HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


5 food industry folks in San Fran from Boston for 3 days - how we doing so far?

I will be in San Francisco for work with 4 of my co-workers for 3 days. We all work in the food industry in Boson so we are really excited to check out the scene out west. We still have a few holes in our plans (so many places are closed on Sunday night!). We are staying in Union Square, we are happy with any cuisine and any budget as long as there is good food and good drink. Here is what we have planned so far:

Sunday (fly in around noon)
We are looking for a bar with a great beer/cider selection that has a TV so that we can watch the Patriots game. We were interested in the Monk's Kettle, but it doesn't look like it has a TV so maybe we will go there another night...
Dinner ???

Breakfast at Tartine
Late lunch - drinks, oysters and snacks at the Boxing Room
Late dinner at ???

Breakfast at Boulettes Larder
Lunch will be a mishmash of picnic stuff from Swan's Oysters, Boudin Bakery and Alioto's
Dinner ???

As you can see, our dinner ideas have fallen short, so any help would be appreciated!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Im a Boston Industry person! Where do you work and like to eat there?

    And I used to work at Boxing room, so I am Bias, its great

    give me some of your places in Boston that you love and I can help out. or what style of place.


    1 Reply
    1. re: smatbrat

      We work at Formaggio Kitchen (1 of us is from the Boston location, the other 4 from Cambridge)

      We all love to eat at:
      Island Creek Oyster
      Craigie on Main
      Ten Tables
      Hungry Mother
      Strip T's
      BL Gruppo places (Drink, No9, Butchershop)
      East Coast Grill
      I'm sure I'm missing some, but this give you a good idea!

      Then of course all of the little hole in the wall places for great international options!

      Thanks for the help!

    2. How late a dinner on Monday?

      Incanto takes reservations until 9:15.

      Comstock, kitchen midnight Mon.-Sat. 10pm Sun., bar 2am daily
      Flour + Water, midnight Fri.-Sat., 11pm Sun.-Thurs.
      Heaven's Dog, closed for repairs
      Hog & Rocks, kitchen midnight daily, bar 2am Fri.-Sat.
      Lers Ros, midnight daily
      Nopa, 1am daily
      Oola, 1am Tues.-Sat., midnight Sun.-Mon.
      Thai House Express on Larkin, midnight daily
      Yuet Lee, 3am Wed.-Sat. & Mon., midnight Sun. (closed Tues.)
      Zuni, midnight Fri.-Sat., 11pm Sun. & Tues.-Thurs. (closed Mon.)

      4 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Monday we are flexible, but we all usually eat late, so probably 8 or later. Thank you for the options!

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Robert's list is really good, though I'm not a Yuet Lee fan.

          With all due respect to the Boxing Room devotees, I don't think there's anything there you can't get better in some other town.

          I'd add the Alembic - open Mondays, open till 1 for food, 2 for the bar.

          1. re: jane

            Even if you're not a big fan of Yuet Lee, it's hard to beat in that part of the City late at night.

        2. UpCider on Polk is the best place in the city for cider... Don't know if they show sports or not.

          1 Reply
          1. re: CarrieWas218

            I was at Upcider earlier this month and they did not have a TV. They are really fantastic though--great selection of cider and beer, and the food is not bad either.

          2. Thank you for your input! Right now I'm thinking:

            Zuni Cafe Sunday night
            Dinner on Monday, maybe Mexican in the Mission? Then we can get drinks after?
            Quince Tuesday night (how much will this set us back per person?)

            5 Replies
            1. re: thunderbug84

              Awesome! I am sure we know some of the same people. (Beehive, Meyers and Change, Luckys, No9. are my former employers)

              While you are in the Ferry Building, take a stroll past Cow Girl Creamery to see the California version of Formaggio

              I think a Mexican crawl is never a bad idea, thru the Mission. and we can give you some great bars.

              I think Range and State Bird come to mind based on what you like in Boston.

              Bar Agricole also

              I second almost all of Robert's suggestions, Specifically Comstock and then go 2-3 blocks to Romalo's. As well as Hogs and Rocks

              Staying in union sq, but you are Pats fans. I might suggest leaving union sq for a better sports bar, and if you want to be with other Pats fans.
              There is a huge population of Boston Transplants here.

