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May 2, 2013 06:35 PM

Itinerary help please-- NYer returning for 3 nights!

Hi all,
I've been browsing the boards for a few months now in anticipation of planning our (limited number of, sigh) meals for our summer trip. Now that we're entering the window of time where reservations and other non-food plans need to be firmed up, I thought I'd put my tentative itinerary to the experts on this board and get some thoughts on variety, what's feasible, and what's best given our interests and preferences.
This is my second time to SF and my husband's first. I'm definitely more into food than my husband but he's a good sport and game for anything. I love farm to table food and my husband loves craft beer. On my first trip in 2009, I absolutely loved everything at the Ferry Building and the Farmers' Market (we had two memorable meals at Il Cane Rosso), Zuni, Absinthe, Olea, and Bi-Rite. We weren't crazy about Tartine. I was disappointed to miss Alembic, Humphrey Slocombe and burritos in the Mission. We like low-key and are not into tasting menus. I love cheese and (surprise!) ice cream.
We have 9 meals in SF, 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 3 dinners, before we move on to a couple of nights in both Sonoma and Healdsburg. We are staying in the Financial District near the Ferry Building.

Lunch- R&G lounge or Great Eastern
Snack- B. Patisserie
Dinner- Cotogna
Drinks- near our hotel, Comstock Saloon or Harrow... any other suggestions?

Breakfast- en route to Alcatraz ferry... suggestions?
Lunch- Mission burrito (I have been waiting 4 years for this; I have La Taqueria, El Metate, El Farolito bookmarked.)
Drinks- Southern Pacific Brewery
Snacks- Ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe, Craftsmen & Wolves
Drinks/snacks- Alembic, Magnolia, Toronado
Dinner- Torn here, can't decide between Nopa and Rich Table. Both menus appeal to me but I guess I'd prefer the one in a more fun neighborhood to walk around and possibly get a drink after?

Breakfast/snacks- Ferry Plaza Farm Market
Lunch- Burmese Kitchen
Snacks- at the SF Giants game
Drinks- 21st Amendment Brewery
Dinner- I was thinking Marlowe since it's sort of near the stadium-- because of the burger-- but I'm not thrilled by this choice and would be open to other suggestions. I'm intrigued by Coqueta, also State Bird but don't want to eat standing up. Nothing too far afield from our hotel.

Breakfast- near the hotel

Thanks in advance! I'm really looking forward to our visit.

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  1. If you go to Nopa, try drinks at Corkage, which has an excellent selection of sake and a small selection of high-end Japanese beer. That nabe is very hopping, more so than where Rich Table is. There are bars near both, though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dunstable

      Thank you! Corkage sounds fun and a bit different. I'll keep in mind that Nopa's neighborhood is more lively.

    2. If you go to the Ferry Plaza on a Saturday morning, it is unlikely you will be hungry for a lunch anywhere - especially Burmese... Consider saving Burmese for dinner on that day.

      3 Replies
      1. re: CarrieWas218

        I was thinking of a late lunch on Saturday, around 2, for the reason you state, and since we won't have dinner till probably 8 or 9. But maybe we'll do a lighter lunch and have Burmese later. Thanks!

        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

          We loved Happy Hour at Harrow but were disappointed in the beer list at Comstock and didn't stay (watch your knees under the tables there if you go).

          Since you have a fab auxiliary stomach with you (that's how I roll too!), maybe you could have the breakfast of champions, Roli Roti's porchetta, as a shared thing on Sat, thus saving room for BK later.

          Ditto (even more so) re sharing a Mission burrito. I ate a whole one once and skipped dinner, and I can eat.

          We found the food at Magnolia just competent (awesome sink, though), and there isn't any at Toronado, though it's excellent for beer and stupidly inexpensive.

          1. re: grayelf

            I was hoping you'd weigh in, Grayelf, since your input on threads on this board and the Portland board (we went to Portland last summer) is extremely helpful!

            Yes, my husband makes up for the stomach space I lack; last time I was in SF was with my sister who is frankly weak (I say that lovingly :) and I think I worked her into a food coma by the last day.

