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4 Days in SF-- "Best Of..."

ejk8789 Jun 19, 2013 12:06 PM

Hi all,

I have four days to spend in San Francisco! I'll be staying in the Mission while I'm there, but of course I won't be spending ALL my time there. Can you give me your personal "best ofs" for the following? (Public transport/walking access only--no car!) I've been doing some research, but I felt like this way might be easier to get everything in one shot. Obviously, you don't have to answer EVERY category!

-dim sum
-seafood (oysters!)
-Mexican (tacos)
-cafe (coffee + atmosphere)
-ice cream
-anywhere else

I know I may not be able to hit every single category (at least this time around!), but at least this will help me plan my itinerary some. Thanks so much!!

  1. w
    walker Jun 23, 2013 11:26 PM

    I love Yank Sing (101 Spear, near Ferry Bldg). Excellent quality, worth the price. Sit inside, not in lobby area. They take reservations!

    Be sure to get shrimp dumplings. I don't get the fish (sea bass?) because it's a small portion and $17. (If you are well off and love fish, then get it!)

    I have enjoyed EVERY meal I've ever had there!!

    1. e
      ejk8789 Jun 23, 2013 06:52 PM

      This is kind of a random question since it doesn't have to do with any of the above, but the last time I was in SF (very very briefly..), I went to a Korean tofu place (I think off camino real??) that was having its grand opening. I believe this was in December 2007. They served fresh tofu as one of the free side dishes, which was super super good. Does any of this ring a bell? And if not, any places that have really delicious fresh tofu?

      1 Reply
      1. re: ejk8789
        Robert Lauriston Jun 24, 2013 08:10 AM

        El Camino Real would be the Peninsula.

      2. t
        tjinsf Jun 23, 2013 05:54 PM

        -breakfast/brunch- Plow on Potrero Hill during the week can take the 22 from the mission.
        Kitchen Story in the Castro- Korean influenced brunch and breakfast and there are always tables-walk from the mission or 22 to market & church.
        Foreign Cinema in the Misson.

        -seafood (oysters!)-oysters Hog Island if you are already in Ferry Building and don't wait to wait. Swan's if you want to wait. Foreign Cinema has a good selection too. I personally have Mission Oyster twice now and wouldn't go back for a third, oysters weren't opened well and the seemed rather old.

        for general seafood Woodhouse Seafood Co. I prefer the market one although it's smaller. Price are very reasonable and it's casual. walk from mission.

        -Mexican (tacos)- highly subjective, get a mission burrito in the mission on mission street. Hipsters love the crap at Tacolicious, I don't.

        -sushi-what kind are you looking for, traditional or modern, price point etc?

        -cafe (coffee + atmosphere)
        being in the Mission you should probably check out Four Barrel. There is also a Blue Botttle inside the Heath store in the mission if you want to try blue bottle.
        Also try the drinking chocolate at Dandelion on Valencia.

        -sandwich- Lots of people like Ike's and Wise and Son's but I find them both overrated. I like the sandwiches at Rhea's in the Mission, Harvest & Rowe on the Mission/Potrero border, I say it's Potrero. again it's on the 22 bus

        -bakery/dessert- Chocolate Lab in Dogpatch for desserts(open late at night which is a rariety for SF), Craftman & Wolves for modern takes on Pastry

        -ice cream-Marco Polo in the aves for Asian flavours, Bi-rite for salted caramel, Mr & Mrs if you are already in Dogpatch

        -anywhere else- higher price nice seat down- AQ, Atelier Creen for super high end, State Bird.

        1. j
          jess430 Jun 21, 2013 07:32 PM

          BEST OF...
          -ramen - skip this in SF. do not go to tampopo, just ate there last week and left over half my ramen untouched. katana-ya also is not so good after recently changing ownership.
          -dim sum - Yank Sing
          -breakfast/brunch - Brenda's french soul food, Foreign Cinema (in Mission) for ambiance and brunch cocktails
          -seafood (oysters!) - Bar Crudo
          -Mexican (tacos) - El Farolito (in Mission) - hands down, you have to try this place
          -sushi - skip this in SF, NYC has >10 places better than anything here. if forced to choose, ino is decent.
          -bakery/dessert - Tartine Bakery (in Mission), try the bread pudding.
          -ice cream - Bi-Rite (in Mission), Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous
          -anywhere else
          --personal fav: State Bird Provisions!! Dim Sum style New American/ Californian

          1. K K Jun 20, 2013 02:23 PM

            If you are in town on a Saturday, budget some time to visit the SF Ferry Building in the morning (and the Saturday Farmers Market). On a nice day it's a great stroll. There's Blue Bottle Coffee, Hog Island Oysters, plus you can do a mini food crawl there (Acme Bread and Cowgirl Creamery Cheese make a nice snack or concrete picnic feast), then finish it off with tasty fruit from the market. For dessert, there's Ciao Bella Gelato. Still hungry? Can walk north and hit up Coqueta (Spanish) by Pier 5.

