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4 nights /5days MUST eat restos in SF lunch and dinner

Hello fellows foodies
My hubby and I (mid 30s) arriving in SF on AUG 17 to the 21rst in financial district. What are the MUST EAT/BE @ in SF

Nothing spicy please:

1) Lunch: casual and "nice" restos not too formal and not too expensive
2) Dinner: casual and chic/trendy delicious restos but can be moderately expensive....ie very good but not too expensive


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  1. Can you give us more info please?
    what type of food are you interested in?
    Is there something you love? dying to try? heard was good?

    23 Replies
    1. re: smatbrat

      I totally agree with the vagueness of my questions.
      We like market cuisine, French, Italian fare and sushi mostly.
      We have no idea what to expect other than knowing that SF is huge on the dining scene.
      We are looking to spend approx 100$ per person incl apps and mains and a decent bottle of wine tx and/or service incl for one of our nights in SF. The rest of the recos can be a less expensive they can include food trucks, hidden gems etc
      We would like to eat at places where people are raving about wether it is a causal resto or more formal dining experience, truck stand etc
      Hope these details will help
      Thanks again

      1. re: CookingQueen

        Cotogna, La Ciccia, or Perbacco are Italian/Cal-Italian and should work comfortably within your budget.

        Cal/Farmer's market inspired food - AQ (more adventurous) or Nopa

        1. re: goldangl95

          I must say perbacco and cotogna are spot on what we like in Italian cuisine (and modern) sounds amazing...even the.sister restaurant looks delicious
          Thank you

        2. re: CookingQueen

          do you have specific plans for your time here?

          so we can reccomend places based on your plans

          1. re: smatbrat

            No specific plans in SF other than the usual tours in fishermans wharf, Alcatraz, GGB etc
            No specific itinerary for the attractions
            But am open to ur suggestions should a great resto b convenient near an attraction

            1. re: CookingQueen

              CookingQueen, you must realize that we locals pretty much have a disdain for Fisherman's Wharf (except for a few posters who don't mind Scoma's. It is a giant tourist trap and we tend to steer die-hard foodies away from eating anywhere in that general area. You will get to smell the sea lions and be subjected to lots and lots of tourist-driven shops but other than that, the Wharf has little going for it.

              The attractions that I DO recommend would be the DeYoung Museum (especially with its free, Friday Night gigs and great prix fixe menu - $25 a person for three courses AND cool art), SFMOMA with its neighboring Yerba Buena Gardens and Samovar Tea, and Golden Gate Park which rivals NYC's Central Park...

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                in fishermans wharf, IN N OUT!!!!!!!!! or the pub is good.

                altho ive always wanted to try the light house place by the sea lions.

                in fishermans wharf i LOVE hyde street pier, 5 bucks and you get to climb all these cool old ships. the aquatic and maritime museum is cool. sea lions are awesome. i just went to the aquarium down there and while it is small, its pretty cool.

                1. re: smatbrat

                  At the wharf, I also appreciate the Musee Mechanique, the Pamapanito submarine, the Jeremiah O'Brien, and the Balclutha.

                  I just don't like eating at the Wharf.... (but I'm in Napa and have an In-N-Out here).

                  1. re: smatbrat

                    In-N-Out is a Southern California chain, so if you must waste a meal on their decent-for-the-price burgers and dreadful fries, you might as well do it there.

                2. re: CookingQueen

                  Fisherman's Wharf is limited for places recommended by locals, but street car can take you towards the Ferry Building, and Epic Roasthouse, or if you keep going SOMA, and financial district offerings. You're also going to be a hop skip from North Beach.

                  1. re: CookingQueen

                    I take ur(s) word(s) for it and will not eat in FW except for the freshly boiled dungeness crab (street vendors boiling right in front of you?) or not?

                    1. re: CookingQueen


                      Crab season starts the second Tuesday in November so any crab being sold at the wharf this time of year has been caught, flash-frozen, and shipped in - probably from Alaska.

                      It certainly won't be freshly caught, regardless of where it comes from...

                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                        Understood. So we'll just stick to swan oyster, woodhouse for crab
                        Thank u!

                        1. re: CookingQueen

                          The crab at Woodhouse will also have been shipped in... You aren't going to find any local crab this time of year.

