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San Francisco in December

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Hello Chowhounds!

My brother and I are hitting up San Francisco for four days before Christmas (December 20 - 24) and we wanted to go to a variety of places. We don't have a lot of time but below is what our tentative itinerary looks like. There are some blanks and some places we are still undecided on but I would appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

December 20
Lunch - ? (nothing yet, we may be arriving around 1ish)
Dinner - Saison (still deciding if we should go here - brother wants to sit on the Chef's table, is it worth it???)

December 21
Lunch - Swan Oyster Depot (I really want some good oysters)
Dinner - Atelier Crenn (Reservation already made)

December 22
Lunch - The French Laundry (Reservation already made)
Dinner - House of Prime Rib (we figured we should go here as an SF staple)

December 23
Lunch - Boccalone Salumeria (still deciding if we should go here)
Dinner - Incanto (we haven't made reservations yet as we can only do it 30 days in advance)

December 24
Breakfast - ? (Is there a go-to breakfast place near Market and 3rd?)

- Carla

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  1. Ummmmm.... if you have lunch reservations at The French Laundry, there is NO WAY IN THE WORLD you will be able to eat at House of Prime Rib that night. You will not want to eat *anything* else that day at all.

    5 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      plus 100!

      Must have at that time of year is Dungeness crab(s). The site will give recs.

      Re breakfast, don't worry particularly about location. The city is very walkable. Anything from Union Square to SoMa to Chinatown (dim sum?) to North Beach, etc.

      1. re: c oliver

        Thanks C Oliver!

      2. re: CarrieWas218

        Thanks Carolyn! Duly noted :).

        1. re: CarrieWas218

          In addition to the scope of the meal at French Laundry you have to consider the time. Lunch is 3-4 hours, so you won't be done until late afternoon. And then you have to drive back to the city in holiday weekend traffic.

          For dinner after French Laundry I'd want something completely different. My first instinct is to recommend Lers Ros (Thai). It's open late, so you could have a late meal.

          I see from your profile that you're from Vancouver, so dungeness crab isn't a big deal (a good example of why we suggest that posters tell us where they're coming from). You might look at some of fellow Vancouverite grayelf's posts. She eats out here more than a lot of locals, and she can give you the Vancouver perspective.

          Personally I think you're crazy to try to cram Saison, Crenn and French Laundry into less than 48 hours. Save your stomach and your wallet by checking out some of the excellent restaurants on the next tier down.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Ah, thanks. I didn't check the Vancouver status. And I agree that stepping down a "tier" or three :) is going to give more SF flavor than the very top.

        2. Boccalone isn't anything particularly special, in my mind. I'd maybe get a meat cone there and snack your way through the rest of the Ferry Building for lunch.

          Incanto is fine. I had a perfectly decent meal there, but also did not find it to be particularly special, what with the celebrity chef status of Cosentino. Something like La Ciccia, a perennial Chowhound favorite Sardinian restaurant just down the street from Incanto, might impress you even more.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Spenbald

            Thanks Spenny. Will probably get rid of Boccalone and switch our meals around.

            1. re: foodtyblog

              The pork ragu at Incanto is absolutely to die for (and this was the case long before Costentino started starring on TV shows, and is still the case). Get the pasta with the pork ragu and the duck egg if they have it.

              If you can round up 16 of your closest friends do the whole pig dinner in the dante room. A fun time and great food (and plenty of it).

              1. re: skwid

                Thanks skwid! We'll definitely look into that!

          2. Thanks for the feedback everyone! Will probably move House of Prime Rib to another day. I think we will need something light for dinner after TFL. Any suggestions?

            6 Replies
            1. re: foodtyblog

              No offense intended, but I'm curious why House of Prime Rib is even on your list. Sure, it's an old SF place but a good piece of beef can be had just about anywhere.

              1. re: c oliver

                C Oliver is right - there are other old San Francisco stalwarts more notable than House of Prime Rib (Swan's Oyster Bar, Tadich Grill, the Buena Vista for an Irish coffee...)

                I've eaten at the French Laundry a number of times and prefer it to lunch because you are completely and entirely sated for the rest of the day. I can't imagine you will want anything at all for dinner. And, as Ruth said, after Saison and Crenn the two nights before, you may not be able to entirely enjoy lunch at French Laundry. You won't want anything later!

                1. re: CarrieWas218

                  Agreed. And if staying at Market and 3rd, easy enough to tumble out to any number of spots for a bite.

                2. re: c oliver

                  Agreed . . . it's not that big of a deal. If you want something truly "San Franciscan," get a Mission burrito or something street food-esque . . . but beware of buying any mushrooms in the Panhandle!

                  1. re: zin1953

                    Ah, yes! A Mission burrito. Not something found just anywhere!

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Thanks to everyone for their input.

                      As to C Oliver's initial question about House of Prime Rib...Its a tentative itinerary and the whole point of posting was to get people's input and see what sticks for us. As we have never eaten our way through SF, we just thought of putting places that interested us on the list.

                      As per most people's comments on being full after TFL...Though it is our first time at TFL, we've been to many similar restaurants around the world and are extremely familiar with the feeling of being extremely full afterwards. No matter the feeling we have though, we always need to have dinner because our stomachs get messed up in the morning. We've had lunches start at 2:30 and last 4 hours long but we have always needed to eat dinner. Our bodies need it and we usually have dinner later than most people anyways.

                      That being said, a Mission burrito may be something to consider after TFL. Thanks for that! :p

              2. Incanto's as good as Cal-Italian gets and should be a good foil to the depraved Frenchy excess of the French Laundry. I'd say skip Boccalone as you can get the exact same salumi as an appetizer at Incanto.

                I had a great time at Saison's chef's counter. I doubt there's anything like it anywhere else, and there may be nothing like it anywhere after they move to their fancier digs downtown.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8178...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Awesome. We were definitely thinking of getting rid of Boccalone. Thanks for the input Robert!

                2. Just a note that Saison may or may not be open on December 20. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875499

                  It says they're opening the new location mid-December, but it seems there are always delays with restaurants. In addition, you mentioned the chef's table, which the new restaurant won't have.

                  Given all that, I'd suggest that if at all possible you switch your Crenn reservation to the 20th and plan something else for the night before lunch at French Laundry -- I think you'll enjoy both of them more if you don't do them less than 24 hours apart.

                  BTW, you were joking about a Mission Burrito for dinner after TFL, right? No way you'd want one of those gut-busters after lunch at TFL.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Thanks for the tips Ruth! This is really helpful. We'll give them a call and see how it all works out.

                    As for a Mission Burrito, we haven't decided yet... hehehe ;)

                  2. I'd substitute saison or atelier crenn for pizza, cotogna or delfina pizzeria would be my choices.