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Seeking food touring partners

I know this is coming out of the blue but thought I'd give it a shot. I'll be visiting SF mid May for 6 days for the specific purpose of sampling as many interesting food locations as possible. Typically on one of these food tour binges I'll hit 5-6 locations in a day. Ideally I will have a few friends or a couple of my sons along so we can share tastes and not be too totally stuffed by the end of the day. Unfortunately I only have a couple contacts in SF and they can only join me for a day or 2, so I am seeking like minded foodies who might be interested in joining me on any of the days.

I know DDD has many haters, but as a basis of selecting interesting spots w enjoyable food in unfamiliar locations I have found it provides the most reliable guidance so my tours will focus on places that have been featured there. I plan to take day trips to Sacramento and the Santa Rosa area but mostly focusing on the Bay Area. The link below should connect to a custom Google map of DDD places on my list, with full understanding that I won't be able to get to anywhere near all of them. Any warnings of places to avoid, or perhaps of really really good or interesting places near any on the list is also appreciated.

So if you are a food lover and up for something like this let me know and maybe we can share a bit of a food adventure.


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  1. Best of luck with your trip! Where are you coming from?

    You should make a duplicate post on the California board--- that's where discussions of Sacramento are held.

    Check the hours on places. Lots of places close random days of the week may only be lunch or dinner spots. Expect long lines at any brunch spot, some driven by the popularity of DDD

    Broken Record keeps changing chefs and formats. The current name for the food area is Hood Grub, open only for dinner http://www.hoodgrubsf.com/ . The original Broken Record people now own Rickybobby, and that's where you can get their bacon burger.

    Joe's Cable Car is closed

    get the yuca fries at Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen

    The HRD location you list is a lunch spot. Their North Beach location is open late, but I've no idea if the quality is equal

    You might check out a food truck event. The Fort Mason one is crowded, but has a lot of variety: http://offthegridsf.com/

    It may not be your thing, but you should consider doing a taco crawl, either in the Mission (SF) or in Fruitvale (Oakland). Cheap, lots of variety, and no long lines!

    1 Reply
    1. re: hyperbowler

      I'll second your suggestion for a food truck event, and point out that DDD did a feature on the Koja Kitchen truck at the SoMa StrEatFood Park. The StrEatFood Park's roster of trucks changes daily, so there's no telling if and when Koja will be there during the OP's visit; however, Koja Kitchen can be found every Friday night at Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center and I recommend visiting both venues.

    2. Separate owners at:

      521A Third Street (David Yeung)

      HRD Smokin' Grill
      532 Green Street

      1. We send you an email to your registered address about this but it bounced back to us as undeliverable.

        Can you add an email address or other way for people to contact you directly to RSVP and work out timing/details for this meet? ( http://www.chow.com/faq#chowdowns )

        It doesn't need to be your main email address; if you're worried about spam, you can set up a new one with a free web-based service and direct people to get in touch there and then reply using your real address.

        Thanks, and have a great food tour -- it sounds like fun!

        4 Replies
        1. re: The Chowhound Team

          I found my email setting after some searching and updated it. Glad to hear from anyone directly. I thought there was a Private Message function but I must be thinking of a different board.
          Thanks for all the input. Yes, I am well aware of all the obstacles that pop up when attempting something like this after too many times of showing up at places that were closed either for the day or the hour or where the item featured on TV, which I like to sample, was on special the day before. It takes a lot to to be well prepared and I'm already hard at work doing just that. Keep 'em coming.

          1. re: WarmBeer

            If you email them at moderators@chowhound.com you'll reach them.

            1. re: WarmBeer

              Just a quick note that the email address in your settings isn't public -- if you want to include it in your profile, most people either put it in the real name field or the blog field.

              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                WARMBEER Email here. ok, now I'm further confused. under the OP there is a link for email. thought that would connect to my email but apparently not. So if anyone wants to email me about possibly joining me as originally requested send to my screen name, but plural and then to gmail. so it would be w..mb..rs@ etc for gmail.

              1. re: DavidT

                Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Guy Fieri's TV show.

                Using the places that have appeared on his show as a guide is a good way to miss what makes the Bay Area a great place for a food nut to live. For example, the six places in the Berkeley-Oakland area are:

                Rick & Ann's
                Meal Ticket
                Rudy's Can't Fail
                Aunt Mary's
                900 Grayson
                Bette's Oceanview

                Some of those places are good, but they run the gamut from A to B.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I saw Schellville Grille in Sonoma. It's not a D or a D or a D and while pretty good, there's FAR better within a 15 minute drive. I don't know about the rest of the country but I know that in the Bay Area there are better ways to make decisions. BTW, one or the one in Reno is so drecky as to be yuckers :) I'd encourage OP to search on CH using a particular type of food and a nabe and get better choices.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I'm pretty sure that in Sonoma County Fieri has featured a lot of his friends' places.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Ah. Not surprising. We'e met the owner of Schellville Grille and I wouldn't be surprised.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Only two of those Berkeley-Oakland places have dinner. Rudy's Can't Fail is a fun place for atmosphere, but their late hours are the only reason to get food there. Rick & Ann's is better known for their brunch/breakfast than dinners.

