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San Francisco - Must Go / Must Avoid


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I'll be spending a week in San Francisco and I am in the "need to know" phase. Where must I go (since my last visit was over 2 years ago) and why? Is anyone doing anything out of the ordinary for the city by the bay? And...what should I avoid?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I'm interested too. I will be there in mid-August and am scoping places out too. I was considering saving up to go to Quince or Coi for my one 'nice' meal, but haven't really decided on anything yet. I will also be around Yosemite and Big Sur if the weinoo doesn't mind suggestions extending to those areas.

Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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Based on two visits, I'd have to say that Frascati was very good, but ask to sit in the mezzanine/balcony thingie, if you like peace and quiet; if they have the chocolate bread pudding on the menu, I recommend it. Chiaroscuro, in the Financial District was excellent for lunch (I really enjoyed it, to the extent that I stopped noticing the large itching welts left by the bedbugs that had eaten me alive the night before at the hotel). Avoid anything the Haight, unless you enjoy feeling like slapping pretty much everyone you see (N.B. I may have been there during an especially annoying week).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Agree on Coi. I ate in the more casual lounge last fall (you can also order a la carte off the main dining room menu) and thought it was just stunning. Lovely service. Just loved.

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Always the Taddich Grill, a classic. Also, try the Slanted Door in the Ferry Building (where there is also a Cowgirl Creamery store and Boccalone). Another place is Kokkari Estiatorio at 200 Jackson which is a terrific spot for upscale Greek.

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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I've been to Cosentino's flagship and will stop by the Ferry Building, of course. Been to Slanted Door. Been to Kokkari. Quince, too. Coi is on the list, but it certainly isn't new, and the room leaves me cold.

One place I plan on stopping in at (and always do) is Swan Oyster Depot for a Crab Louis, perhaps.

Bon Apetit's April, 2011 issue ran a piece about SF. Has anyone been to any of these places?

Commonwealth

Saison (yes, johnder has been and loved it)

Bar Agricole

Sons & Daughter's

Heirloom Cafe

Prospect

Wayfare Tavern

Cotogna

Benu

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Cosentino's charcuterie shop Boccalone in the Ferry building.

http://www.boccalone.com/

Seconded!

Mmmmmm.... meat in a cone.

Also, Molinari's deli on Columbus and Liguria Bakery (early a.m. or no Focaccia for you) on Stockton St. (Liguria will sell out before noon most days, and they're often done by 9 a.m.)

There's a cheap all-you-can-eat dim sum joint on Jackson that we like -- great shu mai for $5, but no frills.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I've been to Cosentino's flagship and will stop by the Ferry Building, of course. Been to Slanted Door. Been to Kokkari. Quince, too. Coi is on the list, but it certainly isn't new, and the room leaves me cold.

One place I plan on stopping in at (and always do) is Swan Oyster Depot for a Crab Louis, perhaps.

Bon Apetit's April, 2011 issue ran a piece about SF. Has anyone been to any of these places?

Commonwealth

Saison (yes, johnder has been and loved it)

Bar Agricole

Sons & Daughter's

Heirloom Cafe

Prospect

Wayfare Tavern

Cotogna

Benu

In

Commonwealth is fantastic. We ate there a week or so after it opened and everything seemed to be running very smoothly. I loved the liquid nitrogen sabayon and I normally don't like desert. The whole meal was fantastic. We sat at the bar (wine and beer only) which was great because you get to watch all the dishes being made in the kitchen.

Bar Agricole is also good. The food was good but what stood out to me was the bartenders and the drinks (we also sat at the bar here). They focus more on the skill and creativity of the bartenders rather than the variety of available spirits. I suggest getting an Old Fashioned with a hand carved single piece of ice. The one downside for me was that it was very crowded when I was there.

In sticking to the bar theme, I heartily recommend the Comstock Saloon in North Beach and Absinthe in Hayes Valley. They have exceptionally skilled bartenders. At either place you can challenge them to make up a drink for you and it's always fantastic. The food is better at Absinthe, though.

One final recommendation is for Sebo sushi in Hayes Valley. The fish is amazingly fresh and perfectly prepared. They are purists which I can appreciate -- they refuse to offer a California Roll.

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I was there in February.

The places we ate in order of preference

Commonwealth. Tasting with wine. A bargain.

Cotogna. Good ingredients done well. Interesting wood grill / range in the dining room too. The pasta was especially good.

Frances. Had an enjoyable dinner. Good value for money. Very busy, there were quite a number of people waiting for the place to open. They blend their own house wine and serve it by the ounce.

Boulevard. Had lunch. Not too bad pricewise. Better value than dinner. Very nice scallop starter and kobe bavette to follow was decent.

Coi. Dinner in the lounge. We ordered from the lounge and tasting menu (4 plates from each). It was a bit of a letdown really and too costly to miss the mark. Ok but I did expect more.

Martin

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I haven't been in SF for a longtime but I always enjoyed Tommy's Mexican Restaurant (and World's Best tequila Bar) on Geary Blvd in the Richmond district. It is not haute cuisine for sure, but it is a lot of fun. They are renowned for their margaritas and endless refills.

Paul Eggermann

Vice President, Secretary and webmaster

Les Marmitons of New Jersey

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Hey I was in SF last September. I'd also agree w/ Coi - really fantastic. Also the Ferry's farmers market, blue bottle coffee, and tartine bakery. If you have time I'd also rent a car and drive to Santa Rosa for the Russian River Brewery - arguably one of the best breweries in the US (about an hour drive).

-g

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Oops, sort of replied to this in the other topic.

I second Commonwealth and Bar Agricole heartily, not to mention Comstock Saloon.

