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Oct 25, 2012 01:11 PM

First visit to SF

Hi. Arriving for my first visit to San Francisco (from Toronto) next week. Staying near Union Square for 5 nights. Looking for restaurants for dinner in the mid-price range. We don’t eat red meat, do like veggies, poultry, fish and seafood preferred. Happy with Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, and fresh preparations preferred to saucy and over-prepared. Lively, fun atmosphere a plus.

Suggestions please. Very excited for our visit. Thanks!

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  1. First place that came to mind: Tadich Grill. "Oldest restaurant in SF," get the cioppino.

    6 Replies
    1. re: bobabear

      If you like old school, Tadich works. Seven Hills has been getting some good press lately. Canteen is nice for California comfort food reinterpreted in an updated diner type space.

      A little further away is AQ for adventurous/ambitious CA cuisine, Cotogna for very fresh/cal-italian (as well as Flour + Water, Locanda, SPQR, and Incanto).

      Very far flung is Aziza near Golden Gate Park.

      1. re: goldangl95

        Didn't Bauer say Seven Hills was okay for a neighborhood restaurant, but he wouldn't go out of his way for it? I'd never heard of it until recently.

        1. re: Glencora

          Seven Hills has the #4 food rating in the new Zagat, after Gary Danko, French Laundry, and Kiss Seafood. Hasn't gotten much attention here. Chef is an Alioto.

          1. re: Glencora

            I read bauer but I NEVER let him dictate where i eat.

            1. re: smatbrat

              FWIW we're booked at Seven Hills for our Nov visit but that was based on reccs from CH such as in this thread: not Bauer's comments which postdate when I made the reso.

        2. re: bobabear

          Tadich's menu is kind of a minefield. Rex and Petrale sole and sand dabs are good bets, cioppino I'd go somewhere less likely to overcook the seafood. What can happen if you order at random:

        3. Been a few years since I lived in the city thus I do not know the current IN spots. But I do have to say that the Tadich Grill is quite a memorable SF only experience from the white apron waiters and the secluded booths to the great bar and traditional seafood including abalone. Of course another very SF location is the Cliff House on the Pacific side of Golden Gate park overlooking Sea Rocks , not gourmet food but good enough at this wonderful venue. Also go to China town and look for the big round tables with locals eating and take a seat order by saying ...."I'll have one of those". Drinks at the St. Francis is great fun and quite old school San Francisco.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bacchus101

            1. OP is from Toronto, where they have very good chinese food, I hear. The random joint in chinatown may be far below expectations.
            2. When someone makes a blanket statement like "We don't eat red meat", I don't send them to a chinese place for point-and-eat. You might get red meat. You're unlikely to get "fresh preparations".

            This is my current list of a good media site that cover the SF scene:

          2. You might want to try the signature roasted chicken with warm bread salad at Zuni. The restaurant is iconic California cuisine.


            1. Lively, fun, fresh preps, fish/seafood - Bar Crudo.
              One night you might want to walk through Belden Place and choose from a variety of restaurants in a lively atmosphere. (it's near where you're staying)
              For Italian, Barbacco - lively, great Italian, also near you.
              I second Cotogna, if you can get in for dinner...
              Also very much agree with Canteen.

              If you want a really lively atmosphere and want to leave your neighborhood one evening, hop on BART, two stops away, Mission 16th Street Station, walk one block to Valencia Street (someone will point you to it) for a variety of restaurants, taquerias, pizza places, thai, vietnamese, indian .... Limon is good for Peruvian tapas.

              1. Thanks for all the replies. Still looking through the links. Booked Salt House and Foreign Cinema, so far.

                @bbulkow: you hit the nail on the head. We have some great Asian fare here but might try some dim sum for lunch because we love it, not because it's the tourist thing-to-do.

                We'll definitely check out Valencia St.

                13 Replies
                1. re: Boonah

                  You might try scouring some of the XLB threads and cherrypicking some of the smaller places, although they tend to be in the avenues and thus somewhat of a pain. If you can fold it into a trip to the ocean, that's a pleasant few hours.

                  16th and Valencia is one of my favorite corners in the world, but I will say you should do a little research. There are bars and restaurants right there, but there are a lot more a few blocks away - and the blocks down there are large in the evening if there's a cold wind blowing. Make sure you know what destination you're setting out for if you're going to walk more than a block or two.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    What's great right around 16th and Valencia these days except the shawarma at Truly Mediterranean?

                    I don't think anyone coming from Toronto this time of year is going to feel much of a chill in SF.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Limon? i mean, maybe it's not FANTASTIC, but....

                      i've not been, but i've heard raves about that newish Indian seafood place, Gajalee.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I think there's enough "very good" near that intersection --- "great" might be a high bar ---
                        You have to apply a liberal definition of "right around" - not the native definition (< 1 block) --- thus my recommendation to do some research and pick some targets.

                        Little Star
                        Mission Chinese (perhaps not good for a vancouverite)
                        Luna park if you like espresso martinis
                        Pakwan (at least, I like it)
                        La Oaxacana - is there a good dish?
                        Namu Gaji ?
                        Monk's Kettle
                        Nihon Whiskey Lounge
                        Mission Bowling (canada != burgers)
                        I like the cocktails at Cassanova and Dalva, beer at Uptown
                        Hog and Rocks
                        Amber Dhara (if it's like the PA one)
                        Tacolicious ?
                        Taqueria Cancun
                        SouthPaw BBQ
                        Bissap Baobab (not great, but different)

                        (cross 20th and you get more, Foreign Cinema, Limon, Dosa, Nombe )

                        I'm not saying all of these are perfect, just that there's some decent eats within a short walk. _VERY_ decent eats. I like Sunflower quite a bit but wouldn't recommend it, Ti Couz is gone, various taquerias.

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          great list - i'm with you!
                          and i like Sunflower quite a bit too.

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            You said "16th and Valencia is one of my favorite corners" so I was thinking maybe you had some special favorites right there. It's probably my least favorite corner on Valencia due to its popularity with street crazies.

                            The general area is one of the best concentrations of restaurants in the world. I think 18th is more the epicenter than 16th.

                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                Not if you are looking for some smack!

                                1. re: Civil Bear

                                  or craving that certain urine aroma wafting about you...

                                2. re: mariacarmen

                                  Bar Bambino is close to there. I like that place.

                        2. re: Boonah

                          Went to Salt House in January & was not happy. Found fish & pork entrees to be meh & dessert was disappointing too. Only reason we went is that it was a last minute thing & was meeting my husband near his office.

                          Do try to go to Perbacco. Lively atmosphere with stellar food & equally stellar service. Well priced too. I third Cotogna...opentable may not have seats, but try calling.

                          We enjoy Gitane though haven't had fish or poultry recently. May be you could stop by for a small bite & a great cocktail.

                          Kokkari is another option.

                          1. re: ceekskat

                            My last trip to the Salt House was disappointing as well - I've crossed it off my list...

                            Like Ceekskat, I am a fan of Gitane.

                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                              I was bullish on it for a while, now I only go for the oysters. It's also too loud now.