                          You might want to consider Tataki sushi on California and Divisidero which specializes in only sustainable fish and much that is caught locally.

                          Bar Crudo is another great seafood restaurant that has local specialties.

                      2. re: CookingQueen

                        Yeah, unfortunately San Franciscans aren't prone to still making the Wharf a primary visit for Crabs. You'll read more talk of stopping by a Whole Foods, one of the Asian markets in the Richmond District, or a place like Swans, instead.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          What's unfortunate is that the Wharf no longer has fishermen who catch crabs and sell them direct. That's why locals stopped going there for them.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            True, but that's also a failure of any of the current crab vendors of preference.
                            The quality of crab isn't what it used to be either. Hopefully that can change.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              In season, you can buy fresh local crabs right off the boat around Half Moon Bay, Bodega Bay, and Emeryville.

                              1. re: sugartoof

                                I thought the quality of last season's crab was excellent.

                                1. re: Civil Bear

                                  Yeah, live local crab seems as good as ever. Maybe not as easy to find as 40 years ago.

                                  1. re: Civil Bear

                                    I only sampled Whole Foods last season, so my exposure was limited - but in general over the years the crabs I've been coming across are dull in flavor. Eating a crab with a sourdough used to offer more than texture. Still good, but different.

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      I would chalk it up to Whole Foods instead of the crab. There's nothing like bringing it home live IMHO.

                                      1. re: Civil Bear

                                        Possibly, but you never used to have to bring home a live crab to get a richly flavored one.

                  2. There's just too many restaurants in SF for anyone to have a generic must eat - too many different types of styles, cuisines etc. (see the recent long post on best pizzas in SF which will net someone 10 different options and 5 different styles). Also please list specific dollar ranges for your budgets as SF has dinning experiences that range from $5 a person to $400 a person. Expensive is different for different people.

                    You can try looking to these threads:

                    Yelp is great for generic requests because you will get a good mass generic list just filter San Francisco restaurants by $$$ and most reviewed - and bam you have a list. Problem is good for everyone doesn't necessarily mean good for you or really excellent for anyone.

                    1. Not from the area, just starting to do my own research. The other poster is right about there being a lot of restaurants (most per capita in US apparently).

                      Check this out, might give you a starting point.


                      Not sure when article was written, hope it helps.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: mike62

                        I think Fodor's best bets list is OK. It recommends safe S.F. institutions and curiosities. It is missing the vibrant, creative, $50-80 pp food scene (though perhaps with good reason as tables book out early) e.g. AQ, State Bird Provisions, Frances, Nopa etc.

                        As well as failing to note the explosion of amazing Italian and Cal-Italian options: Cotogna, Flour + Water, Quince, Perbacco, Barbacco, La Ciccia, Incanto etc.

                        1. re: goldangl95

                          For a strong up-to-the-moment list, I like Eater SF - they have "heatmaps" they update monthly with a who-is-in-who-is-out, and a "top 38" list which is a great starting point.
                          The Eater "heatmap" includes State Bird, Plaj (what?), Comal, Mission Bowling. Their top 38 looks like a whos-who of board favorites - Commonwealth, Frances, Lers Ros, SPQR, Range, AQ, Cotegna, Aziza .... it's a good list of "hot in the last couple of years", much better than SF gate's top 100, or Michelin's list (which is a bit more expensive than your target).

                          Fodor's list I find really troublesome, because there's a lot of mix and match without the description telling you the story. Quince and Plouf are next to each other in the list. Quince is a rarified hushed fine dining experience that will serve you pasta at the levels of the best in italy - at a similar price. Plouf is a rather boisterous hall serving mussels that's fun, but if you've just come from france or belgium, you'd take one sip and run away in shame - mussel lovers should actually avoid it.

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            Plaj was the subject of a recent thread here. I for one am curious.


                            1. re: bbulkow

                              The eater maps are good for seeing what is trendy but especially the heatmap doesn't select places that actually have good food more just the ones with the best publicists which is why you get mission bowling on there. Plaj is probably on there because it's a hot new opening, I personally liked the meal I had there but wouldn't recommended it as a must have.

                              The top 38 is better but still is based on media popularity.