                    Of the breakfast/brunch places, Aunt Mary's is very good for brunch. 900 Grayson has a very good burger.

                2. From your list:

                  - Bette's Oceanview Diner - Great breakfast, but expect a long wait.
                  - Broken Record - New cooks since the show aired
                  - Dad's Kitchen - Good burger, long wait, wretched meatballs
                  - Dottie's - another great breakfast/brunch place with a long wait
                  - Duarte's Tavern - local institution with mediocre food. Get the artichoke/green chili soup if you go.
                  - Gorilla BBQ - Like the box car setup but there is better BBQ to be had in SF
                  - Grubstake Diner - okay food but a bit overpriced for what you get. Not open for lunch
                  - HRD Coffee Shop - Korean fusion fast food. Long line out the door goes fairly quickly. Lunch only.
                  - Jamie's Grill and Bar - Best of the lot. Smoked prime rib is the bomb. Only open M-F
                  - Joe's Cable Car - Closed thank God.
                  - Johnny Garlic's - Guy's restaurant. Mediocre food. Don't say you haven't been fairly warned
                  - La Texanita - pretty good, but not a destination place. Recommend doing a Mission or Fruitvail taco crawl instead.
                  - Miller's East Coast Deli - I like it from time to time, but not a place i would recommend to visitors
                  - Pier 23 Cafe - nice view from the back patio, but touristy, IMO
                  - Q Restaurant - Doesn't really fit the DDD profile. Interesting menu that doesn't quite deliver.
                  - Refuge - Great pastrami sandwich, if you are in the area
                  - Rocco's Cafe - Definitely not a D, D, or D. Decent lunch option for a local but nothing special to a visitor.
                  - Santa Cruz Diner - okay choice if you are in the area.
                  - Schellville Grill - Go to nearby Fremont Diner instead.
                  - Sol Food - Pretty good and somewhat unique.
                  - Squeeze Inn - Did not like this super salty cheesy burger. Felt dehydrated for days.
                  - Taylor's Automatic Refresher - good, upscale drive-in food.
                  - Tee Off Bar & Grill - Great pork chop in a dive-bar
                  - The Front Porch - No way a D, D, or D. Some of the better southern food in an area not known for southern food. Crab grits are awesome.
                  - Tommy's Joynt - SF institution with mediocre food
                  - Willie Bird's Restaurant - old school diner with old school food. Doesn't mean the turkey plate isn't bad though.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Civil Bear

                    Q isn't really that cheap, either. Arguably not expensive by SF standards, but what's the point of going to a place labeled "diner, drive-in, or dive" if it's not cheap.

                    1. re: Civil Bear

                      The Broken Record chefs opened their own place, RickyBobby.

                      Fremont Diner is the best version of the kind of places Guy Fieri usually features.

                      The food at Gott's (formerly Taylor's) seemed absurdly overpriced to me. I'm baffled by its popularity.

                    2. not DDD; but if you're headed for Santa Rosa and you go to Fremont Grill in Sonoma, don't miss El Molino…

                      Cheap Eats not DDD in SF:
                      Old Jerusalem Restaurant for the stuffed falafel at
                      2976 Mission Street at 26th Street.
                      M and L Market at 691-14th Street near Market Street for hot pastrami sandwich (order bread first).
                      Valencia Pizza and Pasta for short ribs or lamb shank.
                      Rhea's - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/759612
                      at Valencia & 19th Street -it's across the street from Valencia Pizza and Pasta.
                      Mariposa Cafe at 26th St. & Tennessee for roast pork/rice.

                      Outside SF, not for DDD 'food touring':
                      Garden Club Restaurant
                      1144 Mission Rd
                      South San Francisco, CA 94080

                      1. I really appreciate all the feedback, especially concerning the DDD places not worth the effort since I will obviously have to cut some. The problem is so many have different opinions about better places that it is hard to feel confident in bypassing places on the list. but keep the suggestions coming. thanks

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: WarmBeer

                          Not sure if you ever peruse the SFBA board but, IMO, they are among the very tops on CH. GF and his show are for TV - these folks are for real. I promise you'll be far happier following their suggestions. We do. I don't know why you'd feel more confident trusting a celeb rather than real people.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I'm trying to avoid the DDD for or against argument, but i guess that's a false hope. Everyone has an opinion and I know the boards mostly are negative. I choose to go by experience and in mine out of nearly 100 visits to DDD locations only a handful have disappointed. Can't say the same for other folks recommendations, closer to 30% failure rate. No more to say on that subject.

