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Looking for suggestions of 'must try' places while in San Francisco and San Jose

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Going to be there for a week (first time visiting) and was hoping you guys to steer me to some great food. Restaurants, bakeries, food trucks, I'm open to any and all types of food.

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  1. Are you aware this board (and all boards) has a "Search" feature?

    If you go to the upper right-hand corner and search for "bakeries" you will find this list of past threads:

    http://www.chow.com/search?q=bakeries...

    2 Replies
    1. re: DavidT

      Here is a past thread on Food Trucks:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8037...

      1. re: DavidT

        Agree strongly with DavidT. These are frequent discussion topics on this board, so a new reader will generally find a lot more information already archived in recent months, by searching, than from whatever answers respond to another query about them.

      2. San Jose topics from the past year:

        http://www.chow.com/search?q=%22san+j...

        Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Korean, including regional variations, are very strong around there.

        1. Not sure where you're coming from but Burmese is a strength in the Bay Area. Also Lao if you're willing to venture out to Oakland.

          Lots of very good bakeries in the Bay Area also. I seek out kouign amann when I visit since we can't get it at home. Special toast is also kind of a thing in SF (cf Josey Baker).

          The food trucks I've tried haven't totally wowed me but some of the truck events are quite fun (cf Off the Grid on Friday nights at Fort Mason).

          Mid-range restaurants are a strength in the Bay Area but there are so many solid choices you might want to narrow down what you're looking for to get reccs. For example, will you have a car? What area of the city will you be in? Any types of cuisine you seek particularly (or don't want because they're all over that one where you come from)?

          Have a wonderful first trip -- bet it won't be your last!

          12 Replies
          1. re: grayelf

            Thanks for the replies!! I'll be traveling from Texas to Silicone Valley, but I'll have a rental car. So I figured SF looks pretty close, I have an empty weekend and I've heard that there's great food to be had in SF. There were so many choices I found while checking the net, I'm hoping to get some "you have to go to" type places from people that have visited or live there. As far as the type of food, I'm very open, probably get my fill of South/Central American cuisine here at home, anything else, I am game for. I've also seen there are quite a few great bakeries, I thought I'd pick up something sweet to bring home to my brood. Thanks again for the info.

            1. re: riley723

              bakeries - tartine, craftsman and wolves for more unusual bakery items, arizmendi - these three are fairly close to one another

              go to the ferry building farmers market on saturday morning - the best thing about the bay area is the produce. the ferry building itself also has some good places to eat

              1. re: riley723

                You might want to research garages near the places you're going in SF so you don't spend half your time looking for parking, which can be a real challenge in some neighborhoods.

                E.g. for Ferry Plaza on the weekend, 75 Howard, or make a reservation for lunch at Yank Sing and get free validated parking.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Great info, you guys are awesome!

                  1. re: riley723

                    "...I have an empty weekend and I've heard that there's great food to be had in SF. There were so many choices I found while checking the net, I'm hoping to get some "you have to go to" type places..."

                    And this is what makes it a bit difficult to recommend. perhaps if you know the neighborhoods you want to visit it would help narrow down.

                    I'd second the Ferry Building. beautiful location. Some higher end shops in the building itself, and then out back near the water are all the vegetable/fruit stands and lots of stalls selling food to eat there. Robert's suggestion is good with regard to parking (finding street parking in SF can be hell in almost any neighborhood). The financial district around the Ferry building has some nice higher-end restaurants. You might consider spending the morning at the Ferry Building and then the afternoon strolling around Chinatown or Telegraph Hill (if you are a good walker). Then dinner could be perhaps: Cotogna (italian), Kokkari (greek), or Barbacco.

                    Tartine, as was suggested is a good bakery in the Mission district. Lots of good restaurants (including a lot of Mexican taquerias, which you probably get plenty of).

                    I'd avoid restaurants around Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39.

                    1. re: MagicMarkR

                      And, 'I'm hoping to get some "you have to go to" type places' is exactly the kind of query that appears on this board weekly if not daily. Which means that a cornucopia of such suggestions is already available to any questioner willing to do some searching.

                      1. re: eatzalot

                        Yes, you mentioned that earlier.

                      2. re: MagicMarkR

                        MagicMarkR, I have no problems walking around, I think I will try the Ferry Building and then check out China Town. Thanks for the suggestions.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Or drive up to the Millbrae BART station, park there and then take the train into the city.

                      If you have never visited SF before, it's easier to walk around and explore without having to hassle with parking and traffic.

                      1. re: pamf

                        Pamf, Thanks for the tip!

                        1. re: pamf

                          Coming from San Jose, it would probably be faster and cheaper to take CalTrain.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            CalTrain from downtown SJ to SF takes about and hour and a half (unless there are some express trains that don't make every stop) and costs $9 - $11 dollars. I don't know about the parking at the stations in SJ. CalTrain stops way outside of downtown in SF.

                            BART from Millbrae to SF is $4.50, takes about 30 min or less and parking is free and plentiful on the weekends. The OP can take BART to 24th/Mission if they want to check out Mission/Valencia neighborhood, to Powell to check out Union Square or Embarcadero to go to the Ferry Building.

                  2. San Jose :Monday nights Food Trucks, moveable feast at the Blossom Hill Light Rail Train Station Parking lot

                    Cupertino/San Jose area bakery: L epi dor

                    San Jose Vietnamese: Vung Tao

                    SF: Ferry Building

                    Have a great visit

                    1. If you get a chance, Mission Chinese is pretty unique. And not sure where you're from in Texas, but you might not have isakayas (Japanese bar food). My favorite in SF is Isakaya Sozai in the Sunset, but it's right around the corner from my house, so it's easy. There are a number of really good Isakayas in SF - and this style of Japanese food isn't everywhere, so might be worth trying!