeley; a lot might depend on finding a decent apartment near transportation from what you're saying. We will likely have one car, and won't be moving without the means to fund the ridiculous rent prices!

                                            I'll report back on how the weekend goes and where we end up eating a drinking.... and hell, if we end up moving out!

                                            Thanks - S