              Are you doing Boudin/Alioto in the wharf I assume? Consider IN and Out Burger, if you have never had one (and if you do have one , ask one of us about the WAY to order)

              Im always glad to help a Bostonian

              1. re: thunderbug84

                Quince menus: http://quincerestaurant.com/menus/

                Personally I'm not a big fan of French-Italian fusion, I'd rather one or the other. Their cheaper place Cotogna next door is one of the half-dozen best Italian restaurants in SF.

                1. re: thunderbug84

                  Zuni's bar needs a serious refresh. Get the oysters and the chicken and a vodka tonic or champagne and go elsewhere for something fresher. There is no beer to speak of. It looks like the wine bar on that block has reopened as "Pause" - previous incarnation was very good.

                  I _always_ eat at the bar now with Zuni. The full sit down table thing is very expensive for what you get.

                  If you're stuck on Zuni, hit somewhere else for drinks after - like Absinthe or maybe the Orbit Room, or Blackbird.

                  The way to do the mission is something like Flour and Water for "dinner", then drink somewhere like Elixir or the back room at Dalva, then grab some quesadilla suiza and meat nachos, then head home. That's a good evening.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    The chicken for two at Zuni is a good value and I found some good values on the wine list last time I was there.


                    Pause is similar to Yield, the owners' other bar. The food's less ambitious and exciting than CAV's was.

                    Hotel Biron, another great wine bar (not a hotel), is right around the other side of the block.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      My sadness about zuni is the absence of decent bartenders. It was the only place I would order a cosmo, because it's close to the Castro and they would actually make a good one, but in two previous visits cocktails were mixed by amateurs. Now, no more cosmos for me anywhere. Possibly for the best, but what a waste of a classic zinc bar.

                2. Former Bostononian here (OK fine, Somerville) and this town is pretty terrible for sports bars but here are some option for the Pats game:

                  --Pub at Ghirardelli Square. One of the owners is from Boston and I have watched many a Sox game here. It's OK, they turn up the sound LOUD, have good beer specials, and the food is decent.

                  --Pete's Tavern, right across from AT&T park. Not a Pats bar, but it's OK. Will likely be very crowded. Food actually not bad but there's something about the general "feel" of the place that I have never liked.

                  --Connecticut Yankee in Potrero Hill. It's kind of outside of town a bit, but might be worth the trip if you want to watch with fellow fans. Alas, the food is not spectacular, beer selection is good but not awesome, and the service can be... irregular. On second thought, I have a hard time recommending this place.

                  --Red Jack in North Beach. I have never actually been here but I know a lot of people are fond of it for New England sports and I figure it is worth mentioning before my "wildcard" selection...

                  --Players Sports Grill & Arcade at Pier 39. This is a total tourist trap, but for this reason locals avoid it like the plague and when it's hard to find a good seat in front of a big HDTV for a playoff game, this place has them. It is horridly overpriced and I would recommend eating somewhere else, but there's a lot of space. I have watched many big games there. It's kind of like the "Cheers" bar in Boston--I used to watch big Celtics games there because I knew my buddy and I could usually get a seat at the bar.

                  If food is a prime consideration, I took in the BCS Championship game (Zzzzz...) at Hops and Hominy, which is right in Union Square. They have a nice big TV at the bar, the food is fantastic, and they have a well-curated beer selection (and great mixed drinks too) served by knowledgeable bartenders. They are all from Florida and super-nice and love to "talk shop." I bet if you called them they would reserve a table near the TV for you on game day.

                  If you're open to going to the East Bay, Ricky's Sports Theatre & Grill in San Leandro is the obvious choice, but I am not sure it would be worth the trip. If they would just serve decent food, this place would be awesome.

                  Wow this post of mine is totally depressing me. Where do you guys watch games in Boston? I miss my old Inman Square-ish haunts... the Abbey Lounge back in the day, Thirsty Scholar, Spirit, will totally date myself by throwing Bow & Arrow in there... sigh.

                  Enjoy your visit--for the classy places you guys have it nicely covered.

                  Y'all want to invest in my SF sports bar? I am going to call it "Sports on Big TVs with Awesome Food".

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lakemerritter

                    I would!

                    Red jack is great. for a Boston Fan

                    I often find places to watch and get a group together and take it over. Of course I let them know ahead of time.

                    Sure, new AT&T will be good size TV, but I dont know how many people are down there when there is not a game at AT&T.

                    You made some great suggestions.

                    Almost anywhere in the Marina will have TV's. But the Marina is like Newburry street was taken over by Frat boys and girls...

