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Need a few Recommendations in San Francisco

domenexx Feb 15, 2014 04:26 PM

Hello ALL,

Going for 4 nights to SF staying around Union Square area. A family trip with some limitations. We are looking for a good Chinese option probably outside Chinatown, a good Italian and any other recommendation regardless of the cuisine. Open for anything such as ethnic (Viet, Mexican, etc), fusion, sushi, etc.

Looking forward to your feedback,


  1. v
    vulber Feb 15, 2014 06:45 PM

    i'm going to assume that you're mostly wanting stuff around union square - if you're looking for recommendations in all of SF for these cuisines, you'd be better off checking what's already been posted

    that being said, why are you looking outside chinatown for chinese? while it's true that the best chinese in SF is not in chinatown, they're in neighborhoos that are quite far away from union square, whereas chinatown is walkable from union square and has a few very good chinese restaurants (z&y, r&g lounge, bund shanghai).

    for sushi, ryoko's or maybe akiko's, depending on budget.

    for mexican, colibri is a bit upscale and whtiewashed, but certainly tasty. if you're just looking for a really good burrito, taqueria cancun on 6th/market, but don't go there too late.

    tenderloin is full of good vietnamese options, but don't go there too late. bodega bistro for somewhat upscale but still affordable. turtle tower for pho (though the nearby pho 2000 is also tasty and stays open far later). pagolac for seven-course beef.

    for italian, would recommend walking to sotto mare in north beach if you're up for a bit of a walk. would make resrevations though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe
      bobabear Feb 16, 2014 10:30 AM

      I would agree with vulber - great Vietnamese options in Tenderloin, but don't go there late as it's not a great neighborhood later in the night (10pm+). Note that Pho 2000 is open until 8:30pm, so you can have dinner. Turtle Tower closes at 5pm.

      Italian - Perbacco or Barbacco are popular recommendations on this board, but attempt to make reservations before walking in on a Thurs-Sat night.

      @wolfe That's not an oxymoron if you actually take the discussion into context, instead of contributing nothing.

    2. bbulkow Feb 16, 2014 08:53 PM

      Hi, I tried to figure out where you're coming from, and you've posted a HUGE number of requests for recommendations all over the world. You must do a LOT of international travel. Which means you should be happy to get a cab; it's a small city.

      The short list of standard chinese is OK, although not up to the best of HK or similar.

      Italian is very strong right now. The recommended choices are good, but there's a long list of others. SPQR. Frances. Flour+Water. Cotogna.

      SF's take on "modern cuisine" is deep. I would say my favorite is Commonwealth, either at the bar or at the tables. AQ, Rich Table, Zuni (old timer), Zare at Flytrap, dozens others. We have a few big tasting menu places, but you would have asked for those if you were into it. Just don't go to Gary Danko.

      Do not try sushi unless you're ready to be disappointed. LA is so far ahead that it's not funny, NYC is ahead. Izakaya food has some strong points.

      Fusion you might check out Namu Gaji, Mission Chinese, State Bird. SF is not really into fusion per se in that just about everything is fusion at which point you wonder what fusion could possibly be - I just came from an indian place with a pulled pork taco, and it's otherwise a pretty straight ahead place.

      Oakland, especially the "uptown" and "temescal" districts, is doing very well right now, and if you have a particular interest in that recommendations can be had.

      Your best chance at a solid response would be to describe a bit more about your party, restaurants you like at other cities (especially NYC and LA), even propose a list and get some comments.

      13 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow
        domenexx Feb 17, 2014 05:06 AM

        Thanks Bbulkow,

        Correct, I do travel a lot internationally and always like to check the Chowhound board for advise. Very useful when going to almost any Asian big cities. No issues with me taking a cab or exploring places off the beaten path. My only handicap is that I'm travelling with a big family group (in-laws, twin girls age 3, a 9 year old boy and a nanny). This means that probably I can "escape" with my wife for dinner. We are planning to do a Pecking Duck and Chinese dinner one of the nights. We are will to move out of our area if the option deserves. How about the Delis such as Molinari and Lucca? I read about Aziza with good reviews (modern Moroccan). Any other options will be well received such as Korean, Mexican. I will research your Italian and modern cuisine options. We will start the trip in San Diego. Feel free to add any recos on this location.



        1. re: domenexx
          bbulkow Feb 17, 2014 09:49 PM

          The delis listed I consider average. One would have to be a bit hard up for a good deli to make a trip out of the way for one of these places.

          More similar to a deli would be the stalls in the ferry building, which are very interesting - like 4505 Meats and Cowgirl Creamery and similar. Those are worth going out of the way for.