            Mexican (and beyond tacos): Gallardos Mexican Food (also great for breakfast/brunch), Poc-Chuc, Garaje (tacos and burgers)

            Ice cream - so many choices, SF is blessed. Humphrey Slocombe, Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous, Smitten (liquid nitrogen made to order, but only 3 flavors max), Buy-Rite, Mitchell's. Polly-Ann's does some Asian flavors very well. Marco Polo on Taraval has some unique Asian flavors that outshine the traditional western flavors (gelato shop) like Durian, lychee, red bean, green tea (using Chinese dragonwell tea), black sesame (utmost favorite).

            Dim Sum - this one's tough. Probably Hong Kong Lounge 1 on Geary, is the only one I would want to go to. You might like Yank Sing since they are very non Chinese friendly, but it's not my style or price point.

            Ramen - not a fan of ramen in SF. I'd say you're better off trying really good pho, or Vietnamese/Chinese style noodles in the Tenderloin.

            4 Replies
            1. re: K K
              Dustin_E Jun 21, 2013 10:34 AM

              >> If you are in town on a Saturday, budget some time to visit the SF Ferry Building in the morning

              +1. i'd consider budgeting both breakfast and lunch here on a saturday. so much great food. i usually go here a couple times a month (at least). roli roti chicken (no line), breakfast sandwiches at american eatery, hot chocolate outside boulette's larder, random things from the namu stall, cheeseburger at 4505 meats, chilaquiles or nachos at mijita are all worth trying.

              >> Ramen - not a fan of ramen in SF

              +1 for this as well. i really doubt ramen in sf is any better than what is in DC. (and quite possibly worse)

              1. re: Dustin_E
                ejk8789 Jun 21, 2013 10:56 AM

                I'm arriving on a Saturday, so I'm just going to have to settle for lunch and snacks at the Ferry Building. If we were arriving a little earlier, I'd try to do breakfast too!

                I don't know, DC ramen is really not very good, probably because there are hardly any ramen places here! At least SF has more options, so the quality's got to be at least a LITTLE better (competition and all that jazz).

                1. re: ejk8789
                  K K Jun 21, 2013 11:17 AM

                  Farmers Market on Saturday goes till 2 pm, so you might still be able to sample the good stuff outside. Ferry Building will still have the good stuff indoors no matter what, and you can stretch it out into the afternoon.



                  Boccalone inside the Ferry building is great if you want to do a salumi cone (or even pair it with lardo), or bigger bites like a sandwich. A treasure trove of delicious cured meats. It's celeb/local chef Chris Cosentino's project


              2. re: K K
                Prabhakar Ragde Jun 21, 2013 01:53 PM

                Gallardos is temporarily closed while they move to 18th St.

              3. e
                ejk8789 Jun 20, 2013 12:45 PM

                I see that a lot of people here have recommended Yank Sing for dim sum, but I feel like I've heard very mixed reviews about the place. Coming from the DC area, there isn't any dim sum place that I think is really good here (just tolerable when I have a dim sum craving), so I'm sure most places in SF will be better than what I'm used to. That being said, what do you all think: Yank Sing = overrated? Are there cheaper Chinatown options that serve food just as good if not better?

                13 Replies
                1. re: ejk8789
                  Robert Lauriston Jun 20, 2013 12:55 PM

                  Yank Sing has served the most consistently good dim sum in SF for decades. The only place that beat it was Harbor Village, which is long gone.

                  People who run it down say a lot of the things that don't reflect my experiences there. Some of the cheaper places I've tried (recent example City View) may have the same level of quality for a few items, but none have been as good across the board, and most go downhill after a while.

                  My tips on eating well and not overspending at Yank Sing:


                  1. re: ejk8789
                    Dustin_E Jun 20, 2013 01:46 PM

                    i'd suggest going to yank sing (rincon location -- i prefer the tables inside) and ordering lightly, and judging for yourself.

                    koi palace is also good, but not worth the trip on a short visit (some would say ever...)

                    i also like city view.

                    i also like the random really really cheap places in chinatown.

                    but yank sing is the best (and most expensive)

                    1. re: ejk8789
                      jess430 Jun 21, 2013 07:20 PM

                      Agree with above posters. Yank Sing is definitely overpriced, you'll be paying ~2x more for dim sum than you would anywhere else in SF. Last time I was there, a couple from out of town next to us got the bill and were so shocked by it, they got out a pen and started itemizing each thing they ordered. So be prepared for that.

                      City View is pretty good if you don't feel like spending that much money, but it's not standout dim sum, probably on par with what you're getting in DC. Would say it's like a 6-7/10 in terms of quality, relative to 8.5/10 for Yank Sing.

                      If you're really set on getting some great dim sum, go down to Daly City to Koi Palace -- prob a $15-20 Lyft/UberX ride from the Mission, and then an hour plus wait once you're there, but it's a testament to the quality of dim sum there that real Chinese people are waiting that long to eat there. Quality there is 9.5/10.

