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Oct 24, 2012 11:33 PM

SF Itinerary Nov 12

Hi All,

Visiting from Australia this November and wanted some advice on a potential itinerary.

It’s my girlfriend and I, we are both in late 20's and enjoy all types of food. Preferably like somewhere that's got a bit of atmosphere.
Probably looking to avoid a tasting menu due to other places we have booked in other cities. The plan is to use public transport or cabs wherever possible.
Budget isn't really an issue.

We have 4 nights and are staying at the Hotel Palomar, so far i have booked;

Flour + Water
Slanted Door
Sushi Ran

We have the fourth night unbooked at this point in time. I have been reading good things about Comal and we both like Mexican/Tapas style food so was thinking that could be a good option.

I really like the look of Flour + Water, so quite happy to keep it, all the rest are up for debate.

Can you offer any advice as to whether these choices are good choices? any advice is good advice at this stage.


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  1. In November, getting to Sushi Ran and back for dinner is complicated on public transportation as it is located in Sausalito... Are you set on going there? There are great haute-cuisine sushi restaurants in the city that would be easier to get to and just as interesting: Ame and Koo for starters.

    I understand the tourist draw of Slanted Door, but coming from Australia, I wonder if you might not get enough Indonesian-influenced cuisine there to make Slanted Door sort of blase?

    My friends that visit from the Southern Hemisphere are usually more interested in local favorites: you will be here for crab season and Cioppino is a huge favorite (I recommend it at Sotto Mare or Rose Pistola). You are getting the rest of your Italian at Flour + Water so that is good.

    For Tapas, I really like Zarzuelo's, but Contigo gets a bit of love around here as well. A taco or a MIssion Burrito should round out your visit nicely.

    5 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Thanks for getting back to me.

      Of the two, Ame and Koo, which would you recommend? I would be happy to take a cab to and from Sushi Ran, is this not a good idea?

      I am from the West Coast of Australia and we although we get some authentic Vietnamese/Indonesian, we don't have any quality fusion style Asian cuisine (East coast Australia has plenty of this).
      If I get rid of Slanted Door would something like Aziza be a better choice? Seems to be well-liked on this forum and as I said I like all types of cuisine.

      Thanks for the tapas recommendations. I'll look into those two.

      Is there anywhere in SF that does Mexican style small plates, around the mid-range, as previously mentioned Comal seems to be this type of place, any other options?

      1. re: Marchez

        I don't think a cab to-and-from Sushi Ran is worth it -- it is across the bridge and you'll end up spending $50 each way. Ame is more high-end and specializes in crudo-style offerings of raw fish with chef Hiro Sone's particular Japanese expertise. I ate at Koo only a week ago and between the two, I would chose Ame because it is a little more special and nice and easier for you to get to from downtown.

        Since you are interested in the fusion concept of Asian cuisine, you might want to consider the Slanted Door's smaller off-shoots on Fillmore or in the Westfield Mall, Out the Door. Aziza IS a board favorite because there is nothing else like it in other cities: Cal-Moroccan haute cuisine. I would take Aziza over Slanted Door any day of the week - for the cuisine, the ambience (Slanted Door is crowded and loud), and experience.

        Mexican small plates don't really exist much, but I'm not sure you want to make a trip to Berkeley just for Comal. Take a look at Nopalito or Gracias Madres. Honestly, you might just want to wander the Mission and eat a little here and eat a little there for a "small plates" custom tasting.

        1. re: CarrieWas218

          Out the Door in the Westfield Mall, sadly, is closed.

          1. re: farmersdaughter

            That,s FD - I hadn't been there in a while and didn't know!

        2. re: Marchez

          I'd take the advice on Mexican small plates and head to the Mission where you should just know burritos are 10 lbs. but that they can cut them, and you obviously don't have to finish the whole thing. Otherwise, Nopalita is a great suggestion, but you'll be missing out on what we're really known for.

