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Apr 22, 2013 07:11 PM

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

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)

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    1. 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

        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

          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

            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

              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

                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. 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

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

                1. re: Cynsa

                  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

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



                    1. re: PolarBear

                      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

                        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

                  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

                    Eat at Jitlada when you go to Los Angeles.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      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

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

                        1. re: Windy

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  Ichi is fine if you live in the neighborhood.

                                  Pasion is fun. They're open late btw.

                    2. re: grayelf

                      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

                        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

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

                  2. Seafood near Hi-Lo, maybe Gajalee?

                    BaoNecci's open for lunch only on Saturdays.

                    1. 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

                        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

                          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

                            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

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

                            1. re: Cynsa

                              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

                            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.