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Jan 12, 2013 08:35 PM

Help!!!! No clue where to eat!!!

My best friend and I are coming to San Francisco for the first time feb 7-10. We are both very adventurous eater. Try anything once kind of girls. Now... We want to splurge one night and the rest eat where the locals do! So I need somewhere Friday night, Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Sunday just brunch! Thanks so much!!!! Xoxox and any good bars?!?! Not the club types! :) hmmmm and staying fishermen wharf area. But have a muni pass!! Thanks again!!!!

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  1. Come on people please help! Boulevard for our fancy night? Yank sing Sunday. Need help feeling in the blanks!

    5 Replies
        1. re: SarahSingleton

          Your questions are too general for anyone to know where to start. Tips:

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Ok great thanks Robert! Where is the place we should go big for dinner? Something hot a fresh. Yes we can go to Gary danko. But not sure. Then maybe a good hole in the wall place the next night. Or a great sushi place? Thanks again!

            1. re: SarahSingleton

              Search the board for sushi. Search for Gary Danko and read all the places people recommend instead.

    1. What kind of food do you typically enjoy eating? What kind of atmosphere?

      I'd probably go to Atelier Crenn for my splurge night, but the dining room is rather subdued, portions are smallish, and it's pricey--not sure that's what you're looking for.

      I haven't been to Gary Danko in years. For some reason I never love Boulevard, but my mom usually wants to go there when she visits. It's solid, to my mind a little boring.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Leely2

        Omg leely2 thanks! Atelier Crenn is on the top of my list.... Going to call in the am to see if we can get a table! We are mid twenty girls that want to have fun and eat really good food we can't get in Texas!

      2. Hi, Sarah! This board tends to be pretty quiet on Sunday at dinner time.

        First, let me say that a couple of lively young women like you would be bored at Boulevard or Gary Danko.

        Second, it would help us make good recommendations if we knew where you're coming from and what kinds of restaurants you usually like.

        Third, do you have some kind of ideas what other things you're going to be doing? No point in sending you across town if there's something similar near some other activity you're planning.

        Fourth, please do a search. Questions like yours get asked at least twice a week. If you read some of the other discussions you can come up with some kind of list we can then give you pros/cons/alternatives. Searching the word "visitor" or "3 days" are good places to start.

        33 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Hey Ruth! Thanks so much!!!! We are from Texas so we have steak house thing down. Would love to try new seafood ie sea urchin and maybe or fresh oysters.
          Now across town?
          Everything is Texas is at least a 30 min drive. How is traffic getting across town on a Saturday night?
          Thanks so much hope your having a wonderful Sunday!!!!

          1. re: SarahSingleton

            Do you get much Burmese food in Texas (serious question)? Because that's something that's not necessarily available everywhere. I like Mandalay, but there are a few favorites.

            Here's a thread about dishes to order.


            1. re: Leely2

              Well since I have no clue what your talking about... No we don't have that in Texas! I have heard about Mandalay.... Kind of Indian food? That is something right up our boat!
              Is there a big street car area?
              Thanks again!!!! You are soooo sweet to help!!!!

              1. re: SarahSingleton

                Mandalay is named after a city in Burma (now known as Myanmar). Burma is between India and Thailand, and the cuisine includes elements of both with its own unique twists and contributions.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I can't wait to come to SF and learn and TASTE! Wish I had more time in our beautiful city!!!!!!

                2. re: SarahSingleton

                  Burma has a lot of micro-regions, so for us neo-phytes it's easiest described as a cross between North Indian and SE Asian. that doesn't do it justice and it's good stuff.

                  sadly there aren't many worthwhile basic (cheap) places up at the wharf, but since you're game for Muni, the F line streetcar will take you down to the main transit trunk (Muni and BART) of Market with a great view along the way. if you have patience for crowds, the Stockton bus will get you there quicker with the option of hopping off in North Beach and Chinatown. unless it's late, forget the Van Ness buses they always seem to take dang near forever. better to take the Polk and there are a lot more spur-of-the-moment "let's get a snack/drink" places on that route.