      2. Consider taking the Golden Gate Ferry to Sausalito for a Sushi Ran trip. Not only is the restaurant certainly worth a visit but the trip over from SF Ferry Building to Sausalito is a lovely one. I suggest it to out of town friends even if they are not going to Sushi Ran. It is a 5-6 block walk, fairly short blocks, from Sausalito ferry to restaurant.

        21 Replies
        1. re: alfairfax

          The OP mentioned Sushi Ran for dinner and the ferry does not run at night and they don't serve lunch on weekends. The ferry is a lovely idea if they want to make a half-day trip of Sausalito to include a weekday lunch, but otherwise it is impractical - depending on what else they are doing on the trip.

          1. re: CarrieWas218

            Taking the ferry is very doable for an early dinner -- I've done it and it's great. Right now, the last Golden Gate Ferry leaves at 7:20 on weekdays and the last Blue and Gold at 8:20 (9:40 on Fridays), but the B&G schedule is supposed to change Oct 29.

            1. re: nocharge

              Yes - the schedule changes at the end of October and the OP is coming mid-November when the last ferry will be around 6:00ish...

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                No. The Golden Gate schedule won't change until December and I highly doubt the last B&G ferry will be around 6:00ish in the new schedule.

                1. re: nocharge

                  So if my Sushi Ran res is at 8pm, it sounds like it might be too much of a hassle getting there and back.
                  I really liked the look of the menu at Sushi Ran over Ame. Is there anything around SF city that is similar and easier to get to?

                  1. re: Marchez

                    For me, Koo Sushi or Ebisu are comparable to Sushi Ran and are similar in their originality and innovation. I am also a huge fan of the omakase at Kiss, but it is far more traditional, but special.

                    1. re: Marchez

                      In the evening there's a Golden Gate Transit bus from Sausalito to SF once an hour, leaves from a block away.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        And takes about an hour each way - not worth it...

                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                          The ferry over is only 25 minutes and lots of tourists take that for its own sake. The bus takes half an hour to Van Ness and California.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Agreed - but there is a difference in tourists who are usually taking the ferry when it is light out and there are gorgeous views to be had of the city, the bay, and the surrounding islands.

                            The OP indicated their reservation is at 8:00 in the evening. Taking a bus to-and-from Sausalito - just for a sushi dinner the likes of which could be had with less travel time in the city - is not worth it.

                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                              The views from the ferry are beautiful at night too, if it's not foggy.

                              I see why a half-hour ferry ride one way and half-hour bus ride the other should be a showstopper. That's faster than taking public transportation from Union Square to Aziza or Fisherman's Wharf to the Mission.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                It's a pretty far step down from Sushi Ran to either Ebisu or Koo. Sushi Ran is in another league & is the only sushi restaurant in the Bay Area that compares with the best in NY or LA. I'd try to find a way to take in Sausalito that evening and take a taxi back.

                                If getting a taxi is really too much of a hassle, I'd pick Ame over Ebisu or Koo & focus on other things than sushi / sashimi.

                                1. re: calumin

                                  I'm surprised by that assessment, Calumin.

                                  Granted, we have no Urasawa or Masa on the west coast (I've dined at both), but my meal at Ebisu at Thursday was far more memorable than my several visits to Sushi Ran.

                                  And there is no way Sushi Ran compares to the likes of Urasawa...

                                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                                    I think it's very possible to have an ordinary, uninteresting meal at Sushi Ran. They have an extensive menu with a lot of items I think are okay but not special.

                                    But if you go high-end and focus on their best cuts of fish I think it's better than anywhere else in the Bay Area.

                                    I haven't been to Urasawa. I have been to a lot of places in NY and think 15 East served the best sushi I've had in NY. I don't think Sushi Ran is as good as 15 East but I can't think of any other restaurant in the Bay Area I'd even put in that category.

