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Oct 21, 2013 06:29 PM

grayelf returning to SF for lucky 13 in November

Greetings, lovely SF-Bay Area Hounds! I have an itinerary in mind, augmented by your generous assistance already in my East Bay happy hour thread plus so many previous reccos. May I run it by you for comments, hopefully providing a momentary distraction from BART strike woes?

We'll have seven lunches and six dinners plus a few happy hours and snacks if all goes well. Not too worried about budget though we don't tend to go too high end as it's not our style (and doesn't seem to be a huge strength in the Bay Area with one or two notable exceptions).

We're coming from Vancouver, BC so mostly okay for Chinese :-).

breakfast: V105, Reveille, Aliment (Sat/Sun only), The Cavalier, Sweet Maple (Millionnaire's Bacon!? big lineups on the weekend?!), Central Kitchen (weekends only)

coffee: Machine, Linnaea, Hooker's, Saint Frank, Coffee Cultures and of course our old fave Blue Bottle Mint Plaza

lunches: Elmira Rosticerria, Pal's Takeaway, Mateo's La Cocina in Healdsburg (woot!), 20th Century Café -- what else is unmissably delicious at midday??

Happy hours: Skool (that uni flan is calling to me), Café Terminus (gotta feed the Leary love!), Hopscotch/Hop's Apothecary, Trick Dog (heard it's a bit less busy early weekdays at opening), Cellarmaker Brewing

dinners: Kronnerburger (finally!), Outerlands or Pesce, Rangoon Super Stars, Vientian, St Vincent or La Urbana, Locanda

Did not realize just how far Outerlands is on transit (it is aptly named) when I booked hence the Pesce option, though I know they're going to be really different. Not much availability left for the Friday night as I feel I need to go somewhere with a reso... We may take an entirely different tack and head to Café Europa for some schnitzel if y'all diss Pesce :-).

St Vincent vs Urbana -- guessing they are not at all similar. Any thoughts as to which to go with?

Any pockets of deliciousness you've encountered recently that you feel like sharing for afternoon snacks? Sweet or savoury, all good.


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  1. Since you mentioned the uni flan, Wayfare Tavern had a really good cauliflower ricotta pudding (it was more flan texture than pudding) that had uni on top of it. I say "had" because I don't see it on the menus on their website right now... However, since you mentioned snacks, Wayfare also has a wonderful oxtail poutine that I can imagine is great with a cocktail on our brisk November days! Worth visiting to see if the uni is on the menu, if not, get poutine.

    Which I guess may be less exciting to you since you're actually Canadian :P

    14 Replies
    1. re: bobabear

      LOL, boba, care to guess what I had for breakfast yesterday? If you said brisket poutine, you'd be right. Thanks for the tips on Wayfare Tavern. My SO went there recently and enjoyed it, though he only had oysters and Caesar salad. He's getting ahead of me on places tried with all his biz trips to SF.

      goldangl, we did hit b. last time, and it may sneak on the list again if we're in the hood, because kouign amann. The Mill also makes me happy over yonder.

      Gotcha on St Vincent. I thought the food looked tasty but neither of us are really oenophiles so maybe we should try La Urbana. Haven't had much luck with so called upscale Mexican in SF previously but this place looks worthy. Also might be fun to compare it to La Cocina in H'burg.

      hyperbowler, I'm down with your reccos but I think we need something closer in for that evening as we are going to be running around all weekend to places farflungish. We have exactly no good schnitzel that I've tried in Vancouver -- there is a place in N Van that's supposed to be good but... so may be worth a look. I used to live in TO and you're right about the excellent N Euro places there.

      abstract, whoa, that's enough deliciousness to fill a whole other day. Trust that I will file for future reference if we don't make it to all of them.

      1. re: grayelf

        Here's yesterday's menu at Mateo's Cocina Latina in Healdsburg (since the one online is just a shadow),

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Ruh roh, that menu's lookin' mighty fusiony for me. I was hoping for more corn-based options. The SO will be in heaven if there is octopus though. Sure appreciate you posting it, Melanie!