                  2. Sunday night dinner at AQ. Since you're going to be checking into your hotel in Union Square, maybe watch the game at Lefty O'Doul's -- an old SF institution. Not fancy, more classic dive/sports bar. Get your fancy food/drink elsewhere.

                    1. Monks Kettle has one TV
                      Go early if you hope to secure seats at the bar

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tranewreck

                        Might be possible to reserve if you phone. Hard to do much better as far as beer selection.

                      2. Jasper's Corner Tap (on the corner of Taylor and O'Farrell, just a few blocks from Union Square) has a good beer selection and a couple big-screen TVs at the bar. It's a gastropub with quality versions of basic American dishes like sliders, mac n cheese, etc.

                        1. Sunday, for the game, I think you should go to Streat Eats, if sampling the local food scene is a high priority. They have usually about 10 food trucks, local beers, and a fair number of screens and heat lamps. Unless you want a real Sports Bar Experience (few and far between in SF, Lefty's is not a bad choice, lakemerriter's recs are solid), this is a great spot because you'll be able to nosh on a WIDE VARIETY of tastes during the entire game. They are having beer specials during the game (cheap pitchers) and have a short list of cheap and trendy (PBR), local IPA (lagunitas), and plausible (Stella). It's also central to the city - a short cab ride (or walk) from anywhere. Down side is the screens aren't HUGE, and the seats are not that comfortable, the beer selection isn't awesome (you do know about the toranado, which has no TVs).

                          Another upside is - it's near Bar Agricole, so if you want a cutting edge bar/nosh during half time or after, that's right around the corner. Walk in another direction, you're at the top of the mission - plenty of good bars and unassumingly good restaurants, like walking to 16th and hitting the venerable Pancho Villa or other more beloved mission burrito places. By "plenty" I mean -- well -- a HUGE NUMBER. You should do your research on the mission (plenty of posts) and make a short list.

                          I was at Streat Eats last night (en route to another thing but found parking on that block) and there were maybe 4 takes on different pulled pork sliders available, a japanese/korean truck, a fish truck, and the irish/eritrian truck. For desert, only the waffle truck. But it's different every day.

                          1. You should check out this list, an up to date "dollar oyster list"

                            Mayes might be worth a visit, it's in a fun part of town - and I like Mission Rock because of the views and a few good late night parties at the previous incarnation. Waterbar is central but a bit glitzy.

                            There have been some "sniffs" on this board regarding dollar oysters - you don't get the freshest of their selection. You can have good, you can have cheap, but rarely together.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bbulkow

                              A lot of the $1 oysters I've had were perfectly fresh, just a cheaper variety such as Hog Island Sweetwaters.

                            2. I love Flour and Water...and you probably want to try some foods unlike what you could get in Boston (but I'm not sure what that would be?).

                              Regarding the sports Bar I just watched an episode of "check please" where all three people raved about a sports bar in Oakland - Grand Oaks - in the Grand Lake district. They loved the Bar set up, TVs, and the food. Not sure if anyone on Chow hound has been there??

                              While in Oakland there are a few other cool places you could try....

                              1 Reply
                              1. When you said late night I immediately thought of Nopa.
                                Just now on a whim, I went to their website and sure enough they were voted: "late-night restaurant of the year."
                                I went here for a drink at 1am and the place was packed with drinkers and diners.
                                They have been open for many years now and I would recommend a reservation, though you can certainly hangout at the (crowded) bar and wait. Divisadero street is so hopping right now that you could easily find another bar while you wait, too.
                                Atmosphere wise, this is one of my favorite restaurants in the world (Something has to be, so there you have it). Food is SF good which is a very high bar.

                                (I used to do my laundry here when it was a laundromat, and I believe it was a bank before that).

                                (Also, Cowgirl creamery is a pale imitation of Formaggio)

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: blackpippi

                                  Nopa is also known for attracting a lot of food industry types.

                                  1. re: blackpippi

                                    I don't know Fromaggio, but I'm a little down on Cowgirl. Someone needs to represent the greater range of Sonoma cheeses, and there's a few new cheese shops open in SF, I hope one is better.

                                    "I love Flour and Water...and you probably want to try some foods unlike what you could get in Boston"

                                    Honestly, there are places as good as F&W or Piazzolio in Boston? Sweet!

