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Need a foodie finish to a day at Golden Gate Park [San Francisco]

After a week on the central coast my wife and I will be spending Saturday, 8 June in Golden Gate Park before heading out to SFO and our red-eye back to Virginia. What do you recommend for two Easterners with a budget of about $100-$120?

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  1. I would head to North Beach for Cioppino at Soto Mare; hearty, filling, and quintessentially San Francisco.

    8 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      I wouldn't send someone across town to North Beach, especially when they have to then head off to SFO.

      I think Burmese is a good idea, since it's a cuisine that's under-represented almost anywhere else. For something more traditional, maybe Chapeau!?

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        The only reason I sent them across town was because they referenced a red-eye, indicating considerable time before having to be at the airport...

        But, yes, Burmese would be a great choice as well!

        1. re: CarrieWas218

          All this talk of Burmese has me wondering if we've just been extraordinarily unlucky. We've eaten at Burma Superstar and Mandalay numerous times and apart from the tea leaf salad I'm not sure what the big deal is. The food at these places is good but doesn't seem worth waiting an hour for.

          1. re: Josh

            There's nothing that exciting about Burma Superstar. Without the line, it would be an upscale Americanized Burmese restaurant with cute decor.

            1. re: Josh

              I end up pretty much ordering the same thing every time I'm at Mandalay:

              - Tea leaf salad - Always great

              - Samosa soup (although I don't love it, to be honest)

              - Mandalay special noodles (possibly my favorite Asian noodle dish in the entire country)

              - Pork and pumpkin curry (it's on the sign outside the restaurant when they have it, which seems to be often/always)

              - Eggplant w/ basil - Not amazing, but very good.

              I sometimes get the prata too, which is very good.

              1. re: Dave MP

                The thin fish soup and the samosa salad are worth adding to your go-to list, Dave.

              2. re: Josh

                I agree, Burma and Mandalay especially, are just okay. I feel like Burma Superstar went downhill a little. Without a line, it's still worth dropping in for a tea leaf salad.

                1. re: Josh

                  To be honest, I never wait in that line either, but Burmese is the one cuisine that is almost totally absent back east.

          2. I always say go Burmese, which is close to the park. Burma Superstar (the most popular choice), Mandalay (which some people, including me, prefer). Burma Superstar usually has a line, so be prepared for that.

            Nopalito is another popular choice. Mexican food. There is one in the Inner Sunset near the park.

            1. I'd second the recommendation for Nopalito. I live pretty close to Mandalay and Burma Superstar. They are decent but the crowds are ridiculous and nonsensical, and they're not as close to the park.

              Nopalito is upscale Mexican with locally sourced ingredients. Their food is excellent.

              Another option you could consider is Alembic on Haight St. It's pretty close to Golden Gate park and has interesting cocktails and very tasty food.

                1. re: Windy

                  Were budget not an issue, I'd agree. But Aziza for $120 total? I'm not sure that's possible anymore. Without cutting corners, you're looking at about $75 per person including tax and tip to sample their best stuff. A sample bill would be:

                  2 drinks: $20
                  Appetizer : ~$13
                  Basteeya : $22
                  Couscous : $19
                  Entree : $27
                  Dessert : $12
                  += 113 + tax & tip

                  1. re: hyperbowler

                    Yes, it is possible to eat at Aziza for less than $120. I'd really rather let 54howell look at a menu and decide.

                    The Richmond district is full of great food. It's not far to go downtown, but I agree, you may as well eat out by the beach while you're on the west side of town.

                    You might also consider going to La Costanera, south on a beach on highway 1. It's upscale Peruvian, with a bar or a more formal restaurant upstairs. (Close to the park, Pasion has a similar upscale Peruvian approach, but not the same view.)

                    1. re: Windy

                      The chef/owner of Pasion recently opened a new restaurant in Pacifica. Puerto 27


                      A little more casual and a bit less expensive than La Costanera, but quite good and it's located right across the highway from the beach. It's on a little hill so the views are nice.

                      1. re: pamf

                        I've been twice and have been completely underwhelmed... It seems to be more of a "place to be seen" by the beautiful people. The food is okay, but it is LOUD and too much of a scene.

                        Also, for someone coming from the Central Coast to go to Golden Gate, it would be counter-intuitive to backtrack to Pacifica before going to SFO.

                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                          That's too bad about the food. I liked Pasion when I ate there.

                          The point of going to the beach (or La Costanera) for the sunset is going to the beach for the sunset--it may be a detour on the way to SFO, but it's a detour with a spectacular view. Less important for someone that's been on the coast though.

                            1. re: 54howell57

                              Windy made a great point; lots of folks head to the beach for the view and it is sad that there are so few good eateries to complement the atmosphere.

                  2. How about La Ciccia? That's on the way to SFO and one of the best places in SF in that price range.

                    If you're dropping off a rental car at the airport, you could go to Little Yangon for Burmese.

                    1. I'd recommend Izakaya Sozai. It's next to the Park and the wait can be avoided/minimized if you get there early. Easily my favorite izakaya in SF so far. Lots of great items on the menu and the tonkatsu ramen is my favorite way to finish off the meal.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: fledflew

                        Izakaya Sozai takes reservations as well. and the ramen is well worth it. also, make sure you get the bacon wrapped enoki and the chicken skin skewers. oh, and the meatballs are excellent and so are the sausages. and i will just stop there, before i list off the whole menu...

