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Mayday, mayday, grayelf on a collision course for SF Bay Area in... May

grayelf Apr 22, 2013 07:11 PM

Once again turning to you lovely Hounds to avoid any crash landings, as you've so generously helped me before. We'll be in town for a week, Wed to Wed. I have a fairly solid draft plan I think but could use a tweak or two, indicated by ** (but feel free to wax horrified by anything you see and don't approve of, please).

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions, ideas, additions, subtractions and multiplications!


Dinners (7 available):
Baker and Banker or Cotogna
La Ciccia
**Hi Lo BBQ

I need somewhere else for the Monday night besides Hi Lo, in case we get there and the line up is legion. Would love another seafood option (I know, not the same as bbq at all, but it's another area we lack in Vancouver). Doesn't have to be in the same hood.

We're a bit heavy on Italian but I just can't help myself, you have so many great options (and we don't at home).

Lunches/brunches (7 available):
Bodega Bistro (still thinking about the bo luc lac)
Bao Necci
Le Truc for the tri tip sandwich
Old Mandarin
Chabaa Thai
new Naked Lunch

Any duds on here? Gotta narrow it down by five places, doh!

Burger crawl:
Mission Bowling

**Machine -- any good?
The Mill (gotta see the buildout)
Flour and Co
Reveille (the new digs)
Wrecking Ball
**De La Paz (what's up since the sale to Four Barrel?)
Blue Bottle Mint Plaza
b patisserie
Cafe de la presse
Coffee Bar

snacks/happy hours:
Wexler's Back
The Lookout (pulled pork tacos)
La Fajita (fish tacos)
Lers Ros (catfish dish)
**nem nuong banh mi (would love a recco specifically for that filling)

  1. grayelf Jun 17, 2013 11:21 AM

    Really late and long report finally posted here if you're interested: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/905884

    1. s
      soupçon May 2, 2013 10:52 AM

      El Calamar Peruvian Cuisine truck, if you can catch it at SoMa StrEat Food park at lunch or dinner. Owner formerly cooked for Michelin-starred La Costanera, and his whole family is involved. I've had the Jalea, Carapulca (pictured), and Lomo Saltado, all good.

      If you're in the Mission around dinnertime on Thursday, get a tub of ceviche from Shrimp & Love at Mission Mercado to enjoy at one of the tables by the music tent. Several varieties, but I'm partial to the spicy shrimp aquachile. One tub is a big enough appetizer for two.

      4 Replies
      1. re: soupçon
        grayelf May 2, 2013 12:24 PM

        Nice, I haven't heard of either of those options, soup, so thanks.

        I think I've got the Monday dinner sorted. Switched Skool to that day and booked at Bar Crudo on Sunday, which I've wanted to try for ages.

        1. re: soupçon
          Windy May 2, 2013 02:56 PM

          Aguachiles?! Jaime of La Victoria has been working on his recipe and hinting it might be available for a dinner some time.

          Maybe with the sandwiches at the 4505 tent, I need to eat dinner at the Mission Community Market on Thursdays.

          First I'd heard of El Calamar either.

          1. re: Windy
            soupçon May 2, 2013 04:32 PM

            El Calamar has only been in operation for a month, and so far has mostly appeared only at the SoMa StrEat Food Park. They were there at lunchtime today and I went there planning to check out more from their menu, but it was so damned hot I went for a papaya salad from Phat Thai instead.

            1. re: soupçon
              Windy May 3, 2013 02:37 PM

              Plus fish tacos! Thanks for posting this. It is truly a day for papaya salad, or ceviche.

        2. t
          tjinsf Apr 26, 2013 05:09 PM

          if you are looking for a BBQ alternative, try CatHead's BBQ in Soma, I'm going to Hi-Lo on Monday so I can't compare them yet but so far Cathead's has been the best BBQ I've found in San Francisco.

          Front closes early around 4. I would do a late morning coffee at Front, brunch at Plow and then maybe walk to Chocolate Lab or Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous for sweets. Also on the same block as Chocolate Lab in Dogpatch is Piccino's coffee place and Little Nib, the chocolate store.

          1. Ruth Lafler Apr 24, 2013 10:15 AM

            Miss Ollie's?

            Yeah, it's in Oakland, but it's just a couple of blocks from the 12th St. BART station.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              Windy Apr 25, 2013 09:59 PM

              Yes. Definitely. Though it might be more crowded since Bauer's writeup. But it's open for lunch as well as dinner.