                            1. re: WarmBeer

                              I've never seen that show, so I don't have an opinion on that, but I will say that probably most people on this board are looking at your list and thinking, "You're coming all the way from the East Coast to eat at THOSE places?" Even if you gave the list a financial cap, like $20 per meal or something, I suspect literally none of those places would be recommended (Civil Bear's summary is pretty good, where that is concerned). They're nothing you can't get in NJ anyway.

                            2. re: c oliver

                              Let's have a little less judgement here, please. Look again at what DDD stands for. It's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," a *genre* of food that's representative of the tastes of a broader segment of America than Chowhound frontrunner picks. As far as "real" is concerned, the OP, by tracking down places that have been featured on the show, has seen far more evidence that he will be getting real food prepared by real people than he would by going by the opinions on a message board of a narrow spectrum of eaters about food that he might not even find to his personal tastes.

                              Remember Chowhound founder Jim Leff's reduction of everything to "deliciousness" which, in his freely shared opinion, could even be found in mass market breakfast cereals and potato chips.

                              1. re: soupçon

                                My actual experiences number only three and two of those were not D or D or D and the third sucks. My "judgment" is based on at least something. And I take SF CH recs year in and year out and bat a lot better than that. In addition I was referring to "real" people vs. "TV" people. As far as "real" there seems to be some idea that the DDD places eschew SYSCO et al and are therefore "real-er." Not so.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  I'm not a fan of Fieri's style or of all of the types of food covered by his show, but what I mean by "real" is the way he lets the owners/chefs/cooks show exactly what they are doing and express what they are doing in their own words. Taking one's eating cues from those demonstrations probably leads to fewer disappointments than your "faith-based" approach.

                                  1. re: soupçon

                                    Well, as other CHs reiterate, one "learns" whose tastes reflect one's own. As mentioned here, Schellville Grille in Sonoma is good enough. A few miles down the road is Fremont Diner who all seem to think, myself included, is far, far better. Note: I've eaten at both more than once. And it's not a DDD and the owner, who we've met, seems a media-hungry soul. Just one example. My "faith" remains firmly with the SF CHs. Also there's a place in Reno that serves pure dreck and the Sysco truck (which I have no problem with btw) is out back every day. It does qualify as a diner I suppose. I'm not really picking on him or his show but rather pointing out that, IMO, it mostly seems like pretty lowest common denominator food. In parts of the country we're damn happy to get that maybe, SFBA not necessary.

                          2. Something I think you'll enjoy is a local specialty called Dutch Crunch bread. It's something you'll find in every supermarket and old school sandwich shops, but not in diners or higher end places.

                            Roxie Food Center, a small convenience store open for decades, has some of the best old-school sandwiches in SF and their best ones are on dutch crunch. Their Roxie Special on Dutch Crunch, mixed Italian meats and artichoke hearts, is one of my favorites there. No seating, but perfect food for sitting in a park. (it mainly serves its non-centrally located neighborhood, so it confused a lot of people when they got voted one of Yelp's top 100 restaurants in the nation).

                            Also, if you're from NJ and have any good Jewish deli's nearby, there's nothing worth getting at Miller's.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: hyperbowler

                              I had no idea that bread was a local phenom. Thanks.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                It's not exactly local, but this is one of the areas where you'll find it.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Here's a good overview of San Francisco's relationship with Dutch crunch bread. In my recollection, its fame was stoked by Woolworth's lunch counter, where it was so popular for sandwiches that the rolls were sold separately to take home.


                                  1. re: soupçon

                                    I'm not sure it's "as much of a local specialty as burritos or cioppino." Both of those evolved much further from their foreign originals.

                                    Galli's has been in business since 1909 and but I doubt they were making Dutch crunch that whole time.

                                  2. re: c oliver

                                    I'd be surprised if Dutch crunch bread is a local thing. I grew up eating it in Chicago in the 1950's. All the supermarkets carried a commercial version of it: Krogers, A&P, Delmonico, Jewel.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Re: tre2012's comment about it being in Chicago in the 1950s--- my younger friends from Chicago had never heard of the stuff until moving to the Bay Area. Any insight into why it's disappeared from Chicago after the 1950s?

                                      hmm... I don't want to derail the OP any more. Can folks comment on when dutch crunch first appeared, either in SF Bay Area, Chicago, etc. in the following thread on the General Board:


                                  3. If you end up going south, I recommend Falafel's Drive In.

                                    For me, it was one of those places where it made such an impression the first time I had it that I kept craving it over many years. When I finally got around to having it again, it was just as good as I remembered. I also blame this place for making me disappointed in other falafel.

                                    1 Reply