                        There are so many great options in both the sunset and the richmond, and i would say that if you are on foot, it really depends where in the park you are, since those two neighborhoods alone take up about 1/4 of the footprint of SF.
                        If you are NOT on foot, and do indeed have a car that you need to return to the airport, then the city is pretty much your oyster and you can hit any of the myriad stellar resturants both west and south of the city without having a hassle to get to the airport afterwards. (just make sure you have a good map or some GPS system in the car.)
                        La Ciccia is a nice suggestion and so is Aziza. Aziza has valet parking, and La Ciccia is in a neighborhood that is easy to find parking in.
                        I think that if it was my last night in SF and i wanted to have a quintessential SF meal i would probably end up either doing something asian (and i can NOT make a suggestion about that, cause there are too many options) or something involving oysters.
                        I am sure i will get lambasted here, but Zuni is always a delicious meal and a really quintessential SF food experience in my book. Foreign Cinema as well. Also, i have not been yet, but Outsidelands has gotten some very favorable reviews lately, but you will need a reservation.

                        so many options! hope you have a great meal where ever you end up.

                        oh, and lastly, if you are on foot, and indeed down around 9th and Lincoln, i would go to Park Chow. it is not the most amazing food i have ever eaten, BUT i have also never had a bad meal there. and the ambience is nice and they have killer desserts.

                        1. re: jupiter

                          Do you mean "Outerlands?" We were kicking ourselves for not making it there on our last trip to SF, especially since we were staying out in Outer Richmond.

                          1. re: digga

                            yes. that is what i meant. sorry for the confusion. outside lands is that festival thing. outerlands is the restaurant.
                            someday i will make it there and have the foresight to get a reservation!

                      2. Nopalito or La Ciccia.

                        1. Thanks, all. I not only appreciate the suggestions but the conversation along the way. we will probably not go ethnic but with a locally sourced kinda place.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: 54howell57

                            Bar Jules is great and a relative bargain for that kind of place.

                            1. re: 54howell57

                              Most food in this area including "ethnic" (whatever that means to you) is locally sourced to some extent. There's much less reason to seek out a farm to table restaurant in Northern California in late spring than elsewhere.

                              1. re: Windy

                                The food that the average restaurant buys here comes from wholesalers who buy from all over the West Coast and Mexico. It's no better than what you could buy in a supermarket here.

                                The reason to seek out a farm-to-table restaurant here is that you're going to get some of the best ingredients on the planet.

                                However, that doesn't limit you to food in the rustic Italian / country French / Mediterranean vein it might elsewhere. There are restaurants doing a variety of cuisines with the best of the local ingredients. To name a few:

                                Bar Tartine (Hungarian and Japanese influences)
                                Kokkari (Greek)
                                Farmer Brown (Southern / soul food)
                                Namu Gaji (Korean)
                                Nopalito, Mamcita (Mexican)
                                Tlaloc (Mexican, has its own farm)
                                Pauline's Pizza (has its own farm)
                                Contigo (tapas)
                                AQ (???)

                              2. re: 54howell57

                                If you're not wanting ethnic, but you do want local sourcing, I'd go with something like Nopa or Alembic. Nopa is owned by the same people who own Nopalito but the food is American.

                                1. re: 54howell57

                                  Here is an only in SF kind of place (well, with a bit of Big Sur thrown in!), not too far out of the way for you, and they now take dinner reservations:


                                  1. re: foodeye

                                    I second the outerlands recommendation. I had dinner there last week and tried virtually everything on the menu. We were very pleased with almost every item. Though I usually love their soups, the only miss was the turnip soup which was a bit too subtley flavored. The dishes had a much more refined style than lunch and the previous dinners I've had there. I believe I saw Brandon Jew on the line.

                                    1. re: wanderlust21

                                      Hey there, please share more deets about Outerlands dinner when you have a chance.


                                  2. re: 54howell57

                                    How about Social Kitchen?

                                    Right near the park, very plausible beer, locally sourced kind of place.

                                    Menu isn't astonishingly wonderful, but it's all quite well executed.

                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                      I liked the Social Burger at Social Kitchen. Blue cheese, Onion ring, Applewood-smoked bacon, mushrooms, House Aioli, BBQ Sauce. Kind of messy, and not cheap, but good combo of flavors!

                                    2. re: 54howell57

                                      For locally sourced in the area, the previously mentioned Outlerlands is the way to go, near Ocean Beach. It does have a Maine/Vermont feel to it, but still very San Francisco. It's had the big write ups, house baked bread, etc. Lunches are a lot more casual, and evenings need a reservation.

                                      Nopa is a good idea too.

                                      Nopalita is nearby, and if I recall, stays open during the in between hours, which would help you. It's good, but I would dial back expectations just a bit. The enthusiasm for the place can get carried away.

                                    3. We always make a stop to Lavash on Irving at 9th whenever we come to the DeYoung, etc. in GGP.
                                      It's wonderful Persian cuisine in an intimate, family run establishment. The food is unique and the prices are quite reasonable for what you receive.
                                      Their website is lavashsf