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Bay Area Recommendations for Someone...


MarketStEl
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From April 3 through 10, I will be visiting two cities I've long wanted to visit for the first time: San Francisco and Seattle.

The reason for the trip is: I had an unused airline ticket that a friend had purchased for me for a trip that never materialized, and as of last October 6, I'm an uncle -- I want to see my new niece, Stella Rose Smith, which means a trip to Seattle to see my brother, Sean. (I'll be staying with a cousin in Oakland and a friend in The City while in the Bay Area.)

This gives me lots of time to explore both cities. Unfortunately, what I won't have is lots of money -- my partner is currently idled thanks to a strike at the Community College of Philadelphia, so I have to watch my pennies for the duration. I do think, though, that I should have enough to afford at least one decent meal.

Of course, the French Laundry -- and probably Chez Panisse as well -- are out of the question. I know that housing in the Bay Area is crazy expensive, but that can't be true for dining out, can it? I'd love to hear your recommendations for good, inexpensive/cheap eats in the Bay Area. One other caveat: Your recommendations must be accessible by public transportation, as I'm not renting a car while in the area. (Besides, look at my posting handle and .sig.)

Take it away, folks...

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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i'll start...

clement street is a great place to wander & find tons of cheap eats (it's considered SF's 2nd chinatown). i used to live in the hood & love Burma Superstar. for take out dimsum, i love Good Luck dimsum (nothing like being able to have dimsum on x-mas morning!!).

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For a nice meal that isn't going to break the bank, try B44 on Belden Place. It's a really cute little alley with about 8 restaurants. It's closed off to traffic and all the restaurants have outdoor tables. It's great atmosphere dining outdoor at night with the street all lit up. If it's cold, there are heaters. B44 happens to be one of my favorite in the city, serving wonderful Spanish and Catalan food.

Delancey Street Restaurant is another great place. It is part of the Delancey Street Foundation which does great work in San Francisco. Prices are rock bottom (the most expensive dish is $13.95 for lamb chops), but it's far from a dive. It's located in the very nice South Beach area, right across the street from the waterfront. It is set up like a pricey restaurant with white tablecloth and a nice patio that is sheltered and has heaters.

Ferry Building is a great place to browse. The restaurants there are pricey, but you can get some great to-go items and have a picnic outside by the water. Get some bread from Acme Bread Company, cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, house-made potato chips from Petite Lulu, gelato from Ciao Bella and a few pieces of the best artisan chocolate around from Recchiuti Confections.

Other neighborhoods that offer cheap eats: Chinatown, Mission/Valencia.

All the places I mentioned are easily accessible by public transportation.

Have a great time in SF!

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Belden is a great idea and not just for B44 (although I like it).

If you want to feel like you're having an elegant SF dining experience in a beautiful room with a view, without spending big bucks, consider Greens. I know you're an omnivore but it is a lovely space, the food is good but relatively inexpensive, they have decent wines by the glass.

And don't worry about transportation - there are few places you can't reach on some form of public transport.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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If you want to make the trip north to Sonoma, definitly go to El Dorado Kitchen. The Executive Chef was the Sous Chef at The French Laundry and took most of his crew from there as well, including me. I have since left, but the food is seasonal and outstanding at reasonable prices. It is also a small hotel, so if you wanted to make it a day or 2, the hotel is beautiful.

www.eldoradosonoma.com

-Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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Lots of good burritos and tacos in the Mission District-carntias and al pastor are two of my favorite meat fillings. I think there is a thread somewhere in CA forum with specific suggestions. You can't get a better deal money and flavor-wise than the huge San Francisco Mission-style burritos.

Brandy Ho's Hunan in North Beach on Colombus (near the Transamerica Pyramid) is a long time and perennial favorite for me and my friends. Excellet Kung Pao chicken, Dan Dan nooldes, Smoked ham and roasated garlic, Ma Pa Tofu. Everything I've had there has been great.

Per other's recommendations on the board, I'm really wanting to try Shalimar for inexpensive and excellent northern Indian food. I think there are two locations but the one I've seen is a few blocks west of Union Square in the Tendeloin.