          Just remembered that I'd been meaning to check out Zare at Fly Trap for quite some time. The current menu looks worthy. Any thoughts on doing Zare instead of St Vincent or La Urbana??

          1. re: grayelf

            Here's the online menu with the basic repertoire of corn-based antojitos that are available all the time.

            But really, if you're not intending to order any of the seasonal dishes, I'm not sure you could really say you experienced Mateo's cuisine. Personally, I don't consider them "fusion". The food of the Yucatan incorporates Mayan, Spanish, French, Lebanese and more. The dishes are made with local, seasonal ingredients with the kind of finesse you'd expect a French-trained chef of his caliber to utilize. As in the Yucatan, you can add the table salsas to modify the heat level to your liking.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Will deffo hit some of the seasonal stuff, just wanted to make sure there were some of my target dishes on tap as well that I had seen on what appears to be the regular menu. There'll be four of us so we should be able to do a bit of damage :-). I've always regarded Yucatecan food as a fusion cuisine since early days of traveling along the panhandle. While it's not my favourite of the Mexican sub-genres, there is still much to love. Thanks for clarifying.

            2. re: grayelf

              No compare-o on those three. Did Zare now twice this year, quite happy on both accounts. GF loves it in particular, not sure where that leaves you.

          2. re: grayelf

            You're making me hungry!

            I have to confess that I love schnitzel, so I'm very glad to hear about Cafe Europa (not sure how I've missed it). My personal spot for schnitzel is Suppenkuche on Hayes at Octavia, although I order the breaded schnitzel with the jaegerschnitzel set up (mushroom sauce on the side, spatzle and green salad). You MUST get there at 5 (or maybe if you're lucky 530) or risk waiting for an hour with frat boys drinking boots of beer. The room gets very loud if you try to eat any later. Alternatively, Leopold's is good as well and a touch more civilized.

            Wayfare Tavern is my least favorite place in the city. Please don't waste your time and money. I think they survive on conventioneers.

            Outerlands has never disappointed me, although there is often a line. As an alternate to La Urbana, what about Nopalito? It's about a block away and is consistently good. I've been hearing uneven reports from Urbana, but I haven't been myself. I usually end up having happy hour bites at Bar Crudo next door!

            1. re: JojoSF

              Leopold's also fills up with loud boot drinkers.

              I had a really good meal at Wayfare recently.


              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                have you tried Schmidt's yet? i've been wanting to...

                1. re: mariacarmen

                  I had a good time at Schmidt's, though we didn't really dig very deep into the menu.


                  For German food, I'm pretty much set on Gaumenkitzel these days. The cooking's a cut above everywhere else I've been.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    i liked Gaumenkitzel, but have only been once. maybe time to go back.

                    But Schmidt's is so close to me, must try.

                  2. re: mariacarmen

                    Schmidt's is a very hipster version of German food. Very loud, higher prices than you'd expect, they import their prepared meats. some of the food is ok but most is a bit watered down versions. Perhaps that's the intent.

                2. re: JojoSF

                  Glad to apprise you of another schnitzel option -- it was a post from pane that tipped me off I've thought about Suppenkuche but I'm just too line up averse, and generally not willing to eat dinner that early.

                  We hit Nopalito a few trips ago and liked it quite well. We went at lunch to avoid lineups.

            2. I can't recall did you got to B Patisserie the last trip? If not, you should definitely check out. The hype has died down enough that you'll probably have your pick before 10 a.m.

              I would only go to St Vincent if their wine list super excites you - like bouncing up and down can't wait to get some recs and delve into the list. Otherwise, I found the food well done, but wouldn't necessarily recommend it based on food alone.