                                    I haven't been to Ebisu in about five years but my last meal there was not interesting at all. I do go to the Ebisu takeout place on Kearny quite a bit -- the food there is pretty good as far as takeout goes.

                                    1. re: calumin

                                      My last time at Sushi Ran was a first date - trust me that the guy ordered every high-end dish on the menu, knowing I used to write professionally for multiple food magazines.

                                      This was the same guy who took me to Ebisu (and we were at Koo three weeks ago), so I was surprised that Ebisu impressed me so much.

                                      I'll maintain that a visitor from Australia - although they might enjoy Sushi Ran - would ultimately be pretty disappointed by the amount of transit time it would take to-and-from Sausalito when there are comparable meals in the city without the hassle of Muni.

                                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                                        What seems like a hassle at home can be fun when traveling. I mostly take the bus in Paris as you get a slice of life you'd miss otherwise.

                                        Golden Gate Transit buses are a couple of orders of magnitude nicer than Muni.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          But in the dark, still not much to see...

                                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                                            Have you taken that bus at night? The bridge is pretty spectacular and if it's not foggy there are some amazing views of the city lights on the bay and the SF skyline.

                                        2. re: CarrieWas218

                                          I don't get the "hassle of Muni" comment. You recommended Aziza, which means either spending a lot of time on Muni or a non-scenic cab ride 9 miles roundtrip. Sushi Ran is a highly scenic ferry ride plus a 10-mile cab ride back. Going to Sausalito is not that big a deal in terms of hassle.

                                          1. re: nocharge

                                            Thanks all for the interest in the topic, I really appreciate the repsonses.

                                            I was thinking we could take an earlier ferry over the bay at around 530/6ish to take in some of the view, explore Sausolito followed by dinner at Sushi Ran. I get its going to be cold, we will just have to rug up. I dont mind getting a cab back to the hotel afterwards, driving across the bridge at night is something I would like to tick off the list.

                                            In regards to Slanted Door I get where everyone is coming from and I think I will swap it out for Aziza. I guess i can get my American/Asian fusion fix in NY.

                                            1. re: Marchez

                                              Bear in mind that the sun is setting at 5:00ish right now. If you could time your ferry trip during sunset (or a bit before), you might enjoy it more. 5:30/6:00ish will be dark.

            2. Personally I would switch out Slanted Door for Aziza.

              Your hotel has a wonderful restaurant, the 5th floor.

              Others to consider: Range

              for Tapas, altho not mexican, I am a huge fan of Txoko. and from there you can go to Romolo and comstock for cocktails.

              Sushi ran, commute or not, kinda depends on what you are really looking for in Sushi.

              1 Reply
              1. re: smatbrat

                Concur with Smatbrat - I'd take Aziza over Slanted Door.

                And, sushi-wise, I had a KICK-ASS sushi experience at Ebisu on Thursday night. Blew Sushi Ran out of the water...

              2. Forget the Slanted Door. The hype by far exceeds the reality.
                Some worthwhile combination of better food, more fun, and atmosphere can be found at:
                Foreign Cinema (ask for a table outside), Farallon, Boulevard, The Blue Plate, Cotogna, Bix.
                Sushi? Domo on Laguna has good sushi and the neighborhood is lively.
                The ferry idea to Sausalito is a good one. It's a beautiful trip in nice weather, but I must confess I've never been to Sushi Ran.

                2 Replies
                1. re: melvin

                  Wow, how you describe SD is how I feel about FC & BP. I wouldn't return to Blue Plate even with another Groupon.

                  1. re: melvin

                    Cotogna is cool; I liked it.
                    Sushi Ran is good but if you're going to bother coming to Sausalito, how about coming in the daytime and trying Fish? I think it's more representative of the area and there's other good sushi places in SF.
                    State Bird Provisions is a place I'd add.
                    I'd also suggest you go down to Valencia Street and try something hip and ethnic. One block over is Mission Chinese, a place I love. Very funky but very good food.

                  2. I'd also add Nopa to your list.