            How is Harrow other than Happy Hour? We may not get there in time for HH on our first night there. Good to know re: Comstock too.

            The porchetta at Roli Roti looks great and I will put that on our list. My friend suggested a whole burrito crawl of the Mission but there's so much I want to eat in the Mission that I don't think filling up on burritos is the best idea, so we will start with one.

            I was trying to plan a mini-beer crawl for my husband on the Friday night so would like to try to hit up at least Magnolia and Toronado. Not sure what else would be worthwhile nearby.

            Would appreciate any other input you or others have. Thanks!!!

      2. My 2 cents:

        I much prefer Bi-Rite ice cream at 18th/Dolores .. you can skip the line if you buy a pint. Love the salted caramel.

        I hear Marlowe's burger is made with lamb (or a mixture?) and I really dislike lamb so have not gone there.

        For a great bargain, absolutely delicious AND near your hotel, go to Epic Roasthouse Embarcadero near Harrison to the BAR ONLY (there are tables as well as a bar, nice view of water) from about 5 pm on, there's special cheeseburger (they grind their meat) with fries, a brownie and a beer for only $20.

        This burger is much better than Umami Burger on Union St. Also, at Umami I asked for a slice of raw onion and waiter said they don't have that but offered to bring me some caramelized onions. WTF?

        5 Replies
        1. re: walker

          There's no lamb in Marlowe's burger.

            1. re: absc

              Huh, I guess you're right. I'm surprised I didn't notice it, but some of the lamb around here pretty much lacks the characteristic gaminess.

          1. re: walker

            Thanks! I definitely plan on a return visit to bi-rite (it was a highlight of our last trip) but probably the newer non-mission location. I love lamb so that actually makes Marlowe more appealing! But the deal you mention at Epic sounds great too. We'll probably play the burger by ear.

            1. re: walker

              Raw onion is short on umami. Caramelized has lots. It's part of their thing.

            2. it's out of the way but if you like ice cream you should try Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous in Dogpatch, there is also Yield Wine bar and a tiny french cheese shop near by.

              1. Not a lot near Nopa. The Bi-Rite is there, and a few bars, but that's it at night. Hayes Valley would offer you a more contained shopping district to visit, on Hayes itself.

                Saturday has you going back and forth a little too much. You could switch Ferry Plaza to lunch instead.

                Thursday also has you going in circles. R&G, and Cotogna close to each other. I haven't found anything at B. Patisserie that's worth going out of the way for.

                32 Replies
                1. re: sugartoof

                  You're joking, right? The area around Nopa is one of the hottest zones in the city. It's not just a few bars, it's like 15. If it's a nice day, Divisadero is clogged with hipsters. It's one of the reasons I moved out of the neighborhood. (nothing against you hipsters; I'm just not one, and like it a bit mellower these days.)

                  Oh, also, it's only a couple of blocks away from the Painted Ladies, the houses made famous in the sitcom Full House, which is fun for a few seconds, I guess.

                  Hayes Valley would be a better choice if you're going shopping (I always recommend the Hayes Valley location of Lers Ros to tourists for this reason), but all of those shops close pretty early.

                  1. re: dunstable

                    Yeah, Divisadero is hopping at night. Hipster central, maybe second only to Valencia.

                    1. re: dunstable

                      There are a hand full of bars near Nopa restaurant. Few of them rival Nopa itself for drinks.

                      Is there a block with more than 3-4 "hip" businesses on it to visit during daytime hours? The new crop of hip businesses are closing at 9pm. Stuff is pretty spread out, so the idea it's clogged with hipsters or hopping is more than a stretch.

                      1. re: sugartoof


                        Well, I'm going to pass over your opinions about Divisadero, but for the sake of the OP, I will point out that most of the shops in Hayes Valley close at 7pm, unfortunately. Also, for the OP, those two nabes are pretty close to each other, like a 2 minute bus ride, so if you are bored with one, you can hop to the other easily.

                        1. re: dunstable

                          There barely are any shops on Divisadero.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            The request was for a "fun neighborhood to walk around and possibly get a drink after" dinner. I think Divisadero north of Nopa is livelier than Hayes at night, more bars, fewer closed shops.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              What block has more than 3 shops on it?