                          2. re: mike62

                            Btw mike62 great starting point for SF and works great for LA also
                            Ughhhh so many choices so little time!!!

                          3. Noticed this thread after reading your LA thread. We'll be in SF in late September. One place we're really looking forward to going (back) to is Good Mong Kok for excellent cheap dim sum takeout. Har gow the size of racquetballs, three for $1.80. Shu mai, dumplings, pastries, all delicious and inexpensive.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: PeterCC

                              @ PeterCC Yes am all over Cali. Am starting in LA aug 10-14, then SD from 14-17, SF 17-21 and napa 21-24 (see my reply on LA post)
                              I have so many recos to get my head is spinning! So I welcome any CHers suggestions ;-) btw I like dim sum but never thought of it in Cali!

                              1. re: CookingQueen

                                Montreal's dim sum is pretty good in Chinatown but I'd say LA and SF are better. I'll post some LA recs in your thread on the LA board.

                                1. re: PeterCC

                                  I have a feeling u r right about that!
                                  Will let u know ;-)

                            2. Not sure if you are willing to try, but I highly recommend Burmese at Mandalay or Burma Superstar. What I would give for a fresh tea leaf salad. Yum.

                              I tell everyone about the pomme d'amour at Knead patisserie. It's in the mission district. You can also check out an ice cream place or two while there as Humphry Slocumb and Bi-rite are both in the area.

                              I also highly recommend Aziza and visiting ocean beach if you are in the area. We did Mandalay for lunch, then visited Ocean beach and Golden Gate Park, and returned to Aziza for dinner. Aziza was my favourite restaurant of the trip.

                              See my reviews at:


                              Have a great trip!

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                Not yet a Burmese fan unfortunately
                                I would however love to have recos for Asian cuisine specifically Chinese
                                I am only used to the typical (Cantonese style i believe) that is not usually spicy (chicken chow mein, general Tao chicken, won ton shrimp soup, egg rolls etc
                                I do love ramen noodles esoecially hand made but that is Japanese maybe?!?!?!
                                I have no experience in Korean either so am not sure if I would or should try it in SF I believe that may be too spicy for us

                                1. re: CookingQueen

                                  Korean is probably too spicy for you as a whole based on your parameters. Most of the Korean dishes I've had have a bite (except for Bi Bim Bap).

                                  The ramen noodles you are looking for are, indeed, Japanese. The best is worthy of seeking out and in Japantown is a small restaurant called Tanpopo on the Buchanan Street-side of the Japantown. This restaurant consistently gets the best ratings in the city for noodles and is on the very affordable side as well as bowls of noodles range from $7 to $10.

                                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                                    Will check that out...I love ramen...if broth is good
                                    Thanks again

                                    1. re: CookingQueen

                                      Tanpopo is okay but if you're in financial district there are a couple places that I think are much better than any of the Japantown places.

                                      I think Kirimachi Ramen on Broadway has the best ramen in San Francisco.

                                      Ramen Underground on Kearny is also very good. It's a bit salty, also very crowded at lunch hour. But still a very good bowl of noodles.

                                      1. re: calumin

                                        I think you've hit the nail on the head why I hated Ramen Underground - way too salty for me...

                                        Haven't tried Kirimachi and will soon!

                                  2. re: CookingQueen

                                    Have you tried Tea Leaf Salad? It was my favorite of what we tried from Mandalay and Mingdalaba. So unique and delicious.

                                    1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                      No have not but maybe I will once I see it in person
                                      Will report back and let u know

                                    2. re: CookingQueen

                                      You are going to be in so cal, no? Eat chinese down there. Much better down there for ethnic food while sf's strength is fine dining.

                                      1. re: CookingQueen

                                        Despite what everyone says, I do think you should try Dungeness -- at a Chinese restaurant specializing in seafood. It won't be local, but it will be live until out of a tank. Try Great Eastern in Chinatown -- order the salt and pepper crab. Messy but good!

                                        Since you asked about lunch and are going to be in the Financial District, I'll suggest Barbacco -- great Italian, not expensive. You might have a short wait at peak lunch time.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          You can also reserve for lunch at Barbacco, either at 11:45 or 12:30 per their website.