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San Francisco Itinerary

l
lhenry Dec 16, 2012 06:38 PM

We will be visiting San Francisco January 4-7, and would appreciate your suggestions and feedback on my choices so far.

Day 1:

Dinner at Kokkari Estiatorio

Day 2:

Lunch at The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus

Dinner at Perbacco

Day 3:

Lunch at N/A- Will be going to Alcatraz afterward so somewhere near the embarcadero would be nice

Dinner at Gary Danko's

Day 4:

Lunch at Boulevard

Thanks,
lhenry

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  1. Ruth Lafler RE: lhenry Dec 16, 2012 07:39 PM

    Let me guess -- you looked at Zagat. You know those are good restaurants -- well, except for the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus, which is fine for what it is, but not exceptional except for the popovers.

    So my question is -- are "safe" restaurants what you want? If so, then you're doing fine. If you want exciting, vibrant restaurants that reflect the current status of the SF dining scene, then that's a different question.

    I suggest that you read some of the other threads from visitors and get an idea of the range of possibilities.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler
      l
      lhenry RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 16, 2012 08:33 PM

      I actually didn't use Zagat, but I used my michelin guide 2013, frommers 2013, and trip advisor. However, what do you mean by exciting and vibrant restaurants? This will be my first time to San Francisco, and I appreciate your suggestion to go to restaurants that show the current dining scene, but I also want a classic San Francisco experience.

      1. re: lhenry
        Ruth Lafler RE: lhenry Dec 16, 2012 11:11 PM

        I would say there are two different types of "classic San Francisco experience." One would be to eat at one of the historic/traditional seafood houses like Tadich Grill or Scoma's at the Wharf. The other would be to dive into the mid-range dining scene and eat more like the locals. Perbacco is the only one on your list I would consider keeping.

        Do you particularly want a high-end tasting menu kind of restaurant like Gary Danko?

        If you do a search for "5 days" there are four of five long threads with requests similar to yours.

        1. re: lhenry
          grayelf RE: lhenry Dec 16, 2012 11:14 PM

          Hey, lhenry, you are in for a treat. SF has great dining at pretty much every level. I'll chime in as a frequent visitor to SF who still remembers her first time with great fondness. We too used frommers but no trip advisor back in the day. We did pretty well but I sure wish I'd known about Chowhound back then to get the kind of tips I think Ruth is referring to.

          We've gotten excellent steers here that I don't believe we would have found elsewhere. Burmese and Lao options, specialty Mexican, specific Vietnamese dishes, smaller specialized Italian -- the list goes on.

          In terms of going for a classic SF experience, I'd be thinking in terms of Sam's or Tadich for a late lunch or early dinner. You might also consider Sotto Mare for a plate of petrale sole.

          Perbacco is solid but I think you can do better for Italian if you get your reservations on quickly. La Ciccia for dinner is pretty wonderful, and Cotogna for lunch is spot on (dinner reservations are tougher).

          The other restaurants you mention don't strike me as particularly emblematic of the Bay Area based on menus offered, though to be fair I haven't dined at them. I do have a jones to try the popover at the
          Rotunda but I've never felt well turned out enough to venture in!

          It seems the places you've listed are all more or less in the same area, so if I might suggest you cast your net a bit wider, you won't be disappointed. SF proper is really quite small and very walkable/transitable (is that a word?). We can't do without our multi-day Muni passes, which allow unlimited rides on the buses, streetcars (which are very cool) and cable cars (which are even cooler and $6 one way without the pass). Worth every penny to get us to more great grub.

          Hope these comments from a fellow traveler are helpful, and I'm sure you'll hear more from the excellent SF Bay Area Hounds to help your first trip be a great success.

          1. re: grayelf
            PolarBear RE: grayelf Dec 18, 2012 05:39 PM

            You are a fine culinary ambassador for our beloved City by the Bay, Grayelf, your posts are always most appreciated.

            Cheers,

            Dave

      2. bbulkow RE: lhenry Dec 17, 2012 09:26 AM

        lhenry,

        It really helps to know what your frame of reference is, as well. I see you've asked a lot of questions about different regions on CH - but responded only once, to a manhattan thread, so I don't know what you like. greyelf was very good about stating likes and dislikes.