                      1. re: jess430
                        Robert Lauriston Jun 22, 2013 09:49 AM

                        Yank Sing's expensive but in return you get better-quality ingredients, more consistent quality, better service, and reservations that are actually honored. The bill should not be shocking if you follow the tips I linked to on avoiding the crazy-expensive specials such as Peking duck at > $5 per slice.

                        Koi Palace is good but not as consistently across the board as Yank Sing, it's not much cheaper, and reservations don't mean they have a table ready. Factor in the time and expense of getting there and you're better off at Yank Sing.


                        Service can be dreadful but that's mostly an issue at dinner. I'll never go back because of this experience:


                        1. re: jess430
                          nocharge Jun 22, 2013 05:39 PM

                          According to taxifarefinder.com, the medium estimate for a one-way trip from 16th & Mission to Koi Palace is $40.72 (including tip) for a regular cab and UberX has a similar fare structure. If you are going to pay 80 bucks for transportation to get back and forth to Koi Palace, Yank Sing will likely come across as a bargain rather than overpriced. The BART ride from 16th & Mission to the Embarcadero Station, which is 1.5 blocks from the Rincon Yank Sing, takes about 6 minutes and is $1.75 per person each way.

                          1. re: nocharge
                            bbulkow Jun 23, 2013 10:05 AM

                            Oh come on. You're comparing waiting for BART vs a taxi ride. Take the BART to Daly City then hop the 2.8 mile taxi ride to Koi Palace. That's about $40 round trip ($30 for taxis and $10 for bart).

                            1. re: bbulkow
                              wally Jun 23, 2013 10:10 AM

                              I think the Colma Bart station is even closer.

                              1. re: bbulkow
                                nocharge Jun 23, 2013 12:33 PM

                                Even 40 bucks for transportation is likely a noticeable addition to the cost of a dim sum meal, especially if the context is a suggestion that Yank Sing is overpriced.

                            2. re: jess430
                              bbulkow Jun 23, 2013 10:11 AM

                              How about not referring to the prices charged by Lyft, an illegal operator fined by the city and called out as "cheaters" but the local press?

                              Places the locals go are often hard to reach - if you're touring down Route 1 it's perfectly on the way back, or if you've rented a car for any other reason, restaurants like KP are an easy score.

                              Otherwise -- that's why there are a lot of locals there!

                              1. re: bbulkow
                                sugartoof Jun 23, 2013 11:07 AM

                                KP isn't an easy destination on public transit. Some destinations either require a car, or aren't suitable for tourists with only 4 days. It's not far, but it's still suggesting a destination near a mall parking lot in a suburb.

                                Yank Sing is the better choice for convenience, but the level of food is just pedestrian, and greasy, with only a few stand out dishes. That said, even pedestrian dim sum is a fun time, but somewhere in the city, someone is selling superior versions of any given item for a fraction of the price.

                                1. re: sugartoof
                                  nocharge Jun 23, 2013 12:51 PM

                                  I think it would be hard for other places to match the quality of Yank Sing's ingredients and still sell the stuff for a fraction of the price. I once had a friendly chat with Yank Sing's then Director of Operations and he went on and on complaining about the cost of the Kurobuta pork they use in their Shanghai dumplings.

                                  1. re: nocharge
                                    sugartoof Jun 23, 2013 01:31 PM

                                    If they're using that quality of ingredients, it sure doesn't reflect in the final food they're serving.

                                    Yank Sing is serving very mid-level (at best) dim sum at high end prices. I don't believe any single item they sell if the best version of it in the city.

                                    1. re: sugartoof
                                      Robert Lauriston Jun 24, 2013 08:08 AM

                                      Interesting viewpoint. I'd be happy to find a place that was 80% as consistently good as Yank Sing at half the price.

                                      Their taro dumplings are the best I've had anywhere.

                          2. JonDough Jun 19, 2013 04:17 PM

                            Ramen - I would recommend Nombe and Ken Ken since you are staying in the mission.

                            Cafe - I like sightglass on 7th. If you are going to be around market doing touristy things then I recommend blue bottle mint plaza.

                            Sandwich: Second roli roti porchetta @ the Sat morning ferry building farmer's market. The line for it gets long.

                            Tacos: I like Taqueria Cancun.

                            1. d
                              Dustin_E Jun 19, 2013 04:09 PM

                              -anywhere else

                              old jerusalem has good, inexpensive middle eastern food. (and is in the mission.)

                              fwiw, my friend is from riyadh, saudi arabia (just moved here a couple years ago), and says old jerusalem is the only place that gets the flavors right.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Dustin_E
                                Robert Lauriston Jun 19, 2013 04:57 PM

                                Old Jerusalem is great. They have some dishes that are fairly rare around here, some only as daily specials, which unfortunately don't seem to be listed on their web site.


                              2. h
                                hungree Jun 19, 2013 03:03 PM

                                Since you are staying in the mission, hit up Roger's for coffee. Best in the city. Philz, the one with all the hype, started out with Roger's beans.