                  1. re: hill food

                    You make the muni seem so easy. I had a Sumer internship in NYC and the subways were super easy. This bus system seems confusing.
                    Looked online for a line map and couldn't find one.
                    And ways about the food HILL FOOD where would you go for your one big don't care about the money night in SF?
                    Maybe Burma for a late lunch Friday!

                    1. re: SarahSingleton

                      my info is old, finding the hot new current places are best answered by others. there's always something every month.


                      but be warned, they'll advise you to wait 20 minutes for a transfer to go someplace that's just a 10 minute walk.

                      for cheap and good eats, ignore the ever-present hipster douchebags and lurk around Mission or Valencia and 16th (and numerically up, topographically down) the Tenderloin has good places too, I really want to hit Lers Ros. one of these times.

                      it's a great city for grazing. a truly bad meal in any price point CAN be found but chances are against that.

                      1. re: hill food

                        but if I were back in town with no agenda, a bottomless hunger and thirst, (and maybe a bit hungover) given where you're staying an AM track-cruise (especially on Saturday or Sunday down the F Line (all old restored streetcars - if you're lucky the ones from Milan, or even the 'boat' from Blackpool will come by) down to the Ferry Building provides excellent grazing in the stalls and stands. it's kind of overwhelming on the weekend and you'll wish you had a kitchen but there's lots of prepared food and local oysters to be found.

                        If the weather is cooperating after that, I'd walk it off down past the bridge and hit Red's Java House for old longshoreman type fare (sorry the old days of $5 for a burger and a beer are long gone) looking at the Bay and the East Bay Hills, but maybe that's a good Sunday goodbye photo moment if you don't mind dragging luggage with you (at that point you're so close to a cheaper cab ride or the Caltrain station and the Muni buses that serve SFO than heading back to the hotel.

                        although your idea of Yank Sing is not so far from the Ferry bldg. either.

                        1. re: hill food

                          I was thinking about going to the ferry building... for some hog island oysters.
                          I found a great deal on a car service 45 bucks each way.
                          But THANKS for that tip.
                          Maybe bc I'm a girl and dont know how to read a map. I'm still working on a plan of whats near what. Then the other problem I find the Muni still super confusing. BUT good news i'm skyping with a friend that lives in SF hopefully they can explain it to me. HA!

                          1. re: SarahSingleton

                            If you can't get a cab and are willing to spend the money (e.g. $20 - $40 instead of $10ish) try Uber.

                            1. re: goldangl95

                              Love ├╝ber. Use it all the time in Dallas. Love how I don't have to carry a credit card!!

                            2. re: SarahSingleton

                              The problem with SF is that it's built over and around hills -- some of them very steep, which means routes don't always go in straight lines. Another is that SF has more different modes of transportation than any place I've ever seen (cable cars, street cars, two different underground systems, buses, ferries). The F streetcar will get you to Market St., which is the big transit corridor where you can switch to another, more efficient form of transit. Since you have a Muni pass, you can also take the cable car from the Wharf to the downtown Market St./Union Square area (and then catch BART or Muni Metro from there).

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                Ruth!!! Thanks again! You finally made it make sense to me!!! I didn't think I was going to ever understand it!!!

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  The MUNI pass doesn't work on BART, does it?

                                  The modern thing is to pick up a Clipper card somewhere. It just debits your card until you hit the max daily rate and it's free after that. I'm 80% sure walgreen have them. As a local, you just tie it to your credit card and don't worry too much after that.

                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                    it USED to cover all BART within the city proper. this may have changed.

                                    1. re: hill food

                                      It used to cover BART but it doesn't any more. Still, if you switch over to the underground metro at Embarcadero you can get down Market street a lot faster than the F.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        Are we still talking about he Ferry Building as a destination?
                                        BART to Embarcadero and walking is the route, if someone is physically able to walk.