                                    Re: oakland, there's a lot of good there. My favorite place went in a direction I don't like, I haven't tried Hawker Fare, I wouldn't send you to Pican (too glitzy), I would send you to Piazziolo -- google says take BART over to MacArthur, and hoof it from 40th to 49th - but that's an ugly walk. I would send you to my favorite watering hole, Heinhold's (continually operated in the same building since 1883, has its own wikipedia page, not touristy), but that's near the ferry terminal, so the best thing is to start from SF ferry terminal, enjoy yourself, then _actually take a ferry_ to oakland. It's a cheap thrill, $5 for a boat ride that a tourist service would charge a lot more for. There are urban wineries, historic bars, fun bars, some very hip eateries like Hawker Fare, and MASSIVE CRANES. If you wander too far off course, there are places you could get shot, but most natives are friendly and shootings tend to be turf wars - you'd have to be a real jerk to get shot.

                                    Other than the chance of a good ferry ride with a destination-worthy drink at Heinhold's, I don't think Oakland's a reasonable fit.

                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                      Are there still alcoholic beverages on some of the Oakland ferries? I seem to recall reading about a caiparinha or some such on that boat, if the right 'tender was on duty...

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        I posted about that, there are bartenders, wine and beer, I don't know if that same guy is still plying any of the routes. Look for a bottle of cachasta or agave nectar (sweetner) displayed, otherwise, you're well off sticking to beer and wine.

                                        Ferries are much beloved by the commuters due to the civilized nature of transport, and thus there are a lot of local subsidies. For the tourist on a budget, this is a very pleasant way to get on the bay for cheap. Rolling out to Tiburon can also be a nice afternoon, have a burger at Sam's on the deck overlooking Corinthian YC. There's better food in Oakland near BART, though, as 19th Oakland is close to the new Uptown district - a short walk to Pican and Mua and Hawker Fare and the Punchdown. The only places I can recommend nearer to JLS are Heinhold's, Enquentro, Chop Bar, Yoshi's (sort of), Merchant's Saloon, Blue Bottle.

                                        Someday they will finish the terminal on Treasure Island, but for now you have to brave the bus system to catch the burgeoning urban winery scene over there. GF's recent trip brought us back "Morningwood" chard, which the group liked enough to split a case. I haven't tried it.

                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                          I thought it might have been your post, bbulkow, sorry not to have given you proper credit. We took a ferry over to Jack London Square for the Sunday market a trip or so ago and had a peek but alas no luck. Echo what you are saying about the ferries being a great way to get out on water for tourists, and to get over to the East Bay for eats. The big Blue Bottle is indeed near the ferry on the JLS side but alas was not open on Sundays when we went but I notice that has changed.

                                  2. I'm going to say something mildly controversial, which is that I think you should consider a trip to Oakland during your stay. The fact that you eat at Strip Ts shows that you are not averse to 20 min travel times for great food, and I think there are several choices close to BART in Oakland that would be really appealing to your group.

                                    Hawker Fare has great, casual Asian fusion and when I went there last year (when I was still living in Boston) I left wishing that a place like that would open in Boston.

                                    Haven is a more upscale place in Jack London square, mentioned frequently on

                                    Lots of restaurants and bakeries and shops in the Temescal area which makes more a nice walk for food exploration.

                                    Not sure which bars would show pats games in Oakland. I recently enjoyed the drinks and food at Make Westing but can't remember if they have TVs. Agree that Grand Oaks might be too far, but could also be fun if you decide to make the schlep.

                                    Back to SF options, I'd personally choose NOPA over most of the other suggestions so far. I'd put it ahead of Zuni given the places you like in Boston. It feels more neighborhoody.

                                    Agree that Mexican (whether sit down or taqueria) is a good idea while you're here.

                                    I'd definitely choose Incanto over Flour and Water. Haven't been to Quince but it seems more fancy than most of your Boston favorites.

                                    When is this trip happening? Looking forward to hearing what you choose!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      Haven's great. They do this brilliant thing where for $60 a person you get an 8/9-course family-style chef's choice menu that may be different for each table, so they can use up small portions. It's not little tasting-menu portions.


                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                        Presumably today, since this is the last Pats game of the season (unless he's assuming the Pats will be in the Superbowl, in which case he would have been asking a slightly different question).

                                        I don't think suggesting Oakland is all the controversial -- the restaurant scene here is hopping. I walked around Temescal last night and marveled.

                                        Take BART to Fruitvale and get some real Mexican food. There will be lots of places with TVs, although they're more likely to be showing soccer than football.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          And don't forget Lao options in Oakland! I love Vientian but there are others, in case that is a cuisine not widely available in Boston.

                                      2. OP - where have you ended up?