                                Sumatra Dark, Mission Blend, or the Fog one are my favs.

                                1. o
                                  od_sf Jun 19, 2013 01:54 PM

                                  Ramen: Waraku in Jtown or Kirimachi in North Beach. I do NOT recommend Tanpopo in J-town, their ramen is horrible. (Although the place is fine for some $2 drafts, takoyaki, and torikawa-age at happy hour).

                                  Sushi: Koo in the sunset, Aka Tombo in Jtown, Ichi in Bernal, Okina in the Richmond, in that order. I don't recommend Ino in J-town, his sushi is fine but you probably won't enjoy the meal. Look up the definition of Omotenashi and you will receive exactly the opposite at Ino.

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: od_sf
                                    Dustin_E Jun 19, 2013 02:42 PM

                                    fwiw, i think aka tombo sucks -- inexpensive, but some of their pieces are just gross. koo is decent though. okina is also good.

                                    ino-san is old and kinda grumpy. depends on what the OP expects when it comes to sushi. if you go in, sit down, shut up, order and eat (and don't mind wasabi), it can be great. if you expect to be able to make small talk with a waiter/chef, or order a dragon roll or something, you'll have a bad time.

                                    where is the OP visiting from? do you have a budget? more info would help us give better suggestions.

                                    1. re: Dustin_E
                                      ejk8789 Jun 19, 2013 03:00 PM

                                      Hi, per your suggestion, adding more info:

                                      -We're visiting from the DC area.
                                      -We do have a budget (it's just me and my mom), so we'd like to keep most of our meals $$ and below (think yelp price range), though we're willing to splurge on one or two meals.

                                      We're not the types to chat up the waiters or anything... food is the most important. We usually just go in, order a ton of food, and eat relatively quickly, hahaha. Especially when it comes to sushi, we're not looking for ambiance or anything... just really delicious sushi. We'd probably eat mostly sashimi and nigiri, with maybe a roll to share.

                                      As for seafood, I think what we want to eat most is really delicious raw oysters. Other deliciousness is obviously a plus.

                                      1. re: ejk8789
                                        Dustin_E Jun 19, 2013 03:25 PM

                                        for sushi, ino is the best imo, but you sometimes need to have thick skin to enjoy it. it is a tiny place with an old, sometimes grumpy / sometimes friendly japanese man and his wife. he uses lots of wasabi, and he isn't cheap. meals there are usually 40-80 all in, depending on what you order (w/o booze.) but for the quality i think it is decent value. i find the ambiance charming -- the room is kinda like a little old house in japan.

                                        i also like farina for bunch -- it is a much better value than for dinner. but it is more authentic italian brunch dishes than traditional american brunch fare. (less greasy)

                                        1. re: Dustin_E
                                          od_sf Jun 19, 2013 03:40 PM

                                          I have been to Ino three times, and all three times the food was good but the overall experience miserable. I personally have never had a bad interaction with the chef or his wife, but the atmosphere in the place is borderline unbearable. Between him yelling in Japanese at his wife, and both of them yelling at customers, it's pretty bad. Seems like he either has bad days or really bad days. Last couple of times, I was actually happy to be done eating so that I could leave. Not sure why anyone would want to patronize this business when you can get similar or better quality + friendly atmosphere from Kiyoshi-san at Koo. But I guess your mileage can vary.

                                          Surprised you found some of the nigiri to be "gross" at Aka Tombo. What neta? What do you think of Ryoji-san's rice?

                                          1. re: od_sf
                                            Dustin_E Jun 19, 2013 03:58 PM

                                            i think at the very least the style of the sushi at koo is pretty different -- much more modern. some of their "bites" have truffle oil on them -- something you'd never see at ino in a million years.

                                            >> he either has bad days or really bad days.

                                            probably a fair description of the guy, though for some reason it doesn't really phase me. the various idiots, mostly from the marina, talking very loudly (the place is tiny) about how much they know about sushi (or whatever else they think the entire restaurant needs to know) gets on my nerves more than ino yelling at everybody. overall i've found i have the best experience at ino if i have a couple glasses of champagne at home before i go there, haha. anyway, though, he's still my favorite sushi in sf.

                                            re aka tombo. yeah, it was weird. my gf felt the same way. i've been 3 times, she's been once, and each time i left feeling "1. wow, that was a great value, and 2. there's something gross i feel about some of the pieces." i think it was the ones that had skin on them -- maybe he wasn't as careful with removing small parts of the fin? don't remember the rice one way or another. they definitely had some really great tofu, though.

                                            1. re: Dustin_E
                                              od_sf Jun 19, 2013 04:35 PM

                                              The handful of times that I've had omakase at Koo, I asked for 1 course of sashimi to start the meal, then all traditional nigiri, and he was more than happy to oblige. No truffle oil to be seen anywhere.

                                          2. re: Dustin_E
                                            ejk8789 Jun 19, 2013 03:43 PM

                                            less greasy is always good!