                                        No reason to pay another fair, and transfer to Muni in that particular case. Muni only takes you a short distance closer.

                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                          We're talking about someone who is starting at the Wharf, wherever she is going! And I didn't suggest BART, I suggested MUNI metro, which is much faster down Market than the above-ground lines. Even if you take into account the time it takes to transfer, it's at a minimum ten minutes faster from Embarcadero to Powell street if you switch over to the metro instead of taking the F all the way.

                                    2. re: bbulkow

                                      The Muni pass is for Muni only (no BART) and the advantage is that if you use it enough you get a good discount. It includes cable cars which are $6 for one ride.


                                      Clipper is convenient because one card covers all the transit systems, but you are always charged full fare.

                                      Either method is preferable to having to hunt for correct change each time you want to jump on a bus or train.

                                  2. re: SarahSingleton

                                    Limo service to the Ferry Building will read like overkill for most locals. It's at the end of a main major street called Market Street, and one of the easiest places to get to, by any means of transport. To clarify one of the other posts the F line street car suggestion for a visitor is a fun ride, on the old trolly lines, using old street cars. It's also a straight line, most of the route.

                                    I wouldn't take a limo to the Mission unless you really like drawing attention....though I could see someone doing it for Brunch at Foreign Cinema. Taxis aren't cheap, but cheaper than a car service.

                                    Since you sound kind of overwhelmed, here's my advice...don't worry about going off the beaten track, or out of SF proper, just stay on main shopping streets where there's a lot to see, and you can't go wrong. It's a small city, so if you stray, you'll be okay, but these are areas that will keep you busy.

                                    - Union Street, and then Chestnut Street.
                                    - Hayes in Hayes Valley, and stop off at the Blue Bottle kiosk, or the out door beer garden.
                                    - Fillmore from Pine st. going uphill, towards Pacific Heights
                                    - Valencia St. in the Mission, with detours towards Dolores Park on 18th, or towards shops on 24th St.
                                    - Polk St. from Union st. to Post st., just before the Tenderloin, which despite many gems for hole in the walls, but requires adventure, and sometimes, street smarts.
                                    - North Beach, is small, and easy to wander. Ignore Broadway.
                                    - Haight St., from Masonic to Stanyon. Expect some grime, and the smell of marijuana.

                                    This list is far from complete, but I think it sums up a lot of our suggestions in a way that you can just plan to spend an afternoon on a few streets and wander these strips with MANY food destinations.

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      I think the OP's comment on car service was regarding airport transit after Sunday Brunch.

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        Yes the car is going to pick us up from the hotel.... I hate/love using car service. It just makes life so much easier and is only about 15 bucks more.

                                      2. re: sugartoof

                                        Jesus yes I was overwhelmed but not anymore!!! I really understand it now!!!! Thanks soooo much!!!!

                                      3. re: SarahSingleton

                                        BTW, I hope your SF friend has warned you that it can be cold and wet in SF in February (some people think all of California is like the LA they see on TV). Don't show up in shorts and tank tops or you will be labeled a clueless tourist at first sight.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          And then have to walk around in a fleece sweatshirt with a Golden Gate Bridge decal on it, that you purchased at the first Walgreens you saw!

                                          Especially in the summer, it's a dead giveaway. :-)

                                          1. re: Violatp

                                            LOL. I used to work on Pier 39 and snicker at all the tourists in shorts with goosebumped legs and a brand new sweatshirt proclaiming "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              or like the recent cold snap when even the locals aren't prepared and the FiDi looks like Halloween, with folks layering up in every last improbable thing to stay warm, feather boas, ski boots ridiculous hats etc.!

                                              but it is a good excuse to hunker down in a small plates sort of place and slowly wander through the menu (and imbibe).

                                              1. re: hill food

                                                Planning on bring my marmot rain jacket, my north face sweater and my hunter rain boots!
                                                My parents think I'm moving to London. I love rain gear!
                                                Im worried about wearing heels about drinking and not being able to walk up and down the hilly streets!!!! So I'm making sure a pair of flats and fit into my purse! Don't want to be that drunk girl walking barefoot at 2am! Never a good look!