              I love Skool for a drink and a snack (and uni flan), but it's not really necessary to give up a whole dinner. I've had good house cured sardines there. Open for lunch or hit happy hour.

              The Mill is very pretty, but it's packed on weekends. b. is always packed, but lovely. A friend wants to work our way through everything they bake.

              Heath is my current favorite Blue Bottle incarnation on 18th Street. And you might want to visit MoMA before they close for two years (June 2).

              Have you been to Dandelion Chocolate yet? Single origin bars from Ecuador and Madagascar and pricey drinking chocolate. On Valencia next door to Craftsman and Wolves, where I'm still in love with the carrot cocoa muffin and the shoyu caramels.

              1. re: Windy
                escargot3 Apr 26, 2013 06:23 PM

                Miss Ollie's is more crowded since the MB rave review. But not crazy crowded. And that bottle of Hendrick's gin along with a nice selection of rum now on the wall, makes the wait...pleasant.

                But it is definitely slow food. And a great mix of people.

            2. h
              hyperbowler Apr 23, 2013 12:15 PM

              Damn, you eat well.

              If Cotogna, kick off Baonecci. Also, Baonecci is only open for lunch on Saturdays.

              If Padrecito, try Ice Cream Bar for a shake after. They serve alcoholic drinks now too.

              SFGate just had a positive writeup of Naked Lunch, including the burger offered only on weekends. Wish I'd read that before having a less exciting North Beach lunch over the weekend...

              1. jillyju Apr 23, 2013 10:59 AM

                What about Rich Table? I haven't been but it's gotten such rave reviews.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jillyju
                  Cynsa Apr 24, 2013 07:28 AM

                  We did the Tuesday Sally Hurricane's Fried Chicken Dinner last night $35 and it was a feast of delights. DH proclaimed it the best fried chicken ever. I've just had my take-home cold fried chicken for brekkie and it was even better than the delicious hot-crispy-juicy-perfectly-seasoned serving at dinner. Loved the Dirty Hippie.
                  Service was attentive and sweet. Full house, not noisy - we were all too occupied with eating. My rave review.
                  menu here: http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com/20...
                  two changes: snowpeas with wasabi dressing and the salad was Romaine lettuce with croutons

                2. Civil Bear Apr 23, 2013 10:06 AM

                  I believe Hi Low has a connection with nearby Hog & Rocks. Not seafood per se, but they have oysters and a couple of seafood options on the menu.


                  1. BernalKC Apr 23, 2013 08:49 AM

                    I wouldn't be too worried about the lines at Hi-Lo. I may have gone there on the early side, but the lines have been no problem in my last two visits.

                    A seafood alternative might be Catch.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: BernalKC
                      dunstable Apr 23, 2013 10:29 AM

                      It's been years since I've been at Catch, but it was mediocre when I went, with pricing on par with non-mediocre restaurants. It might be okay for a random tourist from Podunk, but not for grayelf, who already knows SF's restaurants quite well and probably has a much higher bar. Even Woodhouse ranks above Catch in my book.

                      1. re: dunstable
                        walker Apr 26, 2013 11:05 AM

                        I really like the Woodhouse located on Fillmore bet. Pine/Bush. No res. but they don't close in between lunch and dinner so that's a great time to go there.

                        It's the only place I can find Ipswich (fresh) fried clams. I think their clam chowder is great and recently they had a sauteed halibut with beautiful spring vegetables (no starch) that could not have been better. Love their tartar sauce, too. Reasonable.

                        1. re: walker
                          Windy Apr 26, 2013 01:37 PM

                          Try the steamers some time. I agree the Woodhouse on Fillmore has a better kitchen than the Market St location, and maybe better wines by the glass. Still wish they had better salads/veggies/sides. Stick to the seafood.

                        2. re: dunstable
                          Cynsa Apr 26, 2013 01:53 PM

                          Isn't Anchor Oyster Bar on Castro Street a better choice than Catch?

                          1. re: Cynsa
                            tjinsf Apr 26, 2013 05:00 PM

                            yes most seafood places are better than Catch. Their quality of fish and cooking is very uneven.

                            Anchor Oyster Bar is good but tiny so be prepared to wait if you want to go there.

                        3. re: BernalKC
                          leefc Apr 23, 2013 12:25 PM

                          Went to Hi-Lo just before 8pm on a Saturday and the line was significant, but manageable. Probably about <10 minutes to order.

                          However, they were already all out of the brisket. If you see a long line, take a peek at the board behind the counter for what's already '86'd.

