HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Phx Hound 1st time to SF

Going to be in SF for the first time, and only have 3 days to get in as much as possible

First night will probably go for a nice dinner then the rest of the time kind of figure it out as we go

for dinner deciding between Benu / Gary Danko / Alt Crenn - leaning toward Benu however they only have a late booking 930-10 and wondered how long the tasting menu is and if i go that late are they going to "rush" service etc to get out of there for the evening sooner, i wouldn't think so at a 2 star but human nature and all - any advice appreciated there for those that have been to a later dinner at Benu

Then Fisherman's Wharf (i know it is touristy but have to go) is there any place in there that is a must try ?

Will def be going to PPQ for some Vietnamese Crabs - we will be there a big before the dungaress crab season opens, so hopefully they will have good crabs then

Going to hit up Smugglers Cove for sure 1 early evening, is there anything near there that is good to soak up some of the rum drinks afterwards...doesn't need to be fancy, something seafood focused would be good

What else is good for a first time visitor? Perhaps one of the 3 Chinese places mentioned in the other threads, there is not a lot of good Chinese in Phx - Is there one place that does Peking Duck the best? We both love duck

Is Heaven's Dog / Slanted Door worth the price? Also can you just walk in there or do you need ressies?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Starting from the bottom, you definitely need reservations at Slanted Door. I think if you're doing PPQ that doing Slanted Door is not worth one of your other few meals.

    The best Peking duck I've had in SF proper is at Z&Y in Chinatown. In addition, they're known for their Sichuan specialties.

    There are no "must eats" on Fisherman's Wharf although there are some places that are decent if you decide to eat there.

    1. if you're coming during a weekend, make sure to stop by the ferry plaza farmers market saturday morning. good food stands. and local produce you wont find in any AZ farmers market. the ferry plaza itself is a good place to check out even without the market.

      with limited time, i would not eat at fisherman's wharf - tourist heavy, nice to visit once, but nothing there that's worth a meal if you can help it.

      1. Regarding PPQ, make sure you go to PPQ Dungeness Island on Clement. The original PPQ location on Irving does not offer crab dishes.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Civil Bear

          Thanks, for that, might have gone to the wrong one

          Does PPQ do crabs all throughout the day or just at dinner?

          In regards to the market We won't be there during the day Saturday, we will be able to check it out Tuesday morning though before we leave (if we are up in time) - is it worth checking out on a Tuesday or save it for a different trip?

          Decided to go with Benu with a later reservation for Saturday evening, then probably PPQ and Smugglers Cove Sunday - what is a good place to get something to absorb some tiki drinks close to Smugglers Cove? (or by Union Square that is where we are staying)

          Now just need a good choice for Monday...probably try to follow it up with Bourbon and Branch / Wilson and Wilson afterwards - any ideas?

          1. re: Dapuma

            Plenty of places in Hayes Valley. Suppenkuche is a fun, lively (high decibel) German (Bavarian?) beer hall and an easy walk (?stumble) from Smuggler's Cove.

            1. re: Dapuma

              There's Chez Maman West, very close to Smuggler's Cove. Lovely Bistrot, and I adore their mussels.

              On Fisherman's Wharf, I like the Franciscan for their ciopinno and the shellfish served on sizzling cast iron. It has a very nice view too. Most people will disagree with me about this, but I don't care. Buena Vista for and Irish Coffee is always yummy.

              For a quick afternoon bite near Union Square, try Daily Grill for their happy hour menu at the bar. Nice drinks and some yummy apps.

              I am not terribly fond of Slanted Door, but I am in a minority. And I don't like Nopa.

          2. Look, Fisherman's Wharf - go and have a late afternoon beer, around sunset, at one of the places with a nice view. Then skedaddle. Go anywhere else, knowing that you had the best of FW. AQ, Nopa, Frances, Flower and Water, Gitane, Zero Zero, ANYWHERE.

            1. Ok so here is the plan so far


              PPQ for lunch Vietnamese Crabs
              Smugglers Cove at some point in the evening
              Delfina Pizza after that

              Coi Palace for Dim Sum
              ???? - Dinner ???? - what San Fran specialty are we missing
              Bourbon and Branch / W & W

              Farmers Market - maybe? is it worth going on Tuesday v Saturday

              7 Replies
                1. re: Beach Chick

                  Right. The Tuesday farmers market is, IMHO, not worth it on its own (especially in low season), but the Ferry Building is a worthwhile foodie destination, so if you go when there's also a farmers market that's a bonus.

                  There have been a couple of recent discussions about where to go on a Monday that you might want to look at.