                            3. re: Leely2

                              I think that's an interesting idea. For some unknown reason, the Bay Area has more Burmese restaurants than the rest of the country put together, so it's a good choice for someone who wants to try something they won't find at home.

                              There are lots of places to eat oysters. You might want to look at the list of places that do $1 oysters for happy hour.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                What to order at a Burmese place?
                                Omg Ruth and Leely you are like my hero!!!

                                Now where to drink! We want to get drunk and have fun. No clubs. Just good ole bars! :)
                                And if your ever in Texas I can help you find the best steak places! And Caribbean... For some reason we have a lot of jerk chicken here!!! :)

                                1. re: SarahSingleton

                                  "We want to get drunk and have fun. No clubs. Just good ole bars!"

                                  then it's your kind of town. the big clubs are usually kind of lame anyway, especially on the weekend. but your best bet would be to check out a current SFBG or SF Weekly I always wanted to do a Tenderloin dive crawl starting at 6 AM (no liquor is sold in any legal manner in all of CA between 2 AM and 6 AM). somehow I never was able to talk any friends into the idea of getting drunk at dawn and stepping over junkies...

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    Hill food! We will be your friend and do it with you!!! Lol

                        2. Hop on the BART and go eat at Gather in Berkeley. It has fantastic vegetarian food and is worth the trip. It makes for a good lunch or dinner and tour the campus.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: zuriga1

                            Thanks Zuriga1! We don't have a lot of vegetarian food in Texas! Would love to try the best!!!!!!

                          2. Let me ask, in terms of nightlife, would you be more interested in sort of sorority/fraternity/college bars kind of thing or would you rather something more in a hipster vein?

                            If the former, then I'd head to the Marina (lots of places right on Union you would like), if the latter, then the Mission would suit just fine. Right on 16th between, say, Mission and Dolores, maybe, is a good place to start.

                            Also, are you flying out on Sunday afternoon, or...? Just because the bottomless mimosa brunch was always a favorite way to spend a Sunday.

                            22 Replies
                            1. re: Violatp

                              Violatp! I hate to say it but I think we are the latter. :/ we are flying at at 3pm on Sunday. Would love that but I think that is the only meal we can get dim sum! And planning in going to yank sing.
                              The first night I know we are going to be complete tourist and have a drink on top of the mark.

                              1. re: SarahSingleton

                                Psh. I love having a cocktail at the Top of the Mark! While I wasn't a native, I lived there long enough to not be a tourist. :-)

                                Definitely head to the Mission OR possible Polk St for your nightlife. Polk St is slightly more douchey but is easier to get back to your hotel, I think. Though, I'd hop a cab either way, really.

                                If it was me, I'd choose the Mission for the bar scene. Check out Kilowatt, Thieve's Tavern, Zeitgeist, 500 Club, Elbo Room, Bender's (if you get as far as South Van Ness) Double Dutch, Phone Booth (I think it's called Phone Booth, hmm) Latin American Club (home of the gasoline in a pint glass masquerading as a margarita) Lone Palm, - can you tell there are MANY bars in the Mission? :-)

                                I've named only a bare handful but they are all within walking distance of each other.

                                1. re: Violatp

                                  Top of the Mark is worth it for the view for 1 drink (it gets pricey for a binge night). for a bargain thrill-ride go across the street to the Fairmont and take the non-stop glass elevator to the top of the 'new' tower entered off Powell. a sign says it's for Crown Room guests only, but what are they going to do? ask you to leave? the only way out is the same way up.

                                  plenty of cool (cool? that maybe not the right word) 'bar' bars downhill in the nearby 'TenderNob' area roughly bounded on the North-South by Bush and Post, on the East-West by Stockton and Hyde.

                                  in the Mission near the 500 Club for a scary (it just looks that way, it's not really) Latino transvestite dive there's always Esta Noche...

