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Feb 3, 2013 01:24 PM

San Francisco lunch options - advice appreciated

My wife and I are planning a week-long April vacation in San Francisco staying near Union Square. As SoCal residents, we have travelled to San Francisco often to visit family & friends. This time ,however, is to visit San Francisco. Our time will be spent on photography, eating and sightseeing. Our main meal will be at lunch with a light snack in the evening.

My lunch time restaurant choices include Boulevard, Perbacco, Slanted door, Zuni cafe, Swan Oyster Depot, Absinthe, Pizzeria Delfina, Spruce, Cotogna, Burma Superstar and Les Ros Thai.

Any advice on restaurants to remove from the list or ones to add to it will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, in advance, for your help.

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  1. Slanted Door - overpriced and overrated.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Violatp

      OTD - Out The Door - is a very tasty lunch option at 2232 Bush Street; service is friendly and the food here has always pleased me more than the Slanted Door at the Ferry Building.

      Visit The Ferry Building for other lunch options on a Farmers Market day: Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm, Tuesday/Thursday 10 am - 2pm
      For oysters, oyster stew, grilled cheese sandwich, Hog Island is a destination at the Ferry Bldg.
      Also, near the Ferry Building is Pier 24, a gallery of photos:

      Although Little Yangon in Daly City is a favored Burmese restaurant, it's too far for you to trek from Union Square for lunch. Go to Burmese Kitchen in the Civic Center at 452 Larkin Street btw Golden Gate Avenue and Turk Street Mandalay at 4344 California Street (btw 5th Ave & 6th Ave) is also better than Burma Super Star.

      For a different neighborhood, consider Bar Tartine at 561 Valencia Street
      Otherwise, you have a solid lunch list for your April visit.

      Happy Hour from 4 pm to 7 pm can make a light dinner at O3 Bistro & Bar at 524 Van Ness Avenue - we liked our seating at the bar.

      1. re: Cynsa

        Thank you for the advice. I did not know about this location. I have replaced Slanted Door with Out the Door on my list.

        1. re: sgp

          call OTD for reservations:
          415) 923-9575

          1. re: Cynsa

            How far in advance should I make a reservation? My trip isn't till late April.

            1. re: sgp

              one week in advance should be adequate for reservation...
              but, they will accept a reservation now, also.

              1. re: Cynsa

                I will call them in early April once I have our days figured out a bit more.

                1. re: sgp

                  Some places on your list book up as soon as they start taking reservations, especially on weekends.

    2. A late lunch, 2 p.m. or so, at Tadich can be rewarding. Sit at the counter, ask your waiter what's good.

      Assembling a picnic basket at the Ferry Plaza is pretty easy. Do that and either take the ferry to Angel Island and hike to the top of Mt. Livermore (killer views of the bay) or walk the nearby Greenwich Steps to the top of Telegraph Hill (more killer views).

      3 Replies
      1. re: steve h.

        Any items in the menu at Tadich Grill that should not be missed?
        Thank you for the hike/walk recommendations.

        1. re: sgp

          Martinis, oysters and whatever fish (sand dabs, sole, so on) your waiter says you should try. This is an old school place. Trust your waiter the way you would at Galatoire's in New Orleans.

          1. re: sgp

            The classics at Tadich Grill or its less touristy twin Sam's Grill are sand dabs, Rex sole, and Petrale sole.

        2. I heartily endorse Boulevard, Swan's, Perbacco and Tadich (mentioned by others on this thread).

          Zuni is good though has never been my favorite. Slanted Door is, as mentioned, overpriced and touristy. But the food is good in spite of all that, and my parents go there every time they visit.
          I used to love Burma Superstar but it's no longer high on my list. Something happened to their ginger salad in the last few years and it's not the same.

          You might want to try one of the korean joints I've been enjoying lately: Seoul Garden is open for lunch, Brothers BBQ is open for lunch on Friday/Sat/Sun, and K-Pop in the mission is open for lunch (there are many others but I've only begun to explore).

          If you are in Japan Town, Shabusen has a nice tasty filling shabu shabu lunch.

          1. We stay near Union Square as well -- love the convenience of being near Bart/Muni/cable cars/Ferry Plaza.

            Re your list: I have waxed poetic about our two lunches at Cotogna elsewhere. Good call.

            I have only been to Lers Ros for dinner (five times now I think) but could totally see it for lunch. Stick to the appetizer section so you can order lots of different things -- and I've found the apps to be the most successful for my money and palate.

            Perbacco wouldn't appeal to me for lunch (bearing in mind I've only been for dinner) -- a bit too formal and the room doesn't grab me for daytime.

            Mandalay is very nice at lunch and about as far out geographically as Burma Superstar but IMO better food and they take reservations. Just be sure to stick to the "true" Burmese dishes.

            Didn't love our lunch at Pizzeria Delfina but we went to the one on California -- I get the impression that it's worth the wait to get into the original outpost in the Mission.

            Only been to Tadich and Sam's for dinner but they are both worth visiting, though perhaps not on the same trip. Simply prepared fish seems to be the way to go at both restaurants. Not light food, but satisfying. Might feel a bit pricey at lunch time, might not.

            1. Lers Ros, be sure to go to the original Larkin St. location.

              13 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Good one, Robert, I should have clarified that I was referring to the Tenderloin outpost. I keep forgetting that there is a new one in Hayes Valley.

                1. re: grayelf

                  Thank you for the advice. I looked at their web site. They have a huge menu but recommend a few specific dishes. Are there any items that are not to be missed?

                    1. re: sgp

                      Since I was recommending the appetizers, let me be a bit more specific:

                      26 Yum Pla Duk Foo - fried catfish with lime salad dressing and chili

                      4 Thai Herb Sausage

                      17 Yum Koh Moo Yang - grilled pork shoulder salad

                      6 Nuer Tod (fried sun dried beef)

                      14 Som Tom Khai Khem (green papaya salad with salted eggs)

                      62 pork belly with crispy rind

                      There are some lovely soups here also...

                      Agree with dunstable about the area not being incredibly salutary but I've never felt actually unsafe, just a bit wary. Combining LR Larkin with a trip to the Asian Museum and a boo at City Hall would be a lovely morning or afternoon.

                        1. re: sgp

                          My guess is an autocorrect fail! :-)

                          City Hall is absolutely gorgeous, so a look inside should be on your itinerary, if you can.

                          1. re: Violatp

                            A boo is a look, around these parts anyway.

                            1. re: grayelf

                              Really?? In SF? Huh. The whole time I lived there I never heard that!

                              Live and learn.

                              1. re: Violatp

                                I assume "these parts" mean greyelf's hometown of Vancouver. I grew up in the Bay Area and I have heard the expression before, but then again I'm also [eastern] Canadian.

                              2. re: grayelf

                                I grew up here and never heard that before.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Yes, I did mean in Canada. The full expression is "take a boo" and thus endeth the esoteric Canuck English lesson for the day :-).

                                  Another lunch option near the Asian Museum is Burmese Kitchen, in case the OP want to give that type of cuisine a butcher (that's a boo in Cockney rhyming slang. I'll stop now).

                                  1. re: grayelf

                                    Ha! :-)

                                    Well, I like it and may use it myself once in awhile.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      The Larkin St. location may have better food (I guess? I went to the Hayes location recently and thought it was fine), but if you're going for lunch, the Hayes Valley location is surrounded by some fun little boutiques and shoe stores, if that interests you. The Larkin St. location is much less fun in that respect (some might even say it's in a bad neighborhood, although I don't personally believe it to be dangerous, especially not at lunch time), although it is pretty close to City Hall and the Asian Art Museum.