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Week in SF, dining plan

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Folks, I hope this isn't too general. I get to SF for a week or so every once in a while, but haven't been there in about 2.5 years. Looks like this October or November I'll be there again.

I'm staying and working in the city, probably lodging in the Union Sq area with my work around Market/Montgomery. I will not have a car and my work schedule may be long and unpredictable, so East Bay or Richmond or whatever is out. I've taken the bus up Geary to the Japantown mall and will probably do so again, but generally prefer to walk, with my comfort radius being the Ferry Building, North Beach, Chinatown, the Mission area maybe as far as 8th or 10th or the Vietnamese area on Larkin (no, I have no issues walking O'Farrell up to Larkin or Polk.)

I'll go full $ one night out of my stay (sometimes I've rented a car to go to Manresa, for instance); this time it'll be Coi, but otherwise want to keep it under $35 for a dinner entree (but can also be happy with a $5 banh mi.) As I said, probably one night in Japantown, probably at least one meal at Henry's Hunan (I can't help it, I really like that smoky bacon). Otherwise I've eaten at Slanted Door, Hog Island, Salt House, LuLu, any number of places in Chinatown and Little Saigon. I'm looking for something new and eclectic (I hate to call it modern American, but you know what I mean), for western Chinese (e.g Xinjiang), maybe hand-pulled noodles, I'd really like to find northern Vietnamese (most every place I found was southern, which is understandable). I'd also like to find a good German/Austrian bakery for breakfast - there used to be a place on Market but I couldn't find it last time, and don't recall the name.

If I have a day off, I'l rent a car and drive up to Napa or Sonoma for the day, so if there's anything I really shouldn't miss, let me know (no, I don't mean the $500 chef's counter at Meadowood.) But I'll have to drive myself back.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. New and eclectic would be State Bird Provisions. AQ may also fit the bill.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      Second on AQ. The new Bar Tartine is great.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        seconding Bar Tartine. Singular.

    2. If you like smoky bacon in a Chinese food context, you may want to try the thrice cooked bacon at Mission Chinese food. Very smoky and one of the better dishes at a controversial (but much discussed) restaurant. Seconding State Bird. Turtle Tower serves Northern-style pho and I quite like it. There are multiple locations in SF, but I can only vouch for the one in Tenderloin aka Little Saigon.

      4 Replies
      1. re: possumspice

        Thanks to you and the others. Bar Tartine and Mission Chinese seem like quite a hike. Is there public transit from the financial district? Are reservations recommended at places like AQ, State Bird or Bar Tartine? I'm usually solo and comfortable sitting at a bar/counter, but I won't wait for 45 minutes to get a spot.

        Oh, and I've eaten at Turtle Tower. The bun cha just didn't do it for me. Maybe I'll try it again.

        1. re: Gin n Tonic

          State Bird is very good. It does sound like the best fit if you're looking for an eclectic, modern American food experience. It is also very popular. Right now they are pretty much booked up for the next 60 days.

          http://statebirdsf.com/reservations/

          You can do a walk-in, but you might be waiting a while unless you show up at an odd hour. I went a few months ago at 7 PM on a Wednesday and waited an hour for a table for two (was catching up with a friend and it was a nice night, so I didn't mind standing outside). This was before they were featured in the NYT and named best new restaurant by Bon Appetit, so I would guess that they are only more popular now.

          Bar Tartine is also excellent. The food and format weren't quite as interesting as State Bird, but I found all of the dishes there to be well prepared. I'd probably count it among my top 5 meals in San Francisco, actually. It's a quick ride on BART from downtown and then a three block walk.

          1. re: Gin n Tonic

            Public transportation is very easy from downtown, just Bart to 16th Street stop. If you've not been to the Mission District, you should really check it out sometime. It's widely acknowledged to be one of the foodier neighborhoods in SF, and really fun to walk around. If anything, I'm a little less clear on how you would get to State Bird easily from Fidi.

            1. re: possumspice

              State Bird's a straight shot on the Geary bus, half a block from the stop.

        2. Range