        Ruth's correct. The places you've listed are very staid and not representative of the current best of SF in any way. You will be bored and disappointed if you eat that list. We always get "I wish I had listened to you guys" reports. You posted, so listen up - if not to me, than to the rest.

        We have a decent chinese scene, and unless you regularly eat NYC, SGV, Vancouver there's probably some good eating for you. But you've avoided everything even remotely asian - maybe you just don't like that kind of food?

        You should also know that the city is very, very small. You can greatly expand your options to cover most of the neighborhoods in SF with only a $5 cab ride, if that's why you're having all of your meals in north beach / fidi.

        Here's a quick list of slightly more cutting edge but upscale places roughly in the north-east quadrant of the city, leaving out some of the more controversial spots, and basically european/californian/whatever except for YS
        Park Tavern
        Gitane
        Cotogna
        Yank Sing
        Benu
        AQ

        Reply again if you want a more targeted list. I hate seeing people who really like to eat going to the kinds of places you've listed.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bbulkow
          Ruth Lafler RE: bbulkow Dec 17, 2012 09:41 AM

          Actually, I checked his/her posting history to get some kind of idea where he/she was coming from, and lhenry replied to his/her LA request and his/her Hawaii request. In LA it seems like she ate in the equivalent of the places she listed here. Very safe, very LA.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/864673
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/882321

        2. l
          lhenry RE: lhenry Dec 18, 2012 05:14 PM

          Contrary to popular belief asian cuisine is one of my favorites. I feel a bit over whelmed with SF amount of Chinese restaurants, and don't feel like paying the price for yank sing. If you could help me sift through an authentic SF chinatown restaurant that would be great. Also, I am willing to change all the restaurants on the list except Rotunda and Gary Dankos unless a better michelin is available. And I keep forgetting how condensed SF is so I wouldn't mind reaching out to other areas, but not to far because we don't have a car. My tastes vary and don't mind super cheap ($10 pp) or too expensive ($100 pp), and like most ethnic foods.

          13 Replies
          1. re: lhenry
            l
            lhenry RE: lhenry Dec 18, 2012 06:34 PM

            Would Great Eastern chinease be a good option?

            1. re: lhenry
              Ruth Lafler RE: lhenry Dec 19, 2012 01:31 PM

              Great Eastern is a good option for Cantonese/Hong Kong seafood. There are also some pretty good restaurants featuring other regional Chinese cuisines in Chinatown, including Z&Y (Sichuan) and Bund Shanghai. The hot ticket for dim sum in Chinatown these days is Lai Hong Lounge.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                l
                lhenry RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 20, 2012 05:49 PM

                Would the overall food be better at Z&Y or Great Eastern?

                1. re: lhenry
                  Ruth Lafler RE: lhenry Dec 20, 2012 05:58 PM

                  Apples/oranges. I'd pick Great Eastern if I was going to order fresh/live seafood; otherwise, I'd pick Z&Y.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    l
                    lhenry RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 20, 2012 06:03 PM

                    then Z&Y it is, we get enough fresh seafood here in the northwest :)

                    1. re: lhenry
                      c
                      calumin RE: lhenry Dec 21, 2012 07:25 AM

                      Well... I know you asked for an authentic SF chinatown restaurant, but if your plan is to remove Boulevard or Kokkari and replace it with Z&Y, I wouldn't do that.

                      Especially since your first inclination was to put those restaurants on because you didn't want to pay high prices for Yank Sing (Yank Sing is less expensive than Boulevard). I think you'll get a good experience at the restaurants you had before.

                      Remember -- people are just expressing preferences. Lots of people really like Boulevard and it is a great restaurant. If you were to replace Boulevard with Hakkasan, then you'd be switching to Asian cuisine at a comparable level of overall experience. I'm not saying you should - just that you should know before switching from a Michelin star restaurant to a Chinese restaurant with good food.

                      1. re: calumin
                        Ruth Lafler RE: calumin Dec 21, 2012 09:46 AM

                        I'd rather eat at Z&Y than either Hakkasan or Boulevard (except for the novelty factor or if someone else is paying). If I'm going to spend that much money there are better places to spend it (IMHO). I'm more interested in food than trappings!