Saigon Sandwiches for Banh Mi; also in the Tenderloin but closer to Polk St.

Mitchell's Ice Cream (old time ice cream shop) in the Mission.

Tapas at Thirsty Bear Microbrewery near Moscone Center and the Modern Art Musuem. I haven't been here in a few years so I don't have a recent impression but it had been good for quite a few years before that.

You have a couple of nice French crepe places in Philly but if you're interested in something like this check out Ti Couz in the Mission. Nice buckwheat and regular flour crepes. Nice atmosphere too.

Greasy spoon breakfast with a great view: Red's Java House on the bay, nearly underneath the Bay Bridge.

A little more expensive than some of the straight ethnic joints I mentioned earlier, but still a good price is Chow's. I've been to the location in the Sunset near Golden Gate Park but I believe there is a second location near the Castro.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Tapas at Thirsty Bear Microbrewery near Moscone Center and the Modern Art Musuem.  I haven't been here in a few years so I don't have a recent impression but it had been good for quite a few years before that.

We actually ducked in there this afternoon to get out of the rain! Really good paella (just the right "tooth" on the rice) with shrimp, scallops, roasted bell peppers, and green beans. Also ate a fabulous salad of beets, butter lettuce, pine nuts, and an aioli vinaigrette. Quiet pool table upstairs.

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Thanks for the update on Thirsty Bear, Carolyn! As I think about it, it may not be an ultra-budget place for a meal but one could have a few tapas and a nice beer for a pretty good price.

i'll start...

clement street is a great place to wander & find tons of cheap eats (it's considered SF's 2nd chinatown). i used to live in the hood & love Burma Superstar. for take out dimsum, i love Good Luck dimsum (nothing like being able to have dimsum on x-mas morning!!).

Clement St. is a great place to look for good "cheap eats" and I can also recommend Burma Superstar in particular. The smoked tea salad is very interesting.

Lots of good burritos and tacos in the Mission District-carntias and al pastor are two of my favorite meat fillings.  I think there is a thread somewhere in CA forum with specific suggestions.  You can't get a better deal money and flavor-wise than the huge San Francisco Mission-style burritos.

...

I found the thread listing good taco joints up and down the CA coast. I've been to a few places suggested in the article (but not the ones in SF) and the ones I've tried are very good. So... I think the SF suggestions are likely to be great as well!

thread on CA taco places These are all in the Mission District:

LA TAQUERIA 2889 Mission Street, San Francisco; (415) 285-7117.

TAQUERIA SAN JOSé 2830 Mission Street, San Francisco; (415) 282-0203.

EL TONAYENSE TACO TRUCK Harrison Street & 22nd Street, San Francisco.

LA PALMA MEXICATESSEN 2884 24th Street, San Francisco; (415) 647-1500.

I know there are plenty of other SF and Northern California folks out there, hopefully they'll add more suggestions!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Chow and Park Chow are both big favorites. Both are on bus/streetcar lines, and Park Chow is on 9th Avenue at Lincoln, right where Golden Gate Park has an entrance to the Arboretum. The menu changes frequently but the quality/price ratio is consistently good. I always get dessert there -- warm ginger cake w/ pumpkin ice cream, or coconut cream pie.

Cha Cha Cha is a long-time favorite for lunch, on Haight at Shrader. Funky, happy place serving tropical/Latin small plates. Much better than Thirsty Bear in my opinion. Fried new potatoes with chipolte (sp) aioli, shrimp in Cajun cream sauce, plantanos with black beans and crema...love it all. Oh yeah, and mussels, and calamari, among other stuff.

Burma SuperStar is indeed good. I like the ginger salad a lot.

If you like hotdogs, and find yourself near one of a few What's Up, Dog?s, try a dog. They have all kinds of sausages but I go for the basic model.

Both Clementine and Chapeau! in the Richmond have wonderful early-bird dinner specials if you want Cal-French in a nice, small restaurant.