          You should go to Yank Sing.

          Aziza was very high on everyone's list a few years ago, it has gotten grumbles on the list over the last few years. Not _bad_, just not as great as it used to be. I personally haven't been (an oversight), partially because reservations are hard to come by, partially because it's not in a convenient part of town.

          Mexican is considered much better in San Diego, but most of the places that I found in SD are what I would call "big plate" - you know, the kind of mexican place where you get a huge entree. It's good, and you can get excellent stuff like California Burrito and a Chimichunga (deep fried burrito) that are rare here. A common fun thing is to walk from 16th mission to 24th mission, which has been a mexican area for a while but it now gentrifying. A more authentic experience is to take BART to Fruitvale, and you can find some Taqueria Crawl posts.

          I guess one might list Nopalito, La Taqueria, Pancho Villa, Tacolicious, Tropisueno, etc.

          I used to like Korean in the bay area, then I went to LA, then I went to Korea. There are some threads to look at, but most people think the good korean is either in Oakland or the South Bay.

          1. re: bbulkow
            vulber Feb 17, 2014 10:01 PM

            mission street itself between 16th and 24th is very much still ungentrified, and would not recommend doing so. a more interesting walk would be from 16th to 24 down valencia, and then walk east on 24th to potrero

            1. re: vulber
              bbulkow Feb 18, 2014 12:01 AM

              Block by block, one can have some preferences for whether Valencia is more interesting or Mission. Mission is all storefronts, Valencia has a lot of residential in spots - certainly below 19th or so.

              I certainly agree with adding on 24th toward potrero.

              1. re: bbulkow
                vulber Feb 18, 2014 07:58 PM

                yes - to be fair, it depends on the time of day. valencia will be nice any time - mission street only during the day - at night it's mostly heavily gated and/or abandoned store fronts with the occasional dive bar/restaurant here and there

                1. re: vulber
                  bbulkow Feb 19, 2014 08:34 AM

                  My kind of place! Agreed.

                  I see a lot of tourists on mural walks down there. I don't know if there's some kind of guide where you can self-pace on the murals to get food action in. There's enough to eat down there that one needs to space it out. We did something like that in Philly recently, which allowed us to sample a lot of cheesesteaks and see some good art.

          2. re: domenexx
            Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2014 09:43 AM

            If you spend much time in Italy, Molinari and Lucca could be pretty depressing. Their modern counterparts such as Fatted Calf and Bi-Rite would probably be more interesting.

            I don't think Aziza's food has as much Moroccan influence as it did before they got the Michelin star.

            Good Mexican, tacos al pastor at Taqueria San Jose, Yucatecan regional dishes at Poc-Chuc.

            Generally Korean is better in Oakland or San Jose, but To Hyang is supposedly first-rate. The takeout from First Korean Market is very good.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              vulber Feb 19, 2014 10:09 AM

              toyose for korean

              1. re: vulber
                Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2014 10:59 AM

                The chicken wings at Toyose are really good. I don't think I've had anything else there that stood out.

                Very much a soju bang atmosphere, it would seem weird to me to see kids there.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  vulber Feb 19, 2014 11:37 AM

                  forgot about the kids part, you're right abotu that.

                  that being said, toyose is my favorite korean restaurant for seafood - when they have it, the split eel dish is to die for, as is the sea bass; and they do all the standards well, even if they may not be the best versions

              2. re: Robert Lauriston
                domenexx Feb 19, 2014 02:43 PM

                Thanks for comments ! With all the good reco's received all I need to decide is on an Italian and Chinese dinners. Kids will stay in the hotel. Vulver, bobabear and bbulkow gave me some options which I'm currently exploring. Too many places not much time.

                Thanks to all !!


                1. re: domenexx
                  Ruth Lafler Feb 19, 2014 02:58 PM

                  Since you mentioned delis, if you do decide to go to Aziza, I always think it's fun to check out the Russian delis in that neighborhood (New World Market is my favorite, only a couple of blocks from Aziza and open until 9 p.m. (8 on Sunday)). Note that these are Russian delis, not Russian-Jewish delis.

                  Also, no one has mentioned Burmese -- a cuisine that's fairly common in SF and hard to find elsewhere.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    domenexx Feb 19, 2014 04:17 PM

                    Good Catch !


          3. Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2014 02:58 PM

            My favorites for Italian and Cal-Italian are La Ciccia, Incanto, Cotogna, and Perbacco. Flour+Water to me feels more like a bar than a restaurant. Food's great but similar to Cotogna.

            For Chinese, Jai Yun is unique.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              domenexx Feb 19, 2014 04:16 PM

              Thanks !!


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