              2 Replies
              1. re: goldangl95

                Funny, we dropped in for a late night drink recently and found the menu and what we spied on other tables to be more to our liking than our previous visits - but we tend to like comfort foods over haute cuisine, so boils down to a personal tastes. We'll definitely be going back there soon. Note that, in addition to a deep, interesting (and pricey) wine list, they have an interesting beer selection - which is what we dropped in for.

                1. re: BernalKC

                  I agree. I like the current menu much better than the opening one at St. Vincent. That said, the wine is still the main draw for me.

              2. Drooling from your itinerary...

                How is the Eastern European food in BC? Cafe Europa is great, but I don't think I'd be as excited by it if SF had as good a Eastern European selection as, say, Toronto. I'd swap it for Ramen Shop in Rockridge if you haven't been there yet. Or Fusebox in West Oakland.

                1. Snacks happen to my speciality. =)

                  I know your East Bay itinerary is for a Sunday, so that limits the options somewhat, but some snacky things to look for in between stops:

                  - The chocolate croissants at Barkada, made with very good dark chocolate and a sourdough starter that adds an interesting tangy quality, are one of my favorite new pastries. Good coffee, espresso drinks here -- they use beans from Oakland's Scarlet City Coffee.

                  - The deeply caramelized (i.e. almost burnt), super-buttery plain croissants at Sweet Bar Bakery also make for excellent snacking. (Alas, only so-so thermos coffee sold here.)

                  - During your various ice cream excursions, have you tried the soft serve at Sketch? It's great, and very different from the other high-end ice cream options around.

                  - Duende's adjacent bodega/cafe serves one of the best traditional Spanish tortillas I've ever had. (You'll want to check to see if this is still available every day, though.)

                  - Have you been to Bartavelle yet? Their avocado toast and various (vaguely European) savory boards, both available anytime after 11 a.m., are classic California cuisine at its gloriously-simple finest.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    Maybe if you tell her she can get a Starter Bakery kouign amann at Bartavelle . . .

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Oh, I'd have assumed that she's already eaten dozens of those pastries after all these trips!

                      (Those kouign amanns are so ubiquitous at high-end East Bay cafes that I guess I take them for granted now, delicious though they may be.)

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Bartavelle also has Doughnut Dolly filled doughnuts. And I think one other cult bakery's stuff.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Bartavelle has good savory items, but it you're interested in sublime filled doughnuts, go to source at Doughnut Dolly in Temescal:

                          Hannah fills the doughnuts by hand, to order, using a charming piece of vintage bakery equipment. You can check their Facebook page for the pastry creamed flavors of the day (a recent selection included Naughty (a creamy bourbon bomb), raspberry lemon jam, banana cream, and Mexican chocolate) and an alert when she's run out for the day and will be closing shop !

                          And they're open on Sunday to pair with your New York Times or coffee from one of the many Oakland Uptown options!


                          1. re: dordogne

                            Drool! We are clearly going to need to spend more time in the East Bay, and soon.

                      2. As of now, Cafe Terminus is still work in progress. That may have changed by November, but right now, there are missing pieces. They serve good cocktails, but the happy-hour bar-food menu is yet to be seen. It's in a modest space and they have plenty of competition for the happy-hour crowd in that part of town. They have ambitions to be open late in an area where others have tried to be open late and failed. I really do hope they will be successful since I've been a Dennis Leary fan since the Rubicon era. And even if they don't manage to make it work quite to the level of their current ambitions, I still think it will be a very nice addition to that neighborhood even if they can't stay open until 2am.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: nocharge

                          Last couple of times I've stopped by Terminus for take out lunch Dennis Leary has been in the kitchen so you may want to consider that. Still don't think they are doing happy hour food so it's just drinks. It's not been busy for lunch at all (Day 38) so hoping that will last. Their menu does differ from Golden West and Sentinel - they've had a kale salad the two times I was in that was enjoyable.

                          1. re: Celery

                            Chef Leary was indeed in the kitchen when we went at lunch. The meal was just okay, alas. More in my report, which I will still post, promise. Been swamped since I got back :-(