Incanto in Noe Valley (streetcar line nearby) is a terrific Italian place, known for in-house charcuterie, pasta, and using the whole animal. Not cheap but certainly not the top tier, price-wise.

Zazie on Cole in Cole Valley (streetcar line right there) is good for weekday breakfast, lunch. Love the eggs scrambled with chorizo, roasted peppers and white cheddar. They may have dinner specials, not sure.

Cafe New Central on South Van Ness at 14th has my favorite soft tacos al pastor, ask for the home-made tortillas.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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  • 2 weeks later...

MarketStEl couldn't resist a west coast comparison for cheesesteak as part of his Bay Area adventure: click

Looking forward to seeing what other eats you found out here during your trip, MarketStEl!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I have always enjoy A16, on Chestnut st. in S.F.

Its easy access for me, living in the north bay. The food is consistently good.

You can go the pizza antipasto route or order dinners. You can't go wrong with their large Italian wine selection, especially by the half caraft and glasses.

I am always amazed in how fast the food comes out of the kitchen, allowing you to make your menu selections at will, thru out the meal. Overall an enjoyable experience.

www.a16sf.com

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A few recommendations for standout places you'll not find in equivalents in Philly:

- Koi Palace in Daly City for Dim Sum or just to check out the sea critters in their live tanks.

- Steamed Live Spot Shrimp in any of the Chinese restaurants.

- Zuni Cafe for Oysters (better selection than Hog Island in the ferry building) and NoCal style food

- Pho Ao Sen in Oakland for .. pho

- Isobune in Japantown for decent kaiten sushi, place gets bashed a lot but I think it's decent. Ino Sushi or Sushi Ran if you want to spend more.

- Mexican, heaps better than those popular places in South Philly.

- Tomales Bay Oyster Farm, if you have a ride for a trip up north. Oyster farm, cheap and excellent quality but you have to shuck yourself. Highly recommended.

- Manresa for a splurge if you change your mind and decide to skip your next rent or mortgage, reservations are not impossible unlike at FL and excellent value IMO.

- Hon's Won Ton House in Chinatown - cheap and excellent HK style noodles.

- Golden Gate Bakery in Chinatown - Best egg tarts I've had in the US!! Worth waiting in line for and make sure you eat them while they're still warm.

just some places that come to mind

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The story thus far, that encounter with the cheesesteak aside:

--As I mentioned already, In-n-Out Burger is all that and a bag of chips (instead of the fries).

--I splurged on dinner at Union in Seattle with a most congenial bunch of Seattleite eGers, followed by a pig-out excursion into Belltown and Pioneer Square with one of them. I have entered into a swap with another: She will send me a bottle of Late Harvest Syrah from Washington State, and I will send her a pound of Pennsylvania Noble Cheddar in return. (Edited to add: A full report on my Day in Seattle will be forthcoming on the Pacific Northwest board.)

--Last night, my hosts for the remainder of my trip treated me to dinner at Bucci's in Emeryville, where I had a delicious and most tender braised lamb shank. We split an antipasto sampler and a baked goat cheese with breadcrumb topping appetizer. En route there, we talked history (of Emeryville and of the area), transit (one half of this host couple is a transit geek like me; there is an O-scale PCC in Public Service Co-ordinated Transport livery bearing a (Newark, NJ) City Subway rollsign next to me as I type this), and the part of the country where said transit geek host and I both grew up (he in north-central Missouri).

--Today I think I'll try one of those Mission District places before heading to a friend's place on Dolores Street near both the Mission and the Castro. I'm cooking for him tonight; he's taking me to dinner tomorrow.

Having a grand time. Don't want to leave; can't afford not to--at least for now.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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--As I mentioned already, In-n-Out Burger is all that and a bag of chips (instead of the fries).

In-n-Out is one the few things I truly miss about California, 3X3 animal style please.

Rocky

The funny part is that my girlfriend has spent most of her life in California, many of those years eating at In-n-Out, and had no idea there was a secret menu. The first time she heard me order she thought I was high... :wub:

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