                                          3. re: ejk8789
                                            moto Jun 19, 2013 06:03 PM

                                            Pesce [pescebarsf.com} in the Russian Hill neighborhood does well with raw oysters, other dishes are good without getting fancy and the ambience is pretty much a low key trattoria. at present they have two BC oysters and miyagis from Marin county (local).

                                            1. re: moto
                                              Robert Lauriston Jun 20, 2013 09:14 AM

                                              Pesce's moving to 2223 Market at some point in the next few months and will be closed for a week or two to make the move.

                                        2. re: od_sf
                                          K K Jun 20, 2013 10:44 AM

                                          All points made about Ino are equally valid.

                                          Ino is simply not for everyone and I do not recommend anyone who has little traditional nigiri sushi eating knowledge to go there (even if they think they know a lot). I average maybe once a year visit to Ino, and I know very well his limitations and lack of personality or banter. There are also inconsistency issues, but that could also be attributed to the fact that I also had really stellar quality Japanese fish during my travels in Hong Kong and just found certain fish preparations of his not my style whatsoever at random. With that said, Ino does several things very well...a stellar traditional style sushi rice receipe (quite possibly one of the best in town), monkfish liver (even surpassing ones I've had abroad), and marinated tuna, squid, shellfish/clams, which has a very strong flavor because they are marinated for quite some time.

                                          Aka Tombo has a really good price point. I very much enjoyed my first ever visit almost 2 years ago, but I did make a visit earlier this year and found the experience a lot more lackluster than before. The silvery skinned fish are good, as are any local/American seafood he can source (Mendocino abalone and sea urchin in the fall, or East Coast aoyagi/clam), and the New Caledonia blue shrimp is ok but he doesn't cure it in kelp that would take it to the next level.

                                          Koo's strength based on a visit several years ago (I need to go back and recalibrate), they are better with cooked dishes, which can be fantastic in the omakase. Smoked ankimo (like a hard cheese), spoons of happiness... yes the fusion stuff is there (and great in their own right), but if it came down to traditional items like braised daikon (daikon ni) in dashi, or grilled king crab leg....also can be a wonderful experience.

                                          If fish quality is important, then perhaps something like Zushi Puzzle or Akiko's would fit the bill. From what I understand Roger at ZP is a Hong Konger, but he does get some interesting Japanese wild fish specimens rarely seen elsewhere. For a bit over $100 per person (no alcohol), one can have a killer crazy meal at Akiko's...at least the ingredients are vastly superior than Ino and Aka Tombo and Koo combined.....Russian Tokyujo uni, A5 Miyazaki Japanese beef, rarely seen imported Japanese snapper family white fish (ones even I have not heard of or read about)....although the décor and approach doesn't really match the pricing and the fish quality, but surely will satisfy out of towners looking to splurge (in which case, I'd pick Akiko's over Ino).

                                          1. re: K K
                                            Dustin_E Jun 20, 2013 10:59 AM

                                            Zushi puzzle if good/fun, though overall i prefer the more traditional approach of the others. supposedly he (roger) also hosts whole snow-crab feasts for $400 for 4-6 people.

                                            Akiko's is excellent. Probably the best pick for the OP. i've only been once, however.

                                            K K, do you know if you need to pre-order the omakase at Akiko's? When i went, i ordered omakase, but it ended up being at a lower price point, and 'just' a selection of nigiri off the menu at the time.

                                            1. re: Dustin_E
                                              ejk8789 Jun 20, 2013 12:34 PM

                                              Akiko's does sound like a good fit!

                                              1. re: Dustin_E
                                                K K Jun 20, 2013 12:51 PM

                                                Don't know about pre-ordering omakase, but I am due for a visit!

                                                1. re: K K
                                                  Dustin_E Jun 20, 2013 01:43 PM

                                                  so when i went, i ordered "omakase" and got 10-12 pieces of nigiri. i think the bill was ~$50. It was excellent.

                                                  On the menu it says omakase takes 2 hours and is ~$100, so i'm not sure...

                                                  1. re: Dustin_E
                                                    K K Jun 20, 2013 02:06 PM

                                                    Good to know, did you walk in or did you have a reservation?

                                                    I'm guessing at $50, you didn't get the Russian uni or A5 beef (which would have easily driven up the bill).

                                                    1. re: K K
                                                      Dustin_E Jun 21, 2013 10:30 AM

                                                      i made a reservation by phone 30 minutes beforehand some random weeknight and sat at the bar solo.

                                                      i don't remember the exact pieces, just that everything was very very good. and the small amount of saucing enhanced the pieces.

                                                      i'd love to hear more reports of this place, and how to get "the good stuff" there.

                                          2. CarrieWas218 Jun 19, 2013 01:45 PM

                                            ramen - Tampopo, Buchanan Street in JTown
                                            -dim sum - Koi Palance, Daly City
                                            -breakfast/brunch -
                                            -seafood (oysters!) - Swan
                                            -sushi - Sushi Aka Tombo, Buchanan Street in JTown
                                            -cafe (coffee + atmosphere) -
                                            -sandwich - Naked Lunch.
                                            -bakery/dessert - Craftsman & Wolves and/or Tartine
                                            -ice cream - Humphrey Slocombe
                                            -anywhere else - Atelier Crenn: first 2-star Michelin female chef in the country and outstanding molecular cuisine.