                                  for the young 'n' hip demographic there are a number of casual food and drink places in Hayes Valley and Lower Haight (I wouldn't bother much with Upper Haight unless you're shopping for club-kid clothes, while my favorite old-school bar is up there, it's just not the same now the grumpy owner is dead)

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    We are good at sneaking into places to shouldn't be! Thanks we will check that out maybe Saturday night! Since this is our first post grad vaca I'm sure we will have a blast no matter what!!!
                                    Thanks for all the info!!! You guys are the best!!!! Xoxox

                                  2. re: Violatp

                                    Everyone (who drinks) has a few favorite mission bars. Being more of a mixed drink guy who likes live music, I like: doc's clock, dalva, cassanova, the uptown (more beer than drinks), the lone palm, the rite spot (I was there last night), I hear the Blackbird is good, people look like they're having fun in Beauty Bar, Martuni's, the Attic, Lucky 13, Amnesia (music & belgian beer). Elbo is only good for the music, I dislike their bar. Makeout. It's more complicated that every restaurant has a bar, and you can bring food into most bars.

                                    My knowledge is best as of about 10 years ago, but not terribly out of date. Just like your native stomping grounds, I'm sure you have a variety of bars for a variety of moods, and sometimes you need to walk into a few places. It is, as they say, complicated.

                                    And, I'm not the kind of person who will actually type omg!!!!! so we likely have different taste.

                                    Just to get started, this list and the descriptions are fairly reliable.

                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                      the Uptown is still there? good to know. I lived 2 blocks from there once in a TV-less sublet, it was the only place I could get my Sunday Simpson's fix and a pint. friends who were there during the '89 quake said it was like a neighborhood gathering place during those first few days. I assume the lighting is still terrible and the furniture is all thrift store rejects.

                                      Rite Spot: I was there once during a power outage and they just lit candles got some guy to play the piano and offered cut-rate specials before all the ice for the drinks melted and the refrigerated food went bad (gas stove).

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        I have honestly not stopped in at the Uptown for a couple of years, but did have a pint there 2 or 3 years ago. it's hard to believe it wouldn't be open. It is the quintessential pint to unwind place for locals who have small ugly apartments.

                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                          "for locals who have small ugly apartments"

                                          that was me. and a craptastic job. but it was fun (ish).

                                    2. re: Violatp

                                      I think Latin American Club, and Lone Palm are good ideas.
                                      Dalva is a good idea. Maybe Dock's Clock. These bars and the area will be more of an Austin, TX. vibe. If that's not your thing, let us know, and you'll get different suggestions.

                                      North Beach is a good place to wander and drink after a meal. Vesuvio comes to mind, and Specs.
                                      Romollo 15 is a perfect stop.

                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                        Sugartoof! I LOVE Austin. Go there once a month. My cousin goes to UT. SO THANKS! What "area" are they in?
                                        They sound prefect!!!

                                        1. re: SarahSingleton

                                          The Mission. Seriously, I think you'd LOVE the Mission.

                                          (in case this links to the wrong answer, that's where Dalva and Doc's Clock are)

                                          Be aware, that it can be seen as gritty and there are hookers and possibly some stuff on the streets you'd rather not step on. I tell you that not because I ever felt unsafe, but just so you know and not freak out when you get there. But, especially if you are hipster-ish, you will feel like it's a motherland.

                                          1. re: SarahSingleton

                                            The area I compared to Austin was The Mission...the truth be told, it wasn't the best description because a number of neighborhoods in SF will remind you of Austin.

                                            Re: safety in the Mission. The rule of thumb is to avoid desolate streets, and don't leave your drink unattended. I'd say this is true citywide. You will probably see some colorful things.

                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                              Thanks for the tip! It's funny I was in NYC for 3months during college always felt safe. Then in Jacksonville fl I get robbed at gun point. So I'm always on my toes and watch for creeps! Will be finding a drug store to buy mace the first day! But if I was to be robbed again I would throw my purse at them!