                        I guess my point is that you don't have to eat in an expensive, Michelin-starred restaurant to have a good meal in San Francisco.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                          c
                          calumin RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 21, 2012 12:09 PM

                          I don't think it's accurate to say that people who like Hakkasan or Boulevard are more interested in trappings than good food.

                          There are great offerings at Hakkasan that appeal to foodies that you cannot get anywhere else in SF. But it is expensive -- and I agree that if the point is to get great food at a low price, neither Boulevard or Hakkasan are good choices. I'm not sure that's what the OP is looking for though.

                          1. re: calumin
                            Robert Lauriston RE: calumin Dec 21, 2012 12:21 PM

                            The SF branch of Hakkasan (international chain with 10 restaurants) has been open only a couple of weeks so it's a bit early to make any generalizations about who likes it and why. The two reports so far don't inspire me to rush over there.

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/880440

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              Ruth Lafler RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 22, 2012 12:11 AM

                              Exactly. I think it's a bit premature to judge Hakkasan on its merits (rather than its PR).

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                c
                                calumin RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 22, 2012 08:55 PM

                                Ruth - if you go there then you can judge Hakkasan on its merits. Since I've been there, I can say that I'd rather eat there than Z&Y - no reliance on PR.

                            2. re: calumin
                              h
                              hyperbowler RE: calumin Dec 21, 2012 12:27 PM

                              If you choose Z&Y, realize that it's a Sichuan style restaurant and the food will be spicy. Look around at what other people are eating--- there are specials not listed on the English menu. Do some searches for other stuff to order. I'd recommend the Chongqing style chicken (chicken with 1000 chiles or something like that) and the red oil dumplings.

                          2. re: calumin
                            l
                            lhenry RE: calumin Dec 22, 2012 05:56 PM

                            We just got our plane tickets and it will be January 3-6. We arrive early in the morning so we are able to fit in Rotunda the first day leaving now 2 open places for lunch. Also, we won't be able to go to Boulevard now because our plane leaves too early for lunch. Lastly, I would not take out Kokkari for Z&Y, fortunately I am able to have both.

              2. l
                lhenry RE: lhenry Dec 18, 2012 05:33 PM

                Also, what would be a better michelin substitute for gary dankos?

                4 Replies
                1. re: lhenry
                  Robert Lauriston RE: lhenry Dec 19, 2012 08:56 AM

                  Michelin is stuck in the past and has an intense French bias. If I had to pick an SF-proper restaurant from their list, I'd go to Frances.

                  1. re: lhenry
                    p
                    pauliface RE: lhenry Dec 19, 2012 09:16 AM

                    I would go with Atelier Crenn.

                    1. re: lhenry
                      d
                      Dustin_E RE: lhenry Dec 19, 2012 09:52 AM

                      Keiko's a nob hill is similar, but imho better, than gary danko. atelier crenn is (much) more experimental, much less classic, "internationalized" french.

                      1. re: Dustin_E
                        p
                        pauliface RE: Dustin_E Dec 19, 2012 10:11 AM

                        Keiko is high on my list of places to try. From what I hear, also a good choice.

                    2. smatbrat RE: lhenry Dec 19, 2012 07:40 AM

                      I would have to look at the recent Michelin guide to see who has stars these days. But if Frances or Range, have then, I would suggest those over Danko.

                      Kokkari and Perbacco are solid. Are you staying in the financial dist?

                      Im not sure where you are from. But in the wharf, you can eat at a classic SF seafood place OR IN n Out if you have never had it (who other thread on how to order from IN and out)

                      China town can be overwhelming to many. However I will take City View for Dim Sum over yang sing any day.

                      Is there a reason why you are set on the Rotunda?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: smatbrat
                        Ruth Lafler RE: smatbrat Dec 19, 2012 01:37 PM

                        I don't see Frances and Range being equivalent to Danko in that they're very different types of restaurant: less formal, not "tasting menu" focused etc.; Atelier Crenn is more of a tasting-menu focused place.