New chef and bar manager at Absinthe since I was last there, but I've heard good things.

One I haven't seen mentioned, if you're interested in food as art, is Atelier Crenn.

We had a nice meal at Plate Shop in Sausalito recently

Goodness, your list is reminding me of all the new places I haven't been to yet: Wayfare, Prospect, Sons and Daughters, Baker and Banker, Cotogna...

And, well, if you're in San Francisco the last Sunday of the month, don't forget to stop by Alembic and say "Hi!".

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Coi and Quince are both divine, IMO. Of the list above, I've been to Prospect, Wayfare Tavern and Cotogna and they are all fantastic. For Wayfare and Cotogna - if you're having trouble getting reservations, they do have seats set aside for walk ins. The trick is go early and be the first ones to get those tables, or wait.

Other places to consider:

Baker and Banker

Frances

Morimoto Napa - it is worth the drive!

Plum

Bisou - you can get fantastic mussels there when they are available.

La Mar - I love it for lunch, especially on a nice day and you can sit outside

Il Cane Rosso - get breakfast there and you can also get some Blue Bottle coffee without having to stand it that ridiculous line. Haven't been but I heard lunch and dinner are fantastic there as well.

Amelie - it's really a wine bar, but you can get some really great small plates there. Order a few of them and they make a nice dinner.

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Farina - I haven't been since there was some changes in the kitchen but I love that place for brunch/lunch. After the meal, you can walk over one block and get some fabulous ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery.

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I went to benu in jan. i loved it. u must go.

Just went last week and one of the most disappointing meals overall anywhere in the last several years. Service unbelieveable bad, food was good and some dishes very interesting but also several average/underwhelming ones. For excellent tasting menus are many better places in SF (covering a wide variety of cuisines, e.g Coi, Commonwealth, La Folie, Aziza etc.)

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One of the best tasting menu I've had was over at the Dining Room at the Ritz. You're not given a menu, but can let the server know what ingredients you don't like and the kitchen would work round it. I loved that we were served different dishes for several of our courses so we got to try more things. Everything that came out was wonderful That was almost 3 years ago so I don't know how it is now.

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One of the best tasting menu I've had was over at the Dining Room at the Ritz. You're not given a menu, but can let the server know what ingredients you don't like and the kitchen would work round it. I loved that we were served different dishes for several of our courses so we got to try more things. Everything that came out was wonderful That was almost 3 years ago so I don't know how it is now.

I know I just wrote a disappointed comment about Benu and I don't want to bash restaurants in SF but we visited many restaurants in SF on our last two trips and had many outstanding meals but the two big disappointments were Benu and Dining Room at the Ritz (with Benu the bigger one). The cuisine/tasting menu at the Dining Room felt "old" and boring and was missing any creativity. The most interesting "dish" was the palate cleanser

Edited by Honkman (log)
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One of the best tasting menu I've had was over at the Dining Room at the Ritz. You're not given a menu, but can let the server know what ingredients you don't like and the kitchen would work round it. I loved that we were served different dishes for several of our courses so we got to try more things. Everything that came out was wonderful That was almost 3 years ago so I don't know how it is now.

I know I just wrote a disappointed comment about Benu and I don't want to bash restaurants in SF but we visited many restaurants in SF on our last two trips and had many outstanding meals but the two big disappointments were Benu and Dining Room at the Ritz (with Benu the bigger one). The cuisine/tasting menu at the Dining Room felt "old" and boring and was missing any creativity. The most interesting "dish" was the palate cleanser

Like I said, we went 3 years ago so I don't know how the Dining Room is doing. I have noticed that it has fallen in reviews and guides. I think it lost a Michelin star. Shame, as the food we had were really good.

Just thought of another place. Nothing fancy, just really excellent Japanese. Kappou Gomi does not serve sushi or combination meals, but you will find some amazing dishes there. One of my favorite is the salmon hotpot with miso butter broth. If you get that dish, you have to get some ramen at the end to be cooked in that beautiful broth. It's good to go with a group there as there are LOTS of good stuff to try.

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I ate at Coi a week after they opened and again a little less than a year ago -- in both cases, I was completely underwhelmed and almost disappointed.

The true hot-spots in San Francisco right now are Attelier Crenn and Saison for over-the-top, exceptional cuisine. Dining Room at the Ritz has taken a huge dive and it could take a long time for it to retain it's former glory.

A lot of people are jazzed about Benu from former French Laundry chef, Corey Lee, but my stint there was almost as regrettable as my trip to Coi.

Concur with Annachan's recommendation for Kappou Gomi; no bento boxes, no nigiri sushi, and no Benihana-like presentations; just incredibly authentic and unusual-outside-Japan cuisine.

Another thing to consider: San Francisco boasts an unusual number of Burmese restaurants; an intriguing cuisine that has Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian cuisine. I'd recommend Burma Superstar for a great lunch stop (the Gin Dok salad is my personal favorite, but others seem to like the Tea Leaf salad -- but I'm a ginger fan).

A trip to San Francisco is nothing without the following: A Mission burrito, the Ferry Plaza on Saturday mornings (Boccalone meats, Acme bread, Frog Hollow pastries, Boulette Larder's cannele, Cowgirl Creamery cheese, Hog Island oysters, Recchiuti chocolates, and Pepples donuts), Tartine bakery, Humphrey Slocombe and/or BiRite ice cream, an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista, and cocktails at Bourbon and Branch.

My go-to restaurants:

Aziza

SPQR

Baker & Banker

Gitane

Attelier Crenn

Saison

Sushi Aka Tombo

Kiss Sushi

Sam's Grill (over Tadich for old-world, San Francisco seafood)

Canteen

Bar Crudo

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