                                              1. re: SarahSingleton

                                                SF in general is pretty danged safe. I'm a 6" bulky guy and that's different, but I've never had problems.

                                                Mission bars are really an entire genre. I don't know NY well enough to say what part it's like, I haven't been in a part of NYC that's quite the same.

                                                Reading this thread more, I think you really have to stop in at Martuni's. It's near Zuni Cafe, which has one of the best oyster bars in the city, and it's a laugh. Martuni's is sort of on the edge of the castro, and it's a very, very gay piano bar, but I've had very good luck (I'm straight) stopping in - everyone's friendly as heck and the locals enjoy when "other people" stop in, if they've got a game attitude and love singing light comic opera in the back room. It's about the only really gay bar I feel comfortable in, other than maybe twin peaks. The call at martuni's is "drinker's drinks" like vodka tonic and martinis, whiskey sour, nothing complicated.

                                                Y'all seem like people who can make friends anywhere, and that's the kind of place like that.

                                                It's also close to Zeitgeist. Z is a very SF place - it's just about the hippest place on earth - full of bike messengers and 20 somethings. But it's best only on warm days, and it's got a lot of picknick tables outside, so people go with a bunch of friends so it's not a great place to meet people. I think you stay at the inside bar to hang out. They do have some of the best and freshest beer in the city, just because they pour so much, and very pleasant charcoal grill.

                                                More for your list. Follow your nose a bit, and have fun.

                                                1. re: bbulkow

                                                  "SF in general is pretty danged safe."

                                                  Since we're talking about the Mission in particular, it's
                                                  good to be aware:

                                                  It seems like once a year, people remember how dangerous the Mission can suddenly get. For the most part, it's become the prime destination for people of all ages, and lifestyles to go for good food and drink. Most of the problems go entirely unnoticed, which is a sign things are relatively safe, and we don't usually have to get into these kinds of safety warnings on here.

                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                    Not to be overly argumentative, but a _single assault & attempted rape_ creates a march to take back the night.

                                                    This implies they don't have a lot of assaults.

                                                    Not to suggest assault is OK yadda yadda.

                                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                                      Huh? No, it implies people are getting concerned about safety because of an UPSURGE in recent events. Google your heart out for news reports.

                                                      The typical Chowhounder has been popping into these neighborhoods for years for great food, often with no awareness they're overlooking blocks known for gang activity, amongst other issues. By and large these are safe residential streets in a thriving neighborhood, but it's good to know where you are and not have a false sense of safety.

                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                        If you're concerned about crime, look at the SFPD crime maps and draw your own conclusions.

                                                  2. re: bbulkow

                                                    bb - you like Twin Peaks - AKA the Glass Coffin, AKA God's Waiting Room? I'm just kidding but a friend who saw "Milk" a few years ago noted that while the crew and cameras carefully framed shots, they didn't have to change a thing about 'TP'.

                                                    Martuni's - I know an Episcopalian priest who still cringes at the name after falling off a stool there one night.

                                                    Zeitgeist is cool, it terms itself a biker bar but is careful to not define that by the method of propulsion used. motorcycles, bicycles, mopeds, scooters, whatever.

                                                    as for street safety - I'm a 5'9" medium guy and never once in all my wandering at all hours ever felt threatened in anyway. I do keep stock of my surroundings, although there were a few nights that just wasn't possible. Once on Market after a few drinks with the priest at Martunis a toothless hooker tried to invite me to "party' in her hotel room (it was Easter and I was sort of dressed like an English school boy)... I was able to resist her charms.

                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                      I won't tell you my story about Martuni's, but it's the kind of place people have a story about, even if they've been there only a few times. Highly recommended but not for the faint of heart.

                                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                                        Last time I went to Martuni's with a group, a friend of a friend tried going up to sing and was terrible. Luckily, the crowd was very, VERY gracious to her and did not laugh her off the stage (stage being standing next to the piano!)