                        That said, I'd still choose them over Danko. I think it needs to be explained that one reason the places she listed are in those guides and turn up on "best" lists is that they've been around a long time. They're known, they're familiar, people remember they had a great meal there on their one visit years ago, etc. But they aren't reflective of San Francisco today -- they're holdovers from San Francisco 10-20 years ago.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                          Robert Lauriston RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 19, 2012 02:58 PM

                          Gary Danko doesn't offer a tasting menu in the sense of an endurance course of small portions like the SF Michelin guide apparently requires for a second star. Their "tasting menu" is just one course from each of the five categories (appetizer, fish, meat, cheese, and dessert) on the menu.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            p
                            pauliface RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 19, 2012 03:03 PM

                            "endurance course"

                            I may not share your opinions in all things, but I like the way your write.

                            And actually, I should say, I understand what you mean.
                            To me, finding a great tasting menu is a little bit like chasing the dragon. When it's not what I'm after, it indeed can feel like an endurance course, especially because the ones that don't succeed often fail because [a] the best stuff is at the beginning and [b] they are too much food.
                            However, when they get it right, for me it is heaven.

                            1. re: pauliface
                              Robert Lauriston RE: pauliface Dec 19, 2012 03:15 PM

                              "… you need to feel good after you eat. I've gone out to many excellent places where you feel like shit after the meal. I don't want guests to feel that way."—Joshua Skenes

                              http://eater.com/archives/2012/04/18/...

                      2. d
                        Dustin_E RE: lhenry Dec 19, 2012 10:02 AM

                        one market is similar to boulevard, but imho better.

                        nothing is wrong with any of these, they just aren't particularly "exciting" nor "sf" -- they are standard american fare you can probably find similar versions of in any major upscale american city... and probably could have found something similar 10 years ago. and they are "easy" in the sense that the restaurants are big, the rooms are spacious and nice, service is traditional, etc.

                        but if you aren't tired to this type of restaurant, then they could be a good choice.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Dustin_E
                          Robert Lauriston RE: Dustin_E Dec 19, 2012 11:03 AM

                          Latest report on One Market:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8818...

                        2. CarrieWas218 RE: lhenry Dec 19, 2012 10:12 AM

                          I would totally dump Danko and Boulevard for more exciting eateries like Atelier Crenn, Aziza, or State Bird Provisions.

                          Kokkari is solid, but in that 'hood I much prefer Piperade.

                          Lunch at the Rotunda would be a complete waste of money. Walk to the Ferry Plaza and nosh your way around there for more interesting food that is indicative of San Francisco.

                          1. l
                            lhenry RE: lhenry Dec 20, 2012 05:48 PM

                            I just called to book Atelier Crenn but unfortunately they are booked, so we're 3rd on the waiting list

                            1. l
                              lhenry RE: lhenry Dec 22, 2012 06:03 PM

                              I just looked at the Yank Sing to go menu, and the prices seem very reasonable. Is this the same menu as in the restaurant? Also, how long would the wait be to get in approx?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: lhenry
                                Robert Lauriston RE: lhenry Dec 22, 2012 06:22 PM

                                I've always found the to-go stuff like something from another, vastly inferior restaurant.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  l
                                  lhenry RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 22, 2012 06:27 PM

                                  but are the prices the same as in the restaurant? if so I would be able to go for lunch in the restaurant.

                                  1. re: lhenry
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: lhenry Dec 22, 2012 06:32 PM

                                    No, the to-go stuff is cheaper. I usually spend about $20 a head but if you just order anything that comes by you could spend twice that or more. Some tips for first-timers:

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7321...

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                      l
                                      lhenry RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 22, 2012 06:39 PM

                                      Thank you that is VERY helpful! How big are the plates generally? And which location is better?

                                      1. re: lhenry
                                        Robert Lauriston RE: lhenry Dec 22, 2012 06:44 PM

                                        Typical dim sum servings, most items you get 3 or 4.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          l
                                          lhenry RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 22, 2012 06:54 PM

                                          thank you so much for all of your help, it is greatly appreciated.

                              2. l
                                lhenry RE: lhenry Dec 22, 2012 06:45 PM

                                Im going to submit a revised itinerary so you can see the changes so far.

                                1. l
                                  lhenry RE: lhenry Dec 22, 2012 06:55 PM

                                  The revised itinerary is up

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lhenry
                                    grayelf RE: lhenry Dec 23, 2012 09:28 AM

                                    Here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/883194

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