                  From this list, I'd say Aziza.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Aziza is great! One of my favorite meals ever!

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      BC: I didn't realize there was that building where the market is, that is cool, we probably would have a couple hours to explore the farmers market and ferry building before we have to leave Tuesday morning

                      Oh thanks for that link Ruth

                      I am thinking Izakaya Yuzuki's - that should round us out with Vietnamese Japanese and Chinese - the 3 major food groups :)

                      1. re: Dapuma

                        Hog Island for oysters
                        Blue Bottle coffee
                        Gotts for the Ahi sandwich

                        Have fun!

                2. What are a couple good breakfast places near Union Square, doesn't need to be fancy just something light and filling to get the morning going - even take away would be fine - and / or any good coffee / tea places besides blue bottle in ferry's to hit up closer to union square?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Dapuma

                    I haven't found any really good coffee closer to Union Square than Blue Bottle, unless there is something new since April. Grand Prix is the closest with sorta second wave stuff but the space is weird so do takeaway if you go. Try the prosciutto and havarti croissant if they have them. And the Macau iced coffee is worthy.

                    The pastries at Cafe de la presse might do the trick with a bol of cafe au lait. Not the most amazing coffee in the world but better than most offerings nearby.

                    Cafe Bean is a shortish walk from Union Square and has tasty, Dutch-influenced breakies.

                    1. re: grayelf

                      Yelp is showing grand prix closed...but they are selling Blue Bottle's Macau Coffee it appears so guess it is worth going to Blue Bottle regardless

                      Is the line really 45 min long all the time? There is no way I am waiting that long for coffee, no matter how cool the pictures of their meth...i mean coffee lab look...unless there is a blue bottle inside of Smugglers Cove heh

                      1. re: Dapuma

                        I don't know about always being that long as I don't live in SF and merely visit but we've been at least half a dozen times to the Mint Plaza Blue Bottle and never waited more than ten minutes from start to finish. We don't tend to go at "peak" times however so YMMV.

                        I really like the New Orleans coffee at Blue Bottle Mint if you happen to hit them up on a warm day. And they have some cool brews coming out of those whacky contraptions too if your heart is not set on an espresso based drink. Blue Bottle Mint also has at least one tasty egg-based dish in the morning.

                        The Ferry Market Blue Bottles (there is one outside during the farmers markets too) do tend to have loooongg lineups we've found. They also don't have as much choice for breakfast, though the indoor one did have a fun waffly thing last time we went. And the seating is very ad hoc, not terribly comfy and quite limited -- not really a cafe so much as a glorified takeaway.

                        Thanks for the intel on Grand Prix. I wouldn't have gone out of my way to go back and now I really won't :-)

                    2. re: Dapuma

                      You need to hit up my fave Lefty O'Doul's across from the St. Francis hotel...especially, since the SF Giants are in the World Series...great bar and a lot of the players and fans go..
                      Great smorgasbord for sandwiches and excellent bloodys..
                      Piano bar at night rocks it and just an overall great place to eat and drink..
                      They have a breakfast menu starting at 7am..


                      ps you also need to hit up the classic Buena Vista for Irish Coffee's..

                      1. re: Dapuma

                        Open Mon-Fri, The Golden West is literally a hole in the wall (no place to sit) not far from Union Square. Although website doesn't include bkfst items, they are as interesting as the lunch offerings; however, no coffee I believe. You can grab a table across the street in the Crocker Galleria which also includes a Tully's if you want coffee/tea. Tully's is just a convenient suggestion...you can pick up coffee on the way from any number of Starbucks, etc.


                        By no means a destination, but La Boulange could offer a quick pastry to go. I like their orange cinnamon morning bun. Several locations near Union Square.

                      2. Quick trip update so far ill get a proper report going later

                        Benu - amazing great service food and fun
                        Blue Bottle Coffee - great and great brunch and only a couple blocks from the hotel, can't beat it
                        I get what fishermans wharf is, I was expecting pikes peak in seattle, which is more what the ferry building is - had to see it but once I got there what everyone said made so much more sense
                        Ppq- so good and so much fun, one crab per person is a bit much could have went one crab and a side + noodles - the roast crab was my fav the mrs liked the spicy one
                        Smugglers cove - so awesome met and exceeded expectations
                        Delfina pizza - disappointing not that good
                        Slanted door - great singapore sling and ceviche

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Dapuma

                          Which Delfina did you hit, Dapuma? We tried the one on California a trip or so ago and it was rather meh, but the original still seems to be delivering on the good stuff.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            The one that was about 1 mile from Smugglers Cove - didn't realize there was more than one