                              More bars, but are they bars worthy of a Chowhound excursion? Not really. It doesn't compare to Valencia yet.

                              To be constructive, I will mention Candybar on Fulton.

                              1. re: sugartoof

                                I don't see what difference it makes how many shops it has, when all the ones in Hayes Valley will be closed. At least Sanfranpsycho is open until 8. Rare Device is open until 8.

                                If we are talking about bars that are "worthy of a Chowhound excursion" (?), then that reduces Hayes Valley to zero bars. Maybe one, if you're willing to count Sugar because it has decent cocktails. On the other hand, Divis has two wine bars (Vinyl and Wine Kitchen), a sake and wine bar (Corkage), a dessert bar (Candybar)... and whatever you want to call Bar 821. A wine/sake/soju bar? Anyway, proper cocktails and/or Islay single-malts can be had at Minibar, at Madrone, at the Page... That leaves Fly, Waziema (where apparently Billie Holliday herself once sang in back), also Mojo and Bean Bag if it's nice out...

                                Anyway, it's not a happening neighborhood by accident, and we haven't even factored the major rock venue smack in the middle of the street.

                                1. re: dunstable

                                  Hayes Valley also has Smuggler's Cove which has quite decent cocktails...

                                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                                    Oh right, I haven't made my way there yet. Two, then.

                                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                                      Smuggler's Cove is a destination. The immediate area is kind of dead at night.

                                    2. re: dunstable

                                      It matters if someone is inaccurately portraying what an after dinner excursion offers in the area. You're talking about places spread out over a dozen blocks with little in between.

                                      The Bean Bag? Funny.

                                      Stick to The Mill, and Perish Trust (antiques, and Warby Parker eyewear) which are actually neighbors, and interesting... Both close at 9. Rare Device is great, but has few neighbors for the OP to visit. You forgot Bar Crudo which I'd suggest over The Fly, or Madrone.

                                      Hayes is a condensed shopping district.

                                      For drinks in Hayes:
                                      Biergarten, Smugglers Cove, Two Sisters, Absinthe (good for dessert), Noir, Supenkuche,

                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                        *rolls eyes*

                                        All right then, that's enough of this for me. This is a ridiculous debate, especially considering it can all be verified by a quick glance at Google maps, where one can notice immediately that you overestimated the number of blocks by DOUBLE.

                                        And the Bean Bag, with its $2 glasses of IPA, is the epicenter of hipsters on Divis. What's "funny" is that you should be unaware of this.

                                        1. re: dunstable

                                          All the really hip kids go to Crepevines.

                        2. re: sugartoof

                          Thanks for the feedback. I put B. Patisserie on the agenda for Thursday because I mistakenly thought the California cable car line ran that far and it seemed like it would be a good place for a snack since we wanted to take a ride on the cable car. But I looked it up and I see it doesn't go that far, so we'll probably go elsewhere for a snack. We are arriving a little after 12 so we will probably be in the vicinity of our hotel by 2 or so, and I can't see wanting to go too far for lunch, which is why I chose R&G or Great Eastern. Then we will probably do some walking around of Chinatown and Nob Hill and make a circuit back to our hotel. We will probably be exhausted so I didn't want to get too crazy with our plans for the first day.

                          I want to leave Saturday flexible and a bit open since our Friday is pretty packed.

                          What bakeries do you like?

                          1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                            Especially since you're coming from NY, I would skip the Italian Bakerys in North Beach--- they're uniformly inferior.

                            Starter Bakery in Oakland has a Kouign Amann that's worth seeing out, and is sold in North Beach and the surrounds. I spotted it at a cheese shop two weeks back, but other locations have it too:

                            1. re: hyperbowler

                              The one great bakery in North Beach is Liguria, which makes only focaccia and often sells out before nooon.

                              1. re: hyperbowler

                                Oh hyperbowler, you had to mention the Starter kouign amann, didn't ya? I am a slave to those puppies and I think the OP should try one. I prefer Starter's version to Brenda Leong's at b patisserie by a nose. As it appears the newish Heyday is carrying Starter stuff it might be worth emailing them to see if they will have the KA as that would be v. close to the OP's hotel. Coffee Bar in the FiDi also carries stuff from Starter. I have been known to call them and "book" one :-). The elusive hazelnut version is tops in my book but the plain is a close second.

