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First time San Francisco visit

Heading to San Francisco from Miami in November and wanted to get a few must try places while in town. Going to be staying in the Union Square area. I have a dinner list, but welcome additions and alternate ideas for lunch, dinner, and snacks. I could use some good china town info as well.

My list thus far:

SPQR
Incanto
State Bird Provisions
Lazy Bear (If I can get a reservation)

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  1. Hey, bry520, as a fellow gastrotourist to SF I can tell you that the Hounds on this board are very knowledgeable and helpful. Thing is, they get an awful lot of requests like yours so it really helps them help you if you can be a bit more specific. For example, what kind of cuisines are you looking for? Price range? Do you have a car/are you willing to travel for the good stuff?

    We stay near Union Square on our twice-yearly visits but rarely eat near it as there are better options in other neighbourhoods.

    FWIW, I've been to SPQR recently (great pastas/risottos, okay to failed mains) and Incanto several trips ago (didn't get the hype, and it's quite a schlep; I'd rather hit La Ciccia if I'm going that far afield). State Bird Provisions has eluded me because of the difficulty in getting resos (not a lineup person) and Lazy Bear intrigues me but I haven't got it together yet.

    I'll throw out Cotogna as a lunch option for you.

    Have a wonderful time in this food-lovers paradise!

      1. Thanks for the update grayelf.

        With regard to transportation, I wont have a car, so its pretty much cabs, feet, and public.

        As for cuisine, Im honestly open to anything thats worth a visit and not too worried about budget. Im coming from Miami, which has a growing and maturing food and drink scene. With my trip to SanFran, I hope to take that to the next level. I picked the places I knew to try, but Im open to alternate recommendations and Im a blank when it comes to breakfast and lunch places that should be experianced. Same with chinatown. Im sure you hit a resteaurant every step, but not all chinese resteaurants are created equal. Traditional chinese or dim sum would be great! Drink options are also welcomed. Classics, mixology, etc...

        Im not necesarly looking for trendy, just solid choices for someone who appreciates all styles and preperations of food and a well made drink or two.

        7 Replies
        1. re: bry520

          Yank Sing isn't in Chinatown, but it's some of the best Dim Sum in town. Similarly, Hong Kong Lounge on Geary and 17th is phenomenal, but not in Chinatown.

          The best Chinese restaurants are outside of Chinatown.

          Drinks, try Maven on Haight and Steiner. The best cocktails I know of. The food is decent too.

          1. re: hankstramm

            Note that Hong Kong Lounge has changed hands. Have you been there in the last few months?

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Yes, but I only had very basic simple stuff for lunch--nothing to really screw up, so it was pretty good. That's funny, now I understand, I didn't have to wait to get a table for one.

              1. re: hankstramm

                So, now it's not as crowded as before? That might be telling us something.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Yeah, it was still crowded, just not velvet rope line. I stopped going there, but walked by and there was no line--granted it was 11:30 midweek. They have one two top near the front that was open. By the time I left, there were probably 4 tables waiting.

                  Again, I just wanted a quick lunch, so I only ordered simple stuff and it was fine (sticky rice, bean curd sheet rolls and I can't remember the third).

                  1. re: hankstramm

                    Thanks, the last time I was there, maybe a couple years ago, the weekday crowd was pretty thick before the doors opened at 11am. Well, it will be interesting to hear fresh reports on how it's doing with the new owners.

          2. re: bry520

            You're welcome! I recently put together a list of all the places we've tried since we started visiting in 2007 and thought it would be fun to post the ones we've loved enough to try more than once (starred) or enjoyed enough to recommend:

            *Cafe de la presse for breakfast (oeufs a la meurette)
            *Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market (Saturday is best, go early to avoid crowds)
            *Larkin Express (some still swear by this Burmese stalwart - I feel like the quality has slipped a bit)
            *Ritual (good people watching)
            *Blue Bottle Linden (just because)
            Tadich (stick to simply prepared fish preps, have a cocktail at the bar first)
            *La Ciccia (Sardinian)
            *Four Barrel (too acidic for me but worth trying)
            *Sentinel (corned beef sandwich)
            *Blue Bottle Mint Plaza (the winner and still champeen for us -- treat yourself to a New Orleans iced coffee if it is warm out)
            *Bao Necci (lovely, one-of-a-kind-in-SF pizza)
            *La Torta Gorda or Los Picudos (for tortas, of course)
            *Monk’s Kettle (for beer only, with one of their great pretzels)
            *Ler Ros (for excellent Thai, go hard on the "appetizers")
            *Mandalay (our favourite Burmese, avoid the Chinese dishes)
            *Shanghai House (just for the order-ahead deep fried pig knuckle, which I've never been able to find anywhere else)
            Old Mandarin (again, just for the extremely hot pepper dish)
            Chez Panisse Café (upstairs, for lunch)
            House of Shields (good drinks but great architecture)
            Off the Grid Fort Mason (go early, have the food truck experience in a cool setting, get a pork belly bun from Chairman Bao if they are there)
            *Naked Lunch for a burger (available at lunch only I think)
            *Vientian in Oakland (nam khao and Lao sausage would make a perfect lunch -- this is a major schlep without a car though)
            *Contraband (just for coffee, avoid baked goods)
            Sotto Mare (get the petrale sole)
            City Beer (this place is cool)
            *farm:table (nice breakfasts but very tiny)
            *Cotogna (lunch is our preferred meal here)
            *Mission Bowling Club (my fave burger ever)
            *Harrow happy hour
            *The Mill
            Little Yangon (another worthy Burmese place, easy to get to on BART if it is running)
            *Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous (sweet cream, sigh)
            Flour and Co (breakfast items, near Contraband for coffee)
            Reveille bricks and mortar (breakfast items, pass on the coffee)
            Miss Ollie's in Oakland (sit at the bar for great Caribbean food)
            Laszlo Bar (you can try all of Foreign Cinema's menu here while drinking cheap beer and cocktails during happy hour)
            Skool (uni flan! lovely raw fish and cocktails)
            b. patisserie (just for the warm kouign amann)

            Jai Yun was wonderful the three times we went for lunch but sadly they only do lunch now for groups of 10 or more...

            Happy eating!