Recs for Boston hound visiting late January, please!
I'm coming to SF on a conference at the end of January, and I was wondering if you could help with suggestions for meals over the weekend. I'll be staying at the Palomar and don't know the city at all, so transportation information to/from recommended restaurants would be appreciated too. I love walking and will do that whenever possible, weather- and safety-permitting.
Also: we really, really want to avoid tourist traps. I feel like on CH that's a given, but I do see recs for them pop up on the Boston boards sometimes, so figured I should make it clear.
What I'm looking for:
Friday night: Tantanmen (ramen) dinner for 1. I specifically want tantanmen, and I want the best you can suggest; under $20 would be ideal but I'll go higher if you tell me it's worth it. I probably won't get there before 9:00 p.m. Please note if I'm likely to have to wait, so I can grab a snack if need be.
Saturday morning: Excellent take-away coffee. My conference starts at 8:00 so I need somewhere that's open early and en route from the Palomar to the Conference Centre.
Saturday night: Delicious dinner for 4 people - 2 adventurous eaters (1 omnivore, 1 non-red-meat), 2 not adventurous (both omnivores). We'd love something that shows off SF's specialties and strengths; we would also MUCH prefer somewhere that takes reservations, as we'll all have been in classes or traveling all day and won't want to wait ages for a table. Good wine and dark-spirit cocktails a definite plus; if we could max around $50 pp for two courses and a drink, that would be ace, but again, we may go over for something extraordinary. Follow-up recommendations for nearby pubs/bars also welcome; prefer somewhere quieter and not clubby.
Sunday morning: Breakfast/brunch for 1-2 people. We have a 10:30 a.m. flight, so it would need to be somewhere that's open early and ideally very close to hotel; a to-go option might be helpful but I'd rather get up a bit earlier and have a sit-down.
Thank you all in advance!
re: Robert Lauriston
Thanks for the link, it was interesting reading! Boston has a strong Sichuan food culture but we're much weaker on Japanese food; I can get really good dan dan noodles here, but the tantanmen available is fairly ordinary. SF has a reputation for good ramen, so I thought I'd try to find the tantanmen I've been missing since I left Sydney.
A quick look through the boards did mention tantanmen at a number of ramen places (Ramen Shop, Yu-Raku, Himawari, Kahoo, etc.), but I didn't see any comments on one version being better than the other, so I wasn't sure which to try.
Friday Night: I think you may be out of luck =/ The only good ramen places I know (and this just may be lack of knowledge) are in San Mateo or more south (e.g. a 30 minute + drive or train ride out of the city. And Ajisan in SF closes very early.
Saturday Night: Cotogna, Locanda, Nopa. Maybe AQ - but I didn't really match well with AQ. Locanda is near a bunch of bars. Nopa is near a few. Cotogna is more isolated. Coquetta is fun if you can get the reservation - but it isn't worth any sort of long wait/crazy shennanigans.
I liked Skool's food a lot but the service can be spotty.
Finding good coffee in that area is a challenge. I'd go with Blue Bottle Mint Plaza but alas it doesn't open till 8 am on weekends (and the lines will be long).
Good breaky early (or at all) on weekends in that area is also a problem. If 8 am is early enough, then I'd suggest Blue Bottle again. Their food is tasty and though it's a café there is seating on tall stools inside.
Thanks to everyone so far, even though this is starting to feel a bit hopeless for Friday night and the mornings!
I'll broaden my tantanmen request out to ramen generally (pork preferred); could that bring any more recommendations?
Alternatively, I've seen some good posts about pork/meatball sandwiches at various places; is there anywhere that does a good one at night?
Based on Goldangl95's recs and posts associated with those, I've come up with a Saturday night group dinner short-list of Cotogna, NOPA, Abbot's Cellar, and Rich Table. Any thoughts on these, or suggestions of other places I should investigate?
If you can get a reservation at Cotogna I say go for it. There are lots of bars a few blocks away. Comstock, Vesuvio, 15 Romolo, and Specs might be quiet.
I've had ramen I liked in SF, but every ramen snob / expert I know says you need to go to San Mateo or farther south.
Someone from Boston looking for a meatball sandwich here seems like a recipe for disappointment. Why not go for a local specialty such as house-made salumi, Burmese, or pupusas?
re: Robert Lauriston
Are you saying we're a bunch of meatheads out here? :) All of your local specialties sound excellent (though we're pretty good on the salumi end here too); I only mentioned meatballs because meatball sandwiches seemed to pop up often enough in posts that I got the impression they were something of a local specialty.
Burmese is especially intriguing. Where would you suggest?