                                            1. d
                                              Dustin_E Jun 19, 2013 12:53 PM

                                              ramen - katana-ya or chotto

                                              dim sum - yank sing

                                              breakfast/brunch - farina (sunday only)

                                              seafood - swan's or tadich

                                              mexican - tons of choices in the mission

                                              sushi - ino in japantown

                                              sandwich - roli roti porchetta, hayes grill salmon blt, or american eatery breakfast sandwich, all at the ferry building saturday mornings

                                              41 Replies
                                              1. re: Dustin_E
                                                Robert Lauriston Jun 19, 2013 01:40 PM

                                                Tadich Grill is surely in the top five for best old-school San Francisco time machine experience, but I don't think it could make the top 20 for seafood per se.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                  Dustin_E Jun 19, 2013 02:46 PM

                                                  really? what places do you think are better for seafood?

                                                  tadich seafood is fresh, high-quality, served in large quantities for reasonable prices.

                                                  the cooking certainly isn't fancy, but i don't think high-quality seafood needs much.

                                                  1. re: Dustin_E
                                                    Robert Lauriston Jun 19, 2013 03:02 PM

                                                    Hayes Street Grill took its inspiration from Tadich but I think they do a better job of selecting and cooking fish, as do many Vietnamese and Chinese places with live tanks. Hog Island, Bar Crudo, La Mar, Pesce, Capannina. I keep meaning to try Sotto Mare.

                                                    Most of the best seafood dishes I've had in the last decade were at places that don't specialize in it, e.g. Incanto, La Ciccia, Zuni, B44, Izakaya Yuzuki.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                      Dustin_E Jun 19, 2013 03:31 PM

                                                      i think the food at tadich is _much_ better than sotto mare. sotto mare is a bit less expensive, though. fun little space, too.

                                                      i agree the places you mention have more carefully prepared / more thoughtful dishes than tadich -- but you'll pay twice as much for the same amount of seafood.

                                                      agreed the best place to get seafood is at chinese places with tanks (or sushi places). yum's in fremont is my favorite, by a margin.

                                                      1. re: Dustin_E
                                                        Dustin_E Jun 19, 2013 03:36 PM

                                                        actually, come to think of it, i visited a place very similar to tadich in downtown DC a little over a decade ago. wish i could remember the name of that place.

                                                        1. re: Dustin_E
                                                          DavidT Jun 19, 2013 03:53 PM

                                                          The vast majority of posters here, including myself, do view Tadich favorably. A small number do not.

                                                          However, I do think there are better options for oysters in SF, such as Swan's and Zuni.

                                                          1. re: DavidT
                                                            CarrieWas218 Jun 19, 2013 04:20 PM

                                                            If you are a true oyster snob, you may want to skip the oysters entirely if you are coming in the summer...

                                                            True to form for me, months with no "R" in them (May, June, July and August), when the oysters are spawning, they are flabby, milky and have far less unctuous taste to them.

                                                            1. re: CarrieWas218
                                                              little big al Jun 20, 2013 04:10 PM

                                                              Oysters in California don't spawn in summer, or ever. The water is too cold. That's why the "seedling" oyster must be imported, usually from Japan.

                                                            2. re: DavidT
                                                              Civil Bear Jun 19, 2013 05:35 PM

                                                              Agree. I love any of their seafood grilled over mesquite, but would go elsewhere for oysters. Foreign Cinema does a nice job with them if the OP wants to stick to the Mission.

                                                          2. re: Dustin_E
                                                            Robert Lauriston Jun 19, 2013 04:55 PM

                                                            "you'll pay twice as much for the same amount of seafood"

                                                            If that were true, I'd be a bigger fan, but they'd go out of business. Hayes Street Grill's sand dabs are $25, Rose Pistola's burrida (cioppino) is $32, Zuni's oysters $2.50-3.00 each, all are about the same price as Tadich for more careful shopping and cooking.

                                                            I like Tadich, I just think it's dangerous to order anything except a few simple dishes I know they do well. Tourists often fail to heed that warning and have meals that are old-school in the bad way.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                              Dustin_E Jun 20, 2013 09:58 AM

                                                              i was refering mostly to dishes with lobster / crab vs composed dishes at la mar and capannina.

                                                              i haven't tried any of the dishes you mention, but i will -- they sound good.

                                                              1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                Robert Lauriston Jun 20, 2013 10:53 AM

                                                                It's hard to compare Tadich's crab prices with other places since they generally they don't do the same dishes. A couple of points of reference: Tadich charges $14 for a Dungeness crab cake (not the best way to appreciate that crab), Woodhouse charges $12 for two / $15 for three. Tadich charges $27 for a large crab louie, Wayfare Tavern was charging $20 in January (now off the menu since it's out of season locally).

