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Mind blowing meals

Going to San Fran for New Years, what is the best Italian? Also reccomendations for breakfast/brunch and lunch places. Bakeries? Have been to Tartine and absolutely love it.

Have a reservation at The House, what are your thoughts? Do you like the slanted door more?

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  1. Well what kind of Italian are you looking for? And any neighborhood choices?

    1 Reply
    1. re: smatbrat

      We are staying at the Omni hotel. Good pasta and pizza, nice ambience

    2. Some contenders for best Italian: Incanto, La Ciccia, Perbacco, Cotogna, A16

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Out of those which one would you choose and why?

        1. re: lovesfood11

          They're all great but totally different. Incanto and Cotogna have their own styles of Cal-Italian. Perbacco's my favorite for a traditional multicourse blowout including a great cheese course. A16's Neapolitan like in Naples. La Ciccia is Sardinian and the owners make you exceptionally welcome.

      2. The House is ok, but not worth it for an out-of-towner, i don't think, if it's one of only a few meals you'll have hear. Slanted Door is very popular, but to me it's very much a scene.

        8 Replies
        1. re: mariacarmen

          What would you choose instead of the house? We are looking for Asian fusion.

          1. re: lovesfood11

            i haven't been since the remodel, but here's a link to E&O Asian Kitchen: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/867906

            before the remodel, it was a place for drinks and maybe an app or too. i met the new chef at the SF Food Bank and she seemed very gung ho about updating the menu. like i said, i haven't been.

            i might argue that a place like Namu Gaji is asian fusion, but i'm not sure if others would agree... but i personally really liked it on our first visit recently.

            i'm sorry, i don't know if i know of others that i think are any good (i.e. Betelnut, which i think is horrible). Again-House is not bad, it's good - although it's been at least 12 years since I've been there...

            if you don't come up with any other asian-fusion, i would not try to talk you out of going to Slanted Door.

            1. re: lovesfood11

              It's not Asian Fusion but I would highly recommend Mission Chinese which is kind of re-invented Sichuan. You will have a more memorable meal there than any Asian Fusion place I can think of in SF.

              1. re: Ridge

                memorable in that everything is over spiced or underseasoned you wait an hour for cold food? I think Mission Chinese food is Asian Fusion cause it sure isn't Sichuan.

              2. re: lovesfood11

                Ame probably get the most praise on this board of any Asian fusion place.

                Mission Chinese has a lot of influences: Sichuan, Hunan, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Oklahoma City. The chef basically tried to create versions of his favorite dishes at his favorite restaurants in SF.

                1. re: lovesfood11

                  In terms of Asian Fusion, instead of The House, maybe consider Benu. I've not been that impressed with it, but my friends who live up in north are much more enamored with it than I am.

                  While not technically "asian fusion" you might also consider Jai Yun, which provides a dining experience hard to find outside of Toronto, Vancouver or Hong Kong.

                  And I know Hakkasan just opened up a branch in SF and having been to the one NYC, it might fit your criteria of "Asian fusion".

                  Lastly, the most memorable meal I've had in SF was at Saison.

                  Hope this helps.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Jai Yun's great. It's basically Shanghai banquet food served as a tasting menu, so you don't have to order ahead and get ten people together. Reservations are essential, though, the chef shops and cooks based on how many people are coming.

                    At last report, Saison won't be open in their new location before February.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Ah, yes, thanks for the reminder on Saison.

              3. "Mind-blowing" is setting the bar pretty high, but the best meals I've had in SF in the past year were at AQ, Bar Tartine, and St. Vincent, plus the Italian places I mentioned earlier.

                1. your profile says "best meal you ever ate" was chinese food in las vegas... which i'm suspecting was wing lei in the wynn.

                  you might enjoy hakkasan, then. upscale, a little bit (but not too) westernized chinese, extremely nice decor and service.

                  i'm a fan of both.

                  my vote for "best italian" would be farina, or chez panisse downstairs (if you consider that italian.) both are very expensive. the others robert mentioned are also good, and a bit more reasonably priced.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: Dustin_E

                    Upstairs at Chez Panisse is sort of Cal-Italian, but downstairs usually feels far more French than Italian to me.

                    I have to get to Farina. An Italian banker who eats out all the time told me it was his favorite place.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      My GM used to be the manager there, he is from Rome and has lived in SF for 10 years. I asked him where he goes when he wants to eat like home and he said Farina. So that is now top of my italian list

                      1. re: smatbrat

                        The banker was saying that a lot of ex-pat Italians he knows are really narrow-minded about Italian food and won't go to places with non-Italian chefs, so while he likes Perbacco, A16, and Poggio, he can't get some of his Italian friends to go there.

                        Speaking of Poggio, their annual bollito misto festival is a must. Usually starts mid-January.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          What does everyone think of Zero Zero. There ice cream looks very interesting.

                            1. re: lovesfood11

                              i really liked Zero Zero, a lot. though i actually do remember not liking dessert. but everything else was pretty great.

                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                That's too bad because the dessert actually looked better to me than the pizza. Did you find the crust to be too well done?

                                1. re: lovesfood11

                                  I'm not a big dessert person but Zero Zero's soft serve ice cream with caramel or olive oil and sea salt is really good.

                                    1. re: lovesfood11

                                      Zero Zero has a lot of California influence, A16 tries to do everything like in Naples. Totally different styles of food.

                                      A16 attracts a lot of Italian immigrants who probably wouldn't recognize Zero Zero's food as Italian.

                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      it's funny, but that's exactly the dessert i was referring to. maybe because i'd had an amazing version of that at Coi previously, i was tainted, and 00's didn't live up to Coi's.

                                    3. re: lovesfood11

                                      i loved their pizzas. i've not been to A16, but 00's and Tony's are among my top 5 pizza places in the City. the others are Delfina Pizza, Gialina, and i can't even think of the last...

                              2. re: smatbrat

                                in my experience, farina is one of those places where, when you get the right dish, it is mind-blowingly awesome, and when you don't, it is just over-priced.

                                my favorites have been:

                                seafood stew (so much better than taddich or sotto mare)
                                tagliatelle with white truffle ($42 but amazing with very generous truffle shaving)
                                tempura calmari (best i've had in sf by a wide margin)
                                millefeuille with berries (almost as good as the one i had at arpege in paris)

                                also extremely good have been:

                                basil pesto handkerchief pasta
                                pansotti di recco with walnut pesto
                                the pastries they serve at brunch
                                ice creams, sorbets, and tiramisu

                                okay, but not sure it is worth the high prices:

                                lamb chops
                                focaccia di Recco
                                a squash ravioli pasta with basalmic vinegar

                                their service is usually efficient and friendly enough, but not always. (my friend calls it "italian style".)

                                1. re: Dustin_E

                                  Farina is also one of those places where it depends on who you go with and when. I've gone with Italian friends and been served pretty good food and had excellent service and went with American friends and both the service and the food has been truly horrible and it's happened enough time that I only go there with Italian friends.

                                  At La Ciccia, Perbacco, Cotogna the service and the food has always been excellent. La Ciccia is really good Sardinian. Then again I don't try to find authentic anything in San Francisco, one of the great things about restaurants here is they are always putting their own spin on it even when they are using words like authentic.