                        4. Robert Lauriston Apr 23, 2013 08:46 AM

                          Seafood near Hi-Lo, maybe Gajalee?

                          BaoNecci's open for lunch only on Saturdays.

                          1. bbulkow Apr 23, 2013 08:27 AM

                            It's so hard to remember where you've been, I hate recommending and "yeah, been there...."

                            Any chance at a followup having skimmed through your notes, with where you've been?

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: bbulkow
                              Cynsa Apr 24, 2013 07:19 AM

                              Is this #13 or #14 visit to SF? Grayelf, inquiring minds need this list - updated, please.

                              1. re: Cynsa
                                grayelf Apr 25, 2013 07:47 PM

                                Visit number 12 (I don't count our 2003 visit as I didn't know about CH then!). I'm working on a list of places we've been but it's LONG.

                                1. re: grayelf
                                  PolarBear Apr 25, 2013 07:52 PM

                                  No, the US Tax code is long, your reports are legendary. Keep up the great work, we love you greyelf.



                                  1. re: PolarBear
                                    grayelf Apr 30, 2013 10:35 PM

                                    Aw, thanks, Dave! I've been swamped but I am trying to get the list together.

                                    Really keen to find a good option for Monday night in case Hi Lo doesn't work out. All the places I am interested in are closed Mondays :-(

                                    I'm furiously jotting down everyone's great ideas so thanks all.

                                    1. re: grayelf
                                      Cynsa May 1, 2013 06:09 AM

                                      Pasion - if you like ceviche -
                                      but it's far from Hi-Lo

                                      737 Irving Street
                                      (between 9th Ave & 8th Ave)
                                      Mon-Fri 11 am - 3 pm
                                      Mon-Thu 5 pm - 10 pm

                                      Gajalee is certainly within range of Hi-Lo, I'd follow RL's suggestion.

                              2. re: bbulkow
                                grayelf May 1, 2013 04:45 PM

                                The list of everywhere we've gone on twelve trips is legion so instead an alphabetical list of dinners up to and including Nov 2012:

                                A La Turca
                                Asuka (closed)
                                Bar Tartine ("original" and "Hungarian")
                                Bund Shanghai
                                Burmese Kitchen twice
                                Canteen seven times
                                Inka's (original owners)
                                La Ciccia three times
                                Lers Ros (Larkin) five times
                                Local Mission Eatery
                                Mi Lindo Yucatan (closed)
                                Off the Grid Ft Mason
                                Old Mandarin
                                Pagolac (bo 7 mon)
                                Poc Chuc three times
                                Seven Hills
                                Thai House Express (Larkin)
                                Vientian three times
                                West of Pecos

                                1. re: grayelf
                                  Robert Lauriston May 1, 2013 04:50 PM

                                  Eat at Jitlada when you go to Los Angeles.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    grayelf May 1, 2013 04:56 PM

                                    Yeah, not really comparable at all from what I've read, but it was one of our first trips and we were (still are!) starved for good Thai in Vancouver. We soon gravitated to Lers Ros and continue to find it outstanding, particularly when we stick to the appetizers. It's a perfect place to hit on your way in from SFO as they seem to be able to fit us in on short notice, or move our reso if the plane is late, as it often is.

                                    1. re: grayelf
                                      Windy May 1, 2013 04:59 PM

                                      You're probably the only person who's ever made reservations at the Lers Ros on Larkin :)

                                      1. re: Windy
                                        grayelf May 1, 2013 05:47 PM

                                        LOL! Well, we did have two Chowdowns there so kinda needed resos for those. But they are always a bit surprised when I call.

                                        I think I'm down to Lolinda or Pasion for Monday. Wondering about the noise level at the former...

                                        1. re: grayelf
                                          absc May 1, 2013 08:37 PM

                                          Monday and seafood: Without reading back over the many threads, I can't remember your thoughts on sushi, but Ichi is open on Mondays and is not really that far from Hi Lo.

                                          1. re: absc
                                            hyperbowler May 1, 2013 08:46 PM

                                            Great stuff at Ichi, but I would guess the wait for Ichi would be longer than for Hi Lo and it's over a mile south.

                                            1. re: hyperbowler
                                              grayelf May 1, 2013 09:24 PM

                                              I have heard Ichi is very good but we're kinda spoiled with sushi at home -- not that it's exactly the same of course but we have so many options and it's quite a bit *cheaper* as well which can be a consideration. We're going to Skool for a bit of a Japanese flavour though.