                                                                I don't know why a tourist visiting SF would order lobster, except maybe local rock lobster, or if they did why they'd want the broiled Australian lobster tail Tadich charges $50 for instead of going somewhere that has live Maine lobsters in a tank.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                  grayelf Jun 20, 2013 03:56 PM

                                                                  Agree on the not bothering with lobster on the west coast. We lost our minds and ordered a lobster salad at Bar Crudo in May and it was pointless...

                                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                Dustin_E Jun 24, 2013 11:19 AM

                                                                >> Rose Pistola's burrida (cioppino) is $32

                                                                actually it is $58, and serves 2.

                                                                1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                  Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2013 07:22 AM

                                                                  It was $29 per person yesterday.


                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                    Dustin_E Jun 25, 2013 09:16 AM

                                                                    minimum order 2 people.

                                                                    1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                      Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                      Still about the same price as Tadich except for having to get two orders.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                        Dustin_E Jun 25, 2013 03:22 PM

                                                                        >> Still about the same price as Tadich except for having to
                                                                        >> get two orders.

                                                                        that means nothing. cioppino at tadich is large enough to food 2 people easily. is the one at rose pistola really twice as big?

                                                                        1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                          Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2013 03:29 PM

                                                                          Tadich's seemed normal-sized to me. When I've gone with people who ordered it they haven't shared it or taken leftovers.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                            Dustin_E Jun 25, 2013 04:00 PM

                                                                            >> Tadich's seemed normal-sized to me.

                                                                            what about compared to rose pistola's?

                                                                            1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                              Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2013 04:04 PM

                                                                              Some years ago when I had the single-customer portion it was about the same size. I think every cioppino I've had has been a healthy serving.

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                sugartoof Jun 25, 2013 04:11 PM

                                                                                Must have been some years ago, because it's been a while since I've heard anyone give preference to anything Rosa Pistola.

                                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                              sugartoof Jun 22, 2013 11:14 AM

                                                              "Vietnamese and Chinese places with live tanks. Hog Island, Bar Crudo, La Mar, Pesce, Capannina."

                                                              These just aren't comparable menus to Tadich's.

                                                              1. re: sugartoof
                                                                Robert Lauriston Jun 22, 2013 11:25 AM

                                                                The original request was for the restaurants serving the best seafood in SF.

                                                                Tadich's overly long and broad menu is one of the reasons it's not among those. No good modern restaurant would try to do so many things since it's impossible to execute them all well.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                  sugartoof Jun 22, 2013 01:45 PM

                                                                  Offering that list up as alternatives to Tadich's is misleading. Neither approach or specialties are similar.

                                                                  1. re: sugartoof
                                                                    Robert Lauriston Jun 22, 2013 05:00 PM

                                                                    I said they do a better job of cooking fish.

                                                                    Who cares if anyplace is similar to Tadich? For the most part it's old-school in a bad way.

                                                                    If you want an experience like Tadich with a marginally lower chance of a bad meal if you order carelessly and perhaps a marginally better meal if you don't, go to Sam's Grill. But that's not what the original post asked about.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                      sugartoof Jun 22, 2013 09:35 PM

                                                                      You weren't replying to the OP, you were challenging someone's suggesting of Tadich.

                                                                      Tadich does a great job with simple preps many San Franciscans appreciate.

                                                                      Pesce and La Mar aren't even on the same planet. I don't have anything bad to say about Bar Crudo, or Hog Island but in a top 20, Tadich belongs alongside them, and not just because it's old.

                                                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                                                        Robert Lauriston Jun 23, 2013 09:45 AM

                                                                        If a new place used the same quality of ingredients as Tadich and cooked them the same way, I don't think anyone would say it served some of the best seafood in SF.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                          sugartoof Jun 23, 2013 10:59 AM

                                                                          You're right, they'd need to drown it in oil, sit in a trendy neighborhood, or have a name chef attached.... Oh wait, those places with subpar food get championed here all the time.

                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                        Dustin_E Jun 24, 2013 11:21 AM

                                                                        i stopped into sam's once. they were out of several things i wanted (e.g. sand dabs) and nothing they had sounded good (mock turtle soup with ground turkey? no thanks), so i tried some oysters there. they were awful.

                                                                        has anyone else (besides robert) tried both tadich and sam's and have an opinion on sam's?

                                                                        1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                          tjinsf Jun 24, 2013 05:12 PM

                                                                          I've been to both, Sam's is where you take the grandparents, Tadich's where you take the parents. Neither are to my personal 30 something's taste in terms of atmosphere.

                                                                          They both do simple preparations of seafood both of which to my tastes from France and Malaysia are unseasoned. I found Tadich to be more consistent in terms of service, quality of product and seasoning.

                                                                          I don't care for Tadich because of the wait and I do feel it's overhyped but yes if I have tourists in, they go there for cioppino.

                                                                          1. re: tjinsf
                                                                            Dustin_E Jun 25, 2013 09:22 AM

                                                                            thanks for the insight.