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  Thanks for the tip about heyday!

                                  Oops, the cheese shop I mentioned above is called Little Vine. Really nice selection of CA goodies, and not too far from Liguria Bakery.

                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                    I think Little Vine doesn't always get the KAs -- we dropped by last trip one day and no dice, so worth calling ahead. Cute store though with a decent selection of gourmet stuff.

                                2. re: hyperbowler

                                  Coffee Bar on Montgomery is the most consistent place to find the Kouign Amann.

                                  As for North Beach...
                                  Stella Bakery has no equal for it's Italian whip cream cakes in NY. (Skip the pastries/cookies).
                                  Victoria's Princess Cake is one of the better ones in the city, for an item that's unavailable in NY.
                                  Liguria is great.
                                  Golden Gate Bakery is close by.

                                  There's also Black Jet at the Ferry Building...
                                  Blue Bottle in Mint Plaza for sweet items...
                                  and then Sightglass or Contraband (which isn't too far from North Beach) who carry Neighbor pastries which make some of the best croissant type items in my opinion.

                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                    It's good to know that Victoria's does a good Princess Cake. I've never managed to eat anything remarkable at their old location, and recently had two meh items at their new location. Their Napoleon had a custard rather than the whipped cream messes common in the Bay Area, but I wasn't a fan of its flavor.

                                    huh, I've had it a few times in the midwest, so it hadn't occurred to me that Princess Cake would be a rarity in NY. Looking at y*lp, it's not unavailable in NYC, but this Swedish origin dessert is available in more places here (heh, there's even an ice cream filled Ikea version!). Swedish origin also explains why I've had it a few times in the midwest.

                                    As for Golden Gate Bakery, the OP should check out on the morning of their potential visit to ensure it's not closes.

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      Hmm, may have to revisit Contraband -- we haven't had anything really outstanding pastry-wise there on three visits.

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        If you've had the croissant from Four Barrel, those are the same baker.

                                        1. re: grayelf

                                          When I go to Contraband I have to remember to ask for the caps extra hot because they are only lukewarm, otherwise.

                                          I think the pastries are better quality than an average coffee house sells.

                                          1. re: walker

                                            Only thing we've had from Four Barrel was the KA which used to be Brenda Leong and a scone. We had a cinnamon twirly thing at Contraband last week that was egregious (SO ordered it before I had the chance to warn him), so still not winning. But now Flour and Co is just a block away so the solution is to get pastries there (or their savoury oatmeal, which I'm dying to try)and coffee at Contraband. SO had the cap so I don't know if it was lukewarm or not.

                                            1. re: grayelf

                                              Was the Cinnamon twist credit to anyone? It's a mix and match from various bakers/suppliers, with cookies and empanadas, and waffles - all different. I know Neighbor specializes in croissants though.

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                I didn't catch where it was from, but we haven't liked the waffles, the empanadas, the scones or the cinnamon thingy so I think that's enough chances : -).

                                    2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                                      Re: Cable Car ride .. the best one, in my opinion .. wait in line at Market/Powell and make sure you get on the one that ends up at Beach/Hyde NOT Bay/Taylor. The view coming down the Hyde Street hill is incredible.

                                      R & G is excellent, a bit pricey, the crab is wonderful.

                                      If you're ever in Berkeley, Crixa is a great bakery. It's across from the Berkeley Bowl grocery store; this is the original one (my preference), there are now two. I've never seen another store like this.

                                      1. re: walker

                                        Just a note that Berkeley Bowl and Crixa are an easy walk (less than ten minutes) from the Ashby BART station and well worth a visit from an NYer (the last one I took said "the produce department is bigger than an entire Fairway").

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Crixa sells out of the more unique items, so it's best to go earlier.

                                          Berkley Bowl has a great assortment of produce with some sections that will stand out, but about 90% of it would also be found in NY, and the Fairway size comparison is a stretch.