                                              1. re: grayelf
                                                Windy May 2, 2013 02:53 PM

                                                Ichi is fine if you live in the neighborhood.

                                                Pasion is fun. They're open late btw.

                                  2. re: grayelf
                                    Melanie Wong May 1, 2013 09:24 PM

                                    Off the top of my head, what about Baonecci, Sotto mare, Cotogna, farm:table and Little Yangon?

                                    (Not that I'm keeping track. :) )

                                    ETA: Oops, I see that your list was for dinners only.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                                      grayelf May 1, 2013 09:28 PM

                                      We have indeed been to all those lovely places, Melanie, just for lunch rather than dinner. I posted my previous dindins above but balked at putting everywhere we've been as I'd still be typing :-).

                                      I wish Bao Necci was open for lunch another day besides Sat as we would go more often but it made the cut for this trip. We snagged a Cotogna reso as well albeit at 8:30. Very tempted to head back to Little Yangon for lunch but right now Mandalay is in the lead.

                                      1. re: grayelf
                                        Melanie Wong May 1, 2013 09:57 PM

                                        There are three Burmese food festivals around the Bay scheduled for May. Perhaps one of them coincides with your dates.

                                2. s
                                  sugartoof Apr 22, 2013 08:09 PM

                                  Reveille did a nice job, but they're just serving Four Barrel, without anything special going on. You'll cover it with The Mill.

                                  I believe De La Paz is currently closed for the build/rebranding. Not sure if they're doing the cart outside.

                                  Have you visited Contraband yet?

                                  Rickybobby (Chefs originally from Broken Record) might be worth adding for burgers.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: sugartoof
                                    grayelf Apr 23, 2013 07:19 AM

                                    I had heard that Reveille was in a bricks and mortar now with snacks available. We've tried the truck before and liked it quite well. I think Machine is Four Barrel too so prolly will only hit one of them.

                                    Thanks for the heads up that DLP may be closed. Will call and see if they are open the 8th to the 15th. Maybe next trip...

                                    We've been to Contraband three times and found it a bit uneven re the baristas. Nice set up though with the little tables outside in the sun.

                                    Will add RB to burger list.

                                    1. re: grayelf
                                      sugartoof Apr 23, 2013 10:51 AM

                                      Reveille does have salads, and sandwiches, and that sort of thing. It's about a half block below Naked Lunch. You can also visit Beacon Coffee and Pantry in North Beach which serves Sightglass....but I don't think any of those are worth a special trip alone.

                                      You're right Contraband does at times feel like it's been left unattended, but as a small batch roaster, they're interesting.

                                      1. re: grayelf
                                        amydeastbay Apr 23, 2013 03:47 PM

                                        You are correct that Reveille is in a permanent spot with counter seating and a couple of tables. It serves both breakfast and lunch at its new location, and I've been impressed with the sandwiches and salads. Most recently, I had a grilled chicken banh mi that was quite flavorful. The salads on an earlier menu were also tasty and interesting: quinoa with persimmon and goat cheese; roasted carrots, cauliflower, and radicchio; farro with roasted brussels sprouts. They're taking a lot of care in the preparations and seem genuinely pleased to know that their customers are enjoying what they serve. Last time I was there, I wanted a sweet afterward, but the cookies I'd seen earlier were gone; I was told they were baking a new batch that would be ready in 15 minutes, so it's clear that they're baking there, too. I recommend the place if you're looking for more than coffee.

                                        1. re: grayelf
                                          twocents Apr 24, 2013 10:25 AM

                                          I really only drink brewed coffee, but every one I've had from Contraband (in store or brought home) has been a well selected well roasted batch of beans. Smaller sample size, but the average has been higher for me than Four Barrel, which is my current local standby (easier to get, and very good).

                                          I can imagine barista skill might be lesser than some of the other places; despite the slight design-orientation of the shop it has the overall feel of a college cafe. But the roast coffees for brewing are top notch. Recent trips to Portland and Seattle roasters (17 cups/ 12 roasters/ 72 hrs) show it compares favorably, to my taste.

                                          1. re: grayelf
                                            sugartoof May 1, 2013 12:17 PM

                                            Actually, Reveille might not be using Four Barrel after all. Their beans were in Reveille bags, so who knows.

                                            Having visited both Machine and Reveille in the last week, I'd say it's a toss up. Both are good if you're in the area.

                                        2. Ruth Lafler Apr 22, 2013 07:18 PM

                                          Which week?

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