                                                                            i'm probably biased for tadich because it is a nice place to walk into and eat solo at the bar on random weeknights (which is my preferred dining style). it is also efficient, and i'm impatient.

                                                                          2. re: Dustin_E
                                                                            CarrieWas218 Jun 25, 2013 12:15 PM

                                                                            I have also eaten at both and, unlike Tjinsf, prefer Sam's for the atmosphere, ability to sit more readily, and overall offerings on the menu.

                                                                            I have been to Tadich four to six times and easily have chosen Sam's more than twice that amount of time. I am also a solo diner so waiting has never been the issue; I just prefer Sam's for how the waitservers are a bit more attentive, the atmosphere is a bit more quiet, and the offerings just seem fresher to me at Sam's.

                                                                      3. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                        Dustin_E Jun 24, 2013 11:25 AM

                                                                        >> No good modern restaurant would try to do so many things since it's impossible to execute them all well.

                                                                        tadich is able to offer a long and broad menu because they prepare their food in a simple and straightforward way.

                                                                        modern restaurants usually want to make their dishes more complicated than those served at tadich.

                                                                        i've tried a fairly broad selection of the offerings at tadich (have you?). i think they are for the most part pretty decent.

                                                                        1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                          Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2013 07:33 AM

                                                                          A lot of Tadich's dishes are less simple and straightforward than more modern restaurants typically serve: lobster thermidor, oysters Rockerfeller, crab and prawns a la Monza.

                                                                          Here's a report from a tourist who went expecting the best of San Francisco and wandered into the minefield section of the menu:


                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                            Dustin_E Jun 25, 2013 09:33 AM

                                                                            i'm not sure tadich is less consistent over the menu than most places. but i also don't care for their oysters rockefeller or "good value" meat dishes.

                                                                            i'm also not sure the dishes you mention are really that complicated for the kitchen to prepare, given they don't do pretty arrangements or fancy garnishes.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                              sugartoof Jun 25, 2013 10:54 AM

                                                                              That's true, but why is that a derogatory thing?

                                                                              We're in SF where a modern fish heavy restaurant is out of step if they didn't stay simple and allow the ingredients to drive the menu. What's modern? Ceviche? BBQ Hamachi?

                                                                              1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                Dustin_E Jun 25, 2013 11:05 AM

                                                                                >> i'm also not sure the dishes you mention are really that
                                                                                >> complicated for the kitchen to prepare, given they don't do
                                                                                >> pretty arrangements or fancy garnishes.

                                                                                i meant this to be the opposite of derogatory. i all too often find "modern" restaurants offering style over substance.

                                                                                1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                                  sugartoof Jun 25, 2013 12:47 PM

                                                                                  I was responding to Robert who seems to suggest Tadich doesn't rank as worthwhile in the modern world beyond a museum piece....then names a seafood chain as a better "modern" option.

                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                    Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2013 02:55 PM

                                                                                    What chain? Woodhouse because they have two branches?

                                                                                    Tadich is great for what it is, I just don't see it in the running for best seafood in SF.

                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                      sugartoof Jun 25, 2013 03:11 PM

                                                                                      La Mar has locations in Bogotá, Lima, New York, Panamá, and Sao Paulo.

                                                              2. Robert Lauriston Jun 19, 2013 12:30 PM

                                                                dim sum: Yank Sing, especially on the weekend (turnip cake and stuffed mushrooms have gone downhill due to ill-considered deporkification) - tips:


                                                                tacos: Taqueria San Jose, 2830 Mission: get al pastor or chorizo

                                                                oysters: Zuni Cafe, 1658 Market

                                                                sandwich: Saigon Sandwich, 560 Larkin

                                                                dessert: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/750829

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                  Dustin_E Jun 19, 2013 02:48 PM

                                                                  >> oysters: Zuni Cafe, 1658 Market

                                                                  does it really make much of a difference what restaurant oysters are served in? aren't they for a large part all from the same producers, served in exactly the same way?

                                                                  1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                    Robert Lauriston Jun 19, 2013 02:52 PM

                                                                    There are a lot of oysters on the market from various suppliers and quality varies. Not everyplace that serves them shucks them perfectly every time.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                      bbulkow Jun 20, 2013 11:31 AM

                                                                      I was somewhere recently where they didn't detach the foot from the shell.

                                                                      And, I wrote a short post about the difference between Hog and Rocks and Mission Oyster.

                                                                      How often you get deliveries, how much selection you have, whether you throw away tired looking oysters or serve them....

                                                                      Anyone who thinks that oysters are oysters should try both - they're about 100 yards away from each other.

                                                                      1. re: bbulkow
                                                                        Dustin_E Jun 20, 2013 11:44 AM

                                                                        were they both good, or was one way better?

                                                                        can't find your post.

                                                                        i'll try them both -- i've always been curious about this.

                                                                        1. re: bbulkow
                                                                          c oliver Jun 22, 2013 11:26 AM

                                                                          I understand that "undetached" is actually better. Fresher.

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