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What's Chow-worthy near the Intercontinental on Howard St.? [San Francisco]

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Hi all - am going to be staying at this hotel in early-mid September. Would appreciate any suggestions nearby - walking distance preferred but short taxi ride or easy to reach from here via Muni would be great too. Any type of food is fine, we're adventurous eaters, and pretty much any price point / type of place, from hole in the wall to $100 or so per person should be ok for us.

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  1. Hi Marvin,

    That hotel is pretty centrally located, with good public transportation access, which means that you'll be able to get to many parts of the city quite easily. Neighborhoods within walking distance include SOMA, Financial District, Union Square, Civic Center, and Tenderloin, and places like the Ferry Building and Chinatown aren't too far either.

    Are you mainly looking for dinner options? Or are you also looking for lunch? In the financial district, there are several places only open for lunch on weekdays, which is the main reason I ask.

    Any types of foods you are particularly interested in or interested in avoiding? Where will you be visiting from?

    Dave MP

    13 Replies
    1. re: Dave MP

      Hi Dave - thanks for the prompt reply. I'm visiting from Los Angeles, arriving late afternoon Sunday and flight out of SFO early Wednesday morning, so basically have 3 dinners and 2 lunches and breakfasts to consider. Breakfast might just be at the hotel (we're club members there), depending, but certainly lunch and dinner. Dinner probably would prefer suggestions closer to the hotel. At lunch time, we'll probably be out and about in other parts of the city so I know that doesn't narrow it down but geographically I'd be open to a wider area. We're mostly going to do the usual touristy stuff - Golden Gate Park, Union Square, the Presidio area, China Town, etc.

      1. re: Marvin

        Since you're from LA, think of SF - the parts with 95% of the restaurants, from FiDi to the Mission - as a single LA neighborhood. Everywhere is less than a 15 minute cab ride.

        The peninsula is our SGV. The east bay is our west side. Palo Alto might best be Hollywood and San Jose is Central and south/east, but the analogies are breaking down. Etc.

        You've restricted your recommendation to particular meals (good), to SF (not enough). 100pp means 97% of restaurants.

        Without more information, you might as well use the generic lists - I find sf.eater.com to be somewhat trustworthy. There's no equivilent of the LA Weekly here (for food), and the food opinions of our major newspaper critic are widely mocked.

        1. re: bbulkow

          I respectfully disagree with some of your analogies re neighborhoods. I'd characterize the Peninsula like this:

          Daly City/San Bruno/Millbrae = San Gabriel Valley
          Burlingame/Hillsborough/Atherton = Beverly Hills, Bel Air and West LA
          San Mateo/Belmont/San Carlos - San Fernando Valley
          Palo Alto = any university town with nicer residential areas
          San Jose and surrounding suburbs - any high tech area and suburbs equal to SFV and upscale from that generalization

          Aside from that, you're in good hands here. Having lived in LA for 7 years before here (28 years), and now a frequent visitor to LA, there is alot to choose from in the various parts of the Bay Area.

          1. re: alwayshungrygal

            It's a fun game to play .... I think your LA knowledge is better than mine.

            Palo Alto has this crazy entrepreneur energy that goes so far beyond typical university town, has an aspect of deal-crazed hollywood.

            But it's all an analogy....

            1. re: bbulkow

              I agree with your redefinition of Palo Altos. Lots of high-tech energy.

              I haven't eaten at Zbibbo in quite some time but did enjoy it last time I was there. I also find that PA has a wide mix of chains (Max's in Stanford Mall, Cheesecake Factory, CPK) and non. There are some interesting places on California Ave (no chains other than the Counter) that tend to fly under the radar as opposed to University Ave which is much, much busier.

              I forgot to mention Menlo Park and Foster City. I can't comment on any of the restaurants in MP but I'd compare it to ...maybe Sherman Oaks or Studio City, maybe Westwood. OP, it is next to Palo Alto, so it gets overflow from Stanford. Foster City is pretty much a chow wasteland.

              1. re: alwayshungrygal

                There is Cooking Papa in Foster City.

                1. re: wally

                  I did say "pretty much." And I haven't eaten there so can't recommend it.

          2. re: bbulkow

            Hi bbulkow - I'll try to narrow it down further.

            First, for the most part, I'd like to stick to things we either don't have much of in LA, or in general are much better in SF than what we have in LA. I'm not sure quite what those would be, necessarily, so that's one aspect where I could use some help. for instance, while we certainly don't have a shortage of good Mexican food in LA, from what I understand, SF has its own variations of Mexican food (i.e. Mission-style burritos?), possibly better Chinese food than what we have in LA, at least outside of the SGV which I hardly ever get to go to, and I'm not really sure what other types of foods are in SF but not LA, or that SF excels at.

            I was also under the impression that the better restaurants in SF are generally more money than in LA, so that's where the $100pp came from. I certainly don't mind splurging at that level, but I'd certainly find $50 pp more budget friendly, so if that helps narrow things down, any suggestions along those lines would be appreciated.

            1. re: Marvin

              You're likely to get better recommendations from all fronts now...

              Our version of the SGV is the Peninsula (mid-peninsula), and chinese in the city proper has a few bright spots but not much - but Jai Yun (unique anywhere) might be a shot. Thai food is inferior. Sushi is inferior. BBQ is inferior. Korean is inferior. Saison isn't in your budget.

              I'd send you to some of our "local restaurants", a style we used to call "californian", places with a SF feel. Some are older (Sam's), some are newer (Zuni), some are really new (Flower + Water, AQ, Bar Agricole, State Bird, Rich Table, Zare, Cotogna, Barbacco etc).

              You do have a selection of places like this in LA (because, like, LA is 3x bigger than the entire bay area, and the main part of LA might be 10x bigger than SF proper). This doesn't mean you get to those kinds of restaurants that much.

              1. re: bbulkow

                Thanks again bbulknow - One probably silly follow-up question - what area do you mean when you say "the Peninsula"? Do you mean the same peninsula on which San Francisco lies, but outside of San Francisco (i.e. south of San Francisco), or do you mean somewhere else?

                In any case, I checked the web sites for these restaurants - Flower + Water, AQ, Zare, Cotogna, Barbacco certainly look like our cup of tea. By Sam's, did you mean Sam's Grill?

                1. re: Marvin

                  "The Peninsula" = south of SF and north of South Bay. Daly City to Palo Alto? Mountain View?

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    "The Peninsula" extends to include Mountain View. Hwy 237 that runs east-west is often cited as the line of demarcation. Part of Mountain View is south of the highway though.

                    Another way is based on the (650) area code region. The Peninsula used to be (415) area code along with San Francisco and Marin that retain that area code. Then The Peninsula was designated (650) about 20 years ago. The South Bay is (408).

          3. re: Marvin

            Lunch at Burmese Kitchen in the Tenderloin/Civic Center area could be a good option if you're in the neighborhood. Otherwise Burmese in other neighborhoods might be good too, since I don't believe there's a ton of Burmese in LA.

        2. Walking distance from 5th and Howard, AQ, Zero Zero

          1. Ame restaurant is 3 blocks away by foot.
            I like it. :-)
            To me, the killer meal there is to order the "Taste of Ame Sashimi Bar" as an appetizer (it's listed as a main but it's by no means too much food) and then the "Broiled Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod and
            Shrimp Dumplings in Shiso Broth" for a main.